Where were the Vedas found

3. THE VEDIC CULTURE (approx. 1750–500 BC) 3. The Vedic culture Knowledge of the early Vedic period (approx. 1750 to 1200 BC) is essentially based on books I to IX of the Rigveda and Old Iranian sources. The center of the action is here in the north-west of India and Pakistan; the Ganges is mentioned only once. It is a culture that knows neither rice cultivation nor tigers, elephants or monkeys. There are no words for writing or iron in this text. There were no cities; the word for it, nagara, is not yet found in the Rigveda; the Sanskrit word grāma ("village") still means "clan of wandering shepherds" (Wilhelm Rau) in Vedic Sanskrit. There were numerous fights among the Āryas and with indigenous people, because some hymns speak of a battle of the gods with dark, demonic Dāsas, and one of the main gods is Indra, among other things a god of war. The pantheon, which in some cases still has a clear relationship with the gods of the ancient Iranians and also the Greeks, knows gods as form-like natural phenomena, defined moral principles, deified powers and demons. However, only a few "personal" gods appear, as are characteristic of Hinduism. The Veda consists mainly of religious texts, devoid of any interest in the world of others or history. The focus is on the ritual and especially the sacrifice, a self-contained world. The sacrificial service took place in the open air or in simple sacrificial huts with changing sacrificial sites. The preparation of the hallucinogenic soma drink for the gods and priests on altars layered with mud bricks played a major role. Animal sacrifices, including cattle sacrifices, were common, and there were cyclical festivals on the full or new moon. The priesthood was probably not hereditary; in poet-priestly families the hymns were memorized and their ways of singing were rehearsed. In religious life, magic played a prominent role. 3. The Vedic culture 805 This is how the early Vedic culture can be sketched in a few words.75 Details still need to be deepened, whereby some fundamental questions arise: What is this knowledge, called "Veda", based on? How suitable is the Rig Veda as a historical source? Are there any other sources? Why did the ancient Indian fire sacrifice develop into an all-encompassing ritual? How did the world view that was based entirely on the victim take shape? Was the exclusive victim knowledge so extensive that it led to an extensive and unique production of knowledge in many areas (grammar, medicine, mathematics, astral sciences, philosophy, etc.)? And was that science then? Or is it more of a "pre-scientific science" 76? And how did the great liberation teachings develop from this knowledge, which shape India to this day? Historiography Not only literary history, but also historiography, which is based on textual evidence, usually begins in India with the Rigveda, the oldest parts of which were probably written by five to six families of poets. So the text has a limited view of the world, and a mythical one at that. In addition, for a long time the Rig Veda was only passed on orally, which could have caused errors in tradition. The first written version of the text probably dates from the 5th century AD, the oldest manuscript, however, only from the beginning of the 15th century, the first edition - by Friedrich Max Müller - from the years 1849–1874. Although comparisons of different, distant recitation styles have shown that the traditions of transmission are astonishingly stable and congruent, a certain skepticism about the narrative is appropriate. Texts such as the epics and Purānas, the majority of which contain collections of myths and which in India were also passed down orally for a long time mainly by the aristocracy and the people, give a different historical picture. These are much younger and date from the last third of the 1st millennium BC at the earliest. BC, but they contain at least some kind of historiography. Two reports stand out: that of a great flood and that of a great war, the battle on the Kuru field, which is the focus of the Mahābhārata epic. These historical narratives largely belong to the realm of mythical historiography. There is hardly any reliable data to be found in them. "Quicksand in all directions," says Roberto Calasso.77 Nevertheless, such sources do not mean that they do not also contain memories of historical times. South Asia and Southeast Asia806 So it is likely that the successful fight of the Bharata chief Sudās against ten tribes mentioned in the 7th book of Rigveda took place on the banks of the Parushni and Ravi rivers. For a long time these sources were viewed as unreliable, and even assumed that the Indians lacked historical awareness. For Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, influenced by Friedrich Schiller's famous inaugural speech in Jena What does it mean and what end does one study universal history? (1789), even all non-European peoples were without history, including India and China: «Because the Indians have no history as history, for that reason they have no history as deeds (res gestae), i.e. no development into a truly political state of affairs. ”78 Hegel's assessment, although incorrect in its generalization, still applies to the Rigveda. Deeds - there are the works of the gods and the ritual. Karma still means "ritual" until it became the term for retaliation and teachings on the migration of souls. And there is no doubt that India did not produce Herodotus, Thucydides, or Livy. Historiography that claims to be universally valid and scientific does not really exist in India any more than in the West before the 18th century. Nevertheless, the many chronicles and certain parts of the Purānas belong to a misunderstood category of historiography, which can contain memories of very early times. It is important to verify these narratives in a comparison with myths and narratives of other cultures and, if at all possible, archaeologically “suitable” finds. The importance of the epics and Purānas for the early Vedic period has therefore only been recognized more recently.79 With this reservation that the Vedic and early epic-Purānic texts only reproduce an excerpt from life in the second and first half of the first millennium BC, are largely religious or mythical, but other languages ​​and cultures existed, of which we have no direct linguistic evidence, we can now turn to the content. Vedic literature Only collections (saṃhitā) as well as texts that follow in terms of content and time (Brāhmanas, Āranyakas and Upanishads), which all contain the knowledge revealed by seers, are considered Veda in the narrower sense. 