Distinction between Indus Civilization and Vedic Civilization

Distinction between Indus Civilization and Vedic Civilization

  • These two civilizations have not only played a major role in the development of ancient India, but have also left a lineage that still continues to shape our present Indian culture.

Differences based on Following Major Headings


Indus Valley Civilization:

  • Till 20th century, historians thought that the Vedic society was the earliest civilization of India. However study done by 2 archaeologists – Dayaram Sahani and Raakhaldas Banerjee proved that Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, though 1400 kms apart, were a part of one civilization older than Vedic.
  • Since the region spanned India across the coastal western belt and along the Indus River, the civilization was called Indus Civilization. Indus civilization was at its peak around 2500 B.C.E.

Vedic Civilization:

  • After the decline of Indus Civilization, a new civilization grew which was dominated by the Aryans and came to be known as the Vedic Civilization. The period extended from 1500 B.C.E to 500 B.C.E


Indus Valley Civilization:

  • The Indus civilization was spread across the Indus valley (river Sindhu).
  • It spread in the North from Harappa in Punjab province (Pakistan) to Bhogtrar in South Gujarat (1400 kms). In the east, there was Alamgir (Meerut) and to its West was Sutkagen Dor in Baluchistan, next to Iran (1600 kms).
  • Thus, the Indus valley spread across 12.15 lac sq.km.

Vedic Civilization

  • The Vedic period marked the entry of Aryans on Indian soil. There has been a huge debate on the origin of Aryans. Various scholars have postulated theories which are either supported or debated.
  • North Pole: Bal Gangadhar Tilak proposed that the Aryans came from North Pole. However there is no concrete evidence for this theory.
  • Asia: Scholars like Max Muller suggested Middle Asia could be the place of Aryans, whereas Rhodes thought it should be Bactria and Edward Meyer postulated the plateau of Pamir (Iran).
  • Europe: Penka and Hirt thought Germany as the base of Aryans.
  • South Russia: Based on archaeological, historical and linguistic study, Meyer, Peek and Gordon Childes postulated that South Russia should be the home of Aryans. Archaeological excavations in Russia unearthed horse skeletons, potteries, earthen wares which were strikingly similar to Aryans.


Indus Valley Civilization:

  • The cities of Indus civilization were well planned and built with baked bricks of equal sizes. The streets were at right angle to each other with an elaborate drainage system.
  • There were public buildings, vast granaries and the Great Bath at Mohenjo-Daro.
  • Production of several metals like copper, bronze, lead and tin was carried out. The discovery of kilns proves that bricks were extensively used for domestic and public buildings.

Vedic Civilization:

  • It was mainly the rural civilization, centered round the village


Indus Valley Civilization:

  • The social life of Indus Civilization was that of a happy, satisfied society.
  • The society by large was “female dominated” and family was a central force.
  • Though the society was divided into 4 groups as per the occupation, it does not prove that there could be any discrimination since the housing structure proves that irrespective of the occupation, people lived in each others vicinity.
  • The people of Indus Civilization were vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian. Diet usually consisted of wheat, jowar, rice, sesame seed, dal, vegetables, milk and fruits. Meat of sheep, goat, pig, hen, duck as well as fish was consumed.
  • Excavations reveal that women of Indus valley liked to wear ornaments made of gold, precious stones, silver and copper. Men kept long hair, sported moustache and beard whereas women tied their hair in a bun. They also wore bangles made of glass and metal ware.

Vedic Civilization:

  • Compared to the Indus civilization, the early Vedic period civilization was “male dominated”. Though the women were known as “better half’, they were not allowed in politics and did not get share in family property.
  • The caste system of 4 varnas became prominent to such an extent that even the burial grounds were segregated.
  • The Brahmins and Kshatriyas fought for superior position, Vaishas did business and paid taxes whereas Shudras were considered to be slaves of all the 3 varnas.
  • The people of Vedic civilization also followed vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian diet. Milk and milk products were an important part of diet along with vegetables and meat. People drank “som ras” and played dice. Horse race, chariot race, music, dance were the favorite pastime.
  • In the Vedic civilization, metals like gold, silver, copper, tin, glass were in use. Iron utensils and equipments were also made during this period.


Indus Valley Civilization:

  • The main occupation of Indus Civilization was agriculture. Wheat, jowar, sesame seed, bajra were grown. Animal farming was also carried out. They also grew cotton and wore clothes.
  • There were sites where ornaments and jewelry were made.
  • Trade was also another occupation and each merchant family had their own seal. Trading was usually done with neighboring regions of India, Persian Gulf and Iran.

