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- Vedic literature is the most significant source of information about the Vedic civilization.
- The Vedic literature consists of three successive classes of literary creations, namely:
- Aranyakas and Upanishads
- Veda means “knowledge”. The Vedas formed the earliest segment of Vedic literature.
- The Vedic literature had been evolved in the course of many centuries and was handed down from generation to generation by the word of mouth.
- The Vedas are the collection of hymns, prayers, charms, litanies, and sacrificial formulae.
- Vedas are four in number, namely:
- Rig Veda – It is the oldest Veda. It is a collection of hymns.
- Samveda – it is a collection of songs, which are mostly taken from Rig Veda.
- Yajurveda – It is a collection of sacrificial formulae.
- Atharvaveda – it is a collection of spells and charms.
- The Brahmanas are prose texts. It describes the meaning of Vedic hymns, their applications, and stories of their origins in details. Besides, it also explains the details about rituals and philosophies.
Aranyakas & Upanishads
- Aranyakas and Upanishads exemplify philosophical meditations of the hermits and ascetics on the soul, god, world, etc. These are partly included in the Brahmanas or attached, and partly exist as separate works.
- They, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, and the Upanishads are attached to one or the other of the four Vedas.
- Compositions of the hymns are credited to Hindu Rishis (monks) of divine origin.
- The Vedas are called ‘apaurusheya’ (not created by man) and ‘nitya’ (existing in all eternity) while the Rishis are known as inspired seers who received the mantras from the Supreme deity.
Age of Rig Veda
- The origin of the earth goes back to about 4,600 million years and the origin of humans themselves goes back to about 4.2 million years (ago).
- Max Muller gives arbitrarily the date of composition of Rig Veda to be around 1,200 to 1,000 B.C.
- D. Whitney negated and criticized Muller for using a totally arbitrary, unscientific, and un-academic method in assigning the dates.
- On the analogy of the language of Avesta, some scholars opined that the date of Rig Veda maybe 1,000 B.C.
- Some of the Vedic gods namely Indra, Varuna, Mitra, and the two Nasatyas were mentioned in Boghaz-Koi (Asia Minor) inscription of 1,400 B.C., which proves that Rig Veda must have come into existence much before the date described by some of the foreigner scholars.
- The Boghaz-Koi inscription records a treaty between the Hittite and the Mitanni Kings and the gods (mentioned in the above point) were cited as witnesses to this treaty. Even today, exactly in the same way, the oath is taken in the courts and on an assumption of a public office (in the name of god).
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak, on astronomical grounds, dated Rig Veda to 6,000 B.C.
- Harmon Jacobi held that Vedic civilization flourished between 4,500 B.C. and 2,500 B.C. and the Samhitas were composed in the latter half of the period.
- Famous Sanskritist, Winternitz felt that the Rig Veda was probably composed in the third millennium B.C.
- K. Mukerjee suggested that “on a modest computation, we should come to 2,500 B.C. as the time of Rig Veda”.
- C. Pande also favors a date of 3,000 B.C. or even earlier.
Rig Vedic Geography
- Rig Vedic people called themselves ‘Aryans’. They had detailed knowledge of the geographical area in which they lived. Name and location and pattern of geographical features such as rivers and mountains mentioned in Rig-Veda suggest the location of the regions of the geographical area of their habitat.
- The Nadi-sukta hymn of the Rig Veda mentions 21 rivers, which include the Ganga in the east and the Kubha (Kabul) in the west.
- The pattern of rivers is given in a definite order from the east to west i.e. from the Ganga in the east to the Kubul in the west. The rivers like Yamuna, Saraswati, Sutlej, Ravi, Jhelum, and Indus are situated between Ganga and Kabul.
- The mountain namely the Himalayas and the Mujavant (as mentioned in the Veda) are located in the north.
- The Ocean i.e. ‘Samudra’ is mentioned in connection with rivers Sindhu and the river Saraswati had been falling into the ocean. Ocean has been also mentioned in the context of foreign trade.
