Historical story

Chapter – 11 – Post-Vedic Society and Religion (A)

Oh God! May we protect both the disciple and the teacher together, let us both enjoy the fruits of learning together, together we should get the power to attain education, both of us should be brilliant in studies, we should not hate each other. .

– Krishna Yajurveda, Kathopanishad.

After Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda, Atharvaveda and Brahmanical texts (Brahmin, Aranyaka and Upanishad) were composed. The period of composition of these texts, written after the Rigveda, is called the post-Vedic period. The post-Vedic-period texts, according to PV Kane, were composed in the northern Ganges valley around 1000-600 BC. There is a substantial difference between the civilization and culture of Rigvedic and post-Vedic period.

As a result of archaeological excavations and exploration of post-Vedic sites, the remains of 500 settlements have been found. These are called painted gray storage sites because the people who settled at these sites used clay painted and brown bowls and plates. They also used iron tools. On the basis of later Vedic texts and the iron stage archaeological evidence of painted gray ware, we can get some information about the life of the people of western Uttar Pradesh, border areas of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan in the first half of the first millennium BC. .

Post-Vedic-Carpet Settlements

Due to agriculture and various crafts, the people of the post-Vedic period now lived a stable life. Archaeological excavations and explorations give us some information about the settlements of the post-Vedic period. Painted gray pots have been found not only in western Uttar Pradesh and Delhi (Kuru-Panchal), but also in the adjoining regions of Punjab and Haryana, Madra and Matsya (Rajasthan). Altogether 500 such sites have been found, which are usually located in the upper Ganges valley.

Of these, only a few sites like Hastinapur, Atranjikheda and Noh have been excavated. Since the physical remains of the settlements here range from one meter to three meters in height, it is estimated that there was a settlement here for one to three centuries. These were mostly new settlements. Before these there were no settlements in these places. People lived in mud-brick houses or in tartar and lap houses based on wooden pillars.

Although their houses were of a poor quality, the remains of chulhas and grains (rice) suggest that the post-Vedic-era people, using painted gray pots, were farming and living a permanent life. They plowed the fields with wooden plows, so the farmers could not produce much. The farmer of this time was not able to contribute much in the upliftment of the cities.

Political system of the later Vedic-era Aryans

There was a major change in the political situation of the Aryans in the post-Vedic period. During this period the state tried to establish its authority over the remaining three varnas. In the Aitareya Brahmana, relative to Rajanya, the brahmin is said to be a sustenance-seeker and a giver of charity. He could be removed by the state. Vaishya is said to be the giver of charity. It could be voluntarily suppressed by the state. The harshest things are read about the Shudras. He has been described as a servant of others, acting on the orders of others and capable of being beaten up arbitrarily by others.

(1.) Changes in the Governance: The power of the Rigvedic Aryans was limited only to the Sapta-Sindhu region, but now they spread from Punjab to the entire western Uttar Pradesh located in the Ganga-Yamuna doab. The two major tribes named Bharata and Puru gathered together and were thus called Kuru-janas. Initially, these people were settled in the border of the Doab in the region between the Saraswati and Drishadvati rivers, but the Kurus soon took control of Delhi and the northern part of the Doab.

This region is called Kurudesh. Suddenly these people started meeting the Panchalas. Spread over the present-day Bareilly, Budaun and Farrukhabad districts, the then Panchal kingdom was famous for its philosophical kings and Brahmin priests. The Kuru-Panchalas gained control over Delhi and the northern and central doabs. He established his capital at Hastinapur in Meerut district. The history of the Kuru clan is of great importance from the point of view of the Mahabharata war, and this war is the main event of the Mahabharata.

It is believed that this war was fought between Kauravas and Pandavas around 950 BC. Both of them were members of the Kuru Jana. As a result almost the entire Kuru clan was destroyed. Later on, the Aryans started spreading their civilization and culture in South-India also.

In the last phase of the post-Vedic period, around 600 BC, the Vedic people had spread eastwards from the Doab into Kosala (Eastern Uttar Pradesh) and Videha (North Bihar). Although Kosala is closely related to the story of Rama, there is no mention of Rama in the Vedic literature. In eastern Uttar Pradesh and northern Bihar, the Vedic Aryans encountered people who used copper tools and black and red colored pottery.

These people were here around 1800 BC. was living in. Aryans also probably found settlements of people in this area who used black and red utensils. It is estimated that these people were of a mixed culture which cannot be called Harappan culture. Whatever may have been the enemies of the post-Vedic people, they apparently did not have authority over any large and well-connected area and their number was not very large in the northern Ganges valley, the reason for the success of the post-Vedic Aryans in the second phase of expansion also was iron. Chariots with tools and horses were to be used.