80 This Veda, etymologically related to "knowledge", belongs to the oldest religious literature in the world. In the local tradition, the Veda is divided into “what is heard” (śruti), revelation, 81 and “what is remembered” (smṛti), which means the texts written by people. Narrated 3. The Vedic Culture 807 is the Veda in various Vedic schools (śākhā, literally "branch"). This "knowledge" was regarded as esoteric priestly secret knowledge that was reserved for the Brahmins. The Brahmins remained skeptical of the printing of Vedic texts until the 20th century. Such skepticism was based on the idea that the power inherent in the exact poet's word was to be preserved with the utmost precision. “The accuracy is so great,” writes Michael Witzel, “that you can think of a kind of tape recording from around 1000 BC. Can speak. Not only the exact wording, but every syllable has been preserved, and even the tone accent, which died out about 2000 years ago, is still recited today. ”82 Incorrect accentuation can have devastating consequences. In Shatapathabrāhmana (I, 6,3,8), an ancient Indian text from around the 8th century BC For example, the demiurge Tvashtr emphasized three words so wrongly that it destroyed him instead of the god Indra. Indra had himself got hold of the soma intoxicating drink, Tvashtr was angry about it and he poured the remains of the soma into the deifi ed Agni fire. He addressed the fire with the words: Indraśatrur vardhasva. However, he did not put the accent on the first term of the compound, which would have resulted in the intended meaning "wax, which you destroyer of Indra", but on the last syllable, so that it means "wax, which you have Indra as destroyer" received, whereby Agni or the protective fire was extinguished. It was essential to avoid any change in the Veda. A symbol for this is a ritual scene during the Hindu initiation (upanayana), as it is still practiced today among the Brahmanically initiated Hindus: The initiate receives the Rigveda from the teacher (guru) in a form shortened to a mantra and under a blanket that shields the outside world taught. The fact that the Veda froze through such exclusive mediation traditions means that most Indians are not familiar with its content today. The oldest text of the Veda and of Indian literature in general is the Rigveda, the «knowledge of the Rik verses». It is a collection of 1,028 metrical hymns, proverbs and verses with more than ten thousand stanzas, compiled in ten books, addressed to many gods. The text has almost only come down to us in one review. The core of the work was written by poets who were employed by about five ruling clans. These are books II to VII, the so-called family books, which are arranged according to invoked gods, number of verses and meter, so that interpolations can be recognized more easily. The dating of the Rig Veda and the Vedic literature in general is controversial. The majority of Vedists assume that the earliest parts date well before the beginning of the Iron Age - from the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. BC or a few centuries earlier - and that the compilation was around 1200 to 1000 BC. Was completed. Attempts to set the age much higher and to idealize a Vedic age are not sufficiently verifiable. The following texts of Vedic literature go back to the 4th century BC. And are concluded with house ritual texts (Grihyasūtras). The Rigveda can hardly have developed out of the Harappa culture: Cities with large brick buildings, the irrigation system, the seals, the writing including words for scribes or writing tools or terracotta statues are searched in vain in this text. The Sāmaveda, the "knowledge of the melodies (sāman)", sung by the singer-priest, is text-identical to the Rigveda except for about 78 songs and is actually a songbook, comparable to biblical psalms and used for the liturgical support of the acts of sacrifice. The Yajurveda, the “knowledge of the sacrificial sayings” (yajus), murmured by the ritually dominant “sacrificial priest” (adhvaryu), contains ritual instructions for the performance of sacrifices. The Atharvaveda, the «knowledge of the (magic spells of the) Atharvans», contains mostly metrical hymns - about one sixth of the hymns are identical to the Rigveda - which mainly deal with the defense against demons and calamity. Although the Atharvaveda partly contains something older than the Rigveda, it was not recognized as an authoritative collection for a long time. Later the Atharvaveda was nominally assigned to the high priest (brāhmaṇa). The Vedic collections are followed by the Brāhmana texts, which already herald the advance into the Ganges plain. These are prose texts with regulations for carrying out and explaining the sacrificial ritual. The final part of the Brāhmanas are the Āranyakas ("wilderness texts"), which contain interpretations of the sacrificial ritual which, because of their magical danger, had to be taught outside the settlements. Part of the Āranyakas are the Upanishads, the so-called secret teachings of ancient India. In these texts, often formulated as doctrinal conversations, embedded in natural philosophical concepts and based on the sacrificial ritualistic background, the gradual transition from ritual to philosophy is articulated. The doctrine of the migration of souls, the doctrine of the identity of the individual soul (ātman) with the absolute (brahman) and the ascetic ideal of life as a forest hermit find their first expression here. They are texts in which one seeks knowledge and asks about life after death. The Vedic literature in the broader sense (smṛti, see table) usually includes the auxiliary sciences (vedāṅga), sometimes also the epics, Purānas and sometimes other scientific texts based on the shruti. The Mahābhārata epic in particular suggests an early state at its core. It deals with a battle between two related groups, the Kauravas and Pandavas, which eventually leads to a battle on the Kuru Field, which is to be settled in the northwest of the subcontinent. In its expression in more than a hundred thousand double verses, the epic reflects a younger world in which the formation of states has long been completed. 3. Vedic culture 809 Table 1: The Veda - revelation (shruti) and tradition (smriti) SHRUTI revelation (literally “what has been heard”) = Veda in the narrower sense: Samhitās (collections): Rigveda, Sāmaveda, Yajurveda, Atharvaveda Explanatory texts : Brāhmanas and Āranyakas Philosophical teachings: Upanishads SMRITI tradition (literally "The remembered") = Veda in the broader sense: Vedānga ("members of the Veda") or auxiliary sciences: Shikshā (phonetics), Vyākarana (grammar), Nirukta (etymology), Chandas (metric), Jyotisha (astral sciences) and Kalpa (ritual), the latter consisting of Shrautasūtras (sacrificial texts), Grihyasūtras (house ritual texts), Dharmasūtras (texts on law and custom) and others Epics: Rāmāyana, Mahābhārata (with Bhagavadgītā) Sectarian and theistic literature Science (Shāstra) Philosophy Six systems: Sāmkhya Yoga Nyāya Vaisheshika Mīmāmsā Vedānta Legal literature Dharmāshastra Nibashātra (architecture) (Shātishāmā) Nashātāstra (dance) other sciences (music) Nashātāstra (politics) Jyotisha (astronomy) Vyākarana (grammar) Alamkārashāstra (aesthetics) Āyurveda (medicine) and others Comments, compendia, manuals, etc. As can be seen from the chronologically staggered table on Vedic literature, a number of auxiliary sciences and actual sciences developed from the revealed texts. It was always important to preserve and reproduce the revelation correctly, that is, with the correct wording and intonations. As with any sacred text, there were also increasing problems of interpretation, so that a long, differentiated exegetical literature followed. After all, they wanted to know what the hymns and rituals mean. In this search for true knowledge and interpretations, criticism was inevitable. In the end it even led to the negation of all rituals and the Veda itself, culminating in large groups of ascetics, from which South Asia and Southeast Asia in 810, among others, the Buddha and Mahāvīra, the founder of Jainism, emerged. The many scientific texts that were handed down in Vedic schools led to a number of large, fundamental and in individual cases still valid today. In the Shulvasūtras, geometric texts that were used to build the altars, before Euclid the Pythagorean theorem was formulated without application and the circumference was precisely calculated; 83 this is how the grammarian Pānini (probably 4th century BC) discovered the shrinkage stage in the Indo-European sound laws; thus the astral sciences reached a high level; and so basic medical knowledge was gained in Āyurveda. Society The chronological structure of the Veda corresponds to the spatial extension from the Panjab to the Ganges plain. Whether this is an infiltration and acculturation of Indo-Aryan-speaking groups or “just” a population movement from west to east (and south) remains to be seen in view of the uncertain findings. The movement to the east was also ritually given, because the gods sit in the east and the fire also moves there. It was noticeable that these groups did not build permanent houses, although they must have somehow come into contact with the urban Harappa culture. Were the Vedic Indians unable or unwilling to build houses? There is much to suggest that they did not want to live in walled houses, although they built their sometimes large altars from fired and unfired bricks, so they probably had the knowledge for brick houses.But apparently they were more like wandering “cowboys” who formed a parallel culture to the urban settlements of the Harappa culture. At the beginning of the waves of immigration, the geographical area through which these Indo-Aryans moved is eastern Afghanistan, Swat and the Panjab - the land of the "Seven Rivers" (sapta sindhu), as it is called in the Rigveda. The identity of these rivers changes, but they are all located in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, especially the Indus with its tributaries. The Rig Veda does not yet really know the Ganges, which is only mentioned in the late tenth book, nor the areas in southern Pakistan (Sindh), Rajasthan and Gujarat, in which important sites of the Harappa culture are located. The vegetation is characterized by the humid climate and large forests. At the beginning of the first millennium, the Brāhmana and Upanishad texts almost exclusively contain toponyms from the Mesopotamian region between the Ganges and Yamuna. According to the grammarian Patan 3. The Vedic culture 811 jali (approx. 150 BC) the "(area) of the wandering of the Ārya" (āryavārta) lies between the Thar desert in the west and the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna in the East. Only from the 2nd century BC The Brahmins took over the areas to the east of it. The early Vedic "Indians" were pastoral, semi-nomadic, not always friendly tribes, but they united in the struggle against the local population. About thirty of them are mentioned in the Rig Veda. Some of them like the Purus or the Bharatas seem to have been more leading than others. Many hymns have to do with these wars. The gods are invoked for assistance and victory, especially Indra. There was fighting against named non-Aryan tribes, but also against hostile groups of the Indo-Aryans. According to their way of life, the focus was on the herds of cattle, with which they had to keep moving to open up new pastureland. Most of the time, people moved along the rivers. In some places, the dense bushland had to be prepared and prepared, for example by slash-and-burn. Grain