Later Vedic Period




Later Vedic Period:


  • Sutras included social customs that highlighted about the Vedic Society.
  • Vedangas were concerned with recording the cultural treasure. They dealt with preservation through written records and other types of preservation.
  • These can be understood as the supporting text of Vedas and Vedangas.
  • They were the Auxiliary texts of that period.
  • This literature dates back to the 3rd century CE
  • It provides information about the old dynasties, kings, ancient traditions, social, religious, and political life of ancient India.
  1. EPICS
  • The two greatest Epics of all time are RAMAYANA and MAHABHARATA
  • They teach morals and values with evidence of gods or supernatural beings.
  • The law and judicial procedures were written in this book.
  • Eg: Manusmriti

Later Vedic Period is dated to around 1000-600 B.C.E. The information about this period is gathered from the treatises written in that period. The material culture as reflected in the epics, Ramayana, and Mahabharata was studied with the help of archaeological evidence. A picture of the migration in the Later Vedic period can be gathered from the Saptasindhu region toward the east and its geographic markers from the literature of that period. This period saw the spread of Later Vedic culture from the foothills of the Himalayas in the north to the Vindhya mountains in the south. There is a story of Videgha Mathava (Videha Madhava) in this context that occurs in the Shatapatha Brahmana. It appears in this story that the Later Vedic people were settling and bringing the land under cultivation from the west to the east. The Later Vedic period saw a gradual formation of confederacies of the Vedic villages. They were known as ‘Janapada’. Generally, the seniors and the elites in a Janapada collectively took social decisions. They functioned like oligarchic states. The powerful Janapadas among them gradually expanded into Mahajanapadas. In the next lesson, we will study the history of the 4 centuries from 1000-600 B.C.E.

Most important change was the evolution of the caste system. Various sub-castes evolved in addition to the traditional four-castes. The Brahmanas and Kshatriyas emerged as the two leading castes out of the general mass of the population, known as Vaisyas. The Vaisyas were superior to the Sudras but their position was steadily deteriorating. The Aitaraya Brahmana clearly indicates the absolute dependence of vaisyas on the two higher classes. The Sudras were held in great contempt. The Brahmanas of the later Vedic age were the intellectual and priestly class. The Brahmanas retained a high standard of excellence and knew the details of the rituals. The Kshatriyas were the fighting class in society. War, conquest, administration of the kingdom was the principal duties of this class. By their superior learning, some Kshatriyas raised themselves to the status of a Brahmana. They composed hymns and performed sacrifices and also challenged the supremacy of Brahmanas.

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