Vedic period

The Vedic period, or Vedic age (c. 1500 – c. 500 BCE), is the period in the history of the northern Indian subcontinent between the end of the urban Indus Valley Civilisation and a second urbanisation which began in the central Indo-Gangetic Plain c. 600 BCE. It gets its name from the Vedas, which are liturgical texts containing details of life during this period that have been interpreted to be historical[1] and constitute the primary sources for understanding the period. These documents, alongside the corresponding archaeological record, allow for the evolution of the Vedic culture to be traced and inferred.[2]

The Vedas were composed and orally transmitted with precision by speakers of an Old Indo-Aryan language who had migrated into the northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent early in this period. The Vedic society was patriarchal and patrilineal. Early Vedic Aryans were a Late Bronze Age society centred in the Punjab, organised into tribes rather than kingdoms, and primarily sustained by a pastoral way of life. Around c. 1200–1000 BCE, Vedic Aryans spread eastward to the fertile western Ganges Plain and adopted iron tools which allowed for clearing of forest and the adoption of a more settled, agricultural way of life. The second half of the Vedic period was characterised by the emergence of towns, kingdoms, and a complex social differentiation distinctive to India,[2] and the Kuru Kingdom's codification of orthodox sacrificial ritual.[3][4] During this time, the central Ganges Plain was dominated by a related but non-Vedic Indo-Aryan culture. The end of the Vedic period witnessed the rise of true cities and large states (called mahajanapadas) as well as śramaṇa movements (including Jainism and Buddhism) which challenged the Vedic orthodoxy.[5]

The Vedic period saw the emergence of a hierarchy of social classes that would remain influential. Vedic religion developed into Brahmanical orthodoxy, and around the beginning of the Common Era, the Vedic tradition formed one of the main constituents of the so-called "Hindu synthesis".[6]

Archaeological cultures identified with phases of Vedic material culture include the Ochre Coloured Pottery culture, the Gandhara grave culture, the Black and red ware culture and the Painted Grey Ware culture.[7]

Early Vedic period
Early Vedic Culture (1700-1100 BCE)
Geographical rangeIndian subcontinent
PeriodBronze Age India
Datesc. 1500 – c. 1100 BCE
Preceded byIndus Valley Civilisation
Followed byLate Vedic period, Kuru Kingdom, Panchala
Late Vedic period
Late Vedic Culture (1100-500 BCE)
Geographical rangeIndian subcontinent
PeriodIron Age India
Datesc. 1100 – c. 500 BCE
Preceded byEarly Vedic culture
Followed byHaryanka dynasty, Mahajanapadas

History

Origins

Indo-Iranian origins
Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC, Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan movements.

The commonly accepted period of earlier Vedic age is dated back to the second millennium BCE.[8] After the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation, which ended c. 1900 BCE,[9][10] groups of Indo-Aryan peoples migrated into north-western India and started to inhabit the northern Indus Valley.[11] The Indo-Aryans were a branch of the Indo-Iranians, which—according to the most widespread hypothesis—have originated in the Andronovo culture[12] in the Bactria-Margiana area, in present northern Afghanistan.[13][note 1]

Some writers and archaeologists have opposed the notion of a migration of Indo-Aryans into India.[20] Edwin Bryant and Laurie Patton used the term "Indo-Aryan Controversy" for an oversight of the Indo-Aryan Migration theory, and some of its opponents.[21] These ideas are outside the academic mainstream.[note 2] Mallory and Adams note that two types of models "enjoy significant international currency" as to the Indo-European homeland, namely the Anatolian hypothesis, and a migration out of the Eurasian steppes.[25] According to Upinder Singh, "The original homeland of the Indo-Europeans and Indo-Aryans is the subject of continuing debate among philologists, linguists, historians, archaeologists and others. The dominant view is that the Indo-Aryans came to the subcontinent as immigrants. Another view, advocated mainly by some Indian scholars, is that they were indigenous to the subcontinent."[26]

The knowledge about the Aryans comes mostly from the Rigveda-samhita,[27] i. e. the oldest layer of the Vedas, which was composed c. 1500–1200 BCE.[28][29][13] They brought with them their distinctive religious traditions and practices.[30] The Vedic beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era were closely related to the hypothesised Proto-Indo-European religion,[31] and the Indo-Iranian religion.[32] According to Anthony, the Old Indic religion probably emerged among Indo-European immigrants in the contact zone between the Zeravshan River (present-day Uzbekistan) and (present-day) Iran.[33] It was "a syncretic mixture of old Central Asian and new Indo-European elements",[33] which borrowed "distinctive religious beliefs and practices"[34] from the Bactria–Margiana culture.[34][note 3]

Early Vedic Period (c. 1500 – c. 1200 BCE)

Cremation Urn with Lid LACMA AC1994.234.8a-b
Cremation urn of the Gandhara grave culture (c. 1200 BCE), associated with Vedic material culture

The Rigveda contains accounts of conflicts between the Aryas and the Dasas and Dasyus. It describes Dasas and Dasyus as people who do not perform sacrifices (akratu) or obey the commandments of gods (avrata). Their speech is described as mridhra which could variously mean soft, uncouth, hostile, scornful or abusive. Other adjectives which describe their physical appearance are subject to many interpretations. However, some modern scholars such as Asko Parpola connect the Dasas and Dasyus to Iranian tribes Dahae and Dahyu and believe that Dasas and Dasyus were early Indo-Aryan immigrants who arrived into the subcontinent before the Vedic Aryans.[36][37]

Accounts of military conflicts between the various tribes of Vedic Aryans are also described in the Rigveda. Most notable of such conflicts was the Battle of Ten Kings, which took place on the banks of the river Parushni (modern day Ravi).[note 4] The battle was fought between the tribe Bharatas, led by their chief Sudas, against a confederation of ten tribes.[40] The Bharatas lived around the upper regions of the river Saraswati, while the Purus, their western neighbours, lived along the lower regions of Saraswati. The other tribes dwelt north-west of the Bharatas in the region of Punjab.[41] Division of the waters of Ravi could have been a reason for the war.[42] The confederation of tribes tried to inundate the Bharatas by opening the embankments of Ravi, yet Sudas emerged victorious in the Battle of Ten Kings.[43] Purukutsa, the chief of the Purus, was killed in the battle and the Bharatas and the Purus merged into a new tribe, the Kuru, after the war.[41]

Later Vedic period (c. 1100 – c. 500 BCE)

Painted Grey Ware - Sonkh - 1000-600 BCE - Showcase 6-15 - Prehistory and Terracotta Gallery - Government Museum - Mathura 2013-02-24 6461
Pottery of the Painted Grey Ware culture (c. 1000-600 BCE), associated with Vedic material culture

