The political, social, and economic conditions of the Rigvedic period

The political, social, and economic conditions of the Rigvedic period

Dr.Santosh Kumar Sain

The political, social, and economic conditions of the Rigvedic period-The place of Vedas in the history of ancient Indian culture is very proud. Vedas are an invaluable heritage of Indian culture. Vedas are the oldest texts of the world, not only of Aryans. Vedas have great importance in Indian culture because it is from these Vedas that detailed information about the morality, living, economic and religious life of the Vedic Aryans is obtained.

The political, social, and economic conditions of the Rigvedic period


The political, social, and economic conditions of the Rigvedic period

For the convenience of study, we can divide the Vedic civilization into two parts - the pre-Vedic period or the Rigvedic period and the post-Vedic period. In this article, we will discuss the Vedic period. The Vedic literature i.e. Vedas was composed around 1500 BC. The Vedic period is dated to and between 200 BCE. The total number of Vedas is four.

  •     Rigveda
  •     Yajuveda:
  •     Samaveda:
  •     Atharvaveda:

Rigveda was the first and Atharvaveda was the last of the above Vedas. The era in which the Rigveda was composed is called the Rigvedic period or the pre-Vedic period. The period of composition of the remaining three Vedas is called the later Vedic period. The people of the Vedic civilization were called Aryas, 'Arya' meaning noble or fair complexion.

The Rigveda mentions a conflict between the Arya (King Sudas) and the Anarya (a confederation of 10 tribes) castes. The Aryan race was victorious in this struggle. The victorious caste called itself Arya or superior and the defeated caste was called Dasyus.

The oldest text of the Aryans is the Rigveda, a total of 1017 hymns divided into ten mandalas. Rigveda throws extensive light on the social, religious and political, and economic system of the Aryans of that time.

Political Situation of the Rigvedic Period

The Aryans had to fight continuously with their enemies. It was therefore necessary that they build a strong and organized administration. The following were the main features of the political situation of the Aryans.

1. Various small units of the state - The smallest unit of the state was the family. There was a patriarchal system in the villages. Some families together formed a 'gram' (village) and the head of the 'village' was called Bajrapati or 'Gramani'. The institution above the village was Vish, the 'Vish' was formed by merging several villages. Many 'wish' together was called Jana. The protectors of poison were Gopas. The term Panchajanya was used for the Vedic Aryans. The king was also called Gopa-Janasyup.

2. Raja- Generally the position of the king was hereditary. The king is compared to Indra and Varuna in the Rigveda. The position of the king was hereditary. Along with the throne, there was a tradition of coronation, at the time of the coronation, the king had to take a pledge to protect his subjects. The office of the king was hereditary, but the approval of the people was necessary. People could also depose or exile the king.

The people of this period were also familiar with the public system. The king used to protect his subjects and the subjects used to give him 'Bali' or 'Tax' in return. At the time of war, the king used to protect his subjects and lead the 'Kul'. The king also served as a judge. There were many officers to assist the king in administrative work. Among them were the chief priests and warriors. Apart from this, there were other institutions as well.

3. Officials of the State:- There were many officers to assist the king in the administration. The chief priests and priests, warriors and villagers were special. Among the officials of the king, the post of 'priest' was the highest and most important. He was the chief advisor to the king, minister, and priest, and the fighter was the head of the kingdom's army. 'Gramini' was the head of the village.

4. 'Sabha' and 'Samiti':- In the Rigveda, there is a mention of 'Sabha' and 'Samiti'. The assembly and committee together prevented the king from becoming autocratic and limited his powers. According to Majumdar the Sabha, which was a village council, was an attraction for the residents of the village. Like the present Panchayats, the work of the Sabha was also related to justice. Common people were included in the committee. In fact, the reins of the state were in the hands of the committee. 

The committee was used to control the affairs of the king. The committee itself used to decide on the main subjects such as the selection of the king, the removal of the king from the throne, and the selection of another king in his place. In this way, the committee itself used to run the state.

5. Judiciary system:- The king was the supreme authority of justice in the Vedic period. Simple matters were settled by the head of the family or the head of the village, with the rest going to the king. Serious charges were subject to the death penalty. Crimes were less.

6. Army:-
The king used to lead the army. There were both foot and chariot armies. There was no special need for the army. Spears, bows, swords, and axes were used.

 Social status of the Rigvedic period

1. Family life: - Family had special importance in the Rigvedic period. The father who was the head of the household in the family held the highest position. Women were respected. Women could participate in the Yagya. The learned women of this time were Apala and Ghosha, Lopamudra, etc.

