- The Aryans were semi-nomadic pastoral people and originated from area around the Caspian sea in central Asia.
- Entered India probably through the Khyber pass (Hindukush Mountains) at around 1500 BC.
EARLY VEDIC OR RIGVEDIC PERIOD
- The early Aryans settled in Eastern Afghanistan, modern Pakistan, Punjab and parts of western UP. The whole region in which the Aryans first settled in India is called ‘land of seven rivers or Sapta Sindhava’ ( The Indus and its five tributaries and Saraswati).
- Monarchial form. Tribe was know as jan and its king as Rajan.
- The king was assisted by a number of the officers of which purohita was the most important.
- Family was the basic unit of society. The family was patriarchal in nature. But women enjoyed equal power with men .
- Aryans followed a mix economy –pastoral and agricultural- in which cattle played a predominant part.
- Standard unit of exchange was cow. At the same time, coins were also there (gold coins as Nishka, Krishnal and Satmana).
- The Aryans personified the natural forces and looked upon them as living beings.
- The most important divinity was Indra who played the role of warlord (breakers of forts- purandar, also associated with storm and thunder).
- Didn’t believe in erecting temples or idol-worship. Worshipped in open air through yajnas.
LATER VEDIC PERIOD ( PAINTED GREY WARE PHASE)
- Aryans expanded from Punjab over the whole of external Punjab over the whole of western UP covered by the Ganga- Yamuna doab.
- In the beginning, they cleared the land by burning. Later, with the use of iron tools which became common by 1000-800 BC.
- Tiny tribal settlements were replaced by strong kingdoms.
- Powers of the king, who was called Samrat
- A regular army was maintained for the protection of the kingdom
- References of priest (purohita), Commander in chief (senapati), charioteer (suta), treasurer (sangrahita), tax collector (Bhagdugha), chief queen (mahisi) and the game companion (aksavapa).
- The four fold division of society became clear- initially based on occupation , which later became hereditary: Brahamins (priests), kshatrias (warriors), vaishyas (agriculturists, cattle-rearers, traders) and shudras ( servers of the upper three).
- Women enjoyed freedom & respect but their status deteriorated compared to earlier times.
- The institution of gotra appeared in this age first time. Gotra signified descent from common ancestors.
- Chariot racing was the main sport and gambling was the main pass-time.