After the 12th century BCE, as the Rigveda had taken its final form, the Vedic society, which is associated with the Kuru-Pancala region but were not the only Indo-Aryan people in northern India,[44] transitioned from semi-nomadic life to settled agriculture in north-western India.[43] Possession of horses remained an important priority of Vedic leaders and a remnant of the nomadic lifestyle,[45] resulting in trade routes beyond the Hindu Kush to maintain this supply as horses needed for cavalry and sacrifice could not be bred in India.[46] The Gangetic plains had remained out of bounds to the Vedic tribes because of thick forest cover. After 1000 BCE, the use of iron axes and ploughs became widespread and the jungles could be cleared with ease. This enabled the Vedic Aryans to extent their settlements into the western area of the Ganga-Yamuna Doab.[47] Many of the old tribes coalesced to form larger political units.[48]

The Vedic religion was further developed with the emergence of the Kuru kingdom, systematising its religious literature and developing the Śrauta ritual.[49][50][51] It is associated with the Painted Grey Ware culture (c.1200-600 BCE), which did not expand east of the Ganga-Yamnuya Doab.[44] It differed from the related, yet markedly different, culture of the Central Ganges region, which was associated with the Northern Black Polished Ware and the Mahajanapadas of Kosala and Magadha.[52]

In this period the varna system emerged, state Kulke and Rothermund,[53] which in this stage of Indian history were a "hierarchical order of estates which reflected a division of labor among various social classes". The Vedic period estates were four: Brahmin priests and warrior nobility stood on top, free peasants and traders were the third, and slaves, labourers and artisans, many belonging to the indigenous people, were the fourth.[54][55][56] This was a period where agriculture, metal, and commodity production, as well as trade, greatly expanded,[57] and the Vedic era texts including the early Upanishads and many Sutras important to later Hindu culture were completed.[58]

ചിതിയുടെയും-ഉപകരണങ്ങളുടെയും മാതൃക
Modern replica of utensils and falcon shaped altar used for Agnicayana, an elaborate Śrauta ritual originating from the Kuru Kingdom,[49] around 1000 BCE.

The Kuru Kingdom, the earliest Vedic "state", was formed by a "super-tribe" which joined several tribes in a new unit. To govern this state, Vedic hymns were collected and transcribed, and new rituals were developed, which formed the now orthodox Śrauta rituals.[59] Two key figures in this process of the development of the Kuru state were the king Parikshit and his successor Janamejaya, transforming this realm into the dominant political and cultural power of northern Iron Age India.[49]

The most well-known of the new religious sacrifices that arose in this period were the Ashvamedha (horse sacrifice).[60] This sacrifice involved setting a consecrated horse free to roam the kingdoms for a year. The horse was followed by a chosen band of warriors. The kingdoms and chiefdoms in which the horse wandered had to pay homage or prepare to battle the king to whom the horse belonged. This sacrifice put considerable pressure on inter-state relations in this era.[60] This period saw also the beginning of the social stratification by the use of varna, the division of Vedic society in Kshatriya, Brahmins, Vaishya and Shudra.[59]

The Kuru kingdom declined after its defeat by the non-Vedic Salva tribe, and the political centre of Vedic culture shifted east, into the Panchala kingdom on the Ganges, under King Keśin Dālbhya (approximately between 900 and 750 BCE).[49] Later, in the 8th or 7th century BCE, the kingdom of Videha emerged as a political centre farther to the East, in what is today northern Bihar of India and southeastern Nepal, reaching its prominence under the king Janaka, whose court provided patronage for Brahmin sages and philosophers such as Yajnavalkya, Uddalaka Aruni, and Gargi Vachaknavi;[7] Panchala also remained prominent during this period, under its king Pravahana Jaivali.[61]

Towards urbanisation

By the 6th century BCE, the political units consolidated into large kingdoms called Mahajanapadas. The process of urbanisation had begun in these kingdoms, commerce and travel flourished, even regions separated by large distances became easy to access.[62] Anga, a small kingdom to the east of Magadha (on the door step of modern-day West Bengal), formed the eastern boundary of the Vedic culture.[63] Yadavas expanded towards the south and settled in Mathura. To the south of their kingdom was Vatsa which was governed from its capital Kausambi. The Narmada River and parts of North Western Deccan formed the southern limits.[64][65] The newly formed states struggled for supremacy and started displaying imperial ambitions.[66]

The end of the Vedic period is marked by linguistic, cultural and political changes. The grammar of Pāṇini marks a final apex in the codification of Sutra texts, and at the same time the beginning of Classical Sanskrit.[67] The invasion of Darius I of the Indus valley in the early 6th century BCE marks the beginning of outside influence, continued in the kingdoms of the Indo-Greeks.[68] Meanwhile, in the Kosala-Magadha region, the shramana movements (including Jainism and Buddhism) objected the self-imposed authority and orthodoxy of the intruding Brahmins and their Vedic scriptures and ritual.[69][5] According to Bronkhorst, the sramana culture arose in "greater Magadha," which was Indo-European, but not Vedic. In this culture, kshatriyas were placed higher than Brahmins, and it rejected Vedic authority and rituals.[70][71]

Culture

Society

While Vedic society was relatively egalitarian in the sense that a distinct hierarchy of socio-economic classes or castes was absent,[72][73] the Vedic period saw the emergence of a hierarchy of social classes.[3][4] Political hierarchy was determined by rank, where rajan stood at the top and dasi at the bottom.[73] The words Brahamana and Kshatriya occur in various family books of the Rigveda, but they are not associated with the term varna. The words Vaishya and Shudra are absent. Verses of the Rigveda, such as 3.44-45, indicate the absence of strict social hierarchy and the existence of social mobility:[36]

O, Indra, fond of soma, would you make me the protector of people, or would you make me a king, would you make me a sage who has drunk soma, would you impart to me endless wealth.

The Vedic household was patriarchal and patrilineal. The institution of marriage was important and different types of marriages— monogamy, polygyny and polyandry are mentioned in the Rigveda. Both women sages and female gods were known to Vedic Aryans. However, hymns attributable to female sages are few and female gods were not as important as male ones. Women could choose their husbands and could remarry if their husbands died or disappeared.[73] While the wife enjoyed a respectable position, she was subordinate to her husband.[74] People consumed milk, milk products, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Meat eating is mentioned, however, cows are labelled aghnya (not to be killed). Clothes of cotton, wool and animal skin were worn.[73] Soma and sura were popular drinks in the Vedic society, of which soma was sanctified by religion. Flute (vana), lute (vina), harp, cymbals, and drums were the musical instruments played and a heptatonic scale was used.[74] Dancing, dramas, chariot racing, and gambling were other popular pastimes.[73]

The emergence of monarchical states in the later Vedic age led to a distancing of the rajan from the people and the emergence of a varna hierarchy. The society was divided into four social groups— Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. The later Vedic texts fixed social boundaries, roles, status and ritual purity for each of the groups. The Shatapatha Brahmana associates the Brahmana with purity of parentage, good conduct, glory, teaching or protecting people; Kshatriya with strength, fame, ruling, and warfare; Vaishya with material prosperity and production-related activities such as cattle rearing and agriculture; Shudras with the service of the higher varnas. The effects of Rajasuya sacrifice depended on the varna of the sacrificer. Rajasuya endowed Brahmana with lustre, Kshatriya with valour, Vaishya with procreative power and Shudra with stability. The hierarchy of the top three varnas is ambiguous in the later Vedic texts. Panchavamsha Brahmana and verse 13.8.3.11 of the Shatapatha Brahmana place Kshatriya over Brahmana and Vaishya, whereas, verse 1.1.4.12 places Brahmana and Vaishya over the Kshatriya and Shudra. The Purusha sukta visualised the four varnas as hierarchical, but inter-related parts of an organic whole.[75] Despite the increasing social stratification in the later Vedic times, hymns like Rigveda IX.112 suggest some amount of social mobility: "I am a reciter of hymns, my father a physician, and my mother grinds (corn) with stones. We desire to obtain wealth in various actions."[76][77]

