Vedic period

Vedic period

Overview


The Vedic period was a period in history during which the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, were composed. The time span of the period is uncertain. Philological
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

 and linguistic
Historical linguistics
Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

 evidence indicates that the Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

, the oldest of the Vedas, was composed roughly between 1700–1100 BCE, also referred to as the early Vedic period. The end of the period is commonly estimated to have occurred about 500 BCE, and 150 BCE has been suggested as a terminus ante quem
Terminus post quem
Terminus post quem and terminus ante quem specify approximate dates for events...

 for all Vedic Sanskrit literature.

Transmission of texts in the Vedic period was by oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

 alone, and a literary tradition set in only in post-Vedic times.
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The Vedic period was a period in history during which the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, were composed. The time span of the period is uncertain. Philological
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

 and linguistic
Historical linguistics
Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

 evidence indicates that the Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

, the oldest of the Vedas, was composed roughly between 1700–1100 BCE, also referred to as the early Vedic period. The end of the period is commonly estimated to have occurred about 500 BCE, and 150 BCE has been suggested as a terminus ante quem
Terminus post quem
Terminus post quem and terminus ante quem specify approximate dates for events...

 for all Vedic Sanskrit literature.

Transmission of texts in the Vedic period was by oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

 alone, and a literary tradition set in only in post-Vedic times. Despite the difficulties in dating the period, the Vedas can safely be assumed to be several thousands of years old. The associated culture, sometimes referred to as Vedic civilization, was probably centred early on in the northern and northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

, but has now spread and constitutes the basis of contemporary Indian culture.

After the end of the Vedic period, the Mahajanapadas
Mahajanapadas
Mahājanapadas , literally "great realms", were ancient Indian kingdoms or countries...

 period in turn gave way to the Maurya Empire
Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC...

 (from ca. 320 BC), the golden age of classical Sanskrit literature
Sanskrit literature
Literature in Sanskrit begins with the Vedas, and continues with the Sanskrit Epics of Iron Age India; the golden age of Classical Sanskrit literature dates to late Antiquity . Literary production saw a late bloom in the 11th century before declining after 1100 AD...

.

Overview


The reconstruction of the history of Vedic India is based on text-internal details. Linguistically, the Vedic texts could be classified in five chronological strata:

1. Rigvedic: The Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

 is by far the most archaic of the Vedic texts preserved, and it retains many common Indo-Iranian
Indo-Iranian languages
The Indo-Iranian language group constitutes the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It consists of three language groups: the Indo-Aryan, Iranian and Nuristani...

 elements, both in language and in content, that are not present in any other Vedic texts. Its creation must have taken place over several centuries or millennia.

2. Mantra language: This period includes both the mantra and prose language of the Atharvaveda
Atharvaveda
The Atharvaveda is a sacred text of Hinduism and one of the four Vedas, often called the "fourth Veda"....

 (Paippalada and Shaunakiya), the Rigveda Khilani
Khilani
The Khilani are a collection of 98 "apocryphal" hymns of the Rigveda, recorded in the , but not in the shakha. They are late additions to the text of the Rigveda, but still belong to the "Mantra" period of Vedic Sanskrit.-Literature:...

, the Samaveda
Samaveda
The Sama veda , is second of the four Vedas, the ancient core Hindu scriptures. Its earliest parts are believed to date from 1700 BC and it ranks next in sanctity and liturgical importance to the Rigveda...

 Samhita (containing some 75 mantras not in the Rigveda), and the mantras of the Yajurveda
Yajurveda
The Yajurveda, a tatpurusha compound of "sacrificial formula', + ) is the third of the four canonical texts of Hinduism, the Vedas. By some, it is estimated to have been composed between 1400 and 1000 BC, the Yajurveda 'Samhita', or 'compilation', contains the liturgy needed to perform the...