(2.) Increase in the powers of the State: The size of the kingdom was very small in the Rigvedic period, but in the post-Vedic period large kingdoms were established and the rajanyas i.e. kings became more powerful than before. Now the brave victorious princes began to adorn themselves with titles like Sarbaum, Ekrat etc. In order to increase their influence, the kings started performing sacrifices like Rajasuya, Vajapeya, Ashwamedha etc. These sacrifices were indicative of the sovereign power of the kingdom.

It was believed that by performing Rajasuya Yagyas, kings get divine power. In the Ashwamedha Yagya, the king's horse used to roam freely in the area, that king's right was over that area. In the Vajapeya Yagya, there was a race of chariots with his kinsmen. People were influenced by all these events and rituals. At the same time the power and influence of the king also increased. Now the kingdom came to be understood as the form of a deity. It was necessary to obey the orders of the state. Although the office of the state was still hereditary, the electoral system had also started. The election was confined to the dynasty.

(3.) Rise of the concept of district and nation: With the expansion of the kingdom, the power of the rajya or king increased. Tribal rights were limited to a particular region. Rajanya was ruled by many tribes, but the chief tribes of Aryans also took control over the territories where other tribes were settled. In the beginning, each region was given the name of the tribe that settled there, but in the end the name of the district became the name of the region. Initially Panchal was the name of a clan but later it became the name of a state. The word 'Rashtra', which signifies the state, first appeared in this period.

(4.) Limited Monarchy: Although during this period the rajanya became more autocratic and autocratic than in the Rigvedic period, but the rajanya was controlled by the priest. The priest considered Soma as his kingdom and he was not bound to obey all the orders of the kingdom.

Sometimes the priest also rebelled against the state. The rajanya had to take an oath that he would never cheat the priest. To obey the rules of the state and to protect the brahmins was the supreme dharma of the state. Religion also had great control over the state. So he had to rule religiously.

(5.) Increase in office bearers: In the post-Vedic period, the number of office-bearers and their powers increased a great deal as compared to the Rig-Vedic period. In the Rigvedic period there were only three officials - Purohit, Senani and Gramani but now new officials like Sthapati, Nishad-Sthapati, Shatapati etc. were also born.

establishment There was probably a ruler of a part of the state and he had to perform judicial functions along with governance. Nishad-Sthapati Possibly called the officer who ruled over the tribals who had been conquered by the Aryans.

Satanpati Probably a hundred villages lived under the discipline of an official named. Now the rights of the old officials had also increased. The king descended from his throne and bowed down to the priest. Now the rajanya used to go less in the battle field, so the fighter used to conduct the army in the battle field. As a result, his influence also increased.

Even in the post-Vedic period, there was no standing army of the state. On the occasion of war, troops were collected from the people. One of the rituals to be successful in the war was that the rajanya had to eat food in a vessel with his subjects (vish). The power and influence of the villager had increased so much that he was called Rajkrit, that is, the maker of the kingdom. Rajmahishi also helped the state in running the state.

(6.) Reduction in the powers of the Sabha and the Committee: Although the existence of the Sabha and the Samiti continued even in the post-Vedic period, but now their authority and influence have decreased greatly. The committee was a big body and the sabha was a small one. Now due to the expansion of the state, it was not possible to call the committee in a hurry. So the state started ignoring his advice and started doing most of the work on its own decision. The importance of the meeting also decreased.

(7.) Reforms in the judicial system: The judicial system of the post-Vedic period had become stronger and wider than the judicial system of the Rigvedic period. Now the state started taking more interest in judicial work than before, but it often gave its judicial powers to its officials.

Village disputes were decided by the Gramyavadin who was the judge of the village. The killing of a Brahmin was considered a great crime. The Brahmin was not given death sentence. Gold theft and drinking were considered major crimes. Civil cases were usually adjudicated by the Panchs.

(8.) Starting of District States: Some other important changes took place in the post-Vedic period. District states started. Wars started not only for the acquisition of cow, but also for the rights over the land. The Mahabharata war fought between the Kauravas and the Pandavas probably took place during this period.

(9.) State Visit Arrangement: The predominantly cattle rearing society of the Vedic period, now became agriculturist. Now he was able to give gifts to his kingdom often. The power of the kings increased on the strength of the farmers and they gave a lot of donations to the priests who helped their patrons against the Vaishyas i.e. common subjects. The job of the small community of Shudras was to serve.

(10.) Tax regime: Collection of taxes and Dakshina became common during this period. They were probably deposited by an officer named Sangrihri.