An Outline of the Aryan Civilization  book cover
1st Edition

An Outline of the Aryan Civilization

ISBN 9781138094741
Published July 30, 2017 by Routledge
264 Pages

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents



  1. The Nature of the State
  2. 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 

  3. The Form of Government
  4. Role of Corporate Bodies: Vidatha, Sabhā, Samiti 

    The Rituals of Empowerment 

    The Aśvamedha Sacrifice 

    The Incipient Rājasūya  

  5. The City and the Citadel
  6. Vedic Gods and Walled Settlements 

    Harappan Citadels and the `Rgveda 

    Defensive Architecture 

    Construction Material 

    Grid Plan 


    Numerous Gateways 

    Fort as a Resource Centre 

  7. Merchants and Moneylenders
  8. 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 

  9. Cruising the Blue Water
  10. 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 

  11. Caravans on Dusty Tracks
  12. 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 

  13. Crafts and Craft-Working
  14. Metals and Metal-working 

    Functional Objects 

    Ayas—Copper or Just Metal? 

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

    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 

  15. Tale of the Cow-tale
  16. The Chorus of Nomadism 

    Meaning of Go 

    Buffalo or Mahişa 

    Permanent Dwellings 

  17. Peasants and Plough Lands
  18. Gods and Peasant Activities 

    Some Crucial Expressions 

    K_setrapati: The God of Plough Land 

    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 

  19. Crops and Consumption
  20. Cereal Dishes: Meals and Oblations 

    Puro]dāsa, Dhānā, Apūpa, Saktu

    Non-cereal Food 

    Summer and Winter Crops 

    Plough Lands: K_setra and Urvarā

  21. Drainage and Discord
  22. Rains and Irrigation  

    River Action: Drainage and Soil Fertility 

    Overground and Underground Drainage  

    Lift Irrigation: Pulley and Suction 

    Drought and Discord 

  23. Language and Ethnicity
  24. 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 

  25. 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 

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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).