Aryans | Life in the Aryan society | Later Aryan (Vedic Period)

The Vedas

The vedas were the sources of reconstructing the vedic period. The oldest being the Rigveda, The Samaveda, Yajurveda  and Adharvaveda had their own significance. The sama veda contains the verses from the Rigveda. The hymns in it were  relevant  to the soma sacrifice .

The Yajurveda also consist of hymns from the Rig Veda, more than half of this is in prose to facilitate the performance of sacrifices. It depicts the social and religious condition of this period. The Atharva Veda contains philosophic speculations, popular cults and superstitions.

The Brahmanas

They are prose of the sacrificial  ceremonies. These explanatory treatises lay emphasis on ritualism. They mark the transition from Vedic to classical Sanskrit. It also marks the period which marks the advance of the Aryans from the Panchala country to the Vidha (North Bihar).

The Vedangas and the Upavedas

These are said to be supplementary sections of the Vedic literature. These gives us idea about Jotish (Astronomy), Medicine (Ayurveda), Dhanurveda (war), Gandharvaveda, (music) etc.

The Vedanta

It is the philosophy taught in most of the Upanishads.

The Upanishads

This contains the main idea that constitute the intellectual aspect of the Hindu philosophy. They do not lay emphasis to rites, ceremonies and austerities. The Upanishads are dated between 800 BC and 500 BC. The Upanishads  are about 100 in number. The Brahadaranyaka Upanishads, Chandogva  Upanishad, Aitreya Upanishad  are a few. The Upanishads reflects the richness and universality of the Indian culture. They are said to be the thinking power of the Brahmana and the Kshatriyas. 


The Epics 

They are the Ramayana  and the Mahabharatha. They introduce us to a period of transformation in the social and religious institutions of the Vedic age    

The Ramayana written by Valmiki is said a poetic legend based on mythology. It portrays the ideal man- god Rama and the ideal woman Sita. The sacrifices made by the characters for the preservation of truth appealed to the people.This was edited by the Brahmanas in course of time to convert it a book of devotion. 

The Mahabharatha which consist of 18 parvas (sections) contains about 100,000 verses. This is an encyclopedia of  history, morals  and religion.    


These are legends connected with epics and law books. They are 18 in number and are mostly recognized in North India . The Vishnu Purana, for example, should treat of five subjects namely  primary creation, secondary creations, Genealogies of gods and patriachs reigns of various Manus and history of ancient dynasties. The Vayupurana  is one of the oldest the Puranas. It was edited during the age of Guptas  when there was a great revival of the Sanskrit language. The other Puranas include Matsya and Brahmanda  which gives us account of the kings up to the imperial Gupta dynasty with other  contemporaries.

Laws of Manu

 Also known as Manav Dhramshastra in Sanskrit, it comprises of 2684 couplets arranged in twelve chapters. It is the earliest of  law books. The laws of Manu forms the foundation of the court of law in India under the name of Hindu law. The book makes a distinction between varna and jatis. The varnas were in the order of the occupations pursued by the people. This was given as below,

  • the learned, literate and priestly order

  • the fighting or the governing class

  • the trading and agricultural group

  • the common folk, labourers

The composition of this may be between 200BC and 200AD by a sage named Bhrigu.