- The geography of Rig Vedic period covers present-day western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, the whole of Pakistan, and the south of Afghanistan.
- The battle of ten kings, mentioned in the Rig Veda, gives names of ten kings who participated in a war against Sudas who was Bharata king of Tritsus family. It illustrates that the territory known to Vedic people was divided into a number of states-republics and monarchical (kingdoms).
- The battle was fought on the bank of Parushani (Ravi) river and Sudas emerged as victorious.
- ‘Bharatvarsha’ was the name used for the whole country. It was given by the most important people of the Rig Veda. They were ‘Bharatas’ who were settled in the region between the rivers Saraswati and Yamuna.
- The Rig Veda also gives the location of other people, such as Purus in the region of Kurukshetra; the Tritsus east of Ravi; the Alinas, the Pakhtas, the Bhalanas and the Sibis west of Indus (up to Kabul river) and so on.
- Occupation of individuals was the basis of classification of a society in the Rig Vedic period.
- It was divided into four varnas, namely
- Brahmanas (teacher and priests);
- Kshatriya (rulers and administrators);
- Vaisya (farmers, merchants, and bankers); and
- Sudra (artisan and laborers).
- There were complete freedom and mobility for the adoption of a profession.
- Trades and occupations did not assume a hereditary character in the society (till now).
Salient Features of Vedic Society
- The family was the smallest unit of society. It was primarily monogamous and Patriarchal.
- Child marriage was not in fashion.
- There was freedom of choice in marriage.
- A widow could marry the younger brother of her deceased husband.
- The wife was a partner of the husband in all religious and social ceremonies.
- The father’s property was inherited by the son.
- The daughter could inherit it only if she was the only child of her parents.
- Right to property was known in moveable things like cattle, horse, gold, and ornament and so also in immovable property like land and house.
- The teacher was given great respect.
- The school was in the home of the teacher where he taught the particular sacred texts.
- The texts were in the first instance learnt by pupils repeating the words taught by their teacher.
- Great importance was attached to enunciation and pronunciation.
- Oral learning was a method of training.
- Students were given intense training and learning to memorize and preserve the huge mass of Vedic literature.
Food & Drinks
- The important part of the diet was milk and its products like curd, butter, and ghee. Grains were cooked with milk (kshira-pakamodanam).
- Chappati (bread) of wheat and barley was eaten mixed with ghee.
- People used to eat the meat of birds, wild animals (like boar, antelopes, and buffalo), and fish.
- The meat of animals such as sheep, goat, and buffalo etc., which were sacrificed on ceremonial occasions, was also eaten.
- The cow was mentioned as aghnya i.e. not to be killed. The Vedas prescribe a penalty of death or expulsion from the kingdom to those who kill or injure cows.
- Sura and Soma i.e. alcoholic drinks were also consumed, though their consumption had been condemned.
- Agriculture, cattle rearing, and trade and commerce were the main economic activity of the Rig Vedic people.
- People had domestic animals like cows, sheep, goats, asses, dogs, buffalos etc.
- Oxen were used for ploughing and drawing carts and horses for drawing the chariots.
- The plough was drawn by the oxen at times in a team of six, eight, or even twelve.
- The grains were harvested with sickles.
- Manure was used for high yield; irrigation was also practiced.
- Excess of rains and drought is mentioned as damaging the crops.
- The grains are collectively called ‘Yava’ and ‘Dhanya.’
- Some other occupations were pottery-making, weaving, carpentry, metalworking, leather-working, etc.
- Initially, copper was the only metal that was used and the general term ‘ayas’ had been used for this. In a later period, terms like ‘lohit ayas’ and ‘syam ayas’ were used for copper and iron respectively.
- The trade and traders (vanik) were also known in the Rig Vedic era.
- The practices of exchange of goods (Barter Economy) were in trend. It has been found that ten cows were quoted as the price for an image of Indra.
- The use of money can be traced in the mention of a gift of 100 nishkas.
