The world Aryan is derived from the term `Arya' in Sanskrit, which means men of good family. It is a linguistic term. Those who spoke Vedic Sanskrit were called 'Aryans'.
They were semi-nomadic people who came to India from Eurasia.
The word Veda is derived from the Sanskrit word 'yid' which means 'to know'.
The Rig Vedic phase can be dated to 1500 to 1000 B.C.
The Rig Vedic Samhita comprises of 10 books or Mandalas, of which books II to VII are considered to be oldest.
Scholars find similarity in the language used in the Rig Veda and the Avesta; the oldest Iranian texts.
The earliest Aryans lived in the land of `Sapta Sindhava' i.e. land of seven rivers. This covered the area of eastern Afghanistan, Punjab and fringes of western U.P.
The river Sindhu identical with Indus is the river par excellence of the Aryans. Another river mentioned is Saraswati. River Yamuna is twice men-tioned and Ganga only once.
They knew the 'Himalaya' as one of its peak `Munjavant' was a source of Soma plant.
They knew nothing about the `Vindhyas' and were not familiar with the seas.
The Rig Vedic society was pastoral, and cattle were the main source and measure of wealth.
The 'Raja' or Chief was called `Gopate or one who protects cows.
In the Rig Veda, `godhuli' is used as a term for measuring of time and `gavyuti' for measuring distance.
The daughter is called `Duhitri' or one who milks the cows.
Kinship units are called `Gotra'.
A wealthy man who owned many cattle was called 'Gomat'.
The terms used for conflicts and battles in this period were (gavisthi, gavesan, gavyar, etc. The former literally meant 'to search for cows'.
Shifted agriculture was practiced.
Apart from 'Yava' or Barley, no other grain is mentioned.
The tribe was referred to as 'Jana'. The chief of the tribe was the `Gopati'. He was the leader in battle and the protector of the tribe. The warrior cat-egory was called ltajanya'.
Many clans `vis' together formed a tribe. The basic social unit was the `kula' or the family and tulapa' was the head of the family. The society was patriarchal.
Women also had an important position in the Rig Vedic society. They were educated and had access to assemblies. Women composed hymns and re-ceived Upnayana Samaskar.
The authors of the Rig Veda distinguished themselves from other groups, whom they called `dasa' and 'clasyus' (often described as dark, full lipped, snub-nosed worshippers of phallus and of hostile speech).
Various occupational groups such as those of weavers, smiths, carpenters, leather workers, chariotmakers, priests, etc. are also mentioned.
The 'Raja' or 'Chief' was called `Gopate.
Tribal conflicts led to the payment of tributes and presents i.e. 'bah' to the victorious chiefs by the defeated or the subordinate groups.
Important functionaries were Purohita' (priest), `Senani' (the leader of the army) and `Graminr (the head of the village).
Important tribal assemblies were 'Sabha' (council of select members), `Samiti' (council of whole clan), Widhata' (parent folk assembly) and `Gana'.
The Rig Vedic religion was primitive.
They venerated the natural forces around them like wind, rain, water, thun-der, fire, etc.