Vedic Literature – Changes in Later Vedic Period

Changes in later Vedic Period in Political institutions and organization (1000-500 BC)

  • Emergence of territorial state ascertained.

  • The wars were not fought merely for cows but also for lands.

  • The land was no longer communally owned and we see the trend towards the emergence of concept of private property in land.

  • The tribal character of Rig Vedic period was gradually fading to. The king no longer elected and the kingship because hereditary.

  • The king became very powerful compared to the tribal chieftain. Now he was no longer bound to accept the advice tendered by Sabha and Samiti and now the Samiti elected him.

Administrative Division

1) Family

  • Was the smallest unit;

  • Known as Kula or Griha;

  • Head of it was Kulpa or Grihapati;

  • Basically there was a joint family and head of the family also called 'Gopa' or 'Gopati';

  • Patriarchal form of family like Roman socials.

2) Grama

  • It was the 2nd unit;

  • Several families formed a Grama;

  • Head called the Gramini and later he was identified with Vajrapati;

  • both the military and civil powers combined in him;

3) Vis

  • Many villages constituted a vis or a clan;

  • Head of it called 'Vispati';

  • In Rig Veda, 'Vis' has been mentioned 170 times.

  • Many Vis combine to form a 'Jana' or 'Tribes';

  • Several Jana or tribes constitute a Rashtra, mentioned 7 times in the Rig Veda;

  • These Vis constitute Jana, mentioned 275 times in the Rig Veda;

  • In Rig Veda, Janapad is not mentioned, but is mentioned in the Later Vedic period;

  • No concept of king in its true sense and being was assisted by a number of functionaries;

  • Most important were the purohit and senani purohit performed the combined function of the priest, astrologer and advisor;

  • Senani, the supreme commander of the armed forces;

  • Rig Veda does not mention of any tax-collecting official because tax was voluntary in mature and was called 'BALI':

  • No clear demarcation between civil and military administration;

  • Rig Vedic period was basically of tribal character'

  • Basically the Gana- (a technical word for republic) - was mentioned at 46 places in Rig Veda and 9 times in Atharvaveda;

Law and Justice

  • Rig Veda does not mention any officer concerned with the justice;

  • Probably, the King was the head;

  • Common crime was -Cattle lifting;

  • The epitaph 'Satadaya' -(a person whole price of blood was 100 cons), shows that the system of Vairadeya or Bloodmoney was probably enforced;

  • Death was one of the punishments for theft in later times, not so in Rig Vedic age.

Political System of the Later Vedic Period

  • The concept of state emerged;

  • The term Rashtra indicated territory;

  • The king became divine and performed many sacrifices; -

    1. Rajasuiya Sacrifice – to conform supreme power on him and also called coronation ceremony; The Ratna Havimashi ceremony was a part of Raj suiya ceremony; According to it the sacrificing king went to the house of each Ratnin and offered violations to each deity there.

    2. Ashwamedha Sacrifice – to establish his control over the territory in which the royal horse ran and in the end, the horse was sacrificed;

    3. Vajapeya Sacrifice – drink of strength;

  • The popular assemblies -Sabha, Samiti and Vidhatha lost relevance and in their place 12 important officials called Ratnins came into being. They were also called Jewel Bearers:

  1. Bhagadugha - Tax collector;

  2. Sanghitri - Treasurer;

  3. Suta - Charrioteer;

  4. Sthapati - Chief Judge;

  5. Akshvapa - Superintendent of Gambling;

  6. Govikartan - Kings companion in dice and change game;

  7. Palagala - courier or personal ambassador of the king;

  8. Gramini - Village head also called Raja Karte (King Maker)

  9. Purohit - Chaplain

  10. Senani - the commander of army.

Law and Justice: -

  • According to Satpatha Brahmana - king wield the rod of punishment;

  • He himself was a rule and administrated criminal justice;

  • Two forms of punishment continued - Varadaya and Satadaya;

  • Concept of private property was there, as the concept 'Daya' (inheritance) was present;