Chapter 4: VEDIC CIVILIZATION
Aryans came to India in 2000-1500 BC periods. They
are believed to be sons of the soil or originating from Central
Asia as per popular belief. The origin is disputed but they were
cattle herders. They first settled in Punjab or frontier
provinces and then pushed into interior of India.
The Aryans soon reached all over the northern
part of India. The north was then called Aryavarta.
The Aryan period can be divided into Early
Aryan period [Rig Vedic period] 1500BC to 1000 BC and
Later Aryan period 1000BC to 600 BC.
The Vedic literature consists of four Vedas viz. Rig
Veda, Sam Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda.
Rig Veda is oldest amongst them and contains
the cultural, social and political life of the Aryans. Sam
Veda is important for Indian music. Yajur Veda is
a book of sacrificial prayers and Atharva Veda contains
charms and spells to ward off evil.
Vedic period belongs to the Iron Age. Other
than Rig Veda other Vedas belong to Later Vedic period.
Besides these other sacred texts are Brahmans,
Aranyakas, Upanishads and the great texts Mahabharata and
Ramayana. They spoke the Indo - Aryan language Sanskrit.
Early Vedic Period: 1500 BC to 1000 BC
- The civilization was confined to Indus Valley
- Political organization:
Family – Kula
Village – gram ; head – gramani
Group of village – visu; head – vishayapati
Highest political unit – tribe or Jana
· Tribal kingdoms headed by Rajan; assisted by
purohit [priest] and senani [head of army]
Bodies - Sabha [council of elders and Samiti
[assembly of people].
3. Social life
- Patriarchal society where property was
inherited by son.
- Women were treated with respect. They were
allowed to attend assemblies and participate in intellectual
- No sati or child marriage. Caste system
not rigid and based on occupations.
- Monogamy was practiced and polygamy was
found in royal households.
- Fruits, vegetables, wheat, barley, milk were
- Sanskrit was the language.
- Woolen and cotton clothes.
- Pastimes were chariot racing, music, horse
racing and dance.
- Trade was based on barter system but later for
large transactions coins called Nishkas were used.
- Primarily they were cattle herders, but other
occupations were carpentry, agriculture, pottery, spinning and
- Iron was known and widely used. Copper wasn't
- Male and female gods. Nature was personified and
- No idol or temple worship.
- Offerings and small rituals were present.
Later Vedic Period: 1000 BC to 600 BC
- Larger kingdoms were formed from amalgamation of
tribes or Janas into Janapadas or Rashtras.
- Kings started performing rituals for
- Many new posts of officials were created.
- Iron was used extensively to bring area
- Sea trade was started. Vaishya caste
was formed of merchants.
- Caste system became more rigid.
Brahmans and kshatriyas enjoy higher rights and Vaishya and
Shudras were denied rights.
- Status of women deteriorated. They lost
their political rights. Child marriages and sati became
- Rituals and sacrifices became more common.
Dominion of Brahmins was seen. Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh were
the chief deities.
A direct result of this system led to birth of
Buddhism and Jainism. The lower castes were attracted towards
them as they didn’t believe in rituals and castes.
Difference between Dravidians and Aryans:
- Dark skin and medium height.
- Trade and agriculture main occupation.
- Used only cotton
- Worshiped bull and idols.
- Used copper didn’t know iron
- Knew tiger not horses.
- Agriculture civilization and built towns.