Clarify your doubts before joining Prelims 2018 TS

Have specific query regarding Flagship Prelims? Email us at  | Ready to join in? Click 4 joining

Quizzes, discussions and everything related to IAS Mains


Chapter 4 | Vedic and Later Vedic Period (1500BC – 600BC)


It is important to understand the transformations that occur from the vedic to later vedic period as many of them are carried forward. During this time, the class divided society transformed into a caste divided one, polytheistic religion into sacrificial ritual dominated one, condition of women deteriorated and simple tribal polity transformed into monarchy.

The table will help you visualize the contrast better.


Vedic(1500BC – 1000BC) Later Vedic(1000BC – 600BC)
Sources Rig Veda All the other vedas.

Towards the end, upanishads were compiled. They criticized rituals and emphasized on philosophy.

Location Northern and western part of Subcontinent. Sapt-Sindhu Region. They didn’t know land beyond Yamuna. Extended to whole of western UP, Ganga-Yamuna doab and also penetrated to the Deccan, Vindhyas & South India.
Polity No concept of territory. Only Tribes (Jana) – Total members not larger than 100.

Kings(Rajan) were advised by assemblies like Sabha & Samiti.

Had no standing armies.

Wars known as Gavati are fought for cattle and not for territory.

Chiefs received voluntary offerings called Bali(remember its not sacrifices)

Concept of territory and territorial administration appear. Janapada-State. Rashtra – Territory.

Royal power increases many folds. Rituals and sacrifices were performed to strengthen the king’s position – Rajasuya(consecration ceremony), Vajpeya(chariot race) and Asvamedha(horse sacrifice).

Character of Sabha & Samiti  changed. The were dominated by chiefs and rich nobles. Women were no longer permitted.

Even in the Later Vedic times, king didn’t possess a standing army(as per NCERT).

Wars were fought not only for cattle but territory.

Bali which was a voluntary gift became mandatory tax.

Economy Predominantly pastoral. Cattle based herding economy. Man’s wealth was measured in the number of cows he owned.

Private land ownership was not yet established.

Agriculture was known.

Settled life. Agriculture and crafts.
Agriculture Mostly barley. Barley continued but rice and wheat became chief crops.
Family and women Family – Kula. Household – Griha. Family was joint. Patriarchal society with indications of polyandry.

Women could attend assemblies, they could offer sacrifices along with their husbands. Widow remarriage was allowed. No instances of child marriage and marriageable age in the Rig Veda seems to be 16-17.

Position of the father increased and women were given lower position. Position of women became deplorable. They couldn’t attend assemblies. Child marriages also came into vogue.

Institution of gotra appears later vedic period. Marriage within the gotra was not permitted.

Social Divisions Society was largely egalitarian.

Varna was the term for color. The indigenous people conquered by Aryans were called Dasas and Dasyus.

Differentiation based on occupation existed.

Society divided into 4 varnas. The growing cult of sacrifices added to the power of the Brahmanas.

4 Ashramas – Brahmachari, grihast, vanprastha, Sanyasi.

Religion Nature gods. Indra – mentioned in most number of passages. Agni – 2nd highest mentions.

Soma – sacred drink.

Sacrifices less important. Mostly Prayers.

Nature gods are replaced by Prajapati, Rudra & Vishnu,

Idolatry appears.

Pushan was regarded as the god of shudras

Sacrifices became more important than prayers.

The rise of Buddhism and Jainism was the direct result of this socio-economic problem.

Questions, suggestions and comments

  1. Profile photo of Jayant Darade Jayant Darade

    Some more info add from below what is missed in above. .

    Later Vedic Age ( 1000-600 BC)
    – Later Vedic Age- Also known as PGW (Painted Grey Ware)- Iron Age

    – They knew two seas- The Arabian and the Indian Ocean

    – Gandak was known as ‘Sadanira’

    – Position of Women Declined

    – Earliest reference to four ashrams or four stages of life- found in ‘Jabala Upanishad’

    Eight Types of Marriages
    1. Brahma: Marriage of a duly dowried girl to a man of the same verna.
    2. Daiva: Father gives the daughter to the priest as a part of his fee.
    3. Arsa: A Token bride price of a cow and a bull is given as dowry.
    4. Prajapati: Marriage- without dowry and bride price.
    5. Gandharva: By consent of two parties analogous to modern love marriage.
    6. Asura: Marriage by Purchase
    7. Rakshsa: Marriage by Capture
    8. Paishacha: Seduction of a girl while asleep, mentally deranged or drunk.