- Money-lending was also popular. It is mentioned that an eighth or a sixteenth part of one being paid either as an interest or part of the principle.
- The sea is mentioned in the context of trade and ocean wealth, like pearls, and shells.
- Politics of Vedic India was well structured and organized.
- The political structure of Rig Vedic India can be studied in the following ascending order:
- The Family (Kula), the smallest unit.
- The Village (Grama)
- The Clan (Vis)
- The People (Jana)
- The Country (Rashtra)
- Kula (family) included all the people living under the same roof (griha).
- A collection of several families constitutes the grama (village) and its headman was called gramini.
- The collection of several grama (village) was called as the Vis and its head was called Vispati.
- Several Vis constituted a Jana as it is mentioned as Panchajanah, Yadva-janaha, and Bharata-janaha.
- The aggregation of all Jana constitutes Rashtra (country).
- The hereditary kings were the popular form of Government.
- The provision of a democratically elected king by the assembly of people Jana was also known.
- The Rashtra was small states ruled by a raja (king).
- The bigger kingdoms were ruled by ‘Samrat’ that reflects that they enjoyed a position of greater authority and dignity.
- The Raja administered justice with the assistance of Purohita and other officials.
- The Raja was offered Bali, which was a voluntary gift or tribute for his services. The Bali was offered by his own people and also from defeated people.
- The crimes were strongly dealt with by the administration. Major crimes were theft, burglary, robbery, and cattle lifting.
- The important royal officials were:
- Purohita (chief priest and minister)
- Senani (army chief)
- Gramini (head of a village)
- Dutas (envoys)
- Spies (spy)
- Sabha and Samiti were two important assemblies mentioned in the Rig Veda. These assemblies were forms the essential feature of the government.
- The Samiti was mainly dealt with the policy decisions and political business included common people.
- The Sabha was a selected body of the Elders or Nobles and less political in character.
Vedic Religion & Philosophy
- Some gods had also been worshipped during the Rig Vedic period, which was the personified powers of nature.
Categories of Gods
- The Vedic Gods were classified into three categories as:
- Terrestrial (Prithivisthana) e.g. Prithivi, Agni, Soma, Brihaspati, and Rivers.
- Aerial or intermediate (Antarikshasthana), Indra, Apam-napat, Rudra, Vayu-Vata, Prujanya, and Apah (water).
- Celestial (Dyusthana) e.g. Dyaus, Varuna, Mitra, Surya, Savitri, Pushan, Vishnu, the Adityas, Ushas, and the Asvins.
- Indra and Varuna (the supreme cosmic and moral ruler) stand out in that order, pre-eminent above the rest.
- Agni and Soma were also popular deities. Agni was valued as the messenger between the earth and heaven. Agni is the only God who is regarded as present among all the categories of Gods.
- Gods are described as born yet they are immortal. In appearance, they are humans, though sometimes they are conceived as animals, e.g. Dyaus as a bull and Sun as a swift horse.
- In the sacrifice to God, ordinary food of men such as milk, grain, flesh, etc. was offered and it becomes the food of Gods.
- The gods normally used to be kind; but some of them also had unkind traits, like Rudra and Maruta.
- Splendor, strength, knowledge, possession, and truth are common attributes of all the deities.
- Gayatri Mantra is recited daily by the pious Hindus even today.
- The multiplicity of gods is due to the different designations that have been given to God.
- The ultimate unity of the universe is asserted as the creation of one God to whom different designations applied.
- The creation is deemed as the outcome of the sacrifice made by the Viratpurusha or of evolution from nonbeing manifested in the form of water.
- It is mentioned that Hiranyagarbha arose from the great waters, pervading the universe, and thus created the waves out of eternally pre-existing matter.
- The hymn devoted to Visvakarman tells us that the waters contained the floating world egg from which Visvakarman arises; the firstborn in the universe, the creator, and maker of the world. It is now confirmed by science that life first developed in water.
Objective Questions on Vedic Civilization Society and Politics (Notes+MCQ)
- Which among the following historians authored the European Theory about the homeland of Aryans?
