The importance of pastoralism in the early Vedic economy is evident both
from direct references to cattle as well as from prayers for pasu, a term which
included goats, sheep, horses, and man, apart from cattle. Further, the word
used to denote a wealthy man, gomat, literally means a man who possesses
cattle. Many words for battle, such as gavisti, also imply a search for cattle.
The importance of cattle is also evident from references to the chief as gopati
or lord of cattle, as well as from references to the daughter as duhitri or she
who milks cattle.
In the early Vedic period, agriculture was practised to a limited extent.
References to several stages of agricultural operations are found. There is
mention of the use of bulls to draw the plough (sira), of the sowing of seeds
in the furrows (sita) thus made, of the cutting of the com with the sickle
(datra), the laying of it in bundles on the threshing floor, and the threshing
and final sifting either by a sieve (titau) or a winnowing fan (surpa). The
mention of artificial waterways such as kulya and khanitrima apah shows that
the use of irrigation was known. Wheat (godhuma) was the main staple diet.
Other crops were barley (yava), beans, sesamum (tila), and cotton.
In the later Vedic period, agriculture witnessed several improvements and