Vedic period is the ancient and primary Veda to the knowledge of many. Later, came up the Yajurveda and the SamaVeda and perhaps some time later the Atharvaveda. Each Veda basically comprises of three recognized divisions
Later Vedic Period
- The samhita, incorporates suktas, hymns of sacrifices and offerings and the mantras which exhibits potent of the rites.
- The brahmanas, carries insights of sacrifice, censure, applaud, tales and customs. They emphasize the connection between the sukas and the ceremonies. The brahmanas conclude with works on Aranyakas, that encourages the study by ascetics.
- The upanishads, philosophical essays of certain intense characters, embodying the brahma-vidya, on which the six darshanas, or the great works of philosophy are built up. They are in total 108 in number. Of these, 10 or 12 are the earliest and termed as the Major whereas the rest are Minor.
Later Vedic Literature
The samhita of the RigVeda has already been mentioned. About half of the hymns in the Yajurveda can also be seen in the RigVeda. There are basically two versions of the Yajurveda, (the Black; Krishna) or Taittiriya, which deals with both samhita and the brahmana; and the White (the Sukla) or Vajasaneyi, in which the samhita is separate from the brahmana. Besides this, very few minor differences can be recognized. The samhita comprises of invocations and prayers offered in the preparation of the materials, and so on. The process of Yajurveda mention the prayers conducted by adhvaryu, the chief priest in a sacrifice.
Many mantras of the Samaveda and similar to the Rig Veda mantras, except few. The Samaveda basically enlightens about the mantras and songs that are observed and chanted by the udgata, at sacrifices.
The samhita of the Atharvaveda is sometimes called Brahma Veda probably because it is mostly preferred by the Brahma, the chief priest at a sacrifice, who governs the whole and set right any errors perpetrated by the hotri, adhvaryu and the udgata. Atharvaveda proffers with the early knowledge of Brahman to attain moksha from rebirth. Many other renowned upanishads form a part of it. This Veda is of great social interest as it projects the daily happenings in the life of ancient middle-class Aryan, and the businesses they deal with. It attained full rank as a veda relatively late. A considerable party of the Atharvaveda is made up of spells and charms of popular vogue which in part at least are of pre-Aryan origin. The upanishads are comparatively important and they are so called because they used to be impaired in secret sessions in which teacher and pupil sat close together. They contain the philosophy in an intellectual form. The sutras briefly indicate directions for the performance of various sacrifices (Srauta). These sacrifices are many in number, some of which are offered daily and the others are of occasional obligation. The grihya sutras deal with indigenous ritual duties whereas the dharmasutras concentrates on customary law and practice.
Spread Of Aryan Tribe
- By now, we are aware of the fact that Aryan tribes have been all over northern India, by the time of Rigveda. In this period large and compact kingdoms ruled by powerful kings sprang up.
- Later vedic period texts mention stately cities. Indian archaeologists have excavated the ancient city of Hastinapura (As Nivat) and they have fixed the date of its lowest level, at 1000-700 B.C., that is, the time of the later vedic literature.
- This was the capital of the kingdom of the kurus on the upper course of the Jumna and the Ganges.
- During the most part of the subsequent Vedic period, the Kurus their neighbours, the Panchalas were the prominent Indian peoples who are the afforded models of good form.
- The Atharva Veda speak briefly about Parikshit, a legendary king under whose rule, the empire of the Kurus prospered immensely well.
- It may be of interest to note here ‘that elements of the curious and complicated ritual of the ancient Indian horse- sacrifice are found again among the Altai Turks of modern times and survived until the twelfth century A.D., in Ireland’.
- Early this period, many Aryans proceeded further towards east and setup kingdom in Kosala, in Kasi, and in other regions of Benaras; on the southern bank the native tribe of the Nishada formed a defence against the Aryan tribes in the north.
- A second prominent kingdom mentioned was Videha, which is situated to the east of the Gandak river and to the north of Ganges.
- This Kingdom got its name after Videha Madhava. Janaka of videha was an eminent supporter of the seers of the upanishads and among his peers were Svetaketu and Yajnavalkya.
- This King was the father of Sita, the heroine of the Ramayana. Mithila, the capital of Videha disappeared a little before the time of the Buddha. South of Videha, was Magadha. To the east of Magadha, and on the borders of Bengal, lies a small kingdom Anga.
- However, lay Bengal and Assam were still out of the light of the Aryans. The Vedic literature of the period concerns itself mainly with the region from the Jumna eastwards to the borders of Bengal.
- The area south of the Ganges receives little attention, perhaps because the Aryan penetration was mainly along the Himalayan foothills and not down the river, the banks of which were thick with swampy jungle.
- On the Jumna, the Yadavas tribe found their shelter in the Mathura region. Further down the river, there lay a small kingdom of Vatsa, which observed its prominence in the years later.
- Thereby, by the end of the period, the Aryans flourished down the Chambal river, settled in Malwa, and finally reached the Narmada. Probably parts of North Western Deccan were also under the Aryan influence.
- Later Vedic literature mentions the Punjab and the North-West only rarely and usually with contempt as an impure land where vedic period sacrifices are not performed.
- During this period, Aryan India comprised of the whole north-western plains extending in a southwest direction till Gujarat, eastward till the Ganges delta, and towards extreme south-east point of Orissa.
- The highlands of Central India formed a sharp line of demarcation between the Aryan India and the South; Magadha and Anga were but imperfectly Aryanized and serve in that Atharvaveda as symbols of a distant land.
- It is believed that they were probably the home of at least some of the Vratyas who were admitted into the Aryan fold after the performance of purificatory ceremonies.
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