Vedic Age, the dawn of Hindu history, is again subdivided
by some scholars into (a) Age of Mantras, (b) Age of Brahmanas
and (c) Age of Upanishads. It must be clearly understood that
this division is not strictly successive but is considerably overlapping.
The Mantras or hymns are the creation of poets, the Brahmanas are
elaborate ritualistic treatises and works of priests and the Upanishads
are the teachings of philosophers and revelations of mystics. During
the early period, the idea of one God as a religious belief has
the time many forms of worship were described in prayers. The concepts
of 'Rita' or cosmic order of natural events [?rhythm]
were seen to show the succession of season and harvest of crops.
This was used later to indicate the Indian ideals of Dharma and
Laws of Karma and the ethical and spiritual order. The celestial
gods, especially Varuna, were extolled as the guardians of the 'Rita'
and maintained by sacrifices. Thus Yajna or Ritualistic sacrifice
became the means of the faith and 'Rita' became the end.
as the sacrifices became elaborate and complex, the age of the
Mantras entered the age of the Brahmanas. In this ritualistic
practice, a mechanical and soulless kind of practice began to prevail.
However, the idea was developed that men owed a debt to Gods, Sages,
Pitris (ancestors), other men and animals. All the old forms of
gods were still worshipped. Prajapathi was the chief god and creator
of the world. Vishnu rises in importance in sacrifices.
said to be a pre-Aryan deity according to some scholars, was identified
with Vedic God Rudra at this early time. Slowly, the rituals and
sacrifices gain importance over the philosophy. We see the slow
evolution of thoughts on various forms of god while Vedic teachings
on One supreme Divine power is still maintained.
the belief of great magical values of sacrifices and rituals to
several celestial Deities, Priests became all powerful and supreme.
After a period of decadence, the first period of renaissance came
with the age of the Upanishads with Vedic texts accepted
as authoritative Divine revelations.