The Later Vedic Period History In Details

The Later Vedic Period History In Details-In this article we published detailed history about The Later Vedic era, this article contain the most important topics from Later Vedic period like , life in Later Vedic period and many facts about the Later Vedic Era, so please read this article very carefully to know about the Vedic Period.

Later Vedic Age (1000-600 BC)

The expression later Vedic Age comprises the far reaching changes and developments that took place in the religion, social, economic and political conditions of the people during the period when the later Sanhitas Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda, and the Brahmanas, Arayank and Upanishads were composed. The age is also known as PGW iron phase.

Geographical Expansion

  • During the later Vedic period Aryans moved into Eastward and Southward areas. The literature of this period contains references about the Arabian sea, the Vindhyan range and the Northern plain of Ganga-Yamuna doab.
  • A study of the literature reveals that moving from Punjab, the Aryans settled in Delhi and upper gangetic doab.
  • Moving Eastward they habituated Awadh region and moving further East they entered into Bihar. The Eastward march of the Aryans was made possible by the use of fire and implements and weapons of iron. With the help of these two they were able to clear thick forests, kill wild animals and break the soil.
  • The story of Agni and Videha Madhav moving Eastward, as narrated in Satpatha Brahmin, gives a proof of the Eastward march. In this process, the Janas transformed into Janapadas. The later Vedas gives three broad divisions of India viz Aryavarta (Northern India), Madhyadesa (Central India) and Dakshina Patha (Southern India).

Political Organisation

In later Vedic period, Rigvedie popular assemblies lost their importance and royal power increased at their cost. The Vidata completely disappeared.

The Sabha and Samiti continued to hold the ground but their character changed. They came to be dominated by chief’s and rich nobles. Women were not allowed to sit in Sabha and
Brahmana it was now dominated by Nobles and Brahmanas.

Aitreya Brahmana Refers to Five Types of State System
Rajya (Central Kngdom)Ruled by Raja
Bhojya (Southern Kingdom)Ruled by Bhoja
Swarajya (Western Kingdom)Ruled by Svarat
Vairajya (Northern Kingdom)Ruled by Virat
Samrajya (Eastern Kingdom)Ruled by Samrat
Later Vedic Period History In Details
  • The formation of bigger kingdoms made the chief or the king more powerful. Princes or chiefs ruled tribes, but the dominant tribe gave their names to territories, which might be inhabited by tribes other than their own. In the beginning each area was named after the tribe which settled there first.
  • At first Panchala was the name of people, and then it became the name of a region. The term Rashtra, which indicate territory first appears in this period.
  • The king was influenced by the rituals like Rajasuya, Ashvamedha. Vajpeya etc. It was the beginning of an administrative machinery. The king had to maintain a council of advisors known as the Ratnis.
  • A rudimentary taxation system began with Sangrathitri as treasures of taxes and Bhagadugha as tax collector. But even during this period, the king did not posses a standing army and tribal units were mustered in times of war.
12 Ratnis and Other Important Officials
PurohitaChief priest, is also sometimes refered to as Rastragopa
SenaniSupreme Commander of Army
VrajapatiOfficer-in-charge of pasture land
JivagribhaPolice Officer
Spasas/dutasSpies, who also sometimes worked as
GramaniHead of the village
KulapatiHead of the family
MadhyamasiMediator on disputes
BhagadughaRevenue collector
MahishiChief Queen
SutaCharioteer and court minister
GovikartanaKeeper of games and forests
SthapatiChief Judge
Later Vedic Period History In Details


  • Agriculture became the main occupation of the people. It was no longer a pastoral economy of Rigvedic days. Agricultural operations consisted of ploughing, sowing, reaping and thrashing. Cow dung was used as manure. A wide variety of crops was cultivated. Grains like rai, barley, beas, sesamum etc were grown during the various parts of the year. Later Vedic text refers to rice (Vrihi), wheat (Gohuma) and sugarcane (Ikshu).
  • Now land was recognised as property. The Grahpati (head of the household) was the owner of the land. The later Vedic literature refers to a metal as Shyam Ayas and Krishna Ayas that was indication of iron. Settled life, agrarian economy development and diversification of crafts and growing volume of trade led to emergence of urban life as is evident by the mention of Hastinapur and Kaushambi in the literature of that period.

Social Life

The society came to be divided into four Varnas called the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudra. Brahmans emerged as the most powerful class, Vaishyas were the tribute payers.

Purushasukta Theory

Purushasukta is a late hymn of tenth Mandal of Rigveda. The hymn says that four persons originated from the body of the Purusha or the primeval creator.

