Vedic Composition

  1. Samhitas (1700-1100 BCE)
  • collections of mantras and benedictions
  • the term Veda is often used to refer to these Samhitas
  • There are four “Vedic” Samhitas
  1. Rigveda
  2. Yajurveda
  3. Samaveda
  4. Atharva Veda
  5. Brahmanas
  • commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices
  • brahmanas may either form separate texts or can be partly integrated into the text of the samhitas
  • They may also include the Aranyakas and Upanishads
  1. Aranyakas
  • Third part of the Vedas
  • Text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices
  • “wilderness texts” or “forest treaties” – written in forests
  • two types of aranyakas
  • Chandogya aranyaka
  • Jaiminiya Aranyaka
  • composed by people who meditated in the woods as recluses
  • They focus on meditation and oppose rituals and sacrifies
  1. Upanishads
  • Upani-sad that means ‘to sit down near someone’
  • text discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge
  • Also known as Vedanta
  • There are 108 Upanishads
  • Upanishads are the culmination of ancient Indian philosophical ideas
  • Upanishads also give less importance to ceremonies and sacrifices
  • Upanishads are philosophical works in dialogue form
  • our nation motto Satyameva Jayate is taken from the Mundaka Unanishad


Atharva Veda

  • Latest of the four Vedas
  • Entirely different from the other three Vedas in content and style
  • describes the popular beliefs and superstitious of the folks
  • these hymns are used to ward off the evil spirits
  • It has two divisions
  1. Paippalada
  2. Saunakiya
  • divided into 20 kandas and has 711 hymns and a collection of 5687 mantras
  • Brahmanas of Atharvaveda – Gopatha brahmana



  • saman i.e. ‘melody’, is a ‘collection of melodies
  • meant to be sung at the time of Soma sacrifice
  • consists of 1549 verses
  • Gandharvaveda
  • Upveda of samavedas
  • Also called as Natya sashtra
  • Brahmanas of Samaveda
  • Panchavish Brahmana
  • Jaiminiya Brahmana
  • Shadvish Brahmana


  • The book of the Adharyu priests
  • prescribes the procedures for rituals or Yajnas
  • There are two main texts
  • Sukla Yajurveda or Vajasaneyi
  • Krsna-Yajurveda
  • Brahmanas of Yajur Veda
  • Kasthaka
  • Maitrayani
  • Kapilathakatha
  • Taittriya


  • World’s oldest religious texts in continued use
  • Composed between 1500-1200 BCE
  • The texts is organized into
  • 10 Mandalas
  • contains 1028 hymns (suktas)
  • Mandalas 2-7, are the oldest part of the Rigveda and the shortest books
  • The first and the tenth mandalas are the youngest; they are also the longest books, of 191 suktas each
  • Mandalas are subdivided into Suktas, rcas and padas respectively
  • 9th Mandala is completely devoted to Soma
  • The 10th mandala purusashukta mentions the varna syatem
  • Rigveda has five branches
  • Sakalya
  • Baskala
  • Asvalayana
  • Sankhayana
  • Mandukya
  • The total mantras in Rigveda are 10,600
  • Brahmanas of Rigveda
  1. Kaushitaki
  2. Aitreya
  3. Samakyana

Vedic Literature

Two divisions

  • Shruti
  • Body of sacred texts of divine origin comprising the central canon of Hinduism
  • Believed to be a direct revelation of the “cosmic sound of truth”
  • The first source of dharma is Sruti: the Vedas or Revelations
  • Smriti
  • Literally “that which is remembered”
  • of human origin
  • Auxiliary treatises of the Vedas and are the law books of Indian society
  • smriti is the second source of authority for dharma
  • Composed after the Vedas around 500 BCE

Four Vedas

  • Rigeveda
  • Yajurveda
  • Samaveda
  • Atharva Veda
  • Each Vedas Individually consistis of
  1. Samhitas
  2. Brahmanas
  3. Aranyakas
  4. Upnishads


  • Upveda (“applied knowledge”)
  • Subjects of certain technical works
  • Divisions
  • Dharnurveda (deals with the art of archery)
  • Gandharvaveda(deals with the music)
  • Silpaveda (deals with are and architecture)
  • Ayurveda (deals with medicine)


Vedic of Society

Society (Early Vedic period)

  • Early Vedic people didn’t fight for territories
  • Tribes were called Vis
  • There was no Varma system in early Vedic period
  • Families were Patriarchal and Patrilineal
  • Three types of Marriages existed
  • Monogamy
  • Polygamy
  • Polyandry
  • Superstitions were employed to cure the diseases
  • No officers for administering justice
  • Status of Women
  • Women were equal to men
  • Women could choose their husbands and could remarry if their husbands died or disappeared
  • Both women sages and female gods existed
  • Women are allowed to study Vedas

Society (Later Vedic period)

