Aryans Race – that is known of the half millennium following the fall of the half the Indus civilization comes from the Vedas, a collection of sacred hymns attributed to the Aryans.
Aryans Race – Who were Aryans?
- Aryans were noble people with fair complexion. They prepared the first and oldest collection of mystical hymns known as the Rig Veda, which is the only source of information on early Vedic life. The other three Vedas, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda were written much later.
- Early Aryans race kept large herds of cattle and were cultivators, using oxen to draw their ploughs. Unlike earlier civilizations that was governed by merchants, they were ruled by warriors. The society was patriarchal but the position of women was satisfactory. Girls were educated. Wives could take part in sacrifices along with their husbands. Some women even wrote hymns in Rig Veda.
- The kings depended upon their priests to perform religious rituals to protect their crops and the Aryans was determined by its Jana (people) and not the Janapada (land). The chief tribes were the Yadu, Turvasu, Druyu, Anu, Puru, Kuru, Panchala, Bharata and Tristu. The Indian sub-continent got its name Bharat Varsha after the tribe of Bharata, which was the strongest one.
- The early Vedic religion was a form of nature worship. Evidently, there were neither temples nor idols. The prominent Vedic gods were Indra, Surya, Vayu, Agni and Varuna. During this period, there was no consciousness of caste nor were the professions hereditary.
- As the new civilization expanded, there was a dearth of grazing area. During the later Vedic phase, the Aryans race moved away from their early settlements to the Ganga-Yamuna-Doab area. The Ramayana partly unfolds the tale of this Aryan advent to the south.
- The society described by the three great epics, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Upanishads was not merely a figment of Indian mythology but has historical roots. These epics give us a picture of the history of that period.
- The society was rural and people lived in fortified camps. There were no big cities, which may be the reason why practically nothing of this civilization has survived.
Kingship was not tribal but hereditary. The kings lived on taxes collected from the people. The cult of sacrifices, accompanied by numerous rituals, became central to religious ceremonies. The priests consequently gained in power. Some symbolic objects began to be worshiped.
Society was divided into four castes during aryans period
1. Brahmins, or priests, who are responsible for handling down the Vedas and for setting an example of righteous living
2. Kshatriyas, or warriors, whose duty was to fight and rule
3. Vaisyas, or merchants,artisans and peasants
4. Shudras, or outcasts, whose duty was to perform tasks like scavenging, fishing and handling carrion
Aryans versus Dravidians
There were constant fights between the Aryans and the Dravidians for arable land. The Aryans succeeded in pushing the Dravidians to the south of the Vindhyas; their land came to be known as the Dakshinapatha.
Hinduism had become much more than a religion; it was a way of life. The four original castes split up over the ages into many sub-castes. There was an elaborate hierarchy by which each group had a definite place above or below the other groups. Brahmins dominated over the other castes.
The way of life of individuals was based on their birth and there were people who rebelled against the rituals, sacrifices and above all, the caste system. Hinduism saw its first rebels in Mahavira and Gautam Buddha, who founded Jainism and Buddhism respectively.
Buddhism disappeared from India by the 12th century A.D. Perhaps Buddha’s ideas were taken over by the great Hindu philosopher Shankaracharya in the 9th century A.D. and readapted to Hinduism.
During the next seven centuries, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya and Vallabhacharya preached Hinduism in the light of their own individual philosophical conceptions. They carried the torch of Hinduism through those centuries and made it the continual vital force of today.
As iron implements helped clear the dense forests of the Gangetic plains, civilization expanded eastwards. The new agricultural tools and implements improved the knowledge of cultivation. Gradually, 16 larger territorial states (Mahajanapadas) were formed.
New States during Aryans Period
They were Anga, Ashmaka, Avanti, Chedi, Dakshinapatha, Gandhara, Kamboja, Kashi, Kosala, Kuru, Malla, Magadha, Matsya, Panchala, Vatsa and Avanti were powerful. For about a hundred years, they fought amongst themselves for political pre-eminence.
Magadha, under the relationship of Bimbisara (542 B.C -493 B.C) and Ajatshatru (493 B.C-461 B.C) emerged victorious.
The victory of Magadha was a succeeded by Udayin (460 B.C-444 B.C), whose reign saw the creation of a new capital at Pataliputra (modern-day Patna).
The Shishunaga dynasty,which followed in 413 B.C., lasted barely half a century and gave way to the Nanda dynasty. The Namdas, who had a vast standing army, are sometimes described as the first empire builders of India.
In 516 B.C., the Persian emperor Darius annexed Punjab and for many years, the Indian satrap continued to pay a huge tribute to the Achaemenid king. Alexander, the king of Macedonia, crossed the Hindu Kush after subduing the Achaemenids, pursuing his dreams of a world conquest.
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