The Coming of Aryans : The Vedic Religion

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We get information on the religion of the Aryans from the Vedas. The Rig Veda is believed to be the oldest; and is the source of the religion of the early Vedic period. Aryans seem to have believed in monotheism. Some of the hymns express the idea that God is one, but he is called by many names. The following hymn from Rig Veda illustrates the vedic monotheism.

"They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuna and Agni; To what is one the poets give many a name; They call it Agni, Yama, Matavisvan."

The early Aryans worshipped phenomena of nature in the form of nature gods. These forces of nature were worshipped as male or female gods.

Indra was the Aryan superman, the god of strength, foremost in battle, always ready to smite dragons and demons and to destroy cities. He was the God of thunder, the rainmaker, and the victor over the forces which the Aryans could not vanquish.

Agni the God of fire, received many beautiful tributes; he dominated the domestic fireplace, and marriages were solemnized in the presence of fire, as they are to this day in Hindu rites. Fire was the purest of the five elements and was held in high esteem.

Surya (Sun), Savitri (a solar deity to whom the famous Gayatri mantra is dedicated).

Varuna was the god of water. He was the sustainer of plant and animal life. It was his responsibility to uphold the natural order.

Soma (god of intoxicating juice soma).

Yama, the god of death, had a prominent place.

Vayu (the god of winds).

Prithvi was the goddess of Earth. and Usha, the goddess of Dawn.

A characteristic feature of the Vedic religion is that male deities like Varuna, Surya and Agni were given prominence and goddesses like Prithvi and Usha occupied a subordinate position.

Although a large number of gods are referred to in the Vedas, yet the Vedic religion cannot be considered as polytheistic (having belief in more than one god). All these gods represent various phenomena of nature and were the manifestations of one Supreme God who is the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer of the universe. They called Him Ishwar, Brahma or Vishnu.

The gods were engaged in the conflict between good and evil and ultimately suppressed the evil.

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