Vedic Civilization:

  • The Vedic period people were rural oriented and had agriculture as main occupation. They ploughed sowed and reaped various crops like wheat, jowar, rice, moong dal, udad, sesame. They also reared animals like cows, bulls, horses, goats, donkeys, sheep, pigs and dogs.
  • It is during this period that ‘elephant’ was first domesticated.


Indus Valley Civilization:

  • Indus Civilization had mastered the art of using metals, mud, wood, glass for making ornaments, architecture and various forms.
  • They made terracotta vessels with decorative colors and design. They made toys, household utensils, agriculture equipments and ornamental things.
  • The people of Indus Civilization were good sculptors carving wood and stone in the form of “relief architecture”, statues and articles. Statues of various birds and animals were also found along with men, women and “mother goddess”.
  • The script still remains undecipherable.

Vedic Civilization:

  • In the Vedic civilization, metals like gold, copper, silver, tin were used to prepare various artifacts.
  • This period contributed to the Vedic literature namely Samhitas (Samved, Yajurved, Atharvaved, Rigved), Brahmanas, Aranyaks and Upanishads


Indus Valley Civilization:

  • The Indus Civilization people worshipped gods and goddesses. The figures found in excavation reveal some rituals and ceremonies.
  • Various terracotta statues of “Mother Goddess” have been discovered from various sites which prove that she was worshipped in nearly every home.
  • Many seal depicting rhinoceros, bull, leopard, elephant, ox were found suggesting that the Indus valley people revered them.

Vedic Civilization:

  • The religious dogmas increased during the Vedic period and old gods (multiple ‘nature gods’ like wind, water, fire, etc.) were replaced with new formed gods. Prajapati, Vishnu & Rudra Shiva became the new gods.
  • It was during this period that ‘animal sacrifice’ became rampant. Some large scale yagnas like Rajsuyagna, Vajpeya and Ashwamedh were performed.
  • The belief in soul, magic, tantra increased and people succumbed to blind faith. The only difference was that the Vedic gods were immortal whereas the human beings were not.

Major differences in Both Civilization

The key differences between Harappa and Vedic Civilization are enumerated as follows:

  • The sources of information of the Harappan civilization are mainly archaeological, while the Vedic culture is mostly known from the literary sources.
  • Harappans are said to have been the original inhabitants of India while the Aryans are believed to have come to India from central Asia.
  • The Harappan civilization was urban in nature; Vedic culture was rural and pastoral. At best the Rig Vedic Aryans lived in fortified places protected by mud walls; and these cannot be regarded as towns in the Harappan sense.
  • In the Indus civilization trade, internal and external, crafts as well as industries were the main sources of economy, Vedic Economy was initially postoral and later became based upon agriculture and cattle rearing.
  • The agricultural operations, including the ploughing of fields, were better known to the later-Vedic people.
  • Indus people did not know the use of iron. It was purely a copper-bronze culture, while the Vedic culture in its later phase is replete with references to iron.
  • The horse, which played a decisive role in the Aryan system of warfare, was not known to the Indus people. A few bones of horse and terracotta figure of a horse-like animal have been unearthed from surkotada.
  • Indus people were basically peace loving. Their arms (swords, daggers, arrow-heads, and spears) were primitive in nature. Aryans were warlike people and were conversant with all kinds of traditional arms and armour and had devised a full-fledged science of war.
  • Aryans worshiped Varuna, Indra, aditi and a large number of other deities which stood for the principal phenomena of nature. They performed sacrifices and offered milk, ghee, etc. to their. The Harappans worshipped Pashupati, mother goddess, animals, snake and nature. The fire-altars were discovered from only one Harappan site at Kalibangan.
  • The Harappans practiced earth burials whereas the Aryans practiced cremation.
  • Harappan pottery called black or red pottery was wheel made and very distinctive in nature. The distinctive Aryan pottery is known as PGW (painted grey ware).
  • The Harappans were short stature, black in complexion; Aryans were tall, well-built and handsome.
  • The Harappans ate all birds and animals including cow and calf. They ate wheat, barley and bread. The Aryans preferred Barley, milk and its products, specially ghee or butter and enjoyed  Soma drink.
  • Cotton was the basic fabric of the Harappans while the Aryans put on woollen garments
  • Vedic Sanskrit is the mother of all non-Dravidian languages, Indus script still remains undeciphered.
  • It was quite clear that Indus people were literate whereas the Vedic people were illiterate (In terms of writing) because there is not a single word for writing in any of the Vedic texts.



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