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Later Vedic Period 


             The post-Vedic period, which lasted from approximately 1000 to 600 BCE, was pulsating with vibrant change. Trade flowed like rivers, weaving distant regions together through the exchange of goods and ideas. Knowledge blossomed, taking root in philosophy, literature, and emerging sciences such as mathematics and astronomy. Education, though confined to men, produced wise sages who inquired and explored, composed the philosophical gems of the Upanishads, and paved the way to self-realization. This era, a dynamic dance between ritual and rationality, laid the intellectual and spiritual foundation for millennia to come.

Later Vedic Period Culture:

  • Later vedic culture spread from approximately 1000 BC to 700-600 BC  .
  • Associated with the painted gray pottery culture of the Iron Age, archaeological findings provide insights into this cultural period.
  • The later Vedic culture witnessed the integration and advancement of political, social and economic aspects.
  • Archaeologists have discovered significant evidence from excavations that have contributed to our understanding of this historical era.

Later Vedic Period  Texts:

  • The RigVeda was composed after the Samhitas.
  • Yajur, Sama and Atharva Vedas are included.

Yajur Veda:

  • Emphasizes rituals and rituals.
  • Divided into two branches: Shukla (white) Yajur Veda and Krishna (black) Yajur Veda.

Sama Veda:

  • Music primarily focuses on mantras and melodies.
  • Derived from the Rig Veda, the songs were composed with music for the ritual ritual.

Atharva Veda:

  • It deals with mantra sutras, mantras and mantras.
  • Includes songs for healing, care and addressing various life situations.

Spread of Aryans Towards the East:

  • In the post-Vedic period, the Aryans moved from the Punjab to the Gangetic-Yamuna plain.
  • The Indo-Iranians migrated from Iran and settled in the Punjab.
  • The upper Gangetic plain (between The Indus and the Ganges) was the territory of the Kurus and the Panchalas.
  • The Aitreya Brahmin confirms the central Gangetic region as the Aryan territory.
  • The RigVeda refers to the southern boundary, while later texts refer to the Rivers Saraswati and Tristavati.
  • The Kurus, Panchalas, Vaskas and Usinas are referred to as ethnic groups during this period.
  • Around 1000 BC, the Vedic Aryans moved towards the gaushala in eastern Uttar Pradesh and videha in north Bihar.
  • The upper Gangetic plains witnessed the incorporation of munda words in the Vedas.
  • The areas to the east of Kosala and Videham were considered foreign lands by the Aryans.
  • The Atharva Veda and the Aitreya Brahmana depict the people of Anga, Magadha, Pundra and Andhra as enemies or outside the Aryan identity, claiming that these areas were not affected by Aryan culture.
  • The Aryan civilization gradually spread from the northwest to the southeast, primarily in the Gangetic plain.

Later Vedic Period  Culture and Iron:

  • Iron was an important metal during this period, referred to as  ‘Siama-Ayaz’ or ‘Girish Ayaz’, e. black metal.
  • Iron played an important role in destroying the Ganga plain forests and converting them into agricultural lands.
  • By the end of the Vedic period, knowledge of the use of iron expanded to eastern Uttar Pradesh and Videga.
  • Initially believed to have been introduced at 700 B.C.E., recent studies suggest an earlier introduction at 1200 B.C.E.
  • Early studies again emphasized the role of iron in growing forests, but current research argues that there are additional factors involved.

Settlements and Territories:

  • the appearance of defined territories; The word “Janapada” is used to describe the land.
  • The discovery of painted grey pottery symbols at  about 1000 locations in north India indicates new settlements and population growth in the upper Gangetic plains.
  • Houses built with mud stones or wooden planks and mud mortar.
  • The development of the city may have taken place in the latter part of the Vedic period.
  • The post-Vedic period is characterized by intense cultural connections.
  • The word “Nagara” appears in the later Vedas, referring to the places where the merchants stayed.
  • In the late Vedic period large cities like Hastinapura and Kosambi emerged.
  • The material culture was very diverse and refined compared to the earlier Vedic period.
  • Considered to be surplus in production, it was used to support social groups such as ethnic leaders, princes and clergy.

Later Vedic Period Political Institutions:

  • The early Vedic period marked by caste politics centered on meetings of people’s representatives to elect kings.
  • Over time, the influence of the Vida system declined and the king’s power increased.
  • Sabha and Samiti organizations continued, but their importance diminished with the rise of empires.
  • Rajan led the tribes in wars, and ideas such as Samrat and Chamaraj reflected the growing power of the king.
  • The king became the controller of the social order and the monarchy became stronger.
  •  Shradha yajnas were performed to control the sources of wealth by gifting items such as cows, horses, chariots, clothes and female slaves to the priests.
  • Rashtra (state) and kingdom (sovereign state) were formed during the Vedic period.
  • The tax called ‘pali’ collected by the king from the people was initially voluntary but later turned into a bribe.
  • The Mahabharata depicts power struggles and wars over territories.
  • In the post-Vedic period, many heirs became landowners, paving the way for a stable life.
  • The source of this change is the word “Janapada”.
  • The formation of political institutions known as rajya and ganasanga in the middle of the first millennium BC.
  • Incorporation of Bharata and Bru tribes in the Gangetic-Yamuna plains into the Guru group.
  • The Panchalas, a significant ethnic group, lived in the northwest of Uttar Pradesh with Hastinapur as their capital.
  • Sacrifices and rituals became important in the later Vedic period.
  • The kings distanced themselves from the people and gained independence.
  • Rituals such as the Ashwamedha Yajna contributed to the king’s power and influence.
  • The ritual car race (Vajpaya) and innovative rituals strengthened the king’s authority.
  • Legend has it that the gurus left Hastinapura and settled at Kaushambi near Allahabad.

