(Last Updated on : 31-01-2009)
Agriculture-The Aryans were pastoral people and agriculture was their chief livelihood. Lands raised for cultivation were called 'Urvara' or 'Kshetra'. The normal method for ploughing fields was by a means of a pair of oxen tied to the yoke. The primary crops were wheat and barley. Every member of the family normally worked at the fields and agricultural processes, like filling the soil, cutting of grooves, sowing the seeds, cutting of corn with sickle were known to them. They were also familiar with utilisation of manures.
Taming of Animals-
Cattle and cows were held in high esteem and were seen as goddesses. There was nothing like money to buy things- one had to exchange their cattle or any other valuable. Cows were considered holy by the Aryans. Cows and oxen were functional for agriculture also. Milk was one of the fundamental drinks of the Aryans and hence they connected vast importance with the cows. Cows were also used as unit of value in the batter system, predominant during that time. Besides cows, goat, sheep, buffalo were also domesticated by the Aryans.
Trade and profession-
Professions of goldsmith, carpenter, blacksmith, weavers etc., were rather widespread. The barter system was prevalent during the Rigvedic period. The reference of 'Niska', a type of coin is also found. Roads were constructed for trade and commerce. The Aryans also utilised ships and boats for shipping of goods.
Religion of the early Aryans was a form of nature-worship. They worshipped numerous Gods, like Sky, Surya (Sun), Indra, Varuna, Pirithvi (earth), Agni (sacrificial fire), Vayu (Wind), Usha (dawn) and Aditi (mother of gods or sometimes cow) etc. Rivers like Ganga and Saraswati were also considered to be goddesses. Vedic religion evolved into Hindu paths of yoga and vedanta. Divinities of the early Aryans can be divided into three categories viz.- Celestial Gods, Atmospheric Gods and Terrestrial Gods. This illustrates that the Aryans had faith in a great number of Gods. But there are also mention in the Rigveda that Unity of the God-head was also recognised by the Aryans. The various deities worshipped, were considered by them to be the manifestation of the Supreme Being. According to Dr. R. K. Mookerjee, "In fact, the underlying principle of the Rigvedic religion is Monotheism".
The Aryans offered sacrifices to the Gods to appease them. This was generally accomplished by chanting verses, which was done by calling a priest who helped common man perform these rituals. The common man performed simple sacrifices, offering milk, ghee, grain etc. But majestic sacrifices, such as the Ashvamedha were made by kings. Moreover the Aryans envisioned the human spirit of the Gods and therefore, each God had a human form. No reference of idol worship is found. It appears that they despised image-worship. The Aryans were broadly optimists and hence sorrier facets of life have not been underlined in their religion. They were full of heartiness and their mindset towards life was full of optimism and aspiration.