The question “What are the main features of Vedic society and religion? Do you think some of the features are still prevailing in Indian society?" was asked in the Mains 2023 GS Paper 1. Let us look at the model answer to this question.
Answer: The Vedic Civilisation, also known as the Vedic culture or the Vedic period, was a complex and varied civilisation that arose in ancient India between 1500 and 600 BCE. It was distinguished by the practice of Vedic religion and the composition of the Vedas, a collection of sacred texts that serve as the foundation of Hinduism.
Main Features of Vedic Society
- Family: The family was the basic unit of the Rigvedic society. It was patriarchal in nature. The family structure was too large to be called a joint family.
- Varna System: Towards the end of Vedic civilisation, Vedic society was divided into four varnas, i.e., Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras.
- Marriage: Monogamous marriages were preferred in the Vedic Society.
- Language: Sanskrit was mainly used in Vedic Society.
- Importance of the Vedas: Vedic Society gave a large importance to Vedic literature.
- Nature: Vedic society was pastoral in nature, which later on transformed into agriculturists.
- Property Rights: Vedic Society did not believe in private property but in community ownership.
- Occupation: The division of social groups was based on occupation alone and one's occupation did not depend on birth.
Main features of Vedic Religion
- Source of religious practices: Vedas were the primary source of religious practices.
- Naturalistic polytheism: Vedic Society believed in naturalistic gods. Thus, there were as many gods as natural phenomena.
- For example, Indra was the god of rain and thunder. There arose a number of Rigvedic Gods like Rudra, Soma, Varuna, Vishnu etc.
- Rituals and sacrifices: Sacrifices were an important part of rituals.
- For the sacrifices, Yajnas were performed for which hymns and prayers were recited.
- Yajnas were typically performed by priests.
- Important yajnas included ashvamedha, vajapeya, and rajasuya.
Vedic features which still prevail in Indian society
- Patriarchy: Though Indian society is marching towards modernisation, the patriarchy still persists, especially in religious and cultural matters.
- Polytheism: Vedic society believed in a number of Gods like Indra, Rudra, Varuna, Soma and Vishnu. The belief in these Gods is still prevalent in modern Indian society.
- Agriculture: A large portion of Indian society is still agriculturist similar to the Vedic people.
- Family: Indian society still follows the joint family structure.
- Marriage: Like Vedic Society monogamous marriages are still prevalent in Indian society.
As Vedic society and religion still hold importance in modern Indian society, some ideal features of the Vedic society like no to idol worship, respectable position of women etc. should be adopted while shedding the negative features of it.