Vedic Hinduism - The Aryan Culture and Religion (Who were the Aryans? (The…
Vedic Hinduism - The Aryan Culture and Religion
Who were the Aryans?
Today, word 'Aryan' means 'noble'/'freedom'.
Nomadic pastoral people herding cattle.
Most likely migrated from central Asia.
Preserved by priests of each tribe by careful memorisation.
Aryan religious scriptures.
Earliest of the Vedas = The Rig Veda (compiled between 1500 BCE + 1000 BCE).
Vedic hymns passed on by word of mouth - suggests Aryans were illiterate.
Aryan language = Sanskrit - language of Vedas - important in modern Hinduism.
Aryan tribes ruled by warrior chiefs -
Aryan warriors were the social elite.
As they moved westward, came into contact with 'Dasas'.
Rig Veda - Dasas described as 'black/dark-skinned', flat-nosed + curly - haired - may represent survivors of IVC.
Dismissed by Aryans as being without religious rites.
Rig Veda: The Dasas,
"do not perform sacrifices, nor believe anything."
Already beginnings of class divisions - priests, rulers + tribes people.
Of major importance within Aryan religion.
Purpose = to please gods.
Performed in Spring
Climax = pressing of the Soma.
Drinking of Soma produced profound effects - e.g. hallucinations + a sense of power.
No temples or images.
Chief priest was extremely important - ensured prosperity of tribe + victory at war with sacrifices.
Central practice = Yajna - fire sacrifice - placed offerings to gods in fire.
Many devas who could be called upon to give aid.
Varuna - creator of the world
Indra - thunder god
Rudra - controller of the powers of nature
Links to modern Hinduism
Aryan language = Sanskrit - still very important in modern Hinduism.
Responsible for varna system - still significant.
Had a pantheon of gods.
Many Aryan devas still important in Hinduism today
2 deities - Agni + Vac - signified change from polytheism to pantheism - belief in single entity underlies entire universe.
Developed into concept of Brahman.