Later Vedic Period

In our previous article we discussed about the era of Vedic culture, invasion of Aryans, social and political life in that era. Now in later vedic period we will be discussing the penetration of Aryans, Formation of 16 Mahajanapadas, religious life, social life etc.

 Later Vedic period is also referred as PGW phase (Painted Grey ware)

Geographical Area in Later Vedic Period

In later vedic period, Aryans continued their influence of penetrating Northern India(Aryavarta).Aound 600 B.C Aryans had occupied the Ganga  Yamuna Doab and penetrated the whole fertile area, as a result, 16 Mahajanapadas were formed which comprised of large number of rural and urban settlements. These mahajanpada’s were formed for better administration.

Here is the list of 16 Mahajanapadas, with their features and their Capital.

S.No

Mahajanapada

Capital

Features

1

Kashi(District of Varanasi in U.P) Varanasi(Benaras) Famous for its cotton textiles and market for horses.

2.

Kosala(Ayodhya district of UP) Sravasti Most formidable adversaries of the emergent Magadhan Empire

3

Anga (East Bihar) Champa Annexed by Magadha

4

Magadha (South Bihar) Patliputra Bimbisara and Ajatashatru were the founders of this Mahajanapada

5

Vajii (North Bihar) Videha, Mithila, Vaishali Represented clans of Videhas, Licchavis & Jnatrikas.

6

Malla (Gorakhpur region, UP) Pavapuri, Kusinagara Budhha died in Kusinagara

7

Chedi (Narmada Belt, Bundelkhand area) Suktmitati Eastern part of modern Bundelkhand.

8

Vatsa (Allahbad) Kausambi Udayan was the powerful king here

9

Kuru (Delhi Haryana region) Indraprastha Ancient name of Delhi

10

Panchala ( rohilkhand, UP) Ahichhatra, Kampilya Divided into Northern and southern Panchala

11

Matsya (Rajasthan) Viratnagara Absorbed by Magadhan empire

12

Surasena (Mathura) Mathura Magadha annexed it.

13

Assaka (Godavari region) Potana Ancient Maharashtra region, Avanti finally annexed it.

14

Avanti (Ujjain region of U.P) Mahismati An important center of Buddhism. Chanda Pradotya was the famous king. Finally got annexed by Magadhan Empire.

15

Gandhara (Peshawar , Rawalpindi) Taxila Capital Taxila was famous for education and learning tradition in Ancient India. Gandhari (wife of Dhritrashtra) was the princess.

16

Kamboja(Hazara district of Pakistan) Rajpur Located somewhere close to Gandhara

Moreover,with reference to the territorial divisions, the later vedic period presents three broad divisions of India:

A. Aryavarta (Northern India)

B. Madhya Desa (Central India)

C. Dakshinpath (South India)

Economy of Later Vedic Period

* Later Vedic economy was surplus agrarian economy.

* Agriculture began to replace rearing of cattle.

* Rice, Barley, Wheat, Beans were cultivated

* PGW (Painted Grey ware) culture got established.

Political condition in Later Vedic period

* Large kingdoms and stately cities made their appearances in the later vedic period.

* King came to be known as Universal Economy.

* Depending on the part of the country he ruled, he had different titles like

Raja– Middle Kingdom

Samrat– Eastern Kingdom

Bhoj– Southern part

Virat– Northern Kingdom

 Swarat– Western Kingdom

* Influence of King was strengthened by many rituals; like

A) Rajasuya– It is a Coronation ceremony. It is basically the crowning ceremony.

B) Aswamedha sacrifice– the main purpose of this ritual is to expand the territory of Kingdom.

* The administrative machinery of the system was governed by Admin Officers who were also termed as Ratninas (By Satapatha Brahamana Literarture) Below table presents the various ratninas prevalent during the era.

Name of Ratninas

Purohita

The priest

Mahishi

The Queen

Yuvaraja

Crown Prince

Suta/ Sarathi

Charioteer

Senani

The General

Gramani

Head of Village

Kshata

Gateman

Sangrahitri

Treasurer

Bhagadudha

Collector of Taxes

Akshavapa

Courier

Palagala

Messenger

Govikarta

Head of Forest Department

*  The popular control over the affairs of the Kingdom were exercised through Sabha and Samiti, as in Rigvedic Period.

Social condition in Later Vedic era

* During later Vedic time period the caste system developed further. Varna system got fully established.

Caste System in later vedic period

 

 

 

 

* The power of Brahmin increased due to arise of “cult of sacrifice”.

* The status of women declined. They could not inherit property of her father. Women were prohibited to attend political assemblies.

* The king was allowed to have 4 wives;

1) Mahishi– She is the first wife

2) Vavta – Most favourite queen of King and honored.

3) Parivrikti – Neglected queen

4) Palagali– Daughter of Palagal.

  Types of Marriages

S. No

Type of Marriage

Features

1

Brahma Vivah

Marry of a girl to a man of same Varna with Dowry

2

Dalva Vivaha

Marry the girl with a priest himself in lieu of his fees

3

Arsha Vivaha

Marry the girl by giving token bride price of bull or cow instead of dowry

4

Prajaptya Vivaha

Marry a girl without giving a bride price and dowry

5

Gandharva Vivaha

Love marriage

6

Asura Vivaha

Marry with a purchased girl

7

Rakshasa Vivaha

Marry with a daughter of a defeated King or a kidnapped girl

8

Paishacha Vivaha

Marry to a girl after seducing her or raping her

9

Anuloma Vivaha

Marry of a boy from higher Varna to a girl with lower Varna

10

Pratiloma Vivaha

Marry of a girl with higher Varna to a boy of  lower Varna

Religious Life in Later Vedic Era

Now lets study about the Religious life in later vedic era. Here the vedic rituals became very complicated. Two Gods, Indira and Agni lost their importance and got replaced by Trinity God, Prajapati (Brahma), Vishnu  and Rudra (Mahesha/ Shiva).

Religious life in later vedic period

 

 

 

 

 

This ends the important phases of Later Vedic Era. In our upcoming articles, we will be coming up with some more articles on Sangam age, Buddhism, Jainism etc.

 

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  1. By shrini

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