(A) B.G. Tilak
(B) Max Muller
(C) W. Jones
(D) D. Saraswati
- Who is of the opinion that Germany was Aryan’s homeland?
- According to Nehring, which among the following was the homeland of the Aryan’s?
(C) Baltic Sea Coast
- Who advocated the theory that Central Asia was the original home of Aryan people?
(A) G. Childe
(B) E. Meyer
(D) B.G. Tilak
- Who argued that Mesopotamia was the original home of Aryans?
(A) G. Childe
(B) A.C. Das
(D) W. Jones
- Tibetan Theory of Aryan homeland is advocated by-
(A) D. Saraswati and Pargiter
(B) Dayanand Saraswati and Nehring
(C) B.G. Tilak and Pargiter
(D) B.G. Tilak and Shroader
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak advocated the-
(A) European Theory of Aryan homeland
(B) Arctic Theory of homeland
(C) Indian homeland Theory
(D) Central Asian Theory
- Who believed that India was the original home of Aryans-
(A) AC Das, Tilak, and W Jones
(B) AC. Das, G. N. Jha & Kala
(C) Dayanand Saraswati and Kala
(D) G.N. Jha. Kala and D. Saraswati
- The word ‘Veda’ has been derived from the word ‘Vid’. What is the meaning of this word?
- What is the total number of Upanishads present in India?
- What is the time bracket for the Rigvedic period?
(A) 2000 B.C.-1500 B.C.
(B) 2500 B.C.-2000 B.C.
(C) 1500 B.C. – 1000 B.C.
(D) 1000 B.C.-600 B.C.
- Which among the following Veda contains the ‘Purusha Sukta’ part?
- Name the tax which was collected from the common people by the Kings of the Vedic period.
- What was the Government-form during the Rigvedic period?
(D) None of the above
- Which of these following practices was not known to the Rigvedic people?
(B) Purdah system
(D) Child Marriage
- How many references of river Ganga are there in Rigveda?
- Who was the Great Lawmaker during the Rigvedic Period?
- How many references of river Yamuna are there in Rigveda?
- The heartland of Rigvedic culture was-
(B) Ganga-Yamuna Doab
(D) Sapta Saindhav
- The ‘Sapta Saindhav region consists of-
(A) Swat Valley
(B) The region of Indus and its Tributaries
(D) Doab of North Indira
- Which region was inhabited by Rigvedic Aryans?
(A) Swat Valley
(D) Vindhya region
- The ‘Gayatri Mantra’ contains in which one of the following Vedas?
- Which among the following is the main cause behind the famous Rigvedic tribal war “Battle of Ten Kings” or ‘Dashradnya Yuddha”?
(A) Foreign Invasions
(B) Cattle and Land disputes
(C) Intrigues of the leaders
(D) Showing supremacy
- Which river of Afghanistan has been referred to in the Rigveda?
(A) Gomati and Suvastu only
(B) Gomati and Kubha only
(C) Gomati, Suvastu & Khubha
(D) Gomati, Suvastu. Kubha and Knionu
- Which of the following river is not mentioned in Rigveda?
- Which of the following river is mentioned in the Rigveda?
- Who was the founder of the ‘Yoga Society’?
- Anas (317) is the term used in Rigveda for?
- ‘Pathikrit (Quintana) is the Rigvedic term for-
(A) Fire God
(B) Forest God
(C) Air God
(D) Water God
- Bhishaj’ (195) is the Rigvedic term for-
- Ayas (3148) is the Rigvedic term for
- How many Mantras does Rigveda contain?
(A) 1020 Mantras
(B) 1021 Mantras
(C) 1028 Mantras
(D) 1029 Mantras
- Rigveda has been organized into how many Mandal?
(A) 7 Mandal
(B) 8 Mandal
(C) 9 Mandal
(D) 10 Mandal
- ‘Nishka’ was an ornament in Vedic Period but later it became-
(C) Agricultural equipment
- How many time Rigveda contains the word ‘Jan’?
