Vedic Religion


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Vedic Religion

 

the religious belief of the ancient Indians during the period of the dissolution of the primitive social structure and the formation of a class society, which has found expression in the oldest Indian literary monuments, the Vedas. The basic characteristics of the Vedic religion were deification of the forces of nature, animism, and primitive magic. Its main gods were the sky god Varuna; the goddess mother-earth Prithivia; the sun gods under the names Surya, Savitar, Mitra, Vishnu, and Pushan; the moon god Soma; the storm god Rudra; the thunder god Indra; the fire god Agni, and others. The goddess Aditi was considered the mother of the gods. According to the ideas of the Indians, the gods were in a state of permanent struggle with evil demons, the asuras. The gods and demons, almost without exception, received direct worship as the phenomena of nature.

With the growth of property and social inequality, the gods began to personify not only nature but also forces of society, for example, Indra began to appear as king of the gods and the god of war and Varuna as the guardian of order. The Vedic religion began to sanctify the social inequality of men.

The worship of the gods consisted of sacrifices to them, accompanied by the recital of hymns and magic formulas that expressed petitions to the gods. The priests constituted a peculiar estate, the varna of the Brahmans. Some traits of the Vedic religion, as the holy character of the Vedas, the elect position of the highest varnas, the worship of the gods Vishnu, Rudra-Siva, and others have been preserved in present-day Hinduism. The later Vedic religion is often called Brahmanism.

REFERENCES

Piatigorskii, A. M. Materialy po istorii indiiskoi filosofii. Moscow, 1962.
Bongard-Levin, G. M., and G. F. Il’in. Drevniaia India. Moscow, 1969. Chapter 6.
Radhakrishnan, S. Indiiskaia filosofiia, vol. 1. Moscow, 1956. (Translated from English.)
Keith, A. B. Religion and Philosophy of the Vedas and Upanishads. Cambridge-London, 1925. (Harvard Oriental Series, vols. 31-32.)

A. M. OSIPOV

References in periodicals archive ?
The Adityas of the Vedic religion, most frequently called 'Lords', and the 'Wise Lord' or 'Lord Wisdom' together with 'Lord Contract/Alliance' (Miora) and 'Lord Hospitality/Civility/Custom' (Airyaman) in Iran are unique among the Indo-European ethnicities.
We should not look for an inspiration for monotheism, since the Vedic religion clearly was not monotheistic (neither were the signers of the Mitanni treaty or the Iranian religion before Zarathustra), and it is even doubtful whether Zarathustra himself could be called a monotheist: some have called his belief a form of dualism, (120) while Kellens called Old Avestan Mazdaism tentatively "an unstable polytheism.
What the communal forces are calling as Vedic religion is as such the dominant stream which was prevalent then, Brahmanism.
Not only in the context of the Vedic religion also this type of castism is traced in all other religions.
Can we not see the process of reformulation of Vedic religion as itself the locus of contest?
After all the historiography of Vedic religion has itself entered a new period of contest.
Thus, in my view, there probably was once a single devanam asurah in earliest Vedic religion, and that god was Varuna.