The Vedic Civilization Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra Board

The Vedic Civilization Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra State Board

The Vedic Literature
The civilization that is based on Vedic literature is known as Vedic civilization. The Vedas are considered to be our earliest literature. The Vedas were composed of many Sages or Rishis. Some Vedic hymns were composed by women. Vedic literature is in Sanskrit. Vedic literature is very rich and diverse. The Rigveda is considered to be the first text. It is in the form of verses. There are four Vedas – Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. The Vedic texts are known as Samhita. ‘Vid’ means ‘to know’. The term ‘Veda’ derives from vid. It means ‘knowledge’. The Vedas have been preserved through the oral tradition. The Vedas are also called as Shruti.

Rigveda Samhita:
Each verse of the Veda is known as a Richa. So, the Veda consisting of riches is called ‘Rigveda’. Richa means a verse composed to praise a deity. When a number of riches are put together to praise a particular deity, the poetic composition is called a sukta. The Rigveda consists of many suktas composed to praise different deities.

The Vedic Civilization Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra Board

Yajurveda Samhita:
The Yajurveda contains mantras uttered during a yajna. Yajurveda provides guidance about how and when the different mantras must be chanted during yajna rites. This text includes the verses or poetic incantations and their explanation in prose.

  • O Almighty, make it rain in plenty. May we get a plentiful crop in our field. May there be plenty of milk for our children.
  • May the cows come to our homes and stay happily in their pens. May they bear many calves.
  • Arise, O People. Darkness has vanished with the advent of dawn and sunlight comes. Dawn has awakened the whole world. Let us pursue our own occupations and earn riches.

Samaveda Samhita:
The Samaveda provides guidance on singing Rigvedic verses to a set rhythm and tune at the time of yajna rites. The Samaveda has contributed in a major way to laying the foundation of Indian music.

Atharvaveda Samhita:
The Atharvaveda is named after Atharva Rishi. This Veda is different from the other three Vedas. It is more concerned with many things in the day-to-day life of the people. It includes solutions to adversities and diseases. It also provides information about medicinal herbs. The Atharvaveda provides guidance to a king about the way he should administer his kingdom. The Brahmana texts, Aranyakas and Upanishads were written after the composition of the Samhitas. They are also included in Vedic literature.

The Vedic Civilization Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra Board

Brahmana Texts:
They were composed to provide guidance on using Vedic mantras in yajna rituals. Each Veda has independent texts called Brahmanas.

Aranyakas consists of the reflections or thoughts expressed after meditating with a deep concentration in forests or wilderness. The Aranyakas are concerned with the accurate performance of yajna rites.

The term Upanishad indicates knowledge acquired by sitting at the feet of the teacher. Human beings have always wondered about events like life and death. It is not easy to find answers to them. The Upanishads discuss such serious and profound issues. The four Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and the Upanishads were composed over a period of one thousand and five hundred years. During this long period, the Vedic civilization underwent many changes. The Vedic literature is an important source for the study of those changes and of the day-to-day life in the Vedic period.

Family System, Day-to-Day Life
The joint family system was prevalent in the Vedic period. The grihapati was the head of the family, a man responsible for the family. His family included his old parents, wife, and children as well as the families of the children, the younger brothers, and their families. This family system was patriarchal. In the initial period, there were references to women scholars such as Lopamudra, Gargi, and Maitreyi in Vedic literature. However, slowly the restrictions on women went on increasing and their position in the family and society became secondary.
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The houses during the Vedic period were earthen or wattle and daub constructions. Wattle means woven lattice of wooden strips which is daubed with clay mixed with cowdung. A house was called griha or shala. The diet of the people mainly consisted of cereals like wheat, barley, and rice. From this, they made different preparations. Words like yava, godhoom, vrihi, etc. can be found in the Vedic literature. Yava means ‘barley’, godhoom – wheat, vrihi – rice. The Vedic people relished milk, yogurt, ghee, butter, and honey. Black gram (udad), lentil (masoor), sesame, and meat were also a part of their diet.