. Many of these texts are largely derived from the Rigveda, but have undergone certain changes, both by linguistic change and by reinterpretation. Conspicuous changes include change of vishva "all" by sarva, and the spread of the kuru- verbal stem (for Rigvedic krno-). This is the time of the early Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 in north-western India, corresponding to the Black and Red Ware (BRW) culture, and the kingdom of the Kurus, dating from ca. the 10th century BC
10th century BC
The 10th century BC started the first day of 1000 BC and ended the last day of 901 BC.- Overview :This period followed the Bronze Age collapse in the Near East, and the century saw the Early Iron Age take hold there. The Greek Dark Ages which had come about in 1200 BC continued. The Neo-Assyrian...

.

3. Samhita prose: This period marks the beginning of the collection and codification of a Vedic canon. An important linguistic change is the complete loss of the injunctive
Injunctive mood
The injunctive mood was a mood in Sanskrit characterized by secondary endings but no augment, and usually looked like an augmentless aorist or imperfect. It typically stood in a main clause and had a subjunctive or imperative meaning; for example, it could indicate intention, e.g. "Indra's heroic...

. The Brahmana part ('commentary' on mantras and ritual) of the Black Yajurveda
Yajurveda
The Yajurveda, a tatpurusha compound of "sacrificial formula', + ) is the third of the four canonical texts of Hinduism, the Vedas. By some, it is estimated to have been composed between 1400 and 1000 BC, the Yajurveda 'Samhita', or 'compilation', contains the liturgy needed to perform the...

 (MS, KS, TS) belongs to this period. Archaeologically, the Painted Grey Ware (PGW) culture from ca. 900 BC corresponds, and the shift of the political centre from the Kurus to the Pancalas on the Ganges.

4. Brahmana prose: The Brahmanas proper of the four Vedas belong to this period, as well as the Aranyaka
Aranyaka
The Aranyakas are part of the Hindu śruti, the four Vedas; they were composed in late Vedic Sanskrit typical of the Brahmanas and early Upanishads; indeed, they frequently form part of either the Brahmanas or the Upanishads....

s, the oldest of the Upanishad
Upanishad
The Upanishads are philosophical texts considered to be an early source of Hindu religion. More than 200 are known, of which the first dozen or so, the oldest and most important, are variously referred to as the principal, main or old Upanishads...

s (BAU, ChU
Chandogya Upanishad
The Chandogya Upanishad is one of the "primary" Upanishads. Together with the Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad it ranks among the oldest Upanishads, dating to the Vedic Brahmana period....

, JUB
Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana
The Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana or the Talavakara Upanishad Brahmana is a Vedic text associated with the Jaiminiya or the Talavakara shakha of the Samaveda. It is considered as an Aranyaka. A part of this text forms the Kena Upanishad...

) and the oldest Shrautasutras (BSS
Baudhayana Shrauta Sutra
The Baudhayana Shrauta Sutra is a Late Vedic text dealing with the solemn rituals of the Taittiriya school of the Black Yajurveda that was composed in eastern Uttar Pradesh during the late Brahmana period. It was first published in 1904-23 by the Asiatic Society of Bengal, as edited by Willem...

, VadhSS).

5. Sutra language: This is the last stratum of Vedic Sanskrit leading up to c. 500 BC, comprising the bulk of the Śrauta and Grhya Sutras, and some Upanishads (e.g. KathU
Kathu
Kathu is a town in South Africa, and the iron ore capital of the Northern Cape province. Its name means "town under the trees", after the Camel Thorn forest it is situated in. The phrase "the town under the trees" was coined by an engineer working in the town in the early 1990 as part of a...

, MaitrU). All but the five prose Upanishads are post-Buddhist. Videha (N. Bihar) as a third political centre is established.

6. Epic and Pāṇinian Sanskrit: The language of the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

 and Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

 epics, and the Classical Sanskrit described by Pāṇini is considered post-Vedic, and belongs to the time after 500 BC. Archaeologically, the rapid spread of Northern Black Polished Ware
Northern Black Polished Ware
The Northern Black Polished Ware culture of South Asia is an Iron Age culture, succeeding the Painted Grey Ware culture...

