IGNOU HISTORY Study Notes for IAS, UPSC Exams
Modern India 1857-1964
THE EARLY VEDIC SOCIETY
12.2.1 Literary Sources
12.2.2 Archaeological Sources
12.3 The Aryan Invasion-A Myth or A Reality?
12.8 Let Us Sum Up
12.9 Key words
12.10 Answers to Check Your Progress Exercises
After studying this unit, you will be able to:
- learn about the various sources through which we can attempt to know about the Early Vedic period,
- examine the theory of a large scale migration by the Indo-Aryan5 through the sources, and
- know about the pature of economy, society, polity and religion of the Early Vedic people.
In Units 10 and 11, you have seen that in different regions of India communities of different stages of cultural development were present during Ca. 2000-1000 B.C. Their cultures were essently agro-pastoral and our understanding of thesc cultures is based entirely on archaeological remains because with the exception of Harappa culture,, none of these cultureal have left behind any written records. la thia unit and in the following unit, howeva, we ahdl be foe* on the evidence provided by a voluminous body of religious texta which are considered be the kli-t lltorary records of India. We ahall also try to supplement this evidence with, wherever relevant, archaeological evidence. The Rlgvedn is considered to be earliest collection of hymns available, and so, we shall start by examining the Rlgveda for an understanding of the Early Vedic period and then go on to other Vedas and allied texts which are placed later. This exercise is necessary for two reasons. First, the Vedas are thought to have been composed by the Aryans and it was long believed that the Aryans played a major role in civilizing the Indian subcontinent. The contents of the kigveda, if they are analysed carefully, do not give the impression of a very advanced material culture. On the other hand, many of the material traits, which are characteristic of Indian civilization, are already present in the non-Vedic archaeological cultures in different parts of India. Second, when the contents of the Rigveda are compared with the contents of LaterVedasand allied texts, it becomes clear that significant changes took place in the Vedic society itself. This means that there was no lked cultural pattern which can be called Vedic culture or Aryan culture
The core geographical area to which the evidence of the Rigveda vodd relate was Sapta-Smdhava or the land of seven rivers. This would correspond to the whole of Punjab and its neighbouring region Haryana, but Rigvedic geography also included the Gomal plains, southern Afghanistan and southern Jammu and Kashmir