(A) 250 times
(B) 275 times
(C) 285 times
(D) 295 times
- What was the family structure of the Rigvedic Aryans?
- Which animal is declared ‘Aghanya’ in Rigveda?
- How many times word Janpad is mentioned in Rigveda?
- In Rigveda ‘Shudra’ word is mentioned –
- How many time the word ‘Vaishya’ has been mentioned in the Rigveda?
- The Rigvedic culture was mainly based on-
- The Rigvedic Aryans had no knowledge of
- Which of the following is mentioned in Rigveda?
(D) None of these
- Which of the following statement is incorrect?
(A) Niyoga was an accepted practice in the Rigvedic age
(B) Women could attend “Vidath’ meetings
(C) Sati Pratha was prevalent in the Rigvedic period
(D) Indra was the most prominent God of Rigvedic period
- Which among the following Vedic Text contains the ‘Code of Conduct’ of the Vedic Society?
- Which of the following God is mentioned in Rigveda?
- Which of the Goddess is not mentioned in Rigveda?
- Who is the non-Aryan God included in Aryan God family?
- Which of the following statement is correct?
(A) Rigvedic religion was dominated by Goddess
(B) Rigvedic Aryas worshipped in the temple
(C) Yagya was not practiced in the Rigvedic period
(D) Gayatri mantra was addressed to Savita
- The three most popular gods of the Rigvedic period were-
(A) Indra, Varun, Rudra
(B) Indra, Agni, Soma
(C) Indra, Agni, Varun
(D) Indra, Soma, Vayu
- The cultures that belonged to Rigvedic period were –
(A) Painted ware culture
(B) Painted Gray Ware culture
(C) Painted ware and Painted Gray ware cultures
(D) None of these
- Which of the following statements about Rigvedic culture is not correct?
(A) It was a patriarchal society
(B) There was no caste division
(C) Big cities existed on the banks of Sindhu
(D) The river Ganga is mentioned
- Who was the priest of ‘Bharat Jan’ during ‘Das Ragya Yuddha’?
- Which among the following was the Basic Unit of Vedic Society?
- Name the term used to denote the wooden plough by Rigvedic Aryans?
- What is the term that donated a ‘a group of families’ in the Vedic Society?
- What was the name of the leader of the Grama?
- What was the basic unit of a Political organization?
- When did the existence of the iron come into the Vedic Society?
(B) 1000 B.C
(C) 1600 B.C
(D) 2000 B.C
- Name the Veda which is divided into two parts, namely, ‘Shukla (White) and Krishna (Black).
- ‘Upanishads’ are the books on which one of the following?
- What is the similarity between the Rigvedic and The Harappan Society?
(B) Urban Centres
(C) Iron implements
- Which of the following was headed by the ‘Vishwapatis’?
(A) Group of villages
(B) Group of states
(C) Group of countries
(D) Group of farmers
- What is the name of the head of the ‘Kingdom’ in Vedic Society?
- ‘The Ninth Mandala’ in Rigveda Samhita, is devoted to-
(A) Urvashi and The Heaven
(B) Gods related to plants and drugs
(C) ‘Soma’ and the God who is named after the drink
- Which one of the following Veda is a musical Veda?
(A) Sama Veda
(D) Rig Veda
- Who among the following was worshipped during Early Vedic Civilization?
(D) All the above
- Which of the following Vedas does not belong to the ‘Trio’ group?
(A) Sama Veda
(D) Rig Veda
- Which among the following was worshipped by the Indus people?
(D) All the above
- On the bank _________ river, the Dasaraja war took place?
(C) Parusni (Ravi)
- The treasurer of the Vedic Period was known as?
- The tax collector of the Vedic Period was known as?
- Upanishads are also known as-
- Which of the following Veda tells us about the development of Aryan Civilizations when they had settled Ganga-Yamuna doab region-
(A) Sama Veda
(D) All of the above
- Who was the God of Sudras in the Later Vedic Period?
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