Household became an important unit in the later Vedic age. The variety of households of the Vedic era gave way to an idealised household which was headed by a grihapati. The relations between husband and wife, father and son were hierarchically organised and the women were relegated to subordinate and docile roles. Polygyny was more common than polyandry and texts like Tattiriya Samhita indicate taboos around menstruating women. Various professions women took to are mentioned in the later Vedic texts. Women tended to cattle, milked cows, carded wool; were weavers, dyers, and corn grinders. Women warriors such as Vishphala, who lost a leg in battle, are mentioned. Two female philosophers are mentioned in the Upanishads.[78] Patrick Olivelle, in his translation of the Upanishads, writes that "the fact that these women are introduced without any attempt to justify or to explain how women could be engaged in theological matters suggests the relatively high social and religious position of at least women of some social strata during this period."[79]

Political organisation

Vedic weaponry
MET 2001 433 53 O.jpeg
Ancient Indian Antennae sword; Metalwork, 1500–500 BCE.
Ax Blade (Celt)
Ancient Indian Ax Blade, 1500–1000 BCE.

Early Vedic Aryans were organised into tribes rather than kingdoms. The chief of a tribe was called a rajan. The autonomy of the rajan was restricted by the tribal councils called sabha and samiti. The two bodies were, in part, responsible for the governance of the tribe. The rajan could not accede to the throne without their approval. The distinction between the two bodies is not clear. Arthur Llewellyn Basham, a noted historian and indologist, theorises that sabha was a meeting of great men in the tribe, whereas, samiti was a meeting of all free tribesmen. Some tribes had no hereditary chiefs and were directly governed by the tribal councils. Rajan had a rudimentary court which was attended by courtiers (sabhasad) and chiefs of sects (gramani). The main responsibility of the rajan was to protect the tribe. He was aided by several functionaries, including the purohita (chaplain), the senani (army chief), dutas (envoys) and spash (spies).[80] Purohita performed ceremonies and spells for success in war and prosperity in peace.[81]

In the later Vedic period, the tribes had consolidated into small kingdoms, which had a capital and a rudimentary administrative system.[82] To aid in governing these new states, the kings and their Brahmin priests arranged Vedic hymns into collections and developed a new set of rituals (the now orthodox Śrauta rituals) to strengthen the emerging social hierarchy.[49] The rajan was seen as the custodian of social order and the protector of rashtra (polity). Hereditary kingship started emerging and competitions like chariot races, cattle raids, and games of dice, which previously decided who was worthy of becoming a king, became nominal. Rituals in this era exalted the status of the king over his people. He was occasionally referred to as samrat (supreme ruler). The rajan's increasing political power enabled him to gain greater control over the productive resources. The voluntary gift offering (bali) became compulsory tribute; however, there was no organised system of taxation. Sabha and samiti are still mentioned in later Vedic texts, though, with the increasing power of the king, their influence declined.[83] By the end of the later Vedic age, different kinds of political systems such as monarchical states (rajya), oligarchical states (gana or sangha), and tribal principalities had emerged in India.[83]

According to Michael Witzel's analysis of the Kuru Kingdom, it can be characterized as the earliest Vedic "state", during the Middle Vedic Period.[49][84] However, Robert Bellah observes that it is difficult to "pin down" whether the Kurus were a true "state" or a complex chiefdom, as the Kuru kings notably never adopted royal titles higher than "rājan," which means "chief" rather than "king" in the Vedic context.[85] The Middle Vedic Period is also characterized by a lack of cities; Bellah compares this to early state formation in ancient Hawai'i and "very early Egypt," which were "territorial states" rather than "city-states," and thus "it was the court, not the city, that provided the center, and the court was often peripatetic."[86] Romila Thapar characterizes Vedic-era state formation as being in a condition of "arrested development," because local chiefs were relatively autonomous, and because surplus wealth that could have been directed towards state-building was instead used for the increasingly grandiose rituals that also served to structure social relations.[87] The period of the Upanishads, the final phase of the Vedic era, was approximately contemporaneous with a new wave of state formations, linked to the beginning of urbanization in the Ganges Valley: along with the growth of population and trade networks, these social and economic changes put pressure on older ways of life, setting the stage for the Upanishads and the subsequent sramana movements,[88] and the end of the Vedic Period, which was followed by the Mahajanapada period.

, archaeological data for the period of period from 1000 to 600 BCE shows a two-tiered settlement pattern in the Ganges Valley, with some "modest central places," suggestive of the existence of simple chiefdoms, with the Kurukshetra District itself displaying a more complex (albeit not yet urbanized) three-tiered hierarchy.[89] Subsequently, (after 600 BCE) there are four tiers of site sizes, including large towns and fortified cities, consistent with an urbanized state-level society.[90]

Economy

NavdatoliGoblet1300BCE
Ceramic goblet from Navdatoli, Malwa, 1300 BCE.

Economy in the Vedic period was sustained by a combination of pastoralism and agriculture.[74] There are references, in the Rigveda, to the leveling of fields, seed processing, and storage of grains in large jars. War bounty was also a major source of wealth.[73] Economic exchanges were conducted by gift giving, particularly to kings (bali) and priests (dana), and barter using cattle as a unit of currency. While gold is mentioned in some hymns, there is no indication of the use of coins. Metallurgy is not mentioned in the Rigveda, but the word ayas and instruments made from it such as razors, bangles, axes are mentioned. One verse mentions purification of ayas. Some scholars believe that ayas refers to iron and the words dham and karmara refer to iron-welders.[91] However, philological evidence indicates that ayas in the Rigveda refers only to copper and bronze, while iron or śyāma ayas, literally "black metal", first is mentioned in the post-Rigvedic Atharvaveda,[7][49] and therefore the Early Vedic Period was a Bronze Age culture whereas the Late Vedic Period was an Iron Age culture.

