Vedic Culture in Ancient India

Vedic Culture in Ancient India is another great civilization and culture and emerged as the successor of the Indus Valley Civilization. Vedic texts are the source of all information of the Vedic age. Let’s learn.

  • Early Vedic Civilization (1500 -1000 BCE)
  • Later Vedic Civilization (1000-500 BCE)

Vedic Culture in Ancient India

  • It is believed that Indo -Aryans established the Vedic age and they are the composer of Vedic texts.
  • The term ‘Indo-Aryans‘ is basically a linguistic term and refers to speakers of a subgroup of the Indo-European family of languages.
  • There is still no consensus on the origin of Aryans and different scholar come up with different theories. Some theories are as follows:
Origin of AryanThinkers
Aryan came from EuropeSir Willium Jones,Giles,Morgan
Aryan came from central AsiaMax Muller,Meyer,Herzfeld
Homeland of Aryan is Arctic RegionBal Gangadhar Tilak
Aryan came from TibetSwami Dayananda Saraswati
Aryans are IndegenousDr Sampurnanand , A C Das(Saptasindhu Region) , Ganganath Jha(Confluence of Ganga and Yamuna),L D Kala(Kashmir)
Knowledge Booster:What is Arya?

Arya is a cultural/ethnic term etymologically imparts a meaning to cultivate, literally refers to kinsmen or companion. In Sanskrit it means favourably disposed new comers and later it implied men of good family ‘noble’.

Vedic Literature

Four Vedas are the most important part of Vedic literature. These are Rig, Sama, Yayur and Atharva Veda. Vedas were written in the Sanskrit language.


  • The Rig Veda is a collection of 1,028 hymns.
  • It is divided into 10 Mandals (books). Third Mandal contains Gayatri Mantra.
  • The Rig Veda is the earliest composition.
  • The Rig Veda has been included by the UNESCO in the list of literature signifying World Human Heritage.
  • Saraswati is the deity river of the Rig Veda.
  • Tenth Mandal contains Purushasukta hymn that tells about caste system.
  • The theme of Sapta Sindhu or the seven rivers plays a major part in the hymns of the Rigveda.The Rigveda mentions rivers Kabul, Swat, Kurram, Gumal, Indus,Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, etc

  • The Sama Veda is the collection of verses or the book of chants.
  • It is a collection of 1,810 melodies.
  • It contains the famous Dhrupada raga, which was sung by Tansen.

  • The Yajur Veda contains the procedure for the performance of sacrifices.
  • The two type of texts are found  Shukla Yajur Veda or White Yajur Veda and Krishna Yajur Veda or Black Yajur Veda 

  • The Atharva Veda is a collection of magic spells and charms to ward off the evil spirits and diseases.
  • It divided into 20 kandas (books) which includes 711 hymns.
There are four Upavedas:
  • Ayurveda (Upaveda of the Atharvaveda)
  • Dhanurveda (Upaveda of the Rigveda)
  • Gandharvaveda (Upaveda of the Samaveda)
  • Sthapatyaveda (Upaveda of the Yajurveda)

  • The Brahmanas describe the rules for the performance of sacrificial ceremonies.
  • These are prose commentaries.
  • The Shatapatha Brahmanas is attached to the Yajur Veda.

  • Aranyakas are the forest books.
  • Written by hermits living in the jungles for their pupils.
  • Reflects the philosophical way.

  • The literal meaning of “Upanishad’ is ‘to sit near someone
  • There are 108 Upanishads, of which 13 are the most prominent.
  • The Upanishads focus a lot on the philosophy about life, universe, self, body, sacrifice, etc.
  • The oldest Upanishad-Vrihadarnayaka.

Know Facts

  • The Mundaka Upanishad is the largest of all Upanishads.”Satyamev jayate ” is taken from Mundaka Upanishad.
  • The Chhandogya Upanishad defines two types of marriage. Anuloma marriage – the marriage of a man in same varna or below his varna and Pratiloma marriage – the marriage of a girl/woman in a varna lower than her own varna.

