The Vedic Civilisation

As we learned in the previous chapter, the Indus Valley civilisation

was India’s ancient civilisation. Later, several notable human civilisations like the Mesopotamian civilisation, Vedic civilisation started.

In India, the Vedic civilization came after the Indus Valley civilisation.

The Vedic Civilisation refers to the time during which Indo-Aryans settled into Northern India, bringing specific religious traditions with them.

Life of the Vedic Age

The Vedic Age started with the Aryans occupying the Indo-Gangetic Plains.

The Aryans started the Vedic civilisation. They spoke Sanskrit, an Indo-European language. In the Sanskrit language, Aryans were considered as “the noble ones.”

The Aryans expanded in the Doab region around the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. It is believed that they entered India through the Khyber Pass.

The economic life of the Vedic people was based upon farming and cattle rearing. They owned cows, buffaloes, sheep and goats to produce milk, meat and wool. They used horses during battles or for driving chariots.

The people of the Vedic Age roamed in search of fertile land and water, cleaned jungles, prepared the soil for cultivation and cultivated rice, wheat, barley, pulses, millets, peas, sugarcane, and other food crops.

There were many craftsmen who fulfilled the needs of the people. They prepared many iron weapons and tools and made utensils and baskets with mud.

Overall, the Vedic people led a rural, semi-nomadic life compared to the Indus Valley people, who were more urbanised.

The main text of the Aryans was the Vedas. There were four Vedas:

Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. Among them, Rig Veda is the oldest Veda, composed during the Early Vedic Age. The other three Vedas were written in the Later Vedic Age.

In the Vedic Age, people in society were divided into four Varnas. The birth of a person determined the Varna system.

People received their position and respect in society and performed many tasks, based on the Varnas system.

The four Varnas were:

Brahmins

  • They had the highest position in society.
  • They received education and imparted education to others.
  • They were also appointed in the kingdoms as ministers or priests.
  • They performed yagnas, gave guidelines and directions to the people in society.

Kshatriyas

  • They were in charge of the security.
  • They fought battles and looked after the arms, weapons, and were involved in governance.

Vaishyas

  • They were involved in farming, rearing of animals and other businesses.
  • They fulfilled the needs of the people in society.

Shudras

  • Compared to all three Varnas systems, Shudras were given different tasks.
  • Generally, Shudras were peasants and artisans.
  • The position of the Shudras in society was very low.

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