threshold of a state system, as a full-fledged monarchical state was yet to
evolve, largely because of the absence of a regular revenue system as well as
a standing army.
Conditions in Rigvedic Period The earliest of the literary compositions in
India, the Rig Veda, is a collection of hymns by priestly families. There are
serious uncertainties regarding its age. Secondly, despite attempts at
correlation between available archaeological material and the Vedic
evidence, the archaeology of the Vedas still evades the archaeologist. There
are, however, quite a few reasons why the Rigvedic material may be used for
providing useful insights into the understanding of the process of social
change in early India. The Rig Veda portrays a society which, despite
differing opinions, was at a pre-civilisational stage and could thus be a
starting point for the study of transition to civilisation. Secondly, such details
as are found in literary sources are not always available in archaeology.
    The Rigvedic economy was predominantly pastoral, the references to
cattle-wealth being more numerous than those to agriculture; the technology
also in all likelihood, represents the pre-Iron Age. The tribes were termed as
jana, its subdivisions being vis (clan) and kula (family). Although governed
by a head, rajan, whose functions were primarily those of a tribal military
leader, popular participation in affairs of polity is evident in the organisation
of sabha and samiti; elsewhere, ganapati or jyestha was the head of the
ganas where non-monarchical polity anticipated the republicanism of the
later ages.
    The religious system revolved around various natural phenomena,
personified and invested with divinity in the pattern of animism. Elements of
later changes were also present in the society. Despite its accent on cattle-
wealth, diversification of crafts was present in the Rigvedic society in the
form of numerous professions. Caste system was not fully developed, but
rudiments of it, in the division in terms of brahmin, rajanya and vaishya were
present, and the closeness between the purohita and the rajan foreshadowed
the relation of dependence between the brahmin and the kshatriya of later
    Interaction with the indigenous people had begun: the Rigvedic tribes not
only fought inter-tribal battles, the conflict with the indigenous dasas and
dasyus was also persistent. Interaction    at another level was equally important: