quarta-feira, 13 de fevereiro de 2013


The Vedic culture

The end of the Indus civilization until the second century BC, almost no archaeological remains (cities, buildings, objects) to document the Vedic period or classical Indian culture. Practically the only documents we have are the texts of the Veda, the sacred book of Hinduism written in Sanskrit. Veda means knowledge. The book is divided into three sets of texts: the Samhita (collection of sacred hymns), the Brahmana (explanations and comments of Samhita) and Upanishads (philosophical texts of esoteric and metaphysical). Vedanta is the supplement to the Vedas, writing permanent until today.

The Vedic hymns were written for centuries, is the work of many authors. They were passed down from generation to generation by oral tradition and so it is difficult to know precisely when they were written. They are the foundation of all literature and Indian philosophy and can be considered the oldest corpus of knowledge of history. The book contains hymns, prayers, ritual prescriptions, magical formulas (mantras) and incantations which form the foundations of so-called Brahmanism, highly ritualized religion governed by the priests (Brahmins).

The caste system was coded slowly, you probably do not even exist in the ancient Vedic period. The traditional division includes four varieties (later appeared several other castes and subcastes):

• Brahmans (priests responsible for the ritual)

• Kshatrias (Warriors)

• Vaisyas (free peasants)

• Sudras (servants)

Only the first three castes are entitled to hear the Veda. The fourth caste was made (according to the Aryan invasion theory) by non-Aryans or Aryans disqualified. Because it is considered unclean, the fourth caste could not hear the Veda, nor participate in the sacrifices. The ritual sacrifices occupy the center of religious life, influencing all aspects of life. This gives the first caste, the Brahmins, immense power and prestige in society. There is a strict regulation of social duties of each caste. The lower castes, for example, could only perform duties and depreciated as infamous executioner, washer corpses, butcher etc.

To explain the advent of Vedic culture, we used to call "Aryan invasion theory" (TIA). According to this theory, between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries BC, tribes of nomadic warriors known as Aryans, would have left the Russian steppes and invaded Iran and northern India. Indigenous people have been enslaved by the invaders, which to distinguish the white conquerors dominated the dark color, have developed the caste system (in Sanskrit, caste is varna says, meaning "color"). However, this theory has no historical proof and may have been used to justify European colonialism in Asia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, based on supposed racial superiority of white European on the colonized peoples. But the problem remains. Today, there are alternative models to the TIA. Some researchers argue that there was an invasion sudden and violent Aryan Warriors, they would have come in several waves of migration, perhaps far away in time and, when they arrived, would have suffered a huge organized resistance of indigenous peoples. Others argue that the invasions, if it really existed, were peaceful and led the Aryans to mix with local people, producing a fusion of cultures. Finally, there are those who argue that there was never the Aryan invasion and that Vedic culture comes from the ancient civilization of the Indus River. This is a question that remains open, that the continuation of archaeological excavations in the region may help to clarify.

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