Social Structure:

  • During the Vedic period, social divisions on the basis of colour and occupation increased. Brahmins and satriyas held the highest positions, followed by Vaishyas and Shudras.

Later Vedic Period Agriculture:

  • Agriculture emerged as the primary economic activity, shifting the focus of the previous pastor.
  • This shift was due to the growing population and the need for more food production.
  • Kings actively participated in agricultural rituals and highlighted its importance.
  • Barley, rice and wheat were the main crops cultivated by the Vedic people.
  • Wheat became the dominant grain in the Punjab region, while the inhabitants of the Ganga-Yamuna basin consumed rice.
  • Animal husbandry has been an important profession and plays an important role in daily life.
  • Cattle were considered sacred and used as a form of exchange and redistribution of wealth.
  • The practice of gifting cattle as “Dakshina” continued to be a significant social custom.
  • Animal husbandry completed agriculture, providing additional resources and income.The power of the Brahmins increased due to their participation in the rituals.
  • With restrictions on education, rituals and caste-based temple entry, the caste system was deeply rooted.

Manufacture of Handicrafts:

  • The widespread production of handicrafts and arts flourished in the post-Vedic period.
  • Expertise emerged, which led to the formation of social groups based on professions.
  • With copper, lead, gold and bronze, iron gained prominence in 1200
  • Skilled craftsmen used these metals to create a variety of materials, including weapons for warfare and hunting.
  • Social groups specific to various crafts such as potters (“gulala”) and wool weavers (“Urnasutra”) are referred to.
  • The Vedas mention special occupations such as bow-binders, rope-twisters, tanners, stone cutters, and goldsmiths.
  • This diversification of industries represents a changing and complex society.
  • There were four stages of life (Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha, Sannyasa), but the importance of sannyasa was limited.
  • The families were well-structured, the ancestry was found in the father’s lineage, polygamy was observed, and the eldest son presided over the family rituals.
  • Some professions, such as chariot drivers, can provide a high social status.
  • Godhra’s opinion: Groups descended from a common ancestor form “gotras” and forbid marriage among them.

Later Vedic Period Economy:

  • Significant diversification in economic activity was observed during this period.
  • Agriculture, animal husbandry, production and trade played an important role.
  • Diversification contributed to the overall economic growth during this period.

Business and Transaction:

  • During the later Vedic period (B.C. Estimated at 1100 – 500 ) trade and exchange of goods flourished.
  • Archaeological evidence suggests the movement and movement of goods between different areas.
  • There were special business groups called cartels for specific goods.
  • The dominance of the barter system (the direct exchange of goods and services) indicates the lack of evidence for coins during that period.
  • The introduction of currency is estimated to have occurred in 600.

Religion and Belief:

  • The Upper Ganges region (part of the Guru Panchalas) became the cultural centre of Aryan culture during this period.
  • The Vedic gods Agni and Indra declined in importance.
  • Prajapati and Rudra (associated with rituals and later seen as the form of Shiva) gained prominence as the primary deities. Rudra was also known by various names such as Pashunampati, Sarva, Bhava, Bhagika, etc.
  • Each varna (social class) had its own specific deities.


  • Rituals gained significant importance in society for solving problems, which led to an increase in demand.
  • The rituals gradually became more elaborate and time-consuming, requiring more resources.
  • This change marks the emergence of a rich class that is willing to spend on lavish rituals.
  • It has become customary to strictly adhere to the complete execution of rituals.
  • The emphasis on donations further strengthened the connection of wealth with success through rituals.
  • The Upanishads challenged the belief that wealth acquired through rituals would solve all problems.

Philosophy and Education:

  • Philosophy, literature and science flourished in the later Vedic period.
  • Various branches of learning emerged, including grammar, mathematics, ethics, and astronomy.
  • Education was limited to men.
  • Vedic education emphasized memorization, pronunciation, grammar, and oral communication.
  • The compilation of different texts (including the Aranyakas and Upanishads) refers to the pursuit of active knowledge.

Main texts:

  • Aranyakas: Texts related to the sages living in the forests and their spiritual practices.
  • The Upanishads: Philosophical inquiries focused on knowledge, self-realization, the soul, meditation, and reincarnation.
  • Vedantas: Another name for the Upanishads, e. “the end of knowledge”, because they are associated with the Vedas.


            The later Vedic period saw a shift from ritual focus to intellectual development. Trade networks strengthened, knowledge in various fields flourished, and philosophical giants such as the Upanishad authors expounded concepts such as self-realization and karma. Although education was restricted to men only, the era laid the foundation for future Indian civilization, leaving an indelible mark on its religious, philosophical and scientific landscape.

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