Formation of States in the Later Vedic Period


  1. Which period is considered as the later Vedic age?
  • The period from 1000 to 600 B.C. is regarded as the period of the later Vedic age. It also covers the period of the epics, the age of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
  1. What archaeological evidences of sources have we found from this period?
  • The archaeological sources of this period are practically nil so far. Very recently excavated sites of the ancient Hastinapur, Alamgirpur, Batesar etc. have been excavated the lowest levels of which has been fixed at between 1000 and 700 B.C., the time of the later Vedas.
  • Only a few copper implements, some iron-arms and tools, traces of houses of unbaked bricks and a little of painted grey pottery.
  1. Write a note on the geographical extension of the Aryan settlement/empire.
  • During this period the Aryans penetrated towards the east up to Bengal and the far south. By 400 B.C., the Aryans had moved to the farthest corner of India even in the south
  • We, however find references to independent existence of certain clans like the Andhras, the Shabars, the Pulinda, etc. in south India which remained free from the influence of the Aryan culture.
  1. Write a note on the political organization of the Aryans.
  • The progress of the Aryans all over India led to changes in dynasties and structural changes in the constitution and organization of states.
  • The ideal of imperialism or universal empire crept up and attempts were made by powerful rulers to build extensive empires.
  1. Write a note on the political changes brought by the Aryans.
  • Small states gave way to large and powerful states and many of the famous earlier tribes lost their importance and new ones took their place.
  • The famous tribes of the Rig-Vedic age like the Bharatas and Purus disappeared and their place was taken up by the royal dynasties of Kosala, Kashi, Videha, Kalinga, etc.
  1. Write a note on the change of the organisation of states.
  • Another important change was that the states were now organised not on the basis of tribes but on territorial extension.
  • Certainly, the finding of iron in this age must have helped in building up of large kingdoms.
  1. Where were the iron-armament of this age mainly found?
  • Iron-armament of this age have been found mostly at the excavations at Hastinapur, Alamgirpur, Atranji-khera, Batesar etc.
  • These were in the territory called Kuru-Panchal at that thime and we also find that mostly the rulers of this very territory had performed Asvamedha Yajnas.
  1. How did a person become a king?
  • With a few exceptions, states were monarchical. There are a few references to elected kings, otherwise mostly the office was hereditary.
  • The Aitareya-Brahmana puts forth the view that the king was elected by common consent primarily to lead his followers in war while the later Samhitas and Brahmanas stated that the king had divine origin.
  1. Write a note on the kingdoms and the way kings ruled them.
  • During this period large kingdoms were established and efforts were made by powerful rulers to build up big empires. These circumstances increased the power, glory, and prosperity of kings.
  • King was the head of the state and was above law but he was not a despotic ruler. He ruled according to the laws of Rajya-Dharma and his powers were limited by advice given by popular assemblies and his councillors. Kings had built up extensive kingdoms
  1. How was the king regarded as?
  • The king was regarded above the law. The Atharva Veda described that ‘ let Rashtra be in the hands of the king and let Varun, Brahaspati, Indra and Agni strengthen it.’
  • Several other texts of this period refer to the divine origin of the king as well. All this helped in enhancing the power of the kings and had not diminished his duties towards his subjects in any way.
  1. Write a note on the officials of the kingdoms during this period.
  • The Purohita, the Senani and the Gramani were prominent officers of the king. We also find other several important officials whose functions cannot be ascertained.
  • The presence of these officials and other references regarding administration indicate that the administrative machinery was efficiently organised to look after large kingdoms.
  1. Write a note on the law and punishment that existed during this period.
  • It was nearly the same as during the Rig-Vedic period. Punishments were severe. Private vengeance was permitted to serve the ends of justice. Theft, robbery, adultery, abduction, killing of a man, treachery and drinking intoxicating liquor were offences punishable with death.
  • The sense of justice was high. In certain cases the offenders were turned out of the state, fined or put to physical torture.
  1. Write a note on the military organisation of the Aryans in the later vedic period.
  • By this time, the Aryans had improved their military organisation and arms as well.
  • Besides, cavalry, charioteers and infantry, elephants were also used in wars now. The Aryans had, probably, developed certain types of fire-arms as well besides the use of bow and arrow and swords.