The BrahmanaFrom mouth of Purusha
The KshatriyaFrom his arms
The VaishyaFrom his thighs
The ShudraFrom his feet
Later Vedic Period History In Details

The upper three Varna i.e., Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vaishya were known as Dvij (twice born) and were entitled to Upnayana or investiture with the sacred thread but the Shudras were deprived of it and were also not allowed to recite the Gayatri Mantra.

The Four Ashramas

It is mentioned for the first time in Aitreya Brahmana, it consists of four stages

  1. Brahmacharya ➤ Student Life
  2. Grihastha ➤ House holder
  3. Vanaprashta ➤ Partial retirement
  4. Sanyas ➤ Complete Retirement

Institution of Marriage

The institution of marriage got established though some primitive practices also survived. There are no examples of child marriage and the marriageable age in Rig Veda was 16. The practice of widow remarriage and levirate also mentioned. There were few examples of polyandry. On the basis of varna system there existed two forms of Marriage.

  1. Anuloma Marriage Marriage of a boy or a man in his own Varna or below his Varna was called Anuloma, It was not sanctioned by the sacred texts.
  2. Pratiloma Marriage It was the marriage of a girl or a women in lower than her own Varna. It was not sanctioned by the sacred texts.

The smriti writers of the age mentioned following forms of Marriage

  1. Brahma Marriage of a duly dowered girl to a man of the same Varna with Vedic rites and rituals.
  2. Daiva In this marriage the father gives the daughter to the sacrificial priest as part of his fee.
  3. Arsa In this marriage a token bride price of a cow and a bull was given in place of the dowry.
  4. Prajapati The father gave the girl without dowry and without demanding the bride’s price.
  5. Gandharva It was a marriage by the consent of the two parties, which might be solemnised merely by plighting troth. A special form of it was the
    Swayamvara or self choice.
  6. Asura It was marriage by purchase and was looked upon with disfavour by the sacred texts.
  7. Rakshasa It was by capture, practised especially by the warrior class.
  8. Paisacha It was the education of a girl while asleep, mentally deranged or drunk hence, it can hardly be called a marriage. Of these eight forms, only first four were generally approved and permissible to the Brahmanas.

Position of Women

  • The status of women declined but opportunity of Education was not completes denied. They were deprived of Upanayana and religious ceremonies and from attending assemblies.
  • As per Aitreya Brahmana, daughter is the source of misery but son is the protector of family. As per Maitrayani Samhita, there are three evils- liquor, dice and women. In Yajnavalkya- Gargi dialogue proves that some women got higher education.


  1. In this period, under Brahmanical influence Agni and Indra lost their formal importance to Prajapati (the creator).
  2. New Gods (Vishnu, Rudra, Prajapati etc) came into prominence.
  3. The mode of worship changed considerably and the sacrifices became more important than prayers. The sacrificial cult was elaborate and an extremely specialised activity.
  4. Sacrifices were accompanied by mantras, which had to be carefully pronounced by the sacrificer known as the Yajamana (Perfomer of Yajana).

Important Vedic Sacrifices

  1. Ashvamedha ➤ Horse sacrifice meant to establish a king’s supremacy over other kings.
  2. Vajapeya ➤ A chariot race, which was meant to reestablish a king’s supremacy over his people.
  3. Rajasuya ➤ A consecration ceremony, which conferred supreme power on the king
  4. Ratnavinsi ➤ A part of Rajasuya ceremony, in which different royal officials (ratnis) invoked different Gods and Goddesses. The most important ritual throwing light on the political organisation of the later Vedic period.

The Sixteen Sanskaras

The Sanskaras or sacraments are believed to reform and sanctify the person for whom they are performed. The first systematic attempt at describing the
sanskaras is found in Grsihasutras.

GarbhadhanaCeremony for conception
PumsavanaTo secure the birth of male child
SimanatonnayanaParting the hair
JatakarmanNatal rites (Ceremony for new born Child)
NamakaranaCeremony for naming the child
NishkramanaFirst outing (for showing sun)
AnnaprasanaFirst feeding with boiled rice in the Six Month
KarnavedhaPiercing the ear lobes
VidyarambhaLeaming the alphaber
UpanayanaHoly thread ceremony
PraisharthaFirst studies of Vedas
Keshanta and RitusuddhiCutting the hair
SamavartanaGraduation (Ceremony on returning home after completing studentship)
Later Vedic Period History In Details

Vedic Literature

The term ‘Veda’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Vid’, which means to know, signifying knowledge par excellence. Vedic texts are divided between Sruti (based on hearing) and Smiriti (based on memory). Four Vedas and their Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the Upanishads form a class known as Shruti. The Vedic literature comprised four Vedas, their Brahmanas, Aranyakas and
Upanishads along with six Vedangas.