  • Old tribes grouped to form larger political units
  • monarchical states began to form
  • Rice and Wheat became chief crops
  • Wars were fought for territory
  • Vidhata disappeared completely
  • social boundaries, roles, status and ritual purity for each of the groups
  • still kings did not possess any standing army
  • People began to practise gotra exogamy
  • society was divided under varna system
  • Brahmana’s
  • cult of sacrifices increased their position
  • had monopoly of priestly knowledge and expertise
  • also claimed portions of territory as dakshina
  • Vaishya’s
  • constituted the common people
  • aggigned the producing functions
  • began to trade at the end of the Vedic period
  • Shudras
  • All three upper varnas were entitled to upanayana or sacred thread
  • Status of Wemen
  • Women could not participate in Sabha
  • functions were demarcated for women
  • women were prevented from attending rituals
  • Male dominance increased to a great extent
  • women were thought to be inferior and subordinate to men

Marriage types

  • Asura Vivah
  • Marriage by purchase
  • Arsa Vivah
  • A token bride-price of a Cow and a Bull was given
  • Brahma Vivah
  • Marriage of a girl with the boy of same Varna with Vedic rites and rituals
  • Daiva Vivah
  • father donates his daughter to a priest as Dakshina
  • Gandharva Vivah
  • It was a kind of love marriage or swyamavara type
  • Prajapati Vivah
  • Marriage without dowry
  • Rakshasha Vivah
  • Marriage by abduction
  • Paisach Vivah
  • Seduction of a girl while sleeping


Vedic Culture


  • Kinship was the basis of social structure
  • Clothes of cotton, wool and animal skin were worn
  • Recreation
  • Flute (vana), lute(veena) , harp, cymbals, and drums were played
  • Dancing dramas, chariot racing, and gambling were other popular pastimes
  • Settlements
  • Lived in mud settlements
  • Food
  • Milk products, grains, fruits and vegetables were consumed


  • Boghaz-Koi inscriptions
  • Found in Cilicia the capital of the ancient Hittites
  • Describes Vedic gods and goddesses
  • Indra, Varuna, Mitra and Nasatas were mentioned


  • Bhagwanputra (Haryana)
  • Painted Grey Ware site
  • neither iron objects nor cereals were found
  • 13 roomed mud house
  • Punjab
  • Painted Grey Ware site


Governance and Defence during Vedic Period

Vidhata (Tribal Assembly)

  • Sabha
  • a kin-based assembly with selected body of Elders or Nobles
  • Women actively participated in the deliberations with men
  • Women were stopped to attend assembly in later Vedic period
  • Sabha performed Judicial Functions
  • Samiti
  • Assembly of the tribe for transacting tribal business
  • dealt with policy decisions and political business
  • Samiti did not have judicial functions
  • Vidhata
  • Women also participated
  • Gana


  • Vrajapati
  • had controls over pasture land
  • Gramini
  • Military leader
  • later became the head of a village
  • Kulapa
  • Head of the family
  • Spasa
  • Spy
  • Dutas
  • Envoys
  • Police
  • Ugra
  • Jivagribha
  • Madhyamasi
  • Mediator

Religion during Vedic Period

Rig Vedic Religion

  • They worshipped the forces of nature
  • Rigvedic hymns were sung to pacify their deities
  • There were no places of worship such as temples
  • Indra was the most prominent deity in the Vedic society
  • Sacrifices
  • Ashvamedha (horse sacrifice)
  • consecrated horse roams the kingdoms for a year
  • horse was followed by a chosen band of warriors
  • kingdoms and chiefdoms in which the horse wandered had to pay homage or prepare to battle
  • Rajasuya sacrifice
  • Confers supreme power on kings
  • Major Dieties
  • Indira
  • Warlord
  • Also called Purundara
  • Agni
  • Intermediary between people and God
  • Varuna
  • Upholder of natural order
  • Soma
  • God of plants
  • Intoxicating drink is called soma
  • Marut
  • storm
  • Usha
  • Dawn
  • She is a female lord

Later Vedic Religion

  • Cult of sacrifice was prominent
  • Animals were killed on a large scale
  • sacrifice was known as Yajna
  • Indra and Agni lost their importance and Prajapati took their place
  • Rudra and Vishnu became important
  • Symbolic worship increased


Organization of Vedic people


  1. Family (Kula)
  • led by Grihapati
  1. Village (Grama)
  • led by gramini
  1. Clan (Vis)
  • led by Vispati
  1. People of Tribe (Jana)
  2. Country (Rashtra)


  • Chief of tribe
  • Other name – Gopati Janasya
  • Duty is
  • to protect his tribe and their cattle
  • to lead campaigns to possess cattle
  • Visa
  • Election of chief by tribes
  • Mentioned in Atharva Veda

Vedic Period

Origin of Vedic period

  • Three hypothesis
  • Indo-Aryan migrations
  • Indo-European migrations
  • Indigenous Aryans
  • from Sapta Sindhu
  • Original home of Aryans
  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak
  • Arctic region
  • Swami Dayananda Sarswati
  • Tibet
  • Max Mueller
  • Central Asia
  • Hurz Feldt
  • Turkistan
  • J C Rod
  • Bacteria