The Vedic Civilization Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra Board

People in the Vedic period used cotton and woolen garments. They also used valkals or clothes made from the bark of trees. Similarly, animal skins were also used as clothing. Men and women used ornaments of gold, flower garlands, strings made of beads, etc. A kind of pendant called nishka seems to have been popular. It was also used as a currency. Singing, playing musical instruments, dancing, board games, chariot-race, and hunting were the means of recreation. Their main musical instruments were veena, shat-tanto, cymbals, and the conch. Percussion instruments like damru and mridanga were also used.
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Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Economic and Social Life
Agriculture was the main occupation during the Vedic period. Many oxen were yoked together to plough the fields. The plough had iron ploughshares. The Atharvaveda considers insects, pests, and other animals that destroy crops and suggests certain remedies. Cowdung was used as manure. During the Vedic period, animals like horses, cows, and dogs had special importance. Cows were used as a means of exchange. That is why, cows were highly priced. People took special care to ensure that their cows would not be stolen. The horse was valued because of its speed. The Vedic people were skilled in taming the horses and harnessing them to the chariots. Chariots in the Vedic period had spoked wheels which are lighter than solid wheels. The horse-drawn and spoked wheel chariots of the Vedic period were swift and speedy.
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‘Horse power’ is a unit of measuring power – the rate at which work is done by an engine. In this period, apart from agriculture and animal husbandry, several other occupations also flourished. Artisans and people practicing various occupations were an important part of the social system. They formed independent organizations known as shrenis or guilds. The head of the guild was known as Shreshthi. However, slowly, the status of skilled artisans became secondary.
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During this period, there were four varnas- Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. A varna was determined by the occupation of the people. In the later period, the varnas came to be determined on the basis of birth. This gave rise to castes. The caste system led to inequality in the society. During the Vedic period, certain notions about leading an ideal life had become well-established. There were four stages or four ashramas, from birth to death. The first ashrama was the brahmacharya ashrama or the period of staying with the Guru to learn from him.

The Vedic Civilization Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra Board

The next stage after the successful completion of Brahmacharya ashrama was grihasth ashrama. It was expected that during this period, a man would carry out his duties towards his family and society with the help of his wife. The third stage was vanaprasthashrama when a man was expected to detach himself from the household, retire to a solitary place, and lead a very simple life. The fourth stage was the sanyasashrama. At this stage, the convention was to renounce all relations, lead a life in order to understand the meaning of human life, and not stay in one place.
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Religious Ideas
In the religious ideas of the Vedic period, forces of nature such as the sun, wind, rain, lightning, storms, and rivers were given the form of deities. Vedic compositions pray for them to become life-giving forces. The Vedic people put offerings into the Yajna fire to please them. These offerings were called havi. Yajna is the act of offering havi into the fire. Initially, the yajna rites were simple. Later on, the rules of yajna became harder and harder. The importance of priests is increasing.
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People in the Vedic period had thought about how natural phenomena occur. Summer is followed by the rainy season and the rainy season by winter. This is a regular cycle in nature. The cycle in nature and the life cycle that moved with it was termed by the Vedic people as Rita. The life of all living beings is a part of the cycle in nature. Disturbance in the cycle of nature leads to calamities. Everyone should be careful not to let it happen. Nobody should break the laws of nature. It was believed that following these rules was to follow dharma.

Political System
In the Vedic period, each village had a head known as gramani. A group of villages formed a vish, whose head was called vishpati. Several vish formed a jana. Later, when the jana settled into a specific region, it came to be known as a janapad. The head of the jana was known as nripa or raja (king). The main duties of the king were to protect the people, collect taxes, and run the administration efficiently.

In order to run the administration smoothly, the king appointed various officers. The purohit (priest) and the Senapati of the army were officers of special importance. The officer who collected the taxes was known as bhagdugh. Bhag means share. The person who collected the king’s share of the produce of a jana was called bhagdugh. There were four institutions that guided the king – sabha, samiti, vidath and jana.

The Vedic Civilization Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra Board

The people of the State participated in their work. Women, too, participated in the working ofsabha and vidath. The sabha consisted of senior citizens of the State whereas the samiti was a general body of the people. Later on in the Vedic thought, Smriti and Puranas were composed. After a period of time, the religious stream based on the Vedas, Smritis, Puranas, and local traditions came to be known as Hinduism. Along with the Vedic stream, there were other religious trends that took a different position from the Vedic one, regarding yajna rites and the varna system.

Detailed Maharashtra State Board Class 6 History Notes The Vedic Civilization are particularly useful for answering essay questions.

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