They cleared probably by burning the heavy forests

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Unformatted text preview: e Yamuna and the Ganges and eastward. They cleared (probably by burning) the heavy forests that covered this region and then settled there. They also moved farther northeast to the Himalayan foothills and southeast along the Ganges, in what was to be the cradle of subsequent Indian civilization. During this age the importance of the Punjab receded. The Birth of Civilization 27 The late Vedic period is also called the Brahmanic Age because it was dominated by the priestly religion of the Brahman class, as evidenced in commentaries called the Brahmanas (ca. 1000–800 or 600 B.C.E.). It is also sometimes called the Epic Age because it provided the setting for India’s two classical epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Both works were composed much later, probably between 400 B.C.E. and 200 C.E., but contain older material and refer to older events. Read the Document The Mahabharata, the world’s Excerpt from Mahábhárata (1000-600 B.C.E.) longest epic poem, centers on the riat valry of two Aryan clans in the region northwest of modern Delhi, perhaps around 900 B.C.E. The Ramayana tells of the legendary, dramatic adventures of King Rama. Both epics reflect the complex cultural and social mixing of Aryan and other earlier subcontinent peoples. By about 200 C.E., this mixing produced a distinctive new “Indian” civilization over most of the subcontinent. Its basis was clearly Aryan, but its language, society, and religion incorporated many non-Aryan elements. Harappan culture vanished, but both it and other regional cultures contributed to the formation of Indian culture as we know it. Vedic Aryan Society Aryan society was apparently patrilineal—with succession and inheritance in the male line—and its gods were likewise predominantly male. Marriage appears to have been monogamous, and widows could remarry. Related families formed larger kin groups. The largest social grouping was the tribe, ruled by a chieftain or raja (“king” in Sanskrit), who shared power with a tribal council. In early Vedic days the ruler was chosen for his prowess; his chief responsibility was to lead in battle, and he had no priestly function or sacred authority. A chief priest looked after the sacrifices on which religious life centered. By the Brahmanic age the king, with the help of priests, had assumed the role of judge in legal matters and become a hereditary ruler claiming divine qualities. The power of the priestly class had also increased. Although there were probably subgroups of warriors and priests, Aryan society seems originally to have had only two basic divisions: noble and common. The Dasas—the darker, conquered peoples—came to form a third group (together with those who intermarried with them) of the socially excluded. Over time, a more rigid scheme of four social classes (excluding the non-Aryan Dasas) evolved. By the late Rig-Vedic period, religious theory explicitly sanctioned these four divisions, or varnas—the priestly (Brahman), the warrior/nob...
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This document was uploaded on 04/03/2014.

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