The Rigveda as Evidence of Ways of Life in Vedic Times

Updated on September 19, 2016

Rig Veda Yagam

The oldest Veda is the Rigveda, which was composed about 3,500 years ago. The Rigveda consists of more than a thousand hymns known as sukta or "Well-said." These hymns are in praise of different gods and goddesses.

The Rigveda is divided into ten mandalas or books and it contains 1028 hymns. These hymns were composed by sages (rishis). The Rigveda is composed in old or Vedic Sanskrit, which is very different from the Sanskrit we study today. Priests taught students to recite and memorise each syllable, word and sentence, bit by bit, with great care. These hymns were learnt, recited and passed on from generation to generation. It was only many centuries later that these hymns were given a written form.

Lord Shiva

Source

The Early Vedic Period

The Vedic people first settled occurred between 1500 BC and 1000 BC in the Sapta Sindhu region of seven rivers: the Hindus, the Ravi, the Beas, the Chenab, the Jhelum, the Sutlej and the Saraswati. The Aryans called this region Brahmavarta which means `the most sacred land."

Studies of Vedic literature show that the social customs and practices, economic life and religious beliefs and rituals of the Vedic people had changed in many ways from the early to the later Vedic period. However, we should bear in mind all that these changes did not take place all at once. All we can say is that many of the customs and practices which are mentioned in the later Vedic Literature do not find mention in the early Vedic literature. This leads to the conclusion that such changes would have occurred after the early Vedic period.

Rig Veda Samhita

Source

The Rigvedic Heartland

References to rivers, mountains and other geographical features in the Rigveda show that the early Vedic Aryans were familiar with the land extending from the rivers Kubha (Kabul) and Kurumu (Kurram) in Afghanistan to the upper valleys of the Ganga and the Yamuna up to central Uttar Pradesh. The Himalayas and probably central Rajasthan formed, respectively, the northern and southern limits of their geographical horizons. Within this area lived a number of Aryan communities or tribes known as janas.

The valley of the river Saraswati, which used to flow through Haryana and Rajasthan to the Arabian Sea, formed the heartland of the early Aryan settlements. Numerous references to cows, horses, and pastures, compared to fewer references to agricultural fields and farming, show that these janas were predominantly pastoral in nature.

Some Rigvedic hymns mention non–Aryan peoples also living in the same region, a people called Dasyus being one of them.

Because the Rigveda says very little about the ways of living of the non-Vedic peoples, it cannot be said to give us a complete picture of the society and culture of all the people living in northern India during that period.

Rig Veda school

Source

Culture in the Vedic Period

As we know, written sources play a very important role in finding out crucial information about the past. Let us see how historians find out the past from the study and interpretation of Rigveda.

According to historians, this hymn was composed in the area where these rivers flow. The comparison of rivers with cows and horses indicates the sage lived in a society where horses and cows were important animals.

Besides agriculture and animal husbandry, people also practiced many specialized occupations like carpentry, chariot-making, metal work, goldsmithing, leather crafts, pottery and weaving. Chariot markers had an important position in society because of the importance of war. Metal workers made amour and helmets for warriors, besides making weapons, tools and utensils. Gold and silver ornaments were used by the rich. Pottery was used for storage of grain and other things as well as for cooking.

Rig Veda, the first of the Four Vedas

Source

Trading in the Vedic Period

The existence of specialized occupations mentioned above presupposes the existence of trade and markets. The use of metals implies regular trade and transport because metal ores were not available in most of the river valleys where Rigvedic settlements existed. It seems, however, that most of the trade and commerce was in the hands of a people known as panis.

The use of money for buying and selling was not known anywhere in the world during that period. Trade was carried on by barter, by the direct exchange of goods. The value of goods was often expressed in terms of the number of cows they were worth. Thus the cow was as a measure of value.

However, trade and commerce did not have much importance in the lives of ordinary people because the different communities produced most of the items they needed locally.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Kmadugundu@gmail 

      2 weeks ago

      Good

    • profile image

      Nayancy 

      16 months ago

      Very very nice information.It helped me much

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)