The transition of Vedic society from semi-nomadic life to settled agriculture in the later Vedic age led to an increase in trade and competition for resources.[92] Agriculture dominated the economic activity along the Ganges valley during this period.[93] Agricultural operations grew in complexity and usage of iron implements (krishna–ayas or shyama–ayas, literally black metal or dark metal) increased. Crops of wheat, rice, and barley were cultivated. Surplus production helped to support the centralised kingdoms that were emerging at this time.[49] New crafts and occupations such as carpentry, leather work, tanning, pottery, astrology, jewellery, dying, and winemaking arose.[94] Apart from copper, bronze, and gold, later Vedic texts also mention tin, lead, and silver.[95]

Panis in some hymns refers to merchants, in others to stingy people who hid their wealth and did not perform Vedic sacrifices. Some scholars suggest that Panis were semitic traders, but the evidence for this is slim.[41] Professions of warriors, priests, cattle-rearers, farmers, hunters, barbers, vintners and crafts of chariot-making, cart-making, carpentry, metal working, tanning, making of bows, sewing, weaving, making mats of grass and reed are mentioned in the hymns of the Rigveda. Some of these might have needed full-time specialists.[91] There are references to boats and oceans. Book X of the Rigveda refers to both eastern and western oceans. Individual property ownership did not exist and clans as a whole enjoyed rights over lands and herds. Enslavement (dasa, dasi) in the course of war or as a result of non-payment of debt is mentioned. However, slaves worked in households rather than production-related activities.[73]

Religion

An attempt to depict the creative activities of Prajapati
A steel engraving from the 1850s, which depicts the creative activities of Prajapati, a Vedic deity who presides over procreation and protection of life.

Vedic religion

Texts considered to date to the Vedic period are mainly the four Vedas, but the Brahmanas, Aranyakas and the older Upanishads as well as the oldest Śrautasutras are also considered to be Vedic. The Vedas record the liturgy connected with the rituals and sacrifices performed by the 16 or 17 Śrauta priests and the purohitas.

The rishis, the composers of the hymns of the Rigveda, were considered inspired poets and seers (in post-Vedic times understood as "hearers" of an eternally existing Veda, Śrauta means "what is heard").

The mode of worship was the performance of sacrifices (Yajna) which included the chanting of Rigvedic verses (see Vedic chant), singing of Samans and 'mumbling' of sacrificial mantras (Yajus). Yajna involved sacrifice and sublimation of the havana sámagri (herbal preparations) in the fire accompanied by the chanting of the Vedic mantras. The sublime meaning of the word yajna is derived from the Sanskrit verb yaj, which has a three-fold meaning of worship of deities (devapujana), unity (saògatikaraña) and charity (dána).[96] An essential element was the sacrificial fire—the divine Agni—into which oblations were poured, as everything offered into the fire was believed to reach God. People prayed for abundance of rain, cattle, sons, long life and gaining 'heaven'.

Vedic people believed in the transmigration of the soul, and the peepul tree and cow were sanctified by the time of the Atharvaveda.[97] Many of the concepts of Indian philosophy espoused later like Dharma, Karma etc. trace their root to the Vedas.[98]

The main deities of the Vedic pantheon were Indra, Agni (the sacrificial fire), and Soma and some deities of social order such as MitraVaruna, Aryaman, Bhaga and Amsa, further nature deities such as Surya (the Sun), Vayu (the wind), and Prithivi (the earth). Goddesses included Ushas (the dawn), Prithvi, and Aditi (the mother of the Aditya gods or sometimes the cow). Rivers, especially Saraswati, were also considered goddesses. Deities were not viewed as all-powerful. The relationship between humans and the deity was one of transaction, with Agni (the sacrificial fire) taking the role of messenger between the two. Strong traces of a common Indo-Iranian religion remain visible, especially in the Soma cult and the fire worship, both of which are preserved in Zoroastrianism.

Ethics in the Vedas are based on the concepts of Satya and Rta. Satya is the principle of integration rooted in the Absolute.[99] Whereas, Ṛta is the expression of Satya, which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it.[100] Conformity with Ṛta would enable progress whereas its violation would lead to punishment.

Influence on Hinduism

Around the beginning of the Common Era, the Vedic tradition formed one of the main constituents of the so-called "Hindu synthesis".[6][101] Vedic religion survived in the srayta ritual, whereas ascetic and devotional traditions like Yoga and Vedanta acknowledge the authority of the Vedas, but interpret the Vedic pantheon as a unitary view of the universe with 'God' (Brahman) seen as immanent and transcendent in the forms of Ishvara and Brahman. Later texts such as the Upanishads and epics, namely the Gita of Mahabharat, are essential parts of these later developments.

Literature

Rigveda MS2097
An early 19th-century manuscript of Rigveda (padapatha) in Devanagari. The Vedic accent is marked by underscores and vertical overscores in red.

The reconstruction of the history of Vedic India is based on text-internal details, but can be correlated to relevant archaeological details. Linguistically, the Vedic texts could be classified in five chronological strata:[7]

  1. Rigvedic text: The Rigveda is by far the most archaic of the Vedic texts preserved, and it retains many common Indo-Iranian elements, both in language and in content, that are not present in any other Vedic texts. Its time span likely corresponds to the Late Harappan culture, Gandhara Grave culture and Ochre Coloured Pottery culture.
  2. Mantra language texts: This period includes both the mantra and prose language of the Atharvaveda (Paippalada and Shaunmkiya), the Rigveda Khilani, the Samaveda Samhita (containing some 75 mantras not in the Rigveda), and the mantras of the Yajurveda. Many of these texts are largely derived from the Rigveda, but have undergone certain changes, both by linguistic change and by reinterpretation. Conspicuous changes include change of vishva "all" by sarva, and the spread of the kuru- verbal stem (for Rigvedic krno-). This is the time of the early Iron Age in north-western India, corresponding to the Black and Red Ware (BRW) and Painted Grey Ware (PGW) cultures, and the early Kuru Kingdom, dating from c. the 12th to 11th century BCE.
  3. Samhita prose texts: This period marks the beginning of the collection and codification of a Vedic canon. An important linguistic change is the complete loss of the injunctive. The Brahmana part ('commentary' on mantras and ritual) of the Black Yajurveda (MS, KS, TS) belongs to this period. Archaeologically, the Painted Grey Ware (PGW) culture from c. 1000 or 900 BCE corresponds to the Kuru Kingdom and the subsequent eastward shift of the political centre from the Kurus to the Panchalas on the Ganges.
  4. Brahmana prose texts: The Brahmanas proper of the four Vedas belong to this period, as well as the Aranyakas, the oldest of the Upanishads (BAU, ChU, JUB) and the oldest Śrautasutras (BSS, VadhSS). In the east, Videha (N. Bihar and Nepal) is established as the third main political centre of the Vedic period.
  5. Sutra language texts: This is the last stratum of Vedic Sanskrit leading up to c. 500 BCE, comprising the bulk of the Śrauta and Grhya Sutras, and some Upanishads (e.g. KathU, MaitrU).

