plain. The economic pattern varied, however, from area to area. Thus the
region around Mathura continued to be substantially pastoral for many
centuries, whereas the middle Ganga plain has limited evidence for
pastoralism. The change in the economy can be gathered from indirect
sources: for example, in the major sacrificial rituals such as the rajasuya, the
offerings based on dairy produce are less frequent as compared to those
which are derived from agricultural products.
Labour-intensive Agrarian Economy Agriculture implies some control
over land and forms of irrigation. The marshes of the middle Ganga plain
would have had to be drained and this would have required labour. Wet rice
cultivation is also, in itself, labour intensive. If the method of transplantation
was employed, then this too would have been labour intensive. Such
activities would not only necessitate the availability of labour, but also a
social distance between those who laboured and those who controlled the
labour. This would mean a society where a few were powerful and could
order the larger numbers to work for them. The draining of the marshes by
digging channels to carry away the surplus water may have in turn, suggested
irrigation channels or tanks to ensure further crops through the use of
artificial irrigation. But even in this case, the maintenance of irrigation
systems would also have required labour.
Pattern of Economic Change Rig Vedic society was essentially pastoral,
but this did not exclude agriculture. In fact, agrarian activities are more
frequently described in the later sections of the text. The society of the
Ganga-Yamuna Doab as reflected in the Later Vedic texts was more
dependent on agriculture, although cattle-rearing remained a significant
activity. Historically, the west bank of the Yamuna has been associated with
continuing pastoralism, whereas the doab itself became prime agricultural
land fairly early. Sedentary settlements came to be a characteristic of the
increasing emphasis on agriculture, although here again, the change was
evidently not rapid. Settlements in the doab would have had to adjust with the
smaller settlements of the earlier populations indicated by the Ochre Colour
Pottery and the Copper Hoard cultures, which may well have been
assimilated by the more dominant culture. The existence of earlier
agricultural communities in the region may have formed the nuclei of the
larger communities, as is suggested