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The Vedic Age of Ancient India

Kundan Pandey
The Aryan civilization is considered as the golden age in Indian history. The arrival of the Aryans marked the beginning of the Vedic Period or the Vedic Age. The world witnessed the evolution of the Hindu religion in this period.

In style...

Costume played a major role for the Aryans. Along with beautiful dress, gorgeous ornaments were also flaunted by them.
The Indo-Europeans who migrated from the areas across the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea moved over vast stretches of land over the years, and some amongst them moved to South-east Asia and settled in the areas which we now know as Punjab (which then consisted of both India and Pakistan) and areas in Western Uttar Pradesh, and Afghanistan.
They meticulously
crossed the Hindu Kush mountains and found their way into Indian soil. These people came to be known as the Aryans.
This was just the beginning of a new way of life that has occupied a significant position in the world history, which we know as the Hinduism. There are many veterans who opine that Hinduism is beyond the essence of merely a faith; in actuality it is a way of life that has been running strong over thousands of years and that has enriched the past.
One of the most phenomenal contributions that the Aryans made was the scripture that was written during that period. It was the four Vedas that were written at that time, and the origin of the language, Sanskrit. This was the beginning of the Vedic Age or the Vedic Period, also known as the golden period in Indian history.
The era that is marked as the Vedic Age ranges from 1500 BC-600 BC, however, there is sufficient ambiguity in the dates. Like the people of the Harappan Civilization, the Aryans too settled by the waters of the Indus river. The areas that were inhabited by the Aryans were named as the Sapt-Sindhu or the 'land of seven rivers'.
The other name for it was Brahmavarta which literally means the land of Lord Brahma. The Aryans were war-loving people and they conquered land magnanimously in various parts of India.


The vedic period got its name from the four vedas written during this period. The Vedas are perhaps the oldest written literature available to man today. They have been passed through various cultures for over 100,000 years. The Vedas are not only a broad and rich compilation of hymns, religious information, and prayers; but it also bears some of the most relevant information which form the basis of a man's day-to-day life.
The Vedas were not composed all together in a limited period of time. In fact, over the years people let go of the habit of narration and gradually started scripting, writing, and composing. Following this trend, came to fore the very first of the Vedas, which we know to this day as the Rig Veda. This paved the way for the other Vedas subsequently. The four Vedas were written in Sanskrit language. The Samhita which literally means 'collection' consists of the four Vedas, namely:
► The Rig Veda is the haven of mantras, hymns, verses, Ayurveda, Yoga et al.

► The Sama Veda is a collection of songs and melodies which are found in the Rig Veda.
► The Yajur Veda is a compilation of the ceremonial guidelines of the rituals that are performed by the priests.

► The Atharva Veda contains the mantras for creation, for evil destruction, and to avert destruction.
It is during the Vedic period that the great Indian epics, namely the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Upanishads were written. The original text (mantra) and a commentary portion (Brahmana) are parts of every veda. Brahmana is further classified into two parts, one explaining the ritual and other the philosophy (known as Upanishads). The Vedangas are supportive texts of the Vedas.


The Vedic period is divided into two broad branches. They are the Early Vedic Age and the Later Vedic Age. Let's study them in greater detail.

Early Vedic Period

The Early Vedic period is the time when the Rig Veda was composed. It is essential to know that the Aryans were groups who were nomads.
They relied heavily on cattle. During this age, these nomadic Aryans began to settle down. They formed small villages known as gramas, and each grama had a head. This was the basis how kinship gradually flourished, and the village head, over a period of time made way for the Raja or the 'king.' Thus formed the first structure of a society.
Jana was the name given to a tribe in early Vedic society. The land was known as janapada. The society was still in the growing and flourishing phase. Agricultural activities were taken to a different plane of development.
One primary feature of the people of this time was that they still migrated from place to place in search of better resources, and avenues. In the process they managed to conquer several lands and places, and thus spread immensely. Agriculture, cattle rearing reached greater heights. Working with metals was still unknown. However, as they increased in number, they preferred to settle down permanently than to migrate from place to place.
The Aryans were ambitious, and didn't agree to settle for less. Thus, fights and inter-tribe clashes were a part and parcel of their lives. This trait of them also motivated them to own places that were occupied by others.
The kings acted as the guardians for the rest of the clan, and provided the subjects with security. They were extremely able and powerful, and were also believed to be the protectors from the evil. This was the basis of the politics that was soon taking shape in the early Vedic Age.
The ruling of one king was followed by the younger generations. And so kinship was hereditary. What is astonishing that, when a particular tribe conquered any foreign land, the loot was not just enjoyed by the king; but was distributed amongst the masses.
Unfortunately, animal sacrifices played a crucial role in the lifestyle of the Aryans. They made sacrifices for the appeasement of their Gods. They also did the same in order to pay tribute to their kings.
The Aryans were god-fearing people and strongly adhered to the rituals and religious practices. Apart from deities, they held the elements of Nature as objects of worship.
They mainly prayed for good agriculture, favorable climate, and victory in the wars. Needless to say, religion was pivotal in the early Vedic Age. Performing rituals was an important part of their daily duties.
Another noteworthy feature of this age was the respect that was given to the women. Their role was not just limited to the household chores, but they were encouraged to participate in social activities, and decision-making process as well. Warfare, literature, culinary activities were all practiced by the Early Vedic Age women.
Gradually, people discovered the uses of iron, and also used it in clearing out forests. Economy was good, and economic position was determined by the number of cattle they owned. Barter system was also introduced during this time. Spinning, carpentry, pottery were all introduced with the passage of time.

Later Vedic Age

This period is also known as the Epic Period, as during this time, the great Epics the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Upanishads were written. These epics defined the way of leading a meaningful life.
The Ramayana and Mahabharata deal with various social, political and religious views of Hindu culture, while the Bhagwad Gita (an extract from the Mahabharata) beautifully describes Hinduism in its true essence.
Unlike the kings of the Early Vedic Age, who thought for the welfare of all the people, the rulers of this time were not the same. They were more inclined towards amassing their own wealth, rather than opting for distribution. Warfare still continued to be the trend of the time, and conquering land was still practiced. The kings prospered by collecting taxes from the subjects, apart from war.
Caste system was a new way of dividing the society.
The society was divided into four main subsections, Brahmins or the priestly people became the religious heads and educated the common people, while the Kshatriya were responsible for the safety of the society. It comprised the kings and the royal lineage.
The Vaishyas adopted the roles of businessmen and merchants and the Shudras or the 'outcasts', were a deprived section of the society. They performed the jobs of removing dead bodies, picking garbage, etc. and weren't given much option to prosper within the society.
Horse riding, gambling and other types of recreational games on fighting were also introduced by the Aryans. Gurukul system of education was practiced. One important point is that, though there was the division of society based on caste, it was not too rigid during this time. People could still enjoy liberty in choosing a means of livelihood.
One disheartening effect was the decline in the position of women. Gender biases were extreme.
There were small areas which were demarcated by borders and boundaries; this means that there were too many regions and kingdoms. However, this age also saw the emergence of some of the most significant dynasties of India.
The Vedic Period formed a platform for the rise of Hindu principles and indeed, the whole religion. It also contributed to Indian philosophy and literature. Empires and kingdoms started to flourish after the Vedic Period.
The Vedic Period was an amalgamation of 'mind' and 'matter.' Due to deep spiritual insights, the sages more ably understood the natural principles. The discovery of 'zero' and other mathematical theorems, Ayurveda and Yoga are a few gifts of the Vedic Period, that make it an immortal era of Indian civilization.