(NBP) over all of northern India corresponds to this period. The earliest Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

, Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

, and the Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 Prakrit dialect of Buddhist scripture belong to this period.

Historical records set in only after the end of the Vedic period, and remain scarce throughout the Indian Middle Ages. The end of Vedic India is marked by linguistic, cultural and political changes. The grammar of Pāṇini marks a final apex in the codification of Sutra texts, and at the same time the beginning of Classical Sanskrit. The invasion of Darius I of the Indus valley in the early 6th century BC marks the beginning of outside influence, continued in the kingdoms of the Indo Greeks, new waves of immigration from 150 BC (Abhira, Shaka
Shaka
Shaka kaSenzangakhona , also known as Shaka Zulu , was the most influential leader of the Zulu Kingdom....

), Kushan and ultimately the Islamic Sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

s. The most important historical source of the geography of post-Vedic India is the 2nd century Greek historian Arrian
Arrian
Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon , known in English as Arrian , and Arrian of Nicomedia, was a Roman historian, public servant, a military commander and a philosopher of the 2nd-century Roman period...

 whose report is based on the Mauryan time ambassador to Patna, Megasthenes.

Rigvedic period

See also Rigvedic tribes
Rigvedic tribes
The Indo-Aryan tribes mentioned in the Rigveda are described as semi-nomadic pastoralists; when not on the move, they were subdivided into temporary settlements . They were headed by a tribal chief assisted by a priestly caste...


The origin of the Vedic civilization and its relation to the Indus Valley civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

, Indo-Aryan migration
Indo-Aryan migration
Models of the Indo-Aryan migration discuss scenarios of prehistoric migrations of the proto-Indo-Aryans to their historically attested areas of settlement in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent...

 and Gandhara Grave culture
Gandhara grave culture
The Gandhara grave culture emerged ca. 1600 BC, and flourished in Gandhara, Pakistan ca. 1500 BC to 500 BC ....

 related cultures<--! The passage should be re-constructed. --> remains controversial and politically charged in Indian society, often leading to disputes
Out of India theory
The Out of India theory is the proposition that the Indo-European language family originated in the Indian subcontinent and spread to the remainder of the Indo-European region through a series of migrations...

 on the history of Vedic culture. The Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

 is primarily a collection of religious hymns, and allusions to, but not explanation of, various myths and stories, mainly in the younger books 1 and 10. The oldest hymns, probably in books 2–7, although some hold book 9, the Soma
Soma
Soma , or Haoma , from Proto-Indo-Iranian *sauma-, was a ritual drink of importance among the early Indo-Iranians, and the subsequent Vedic and greater Persian cultures. It is frequently mentioned in the Rigveda, whose Soma Mandala contains 114 hymns, many praising its energizing qualities...

 Mandala, to be even more ancient, contain many elements inherited from pre-Vedic, common Indo-Iranian
Indo-Iranians
Indo-Iranian peoples are a linguistic group consisting of the Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Dardic and Nuristani peoples; that is, speakers of Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family....

 society. Therefore, it is difficult to define the precise beginning of the "Rigvedic period", as it emerges seamlessly from the era preceding it. Also, due to the semi-nomadic nature of the society described, it cannot be easily localized, and in its earliest phase describes tribes that were essentially on the move.

RigVedic Aryans have a lot in common with the Andronovo culture and the Mittanni kingdoms as well as with early Iranians. The Andronovo culture is believed to be one of the first sites of the horse-drawn chariots.

Political organization


The grama (wagon train), vis and jana were political units of the early Vedic Aryans. A vish was a subdivision of a jana or "krishti", and a grama was a smaller unit than the other two. The leader of a grama was called gramani and that of a vish was called vishpati.

The rashtra (polity) was governed by a rajan (chieftain, 'king'). The king is often referred to as gopa (protector) and occasionally as samrat (supreme ruler). He governed the people with their consent and approval. He was elected from a restricted class of 'royals' (rajanya). There were various types of meetings such as the vidhata or "Sabhā
Sabha
Sabha is one of the districts of Libya. It is located near the center of the country, in the Fezzan region. The capital is the city of Sabha, with a population of 130,000....