The Four Vedas


  1. It is the oldest of all the Vedas and contains 1028 hymns and is divided ad into 10 Mandals.
  2. It was written between 1500-1000 BC.
  3. Mandals II to VII are considered the oldest. Mandal I, VIII and X seem to be later additions.
  4. Mandal IX is dedicated exclusively ide to Soma.
  5. Mandal X contains the famous Purushsukta hymn.
  6. Also contains Gayatri Mantra.


  1. Collection of hymns taken mainly from the VIII and IX Mandals of the Rigveda and set to tune for the purpose of singing.
  2. Known as the book of chants.
  3. Origin of Indian music is traced to it.
  4. Sung by Udgatre Priests.


  1. It prescribes the rituals of performing different sacrificing.
  2. It is primarily a guide for the use of Adhvaryu priest.
  3. This Veda is in both verse and de prose.
  4. The two royal ceremonies of Raja suya and Vajapeya are mentioned for the first time in this Veda.
  5. It is divided into two parts

(i) Krishna Yajurveda (Black) – Contains not only the hymns but also prose commentaries.

(ii) Sukla Yajurveda (White) Contains only hymns.


  1. The Atharvaveda (the book of magical formulae) contains charms and spells in verse, toward off evils and diseases.
  2. It preserves many cultes and superstitions.
  3. It contains 731 hymns.
  4. It is believed to be the work of non-Aryans.

The Brahmanas

The Brahmanas are the prose commentarus on various Vedic hymns. They explain the Vedas in an orthodox way. They explain the hidden meaning behind the hymns. They are ritualistic in nature. They are expressions of the cause (hetu), etymology (nirvachana), censure (ninda), doubt (sanshaya) and injuction (vidhi).

The Aranyakas

Aranyaka literally means The Forest and therefore Aranyakas are also known as forest books. It deals with mysticism and symbolism of sacrifice and priestly philosophy. The Aranyaka contains transitional material between the Mythology and the ritual of the Samhitas and Brahmanas on one hand, and the philosophical Upanishad on the other. They lay emphasis on meditation and are opposed to sacrifices and many of the early rituals. Their stress is on moral values.

The Upanishads

Upanishads literally means, Be seated at the feet of the Guru to receive the teachings. The Upanishad imparts philosophical knowledge and spiritual learning. They are also called Vedanta. They are said to be the first scriptures referring to the law of Karma, as taught by Yajnavalkya (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad). The philosophical principle of Shankara and Ramanuja are said to have been derived from the Upanishad. There are 108 Upanishads. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad provides
the first reference of the ideal rebirth.


There are four Upavedas

UpavedaSubjectRelated to
Later Vedic Period History In Details

The Vedanga

The Vedangas are called Smriti or literature handed down by tradition because they are human origin. These are also known as the limbs of the Vedas.

These are treaties on science and arts. They are

  1. Shikash (Phonetica/Pronunciation)
  2. Kalpa (Ritual)
  3. Vyakarana (Grammar) 4. Chhand (Metrics)
  4. Nirukta (Etymology)
  5. Jyotisha (Astronomy)

They help in the study of Vedic literature. Kalpa Sutras are divided into three classes

  1. Srauta Sutra It deals with the rituals of great sacrifices of Agni, Soma etc.
  2. Grihya Sutra –It deals with domestic ceremonies and sacrifices.
  3. Sulva Sutra— It is the oldest book on Indian Geometry.

Important Facts

  • Mandalas II to VII of Rigveda are known as the Family Books, their composition being ascribed to certain families of Sages viz Gritsamada, Visvamitra, Vamadeva, Atri, Bhardvaja and Vasishtha.
  • Most of the Rig Vedic hymns are though religious in nature but some hymns specially concerned with the danastutis throw light also on political, social and economic aspects of the early Vedic period.
  • The Atharvaveda was closely connected with the warrior class. It is divided into two parts-Paippalada and Saunaka
  • The Brahmanas of Rigveda are for the use of the invoking priest (hotri), those of the Yajurveda for the afficiating priest (adhvaryu) and those of the Samnaveda for the Chamting Priest (Udgatri)
  • The Upanishads distinguish knowledge into two viz the higher and lower. The higher knowledge helps us to know Brahman while the lower knowledge could be gathered from the four Vedas as well as the six Vedangas.
  • According to Gopatha Brahmana sacrifices made by the kings were Rajasuya Yagya, Vajpaya,
    Purushmedha and Ashvamedha Yagya.

One thought on “The Later Vedic Period History In Details

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *