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Rigvedic tribes

The Indo-Aryan tribes mentioned in the Rigveda are described as semi-nomadic pastoralists; when not on the move, they were subdivided into temporary settlements (vish, viś). They were headed by a tribal chief (raja, rājan) assisted by a priestly caste. During the early Vedic period they formed a warrior society, engaging in endemic warfare and cattle raids ("gaviṣṭi") among themselves and against their enemies, the "Dasyu" or Dasa.

The size of a typical tribe was probably of the order of a few thousand people. The account of the Dasharajna battle (Battle of the Ten Kings) in Mandala 7, hymn 18, mentions 6,666 casualties in a devastating defeat of a confederation of ten tribes, suggesting that a single tribe could muster a few thousand warriors on average, while the average size of a whole tribe may have been 3,000-6,000 (A late Vedic tribe, the Vesali, mentioned in the Pali texts, has 7000 "rajas", that is noblemen.) While the number of 6,666 cannot be taken literally, this order of magnitude is consistent with the typical size of tribes of Eurasian nomads.

List of tribes:

  1. Alina people (RV 7.18.7) - They were probably one of the tribes defeated by Sudas at the Dasarajna, and it has been suggested that they lived to the north-east of Nurestan, because much later, in the 7th century CE, the land was mentioned by the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang. The amateur historian S. Talageri identifies them, ahistorically and linguistically impossibly, with the Greeks (Hellenes).
  2. Anu is a Vedic Sanskrit term for one of the 5 major tribes in the Rigveda, RV 1.108.8, RV 8.10.5 (both times listed together with the Druhyu) and, much later also in the Mahabharata. In the late Vedic period, one of the Anu kings, King Anga, is mentioned as a "chakravartin" (AB 8.22). Ānava, the vrddhi derivation of Anu, is the name of a ruler in the Rigvedic account of the Battle of the Ten Kings (7.18.13) and at 8.4.1 with the Turvaśa (tribe). The meaning ánu "living, human" (Naighantu) cannot be substantiated for the Rigveda and may have been derived from the tribal name.
  3. Āyu
  4. Bhajeratha
  5. Bhalanas- The Bhalanas are one of the tribes that fought against Sudas in the Dasarajna battle. Some scholars have argued that the Bhalanas lived in Eastern Afghanistan Kabulistan, and that the Bolan Pass derives its name from the Bhalanas.
  6. Bharatas-The Bharatas are an Aryan tribe mentioned in the Rigveda, especially in Mandala 3 attributed to the Bharata sage Vishvamitra and in and Mandala 7. - Bharatá is also used as a name of Agni (literally, "to be maintained", viz. the fire having to be kept alive by the care of men), and as a name of Rudra in RV 2.36.8.

In one of the "river hymns" RV 3.33, the entire Bharata tribe is described as crossing over, with their chariots and wagons, at the confluence of the Vipash (Beas) and Shutudri (Satlej). Hymns by Vasistha in Mandala 7 (7.18 etc.) mention the Bharatas as the protagonists in the Battle of the Ten Kings, where they are on the winning side. They appear to have been successful in the early power-struggles between the various Aryan and non-Aryan tribes so that they continue to dominate in post-Rigvedic texts, and later in the (Epic) tradition, the Mahābhārata, the eponymous ancestor becomes Emperor Bharata, conqueror of 'all of India', and his tribe and kingdom is called Bhārata. "Bhārata" today is the official name of the Republic of India (see also Etymology of India).

  1. Bhrigus
  2. Chedi
  3. Dasa (dāsa, 'slaves')
  4. Dasyu (Iranian: Dahyu, mentioned in Latin as: Dahae, in Greek as: Daai)
  5. Dṛbhīka
  6. Druhyus The Druhyu were a people of Vedic India. They are mentioned in the Rigveda, usually together with the Anu tribe. Some early scholars have placed them in the northwestern region. The later texts, the Epic and the Puranas, locate them in the "north", that is, in Gandhara, Aratta and Setu. (Vishnu Purana IV.17) The Druhyus were driven out of the land of the seven rivers by Mandhatr and their next king Gandhara settled in a north-western region which became known as Gandhāra. The sons of the later Druhyu king Pracetas too settle in the "northern" (udīcya) region (Bhagavata 9.23.15-16; Visnu 4.17.5; Vayu 99.11-12; Brahmanda 3.74.11-12 and Matsya 48.9.).

Recently, some writers have ahistorically asserted that the Druhyu are the ancestors of the Iranian, Greek or European peoples, or of the Celtic Druid class. The word Druid (Gallic Celtic druides), however, is derived from Proto-Indo-European vid "to see, to know'It has also been alleged that the Rg Veda and the Puranas describe this tribe as migrating North. However, there is nothing of this in the Rigveda and the Puranas merely mention that the Druhyu are "adjacent (āśrita) to the North"

  1. Gandhari
  2. Guṅgu
  3. Iksvaku
  4. Krivi
  5. Kīkaṭa
  6. Kuru
  7. Mahīna
  8. Maujavant
  9. Matsya
  10. Meenas
  11. Nahuṣa
  12. Paktha.
  13. Pañca Jana/Kṛṣṭi (etc.)
  14. Panis(Iranian Parni?)
  15. Pārāvata
  16. Parsu (Parśu) - The Parsus have been connected with the Persians, though this view is disputed. This is based on the evidence of an Assyrian inscription from 844 BC referring to the Persians as Parshu, and the Behistun Inscription of Darius I of Persia referring to Parsa as the home of the Persians.
  17. Pārthava
  18. Puru (Pūru)
  19. Ruśama
  20. Sārasvata
  21. Satvant
  22. Śigru
  23. Śimyu
  24. Śiva
  25. Srñjaya
  26. Śvitna
  27. Tritsu The Trtsus are a sub-group of the Bharata mentioned in Mandala 7 of the Rigveda (in hymns 18, 33 and 83). Under king Sudas they defeated the Puru confederation at the Battle of the Ten Kings.
  28. Turvasa (Turvaśa)
  29. Uśīnara
  30. Vaikarṇa
  31. Vaśa
  32. Vibhindu
  33. Viṣānin
  34. Vṛcīvant
  35. Yadu
  36. Yakṣu

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