The Vedic period in India (c. 1700–500 BCE) is marked by the composition of the Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism.
Evaluate the crafts and texts found during the Vedic Period in India
The Vedic civilization is thought to have been centered in the northern and northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent.
The transmission of stories in the Vedic period was by oral tradition alone, and a literary tradition began only in post-Vedic times.
Crafts within Vedic culture included chariot-making, cart-making, carpentry, metal-working, tanning, bow-making, sewing, weaving, leather work, pottery, jewelry, dying, and vintnery.
Pottery in the Vedic period is divided into black- and red-ware culture (BRW, c. 12th to 9th centuries BCE) and painted grey-ware culture (PGW, c. 1200 BCE to 600 BCE).
The Vedas are a large body of texts that originate in the Vedic period. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and are the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. The Upanishads are a collection of philosophical texts that form the theoretical basis for the Hindu religion. All Upanishads are associated with one of the four Vedas—Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda—and have been passed down in oral tradition.
An authorless, Hindu, religious and philosophical text considered to be an early source of the religion, it is found mostly as the concluding part of the Brahmanas and in the Aranyakas.
Overview: India's Vedic Period
The Vedic period (or Vedic age) in India was a period in history during which the Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, were composed. The time span of the period is uncertain, though it is thought to span from 1700 BCE to about 500 BCE, with 150 BCE suggested as a terminus ante quem (the latest possible time) for all Vedic Sanskrit literature. The transmission of stories in the Vedic period was by oral tradition alone, and a literary tradition began only in post-Vedic times.
The associated culture, sometimes referred to as the Vedic civilization, was probably centered in the northern and northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent, but it has now spread and constitutes the basis of contemporary Indian culture. In the 11th century BCE, the Vedic society transitioned from semi-nomadic life to settled agriculture.
This transition led to an increase in trade and increased competition and conflicts over resources, such as land and water. However, after 1000 BCE, the use of iron axes and ploughs enabled the clearing of jungles, and the Vedic kingdoms were able to expand along the Gangetic plains, ushering in the later Vedic age.
By the 6th century BCE, various political units consolidated into large kingdoms called Mahajanapadas. The process of urbanization began in these kingdoms, and commerce and travel—even over regions separated by large distances—became easy.
The end of Vedic India is marked by linguistic, cultural, and political changes. The grammar of Pāini marks a final apex in the codification of Sutra texts and, at the same time, the beginning of Classical Sanskrit. The invasion of Darius I of the Indus valley in the early 6th century BCE marks the beginning of outside influence that continued in the kingdoms of the Indo–Greeks. After the end of the Vedic period, the Mahajanapadas period in turn gave way to the Maurya Empire (from c. 320 BCE), which is considered to be the golden age of classical Sanskrit literature.
Crafts in the Vedic Period
Crafts within Vedic culture include that of chariot-making, cart-making, carpentry, metal-working (creating instruments such as razors, bangles, and axes), tanning, bow-making, sewing, weaving, and making mats from grass and reeds. Many of these might have required full-time specialists.
The use of iron implements (krishna-ayas or shyama-ayas, literally meaning black metal or dark metal) increased in the later Vedic age, as did new crafts and occupations such as leather work, pottery, astrology, jewelry, dying, and vintnery. Apart from copper, bronze, and gold, later Vedic texts also mention tin, lead, and silver.
The black- and red-ware culture (BRW) is an early, Iron Age culture associated with the post-Rigvedic Vedic civilization that dates roughly from the 12th to 9th centuries BCE. It was succeeded by the painted grey-ware culture (PGW), an Iron Age culture that corresponds to the later Vedic period and that lasted from roughly 1200 BCE to 600 BCE.
The Vedas are a large body of texts that originated in the Vedic period. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism.
The reconstruction of the history of Vedic India is based on text-internal details. Linguistically, the Vedic texts could be classified in five chronological strata:
The Rigvedic text: The oldest of the Vedas, thought to have been composed roughly between 1700 and 1100 BCE .
The Mantra language texts: This period includes both the mantra and prose language of the Atharvaveda (Paippalada and Shaunakiya), the Rigveda Khilani, the Samaveda Samhita, and the mantras of the Yajurveda. This is the time of the early Iron Age in northwestern India and corresponds to the black- and red-ware (BRW) culture.
The Samhita prose texts: This period includes the Brahmana part (commentary on mantras and ritual) of the Black Yajurveda and corresponds with the painted grey-ware (PGW) culture from c. 900 BCE.
The Brahmana prose texts: The Brahmanas proper of the four Vedas belong to this period, as well as the Aranyakas, the oldest of the Upanishads, and the oldest Shrautasutras.
The Sutra language texts: This is the last stratum of Vedic Sanskrit leading up to c. 500 BCE, and is comprised of the bulk of the Śrauta and Grhya Sutras, as well as some Upanishads.
The Upanishads are a collection of philosophical texts that form the theoretical basis for the Hindu religion. The Sanskrit term upanishad means sitting down near, implying sitting near a teacher to receive instruction.
Also known as Vedanta, they are considered by orthodox Hindus to contain the revealed truths (Sruti) concerning the nature of ultimate reality (brahman), and describe the character and form of human salvation (moksha).
All Upanishads are associated with one of the four Vedas—Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda—and have been passed down in oral tradition. More than 200 Upanishads are known, and with the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahmasutra, the Mukhya Upanishads provide a foundation for several later schools of Indian philosophy.