2. Dress / Clothing: - In the Rigvedic period, there were different costumes for men and women. The garment worn in the upper part was called 'Adhivasa', the garment worn in the lower part was called 'Vas', and later the third 'Vasva' was 'Nivi' which was worn inside. The clothes were of wool, cotton, and leather. Both men and women used ornaments.

3. Varna System:- Varna means color. Aryans were fair in complexion. He used to underestimate black and enslaved people. Dr. Satyaketu Vidyalankar writes on page 102 in Indian Culture and Its History that "There is no doubt that the distinction between the Aryans and the Dasas was very clear in the Vedic age and that among the Aryans of that period only two varnas were clearly visible. were present.

4. Marriage Religious Function:- Rigvedic people considered marriage to be a religious and sacred act, in marriage the consent of the family, son, and daughter, and other members were taken. There was monogamy, but in some places, polygamy was also practiced. Widow marriage is also mentioned.

5. Food:- The Aryans used to eat both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. Rice, wheat, milk, and curd are mentioned in Rigveda. The Aryans considered drinking to be bad.

6. Entertainment:- Rigvedic people were fond of entertainment. There were many sources of entertainment. He was fond of horse racing, gambling, hunting, fishing, wrestling, and dance music.

The Economic condition of the Rigvedic period

1. Agriculture:- The economic life of the Aryans was based on agriculture. The farmer of that time knew all the processes of farming – tillage, sowing, irrigation, and harvesting. The main produce of this period was wheat and barley. These people did not even know how to cultivate rice. These people used to cultivate with the help of plows and bullocks. These people also used manure and irrigation to make agriculture fertile. There was a proper system of irrigation in agriculture. Water from rivers, lakes, ponds, and wells was used for irrigation.

2. Animal Husbandry:- Plowing and oxen were used for carrying the load. Horses were kept for horse riding, horse racing, and war. Apart from these, cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, and dogs were also reared. Nothing can be said with certainty about the buffalo. The mark of its owner was engraved on the cheeks of the animals. In 'Goshtha' 'Gopal' used to take the animals for grazing.

3. Industry:-
Carpenters (Taksha) used to make chariots and carts and also did wood carving work. Blacksmiths (Karmars) used to make metal utensils. Sonars used gold to make gold ornaments. Leatherworkers made slings, bow strings, whips, bags, and drums. The cloth weavers used to weave cloth on the loom. Women did boot work, spinning, mat weaving, and sewing.

4. Trade:- Trade was done by an exchange (barter). The value of exchange was the cow, but gold coins named 'Nishk' were also prevalent. The merchant class was called 'Pani'. The land was not traded, although it was considered a right of the owner. There was also the practice of debt. One-eighth or sixteenth of the principal amount was taken as interest. Apart from the land route, trade was also done on boats through the waterway.

The Religious status of the Rigvedic period

The deities who are worshiped, and praised in the Rigveda, are symbols of the powers marked in the natural elements. The Rigvedic saints were impressed by the various natural beauty of the world and experienced natural powers in them.

1. Deities:- Polytheism was prevalent in the society of the Rigvedic period. Agni is worshiped prominently in Rigveda. Vishnu, Aditi, and Saraswati were worshiped and worshiped at this time. Indra was considered the most powerful and popular deity in the Rigvedic period.

2. Importance of Yagyas:- There was no place for idol worship and temples in Vedic religion. The Aryans worshiped only one God. Praise and Yagya were his means of worship. These people used to light a fire in the fire pit, offer ghee, milk, and grains, and chant mantras around it.

3. Simplicity of the religion of the people of the Rigvedic period:- The religion of the Aryans was very simple, these people used to perform sacrifices, but the method of sacrifice was complicated. Idol worship was not encouraged and the need for the construction of temples was not considered. By chanting mantras. Divine power was worshiped by the Rigvedic people and various forms (forms) of nature were also presented. Indra, Agni, and Varuna were the main gods of the Rigvedic period. Animals and trees were not worshipped. Worship was performed in the form of Yagya and Bhajan.

 4. Science and Art in Rigvedic:- Aryans became acquainted with architecture and idolatry during this period. In Rigveda, the discussion of idols is found in the context of Yagya. Historians believe that the work of painting on leather was prevalent at this time. The Rigvedic Aryans were also interested in musical arts like painting. Music was used both for entertainment and in praise of the gods. Arya was also familiar with medical science, astrology, and astronomy. The use of herbs and medicines was prevalent in the field of medical science. The Aryans also became acquainted with the change of seasons and the positions of the constellations.

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