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Vedic Religion – Early And Later

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Vedic Religion – Early And Later

Early Vedic Religion

The deities whose prayers are worshiped or praised  found in the Rigveda are symbols of the powers marked in the natural elements. The Rig Vedic period people were influenced by seeing mystic elements of nature and experienced natural powers in them. Means they worship God as a personified power of nature.

Simplicity of religion

  • The religion of the Aryans was very simple. These people did perform Yajna, but the method of Yajna was not complicated .
  • The role of chanting of mantras was worshiped to the god.There was no place of idol worship in Vedic religion.
  • They worshiped a formless God. Praise (stuti) and yajna were the means of their worship.Various forms of nature were also worshiped like Indra agni…  .
  • They used to chant, mantras around yajana , by lighting fire in it, they used to offer milk, grains in the fire of yajana.

Classification of God

  • Rig Vedic people worshipped multiple deities , for convenience they classified them into three categories.
  • Terrestrial-Prithvi, Agni, Soma,  brihaspati  and river.
  • Arial / intermediate-Indira ,Rudra ,vayu-vata,prajanya(rain).
  • Celestial-Surya,varuna, Aditi, Usha, Ashwin.
  • Indra, Agni, Varuna were the most prominent deities of the Rig Vedic period.

Polytheism, Monotheism,Henothism

  • The nature of rig Vedic religion was not believe in many God but each got standing out in turns as the highest.
  • Worshiping of many deities makes it polytheism, where as a supreme power above all deities conclude that believe in monotheism.
  • The religion primary consisted of the worship of God with a simple ceremonial known as Yojana sacrifice this consisted of afrin of milk, green and Soma.

Purpose of Vedic religion

Vedic people did not worship God for their spiritual upliftment or ending their miseries and asked about salvation,but they asked cattle(pashu), children(praja) food, health wealth.

Later Vedic Religion

Introduction of new God and demotion of old one

  • The outstanding rigVedic God Indra, Agni lost their former importance. on the other hand Prajapati (the creator) came to occupy the supreme position in later Vedic period.
  • Rudra (minor God in vedic period the god of animal) became important in later Vedic times. Vishnu came to be conceived as the preserver or protector of the people, Now leading a settled life instant of semi-nomadic. pushana  who protected cattle in the early Vedic period, now became the god of shudras.

Importance of yajans

  • Now the importance of Yajna had increased and complex rituals were also included in it. moreover In favor of Yajna, it was being propagated that the creation of this world itself origenated from Yajna(Prajapati is also subject to Yajna).
  • A large number of cattle sacrificed.

Purpose of religion and introduction of complexity

  • Purpose remained the same to advance materialism but ways have changed now Special emphasis was laid on the utterance of these mantras and animal sacrifice in the Yajnas.
  • Life was tied to the sacraments. Aashram system has introduced affiliated with purusharth.

Scepticism

  • Monotheism, polytheism,‌‌ henothism already was there now  idea of scepticism also witnessed in later Vedic rantha once “it is mentioned is there Indira or not if it is then where”. Possibly the counter reaction of later Vedic people against existing nature of religion.

Brahmins dominance

  • The brahmins claimed a monopoly on preistly knowledge and expertise over it. They were the most benefited community with change in religion. After performing yajnas  brahmins used to ask gold ,cow and other rewards.

Reaction against tainted later Vedic religion

  • Complexity in later with religion , dominance of rituals and cattle sacrifices , influence of yojans, rigid chanting of mantras etc. Brought a detachment feeling.
  • Feeling of detachment can be seen in Upanishad and aranyaka in form of Adveitvada, austerity (self restraint), meditation.

This article is compiled by Sarvesh Nagar (NET/JRF).

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