Age of Dharmashastras, Upanishads, Vedangs

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Age of Dharmashastras

  • The 6th century BC is one of the most active period of ancient Indian history.

  • This period is known as the period of second urbanisation or rise of heterodox sect or age of dharama-shastra or age of the Mahajanapadas.

  • The same political condition id reflected in the stereotyped list of sixteen great countries (Solasamahajanapada) which, according to Buddhist texts, 1 flourished shortly before the time of Gautama Budda.

They Are as Follows According to the Anguttara Nikaya:-

  • Anga Magadha, Kasi, Kosala, Vriji (Vajji), Malla, Chedi, Vatsa (Vamsa), Kuru, Panchala Matsya (Machchha), Surasena, Asvaka or Asmaka (Assaka), Avanti, Gandhara and Kamboj a each being named after the people who settled down there or colonised it.

  • The Janavasabha Surtanta (Digha Nikaya, H) refers to some of them in pairs viz. Kasi-Kosala, Vriji (Vajji)-Malla, Chedi-Vamsa, Kuru-Panchala and Matsya-Surasena.

  • The Chullaniddesa adds Kalinga to the list and substitutes Yona for Gandhara.

  • The Mahavastu list agrees with that in the Anguttara Nikaya save that it omits Gandhara and Kamboja and mentions Sivi and Dasarna instead

Detaild map of area of Mahajanapadas


Mahajanapadas and Capital
Mahajanapadas and Capital
















Pava, Kushinara
















Rajpur, Hatak




  • These are the simplified form of Brahmanas.

  • These are the last part of the Vedic literature and are also called Vedanta i.e. end of Vedas.

  • Upa means sit down, ni means near and shad means someone i.e. Upanishad means sitting near someone.

  • It is the interaction between the Guru and the Shishya on Vedas.

  • There are 108 Upanishads:

  • Two related to the Rig Veda are those on Aiterya and Kaushitiki Brahmana.

  • Two related to the Sam Veda are those on Chandogya and Kena Brahmana.

  • Four related to the Yajur Veda and specifically the Krishna Yajur Veda is those on Taitteriya, Katha, Svetasawatra and Maitriyani Brahmana.

  • Three related to the Atharva Veda are those on Mundak, Prashna and Mandukya Brahmana.

  • Katha, Shwetasavatra, Eisha and Mundak Upanishads are written in Chhanda form.

  • The oldest Upanishads are Chandogya, Taiteriya, Aiteriya, Kaushitiki, Kena and Eisha.

  • Katha Upanishad mentions about Vishnu.

  • Shwetasavatra Upanishad is inclined towards Rudra (Mahesh).

  • Maitriyani Samhita can be regarded as the latest because it mentions the concept of Trimurti.

  • The language of all Upanishads is classical Sanskrit.

  • Upanishads probably had two purposes: -

  • To simplify the language and content through simplified interpretation,

  • To redefine the concept of Rig Veda according to the time.


Vedangs are six in number.

  1. Shiksha (Phonetics). It deals with the correct pronunciation and recitation of Vedic hymns.

  2. Kialpa Sutra. It deals with the rituals and is very important for the reconstruction of history. It has four parts:

    1. Srautasutra. It is related to Vedic sacrifices.

    2. Grihasutra. It is related to marriage, funeral, relations etc. It was composed between 600-300 B.C. (Pre Buddhist). It is the oldest text, which mentions about the sacrifices or fire place in the house.

    3. Dharamsutra. It is a manual of human conduct and is the source of various laws. It deals with the sacred and secular laws and administration. It tells us the duties of a king and the four varnas and their social obligations, customs and practices of everyday life compiled by vari-ous Rishis like Gautam, Vashistha, Baudhayana, Apasthamba, Hiranya, Keshin and Harita.

    4. Sulvasutra. It is related to the designing of the sacrificial pot and contains early reference of Geometry,

  3. Vyakrana (Grammar). The important sources are Panini's Ashtadhyayi and Patanjali's Mahabhashya.

  4. Nirukta. Yaksha Nirukta has written the basic text. It deals with etymology i.e. the study of sources and development of the words.

  5. Chhand.

  6. Jyotisha.

Orthodox Philosophy

  • The earliest philosophical writings in India are the Upanishads. The systematic philosophy was composed in the form of sutras or aphorisms. Sutras were accompanied and followed by long and short commentaries called bhashyas.

  • The main schools of sutras are (1) Vaiseshika (2) Nyaya (3) Sankhya (4) Yoga (5) Purva Mimamsa and (6) Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta.

  • Genearlly speaking Vaiseshika (4th century B.C) and Nyaya (2nd century B .C) are regarded as the earliest and Sankhya as the latest; scene other source regard Sankhya as the oldest philosophy system.

  • Indian orthodox philosophy is known as Shad-darshana

(1) Sankhya or Samkhva

  • Kapila was the earliest exponent of this school

  • But the earliest surviving text of the system is Sankhyakarika of Isvara-krishna (4th century A.D)

  • According to this philosophy, there are as amny as 25 basic principle or Tattavas (Elements). These 25 tattavas gives rise to creation. Of the 25 tattava, the first is prakrti and the 25th is the Purusha. It has three basic constituents:

  • Quality (Guna) -causing virtue (Sattva);

  • Dullness (Tamas); and

  • Passion (Rajas).

(2) Vaiseshika Darshan

  • It is also called school of individual characteristics; founded by Uluka Nanda

  • The greatest commentary on this was Prasastapad of 5th century.

  • It has stressed more on physics than theology.

(3) Nyaya Drashan

  • It was a school of logic and epistemology; it is based on the text on Nyaya-sutra of Akashpada Gautama.

  • It accepts all the categorization of the Vaiseshika and also recognize God as the creator but it differs from the Vaiseskia drashan in that clear thinking and logical arguments can achieve salvation.

  • It has three main aspects:

  • rationality - to analyse the relationship between cause and effect;

  • to analyse cause and effect; and

  • Logic

  • The greatest exponent of the philosophy was Prakshilaswami Vatsyayana (4th century A.D)

(4) Mimamsa Darshan

  • initially, it was not a philosophy of salvation,

  • It's main purpose was to explain the application and the use of the Vedas; it gave philosophy on salvation in 7th or 8th centruy A.D.

  • The earliest text of this school is Jamini sutras

  • The greatest exponent of this school is Sabraswamin, lived in 6th century A.D

  • Kumarila was another exponent of this school, lived in 8th century AD.

  • Mimamsa philosophy merged into Vedanta philosophy around 8th century A.D.

(5) Yoga Darshan

  • Yoga means spiritual discipline or application; the earliest basic text of this school is "Yogasutra of Patanjali" (the famous grammarian of 2nd B.C).

  • The present form of this philosophy has been attributed to Bhasya in 4th century.

  • There are eight stages of Yoga:

  • self-control (Yama),

  • observance of the rule (Niyama),

  • posture (asan)

  • control of the breath (pranayama)

  • Restraint of sense organs (pratyahara)

  • concentration of mind (dharana)

  • meditation (dhyana)

  • deep meditation (samadhi)

(6) Vedanta Drashana or Uttara Mimamsa

  • It means "end of vedas", the doctrine are based on upanishads.

  • The basic text of this school is the 'Brahama-sutras" of Badarayana; another great philospher of this school was Gandapada in 6th century A.D and then became the great Sankaracharya in 9th century AD.

  • The greatest anti-religious philosophical text was Tattvopaplavasirnha of Jayarasi in 8th century AD.

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