Aryans | Life in the Aryan society | Literature In Vedic Period

The later vedic period is said to have begun after the composing of the Atharva Veda, Yajur veda  and Sama veda. This period indicated changes in the political, social  economic  and religious conditions of the life of the Aryans. These changes  were different from those in the early vedic period during the composition of the Rig Veda.

Political Condition

The Rig vedic  Aryans were divided into several tribes. Their was frequent internal strife among  them. The weaker tribes were absorbed into the stronger ones and thus the kingdoms  and larger areas of residence emerged. The political influence of the Aryans extended towards the east and south. The Aryan now established a powerful kingdom in the Deccan, to the north of the river Godavari. The mode of succession continued to be hereditary. The expansion of the territory also resulted in the increased domination of the king assisted by a hierarchy of nobility. These nobles were assigned  official duties. Thus  an administrative machinery developed. The king now had a council of advisers which included the kings relatives, his courtiers, heads of various departments. The purohita (the priest ), the senani (the commander), the suta (the charioteer), the Samgrahitr (the treasurer ), tax collector, etc. were the individuals which assisted in the kings activities. The role of the popular assemblies was important. A notable feature of this period was the extinction of the Samiti. The sabha transformed  from being a popular village assembly, continued as a court or judicial assembly.

Social Condition

The need to perform the ceremonial yajnas required the services of a highly trained priests who were skilled in the religious matters. This group came to assume the title of the Brahmanas. They occupied a high status and were respected and honoured by the king. 

The constant inter tribal fighting for establishing supremacy, and struggle with the original  inhabitants gave birth for the need of persons skilled in the warfare. Thus arose the new class of the Kshatriyas. Remaining people in the Aryan society were called Vaisyas. The group who were not Aryans were called Sudras. These separation in the society was on the basis of the profession they pursued. Gradually  the Aryans were divided into the four varnas, succession to these in course of time became hereditary. The caste system became rigid, Education was confined to the upper classes. An Aryan's life was divided into stages which began with Upanayana, which was the inception of the pupil to education. After a period of 12 years  study of the Vedas, Brahmanas, Upanishads, Ithihasa, Puranas, Grammer, Ethics etc. the individual could chose one of the four ashramas  i.e. Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Sanyasa, Vanaprastha.

Religious Condition

 Religion and philosophy in the later  Vedic period became more confirmed with elaborate sacrifices. The doctrines of Karma, Maya, soul, Mukti were established. Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara became the important gods who were worshipped.