Economic and Social life of Aryans

After the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization, another glorious civilization flourished in India. The people who were responsible for the evolution of this civilization called themselves Aryas or Aryarns. Arya’ literally means the man of ‘noble character’, and the “free-born”. They belonged to the group of people known as Indo-Europeans. They entered into India from the north-west.
Created On: Jul 21, 2015 18:31 IST
Modified On: Jul 22, 2015 09:42 IST

The family was regarded as the social and political unit. It was the nucleus of the social life of the early Aryans. The father was the head of the family and he was known as “Grihapati”. The Aryans had joint families.

The Aryans ate both vegetable and animal foods. Rice, barley, bean and sesamum formed the staple food. They also ate bread, cake, milk, ghee, butter, and curd together with fruits. Fish, birds, goats, rams, bulls and horses were slaughtered for their food. Slaughter of cow was prohibited. They also drank intoxicating liquor, known as Sura, a brandy made from corn and barley and the juice of soma plant.

IV. Economic Life in Vedic Age

  • The main occupation of the people was cattle rearing and their wealth was measured in number of cattle.
  • They practiced agriculture by clearing the forests.
  • Metals used were copper, iron and bronze.
  • Few people worked as goldsmith, potters, spinners and carpenters.
  • The tax levied in the Vedic Period was Bali and Bhaga.
  • Gold coins called Nishka were used for transaction.
  • Rivers were used for transportation.
  • They used Barter system.

V. Social Life in Vedic Age

  • Society was tribal but egalitarian.
  • Aryans were fair in colour and the one the inhabitants were dark in complexion. This gave social distinction. The Dasas and Dasyus were treated as slaves and Shudras.
  • The head of tribes were treated as superior. The society got divided into warriors, Priests, People on same pattern with Iran and Shudras.
  • Women slaves were involved in domestic purposes.
  • Division according to the occupation is also known.
  • Patriarchal Society: Rig Veda show a society where family was a basic unit headed by Grahapati. 
  • Both men and women used clothes made of cotton and a large number of ornaments.
  • Food items: wheat, barley, milk and milk products.
  • Cows were considered sacred hence eating its meat was prohibited.
  • Entertainment: Dance, music, chariot racing, horse racing were the time pass activities.
  • Upper class women shared equal rights as men.

VI. Marriage Life

  • Generally monogamy was practiced but in royal families polygamy was common.
  • There are no traces of Sati or Child marriage.
  • Examples of widow remarriage are also seen in Rig Veda.

VII. Administrative Setup

  • Group of families or Kula forms a village or a Grama which is headed by Gramani.
  • Group of villages is called Vis. The head of the Vis is Vishyapati.
  • Jana or tribes were the highest in the political organisation. Few examples of Jana are Bharatas, Yadus, Matsayas and Purus.
  • The head of the Jana were Rajan or the king who were assisted by priest or commanders of army.

VIII. Religion in Vedic Period

  • Aryans of Early Vedic Period worshiped elements like:
  1. Its importance was the Indra also called Purandara (God of Rain), destroyer of fort
  2. 2nd place was given to Agni (fire),
  3. 3rd important place was given to Varuna(water),
  4. Other important elements were Prithvi (earth) and Vayu (wind)
  • Female Goddess like Aditi and Ushas were Goddess of dawn.
  • There were 33 Gods.
  • They did not worship to end their misery instead they worshiped for Praja (child), Pasu (cattle), food, health and wealth.
  • Offerings were milk, vegetables, ghee and grains.

Gods and their roles

  1. Indra

Brings rain, thunder and storms

  1. Agni

Intermediately between God and one hand of the people

  1. Varuna

It was supposed to uphold the natural orders

  1. Soma

Sacred drink

  1. Prithvi

Goddess of Earth

  1. Aditi

Goddess of Eternity

  1. Usha

Goddess of Dawn

  1. Savitri

Gayatri mantra is devoted to Goddess Savitri