was also grown in the process. However, there were no distinct and stable trading centers. The cow was worshiped but did not yet have the status of a sacred animal as in Hinduism. Many words for cow pens, cowherd or cow dung prove the meaning of the cows. A tribal chief was also called the “cowherd of the people” (janasya gopati), the daughter's name was duhitri (“the one who milks”). Despite (or because of?) The large herds of cows, cows were sacrificed.84 Ancient India had no vegetarianism. Even the influential code of Manu (Manusmriti), written around the turn of the millennium, accepts, albeit in an ambivalent form, various animal sacrifices: «The self-born (creator) himself created the cattle for the sacrifice, and the sacrifice is for the good this whole world; therefore in the victim killing is not killing. Herbs, livestock, trees, wild animals, and birds that are killed for a sacrifice have higher births in return. [...] A self-controlled twice-born who lives in the house, with a guru or in the wilderness should never, not even in times of need, commit a killing that is not sanctioned by the Veda. One should know that the killing sanctioned and prescribed by the Veda is a non-harm in this mobile and immobile [world of living beings]; for this Dharma comes from the Veda. »85 Significantly, a Sanskrit word for plow (la )gala) is not an Indo-Aryan word, but comes from Munda or Dravidian.86 This does not mean, however, that the wooden plow drawn by the water buffalo came later, possibly by the Indoarians was discovered. Rather, the early agrarian, pre-Harappic cultures point to its existence; so it was probably adopted by the natives as well as by the Indo-Aryans. The farming community in South Asia and Southeast Asia812 was characterized by the cultivation of various types of grain, sesame, millet, and vegetables; Fertilization was just as well known as artificial irrigation through built ditches. The word for rice (vrīhi), which was already proven in the Harappa culture, but only occurs as wild rice in Rigveda, is not Indo-Aryan. The transition to the rice industry in the Ganges Delta is a serious turning point, because rice cultivation requires long-term planning and a sophisticated irrigation system, and consequently sedentarism. In addition, it favors a surplus production more than grain cultivation. Iron implements were only found in late Vedic times, for example in Yajurveda and Atharvaveda or Taittirīya-Samhitā, but metal implements made of copper or bronze, such as razors, ax and bracelets, are probably mentioned in Rigveda. The common word ayas cannot be clearly assigned to a metal. The words for animals also show the migration from west to east. Elephant, tiger and rhinoceros do not appear in the Rig Veda or only in younger parts. Even the water buffalo, which is now ubiquitous in India, is not yet mentioned in the Rigveda. The hunt is comparatively insignificant in this text. On the gray painted ceramics (Painted Gray Ware, PGW), which from the 10th century BC BC was found in the core area of ​​Vedic culture, images of pigs and water buffalo can be found. The Āryas largely stayed away from the other population groups. Again and again they emphasize their exclusivity. Sanskrit was their language. Anyone who could not and was not allowed to learn was an ostracized person, a barbarian, a mleccha. In the beginning the demarcation was in two parts: the ārya-varna and the dāsa-varna, whereby varna ("color") did not denote the color of the skin and not, as later, a social class, but simply referred to the external appearance. It did not mark any racial difference; other Indo-Aryans who might have immigrated before were also called Dāsas. Despite all the demarcation, indigenous groups have gradually been integrated into the religious and economic life of the Indo-Aryans. From this a class society with four groups increasingly developed, as they appear in the late Purusha hymn of the Rigveda (10.90). It says that the four states arose from the mouth, arms, thighs and feet of the primordial being Purusha. In the classic middle and late Veda form, the top is the dvija, the "twice-born" who are allowed to learn or hear the Veda. They are so called because, in addition to their natural birth, they are also initiated and thereby born into the Veda. These twice-born are divided into a teaching, a defense and a nursing class, that is, the Brahmins, the warrior nobility (Kshatriya) and the Vaishyas, which included farmers and certain craftsmen. Evidence of a strong traders 3. The Vedic culture 813 are not found. At the lower end of this stratification are the Shūdras, casteless or Dalits, as they are called today, who work for the higher classes or carry out unclean activities, sometimes in serfdom or as slaves. Daily life was determined by work, but also left space for dance and music, dice games and chariot races. This early Vedic society was based on the division of labor, but not yet a caste society. There were blacksmiths, potters, tanners, carvers, wagon builders, washers, dyers, weavers, woodworkers and many more. Only when the social groups separated themselves from one another through rigorous rules of behavior - especially with regard to contact, eating together and marriages - did a society emerge in which social advancement of an individual was hardly possible because one was born into his caste. Only entire castes could attain a higher status by changing ways of life and professional activities or by decree of a ruler. The dominant social unit in early Vedic India was the clan or family group. In the early Vedic period people lived together in wagon castles (pure) with a less hierarchical structure. It was a patriarchal and patrilineal structure. The birth of a son counted everything, it was inherited from father to first son. The woman was involved in rituals, had limited access to knowledge, but there were no priestesses, and the woman was not allowed to perform the Vedic rituals without her husband. She was allowed to remarry after her husband's death, apparently not infrequently to a brother of her