Economy during Vedic period

Economy during Vedic period:

The early Vedic Aryans were pastoralists.

Cattle rearing was their main occupation.

They reared cattle, sheep, goats, and horses for purposes of milk, meat and hides.

A wealthy person was known as gomat and the daughter called duhitri which means one who milks the cow.

The word gaveshana literally means search for cows, but it also means battle since many battles were fought over cattle.

All the above and many more references show that cattle breeding were the most important economic activity of the Rigvedic Aryans.


During later Vedic phase, agriculture became the mainstay of the Vedic people.

Many rituals were introduced to initiate the process of agriculture.

The god Indra acquires a new epithet ‘Lord of the Plough’ in this period.

The number and varieties of plant food increased. Apart from barley, people now cultivated wheat, rice, pulses, lentils, millet, sugarcane etc.

The items of dana and dakshina included cooked rice.

The main factor in the expansion of the Aryan culture during the later Vedic period was the beginning of the use of iron around 1000 BC.

The Rigvedic people knew of a metal called ayas which was either copper or bronze.

In the later Vedic literature ayas was qualified with shyama or krishna meaning black to denote iron.

Archaeology has shown that iron began to be used around 1000 BC which is also the period of later Vedic literature.

With the passage of time the Vedic people also acquired better knowledge of seasons, manuring and irrigation.

All these developments resulted in the substantial enlargement of certain settlements such as Hastinapur and Kaushambi towards the end of the Later Vedic period.

These settlements slowly began to acquire characteristics of towns.

Such rudimentary towns inhabited mainly by the chiefs, princes, priests and artisans were supported by the peasants who could spare for them some part of their produce voluntarily or involuntarily.