Religion & Economy of Later Vedic Period

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Religion of Later Vedic Period

» The earlier divinites India and Agni were relegated into the background while Prajapali (creator of theUniverse, later known asBrahma), Vishnu (Patron godof Aryans) and Rudra (God of animal, later identified with Shiva/Mahesha) rose inprominence. Now Prajapatibecame supreme God.
» Pushna, who protected cattle in the early Vedic Period nowbecame the god of Shudras.
» Brihadaranyaka Upanishadawas first the work to give thedoctrine of transmigration (Punarjanma/Samsara-chakra)and deeds (Karma).
» The early simple ceremonial of Rigvedic Period gave place to elaborate sacrifices requiring the services of as many as 17 priests. In the later Vedas and Brahamanas sacrifices (Yajnas) came into prominence.

There were two varieties of sacrifices
» Laghuyajnas (Simple/Private Sacrifices) : Performed by householder e.g. Pancha, mahayajna, Agnihotra, Darsha Yajna (on Amavasya i.e. on the last day of the dark fortnight), Purnamaasa Yajna(on Purnima i.e. on the day of full moon) etc.
» Mahayajanas : (Grand / Royal Sacrifices): Sacrifices that could only be undertaken by an aristocratic and wealthy man and the king.
(a)Rajasuya Yajna : Royal consecration, which in its form comprised a series of sacrifices lasting over a year. In later days it was replaced by simplified Abhisheka i.e. anointment.
(b) Vajapeya Yajna : Drink of strength, which lasted for a period of seventeen days upto full on year.
(c) Asvamedlm Yajna: Horse sacrifice, which lasted for three days.
(d) Agnishtoma Yajna: Sacrifice of animals dedicated to Agni, which lasted on day, although Yajnika (performed of Yajna) and his wife spent ascetic life for a year before Yajna. On the occasion of this Yajna, soma rasa was consumed.

» Towards the end of the Vedic Period, there was the emergence of a strong reaction against cults, rituals and priestly domination, Reflection of this method is found in the Upanishadas.

Economy of Later Vedic Period

» Land had now become more valuable than cows. Agriculture began to replacerearing of cattle. The plough was at times drawn by 24 oxen. Manure was known.
» Rice, barley, beans, sesame and wheat were cultivated.
» Production of goods advanced as indicated by new occupations like fisherman, washerman, dyers, door-keepers and footmen.
» Indicating specialization distinction was drawnbetween the chariot-maker and the carpenter and the tanner and the hide-dresser.
» Considerable advance was made in the knowledge of metals. Mention of tin, silver and iron was made apart from gold and ayas (either copper or iron) in the Rig Veda.
» Evidence was there regarding organization of merchants into guilds because of reference to corporations (Ganas) and aldermen (Sreshtins).

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