The vedic civilisation is connected with the arrival of Aryans , an Indo-European speaking population into India around 1500 B.C. Their language Sanskrit had similarities with Latin, Iranian languages, English , German etc. Most scholars like Max Muller believe that Aryans came to India from Central Asia ( precisely northern Iran , Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan ) . Genetic evidence also supports this.
The geneticist PP Majumder (2010) has recently argued that the findings of Reich et al. (2009) are in remarkable concordance with previous research using mtDNA and Y-DNA:
Central Asian populations are supposed to have been major contributors to the Indian gene pool, particularly to the northern Indian gene pool, and the migrants had supposedly moved into India through what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan. Using mitochondrial DNA variation data collated from various studies, we have shown that populations of Central Asia and Pakistan show the lowest coefficient of genetic differentiation with the north Indian populations, a higher differentiation with the south Indian populations, and the highest with the northeast Indian populations. Northern Indian populations are genetically closer to Central Asians than populations of other geographical regions of India… . Consistent with the above findings, a recent study using over 500,000 biallelic autosomal markers has found a north to south gradient of genetic proximity of Indian populations to western Eurasians. This feature is likely related to the proportions of ancestry derived from the western Eurasian gene pool, which, as this study has shown, is greater in populations inhabiting northern India than those inhabiting southern India.
The Aryans however were not united . They were divided among themselves and fought many battles. In the battle of the ten kings there were two groups, one consisted of Sirinjayayas and Bharatas, while the other group consisted of Yadus , Turvasas ,Druhyus, Pakhtas, Anus etc. King Sudas , the King of Bharatas emerged as victorious and gave the name ‘Bharatvarsha’ to the region they settled in. The Aryans also battled the aboriginal tribes of India whom they called Dasyus, Asuras etc.
The sources to understand Aryan culture was Vedas. The Vedas were regarded as Apaurusheyas (not composed by mortals) and srutis ( heard from the mouth of God). The Vedic literature was divided into four parts The Rigveda, The Yajurveda, The Atarvaveda and The Samaveda.
The early administrative system of Aryans appears to be essentially tribal in nature. The chief of the tribe was called Rajan(king) and he exercised supreme authority over his tribe. The king was assisted by a number of officials such as Purohita (chief Priest), Senani(army chief) and Gramani(head of village). Popular assemblies like Sabha and Samiti also existed in the early vedic age.
A peculiar feature of the vedic age was the varna system . In the beginning there were three classes Brahman , Rajnya and Vis i.e , the priests , the warriors and the common people. Later it evolved into a four fold division of the society consisting of Brahmans, Kshatriyas , Vaishyas and the Shudras. The Brahmans consisted of teachers and priests , the Kshatriyas kings and warriors , the merchants and bankers were the Vaishyas and the artisans and labourers were the Shudras. This later evolved into the caste system in Indian society we know today.
The Aryans worshipped various deities like Prithvi, Soma , Varuna, Mitra, Dyaus, Surya, Vishnu,Savitri , the Adityas and the Ushas.Sacrifices followed by devout prayer occupied a prominent place in Rigvedic worship.
The Aryans left a huge legacy in the form of literature . The Vedas , the Upanishads, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata were all composed during the Vedic period. Women also enjoyed a position of respect and honour in the society during this period. Many modern indian languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Odia, Punjabi , Marathi ,Gujarati etc all descended from Sanskrit , which was the language of Aryans.
- S.R Myneni ; Indian History ; Allahabad Law Agency
- K.L Khurana ; Ancient India : Lakshmi Narain Agarwal Publishers.
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