By 1500 B.C.E. Indo-Aryan tribes had established themselves in the Punjab region and had composed most of the hymns in Hinduism’s oldest text, the Rig-Veda.
That text is a collection of more than 1,000 hymns addressed to various Vedic gods.The society described in the hymns of the Rig-Veda was nomadic and pastoral.
Indo-Aryan society was divided into three classes: kings, priests, and commoners. Aryan life centered on cattle, horses, and warfare. This can be seen in the hymns’ many metaphors involving cows, in their use of cattle as a sign of wealth, and in the special energy with which they condemn those who steal or threaten to steal Aryan herds.
Indo-Aryans protected their herds through warfare. This was a warrior culture whose major warrior god, Indra, was shown fighting against the “enemies of the Aryans,”whose practices differed from those of the Aryans themselves.Hymns ask the gods for wealth, cattle, progeny, prosperity, and health.
The strong naturalistic elements in the Rig-Veda are represented by gods such as Agni (fire) and Surya (the Sun), each of whom is portrayed as the natural element itself. These natural elements and human- kind are bound together in mutual dependence within the world’s cosmic order (rita). The ritual of sacrifice, the focus of the hymns, is not only a means of flattering the gods and gaining gifts from them; it is also an act necessary to continue the world order.