1st Edition

An Outline of the Aryan Civilization

By R.N. Nandi Copyright 2018
    266 Pages
    by Routledge

    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    In a first of its kind, this book attempts a comprehensive account of the old Vedic society with particular focus on the physical conditions of life during the Bronze Age in north western South Asia. Based primarily on textual evidence, the narrative relates wherever necessary to the known archaeological information from the area.

    With territorial kingdoms, walled urban places, specialized production of craft goods, large scale trade by land and sea, a broad spectrum service sector and a high end surplus producing peasant economy supporting all of these situates the Aryan discourse on an entirely different platform. The book shows that the Aryans of the Rigveda with diverse forms of speech, physical features and funerary behaviour were far from the monolithic concept of a single people and a single culture.

    Hopefully, the book will help readers to escape the broad misinformation long circulating in history texts for schools, general readers and specialists. Extensive citations are also intended to enable interested readers to access the text on their own and ascertain for themselves what is true and what is false.



    1. The Nature of the State The Political Spectrum


    Political Terminology

    The King and his Palace

    The King and his Territory

    Horses, Chariots and Territorial Conquests The King and the People

    2. The Form of Government

    Role of Corporate Bodies: Vidatha, Sabhā, Samiti

    The Rituals of Empowerment The Aśvamedha Sacrifice

    The Incipient Rājasūya


    3. The City and the Citadel

    Vedic Gods and Walled Settlements



    Harappan Citadels and the `Rgveda

    Defensive Architecture

    Construction Material

    Grid Plan


    Numerous Gateways

    Fort as a Resource Centre

    4.​ Merchants and Moneylenders

    Routes and Merchandise of the Bronze Age

    Commodity Exchange of the Middle Bronze Age

    Business Terminology

    Professional Traders: Va`nik and Pa`ni

    Private Bankers

    5.​ Cruising the Blue Water

    Rivers and the Sea

    Cloud Formation and the Water Cycle

    Vedic Gods and the High Seas

    Tidal Waves, Monsoon Winds and Gulfs

    Marine Fires

    Resources of the Deep Sea

    Seafaring Crafts

    Shipwreck and Rescue Operations

    Pirates and Loss of Direction

    Merchants, Crew Members and Escorts

    Nature of the Cargo

    River-borne Sea Trade

    Sea-borne Wealth and Fame

    6.​ Caravans on Dusty Tracks

    Hazards of the Land Route

    Trade in Gem Stones

    Trade in Livestock

    Donkeys and Camels

    Trade in Textiles

    Gold, Gold-like Objects and Other Merchandise

    From Priest to King

    7.​ Crafts and Craft-working

    Metals and Metal-working

    Functional Objects

    Ayas—Copper or Just Metal?

    The Smelter (Dhmātā) and the Smith (Kārmār, Karmār)

    Wood-working and Carpenters (Tak_sā)

    Functional Objects: Pots, Shafts, Carts, Boats

    Agricultural Tools

    Weavers (Vāsovāya, Vayanti) and Weaving

    Leather Workers (Carmamnā) and Leather Working

    8.​ The Story of the Cow-tale

    The Chorus of Nomadism

    Meaning of Go

    Buffalo or Mahişa

    Permanent Dwellings

    9.​ Peasants and Plough Lands

    Gods and Peasant Activities

    Some Crucial Expressions

    K_setrapati: The God of Plough Lands

    Terms for Plough Lands

    The Acquisition of Plough Lands

    Fights for Acquisition

    Resource Crunch, Famines and Starvation Deaths

    Irrigation: Need of the Hour Peasants at Work

    Importance of Food Crops

    Private Farms and Social Differentiation

    10.​ Crops and Consumption

    Cereal Dishes: Meals and Oblations

    Puro_lāśa, Dhānā, Apūpa, Saktu

    Non-cereal Food

    Summer and Winter Crops

    Plough Lands: K_setra and Urvarā

    11.​ Drainage and Discord

    Rains and Irrigation

    River Action: Drainage and Soil Fertility

    Overground and Underground Drainage

    Lift Irrigation: Pulley and Suction

    Drought and Discord

    12.​ Language and Ethnicity

    The Harappan Sign System

    Variant Physical Types

    The Linguistic Scenario

    Primary Prākŗts, Vernacular Vedic and the Mantra Dialect

    Dravidian and Indo-Āryan

    Elamite, Vedic and Old Persian

    13.​ Ethnicity and Afterlife

    Funerary Behaviour in the `Rgveda

    Shifting Cremation Sites

    Post-exposure Disposals


    Grave Goods

    South as the Domain of Death

    The Archaeological Record



    Cemetery H


    Birds and Animals in the Afterlife




    R.N. Nandi is a former Professor of History at Patna University. His publications include State Formation, Agrarian Growth and Social Change in Feudal South India, ad 600-1200 (2000); Aryans Revisited (2001); Ideology and Environment: Situating the Origin of Vedic Culture (2009).