The Vedas were composed by the Aryans. There are four Vedas—the Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Arthaveda. The period when the Aryans first settled in India during 1500–1000 BC is known as the Early Vedic Period. Later, between 1000 BC and 500 BC, the Aryans moved eastwards and settled along the banks of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna. This period is known as the Later Vedic Period.
Origin of the Aryans
Historians differ over the origin of the Aryans. While historians such as A. C. Das believe that the Aryans were natives of India, others like Bal Gangadhar Tilak concluded that the Arctic Region was the original home of the Aryans. Dayanand Saraswati believed that Tibet was their original home. The German scholar Professor Max Mueller contended that the Aryans came from Central Asia. Many historians have supported the theory of Max Mueller. They have accepted the theory because of the following reasons:
- The stone inscriptions discovered in Asia Minor prove that they worshipped gods such as Indra and Varuna in the ancient times. This resembles the religious beliefs of the Aryans in India.
- In ancient times, Asia Minor was a fertile land which made it suitable for agriculture and domestication of animals.
- The flora and fauna mentioned in the Rigveda were found in Asia Minor.
- About 35% of the genetic traits of the people of the Steppes in Central Asia were similar to the genetic traits of the people residing in north India. Thus, many historians concluded that they migrated to India from Central Asia.
- However, the issue of the origin of them is still disputed, and hence, research studies are still being carried out to find out their origin.
Settlements of the Aryans
- It is believed that the Aryans entered India from present-day Afghanistan and settled in the valley of Kabul and Punjab. This was called Sapta Sindhu or the land of the seven rivers—Indus, Ravi, Beas, Satluj, Jhelum, Chenab and Saraswati. Because the region was fertile, they took to agriculture.
- It is believed that when they came to India, they came into conflict with the local people. The local inhabitants were defeated and they came to be known as ‘dasas’ or ‘dasyus’.
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Sources of the Vedic Period
Sources of The Vedic Period include the Vedic texts, The Brahmanas, The Upanishads, The epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata tell us about the social, political, economic, and religious life of the people.