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Topic : Deciphering Rigveda

GS-1 Mains  : Ancient History

Revision Notes


Aim: Establish a link between the Harappan civilization and the Vedic people.

Rigveda Analysis & Archaeological Evidence:

  • Understanding Rigveda: Deeper understanding of the Rigveda text is crucial to correlate it with archaeological findings.
  • Fire Worship: Ritual platforms and fire altars unearthed at Rakhigarhi (Harappan site) correspond to fire worship mentioned in Rigveda.

Dating the Vedas:

  • Current Debate: Origin of Vedas placed between 1500-2000 BC (some historians) or further back at 2500 BC (4500 years ago) by others.
  • Genetic Evidence: The 2500 BC date aligns with genetic evidence from a Harappan woman’s remains at Rakhigarhi.

Saraswati River:

  • Rigveda Mentions: The river is mentioned over 70 times in the Rigveda.
  • Archaeological Discoveries: Most Harappan settlements were found along the Saraswati riverbanks.

Iron Use Absence:

  • Rigveda Omission: The Rigveda doesn’t mention iron, so correlation with later iron-using settlements (2400 years old) near the Ganges and Deccan is unlikely.

South Asian Ancestor Theory:

  • NCERT Revision: Contrary to the Aryan migration theory (large-scale migration from Europe to Central Asia and then South Asia), the revised NCERT textbooks suggest Harappans were indigenous to India (dating back to 10,000 BC).

The Vedic Age (1500-600 BCE):

  • Vedas: The Vedic Age is characterized by the composition of the Vedas, the oldest Hindu scriptures.
  • Society & Culture: Largely pastoral and tribal, with Aryans as the dominant group.
  • Religious Practices: Composed hymns and performed rituals centered around gods like Indra, Agni, Varuna, and Soma.
  • The Four Vedas:
    • Rigveda: Collection of 1028 hymns (oldest compositions, depicting early Vedic life).
    • Samaveda: Verses from Rigveda arranged for singing.
    • Yajurveda: Two recensions (Black & White) with public and individual rituals.
    • Atharvaveda: Collection of magic spells and charms.

End of Vedic Age:

  • Marked the beginning of the later Vedic period, with a shift from rituals to philosophical inquiries (Upanishads).

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