Early | Rig Vedic Civilization (1500 – 1000 BC)

rig vedicOrigin of Aryans:

  • Many historians have given various theories regarding the original place of the Aryans.

  • The Central Asian theory, given by Max Muller, is the most accepted one.

  • Entered India probably through Khyber Pass (in Hindukush Mountains) around.

  • The holy book of Iran ‘Zend Avesta’ indicates entry of Aryans to India via Iran.

The theorists who suggested somewhere in Asia

Region

Theorist

Central Asia

Max Muller

Tibet

Dayanand Saraswati

Pamirs

Mayor

Turkistan

Hurz Feld

Bactria

J.C. Rod

Steppes

Brandstein

The theorists who suggested somewhere in Europe

Region

Theorist

Germany

Penka and Hert

Hungry

Giles

Southern Russia

Nehring

West Baltic

Mach

Arctic Region

B.G. Tilak

Russian Steppes

Prof. Belfy

The theorists who suggested in India

Region

Theorist

Central India

Rajbali Pandey

Kashmir

L.D. Kala

Sapta Sindhu

A.C. Das

Himalayan Foothills

Pt. Laxmidhar Shastri

Indian Scholars, such as Ganganath Jha, A.C. Das, Dr. Sampurnanand etc established the Sapta Sindhu theory of Rig Veda which believe that Aryans were not foreigners but were indigenous people residing in the region comprising modern Punjab and Sindh. This theory has met with criticism, as the historians argue over the vast differences of culture between the Harappans and the Aryans.

Aryans arrival in India
  • Group of Indo-Europeans who moved to Persia and India are known to Aryans.

  • The period when the Aryans first settled in India, is known as Early Vedic Period (1500 BC to 1000 BC).

  • The region where the Aryans settled in India was called Sapta Sindhu (also referred to as the Brahmavarta).

  • They are the original inhabitants of Central Asia.

  • They established themselves in India by defeating the natives whom they called Dasas or Dasyus (Dravidians).

  • They were the first people in India to know the use of iron and brought horses along with them.

  • Rig Veda mentions the defeat of Sambara by Divodasa, who belonged to the Bharata clan.

  • Aryan chief who overpowered them was called Trasadasyu (dasyuhatya), generally soft towards Dasas but hostile towards Dasyus.

  • Dasyuhatya means slaughter of the dasyus.

Dravidians:
  • Before the coming of the Aryans North-Western India was inhabited by Dravidians.

  • On arrival of the Aryans, unable to meet their challenge, they gradually moved southwards.

  • They were the first to use rivers for navigation and irrigation in India.

Some Rig vedic and present names of rivers:
Rig Vedic name Present name
Asikni Chenab
Drishadvari Ghaghar/Chitang
Gomati Gomal
Krumi Kurram
Kubha Kabul
Parushni Ravi
Satluj Vipas
Satudri Beas
Sindhu Indus
Suvastu Swat
Vitasta Jhelum

Early Vedic Period

Rig Vedic Polity

Administration in Rig vedic period:
  • Tribal chief was called rajan.

  • His post was hereditary, we have also some traces of election by the tribal assembly called the samiti.

  • King was the protector of his tribe and its cattle and He was assisted by Purohits, Senani & Gramanis.

  • Vasishtha and Visvamitra were the two Purohits who played a major part in the time of Rig Veda.

  • King did not maintain any regular or standing arymy, but in times of war, military functions were performed by different tribal groups called vrata, gana, grama, sardha.

  • Vrajapati enjoyed authority over the pasture ground and heads the Kulapas (families) or gramanis (fighting hordes) to battle.

Assemblies in Rig vedic period:
  • Sabha, Samiti, Vidhata and Gana were the tribal assemblies. Of these, Vidhata was the oldest.

  • Two most important assemblies were Sabha & Samiti.

  • Even Women attended Sabha and Vidhata in Rig Vedic times.

Tribal Organization:

  • People gave their primary loyalty to the tribe, which was called jana.

  • Another important term which stands for the tribe in the Rig Veda is vis.

  • Probably the vis was divided into grama or smaller tribal units meant for fighting.

  • When the gramas clashed with one another, it caused samgrama or war.

  • The term for family (kula) is mentioned rarely in the Rig Veda.

  • It seems that family in early Vedic Phase was indicated by term griha.

  • It was obviously a patriarchal family headed by the father.

Marriage & Status of Women in Rig vedic period:
  • The status of women was equal to men and they received Upanayana and education, studied Vedas.

  • Women poets in Rig Veda peiord : Apala, Vishwavara, Ghosa & Lopamudra.

  • Monogamy (one wife at a time) was established.

  • Even there is also polygamy (more than one wife at a time).

  • Polyandry (more than one husband at a time) were also known.

  • Practice of Levirate (Man marrying to Brother’s widow) & widow remarriage was prevalent.

  • No mention of sati system or Child marriage as marriageable age mentioned in Rig Veda is 16- 17 Years.

Varna System:

  • Varna was the term used for colour.

  • It seems that the Aryans were fair and Inhabitants (dasas and dasyus) were dark in complexion.

  • Tribal society was divided into three groups-warriors, priests and the people.

  • Dasas and Dasyus, who were conquered by the Aryans, were treated as slaves and sudras.

  • This leads to the fourth division called the Shudras appeared towards the end of the Rig Veda period.

Occupation:

  • Their earliest life seems to have been mainly pastoral, agriculture being a secondary occupation.

  • Aryans did not lead a settled life.

  • Although they used several animals, the horse played the most significant role in their life.

  • But they possessed better knowledge of agriculture.

  • Plough share is mentioned in the earliest part of the Rig Veda.

  • The term for war in the Rig Veda is gavisthi or ‘search for cows’.

  • The term, ayas used for copper or bronze shows that metal working was known.

Diet:

  • The Indo-Aryans, while sharing the ancient Iranian emotion for the cow, felt no hesitate about sacrificing both fulls and cows at weddings and on occasions.

  • The persons who took part in the sacrifice ate the flesh of the victim, whether bull, cow, or horse.

  • But meat was eaten only as an exception.

  • Milk was an important article of food, and was supplemented by cakes of barley or wheat (yava), vegetables and fruit.

Strong Drinks:

  • Two important drinks in rig vedic period were soma and sura.

  • Sura likely was a kind of beer and Soma was considered to be particularly acceptable to the Gods.

Entertainment:

  • It included dancing, music, chariot-racing, and dicing.

  • Gambling with dice is mentioned so frequently in both the Rig Veda and the later documents.

Rig Vedic religion

  • The early Vedic religion was naturalistic.

  • There were no temples.

  • Did not believe in idol worship.

  • Believed in one Supreme God

  • Vedic Gods have been classified into 3 categories – Terrestrial, Atmospheric and Celestial

  • Jana (People) did not worship for spiritual reasons but for the welfare of Praja (Children), Pashu (Cattle), Food, Wealth, health etc.

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