Ancient India

Later Vedic Literature

Vedic Soceity | Later Vedic Literature

The later Vedic literature includes the Vedangas, Sutras, Upavedas, Puranas, Dharamshastras and the Epics. This literature is also known as Smriti written by ordinary sages.


These are commentaries on the Vedas, they are six in number and deal with religious practices (kalpa), pronunciation (siksha), grammar (vyakarana), etymology (nirukta), meter(chhanda) and astronomy ( jyotisha).


The term sutra means thread. The first among the sutra literature is Srauta Sutra. It deals with Vedic sacrifices. Sulva Sutra prescribes various kinds of measurements for the construction of sacrificial altars. The Dharma Sutra deals with social duties. The Sutras have been divided into four parts

1. Srauta Sutra
2. Kalpa Sutra
3. Griha Sutra
4. Sulva Sutra


The Dharamshastras are treatise on dharma, civil and religious law. They are the main source of knowledge regarding Brahmanical institutions. These shastras reveal the working of the caste system in a rigid form. They throw light on the Hindu law, marriage, divorce, loans and partnerships various kinds of crimes and punishments and judicial procedure. The Dharamshastras mention the four Ashrams for the twice-born- Brahmacharya, Garhasthya, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa.


The Puranas are in Sanskrit. Puranas literally mean ancient stories. There are 18 Puranas in number. They give valuable information about the political history of ancient India. The most important Puranas are – Vishnu Purana, Vayu Purana, Matsya Purana, Brahma Purana and Bhavishya Purana. Puranas are not completely trustworthy as they are at time exaggerated.


Epic age is supposed to have been synchronous with period between the post Rig Vedic and the period of Budhha. The two epics Mahabharata and Ramayana are excellent examples of Indian literature in verse. They throw light on the social and political life of the people of those times. Ramayana was composed by Maharishi Valmiki and consists of 24,000 slokas. The Mahabharata is India’s biggest epic. It contains more than 1 lakh verses. The Bhagwadgita is also a part of the Mahabharata.

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