Vedas - Their Classification , Early Vedas, Geography, politics, society, culture and Economics - Part 1

February 19, 2018

Classification of Vedas:

 

  1. Early Vedas:

    • Book 2 to 7 of Rig Veda Samhita.

    • These were composed by families of seer-poets - Gritsamada, Vishvamitra, Vamadeva, Atri, Bhradvaja and Vasishtha.

  2. Late Vedas:

    1. Book 1, 8, 9 and 10 of Rig Veda Samhita, Samhitas of Sama, Yajur and Atharva Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Upanishads attached to all the four Vedas.

Early Vedas - Rig Veda Samhita, Book 2-7

 

  1. Geography:

    • Talked about River Indus and its five tributaries and River Saraswati.

    • Boats and Oceans are mentioned.

  2. Politics:

    • Rig Veda talks about warring tribes. Five tribes - Yadu, Turvasha, Puru, Anu and Duhyu are collectively known as five people or Pancha-Jana.

    • Battle of Ten king is mentioned. Political alliances were fluid and shifting.

    • Rig Veda mentions assemblies such as the Sabha and Samiti.

  3.  Society and Culture:

    • Rig Veda consists of non-Indo-European words which show interaction with Dravidian and Munda languages.

    • Ashvamedh sacrifice is mentioned.

    • Cow was given great importance.

    • Rig Veda mentions that Gifts were received by Rajan from members of the clan. Priests received dana and dakshina at the conclusion of sacrificial rituals.

    • Slavery system existed. There was enslavement in the course of war or as a result of debt.

    • Food- Milk and Milk products, Grains, Vegetables and Fruits, Meat etc.

    • Clothing- People wore clothes of cotton, wool and animal skin and donned a variety of ornaments..

    • Culture- There are reference to Singing, Dancing, Musical instruments like Vina (Lute), Vana (Flute) and drums. Dramas, chariot racing and gambling were past times.

    • Varna System:

      • Brahmana and Kshatriyas are mentioned but Vaishya and Shudra are not mentioned.

      • Brahmana drank Soma and recited hymns.

      • There is no indication of the group being based on birth.

      • Four fold varna is part of Later Vedic text in the tenth book of Rig Veda Samhita. 10th book contains Purusha-sukta.

    •  Status of Women:

      • In Political and Public sphere:

        • Vedic people worshipped Goddesses.

        • Hymns in Rig Veda are composed by women.

        • Women Sages existed.

        • Women participated in rituals  along with their husbands.

        • Took part in chariot races and sabhas.

      • In Personal Sphere:

        • Proportion of hymns composed by women is miniscule. Thus, Women enjoyed limited access to sacred learning.

        • No women priests in the Rig Veda.

        • Women participated as wives not on their own. Nor do they give dana and dakshina.

        • Society was patriarchal and Patrilineal.

    • Institution of Marriage:

      • Monogamy, Polygyny and Polyandry are mentioned.

      • Marriage happened post puberty.

      • Women chose husbands.

      • Remarriage was allowed if husband died or disappeared.

      • Also reference to unmarried women- Ghosha.

      • People eloped too.

    •  

    • Religion: 

      • Universe divided between Sky (dyu), Earth (prithvi) and the middle realm (Antariksha).

      • Apart from Gods, Gandharvas (Celestial beings), Apsaras, Rakshas, Yatudhanas (sorcerers) and Pishachas (spirit of the dead) are also mentioned.

      • Indra, Agni, Surya, Ushas, Varuna, Mitra, Vayu, Rudra, Vishnu etc are mentioned. Indra is also known as Vritrahan (slayer of Vritra). Varuna is the god of Secular power, Sovereignty and Kingship. Varuna is also associated with Maya.

    • Rig Veda refers to both burial and Cremation.

  4.   Economics:

    • Agriculture is mentioned in the Rig Veda.

    • There are references to seed processing, food prepared from cereals, Large jars that were probably used to store grains.

    • Hymns refer to professions such as warriors, priests, Cattle-rearers, farmers, Hunters, Barbers and Vintners.

    • War booty was the major source of wealth. There is difference

       

      in wealth and rank.

    • Inequalities existed between master and slave and men and women.

       

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