(Last Updated on : 22/06/2011)
Culture of the Aryans was completely new to the Indian subcontinent. Their refined interest in art, architecture, literature laid the foundation of a new generation altogether. Aryan actually means a standard of living, an ideal. Hence the Aryan or Vedic culture reflected a way of life that was based on peace, values and justice for all.
Arts and Crafts of Aryans
Artisans working in the crafts enjoyed a higher status as compared to a Sudra. Goldsmith, the blacksmith, the dyer, the launderer, the oilmen, the tailors, the spinner and the weaver, the potter, the leather-worker, maker of bow and arrow, the distiller and the brick-kilners were considered artisans.
Religion and Philosophy of Aryans
The Smritis give the traditional religion of Hinduism, the various fasts, offering of prayers to the traditional gods and goddesses. Sacrifices were performed and meat-eating was not completely banned.
The study of the Smritis shows how rigid its social forms and institutions were. Social and religious life was following a track which was not on the line of the old Vedic and Upanishad religion, philosophy and the social system.
The philosophy behind the Smritis is that the Universe is one vast pulsating life. Its manifestation varies in different beings. Man is divine and immortal. To learn his true nature he has to take birth several births.
Food of Aryans
The staple diet of the Aryans were milk
, vegetables, fruit, and barky in different forms. On various ceremonies like a religious feast or the arrival of a guest, a more elaborate and sumptuous meal was prepared which included the flesh of ox, goat, and sheep that was washed with sura or madhu
. Both of them are highly intoxicating.
Costumes of Aryans
The pattern of clothes worn by the Aryans was simple and mostly people wore only a lower garment or a cloak. Ornaments were also worn for adornment and were clearly a source of pleasure for its owners. Leisure hours were spent mostly in playing music, singing, dancing, and gambling and chariot-racing. The Aryans interested in music also played a variety of instruments like the drums
, lute, flute or bansuri
and the harp
. The singers were accomplished with the knowledge of sound, tone, and pitch which was used in the chanting of the Sama Veda
. The Aryans were familiar with a hepiatonic scale.
Sports of Aryans
Apart from other leisure activities gambling was their favourite pastime. The gamblers lamented and mourned their luck when they lost but still they played on. Chariot-racing was considered as a high profile and prestigious sport and was included as part of the ritual during some royal ceremonies. The chariots were drawn by two horses and had spoke wheels. They were lightly built to carry two persons.
Literature of Aryans
The Aryans themselves had no writing until much later. It is possible that a script came to be used by about 700 B.C. References of writing as a normal activity by 500 B.C. was also found. The earliest specimens found in India like that of the stone inscriptions of the emperor Ashoka
of the third century B.C. refer to the fact that the early script may have been influenced by a Semitic system of writing. During the earlier Vedic period instruction were given orally. There are descriptions of frogs gathering and croaking during the rainy season, echoing each other's voices which are well compared with the description of pupils repeating lessons after the teacher. However, the method of memorizing was highly systematic. However in the later Vedic period, the institution of the brahmacharin had become quite regularized. The student was supposed to live with his teacher or guru for a many years away from urban life. Education was restricted for the upper castes. Teaching of the Vedas
was generally reserved for the Brahmin
, although in theory it was open to all dvija
castes. Arithmetic, grammar, and prosody were included as other subjects of study. Some of the hymns of Rig Veda
included ritual dancing and the recitation of dialogues, thus constituting the rudiments of a dramatic form. The stories of the bards, from which the epic compositions originated, also lent themselves to dramatic presentations.