Archaeology

Archaeological cultures identified with phases of Vedic material culture include the Ochre Coloured Pottery culture, the Gandhara Grave culture, the Black and red ware culture and the Painted Grey Ware culture.[7]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The roots of this culture seem to go further back to the Sintashta culture, with funeral sacrifices which show close parallels to the sacrificial funeral rites of the Rigveda.[14] Around 1800–1600 BCE, the Indo-Aryans are believed to have split off from the Iranians[15] whereupon they were defeated and split into two groups by the Iranians,[16] who dominated the Central Eurasian steppe zone[17] and "chased them to the extremities of Central Eurasia."[17] One of these Indo-Aryan groups would found the Mitanni kingdom in northern Syria (c. 1500–1300 BCE).[13] The other group were the Vedic people, who were pursued by the Iranians "across Iran into India."[18]

    For an overview of the current relevant research, see:
  2. ^ See:
    • Bryant: "This does not mean that the Indigenous Aryan position is historically probable. The available evidence by no means denies the normative view—that of external Aryan origins and, if anything, favors it."[22]
    • Michael Witzel: "The 'revisionist project' certainly is not guided by the principles of critical theory but takes, time and again, recourse to pre-enlightenment beliefs in the authority of traditional religious texts such as the Purånas. In the end, it belongs, as has been pointed out earlier, to a different 'discourse' than that of historical and critical scholarship. In other words, it continues the writing of religious literature, under a contemporary, outwardly 'scientific' guise. Though the ones pursuing this project use dialectic methods quite effectively, they frequently also turn traditional Indian discussion methods and scholastic tricks to their advantage [...] The revisionist and autochthonous project, then, should not be regarded as scholarly in the usual post-enlightenment sense of the word, but as an apologetic, ultimately religious undertaking aiming at proving the 'truth' of traditional texts and beliefs. Worse, it is, in many cases, not even scholastic scholarship at all but a political undertaking aiming at 'rewriting' history out of national pride or for the purpose of 'nation building'."[23]
    • In her review of Bryant's "The Indo-Aryan Controversy" Stephanie Jamison, Professor, Department of Asian Languages & Cultures, comments: "...the parallels between the Intelligent Design issue and the Indo-Aryan "controversy" are distressingly close. The Indo-Aryan controversy is a manufactured one with a non-scholarly agenda, and the tactics of its manufacturers are very close to those of the ID proponents mentioned above. However unwittingly and however high their aims, the two editors have sought to put a gloss of intellectual legitimacy, with a sense that real scientific questions are being debated, on what is essentially a religio-nationalistic attack on a scholarly consensus."[24]
  3. ^ At least 383 non-Indo-European words were borrowed from this culture, including the god Indra and the ritual drink Soma, which according to Anthony was "probably borrowed from the BMAC religion."[35] "Many of the qualities of Indo-Iranian god of might/victory, Verethraghna, were transferred to the adopted god Indra, who became the central deity of the developing Old Indic culture. Indra was the subject of 250 hymns, a quarter of the Rigveda. He was associated more than any other deity with Soma, a stimulant drug (perhaps derived from Ephedra) probably borrowed from the BMAC religion. His rise to prominence was a peculiar trait of the Old Indic speakers."
  4. ^ According to Erdosy, this battle provided a prototype for the epic Mahabharata,[38] Hiltebeitel calls this idea a "particularly baffling fancy."[39]