Divided Into

  • Early Vedic Period ( 1750-1000 BCE)
  • Established at Sapta Sindhva Region
  • Sindhu (Indus)
  • Vitasta (Jhelum)
  • Askini (Chenab)
  • Purushni( Ravi)
  • Vipas(Beas)
  • Shatudri(Sutlej)
  • Saraswati – Lost in the sands of Rajasthan
  • Aryans migrated by eliminating the indigenous tribes Dasas and Dasyus
  • Dasyus were phallus worshippers
  • introduced chariots driven by horses
  • Military conflicts
  • Battle of Ten Kings
  • Between the tribe Bharatas, led by their chief Sudas, against a confederation of ten tribes
  • Bharatas and the Purus merged into a new tribe Kuru after the war
  • Later Vedic period (1000-500 BCE)
  • Expansion
  • Use of Iron axes expanded settlement towards western Gangetic plains
  • Vedic society transitioned from semi-nomadic life to settled agriculture
  • Painted grey Ware sites belong to later Vedic period


Decline of Indus Valley Civilization

Decline of IVC

  • Natural causes
  • Decrease in fertility of soil due to salinity
  • shifting of river channels
  • drying of rivers
  • Floods
  • Drought
  • Deforestation
  • Indo-Aryan Migration
  • Decline in trade with Egypt and Mesopotamia
  • Major hypothesis
  • John Marshall and others – Environmental degradation
  • Mortimer wheeler – Aryan invasion


Indus Valley Civilization – Society

Political organization

  • No clear picture yet
  • no religious structures
  • no ruling of preists
  • Might have been ruled by merchants
  • Nature of inheritance is not known in Harappan society

Recreational activities

  • Terracotta figurines
  • Fire-baked earthen clayware
  • Used as toys or objects of worship
  • Represent birds, dogs, sheep, cattle and monkeys
  • Women figures were more in number than figures of men
  • Yoga
  • Harappans practised yoga
  • Terracotta figurines in various yogic postures
  • Stringed musical instruments
  • toys and games
  • Paintings
  • Only pottery paintings were found
  • no wall paintings have been discovered till date


Indus Valley Civilization-Skilled Occupations


  • Seal-making
  • Shell working
  • Boat working
  • Masonry
  • Ornament making
  • Pottery
  • Terracotta manufacture
  • Spinning and weaving


  • Wheel made pottery dominated
  • Still handmade pottery was practised
  • designs of trees and circles were common


  • Long barrel shaped cornelian beads
  • Harappan gold is not bright enough due to high silver content
  • Gold and silver jewellery
  • Steatite bracelets and amulets

Sources of raw materials

  • Copper – Khetri mines of Rajasthan
  • Chert blades – Rohri hills of Sindh
  • Carnelian beads – Gujarat and Sindh
  • Lead – South India
  • Lapis – Lazuli- Kashmir and Afghanistan
  • Turquoise and Jade – Central Asia and Iran
  • Amethyst – Maharashtra
  • Agate, chalcedony and carnelian – Saurashtra


Indus Valley Civilization Inventions, Tools and Measurement system

Inventions by IVC

  • Dental drill
  • Bow drill
  • Button
  • Furnace
  • Levee
  • Ruler
  • Step well


  • copper was mined from Khetri copper mines of Rajasthan
  • Copper and Bronze tools were used
  • Flat-axes, chisels, arrowhead, spearheads, knives, saws, razors and fish-hooks
  • No use of Iron
  • Largest number f copper tools found at Gunjeria

Measurement System

  • Cubical and spherical units were made of chert, jasper and agate
  • Decimal system
  • Multiples of 16 was used to measure weights
  • Sixteen Chhatank = ser
  • 16 annas = one rupee
  • Smallest division marked on an ivory scale
  • founded in lothal
  • approximately 1.704 mm
  • smallest division ever recorded on a scale of the Bronze


Indus Valley Civilization – Agriculture and Domestication


  • Agriculture was practised along the river banks
  • Indus river inundated the region
  • Floods took place annually
  • produced two types of wheat and barley
  • People sowed in flood plains during November and reaped in April
  • First people to produce cotton
  • Sesamum and mustard were also cultivated
  • channel or canal irrigation was absent


  • Humped bulls were predominant
  • reared buffaloes, sheep, oxen, asses, goats, pigs etc
  • both dogs and cats were grown as pets
  • kept asses and Camels for transport
  • people were aquainted with Elephant and Rhinoceros


Harappan or Indus Valley Civilization Script


  • Indus script
  • inscribed on
  • Seals
  • Bones
  • Ivory
  • Copper tablets
  • Pottery
  • Not deciphered yet
  • did not write long inscriptions
  • script is pictographic
  • no connection with scripts of western Asia
  • scripts is not alphabetical
  • Symbol of fishes were depicted predominantly
  • Writing style
  • Boustrophedon
  • Writing from right to left and from left to right in alternate lines