Vedic Civilization

The Vedic period, or Vedic age (c. 1500 – c. 500 BCE), is the period in the history of the northwestern Indian subcontinent between the end of the urban Indus Valley Civilisation and a second urbanisation in the central Gangetic Plain which began in c. 600 BCE. It gets its name from the Vedas, which are liturgical texts containing details of life during this period that have been interpreted to be historical[1] and constitute the primary sources for understanding the period.

Rigveda Manuscripts

The Vedas were composed and orally transmitted by speakers of an Old Indo-Aryan language who had migrated into the northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent early in this period. The associated Vedic culture was tribal and pastoral until c. 1200 or 1100 BCE and centred in the Punjab. It then spread eastward to the western Ganges Plain, becoming more agricultural and settled, while the central Ganges Plain was dominated by a related but non-Vedic Indo-Aryan culture. The Vedic period saw the emergence of a hierarchy of social classes and the coalescence of peoples into Janapada (monarchical state-level polities). The end of the Vedic period witnessed the rise of Mahajanapada (large, urbanised states) as well as śramaṇa movements (including Jainism and Buddhism) which challenged the Vedic orthodoxy of the Kuru Kingdom.

The Vedic society was patriarchal and patrilineal, and early Vedic Aryans were organised into tribes rather than kingdoms. Economy in the Vedic period was sustained by a combination of pastoralism and agriculture. Vedic religion developed into Brahmanical orthodoxy, and around the beginning of the Common Era, the Vedic tradition formed one of the main constituents of the so-called "Hindu synthesis".

Ochere Coloured Potteryware

Archaeological cultures identified with phases of Vedic material culture include the Ochre Coloured Pottery culture, the Gandhara grave culture, the Black and red ware culture and the Painted Grey Ware culture.
The commonly accepted period of earlier Vedic age is dated back to the second millennium BCE. After the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation, which ended c. 1900 BCE,  groups of Indo-Aryan peoples migrated into north-western India and started to inhabit the northern Indus Valley. The Indo-Aryans were a branch of the Indo-Iranians, which—according to the most widespread hypothesis—have originated in the Andronovo culture in the Bactria-Margiana area, in present northern Afghanistan.

Some writers and archaeologists have opposed the notion of a migration of Indo-Aryans into India. Edwin Bryant and Laurie Patton used the term "Indo-Aryan Controversy" for an oversight of the Indo-Aryan Migration theory, and some of its opponents. These ideas are outside the academic mainstream.Mallory and Adams note that two types of models "enjoy significant international currency" as to the Indo-European homeland, namely the Anatolian hypothesis, and a migration out of the Eurasian steppes. According to Upinder Singh, "The original homeland of the Indo-Europeans and Indo-Aryans is the subject of continuing debate among philologists, linguists, historians, archaeologists and others. The dominant view is that the Indo-Aryans came to the subcontinent as immigrants. Another view, advocated mainly by some Indian scholars, is that they were indigenous to the subcontinent.

Iron Age Dagger in Vedic Period

The knowledge about the Aryans comes mostly from the Rigveda-samhita, i. e. the oldest layer of the Vedas, which was composed c. 1500–1200 BCE. They brought with them their distinctive religious traditions and practices.The Vedic beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era were closely related to the hypothesised Proto-Indo-European religion, and the Indo-Iranian religion. According to Anthony, the Old Indic religion probably emerged among Indo-European immigrants in the contact zone between the Zeravshan River (present-day Uzbekistan) and (present-day) Iran. It was "a syncretic mixture of old Central Asian and new Indo-European elements", which borrowed "distinctive religious beliefs and practices" from the Bactria–Margiana culture.

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