Though Indo-Aryans were a sub-branch of Aryan family, they developed in India a unique culture compared to European and Iranian Aryans.
Main features of Vedic society:
- Society was based on Kinship and family, or Kula was the basic unit. Literature reflects patriarchal nature of society. People prayed for Praja (son).
- In society, dominance of priestly and ruling class was reflected by Chaturvarna system. The position of women and Shudras was not good.
- Dwija tradition allowed only Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas to go for Upanayana and hence for Vedic education.
- Early Vedic society the caste system was occupational grouping and social mobility high. However, in later Vedic times caste groups became permanent based on birth and social mobility reduced.
Main features of Vedic religion:
- People worshipped different aspects of nature, Ex. rain, water, fire, Prithvi. Prayers and Yagyas were important. Religion was materialistic, moksha was hardly demanded, people demanded Pashu (cattle wealth).
- By Later Vedic Age, more and more rituals emerged. Many gods became important like Vishnu, Prajapati and Rudra. Reaction to rituals also emerged in form of Upanishads.
Elements of Continuity:
- Family is still the basic unit of society, bound around idea of kinship.
- Society is still patriarchal.
- There is still prevalence of Varna system.
- Rituals and yagyas are still part of religious practices. Vishnu and Rudra are still considered prominent gods.
- Upanishads remain the base of philosophical system in India.
The continuity in the features of Vedic society and religion up to even our times almost makes it a living cultural heritage. But it is also desired that the positive elements are supported and negative ones, like secondary position given to women and depressed classes, are weeded out.