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The fall of the Indus Valley Civilization due to causes not
fully determined resulted in many newer and smaller settlements
being set up to its east and south. It was during this time around
The fall of the Indus Valley Civilization due to causes not fully determined resulted in many newer and smaller settlements being set up to its east and south. It was during this time around 3500 years ago, that Rigveda, the oldest book known to man was written by sages. Rigveda contains more than a thousand hymns in praise of gods and goddesses. Rigveda gives an insight into the life during that period. It has mentions of battles, yajnas, brahmins, rajas, jana etc. People who composed these hymns referred to themselves as Aryas and their opponents as Dasas. Dasas did not perform yajnas. Later dasas( women-dasis) came to be known as slaves. These were people who were generally captured in war. Priests taught students to recite and memorise each syllable, word and sentence, bit by bit with great care. Most of the hymns were composed, taught and learnt by men. A few were composed by women.
Later the other vedas, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda were composed and that period is referred to as the later Vedic age. There were several groups of people at that time- priests, warriors, farmers,herders, traders, crafts persons, labourers, fishing folk and forest people. The priests divided people into four groups called varnas and each varna had a different set of functions.
The first varna was that of the Brahmins, who were expected to study and teach the Vedas, perform sacrifices and receive gifts.
The second varna was that of the Kshatriyas, who were expected to fight battles and protect people.
The third varna was the Vaishyas, who were expected to be farmers, herders and traders.
Last were the Shudras, who had to serve the other three groups and couldn't perform any rituals. Often women were also grouped with the shudras and they couldnt study the vedas. Some of them were also considered to be untouchables.
The priests also said that these group were decided on the basis of birth which came under rigorous backlash from several groups of people.