Maharashtra State BoardHSC Arts (English Medium) 11th
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Vedic Literature and Social Organisation of Vedic Times

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  • Varna System
  • Ashrama System


Vedic Literature and Social Organisation of Vedic Times:

Varnashrama System:

  • It is founded upon two systems or aspects of human life that is combined together to give human life a different and social meaning.
  • It’s a fourfold classification of society and individuals.
  • VARNASHRAMA system helped people in attaining 4 goals of one’s life according to the society or ancient period.
  • PURUSHARTHAS – Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha.
  • This system signified life management.
  • Created balance and harmony in one’s life
  • Society has Varna that is Castes
  • Individual has phases of life or stages that are guided by Ashrama
  • Social organisation - VARNASHRAMA Dharma.


  • Originally the caste system was based on colour.
  • The racial difference was of Arya varna and Dasa Varna.
  • By the end of the Rigvedic period, this difference and the system got narrower, fundamental, rigid, and acquired the status of divinity.
  • Earlier there were three divisions namely Brahman, Rajanya, Vis.
  • Later it was replaced or changed by Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra.


  • They topped the social hierarchy.
  • They acquired the highest status and were respected in the society.
  • They had a high standard of excellence religiously and spiritually too.
  • They provided the details or information about the rituals to the masses.
  • Brahmana were regarded as the custodians of spiritual life.


  • They were the fighting and the governing class of the society or any empire.
  • This class had been superior in terms of learning.
  • Kshatriyas did not involve in productive activities.
  • They acquired the maximum economic advantage.


  • Trade, industry, and agriculture came under this class.
  • They were rich, ‘ Shreshtin’ – guilds of traders, organisation that had heads, good position in society because they were rich.
  • Honoured in the royal court.


  • The lowest in the social hierarchy.
  • The people of this caste did menial and were servile workers
  • The people from this caste were expelled and looked down.
  • There were two other groups – Vratyas and Nishadas
  • Vratyas led a nomadic life
  • Nishida's were aboriginal people.


  • An individual had to live through the four stages of life.
  • This developed in the later Vedic age.
  • It was divided into four-part according to the life span.
  • Four equal parts of 25 yrs accordingly.
  • At different stages of life, different duties were assigned.
  • The first stage Brahmacharya ashrama (1-25 yrs)
  • The second stage Grihastha Ashrama ( 25-50 yrs)
  • The third stage Vanaprastha Ashrama ( 50-75 yrs)
  • The fourth stage Sanyasa Ashrama ( 75-100 yrs)



  • Here, everyone’s a student.
  • You are supposed to live a celibate and austere life
  • The students stays at Guru’s house.
  • The teacher’s commands are to be obeyed compulsorily.
  • Studying the Vedas is also a goal that should be achieved by one.
  • They had to learn approximately 64 types of arts like archery etc.


  • This is the second stage of a student’s life.
  • Now he is no more a student but has taken the role of a householder.
  • He has to earn for his family and provide for them.
  • He is ought to get married, rear children.
  • He has sacred duties too.
  • The Brahmanas guide while performing the duties.


  • The householder is now become old and has grandchildren
  • He has to sacrifice all the materialistic comforts and head to the forest.
  • ‘Vanaprastha’ – departure to the forests and live there in the woods.
  • For the next 25 years, he meditates and he is guided by ‘Aranyakas’ ( sacred text )


  • Now he is a homeless wanderer.
  • He carried a begging bowl and few ragged clothes
  • It is that time of one’s life where he has to give up on all sorts of worldly pleasure and lead a saint’s life.
  • The supreme goal is attaining MOKSHA
  • For this, Upanishads are of great help.



  • This is the oldest Veda.
  • It has 1028 Suktas and 10,600 Rucha
  • Suktas are hymns and Rucha are verses.
  • Comprised of Ten Mandala.
  • It begins with a small mandala addressed to Agni, Indra, Soma, and other gods.
  • A number of Ruchas strung together makes a Sukta (hymn). Many Suktas make one Mandala.


  • The Yajurveda offers an explanation of the sacrificial rituals.
  • It explains when and how the mantras should be used
  • A Rigvedic rucha, when recited in sacrificial rituals, is regarded as Mantra.
  • The Yajurveda is a combined composition of the Rigvedic Rucha in verse and the explanation of its use as a mantra in prose.


  • It is the earliest text of rhythm.
  • It is regarded as the foundation of Indian classical music.
  • The Samaveda is a text that gives the rules of reciting mantras in a musical form.
  • It is fundamental in the development of Indian music.
  • It basically guides one through the right way of reciting mantras.


  • It provides solutions to problems related to people’s daily life. eg; chants for concentration.
  • This Veda has information about charms and useful medicines.
  • It is historically known for the scientific knowledge that the text provides.
  • The primary source of information during the Vedic Period.
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