Chapter 4. What Books and Burials Tell Us

Oldest Books in World
• Vedas are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, texts constitute oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and oldest scriptures of Hinduism.
• There are four types of Vedas are Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda & Atharvaveda.

• Rigveda is oldest Veda, composed around 3500 years ago. It includes more than thousand hymns, known as suktas. Hymns were composed by sages [rishis]. These hymns are in praise of various gods and goddesses. They are:
(1) Agni, god of fire.
(2) Indra, a warrior god.
(3) Soma, a plant from which a special drink was prepared.
• Most of these hymns were taught, composed & learned by men. Women composed a few of them too.
• It is a type of literature which is taught by priests to students and was made to recite and memorize them.
• Rigveda is in Vedic or old Sanskrit. It was recited by people and not just read. Written scripts were printed less than 100 years ago.

How do Historians Study Rigveda?
• Some of hymns discovered in form of dialogue. In one such hymn, there was a conversation between Vishvamitra and two rivers [Sutlej and Beas] that were worshipped as goddesses.
• It is a page from a manuscript of Rigveda which was found in Kashmir. This is now preserved in a library in Pune, Maharashtra.

Cattle, Horses & Chariots
• There are many prayers in Rigveda for cattle, children [especially sons] and horses.
• Horses were used in battles. Battles were fought for water, land & to capture land and people.
• There was no regular army, but there were assemblies where people met and discussed matters of war and peace. Most men took part in wars and chose leaders.
• Wealth was kept by leaders, some were given to priests and rest was distributed amongst people.
• There are two groups of people mentioned in Rigveda:
Rajas: Unlike later kings, they did not have a palace, capital or army. They do not levy taxes on people of state.
Priest: Also known as Brahmins. They performed all rituals of Hinduism.
• Two words describe people of Rigveda – Jana and Vish. [word vaishya comes from vish.]
• people who composed hymns described themselves as Aryas and used to speak different languages. They known as their opponents Dasas or Dasyus. Later, term dasa [and feminine dasi] came to mean slave. Slaves were women and men who were often captured in war.

story of Megaliths
• Megaliths is a large stone found in Rigveda period and people placed it to mark cemetery.
• This practice began more than 3000 years ago. It was influential throughout southern part of India, Deccan plateau and Kashmir. They all had a standard feature. dead people were buried by using special pots that were known as Red and Black Ware.

Social Differences
• Rich people were buried with more gold beads, stone beads, copper bangles . Whereas poor people were buried with only a few pots.

Importance of Burial Spots
• People who belonged to same family discovered buried in same place. Significant spots were to recognize burial spot of family members. Boulders placed or stone circles helped to serve as signpost.

Was iron used in Harappan cities?
• Metal workers in Harappa used a lot of different metals, such as copper, gold, and silver. Archaeologists have found things made of stone, shell, and metals like copper, bronze, gold, and silver. In Harappan cities, iron was not used. They made jewellery and coins out of gold and silver.

Occupation of People of Inamgaon: Archaeologists have found various types of crops in fields of Inamgaon. Some of them are sesame, peas, millets, pulses, rice, barley & wheat.
• Animals were a source of food for people as cuts on bones were found.
• Several fruits were consumed by people of Inamgaon, namely dates, jamun, amla & ber.
A special burial at Inamgaon: This is a site on river Ghod, a tributary of Bhima. Here, adults were buried in ground. They were laid out straight with head towards north. Vessels that probably contained food and water were placed with dead person.

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