Historical Vedic religion

The spread of the Vedic culture in the late Vedic period. Aryavarta was limited to northwest India and the western Ganges plain, while Greater Magadha in the east was occupied by non-Vedic Indo-Aryans. The location of shakhas is labeled in maroon.
A Yupa sacrificial post of the time of Vasishka, 3rd century CE. Isapur, near Mathura. Mathura Museum.
A Śrauta yajna being performed in Kerala
Detail of the Phra Prang, the central tower of the Wat Arun ("Temple of Dawn") in Bangkok, Thailand, showing the ancient Vedic god Indra and three-headed Erawan (Airavata).
The hymn 10.85 of the Rigveda includes the Vivaha-sukta (above). Its recitation continues to be a part of Hindu wedding rituals.

The historical Vedic religion (also known as Vedicism, Vedism or ancient Hinduism), and subsequently Brahmanism (also spelled as Brahminism), constituted the religious ideas and practices among some of the Indo-Aryan peoples of northwest India (Punjab and the western Ganges plain) of ancient India during the Vedic period (1500–500 BCE).

- Historical Vedic religion

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History of India

According to consensus in modern genetics, anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa between 73,000 and 55,000 years ago.

Indian Cultural Influence (Greater India)
Dholavira, a city of Indus Valley Civilisation, with stepwell steps to reach the water level in artificially constructed reservoirs.
Archaeological remains of washroom drainage system at Lothal.
Sinauli "chariot", photograph of the Archaeological Survey of India.
An early 19th century manuscript in the Devanagari script of the Rigveda, originally transmitted orally with fidelity
Late Vedic era map showing the boundaries of Āryāvarta with Janapadas in northern India, beginning of Iron Age kingdoms in India – Kuru, Panchala, Kosala, Videha.
City of Kushinagar in the 5th century BCE according to a 1st-century BCE frieze in Sanchi Stupa 1 Southern Gate.
Manuscript illustration of the Battle of Kurukshetra.
The Mahajanapadas were the sixteen most powerful and vast kingdoms and republics of the era, located mainly across the Indo-Gangetic plains.
The Mauryan carved door of Lomas Rishi, one of the Barabar Caves, c. 250 BCE.
Silk Road and Spice trade, ancient trade routes that linked India with the Old World; carried goods and ideas between the ancient civilisations of the Old World and India. The land routes are red, and the water routes are blue.
Copper Plate Seal of Kamarupa Kings at Madan Kamdev ruins.
Kadamba shikara (tower) with Kalasa (pinnacle) on top, Doddagaddavalli.
Coin of Emperor Harsha, c. 606–647 CE.
Rohtasgarh Fort
Excavated ruins of Nalanda, a centre of Buddhist learning from 450 to 1193 CE.
Chola Empire under Rajendra Chola, c. 1030 CE.
The Delhi Sultanate reached its zenith under the Turko-Indian Tughlaq dynasty.
The Dasam Granth (above) was composed by Sikh Guru Gobind Singh.
18th century political formation in India.
The route followed in Vasco da Gama's first voyage (1497–1499).
Literacy in India grew very slowly until independence in 1947. An acceleration in the rate of literacy growth occurred in the 1991–2001 period.

This urbanisation was accompanied by the rise of new ascetic movements in Greater Magadha, including Jainism and Buddhism, which opposed the growing influence of Brahmanism and the primacy of rituals, presided by Brahmin priests, that had come to be associated with Vedic religion, and gave rise to new religious concepts.


Ashvamedha yajna of Yudhisthira
A 19th-century painting, depicting the preparation of army to follow the sacrificial horse. Probably from a picture story depicting Lakshmisa's Jaimini Bharata
Depiction of the Asvamedha in History of India (1906)
Ashvamedha of Pandavas
The horse Shyamakarna on the bank of Lake Dudumbhi, illustrating Jaimini's commentary on Ashvamedha, 19th century, Maharashtra
Samudragupta, Ashvamedha horse
The queen, reverse of last
The Dhanadeva-Ayodhya inscription, 1st century BCE, mentions two Ashvamedha rituals by Pushyamitra in the city of Ayodhya.<ref name="Kishore">Ayodhya Revisited by Kunal Kishore p.24</ref>

The Ashvamedha (अश्वमेध) was a horse sacrifice ritual followed by the Śrauta tradition of Vedic religion.


