Occupation: Society was pastoral, cattle rearing being the dominant occupational activity. Cattle were the chief measure of wealth and a wealthy man who owned many cattle was called 'gomat'.
The terms used for conflicts and battles in this period were
The former literally means 'to search for cows'.
The Vedic god Indra was invoked to release these cattle. This reference suggests that cattle raids were common.
The raja or the chief is called the 'gopati' or one who protects cows. In the Rig Veda, Godhuli is used as a term for a measure of time. Distance is called gavyuti.
Literary references to pasture lands, cow pen, dairy products and domesticated animals are also found in most of the hymns and prayers.
Food Crops: . Apart from 'yava' or barley, no other grains are mentioned.
|Early Vedic Age Economy|
The Early Vedic people did not use iron technology. Copper, with which they were familiar, did not have as much value in agricultural operations as iron implements.
Stone tools (like axes) were used and these are mentioned in the Rig Veda.
Fire was used to burn down the forest cover
shifting agriculture was practised.
Rivers mentioned in the Rig Veda i.e. the Sutlej, Indus, Ghaggar, Ravi etc. are known to change their courses frequently.
No large-scale irrigation which were developed in this period, the alluvial lands near the rivers could not be cultivated on a permanent basis.
The evidence of pastoralism as well as shifting cultivation suggests that the people were either nomadic or semi-nomadic.
Mobility of Population:
The mobile character of the population is seen in the term 'vis' which also implied a settlement. The suffixes Punar (vis), Upa (vis) and Pra (vis) were constantly used, and the settlements were qualified by them to mean settling near (a settlement), re-entering (a settlement) or coming back (to the settlement).
Gift exchange and redistribution had an important economic role in the society.
Tribal conflicts led to the payment of tributes and prostrations, i.e. bali, to the victorious chiefs by the defeated or the subordinate groups.
The rest of the clansmen of the victorious tribe had a share in the spoils and booty won in the war. The chief also fed and gave gifts to his clansmen during ceremonial occasions. This was done by him to acquire prestige.
Trade: Evidence of trade and commerce in Early Vedic society is meagre. There was no concept of private property based on land-ownership.