References

  1. ^ McClish, Mark; Olivelle, Patrick (2012), "Introduction", in M. McClish; P. Olivelle, The Arthasastra: Selections from the Classic Indian Work on Statecraft, Hackett Publishing, p. xxiv, ISBN 1-60384-903-3: "Although the Vedas are essentially liturgical documents and increasingly mystical reflections on Vedic ritual, they are sufficiently rich and extensive to give us some understanding of what life was like at the time. The earliest of the Vedas, the Ṛgveda Saṃhitā, contains 1,028 hymns, some of which may be as old as 1500 BCE. Because the Vedic texts are the primary way in which we can understand the period between the fall of the IVC (ca 1700) and the second wave of urbanization (600 BCE), we call the intervening era of South Asian history the 'Vedic Period.'"
  2. ^ a b Stein 2010, p. 50.
  3. ^ a b Witzel 1995, p. 3-5.
  4. ^ a b Samuel 2010, p. 49-52.
  5. ^ a b Flood 1996, p. 82.
  6. ^ a b Hiltebeitel 2002.
  7. ^ a b c d e Witzel 1989.
  8. ^ Pletcher, Kenneth (2010). The History of India. Britannica Educational Publishing. p. 60.
  9. ^ Witzel 1995, p. 3.
  10. ^ Samuel 2010, p. 41.
  11. ^ Floodl 1995, p. 30, 33-35.
  12. ^ Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel and Language 2007, p. 410-411.
  13. ^ a b c Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel and Language 2007, p. 454.
  14. ^ Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel and Language 2007, p. 375, 408–411.
  15. ^ Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel and Language 2007, p. 408.
  16. ^ Beckwith, 2009 & 33, 35.
  17. ^ a b Beckwith, 2009 & 33.
  18. ^ Beckwith, 2009 & 34.
  19. ^ Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel and Language 2007.
  20. ^ Bryant 2001.
  21. ^ Bryant & Patton 2005, p. 342.
  22. ^ Bryant, Edwin (2001), The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate, Oxford University Press, p. 7, ISBN 0-19-513777-9
  23. ^ Witzel, Michael (2001), "Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts" (PDF), Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies 7-3 (EJVS) 2001(1-115)
  24. ^ Jamison, Stephanie W. (2006). "The Indo-Aryan controversy: Evidence and inference in Indian history (Book review)" (PDF). Journal of Indo-European Studies. 34: 255–261.
  25. ^ Mallory & Adams 2006, p. 460-461.
  26. ^ & Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Mediaeval India 2008, p. 186.
  27. ^ Flood 1996, p. 31.
  28. ^ Flood 1996, p. 37.
  29. ^ Witzel 1995, p. 4.
  30. ^ Flood 1996, p. 30.
  31. ^ Woodard, Roger D. (18 August 2006). Indo-European Sacred Space: Vedic and Roman Cult. University of Illinois Press. pp. 242–. ISBN 978-0-252-09295-4.
  32. ^ Beckwith 2009.
  33. ^ a b Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel and Language 2007, p. 462.
  34. ^ a b Beckwith 2009, p. 32.
  35. ^ Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel and Language 2007, p. 454 f..
  36. ^ a b & Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Mediaeval India 2008, p. 192.
  37. ^ Kulke & Rothermund 1998, p. 38.
  38. ^ Erdosy 1995, p. 335.
  39. ^ Hiltebeitel 2001, p. 2, note 12.
  40. ^ Singh, Upinder (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. Pearson Education India. p. 187.
  41. ^ a b c Basham, The Wonder that was India 2008, p. 32.
  42. ^ Reddy 2011, p. 103.
  43. ^ a b Kulke & Rothermund 1998, pp. 37–38.
  44. ^ a b Samuel 2010, p. 49.
  45. ^ Tignor, Robert L. (2014). Worlds together, worlds apart: a history of the world from the beginnings of humankind to the present (fourth ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 9780393922073. OCLC 854609153.
  46. ^ Kaushik, Roy (2013). Military manpower, armies and warfare in South Asia. London: Pickering & Chatto. ISBN 9781848932920. OCLC 827268432.
  47. ^ Kulke & Rothermund 1998, pp. 37–39.
  48. ^ & Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Mediaeval India 2008, p. 200.
  49. ^ a b c d e f g h Witzel 1995.
  50. ^ Samuel 2010, p. 48-51, 61-93.
  51. ^ Hiltebeitel 2007, p. 8-10.
  52. ^ Samuel 2010, p. 49-50.
  53. ^ Kulke & Rothermund 1998, pp. 39–40.
  54. ^ Avari, Burjor (2016). India: The Ancient Past: A History of the Indian Subcontinent from C. 7000 BCE to CE 1200. Routledge. p. 89.
  55. ^ Kulke & Rothermund 1998, pp. 39-41.
  56. ^ Sharma, Ram Sharan (1990), Śūdras in Ancient India: A Social History of the Lower Order Down to Circa A.D. 600, Motilal Banarsidass, p. 33, ISBN 978-81-208-0706-8
  57. ^ Kulke & Rothermund 1998, pp. 41–43.
  58. ^ Witzel 1995, p. 2-8.
  59. ^ a b Samuel 2010, p. 48-56.
  60. ^ a b Basham, The Wonder that was India 2008, p. 42.
  61. ^ H. C. Raychaudhuri (1972), Political History of Ancient India, Calcutta: University of Calcutta, p.67–68.
  62. ^ Olivelle 1998, pp. xxviii–xxix.
  63. ^ Basham 208, p. 40.
  64. ^ Basham 208, p. 41.
  65. ^ Majumdar 1998, p. 65.
  66. ^ Majumdar 1998, p. 66.
  67. ^ Fortson 2011, p. 208.
  68. ^ Sen 1999, pp. 117–120.
  69. ^ Samuel 2010, p. 48-51; ch. 3.
  70. ^ Bronkhorst 2007.
  71. ^ Long 2013, p. chapter II.
  72. ^ Staal 2008, p. 54.
  73. ^ a b c d e f g & Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Mediaeval India 2008, p. 191.
  74. ^ a b c Basham, The Wonder that was India 2008, p. 35.
  75. ^ & Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Mediaeval India 2008, pp. 201–203.
  76. ^ & Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Mediaeval India 2008, p. 204.
  77. ^ Olivelle 1998, p. xxvi.
  78. ^ & Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Mediaeval India 2008, pp. 204–206.
  79. ^ Olivelle 1998, p. xxxvi.
  80. ^ Majumdar 1977, p. 45.
  81. ^ Basham, The Wonder that was India 2008, pp. 33–34.
  82. ^ Basham, The Wonder that was India 2008, p. 41.
  83. ^ a b & Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Mediaeval India 2008, pp. 200–201.
  84. ^ Witzel's study is furthermore cited by Alf Hiltebeitel, Dharma: Its Early History in Law, Religion, and Narrative, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 57 (online); Proferes, Theodore (2003), "Kuru kings, Tura Kavaseya and the -tvaya Gerund", in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, vol. 66 (2), pp. 210–219 (online).
  85. ^ Bellah, Robert N. Religion in Human Evolution (Harvard University Press, 2011), p. 491 f. (online).
  86. ^ Bellah 2011, 697-98: citing the terminology of Bruce Trigger, Understanding Early Civilizations (online).
  87. ^ Cited by Bellah 2011, p. 698 f. (online).
  88. ^ Bellah 2011, p. 509, citing Patrick Olivelle's introductory remarks to his translation of the Upanishads (online).
  89. ^ Erdosy, George. "The prelude to urbanization: ethnicity and the rise of Late Vedic chiefdoms," in The Archaeology of Early Historic South Asia: The Emergence of Cities and States, ed. F. R. Allchin (Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 75–98 (online).
  90. ^ Erdosy, George. "City states of North India and Pakistan at the time of the Buddha," in The Archaeology of Early Historic South Asia: The Emergence of Cities and States, ed. F. R. Allchin (Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 99–122 (online).
  91. ^ a b & Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Mediaeval India 2008, p. 190.
  92. ^ Kulke & Rothermund 1998, p. 40.
  93. ^ Olivelle, 1998 & xxvii.
  94. ^ & Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Mediaeval India 2008, pp. 198–199.
  95. ^ Basham, The Wonder that was India 2008, pp. 42–43.
  96. ^ Nigal, S.G. Axiological Approach to the Vedas. Northern Book Centre, 1986. P. 81. ISBN 81-85119-18-X.
  97. ^ Singhal, K. C; Gupta, Roshan. The Ancient History of India, Vedic Period: A New Interpretation. Atlantic Publishers and Distributors. ISBN 8126902868. P. 150-151.
  98. ^ *Day, Terence P. (1982). The Conception of Punishment in Early Indian Literature. Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. P. 42-45. ISBN 0-919812-15-5.
  99. ^ Krishnananda. Swami. A Short History of Religious and Philosophic Thought in India, Divine Life Society. p. 21
  100. ^ Holdrege (2004:215). Panikkar (2001:350-351) remarks: "Ṛta is the ultimate foundation of everything; it is "the supreme", although this is not to be understood in a static sense. [...] It is the expression of the primordial dynamism that is inherent in everything...."
  101. ^ Stephanie W. Jamison and Michael Witzel in Arvind Sharma, editor, The Study of Hinduism. University of South Carolina Press, 2003, page 65: "... to call this period Vedic Hinduism is a contradiction in terms since Vedic religion is very different from what we generally call Hindu religion - at least as much as Old Hebrew religion is from mediaeval and modern Christian religion. However, Vedic religion is treatable as a predecessor of Hinduism."

Sources

Further reading

Agnicayana

The Agnicayana (ati-rātrá agní-cayana "the building up of the fire altar") or Athirathram (Malayalam: അതിരാത്രം) is a category of advanced Śrauta rituals.

After one has established the routine of the twice-daily routine of Agnihotra offerings and biweekly dara-purna-masa offerings, one is eligible to perform the Agnistoma, the simplest soma rite. After the agnistoma, one is eligible to perform more extensive soma rites and Agnicayana rites. There are various varieties of Agnicayana.Agnicayana continues to be performed in Andhra.

Gurukula

A gurukula or gurukulām (Sanskrit: गुरुकुल, translit. gurukulā) was a type of education system in ancient India with shishya ('students' or 'disciples') living near or with the guru, in the same house. The guru-shishya tradition is a sacred one in Hinduism and appears in other religious groups in India, such as Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. The word gurukula is a combination of the Sanskrit words guru ('teacher' or 'master') and kula ('family' or 'home'). Before the arrival of British rule, they served as South Asia's primary educational system. The term is also used today to refer to residential monasteries or schools operated by modern gurus. The proper plural of the term is gurukulam, though gurukulas and gurukuls are also used in English and some other Western languages.

In a gurukula, the students living together are considered as equals, irrespective of their social standing. They learn from the guru and help the guru in his everyday life, including carrying out of mundane daily household chores. However, some scholars suggest that the activities are not mundane and very essential part of the education to inculcate self-discipline among students. Typically, a guru does not receive or accept any fees from the shishya studying with him as the relationship between a guru and the shishya is considered very sacred.At the end of one's education, a shishya offers the guru dakshina before leaving the gurukula. The gurudakshina is a traditional gesture of acknowledgment, respect and thanks to the guru, which may be monetary, but may also be a special task the teacher wants the student to accomplish. While living in a gurukula, the students would be away from their home from a period of months to years at a stretch and disconnected from their family completely.