husband in the so-called levirate marriage. There was no (self) burning of widows, even if a passage in the Veda was reinterpreted for legitimation in the 12th century AD.87 Polyandry was practiced, albeit not often, as was cross-cousin marriage, which is characteristic of the Dravidian south is. Goddesses are not as prominent in the Rigveda as they are probably in the Harappa culture, if one can interpret the many female figurines as revered objects that way. Of the more than a thousand hymns of the Rig Veda, only around 15 are dedicated to female deities. So there was no reason to idealize the position of women in Vedic times, as Hindu nationalist authors have sometimes attempted. The leader (rāja / rājan) was primarily a chief or tribal leader with military power, and his essential role was to protect his tribe (jana) and to lead the conquest of pastures for the large herds of cattle. There were assemblies (sabhā, samiti) of superiors, but their function is not made clear in the Rig Veda. It was primarily about land grabbing and raids, but not yet settling down. His wages were part of the raids in which houses, animals, primarily horses and cows, land, jewelry or people (children, women, slaves) were conquered. But above all, he was also the patron saint of the victim. He rivaled the priest in South Asia and Southeast Asia in 814 for power and authority, until later the tasks were more clearly distributed: the Brahmin had spiritual and spiritual authority, the king, as the supreme organizer of sacrifices, had power. Both were dependent on each other, not least because of a sophisticated system of giving and giving in return; both tried to keep the rest of the population in check. The Gods The gods migrated with the people, but the Indo-Aryans did not migrate to the gods.88 The gods were not anchored in the ground, not tied to any fixed place. They loved to wander, "they do not need sleep, they travel tirelessly" (Rigveda 8: 2, 18). They therefore had to be called to the sacred arena and the sacrificial site and worshiped. Outside of that, beyond the ritual, everything was hostile, uncertain, and untrue. The altars were therefore rebuilt each time, there were no permanent temples yet. Without an epicle, without invocations and invitations from the gods, nothing would work. The sacrifices were aimed at epiphany and the temporary presence of the gods. They were entertained in and with the sacrifice, the fire was the bearer of the sacrificed gifts. They were then very close, appeared in people, animals, plants, words and objects, but not yet iconically in pictures or statues. The Vedic religion was polytheism. Traditionally, the number of their gods is limited to 33; this became 33 million in Hinduism. In fact, the number is indeterminable, because the gods had many names and usually several tasks. One cannot say that this is the god of wind and the other is the god of fire, even if the gods certainly have core areas that characterize them. But they all have one thing in common: the fight against the Asuras, the demonic forces. The pantheon consists of the gods of nature and the gods of order, or rather of deified forces of nature to which the Indo-Aryans were violently exposed, but also of moral and ethical principles that reflect something of the social structures of order. It also consists of forces and powers that can be passed on to the gods and demons. Agni, for example, is god "fire" (cf. Latin ignis), but also priest, messenger of the gods and the personification of the sacrifice. According to a legend of Shatapathabrāhmana (I, 4,1,10-13), the fire falls from the mouth of King Māthava when his house priest addresses him with a verse from Rigveda in which Agni mentions the beloved clarified butter. Indra, the god most invoked in the Rig Veda, is among other things the god "thunderstorm", but Indra is also the slinger of the thunderbolt (vajra), god of war and ruler of the worlds, conqueror of the serpent demon Vritra, whom he is with. 3. The Vedic Culture 815 kills a thunderbolt, freeing the waters to end a great drought. Depending on the myth, he is a friend, comrade or king of men. What is heaven and what is earth is not always easy to determine. It seems that some hymns were written in the mist of the soma drink, a drunkenness from the mountains of the north, presumably pressed from a hallucinogenic mushroom, "for the gods love the incomprehensible," as it is in Shatapathabrāhmana (VI, 1 , 1,2) is called. Indra herself loves the soma drink, which is used in the Vedic ritual and the effect of which is described in various ways: it sharpens the senses, wakes up, makes you strong in battle and stimulates the poets.89 Varuna, the god of divine order and truth (ṛta ), enthroned in the golden hall of heaven with a thousand gates and pillars, is the definition of a term, an ethical principle, comparable to the Roman goddesses Victoria or Justitia. He sometimes rivals Indra for rule, one with morality, the other with his strength. There are (still) hardly any hierarchies, no overlord for everyone, even if Indra, Varuna, Prajāpati and Agni stand out. There are several gods of creation: Brahmā and Brihaspati, the overlords of sacrifice, Vishvakarman, the divine architect, or Daksha-Prajāpati, the demiurge. Other gods are more like human gods. Purusha is "man" and primordial being, similar to Manu, the first "man" and primordial father. Yama is ruler over the dead, but also the first mortal. The Brāhmana priests are people and at the same time incarnations of the Veda and thus «human» gods: «Indeed, there are two kinds of gods, for the gods are absolutely the gods, and the brahmins who study and teach the sacred knowledge are them human gods. " (Shatapathabrāhmana II, 2,2,6) Gods can also manifest themselves as animals or in trees, plants or stones. And they can be lifeless or active forces, sometimes benevolent, sometimes hostile, almost a little moody. For example Soma, the divine “juice of life” and drink of immortality, Manyu (literally “fighting rage”), Tapas (“heat”, embers, power, asceticism), Tejas (“light”, heat, heat, energy), Māyā ( Miraculous power, later illusion) or Takman («fever»). Martin Buber's question as to whether one should call God you or it remained unanswered for the ancient Indians. Both a personified figure and the opposite, "impersonalization" (Max Weber) are possible. Brahman can designate the Veda or an abstract word formula, but also the high god of the same name, then usually called Brahmā. Likewise - later - śhakti can mean goddess and (female) power. «Sacrifice, individual acts of sacrifice, doing, knowing, abilities, cosmic and religious values, space, time, lust, anger, sleep, honor, friendship, truth, hunger, beauty, being born, old age, death, ritual acts, sayings "Meter measures, in short everything that exists at all, that has a name, can be viewed as an independent reality, understood as a thing, addressed as a person, revered as power." 