". Gana was the non-monarchial assembly that is a parallel one to the monarchial assemblies of that period headed by Jyestha, the same was referred in Buddhist text named Jettaka. The Sabhā, situated outside of settlement, was restricted to the Vratyas, bands of roving Brahmins and Kshatriyas in search of cattle, with a common woman (pumscali) while the vidatha was the potlatch-like ritual distribution of bounty.

The main duty of the king was to protect the tribe. He was aided by several functionaries, including the purohita (chaplain) and the senani (army chief; sena – army). The former not only gave advice to the ruler but also was his chariot driver and practised spells and charms for success in war. Soldiers on foot (pattis) and on chariot
Chariot
The chariot is a type of horse carriage used in both peace and war as the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. Ox carts, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and also built in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. The original horse chariot was a fast, light, open, two wheeled...

s (rathins), armed with bow and arrow, were common. The king employed spaś (spies) and dutas (messengers). He collected taxes (originally ceremonial gifts, bali), from the people which he had to redistribute.

Society and economy



Cattle were held in high esteem and frequently appear in Rigvedic hymns; goddesses were often compared to cows, and gods to bulls. Agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 grew more prominent with time as the community gradually began to settle down in post-Rigvedic times . The economy was based on bartering with cattle and other valuables such as salt or metals .

Vedic religious practices


Main articles: Historical Vedic religion
Historical Vedic religion
The religion of the Vedic period is a historical predecessor of Hinduism. Its liturgy is reflected in the mantra portion of the four Vedas, which are compiled in Sanskrit. The religious practices centered on a clergy administering rites...

, Vedic astrology


The Vedic forms of belief are the precursor to modern Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

.
Texts considered to date to the Vedic period are mainly the four Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

, but the Brahmanas, Aranyaka
Aranyaka
The Aranyakas are part of the Hindu śruti, the four Vedas; they were composed in late Vedic Sanskrit typical of the Brahmanas and early Upanishads; indeed, they frequently form part of either the Brahmanas or the Upanishads....

s and the older Upanishad
Upanishad
The Upanishads are philosophical texts considered to be an early source of Hindu religion. More than 200 are known, of which the first dozen or so, the oldest and most important, are variously referred to as the principal, main or old Upanishads...

s as well as the oldest Shrautasutras are also considered to be Vedic. The Vedas record the liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 connected with the rituals and sacrifices performed by the 16 or 17 Shrauta  priests and the purohitas.

The rishi
Rishi
Rishi denotes the composers of Vedic hymns. However, according to post-Vedic tradition, the rishi is a "seer" to whom the Vedas were "originally revealed" through states of higher consciousness. The rishis were prominent when Vedic Hinduism took shape, as far back as some three thousand years...

s, the composers of the hymns of the Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

, were considered inspired poets and seers (in post-Vedic times understood as "hearers" of an eternally existing Veda, Śrauta
Srauta
' traditions are conservative ritualistic traditions of the historical Vedic religion in Hinduism, based on the body of Śruti literature...

means "what is heard").

The mode of worship was performance of sacrifices which included the chant
Chant
Chant is the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds, often primarily on one or two pitches called reciting tones. Chants may range from a simple melody involving a limited set of notes to highly complex musical structures Chant (from French chanter) is the rhythmic speaking or singing...

ing of Rigvedic verses (see Vedic chant
Vedic chant
The oral tradition of the Vedas consists of several pathas, "recitations" or ways of chanting the Vedic mantras. Such traditions of Vedic chant are often considered the oldest unbroken oral tradition in existence, the fixation of the samhita texts as preserved dating to roughly the time of Homer...

), singing of Saman
Saman
Saman may refer to:* Saman , a fictional character in the video game Deus Ex: Invisible War* Saman, Iran, a city in the Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province of Iran* Saman District, an administrative subdivision of Peru...

s and 'mumbling' of offering mantras (Yajus). The priests executed rituals for the three upper classes (varna) of Vedic society, strictly excluding the Sudras. People offered for abundance of rain, cattle, sons, long life and gaining 'heaven'.

