What Books and Burials Tell Us

All written records of the past are literary source material and they are classified into two: Religious and Secular. Many of the available literary sources on ancient India are manuscripts. VEDAS or ‘shruti’ (meaning knowledge) are the oldest books of ancient Indian civilization. There are four Vedas and their names are Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. The Rig Veda is the oldest of the four Vedas. It is divided into 10 ‘Mandalas’ or books. Vedas contain hymns or suktas. The Hymns were prayers to praise numerous Gods. The chief Gods were Indra, Agni, Varun and Soma. Sacrifices were the offerings that were made through fire to Gods and a part of affluence was kept for performing the yajnas or sacrifices.

There were two groups of people namely- Brahmans or priests and the rajas. The Priests performed many rituals. A new social structure of patriarchal families was established. The term ‘janapada’ was derived from ‘Jana’. The terms ‘vish’ and ‘vishaya’ was derived from it. Aryans were the writers of hymns. The Dasas or Dasyus were people who did not perform sacrifices and spoke different languages.

Megaliths marked the subversive burial sites which were found in the Deccan, North-East India and Kashmir. Megaliths were created about 3000 years ago. Ancient Indian physician, Charaka wrote a book on medicine 2000 years ago, known as the Charaka Samhita. Inamgaon is one of the biggest Chalcolithic settlements in India, at river Gond in Maharashtra. Chalcolithic literally means ‘chalco’, the copper and ‘lithic’, the stone. The people of Inamgaon believed in afterlife. Writing in China was done on animal bones which were called Oracle bones. They were primarily used to foretell future.

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