Vedic Literature-Comparison of Social Life

Comparison of Social Life

A. Status of Women

Rig Vedic Period

  • Equal status was given to the women and they were also entitled for Upnayana.

  • There is reference of 5 women who composed the hymns of Rig Veda including Visvara, Ghosa, and Apala.

  • The females also observed brahmacharya, which suggests absence of child marriages according to Atharva Veda. It also suggests that marriages were made after the completion of brahmacharya.

  • Women participated in the social life and religious ceremonies and also attended the Sabhas and Samiti.

  • There is no mention of Sati. Widow remarriage was prevalent because of a tradition called Niyog according to which a widow could be remarried to her brother-in-law till she got a child from him.

Later Vedic Period

  • Their position started to decline and they could not attend the proceedings of the Sabha.

  • According to Satapatha Brahmana, a wife should eat only after the husband has finished eating.

  • According to Brahmana literature, if a man kills his wife he will get the same punishment as for killing a shudra.

  • The women could no longer participate openly in the religious ceremonies.

  • According to Gautama, the girls should be married before their menstruation. Hence child marriages became prevalent.

  • The females were excluded from the right of inheritance, except for the Stridhan which was the wealth given to her during her marriage.

  • Polygamy was prevalent in the upper class. There are references of lots of queens:

  1. Mahisi: The chief queen.

  2. Privikti: The most neglected queen.

  3. Paligali: The queen married to the king for political interest.

  4. Kiventi: The issueless wife.

  5. Maitreya: The scholarly wife.

B. Family

  • Family was a basic unit. It was a patriarchal society.

  • The head of the family was called the Pramukh.

C. Dress and Ornaments

Rig Vedic Period

  • The upper garments were called the Vasa, Paridhan or Uttariya.

  • The mantle was called the Adhivasa, Atka or Drapi.

  • The undergarments were called the Navi or Antariya.

D. Food and Drinks

  • Rice was used extensively but barley was more common in both the times (Rig Vedic and later Rig Vedic Period).

  • Mustard was used and was called sorshapa.

  • Beans were called Masha, Butter was called Vavneet; Rice- Vrihi, Wheat -Godhum and Barley - Yava.

  • The mixture of milk and cereal was called Apoop.

  • According to some scholars, cows were eaten during the Vedic Period but were prohibited later.

  • Women took soma drink, Karambh Daliya (Pulses) -special dish of Pushan.

  • Somras was known by various names: Andhsup, Rasa, Pitu, Piyush and Amrit. In the Yajur Veda it is called Masar. Soma drink was also offered to the ancestors in a rice bowl with pind.

E. Amusement

  • Music. Veena was the most popular instrument. Athambar music both instrumental and vocal was prevalent. Instrumental - Dhol and Karkari (veena), Vocal - nadi and Jhaj.

  • Dance

  • Gambling: Chausar was very popular with the people.

  • Horse Racing

  • Wrestling

  • Chariot Racing was organized during the Rajasuya ceremony.

  • Drama and Painting