Painting of Indra on his elephant mount, Airavata, c. 1820.
Indra on his elephant, guarding the entrance of the 1st century BCE Buddhist Cave 19 at Bhaja Caves (Maharashtra).
Buddhist relief from Loriyan Tangai, showing Indra paying homage to the Buddha at the Indrasala Cave, 2nd century CE, Gandhara.
Banteay Srei temple's pediment carvings depict Indra mounts on Airavata, Cambodia, c. 10th century.
Indra is typically featured as a guardian deity on the east side of a Hindu temple.
Devraj Indra, Old Kalyan Print
Bimaran casket: the Buddha (middle) is flanked by Brahma (left) and Indra, in one of the earliest Buddhist depictions (1st century CE).
Many official seals in southeast Asia feature Indra. Above: seal of Bangkok, Thailand.

Indra (Sanskrit: इन्द्र) is an ancient Vedic deity in Hinduism.

Vedic period

Period in the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age of the history of India when the Vedic literature, including the Vedas (ca.

Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC, Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan movements.
Cremation urn of the Gandhara grave culture (c. 1200 BCE), associated with Vedic material culture
Pottery of the Painted Grey Ware culture (c. 1000–600 BCE), associated with Vedic material culture
Modern replica of utensils and falcon shaped altar used for Agnicayana, an elaborate Śrauta ritual originating from the Kuru Kingdom, 1000 BCE
A steel engraving from the 1850s, which depicts the creative activities of Prajapati, a Vedic deity who presides over procreation and protection of life
An early-19th-century manuscript of Rigveda (padapatha) in Devanagari. The Vedic accent is marked by underscores and vertical overscores in red.
Mathura anthropomorphological artefact. Copper Hoard Culture (2nd millennium CE). Mathura Museum

Vedic religion developed into Brahmanical orthodoxy, and around the beginning of the Common Era, the Vedic tradition formed one of the main constituents of "Hindu synthesis".

Homa (ritual)

A homa fire ritual
A havan at puja
A homa altar with offerings
Homa in progress

In the Vedic Hinduism, a homa (Sanskrit: होम) also known as havan, is a fire ritual performed on special occasions by a Hindu priest usually for a homeowner ("grihastha": one possessing a home).

Soma (drink)

Ritual drink of importance among the early Vedic Indo-Aryans.

Four Vedas

Both in the ancient religions of Historical Vedic religion and Zoroastrianism, the name of the drink and the plant are not exactly the same.


Indian religion and dharma, or way of life.

A Balinese Hindu family after puja at Bratan temple in Bali, Indonesia
Om, a stylized letter of Devanagari script, used as a religious symbol in Hinduism
Swami Vivekananda was a key figure in introducing Vedanta and Yoga in Europe and the United States, raising interfaith awareness and making Hinduism a world religion.
Ganesha is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon.
The Hare Krishna group at the Esplanadi Park in Helsinki, Finland
The festival of lights, Diwali, is celebrated by Hindus all over the world.
Hindus in Ghana celebrating Ganesh Chaturti
Holi celebrated at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Utah, United States.
Kedar Ghat, a bathing place for pilgrims on the Ganges at Varanasi
Priests performing Kalyanam (marriage) of the holy deities at Bhadrachalam Temple, in Telangana. It is one of the temples in India, where Kalyanam is done everyday throughout the year.
A statue of Shiva in yogic meditation.
Basic Hindu symbols: Shatkona, Padma, and Swastika.
Kauai Hindu monastery in Kauai Island in Hawaii is the only Hindu Monastery in the North American continent.
A sadhu in Madurai, India.
The Hindu Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram was built by Narasimhavarman II.

While the Puranic chronology presents a genealogy of thousands of years, starting with the Vedic rishis, scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of Brahmanical orthopraxy with various Indian cultures, having diverse roots and no specific founder.


17th century watercolour depicting Varuna (here astride the Makara), a god closely associated with Ṛta in the Vedas.

In the Vedic religion, Ṛta (/ɹ̩tam/; Sanskrit ऋत "order, rule; truth; logos") is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it.

History of Hinduism

The history of Hinduism covers a wide variety of related religious traditions native to the Indian subcontinent.