Acharyakulam is implemented on the same concept of Gurukul system. For the Complete understanding of Indian Native Sanskrit Language, With the overall understanding of Ved-Vedanga, Darshan, Upanishad, Vedic Culture, Civilization and samskaras, gained proficiency in English Language, Conversation, Mathematics, Science, art, skill and Sports.

Hindu units of time

Hindu texts describe units of Kala measurements, from microseconds to Trillions of years. According to these texts, time is cyclic, which repeats itself forever.

Historical Vedic religion

The historical Vedic religion (also known as Vedism, Brahmanism, Vedic Brahmanism, and ancient Hinduism) refers to the religious ideas and practices among Indo-Aryan-speaking peoples of ancient India after about 1500 BCE. These ideas and practices are found in the Vedic texts, and they were one of the major influences that shaped contemporary Hinduism. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, in the Hindu tradition and particularly in India, the Vedic religion is considered to be a part of Hinduism.According to Heinrich von Stietencron, in the 19th century western publications, the Vedic religion was believed to be different from and unrelated to Hinduism. The Hindu religion was thought to be linked to the Hindu epics and the Puranas through sects based on Purohita, Tantras and Bhakti. In the 20th century, a better understanding of the Vedic religion, its shared heritage and theology with contemporary Hinduism, has led scholars to gradually encompass Brahmanism and the Vedic religion into "Hinduism". The Hindu reform movements and the Neo-Vedanta emphasized the Vedic heritage and "ancient Hinduism", and this term has been co-opted by some Hindus. Vedic religion is now generally accepted to be a predecessor of Hinduism, but they are not the same because the textual evidence suggests significant differences between the two.The Vedic religion is described in the Vedas and associated voluminous Vedic literature preserved into the modern times by the different priestly schools. The Vedic religion texts are cerebral, orderly and intellectual, but it is unclear if the theory in diverse Vedic texts actually reflect the folk practices, iconography and other practical aspects of the Vedic religion. The evidence suggests that the Vedic religion evolved in "two superficially contradictory directions", state Jamison and Witzel. One part evolved into ever more "elaborate, expensive, and specialized system of rituals", while another part questioned all of it and emphasized "abstraction and internalization of the principles underlying ritual and cosmic speculation" within oneself. Both of these traditions impacted Indic religions such as Buddhism and Jainism, and in particular Hinduism. The complex Vedic rituals of Śrauta continue to be practiced in Kerala and coastal Andhra.Some scholars consider the Vedic religion to have been a composite of the religions of the Indo-Aryans, "a syncretic mixture of old Central Asian, new Indo-European elements", which borrowed "distinctive religious beliefs and practices" from the Bactria–Margiana culture, and the remnants of the Harappan culture of the Indus Valley.

Ikshvaku dynasty

The Ikshvaku dynasty, in Puranic literature, was a dynasty founded by the legendary king Ikshvaku. Ikshvaku, literally means "sugarcane". The dynasty is also known as Sūryavaṁśa (the Solar dynasty). Lord Rama belonged to the Ikshavaku dynasty. Twenty-two out of the twenty-four Jain Tirthankara belonged to this dynasty. Rishabha is present in both Hindu as well as Jain mythology. Both refers to the same person. According to the Buddhist texts, Prince Siddhartha belonged to this dynasty.

The important personalities belonging to this royal house are Mandhatri , Muchukunda , Ambarisha , Bharata Chakravartin, Bahubali, Harishchandra, Dilīpa, Sagara, Raghu, Rama and Pasenadi. Although, both the Hindu Puranas and the Buddhist texts include Shuddodhana, Gautama Buddha and Rahula in their accounts of the Ikshvaku dynasty, but according to the Buddhist texts, Mahasammata, an ancestor of Ikshvaku was the founder of this dynasty, who was elected by the people as the first king of the present era. According to the Puranas, supreme preceptor of the Ikshvaku dynasty was sage Vashishta.

Indian religions

Indian religions, sometimes also termed as Dharmic faiths or religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. These religions are also all classified as Eastern religions. Although Indian religions are connected through the history of India, they constitute a wide range of religious communities, and are not confined to the Indian subcontinent.Evidence attesting to prehistoric religion in the Indian subcontinent derives from scattered Mesolithic rock paintings. The Harappan people of the Indus Valley Civilisation, which lasted from 3300 to 1300 BCE (mature period, 2600–1900 BCE), had an early urbanized culture which predates the Vedic religion.The documented history of Indian religions begins with the historical Vedic religion, the religious practices of the early Indo-Iranians, which were collected and later redacted into the Vedas. The period of the composition, redaction and commentary of these texts is known as the Vedic period, which lasted from roughly 1750–500 BCE. The philosophical portions of the Vedas were summarized in Upanishads, which are commonly referred to as Vedānta, variously interpreted to mean either the "last chapters, parts of the Veda" or "the object, the highest purpose of the Veda". The early Upanishads all predate the Common Era, five of the eleven principal Upanishads were composed in all likelihood before 6th century BCE, and contain the earliest mentions of Yoga and Moksha.The Reform or Shramanic Period between 800–200 BCE marks a "turning point between the Vedic Hinduism and Puranic Hinduism". The Shramana movement, an ancient Indian religious movement parallel to but separate from Vedic tradition, often defied many of the Vedic and Upanishadic concepts of soul (Atman) and the ultimate reality (Brahman). In 6th century BCE, the Shramnic movement matured into Jainism and Buddhism and was responsible for the schism of Indian religions into two main philosophical branches of astika, which venerates Veda (e.g., six orthodox schools of Hinduism) and nastika (e.g., Buddhism, Jainism, Charvaka, etc.). However, both branches shared the related concepts of Yoga, saṃsāra (the cycle of birth and death) and moksha (liberation from that cycle).The Puranic Period (200 BCE – 500 CE) and Early Medieval period (500–1100 CE) gave rise to new configurations of Hinduism, especially bhakti and Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, Smarta and much smaller groups like the conservative Shrauta.

The early Islamic period (1100–1500 CE) also gave rise to new movements. Sikhism was founded in the 15th century on the teachings of Guru Nanak and the nine successive Sikh Gurus in Northern India. The vast majority of its adherents originate in the Punjab region.

With the colonial dominance of the British a reinterpretation and synthesis of Hinduism arose, which aided the Indian independence movement.

Janamejaya

Janamejaya (Sanskrit: जनमेजय) was a Kuru king who reigned during the Middle Vedic period (12th-9th centuries BCE). Along with his father and predecessor Parikshit, he played a decisive role in the consolidation of the Kuru state, the arrangement of Vedic hymns into collections, and the development of the orthodox srauta ritual, transforming the Kuru realm into the dominant political and cultural center of northern India. He also appears as a figure in later legends and traditions, the Mahabharata and the Puranas.

Kshatriya

Kshatriya (Devanagari: क्षत्रिय; Gujarati: ક્ષત્રિય; Gurmukhi: ਖੱਤਰੀ; from Sanskrit kṣatra, "rule, authority") is one of the four varna (social orders) of the Hindu society. The Sanskrit term kṣatriyaḥ is used in the context of Vedic society wherein members were organised into four classes: kshatriya, brahmin, vaishya and shudra. As per the caste system, after Brahmin, Kshatriya is regarded as the second highest caste. Traditionally, the kshatriya constituted the ruling and military class. Their role was to protect their interests by fighting in wartime and governing in peacetime.