The main deities of the Vedic pantheon were Indra
Indra
' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

, Agni
Agni
Agni is a Hindu deity, one of the most important of the Vedic gods. He is the god of fire and the acceptor of sacrifices. The sacrifices made to Agni go to the deities because Agni is a messenger from and to the other gods...

 (the sacrificial fire), and Soma
Soma
Soma , or Haoma , from Proto-Indo-Iranian *sauma-, was a ritual drink of importance among the early Indo-Iranians, and the subsequent Vedic and greater Persian cultures. It is frequently mentioned in the Rigveda, whose Soma Mandala contains 114 hymns, many praising its energizing qualities...

 and some deities of social order such as Mitra
Mitra (Vedic)
This article is about the Vedic deity Mitra. For other divinities with related names, see the general article Mitra.Mitra is an important divinity of Indic culture, and the patron divinity of honesty, friendship, contracts and meetings...

Varuna
Varuna
In Vedic religion, Varuna is a god of the sky, of water and of the celestial ocean, as well as a god of law and of the underworld...

, Aryaman, Bhaga and Amsa, further nature deities such as Surya
Surya
Surya Suraya or Phra Athit is the chief solar deity in Hinduism, one of the Adityas, son of Kasyapa and one of his wives, Aditi; of Indra; or of Dyaus Pitar . The term Surya also refers to the Sun, in general. Surya has hair and arms of gold...

 (the Sun), Vayu
Vayu
Vāyu is a primary Hindu deity, the Lord of the winds, the father of Bhima and the spiritual father of Lord Hanuman...

 (the wind), Prithivi (the earth). Goddesses included Ushas
Ushas
Ushas , Sanskrit for "dawn", is a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well.Sanskrit is an s-stem, i.e. the genitive case is . It is from PIE , cognate to Greek Eos and Latin Aurora....

 (the dawn), Prithvi
Prithvi
Prithvi is the sanskrit name for earth and its essence Prithivi Tattwa, in the form of a mother goddess or godmother. Prithvi is also called Dhra, Dharti, Dhrithri, meaning that which holds everything. As Prithvi Devi, she is one of two wives of Lord Vishnu. His other wife is Lakshmi. Prithvi is...

 and Aditi
Aditi
Aditi in Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language. In the Vedas Aditi is mother of the gods from whose cosmic matrix the heavenly bodies were born...

 (the mother of the Aditya gods or sometimes the cow). Rivers, especially Saraswati
Saraswati
In Hinduism Saraswati , is the goddess of knowledge, music, arts, science and technology. She is the consort of Brahma, also revered as His Shakti....

, were also considered goddesses. Deities were not viewed as all-powerful. The relationship between humans and the deity was one of transaction, with Agni (the sacrificial fire) taking the role of messenger between the two. Strong traces of a common Indo-Iranian religion remain visible, especially in the Soma
Soma
Soma , or Haoma , from Proto-Indo-Iranian *sauma-, was a ritual drink of importance among the early Indo-Iranians, and the subsequent Vedic and greater Persian cultures. It is frequently mentioned in the Rigveda, whose Soma Mandala contains 114 hymns, many praising its energizing qualities...

 cult and the fire worship, both of which are preserved in Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

. The Ashvamedha
Ashvamedha
The Ashvamedha was one of the most important royal rituals of Vedic religion, described in detail in the Yajurveda...

 (horse sacrifice
Horse sacrifice
Many Indo-European religious branches show evidence for horse sacrifice, and comparative mythology suggests that they derive from a Proto-Indo-European ritual.-Context:...

) has parallels in the 2nd millennium BC
2nd millennium BC
The 2nd millennium BC marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age.Its first half is dominated by the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and Babylonia. The alphabet develops. Indo-Iranian migration onto the Iranian plateau and onto the Indian subcontinent propagates the use of the chariot...

