Arrival of the Indo-Aryans
The Indo-Iranians, comprising the Indo-Aryans and Iranians, moved towards India from two areas of Central Asia.
Archaeologists refer to the first area as the Andronovo culture, which encompassed almost the whole of Central Asia during the second millennium BC.
The second area, which archaeologists refer to as the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC), dates back to 1900-1500 BC.
This cultural zone extended over south Central Asia, and included Bactria or Balkh covering Afghanistan, and Margiana covering Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The Indian tradition recognizes Bactria as a well-known region.
An outside country is known as Bahlika, which corresponds to the modern Balkh.
The earliest Aryans lived in the geographical area covered by eastern Afghanistan, the North-West Frontier Province, Punjab, and the fringes of western UP.
In the Rig Veda, the Sarasvati is referred to as naditama or the best of rivers.
Scholars identify the Sarasvati with the Ghaggar-Hakra channel in Haryana and Rajasthan, but its Rig Vedic description indicates that the Avestan river Harakhwati or the present Helmand river in south Afghanistan is the actual location. It is from there that the name Sarasvati was transferred to India.
The name “The Land of the Seven Rivers” is given to the entire region where the Aryans first settled in the Indian subcontinent.
Rig Veda- It consists of ten mandalas or books, of which books II to VII form the earliest parts. Books I and X seem to have been the latest additions. The Rig Veda has many things in common with the Avesta, which is the oldest text in the Iranian language.
An inscription from Iraq dating back to around 2200 BC contains the Indo-European language.
Specimens occur in Hittite inscriptions in Anatolia (Turkey) from the nineteenth to the seventeenth centuries BC. They also figure in the Mycenaean inscriptions of Greece around 1400 BC.
Aryan names appear in Kassite inscriptions of about 1600 BC from Iraq and in Mitanni inscriptions of the fourteenth century BC from Syria. The term dasyuhatya, slaughter of the dasyus, is repeatedly used in the Rig Veda.
The Indo-Aryans were engaged in two types of conflicts. First, they fought with the pre-Aryans, and secondly, they fought amongst themselves. According to tradition, the Aryans were divided into five tribes called panchajana.
Cattle Rearing and Agriculture
The pre-Aryans who lived in the area associated with the Vedic people were well aware of agriculture, but they perhaps primarily used it to produce fodder.
The terms for war in the Rig Veda is gavishthi or search for cows, and cow seems to have been the most important form of wealth.
A site called Bhagwanpura in Haryana and three other sites in Punjab have yielded Painted Grey Ware along with ‘late Harappan’ pottery. The date assigned to the Bhagwanpura finds ranges from 1600 to 1000 BC which also roughly corresponds to the period of the Rig Veda.
The administrative machinery of the Aryans in the Rig Vedic period functioned with the tribal chief, for his successful leadership in war, at the centre. He was called rajan.
The tribal assembly called the election of the king, who was referred to as the protector of his tribe.
Even women attended the sabha and vidatha in Rig Vedic times.
The sabha and the samiti mattered a great deal in early Vedic times. The senani or the head of the army ranked next to the king.
The officer who enjoyed authority over a large stretch of land or pasture ground was called vrajapati.
The heads of the families called kulapas or the heads of the fighting hordes called gramani were led into battle. Initially, the gramani was simply the head of a small tribal kin-based fighting unit called grama.
Tribe and Family
The people had their primary loyalty to the tribe, which was called.
The term jana occurs about 275 times in the Rig Veda, while the term janapada or territory is not used even once.
The Rig Veda mentions the term vis, which stands for tribe, around 170 times in the text.
It is likely that they divided the vis into gramas or smaller tribal units.
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The factor that contributed most to the creation of social divisions was the conquest of the indigenous inhabitants by the Indo-Aryans.
Rig Vedic Gods
Indra played the role of a warlord, leading the Aryan soldiers to victory against the demons, and has 250 hymns devoted to him.
The second position is held by Agni (fire god) to whom 200 hymns are devoted. The third important position is occupied by Varuna who personified water.
They considered Soma to be the god of plants, and they named an intoxicating drink after him.
The Maruts personify the storm.
The Rig Veda devotes its praise to the river Sarasvati in many hymns, considering her an important goddess.
There are some women divinities too, such as Aditi, and Usha who represented the appearance of the dawn.
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