Religious life in Vedic Society, Later Vedic Civilization

Religious life

Significant changes took place in religion and philosophy during this period. Many of the old gods lost their importance and new so called gods and goddesses rose in popularity. Rudra or Shiva, Vishnu or Narayan and Brahma or Prajapati became the most respected names in Godliness. Prajapati the creator or Brahma occupied the supreme position in the religion. Durga, Kali and Parvati were also worshipped. The Aryans started worshipping certain objects as symbols of divinity. Idol worship also began in this period. Rituals became more complex. Emphasis was laid on 40 samskaras. Sacrifices became more important and now they were being performed by priests only. This was done to maintain the supremacy of the Brahmanas and the Kshatriyas in the society. No ceremony was considered complete in the absence of a purohita. Therefore they got a special status in the society. The chief priests who were engaged in performing sacrifices were -Horti the invoker, Adhvaryu-the executor, Udgatri-the singer. The chief priest received voluntary offerings from the people called Bali.

New beliefs were born among the Aryans who started believing in the attainment of Nirvana through Gyan or the knowledge. The Upanishads criticized the rituals and laid stress on the value of right belief and knowledge. The conception of the material world as Maya or illusion also gained currency during this later Vedic age. Thus the tenets of Hinduism - Moksha, Karma and Maya were enunciated by the seers of the later Vedic period.