A map of tribes and rivers mentioned in the Rigveda.
Anthropomorphological artefact. Copper Hoard Culture (2nd millennium CE), Mathura. Mathura Museum.
Rigveda manuscript page, Mandala 1, Hymn 1 (Sukta 1), lines 1.1.1 to 1.1.9 (Sanskrit, Devanagari script)
A Yūpa (यूप) sacrificial pillar, one of the most important elements of the Vedic ritual. Mathura Museum.
A page of Isha Upanishad manuscript
A page of the Jaiminiya Aranyaka Gana found embedded in the Samaveda palm leaf manuscript (Sanskrit, Grantha script).
Nambūdiri Brahmin performing śrauta rites
Vāsudeva-Krishna on a coin of Agathocles of Bactria, circa 190-180 BCE. This is "the earliest unambiguous image" of the deity.
The Heliodorus pillar, commissioned by Indo-Greek ambassador Heliodorus around 113 BCE, is the first known inscription related to Vaishnavism in the Indian subcontinent. Heliodurus was one of the earliest recorded foreign converts to Hinduism.
Dashavatara Temple is a Vishnu Hindu temple build during the Gupta period.
One of the four entrances of the Teli ka Mandir. This Hindu temple was built by the Gurjara-Pratihara emperor Mihira Bhoja.
The mythology in the Puranas has inspired many reliefs and sculptures found in Hindu temples. The legend behind the Krishna and Gopis relief above is described in the Bhagavata Purana.
The Gardez Ganesha, a statue of the Hindu deity Ganesha, consecrated in the mid-8th century CE, during the Turk Shahi era, in Gardez, Afghanistan.
The Child Saint Sambandar, Chola dynasty, Tamil Nadu. He is one of the most prominent of the 63 Nayanars of the Saiva Bhakti movement.
Adi Shankara is credited with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hinduism.
An inscribed invocation to Lord Shiva in Sanskrit at the Ateshgah of Baku, west of the Caspian Sea
An aerial view of the Meenakshi Temple from the top of the southern gopuram, looking north. The temple was rebuilt by the Vijayanagara Empire.
Akbar the Great holds a religious assembly of different faiths, including Hindus, in the Ibadat Khana in Fatehpur Sikri.
The Auto-da-fé procession of the Inquisition at Goa. An annual event to publicly humiliate and punish the heretics, it shows the Chief Inquisitor, Dominican friars, Portuguese soldiers, as well as religious criminals condemned to be burnt in the procession.
Swami Vivekananda was a key figure in introducing Vedanta and Yoga in the Western world, raising interfaith awareness and making Hinduism a world religion.
1909 Prevailing Religions, map of British Indian Empire, 1909, showing the prevailing majority religions of the population for different districts
The so-called Shiva Pashupati ("Shiva, Lord of the animals") seal from the Indus Valley Civilization.
Horned deity with one-horned attendants on an Indus Valley seal. Horned deities are a standard Mesopotamian theme. 2000-1900 BCE. Islamabad Museum.<ref>{{cite book |quote=An anthropomorphic figure has knelt in front of a fig tree, with hands raised in respectful salutation, prayer or worship. This reverence suggests the divinity of its object, another anthropomorphic figure standing inside the fig tree. In the ancient Near East, the gods and goddesses, as well as their earthly representatives, the divine kings and queens functioning as high priests and priestesses, were distinguished by a horned crown. A similar crown is worn by the two anthropomorphic figures in the fig deity seal. Among various tribal people of India, horned head-dresses are worn by priests on sacrificial occasions.|editor=Catherine Jarrige|editor2=John P. Gerry |editor3=Richard H. Meadow |title=South Asian Archaeology, 1989: Papers from the Tenth International Conference of South Asian Archaeologists in Western Europe, Musée National Des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet, Paris, France, 3-7 July 1989 |date=1992|publisher=Prehistory Press|isbn=978-1-881094-03-6|page=227 |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=Ye2s6ZZ09S0C}}</ref><ref group=web>{{cite web|title=Image of the seal with horned deity |url= http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00routesdata/bce_500back/indusvalley/sacrifice/sacrifice.html |website=columbia.edu}}</ref><ref>{{cite book|title=Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus|date=2003|publisher=Metropolitan Museum of Art|isbn=978-1-58839-043-1 |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=8l9X_3rHFdEC&pg=PA403}}</ref><ref>{{cite book|title=The Indus Script. Text, Concordance And Tables Iravathan Mahadevan|page=139 |url=https://archive.org/stream/TheIndusScript.TextConcordanceAndTablesIravathanMahadevan/Corpus%20of%20Indus%20Seals%20and%20Inscriptions.%20Collections%20in%20Pakistan#page/n173/mode/2up}}</ref>
Fighting scene between a beast and a man with horns, hooves and a tail, who has been compared to the Mesopotamian bull-man Enkidu.<ref name="Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology">{{cite book |last1=Littleton |first1=C. Scott |title=Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology |date=2005 |publisher=Marshall Cavendish |isbn=978-0-7614-7565-1 |page=732 |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=u27FpnXoyJQC&pg=PA732 }}</ref>{{sfn|Marshall|1996|p=389}}<ref name="Pearson Education India">{{cite book |last1=Singh |title=The Pearson Indian History Manual for the UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Examination |publisher=Pearson Education India |isbn=9788131717530 |page=35 |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=wsiXwh_tIGkC&pg=PA35 }}</ref> Indus Valley Civilization seal.
Swastika Seals from the Indus Valley Civilization preserved at the British Museum
thumb|upright|The Hindu Shore Temple (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) at Mahabalipuram built by Narasimhavarman II
The Descent of the Ganges, also known as Arjuna's Penance, at Mahabalipuram, is one of the largest rock reliefs in Asia and features in several Hindu myths.
Expansion of Hinduism in Southeast Asia
Angkor Wat in Cambodia is one of the largest Hindu monuments in the world. It is one of hundreds of ancient Hindu temples in Southeast Asia.
Prambanan in Java is a Hindu temple complex dedicated to Trimurti. It was built during the Sanjaya dynasty of Mataram Kingdom.
Hoà Lai Towers in Ninh Thuận, Vietnam, a Hindu temple complex built in the 9th century by the Champa Kingdom of Panduranga.
Pura Besakih, the holiest temple of Hindu religion in Bali.
The last Hindu empire of India, the Maratha Empire, in 1760 CE
Ahilya Ghat, part of the Ghats in Varanasi, many of which were built by the Marathas<ref>Diana Eck, Banaras: CITY OF LIGHT, {{ISBN|978-0691020235}}, Princeton University Press</ref>
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in India
Saffron Flag of Hinduism in India