90 South Asia and Southeast Asia816 In this way the victim can become an agent himself and simply run away or the house may tremble with fear when its owner returns. Theft, evil, truth, fame, power can enter or leave the body like substances. One is afraid of the touch and contagion. The knife itself has the power to cut and kill, not just whoever is holding it. Powers and powers are the central concepts of the divine in this world. One is afraid of the powers that be, tried to protect oneself, but only vaguely knows about them. Gods, powers and powers always have to be appeased. This ancient Indian attitude to take the gods as powers and potencies is the basis for the unified teaching of the Upanishads as well as for the sacrificial ritualism, for the one and the many. Where the highest is thought to be diverse and the gods are not omnipotent, there is not submission and obedience required, but empowerment. Anyone who has or knows the equivalent of what gods and humans determine, can identify with the highest, regardless of whether this is philosophical-spiritual, theistic-devotional or, as is so often the case, ritualistic. The personal and individual structures of the gods are hardly tangible in the Rigveda, but it is their activities - even if it is only for a brief moment or a limited section.The classical philologist Hermann Usener (1834–1905) called this phenomenon “gods of the moment” with reference to the Greco-Roman world of gods. The gods hardly have a family life, the family relationships are unclear and changing like the identities: Sarasvatī, for example, like all river goddesses, is an anthropomorphic goddess, but also a divine river, Ushas is the mother or lover of the sun, and the goddess welfare (Shrī) appears independent as the goddess "earth", but also as the companion of Vishnu or Agni. Above all, however, no distinction is made between "spirit and matter, between living and inanimate, person and non-person, between abstractions and concrete, between substances and the properties, processes and conditions that come to light." 91 Even doubts about the existence of Gods stir. Spirits and demons are the adversaries of gods and humans, the Apsaras (water nymphs), Gandharvas (demons in the realm of air or light), Rākshasas (evil spirits), Pishācas (corpse demons) and above all the powerful (snake) demon Vritra and the Asuras, actually more than demons, counter-gods or fallen gods, in the Avesta still gods, and the Dāsyu / Dāsas, enemies of the gods and forces of the dark. Thus, in the warlike conflicts between the gods and hostile powers, in the forms of rule, in the alliances to which the divine hosts are formed, in the superior power of the forces of nature, in the constant unrest of the gods, the social and economic situation also appears. Press the Vedic culture 817, in which there was not yet a supreme power recognized by all tribes. The gods are versatile powers in this world that need to be known in order to avoid disaster. They are not only friends of people, they too are subject to powerful forces and adversaries. The gods have personal traits, but at the same time they are also substances that can manifest themselves in natural phenomena, stones, animals, plants and humans. The unity behind the diversity, which was so much sought after from the Middle Ages, is only timidly revealed. The gods are strong and weak, they too are mortal (Shatapathabrāhmana XI, 1,2,12) and have to be cared for - through the sacrifice. In this way a mutual dependency developed, but also what was a hubris for the Greeks, the "presumption" of being able to rule the gods if one knows about the laws to which they, like humans, are subject. “Whoever knows such things” (ya evam veda) is the standard formula for ruling the world and the gods. «Knowledge», Veda, is the magic word. The ritual The Vedic sacrificial ritual is a gift to the gods, power transmission, the creation of a community of sacrifices, sometimes also a kind of magical bribery on the basis of the binding do ut des, "I give so that you give". But in ancient India and from the Indian point of view it is even more, it is "all this" (idam sarvam) .92 It is no less than the place where the whole world and the world beyond meet. There have been many ritualistic cultures, says Roberto Calasso in a fine observation, for example ancient Rome, “but for the Vedic people the highest concentration of thought lay in the (ritual) gesture - and for a higher purpose. To think the brahman, which is the utmost (the absolute) of everything, means to be the brahman. ”93 There is no lack of rituals in the early and middle Vedic period, 94 even if it is difficult to say in detail when they arose.95 There were fire sacrifices (yajña, homa), above all the daily burnt offering (agnihotra), animal sacrifices, even occasional human sacrifices and sacrifices with the pressing of the Soma divine drink. From the Middle Vedic period onwards, house sacrifices are organized by the householder and his wife and sometimes with a house priest. Examples are the rituals of passage to birth, initiation, marriage, death etc. or the morning and evening rituals. The less practiced "public" sacrifices, called shrauta, are only allowed to perform brahmin