  • Vedanta literally signifies ‘the end of the Vedas’.
  • It is the ultimate aim of Vedas.

the word ‘Vedanga‘ means ‘the limbs of the Vedas‘. These are treaties of Science and Arts.

Thére are six Vedangs:

  • Shiksha (Phonetics)
  • Kalpa Sutras (Rituals)
  • Vyakarana (Grammar)
  • Nirukta (Etymology)
  • Chhanda (Metrics)
  • Jyotisha (Astronomy)
Panini wrote Ashtadhyayi (4th century BC) on Vyakarana.

  • There are 18 Puranas.
  • Some Puranas like the Brahma, Matsya, Harivamsha, Vishnu, Brahmanda, and Vayu provide useful information on historical dynasties (of Haryankas, Shishunagas, Nandas, Mauryas, Shungas,Guptas).
  • Puranas also contain detailed accounts of historical geography such as mountains, rivers, etc.
  • Matsya Purana is the oldest Puranic text.

  • Dharamshastra They are the Sanskrit texts that deals with Dharma or the code of conduct that envisage a righteous moral law which is in consonance with the universal natural law.

There are mainly two Mahakavyas or Epics in Vedic age

  • The Ramayana written by Valmiki.It is known as Adi Kavya or the oldest epic in the world.The Ramayana contains seven Kandas and 24000 verses
  • The Mahabharata written by Ved Vyasa
Social life of Vedic Culture
  • The Vedic society comprised four varnas, namely Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra.This division of the society was based on the professions or occupations of the people. Caste system became more strict and widely practiced in later Vedic age.
  • Rare instances of Child marriage and Sati in later Vedic age were referred in varuois texts.
  • A widow could marry the younger brother of her deceased husband (Niyoga).
  • The father’s property was inherited by son.
  • The staple diet was milk,ghee,vegetables. Fishes were also consumed.
  • The cow was deemed Aghanya, i.e. not to be killed. Rigveda described a penalty of death or expulsion from the kingdom to those who kill or injure cows.
  • Existence of Sabha and Samiti was referred in later Vedic age.
  • Judiciary system existed.
  • Mixed economy was followed. Mixed economy in Vedic age is system where agriculture and Pastoralism or animal husbandry both were practiced.
  • Cow was the standard unit of exchange.
  • Animals like Cat,Camel,Tiger were unknown to them where as Lion,Elephant were known animals.
  • Niksha was the standard unit of value.
Religious Life of Vedic Culture
  • Idol and temple worship was not practiced.
  • They venerated natural sources like wind,rain,water, thunder etc.
  • Indra,Agni,Varuna were most popular Gods in Vedic age.

Rig-Vedic Gods

IndraMost important deity.Known as Rain god
AgniWas considered as intermediary of God and men
VarunaPersonified water
YamaGuardian of the world of dead
SomaGod of Plants
VayuGod of Wind
SavitriGayatri Mantra was addressed to Savitri.
AditiGoddess of Eternity
PrithviGoddess of Earth
Some Important Facts on Vedic Culture For Exams
  • Which scholar declared that ‘Sapt Saidhava’ region was the originof Aryans?-Dr Sampurnanand , A C Das
  • What was the basic unit of Vedic Society?-Parivar
  • Which was the name of voluntary contribution/tax made by an Individual?-Bali
  • Who is the writer of the Book “Return of the Aryans”?-Bhagwan S Gidwani
  • What was the name of an Aryan leader?-Rajan
Knowledge Booster: Know About Battle of Ten Kings

It is also known as Dasharajnya War. The context of the war is found in Rig Veda.It was an internecine war of Aryans. It took place near the Parusni River or the Ravi River in Punjab. The war site later became the part of the city of Harappa.In this war ten kings of Regvedic tribes participated in a war against Bharat King Sudas from the Tritsus family.Sudas defeated them all, and captured all the ten kings of Rigvedic tribes.


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