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The age of the Vedic Civilization (1500 BC and 600 BC)
The age of the Vedic Civilization was between 1500 BC and 600 BC.
The Vedas give information about this era and it starts from the time of the Aryans or Indo-Aryans.
The word Aryan is taken from the Sanskrit word "arya" which means noble, not ordinary or "superior race".
The earlier Aryans fall in the group of nomadic hunters.
According to Max Muller - Aryans came from the area around the Caspian Sea in Central Asia.
Others think that they originated from the Russian Steppes.
But Bal Gangadhar Tilak was of the opinion that the Aryans came from the Arctic region following their astronomical calculations.
Sanskrit, an Indo-European language was their language for communication.
They lived in rural, semi-nomadic life in contrast to the Indus Valley people who were generally urbanised.
It is said by experts that they entered India through the "Khyber Pass".
The discovery of Boghaz-Koi inscription (of 14th century BC) mentioned name of Rig Vedic deities, and also suggested that the culture migrated from India to Asia Minor in that early age.
The monarchical system (descended monarchy) was adopted in the Vedic period.
Early Vedic Civilization (1500 BC - 1000 BC)In Early Vedic or Rig Vedic period, the Aryans lived in the land known as "Sapta Sindhu" meaning Land of the Seven Rivers.
The names of the seven rivers were: Sindhu (Indus), Vipash (Beas), Vitasta (Jhelum), Parushni (Ravi), Asikni (Chenab), Shutudri (Satluj) and Saraswati.
The Battle of the Ten Kings took place on the banks of the river Ravi (then Parusni) near Manusa, west of Kurukshetra.
PoliticalThe head of the government was known as Rajan.
The largest political and administrative unit was Jana in Rig Vedic times.
The name of the basic unit of political organization was "Kula".
Multiple families together formed a "grama", leader of "grama" was called "Gramani".
Groups of villages were known as "visu", headed by "vishayapati".
Tribal assemblies were known as Sabhas (judicial function) and Samitis.
Tribals, refered as panchajana - Yadu, Turvasa, Druhya, Anu and Paru.
SocialWomen occupied respectable positions and were allowed to participate in Sabhas and Samitis.
There were women poets such as "Apala, Lopamudra, Viswavara, and Ghosa".
Cows became very important among cattle.
Monogamy was practiced but polygamy was present among royalty and noble families.
There was no practice of child marriage.
Social distinctions existed but were not followed rigidly and hereditary.
EconomicAryans were generally pastoral and cattle-rearing people.
Their occupation was agriculture, carpenters made chariots and ploughs but no permanent shelter were found.
A huge number of articles were made with copper, bronze, and iron by workers.
Spinning was done for making cotton and woolen fabrics.
Goldsmiths designed ornaments and potters made various kinds of vessels for domestic use.
Trade was done by the barter system at first but later it shifted to gold coins called "nishka" (also a neck ornament) for large transactions.
ReligionThey worshipped natural forces like earth, fire, wind, rain, thunder, etc. by personifying them into many gods.
Indra (thunder) was the most important god.
Other gods were Prithvi (earth), Agni (fire), Varuna (rain) and Vayu (wind).
Female gods were Usha and Aditi.
There were no rituals for temples and idol worship.
Later Vedic Civilization (1000 BC - 600 BC)
PoliticalLarger kingdoms were named "Mahajanapadas" or "rashtras".
The power of the king had increased and he was forced to perform various rituals and sacrifices for making his position strong like Rajasuya (consecration ceremony), Asvamedha (horse sacrifice), and Vajpeyi (chariot race).
The titles of kings were Rajavisvajanan, Ahilabhuvanapathi (lord of all earth), Ekrat, and Samrat (sole ruler).
The "Samiti" and the "Sabha" were diminished.
SocialThe Varna system became important and society was divided into four divisions - Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras.
Various sub-castes were divided on the basis of occupation.
Women were treated as inferior and subordinate to men and also lost their political position of attending assemblies.
Child marriages were common in society.
EconomicMore land was made available for cultivation by clearing forests.
Agriculture became the main occupation of people to grow barley (Yava), rice, and wheat.
Among industrial activity metalwork, leatherwork, carpentry, and pottery advancement became important.
Internal trade and foreign trade (Babylon through the sea) also became extensive.
Hereditary merchants (Vaniya) formed a different class.
Vaisyas indulged in trade and commerce organized themselves into guilds called "ganas".
Gold coins like "satamana" (besides "nishka") and silver coins like "krishnala" - were used as medium of exchange.
ReligionIndra and Agni lost their importance and Prajapathi (the creator), Vishnu (the protector) and Rudra (the destroyer) became the main gods.
Rituals became more elaborate and the importance of prayers declined.
The priesthood became hereditary and they dictated the rules for these rituals and sacrifices.
As a strong protest against the priesthood, Buddhism and Jainism were raised at the end of this period.