Vedic Period and the Aryans
- The Aryans were semi-nomadic pastoral people and originated from area around the Caspian Sea in Central Asia(Many historians have given various theories regarding their original place). The Central Asian theory is given by Max Muller.
- Entered India probably through the Khyber Pass(Hindukush mountain) around 1500 BC.
Early Vedic or Rig Vedic Period(1500- 1000 BC)
- Monarchial form. Tribe was known as Jan and its king as Rajan.
- Family was the basic unit of society. The family was patriarchal in nature.
- Aryans followed a mixed economy i.e pastoral and agricultural in which cattle played a predominant part.
- Standard unit of exchange was Cow. At the same time coins were also there.
- The Aryans personified the natural forces and looked upon them as living beings.
- The most important divinity was Indra who played the role of warlord(breaker of forts- Purandar)
Later Vedic Period(1000- 600 BC) (Painted Gray Ware Phase)
- Tiny tribal settlements were placed by strong kingdoms.
- The four fold division of society became clear, initially based on occupation, which later became hereditary: Brahmins(priests), Kshatriyas(warriors), Vaishyas(agriculturists, cattle- rearers, traders), Shudras(servers of the upper three).
- The institution of the gotra appeared for the first time in this age.
- Indra and Agni lost their importance. Prajapati(the creator) became supreme. Vishnu came to be conceived as the preserver and protector of the people.
The Vedic Literature
The word Veda comes from the root "vidi" signifying knowledge. They are four in all - Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Athrava Veda.
(1) Rig Veda
- Oldest religious text in the world.
- Contains 1,028 hymns and is divided into 10 mandalas.
(2) Sama Veda
- Derived from the root Saman i.e "melody". It is a collection of melodies.
(3) Yajur Veda
- Deals with the procedure for the performance of sacrifices.
(4) Atharva Veda
- Mostly dealing with magic( along with personal problems of people).
- Called Vedanata
- They are the main source of Indian Philosophy, 108 in numbers.
- They explain the meaning of sacrifices and also the methods of performing them.
- Shatpath Brahmin on Yajur Veda is the largest among brahmins.
- These Granths were studied in the forest.
- These are the books of instructions.
- It was written in sanskrit by Ved Vyas
- It describes about a war between Kauravas and Pandavas of 950 BC in Kurukshetra.
- Translation of "Mahabharat" in persian is called Rajm nama done by Badauni.
- It was written by Valmiki in sanskrit.
- It has 24000 shloks, also known as Aadi-kavya.
- Its persian translation is done by Badauni and Tamil translation by Kamban.
- Ramcharitmanas is written by Tulsidas.
- Puranas are 18 in number.
- It was written during Gupta Age in AD 4th Century.
- Matasya Purana is the oldest Purana.