This period was followed in northern India by the Vedic period, which saw the introduction of the historical Vedic religion with the Indo-Aryan migrations, starting somewhere between 1900 BCE and 1400 BCE.

Proto-Indo-European mythology

Body of myths and deities associated with the Proto-Indo-Europeans, the hypothetical speakers of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language.

Trundholm sun chariot, Nordic Bronze Age, c. undefined 1600 BC
Portrait of Friedrich Max Müller, a prominent early scholar on the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European religion and a proponent of the Meteorological School.
Scheme of Indo-European language dispersals from c. 4000 to 1000 BCE according to the widely held Kurgan hypothesis. – Center: Steppe cultures 1 (black): Anatolian languages (archaic PIE) 2 (black): Afanasievo culture (early PIE) 3 (black) Yamnaya culture expansion (Pontic-Caspian steppe, Danube Valley) (late PIE) 4A (black): Western Corded Ware 4B-C (blue & dark blue): Bell Beaker; adopted by Indo-European speakers 5A-B (red): Eastern Corded ware 5C (red): Sintashta (proto-Indo-Iranian) 6 (magenta): Andronovo 7A (purple): Indo-Aryans (Mittani) 7B (purple): Indo-Aryans (India) [NN] (dark yellow): proto-Balto-Slavic 8 (grey): Greek 9 (yellow):Iranians – [not drawn]: Armenian, expanding from western steppe
Yama, an Indic reflex of *Yemo, sitting on a water buffalo.
Zoroastrian deities Mithra (left) and Ahura Mazda (right) with king Ardashir II.
Pair of Roman statuettes from the third century AD depicting the Dioscuri as horsemen, with their characteristic skullcaps (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).
A pre-3rd century CE, Kushan Empire statue of Agni, the Vedic god of fire.
A stone sculpture of an Apsara in the Padmanabhapuran Palace, Kerala.
Vayu, Vedic god of the wind, shown upon his antelope vahana.
Late second-century AD Greek mosaic from the House of Theseus at Paphos Archaeological Park on Cyprus showing the three Moirai: Klotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, standing behind Peleus and Thetis, the parents of Achilles.
The Hittite god Tarhunt, followed by his son Sarruma, kills the dragon Illuyanka (Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, Turkey).
The Kernosovskiy idol, featuring a man with a belt, axes, and testicles to symbolize the warrior; dated to the middle of the third millennium BC and associated with the late Yamnaya culture.

One of the earliest attested and thus one of the most important of all Indo-European mythologies is Vedic mythology, especially the mythology of the Rigveda, the oldest of the Vedas.