priests, in the extreme up to 17, who are usually appointed by a wealthy victim organizer (yajamāna). The sacrificial rituals require a precise knowledge of the texts, a large number of specialists and numerous sacrificial materials. South Asia and Southeast Asia818 There were always occasions for sacrifices: at the new and full moon, at the beginning of spring, rainy season and cooler time, when plowing the first furrow or when harvesting. Immortality or the avoidance of death in the hereafter were declared goals as well as individual wishes for health, livestock, wealth, harm to enemies, atonement for evil deeds. A special ritual was the consecration in the Veda (dīkṣā) or the royal consecration (rājasūya), in individual cases with a horse sacrifice (aśvamedha), in which a horse was allowed to roam freely for a year until it was killed. The rituals were mostly fire rituals, because fire is the focus of social and religious life in ancient India. It was a hearth and a place of sacrifice. The place of sacrifice was designed around the fire or fire. During the great rituals there were three fire altars: in the west the circular altar for the boiling of the offerings (gārhapatya); in the east the rectangular altar for cooking the sacrificial rice (āhavanīya) and in the south the semicircular altar for warding off the evil forces (dakṣiṇāgni). In the middle was the holy place (vedi), where sacrifices and gods meet. Everything was precisely measured and layered according to specially developed geometric rules. The altars could - as in the case of the fire altar layering (agnicayana), in which the altars were constructed in the shape of a large bird - take on considerable dimensions. So the sacrifice could fly to heaven and conquer the heavenly worlds. Many sacrificial utensils and vessels had to be made available at the Vedi, including the important sacrificial spoons with which the clarified butter was poured into the fire. In the middle stood the sacrificial stake to which the sacrificial animal was tied. Every ritual act was accompanied by mantras and exclamations, only then was it effective. The offerings - regardless of whether they were food such as milk, barley, rice or clarified butter or living beings - were partially destroyed in the fire and thus reached the gods with the smoke of the fire. In the end there was a sacrificial wage (dakṣiṇā) for the priest or priests. In the Middle Vedic period, the fire sacrifice cult was liturgically established in the Brāhmana texts. There was a fundamental turning point: the victim was identified with the victim. First, Prajāpati, the first victim, was the victim. He created the world by dismembering himself and reassembling himself in sacrifice. In this way, self-development and creation come together in the sacrifice, indissolubly. But basically the sacrifice did not need Prajāpati or other gods or humans. It existed in itself like a law of nature. In its arbitrariness it was even dangerous for humans. Whoever knew that the sacrifice is dangerous, eternal, immortal, attained, so the Brāhmana texts say, himself immortality. This construction led to the possibility of being able to identify the victim with knowledge (veda). The gods were the first to acquire knowledge, sacrifice and thus immortality 3. The Vedic culture in 819; it became her self (ātman). At first the gods did not want to give the knowledge to humans. They felt pressured. But the seers discovered it and passed it on, albeit not to everyone, but only to authorized persons, the Brahmins, who had to pass it on from father to son. Thus, the identification chain sacrifice = knowledge = immortality = prajāpati (gods) could be supplemented by the link “human being”: “Verily, the human being is the victim”, it says several times in the Brāhmanas. But man is not the victim qua nature (birth), but only when he becomes a victim, that is, when he is ritually identified with him: «Unborn, man (man) is truly unborn as long as he does not sacrifice. Through the sacrifice he is born like an egg breaks »(Jaiminīya-Upanishadbrāhmana III, 14,8). If - according to the further thought - a person were to become a victim through birth, the victim could also die. But the sacrifice is at the same time identical with everything and thus also with the gods, and these are immortal. That this construction brought with it a riddle - How can mortal man be identical with immortal? - has not remained hidden from the ancient Indians. The solution could only be found ritually: the son does not basically follow the father, but is identical with him. This is exactly what is presented in an elaborate and symbolic way in the initiation. With this, however, the right to make victims was genealogically bound, and the knowledge of the victim could only be found in the circle of one's own clans and modern replication of the utensils for a fire altar in the shape of a bird (agnicayana). Building an altar in the shape of a bird was one of the great Vedic rituals. The photograph from 2011 shows the preparation of an Agnicayana ritual in Maharashtra. You can see patterns for the shape of the bricks and numerous objects, especially pots and spoons that were used for the ritual. South Asia and Southeast Asia 820 clans are held. It had become exclusive, it had broken away from ordinary, uninitiated people. The identification of the victim with the victim and the word (Veda) was the most momentous of the many identifications made in the Brāhmana texts. It led to the internalization of the victim, to the elimination of the victim from social life and, through asceticism, ultimately to the renunciation of the practiced victim. As a result, the ancient Indian religion developed in two ways: on the one hand, the Vedic ritual became more and more complex and developed into a science of its own; 96 on the other hand, it was negated and thus overcome in Hindu ascetic movements, in Buddhism and Jainism. The Indologist Jan Heesterman (1920–2014) has shown that this fundamental identification of victim and self is a key to understanding not only the sacrificial ritual, but