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What are the main features of Vedic society and religion? Do you think some of the features are still prevailing in Indian society? | UPSC 2023 General Studies Paper 1 Mains PYQ


What are the main features of Vedic society and religion? Do you think some of the features are still prevailing in Indian society?

(UPSC 2023 General Studies Paper 1 (Main) Exam, Answer in 150 words)


The Vedic period in Ancient India was roughly between 1500 BCE and 500 BCE. The oldest religious text in the world, the Rig Veda was composed in the early Vedic period ( 1500 BCE to 1000 BCE), and the rest three Veda,  Samaveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda were composed in the later Vedic period (1000 BCE to 500 BCE). These four Vedas are sacred texts that form the foundation of Hinduism.

Society and religion during this period had several distinct features:

Features of Vedic Society:

Varna System:

The Vedic society had a hierarchical social structure known as the Varna System, which classified society into four main varnas: Brahmins ( priests and teachers), Kshatriyas ( warriors and rulers), Vaishyas ( merchants and farmers), and Shudra ( laborers and servants).

The early Vedic period did not have a rigid Varna System, but later Vedic period it became a rigid Varna System.

Importance of Rituals and Sacrifices:

Religious rituals, especially Yajnas played a central role in Vedic Society. The rituals were done by priests and were believed to maintain cosmic order and ensure the well-being of the community and family.

Role of Brahmins:

Brahmins gained top positions in Vedic society as priests and custodians of sacred knowledge. They performed rituals, preserved oral traditions, and played a crucial role in religious and social affairs.

Patriarchal Society:

Vedic society was patriarchal, and the eldest male member of the family held the top position in the family. Males in Vedic society played central roles in religious ceremonies and societal governance.

Agrarian Economy:

Vedic communities were highly dependent on agriculture and cattle rearing. Cattle were highly valued in Vedic society and agricultural prosperity was linked to religious rituals.

The concept of Sabha and Samiti:

Kings in the Early Vedic period were assisted by assemblies like Sabha and Samiti. Even Samiti had the power to choose and remove the King.

Features of Vedic Religion:

The following were the main features of Vedic religion:


Vedic religion was polytheistic, they were nature worshipper. Indra ( god of rain and thunder), Agni ( god of fire), and Varuna ( god of cosmic order) were the prominent deities in the early Vedic period. In the later Vedic period, three deities, Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh were the prominent deities.

Authority of Vedas:

The Vedas, Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda were considered sacred texts. They contained hymns, rituals, and philosophical discussions, and served as the foundation of Vedic knowledge. 

Concept of Dharma( Moral and Social Duties): 

Dharma guided individuals in living righteous lives and fulfilling their societal obligations.

Cycle of Rebirth:

Ideas related to reincarnation and the concept of Karma ( the law of causes and effect) began in the Vedic period. This concept emphasizes that the actions in present life are believed to influence future rebirths.

Some of these features are still prevailing in Indian Society:

Cultural continuity:

Some elements of Vedic culture like rituals, festivals, and philosophical concepts, continue to shape the cultural landscape of modern India.

Caste system:

Although, the Varna System has evolved, however, it still prevails in the form of a caste system in modern India.

Continuation of Dharma:

The concept of Dharma persists, guiding moral and ethical conduct in various aspects of life. Philosophical discussions on Karma and the pursuit of moksha are still relevant.

Role of Brahmin:

The role of Brahmins in religious ceremonies and preserving sacred knowledge continues in modern Indian Society.

Role of Sabha and Samiti:

The concept of Sabha and Samity of Vedic society is still prevalent in the form of Panchayati Raj institution in modern Indian society.

In summary, modern Indian society has seen considerable social, religious, and cultural evolution and the legacy of Vedic society and religion still prevail in various aspects. The dynamic nature of Indian civilization reflects a continuous interplay between tradition and adaptation.

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