The Aryans lived in villages in the Early Vedic Period. The family was the basic unit of society. It was patriarchal as the oldest male member was the head of the family. He was known as the ‘Grihapati’ or ‘Kulpati’. After his death, his son became the head of the family. The status of Women held a high place in the Vedic Period.
- Several families lived in a ‘grama’ or village. Many villages together formed a Visha. Many vishas collectively formed a Jana.
- The ‘Gramini’ was the head of the village, while the vishapati was the head of a visha. Rajan was the king of a jana.
- The king ruled with the help of his ministers. The Senani (Commander-in-Chief) and the Purohit (priest) were important ministers. The king did not have a regular army. Many tribals formed an army during wars.
- In the Vedic Period, there were three assemblies which advised the kings.
Status of Wome in Vedic Period
- The Status of Women held a high place in the Vedic Period. Daughters had the freedom to choose their husbands. Widows could remarry. No evidence of child marriage has been recorded.
- In the Later Vedic Period, the position of women declined. It was now not necessary for them to participate in yajnas. They also did not have any right to inherit property. The freedom of women was curtailed.
- In the Vedic Period, the caste system did not exist in its rigid form. Society was divided into various classes on the basis of their profession. These professions later became hereditary.
- In the Later Vedic Period, the caste system became rigid and society came to be divided into four main castes. Brahmans occupied the top position and performed all the rituals. Kshatriyas were a warring class who occupied the second class and protected their kingdom from any external attacks. Vaishyas were farmers, traders and businessmen. Shudras occupied the lowest strata of society and were supposed to do all the menial work.
- The residences of the gurus or teachers were known as gurukuls. Education was imparted in gurukuls. They were located mainly in the outskirts of the city or in forests.
- Teaching usually took place orally and after the completion of education, students had to give gurudakshina to teachers. Gurus were highly respected.
- Vedas, Puranas, grammar, mathematics, ethics, logic and military sciences were the main subjects. Emphasis was laid on the physical, mental and spiritual development of students.
Also, Read Sources of the Vedic Period