also the high degree of individualism of the teachings of salvation in the Brahmanic-Sanskrit Hindu religion: «The Sacrifice forms his karman [the word in this context means both sacrifice and deed] in sovereign independence from the mortal world. His karman is his self. The sacrificial fire established by one's own karman is equivalent to one's inner self. Regardless of the mortal world, it can only be immortal and inalienable. This creates an inextricable connection between fire, self and immortality. ”97 Despite its outstanding historical significance, the content of the Veda is hardly known today. In many ways it has frozen into a mere sign. Hardly any Hindu today will be able to say what is in the Rig Veda and the many other Vedic texts - perhaps with the exception of the Upanishads. There are also practically no religious occasions in which the meaning of the Veda plays a central role, although its verses are recited as mantras in rituals, the meaning of which is often not known to the priests either. Nevertheless, most Hindus still consider the Veda to be the defining symbol of Hinduism. In a recent ruling by the supreme court it says, referring to a definition of the philosopher and former President of India Sarvapelli Radhakrishnans (1888–1975): “The acceptance of the Veda with homage, the recognition of the fact that the means of liberation are manifold and the realization of the truth that the number of gods to be worshiped is great - that is the distinguishing feature of the Hindu religion. ”98 3. Vedic culture 821 The transitions At the end of the 6th century BC. The Vedic culture had spread over large parts of northern India as far as the Ganges plain and in this process itself changed significantly: from a semi-nomadic, pastoral way of life in the early Vedic to sedentarism in the late Vedic period, from the tribal principality to the first territorial kings, from the subsistence economy to abundance production, from growing wheat to growing rice. In the first millennium BC The Vedic Indians spread largely peacefully from Panjab to the east into the Ganges plain and into the bush and forest areas in the north (Gandhāra, Kashmir, Nepal) and south. They encountered cultures that were still characterized by Neolithic hunters and gatherers and the black-slipped and black-and-red goods and had their own structures. In the Atharvaveda, Kāshī (Benares) is still considered an impure foreign country, as is Magadha. Accordingly, the Easterners were "foreigners" and demonic. There is no evidence of urban life in the early Vedic period, but by the end of the expansion the society was almost urban. In any case, there were two-story buildings and larger walled settlements. Gradually a second wave of urbanization emerged (after the Harappa culture). 16 countries (mahājanapada) are mentioned in the sources, some of them dominating the others. Society had become differentiated into a division of labor. There was widespread interregional trade. The political systems had also changed. The early Vedic period mainly knew tribes without fixed territories. But tribal principalities had already developed in the Middle Vedic period, and at the end of the Vedic period one can speak of monarchies that had a large administrative and military apparatus to control the country. Kuru, headed by King Parikshit, can be seen as the first such state. This king contributed decisively to the canonization of the Vedic canon. The king was henceforth the keeper of order and protector, but also the supreme lord of sacrifice, who could demand both harvest taxes and taxes as well as offerings. The close relationship between the king and the Brahmin priest and their separation of powers developed into an indispensable feature of the Hindu state in the late Vedic period. In addition to the monarchies, tribal principalities also existed during this period. Early Vedic society was certainly not egalitarian, but it was by no means as hierarchically structured as society at the end of the Vedic period, when classes, guilds and castes were formed. A plurality emerged in religion that included Brahmanic-Sanscritical Hinduism based on the Veda as well as new, (ritual) critical movements. New gods also appeared, but the worship of the Vedic gods in South Asia and Southeast Asia822 remained a priority in Vedic rituals, at least in the sphere of influence of the kings who had Brahmin priests. The rituals permeated all of life here, including everyday life. The great ascetic movements from which Buddhism, Jainism and, in individual currents, Hinduism arose, were only possible through the generation of an agricultural surplus. It was only after this that significant parts of the young, able-bodied, male population organized themselves into wandering fraternities, sects and monasteries and supported by society and thus could be cared for. Buddhism escapes from the cities from which it originated and which nonetheless supported it.99 The Buddha and Mahāvīra are the most prominent critics and founders of their own religions.100 Although there are many archaeological sites that fall into the late Vedic period, the results have hardly any for Knowledge of the Vedic culture contributed. Many metal objects and ceramics were found, but the attribution to the Indo-Aryans and the effects of these finds are unclear. So Upinder Singh rightly asks: “On what basis are the connections between material culture, especially pottery, and historically known groups of people based? It is clear that pottery cultures cannot simply be identified with specific linguistic groups, ethnic groups, lineages or political entities. The diffusion of handicraft products may have to do with the diffusion of handicraft traditions or trade rather than with the migration of peoples. Historians and archaeologists need greater methodological clarity as to how continuity and change in pottery traditions are to be interpreted before they draw historical conclusions on their basis. ”101 As long as this methological clarity is not given, the Indo-Aryans remain curiously undiscovered in their Vedic times.