 Andronovo culture, in Rome and old Ireland, was continued in India until at least the 4th century AD and revived under Jai Singh II of Amber
Jai Singh II of Amber
Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh was ruler of the kingdom of Amber . He was born at Amber, the capital of the Kachwahas. He became ruler of Amber at the age of 11 after his father Maharaja Bishan Singh died on 31 December 1699...

 in 1716 AD.

Vedic religion evolved into the Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 paths of Yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

 and Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

, a religious path considering itself the 'essence' of the Vedas, interpreting the Vedic pantheon as a unitary view of the universe with 'God' (Brahman) seen as immanent and transcendent in the forms of Ishvara
Ishvara
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

 and Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

. These post-Vedic systems of thought, along with later texts like Upanishads, epics (namely Gita of Mahabharat), have been fully preserved and form the basis of modern Hinduism. The ritualistic traditions of Vedic religion are preserved in the conservative Śrauta
Srauta
' traditions are conservative ritualistic traditions of the historical Vedic religion in Hinduism, based on the body of Śruti literature...

 tradition, in part with the exception of animal sacrifice, which was mostly abandoned by the higher castes by the end of the Vedic period, partly under the influence of the Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and Jain
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 religions, and their criticism of such practices.

The later Vedic period


The transition from the early to the later Vedic period was marked by the emergence of agriculture as the dominant economic activity and a corresponding decline in the significance of cattle rearing. Several changes went hand in hand with this. For instance, several large kingdoms arose because of the increasing importance of land and long distance trade. The late Vedic period, from ca. 500 BC onward, more or less seamlessly blends into the period of the Middle kingdoms of India
Middle kingdoms of India
Middle kingdoms of India refers to the political entities in India from the 3rd century BC after the decline of the Maurya Empire, and the corresponding rise of the Satavahana dynasty, beginning with Simuka, from 230 BC...

 known from historical sources.

Kingdoms


The late Vedic period was marked by the rise of the sixteen Mahajanapadas
Mahajanapadas
Mahājanapadas , literally "great realms", were ancient Indian kingdoms or countries...

referred to in some of the literature. The power of the king and the Kshatriyas greatly increased. Rulers gave themselves titles like ekarat (the one ruler), sarvabhauma (ruler of all the earth) and chakravartin ('who moves the wheel'). The kings performed sacrifices like rajasuya
Rajasuya
Rajasuya was a sacrifice, described in detail in the Mahabharata, performed by the ancient kings of India who considered themselves powerful enough to be an emperor...

(royal consecration), vajapeya (including a chariot race) and, for supreme dominance over other kings, the ashvamedha
Ashvamedha
The Ashvamedha was one of the most important royal rituals of Vedic religion, described in detail in the Yajurveda...

 (horse sacrifice). The coronation ceremony was a major social occasion. Several functionaries, in addition to the purohita and the senani, took part. The role of the people in political decision making and the status of the Vaishyas as such was greatly decreased.

Further reading

  • R. C. Majumdar
    R. C. Majumdar
    Ramesh Chandra Majumdar was an Indian historian of great repute. He is sometimes called "the dean of Indian historians" for his colossal contribution to the study of Indian history.-Early life and education:...

     and A. D. Pusalker (editors): The History and Culture of the Indian People
    The History and Culture of the Indian People
    The History and Culture of the Indian People is a series of eleven volumes on the history of India, from prehistoric times to the establishment of the modern state in 1947. Historian R.C. Majumdar was the general editor of the series, as well as a major contributor. The entire work took 26 years to...

    . Volume I, The Vedic age. Bombay : Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan 1951
  • R.C. Majumdar et al. An Advanced History of India
    An Advanced History of India
    An Advanced History of India is a book on Indian history written by R.C. Majumdar, H.C. Raychaudhuri and Kalikinkar Datta, first published in 1946.J...

    , MacMillan, 1967.
  • Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak "The Arctic Home in the Vedas", Messrs Tilak Bros., 1903

External links