The Indo- Aryan society believed in many gods. The Aryans believed that many natural events were being influenced by their gods. These people also seemed to follow some laws or code of conduct to keep order in their society. They also had a caste system. The early Aryans did not use writing but they composed plenty of poem, hymns, and songs that gave site into their religion and literacy. Everything was transmitted orally from one generation to the next. They communicated through a sacred language known as Sanskrit. The earliest of those transmissions where the four Vedas, which were named the Rig Veda. The Aryans told stories of how their deities helped their people with the problems that came upon the society. Most of the songs in The Rig Veda are dedications to the deities and their greatness. Indra was the most important of the Vedic gods. Indra was the Aryan’s chief deity. It is said that Indra eats Soma to hallucinate and gains victory over the dragon. This dragon that they talk about is the dragon of drought that is a plague for their people. The Aryans are a farming group of people, and the need for water is a very high necessity. Indra defeats the dragon, and then lets the waters flow free, which tell us that the clouds that were described as the dragon opened up and poured on the land. After the defeat of the dragon Indra was considered the ruling god over all in the Aryan nation.
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Some people were starting to lose faith in Indra and that he needed to be reinforced as the supreme ruling god. Many events that happened to the Aryan people were said to be because of his intervention in the world. This passage tells us that there was some unrest about if Indra really was doing well for the people. Some people are discontent with their deity and are losing the faith, but people see him he is mighty as a bull and he was the one whom let rivers flow so that the people could flourish. He strikes down his enemies and the enemies of the people such as Rauhina. Aryans relied on the gods to answer the unknowns in nature. The sun, the moon, the rain, the wind, the animals, and even the seasons were determined by Indra. These people were afraid of their god. They offered sacrifices to help appease the god so that he would not punish them with natural disasters. We can tell that the people of the time were either really religious or doubting; this passage on the victory over Vritra was made for those doubting people by the religious people who feared Indra’s displeasure with the doubters. This knowledge of wrong doing seems to give us some insight into moral codes and public laws. These people feared the god and believed that they could anger those gods, so they must have followed some kind of public code of conduct.
Purusha was said to compose everything in the world. He makes everything that we see and use, he is everywhere at every moment. Purusha is held in high regard by these people and is considered the creator of everything and is also considered to be in everything in the natural world.
During the Vedic age the Aryans were in battling the enemies or dasas, but not only outsiders but they fought themselves. They didn’t have a common government but chiefdoms with each a leader known as a raja or king. The men from one village often raided herds from another. After migrating south the Aryans learned how to make iron tools and weapons. Now having these iron tools this made cultivating easier which in hand make a large growth in agriculture. This allowed the Aryans to settle into a permanent community instead of always migrating from place to place.
From my readings I can see that the Aryan people had many gods and beliefs; they had common laws that were followed in practice and also had a caste system of their people. As time passed the memory of Indra receded into almost nothing the Aryans use the battle as inspiration to build a great society. But then they migrated they connected with the Dravidians and from being enemies to becoming one. Their combined legacies led to the development of a distinctive and rich cultural society. Early Aryans practiced a limited amount of agriculture, but they depended a lot on a pastoral economy. They prized their horses and herds of cattle. The Aryans adopted Dravidian agricultural techniques. They used a formal political institution.
After settling in India the Aryans changed from relying on herding to relying on political structure and they produced a well-defined social hierarchy. This social distinction was based on ones occupation and role in society. This was known as a caste system. The Aryans used the term Varna to describe the major social classes more on agriculture. The Rig Veda shows us that the early Aryan civilization had a caste system comprised of the Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Sudra. If we consider where each of these groups is on Purusha we can look into how important people believed they really were. The Brahmin held the top position on the caste system, they were priests. Kshatriyas were nobles and aristocrats. Vaishyas were the cultivators, artisans, and merchants. Shudras were the land peasants and serfs. In the end of the Vedic Age a new category was added and those people would become the untouchables, the ones who performed dirty and unpleasant tasks. These four castes were said to be the four body parts of the Aryan deity Purusha. This was a fixed system to maintain Aryans high power. Under these four main levels there were 3,000 sub castes known as Jati. Each individual had darma or a responsibility and if you do right your get good karma. One’s goal is to reach mulksha which is the release or liberation from the caste system.
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While building a social hierarchy on the foundations of caste and varna distinctions, the Aryans also created a strongly patriarchal social order based on gender. Within the Aryan society Indian men dominated. Anyone would was important was male. The Law book of Manu dealt with proper moral behavior and social relationships, including sex and gender relationships. This was created to advise men to treat women with respect and honor. This book also specified the duties of the women. One custom one the Indian society was Sati. Sati was the practice of the voluntary action when the widow threw herself on the funeral pyre of her dead husband, these never became popular.
The combination of the Dravidian and Aryan society gave light to the Upanishads. The Upanishads “were the practices of disciples gathering before a sage for discussion of religious issues” (Tradition and Encounters 81). The Upanishads taught that the body and soul are separate, that each person is a small are of a huge soul called Brahman. They also believe that we are not only born once but many times over again. The goal of one’s soul is to escape the cycle of birth and rebirth. The Upanishads created multiple doctrines and one of the main ones were of samara. Samara is a place after death where souls go to the World of Fathers and return to earth reborn.
By the end of the Vedic age the Aryan and Dravidian traditions became the ground work for the Indian society. Agriculture spread thought out India. The caste system helped maintain public order. The role of human beings and their religious views sparked further reflection on spiritual and intellectual matters.
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