Maharashtra State BoardHSC Arts 11th
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Vedic Culture: Vedic Literature, Linguistics, and Archaeology

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Topics

notes

Vedic culture – literature, linguistic, and archaeological:

  • Development of Philology took place during the Vedic period. Philology is the term for understanding the etymology and history of a word.
  • Late Harappan civilization is equivalent to early Vedic culture.
  • Saraswati is East, Sindhu is West, and the 5 rivers of Punjab- Satluj, Beas, Chenab, Ravi, Jhelum, and hence it was called ‘Devnirmit Desh’.

FAMILY

  • The most common type of family found during the Vedic period is that of the patriarchal family.
  • The oldest member of the family had absolute control over other family and family matters or decisions taken in regard with the family.
  • Strict family discipline was followed.
  • We come to know about the strict family discipline because of the reference of punishments or disowning of a family member when the rules were not followed by them.
  • The family members lived in the same house which means they had a joint family system.
  • The house had a fireplace, sitting rooms, apartments for women.
  • The status of wife and husband during the religious ceremonies were equal.
  • ‘Kula’ that is lineage or ancestry was maintained.
  • Adoption was practiced.
  • Marriage in the family took place according to the age that is the elder one married first and then the younger one.
  • In the absence of the father, the brother and his wife took care of the younger ones.
  • The concept of ‘Haram’ was followed.
  • There is a reference of preferring male children over females.
  • The head of the family had responsibilities and duties of the family.
  • They had a rule where the head eats after all the family members have eaten their food. This is ‘ Grihasutra.’
  • One of the notable features of Rigveda is Hospitality and thus, this shows their respect towards guests.
  • There are religious duties elevated in ref to Hospitality.
  • There’s an entire hymn dedicated in the praise of hospitality ( (in Atharvaveda )

MARRIAGE: ( early period )

  • Girls were supposed to marry after puberty.
  • Girls had the freedom of choice for a partner as well as marriage. Eg - Ghosha
  • Unmarried girls were free to live an unmarried life.
  • Child marriage was not practiced.
  • We don't know whether polygamy was practiced among the common masses.
  • Rig Veda has marriage hymns and these are one of the oldest marriage rituals.
  • The bride's house text the responsibility of entertaining guests and other rituals.
  • The groom's house performs purification.
  • Kings and Chiefs practiced polygamy.

NOTE: Ghosha is the name of intellectual and religious women who decided to be unmarried forever.

STATUS OF WOMEN:

  • This is a matter of debate in an early age women had respect and esteem.
  • However in the later age during the usage of smriti or post creation of smriti the status of women declined.
  • In the Rig Vedic age woman could lead an intellectual and spiritual life which was equivalent to any man’s education and rights to knowledge.
  • Vishwavera, Ghosha composed hymns and they acquired the status of Rishis.
  • In a later age, Gargi, Maitreyi was scholarly discourses.
  • There’s a reference to Women warriors.
  • There was no seclusion or Purdha system followed.
  • Women moved freely, participated in feats and entertainment.
  • There were no restrictions imposed due to gender differences even on education.
  • But the later Vedic age, the status of women was degraded due to Smritis.
  • Manusmriti mentions the three chief evils to be wine, dice, and women.
  • Sati or dowry system is uncommon or rarely witnessed.
  • Niyoga was practiced.

Niyoga is the ceremony where a woman marries the husband’s brother if her husband dies and this marriage is only for conceiving a child. After conceiving, the alliance is broken.  Also, the child born should be a boy to claim the husband’s property, otherwise, the woman will get no share from the late husband’s property or possession.

  • During the later age, widow remarriage was permitted.
  • The wife was the queen of the house.
  • Later Vedic period, women weren’t given equal rights socially or legally.
  • Satapatha Brahmana that is dinner only after the husband eats was also followed by women.
  • DharmaSutra- marriage before puberty.
  • All this led to a decline in the status of women over time.

ORIGIN OF THE ARYANS:

The architects of the Vedic culture are known as ‘Aryas, in Sanskrit or devnagri language. But they were widely known as Aryans as that was the term used in the English language. Aryas were known as noble or honorable men. North India was  ‘Aryavarta’ or country of the Aryans. Their place of origin os highly debatable due to the diverse views of different scholars. The place of origin is not concrete a matter of controversy due to the lack of written records and archaeological evidence. North India’s ancient name is ‘Madhya Desh’

There are four major theories related to the origin of the Aryans.

  1. EUROPE AS THE ORIGINAL HOME OF ARYANS
  • During the 17th and 18th century the Europeans studied the similarity between Greek and Latin language with Sanskrit.
  • Thus, they found common ancestry and called it the ‘Indo-European group of language’.
  • They had a common homeland but later shifted to England.
  • The European scholars then fixed the origin of Aryans in Europe.
  • Sir William Jones established the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784.
  • In 1786 Greek, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit were told to be of the same source of origin.
  • According to this theory, the original homeland of Aryans in today’s times is Austria, Hungary, etc.
  • They even supported this theory with the help of the Flora and Fauna mentioned in the Vedas, saying that they did not belong to India but were from the parts of Europe.

 

  1. THE ARCTIC REGION AS THE ORIGINAL HOME.
  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak inhabited in the Arctic Region around 10,000 BC and later migrated.
  • Based on Astronomical data from Vedic Literature he supposed the Arctic Region to be the original home of Aryans.
  • This theory was proved incorrect because of the method used and therefore was highly criticized.
  1. BHARATVARSHA AS THE ORIGINAL HOME:
  • Indian scholars proposed this theory.
  • The region claimed by them was located between River Saraswati and Drishadvati.
  • It was known as ‘Bharatvarsha or Aryavarta’
  • The theory says that Vedas were composed on the banks of Saraswati.
  • The regions identified were that of North India as per the Vedic Literature.
  • Scholars say that there was a rivalry between the north and south India- Dravidians and Aryans.
  • They are assumed to be foreigners but they hailed from North India.
  1. CENTRAL ASIA AS THE ORIGINAL HOME:
  • This is the generally accepted view.
  • It is supported by Max Muller.
  • The theory mentions that around 2000 BC, the land stretched from Poland to Central Asia.
  • The land was chiefly pastoral and a little agriculture.
  • Then around in the 2nd-millennium people migrated.
  • The population increased and the pastoral land decreased.
  • There is a reference of clashes between the Aryans and Dasyus or Dasas.
  • Dasas are known to be the authors of the Indus Valley Civilisation
  • Evidence of Phallic worship is found.
  • Aryans did not like Dasas as they were short, dark-skinned, worshipped Ling, and whereas Aryans were tall, fair, and worshipped nature.
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