The Vedic Age

The Vedic Age was part of the formative period that separated the destruction of the Indus River civilization from the full revival of civilization in that area. During this time, the Aryan, or Indo-European, migration took place. The Aryans were hunters and herders originally from central Asia near the Black Sea. As they entered the Indian subcontinent, they accepted some of the native views while also bringing waves of changes form their own culture. The Vedic Age lasted from about 1500 to 1000 BCE. Most history of this period is derived from epics composed by the Aryans in Sanskrit. This series of books is called the Vedas. In fact, the Vedic Age draws its name from the Sanskrit word "Veda," meaning knowledge. One epic in the series is the Rig-Veda , which was dedicated to the Aryan gods. The Aryans brought more than literature. They promoted tight village organization with a chief to oversee defense and distribution of property. Families were very patriarchal. The caste system began to take root during the Vedic Age. The classes, known as varnas, enforced divisions in the populations that still affect this area of the world today. At the top, the Kshatriyas, or warriors, and the Brahmins, or priestly class, lorded over the population. Below them stood the Vaisyas, or traders and farmers, and the Sudras, or common laborers. A fifth group, not always included as a caste position, is the untouchables. The untouchables do menial jobs and are looked down upon by every other class. The Rig-Veda points to the gods for the origin of this system. Other religious beliefs were also imported by the Aryans. Many gods and goddesses controlled the workings of nature and some possessed human characteristics. Among the more prominent deities was Indra, the god of thunder and strength. This polytheistic religion would eventually be responsible for the foundation of Hinduism. The changes that occurred during the Vedic Age shaped the Indian subcontinent forever.
275px-Indra_bronze.jpg 300px-Rigveda_MS2097.jpgManuscript of the Rig-Veda
Bronze Statue of Indra

Created By: Becca Ellison
September 2, 2008