Kuru Kingdom

Kuru (Sanskrit: कुरु) was the name of a Vedic Indo-Aryan tribal union in northern Iron Age India, encompassing the modern-day states of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and the western part of Uttar Pradesh (the region of Doab, till Prayag), which appeared in the Middle Vedic period (c. 1200 – c. 900 BCE) and developed into the first recorded state-level society in the Indian subcontinent.The Kuru kingdom decisively changed the Vedic heritage of the early Vedic period, arranging the Vedic hymns into collections, and developing new rituals which gained their position in Indian civilization as the srauta rituals, which contributed to the so-called "classical synthesis" or "Hindu synthesis". It became the dominant political and cultural center of the middle Vedic Period during the reigns of Parikshit and Janamejaya, but it declined in importance during the late Vedic period (c. 900 – c. 500 BCE), and had become "something of a backwater" by the Mahajanapada period in the 5th century BCE. However, traditions and legends about the Kurus continued into the post-Vedic period, providing the basis for the Mahabharata epic.The main contemporary sources for understanding the Kuru kingdom are ancient religious texts, containing details of life during this period and allusions to historical persons and events. The time-frame and geographical extent of the Kuru kingdom (as determined by philological study of the Vedic literature) suggest its correspondence with the archaeological Painted Grey Ware culture.

Panchala

Panchala (Sanskrit: पञ्चाल, Pañcāla) was an ancient kingdom of northern India, located in the Ganges-Yamuna Doab of the upper Gangetic plain. During Late Vedic times (c. 900-500 BCE), it was one of the most powerful states of the Indian subcontinent, closely allied with the Kuru Kingdom. By the c. 5th century BCE, it had become an oligarchic confederacy, considered as one of the solasa (sixteen) mahajanapadas (major states) of the Indian subcontinent. After being absorbed into the Mauryan Empire (322-185 BCE), Panchala regained its independence until it was annexed by the Gupta Empire in the 4th century CE.

Parikshit

Pariksit (Sanskrit: परिक्षित्, Parikṣit) was a Kuru king who reigned during the Middle Vedic period (12th-9th centuries BCE). Along with his son and successor Janamejaya, he played a decisive role in the consolidation of the Kuru state, the arrangement of Vedic hymns into collections, and the development of the orthodox srauta ritual, transforming the Kuru realm into the dominant political and cultural center of northern Iron Age India.He also appears as a figure in later legends and traditions. According to the Mahabharata and the Puranas, he succeeded his greatuncle Yudhishthira to the throne of Hastinapur.

Pundra Kingdom

Pundra (also known as Paundraka, Paundraya) was an ancient kingdom during the Late Vedic period on the Indian Subcontinent, based in modern-day Bangladesh and West Bengal. Its capital was in "Pundranagara"; also referred as Pundravardhana or Mahasthangarh, situated in Bogra upon ancient karatoya river of Northern Bangladesh.

A Pundra king challenged Vasudeva Krishna by imitating his attributes. He called himself Paundraka Vasudeva. He was later killed by Vasudeva Krishna in a battle.

Purushamedha

Purushamedha (or, 'Naramedha') is a Śrauta ritual of human sacrifice, closely related to the Ashvamedha. The Vajasaneyi Samhita-Sataphana Brahmana-Katyayana Srauta Sutra sequence of White Yajur Veda texts contains the most details. Whether actual human sacrifice was taking place has been debated since Colebrooke brought the issue under attention in 1805. He regarded it as a symbolic ritual. Since there is no inscriptural or other record of Purushamedha ever being performed, some scholars suggest it was invented simply to round out sacrificial possibilities. Asko Parpola suggests actual human sacrifices are described in Vedic texts, while the Brahmanas show the practice diminishing. In Shatapatha Brahmana 13.6.2, an ethereal voice intervenes to halt the proceedings.

The dhatupatha of Aṣṭādhyāyī by Pāṇini defines the root medha as synergizing the energy to perform something fruitfull. Naramedha simply means dedicating life for a spiritual or social cause.

Shulba Sutras

The Shulba Sutras or Śulbasūtras (Sanskrit śulba: "string, cord, rope") are sutra texts belonging to the Śrauta ritual and containing geometry related to fire-altar construction.

Siddha medicine

Siddha medicine (Tamil: சித்த மருத்துவம், citta maruttuvam ?) is a system of traditional medicine originating in ancient Tamilakam (Tamil Nadu) in South India and Sri Lanka.Traditionally, it is taught that the siddhars laid the foundation for this system of medication. Siddhars were spiritual adepts who possessed the ashta siddhis, or the eight supernatural powers. Agastyar is considered the first siddha and the guru of all siddhars; the siddha system is believed to have been handed over to him by Shiva.The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy of the Government of India coordinates and promotes research in the fields of ayurveda and Siddha medicine. The Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM), a statutory body established in 1971 under AYUSH, monitors higher education in areas of Indian medicine, including Siddha medicine. To fight bioprospecting and unethical patents, India set up the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library in 2001 as a repository of 223,000 formulations of various systems of medicine common in India, such as ayurveda, unani, Siddha medicine and homeopathy.

Suhma Kingdom

Suhma Kingdom was an ancient state during the Late Vedic period on the eastern part of the Indian Subcontinent, which originated in the region of Bengal. This kingdom was mentioned in the epic Mahabharata along with its neighbouring kingdom Prasuhma, which was in the present day Bangladesh.

Vedic Sanskrit

Vedic Sanskrit is an Indo-European language, more specifically one branch of the Indo-Iranian group. It is the ancient language of the Vedas of Hinduism, texts compiled over the period of the mid-2nd to mid-1st millennium BCE. It was orally preserved, predating the advent of Brahmi script by several centuries. Vedic Sanskrit is an archaic language, whose consensus translation has been challenging.Extensive ancient literature in the Vedic Sanskrit language has survived into the modern era, and this has been a major source of information for reconstructing Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Indo-Iranian history. Quite early in the pre-historic era, Sanskrit separated from the Avestan language, an Eastern Iranian language. The exact century of separation is unknown, but this separation of Sanskrit and Avestan occurred certainly before 1800 BCE. The Avestan language developed in ancient Persia, was the language of Zoroastrianism, but was a dead language in the Sasanian period. Vedic Sanskrit developed independently in ancient India, evolved into classical Sanskrit after the grammar and linguistic treatise of Pāṇini, and later into many related Indian subcontinent languages in which are found the voluminous ancient and medieval literature of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.

Āryāvarta

Āryāvarta (Sanskrit: आर्यावर्त, lit. "abode of the noble or excellent ones (Aryas)", Sanskrit pronunciation: [aːrjaːˈʋərtə]) is a term for parts of the Indian subcontinent in the ancient Hindu texts such as Dharmashastras and Sutras. The limits of Aryavarta vary from text to text. These texts also name other parts of the Indian subcontinent as Brahmavarta, Madhyadesha, Panchala and others, with neither clear boundaries nor details about who lived in them.

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