Schools of Indian Philosophy 3: Beliefs of Early Vedic Period

 

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Aryans came from Central Asia and settled in India during the late Bronze Age. They spread to the eastern parts of India by the beginning of the Iron Age.

Aryans were a nomadic pastoral community when they reached India. They were less civilized compared to the Indus people when they settled in the Punjab region. Gradually, adapting to the new situations, they transformed into an agrarian community. They were organized into tribes (Gotras) rather than kingdoms.

We mainly get the reflections of Aryans’ beliefs and culture from Rigveda, the first Veda. It is a collection of small hymns (Suktas) composed and orally transmitted by generations. It took many centuries before they were compiled as Rigveda Samhita. Though Rigveda had started to be compiled before the Aryans’ arrival, the major portions were compiled by the Aryans. That is why the period of Aryans was referred to as the Vedic period (1500 BCE to 500 BCE).

Vedic Period is mainly divided into Early Vedic Age and Later Vedic Age. The early Aryans had two main challenges before them- first, the Non-Aryans (whom they called Dasyus), and second, the forces of nature.

Aryans were polytheistic in their beliefs. They humanized the forces of nature and worshipped them. Indra (Lord of rain and thunder) was their main deity whom they considered as the Lord of war also. They worshipped Him for more wealth and prosperity too. Agni (The Lord of fire) was worshipped next to Indra in most of the hymns of Rigveda.

Other important deities were Varuna (God of the Sea), and Surya- the Sun God. They also worshipped mountains like the Himalayas and rivers like Ganga. Prithvi (Goddess Earth), Rudra, Uchaisravass, Parjanyan, and Dhenu were also worshipped during the Early Vedic Period.

To Be Continued….

GREG RAKOZY xxxx xxxxx

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