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Kerala PSC Indian History Book Study Materials Page 206Book's First Page
a common ancestor and united by a common term kula is not mentioned independently even once, but the word kulapa is mentioned once. In the later Vedic period, many tribes (Janas) were amalgamated to form rashtras or janapadas (territorial kingdoms), thus replacing tribal authority by territorial authority. Rajan or Tribal Chief There is reference to kingship being hereditary among the Purus for four generations, and among the Srinjayas for ten generations. Kingship during the early Vedic period was a human institution and the doctrine of divinity was unknown in the Rig Veda. Only one king, Purukutsa, has been described as ardhadeva (semi-divine). Though the chief’s post was hereditary in most cases, he did not exercise unlimited powers and had to reckon with the tribal assemblies in the Rig Vedic period. There were even some instances of election by the samiti (tribal assembly). His functions included protecting the tribe’s cattle, fighting its wars, praying to gods on its behalf, and the like. In the later Vedic period, royal power increased due to the amalgamation of tribes and increase in the size of kingdoms. The king performed various rituals and sacrifices to strengthen his position. They included rajasuya, (consecration ceremony which conferred supreme power on the king), asvamedha (horse sacrifice which was meant to establish his supremacy over his neighbours) and vajapeya (chariot race which was meant to re-establish his supremacy over his own people within the kingdom). The Aitareya and Satapatha Brahmanas mention the names of some monarchs, who performed the asvamedha sacrifice such as Para of Kosala, Satanika Satrajita and Purukutsa Aikshvaku. The rajasuya sacrifice consists of five major rituals or ceremonies: (a) the ratnahavimsi (which is the most important ritual throwing light on the political organisation of the later Vedic period and in which the different ratnins or jewel-holders/royal officials invoke different gods or goddesses), (b) the devasuhavimsi (making offerings to divinities), (c) the abhisechaniyam (sprinkling ceremony), (d) the ‘investiture’, and (e) the ‘beating’ ceremonies. In the vajapeya or chariot race, normally seventeen charioteers, including the rajan, participated.