    Marriage on the Basis of Varna

    1. Anuloma: Marriage of a man in his verna or below his verna
    2. Pratiloma: Marriage of a girl or woman in lower rank than his own verna.

    Polity: The term ‘Rastra’ First appeared in this period.
    Economy: Rice is called ‘Vrihi’
    – Niksha, Satmana, Krsnala-were used as convenient units of values, but were not coins.

    Four Types of Pottery

    – Black and Red ware

    – Black and Slipped ware

    – Painted grey ware

    – Red ware


    Prajapati ( the creator) comes to occupy supreme position.
    – Rudra and Vishnu gained their position

    Vedas: First three vedas are called “Trayi”-three fold knowledge.
    Rigveda: Recited by Priest ‘Hotri’-1028 Hyms (10 Mandals) -Atraya and Kaushitak Brahamns are attached to it.
    Samveda: Receited by Priest ‘Udgatri’- All the verses except 75 taken from Rigveda- Tandayam and Janmejaya Brahamns are attached to it.
    Yajur Veda: Receited by ‘Ardhyawahu’- Procedure for performance of sacrifice. Shatpath and Taitriya Brahamns are attached to it.
    Athrva Veda: Magical Formulae

    Brahamnas: Science of Sacrifice
    Aranyaks: Forest Books: Meant for forest dwelling hermits


    – Shiksha ( Phonetics)

    – Kalpa ( Ritualistic Science)

    – Jyotish ( Astronomy)

    – Vyakarana ( Grammar)

    – Nirukta ( Etymology)

    – Chhanda (Metrics)

    Nirukta from Yaksha is the oldest Indian Linguistic Text


    Shranta Sutra: Large public sacrifices

    Guhya Sutra: Birth, Naming, Marriages

    Salva Sutra: Measurement

    – Aurveda

    – Dhaurveda

    – Gandharvaveda

    – Shilpaveda

    Rituals and Sacrifices

    Rajasuya: Royal consecration, conferred supreme powers on him
    Vajpaye: Race of horces (chariots)
    Vritasyoma: to convert a Nishd into Arya.

  2. Profile photo of KR KR

    Wars fought for cows are called ‘Gavishthi’ I think Page no: 59 old NCERT

  3. Profile photo of Ranjeet Kumar Ranjeet Kumar

    Why is there patriarchy?
    Some societies have matriarchy?
    What gives rise to any of these?
    Is it greed for power/ a convinience/ a natural design/ just a coincidence?

    Patriarchy is an important issue, isn’t it?

    1. Profile photo of Ranjeet Kumar Ranjeet Kumar

      either of the two*

  4. Profile photo of Simran Bains Simran Bains

    Sir, in what ways is “Bali” different from sacrifice?

    1. Profile photo of Roma Sanoria Roma Sanoria

      bali is not sacrifice , these are voluntary offerings

    2. Profile photo of Discuss Discuss

      “Bali” here means gifts. Nothing to do with sacrifices.

      1. Profile photo of Simran Bains Simran Bains

        Okay, thank you sir and everyone. 🙂

    3. Profile photo of Ranjeet Kumar Ranjeet Kumar

      It seems bali is just a word here. Wordmay chage meaning its meaning in context.

  5. Profile photo of Uthaya Kumar Uthaya Kumar

    Thanks… its really nice to sum up all imporatant detail in comparison.. its really helpful… 🙂

    1. Profile photo of Discuss Discuss

      Answering all your questions at once
      1. For pottery refer here –
      2. Women lost their political power in the later vedic age. hence they were unable to attend the assemblies.
      3. We don’t need to go into the administrative details of this period – hence territorial divisions are not that important.

Highest Rated App. Over 3 lakh users. Click to Download!!!