The Coming of Aryans : The Early Settlements

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It is generally believed that the Aryans came to India in groups that settled in the areas of North-Western Province in Pakistan and the Punjab which they had then named Sapt-Sindhu or the 'land of seven rivers', namely, the Indus, the Sutlej, the Ravi, the Beas, the Chenab, the Jhelum and the Saraswati. Later, they called this area Brahmavarta or 'the land of Brahma'. The Aryans were found to have been occupying the whole of the present region of Punjab from about 1500 B.C. The first group of Aryans fought against the Dravidians and other inhabitants whom they defeated and are supposed to have been pushed down towards south of India. The Aryans were also victim of infighting and inter-tribal wars.

There is an interesting reference to the inter-tribal conflicts in Rig-Veda. The most famous being the Battle of the Ten Kings. Sudas, we are told, was the king of the Bharat tribe settled in western Punjab, and Vishwamitra was his chief priest, who had conducted successful campaigns for the king. But Sudas wished to dismiss Vishwamitra and appoint another chief priest in his place, Vasishtha, since the latter was supposed to have greater priestly knowledge. This infuriated Vishwamitra, who formed a confederacy of ten tribes and attacked Sudas, but Sudas was victorious. Cattle-stealing and land disputes were probably a frequent cause of inter-tribal wars.

Wars were not confined to inter-tribal fighting alone. The Aryans had still to contend with the indigenous people of northern India, who were of non-Aryan origin. The enemies were described by Aryans as Panis and Dasas. The Panis were troublesome, as they were cattle-thieves and cattle were the main wealth of the Aryans. The fight with the Dasas were more prolonged as they were well settled in the land. The Dasas were defeated is clear from the fact that the word Dasa later came to be mean a slave. The Dasas were held to be inferior because of their darker skin and flat features quite unlike theirs.

The Aryans pushed their way along the river Ganga and Yamuna from Sapt Sindhu and by and by occupied the whole of Northern India from the Himalayas to the Vindhayas. The area was called as Aryavartha or 'the land of the Aryans'. The period between 100 B.C. and 600 B.C. during which the Aryans settled in the Gangetic valley, was known as the later Vedic age. During this period the Aryans occupied vast areas in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Bengal and other parts of North India. The events relating to Ramayana and Mahabharata took place during the later part of the Vedic period.

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