CHAPTER-12 : The Age of the Rig Veda

Ancient History of India
Short Notes or Revision Notes 


Arrival of the Indo-Aryans

  • Origin: Indo-Iranians (Indo-Aryans & Iranians) migrated from Central Asia.
    • Andronovo culture (entire Central Asia, 2nd millennium BC).
    • Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC, 1900-1500 BC): covered south Central Asia (Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan).
  • Early Settlements in India:
    • Eastern Afghanistan, North-West Frontier Province, Punjab, western Uttar Pradesh.
    • Sarasvati River (Rig Veda): Identified with Helmand River (south Afghanistan).
    • Land of the Seven Rivers.

Aryan Society: Conflicts and Governance

  • Tribal Conflicts:
    • Indo-Aryans fought with both:
      • Pre-Aryan inhabitants.
      • Each other (Panchajana – five tribes).

Aryan Society: Economy and Livelihood

  • Agriculture:
    • Known to pre-Aryans (possibly for fodder).
    • Importance of cattle evident in Rig Veda (warfare – “gavishthi” – search for cows).
  • Bhagwanpura Site:
    • Overlapping layers of Painted Grey Ware and “late Harappan” pottery found (dated 1600-1000 BC, coinciding with Rig Veda period).

Aryan Society: Political Structure

  • Tribal Chiefdom:
    • Leader: Rajan (king) – chosen by tribal assembly (samiti) for war leadership.
    • Role: Protector of the tribe.
    • Women participated in Sabha (assembly) and Vidatha (council) during Rig Vedic times.
  • Military Leader:Senani – head of the army.
  • Land and Pastoral Management:
    • Vrajapati – officer overseeing large areas of land or pasture.
    • Kulapas – heads of families who fought in battles.
    • Grammi – head of a small fighting unit (grama) – evolved from leader of kin-based unit.

Aryan Society: Social Structure

  • Primary Unit:Tribe (jana) – strong loyalty.
    • Smaller units: vis (mentioned 170 times in Rig Veda).
  • Social Differentiation:Caused by conquest of indigenous people.

Aryan Society: Religion

  • Main Deities:
    • Indra (war god) – 250 hymns in Rig Veda.
    • Agni (fire god) – 200 hymns.
    • Varuna (water god).
    • Soma (plant god, intoxicating drink named after him).
    • Maruts (storm gods).
  • Other Important Figures:
    • Sarasvati (river goddess).
    • Aditi, Usha (dawn goddess).

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