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Political Life of Later Vedic Aryans (Vedic Period)

Filed under: History Ancient History Vedic Period on 2021-06-28 13:19:40
Larger kingdoms were formed during the later Vedic period. Many jana or tribes were amalgamated to form Janapadas or Rashtras (the term first appeared in this period) in the Later Vedic period. Hence, the royal power increased along with the size of the kingdom. The wars were no longer fought for the cows but for the territories. 

The king was usually a Kshatriya and the office of the monarch was made almost hereditary. Traces of election of the chief or king appear in later Vedic texts but hereditary kingship was emerging. The king gradually emerged as the controller of the social order too. The king was addressed by different names across different regions. For instance, in northern regions, he was known as Virat, in eastern regions, he was called Samrat while in western and southern regions he was addressed as Svarat and Bhoja respectively.
The influence of the king was enhanced by rituals. He performed various rituals like the Rajasuya (that was believed to confer on him supreme power), the Asvamedha (to give absolute power over the territory where the royal horse ran), and the Vajapeya (where the royal chariot was made to race and win against others). These rituals boosted the king’s power and prestige.
In later Vedic times, popular assemblies lost their importance and royal power increased at its cost. The vidhata completely disappeared. The sabha and samiti continued to hold the ground, but their character changed. They came to be dominated by princes and rich nobles. Women were no longer permitted to sit on the sabha and it was now dominated by nobles and the Brahmanas.
Even in the later Vedic times, kings did not possess a standing army. During times of war, tribal units were mobilised. The king also had to partake meals from the same plate as his people to win wars.
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