This is a heavy episode. There is a lot going on and all very fast. A narrative style where you have to grasp a lot while watching a seemingly tangential storyline.
We are introduced to the Vedic people (Aryans, probably) who descend from the north-west and take over local traders (vani or vanik from the word mani meaning jewels. Seems like we are all 'baniya' after all). We get to see the importance of livestock. We get a glimpse into their lifestyle. We learn the addiction to gambling. We also see struggles, both internal to a tribe and with other tribes.
Rigveda is the first vedic book created roughly around 3,700 years ago. The excellent opening and closing chants of Bharat Ek Khoj are shloks from Rigveda. They are appropriately selected because they portray the anxiety that must have possessed the vedic people to make sense of the world around them. Where did the world come from? Was there a creator? Does he know everything? How can we know? But he must know. It must have been him. And let's worship this force that created everything and knows everything. And these doubts about the natural force is what probably led to the deification of everything that could not be understood. Indra for rains, Agni for fire and Suva for the sun and Yavu for air as the main gods but seems like there are hundreds that get praised in Rigveda, .
So if we ever wondered how did India become a land of thousands of Gods - the Rigveda is a good place to start. What surprised me is that Rigveda barely mentions the trio that now leads this conversation. The unification of various Gods into the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva seems to have taken place relatively more recently. Making Gods avatars of a smaller subset must have been quite a stroke of genius at the time and must have greatly helped disparate communities feel a sense of that inexplicable unity that Nehru is clearly so curious about.
The episode ends with an extraordinary "Ashvamedha Yagna" featuring a galloping horse (video clip below) with Vanraj Bhatia's thumping modern music acting like a call for action, for war on a song that is a translation from another brilliant Rigveda Sukta. This is a must watch. It is simply beautiful.
P.S. In a story about the Vedic people spying on the locals, we hear Ila Arun say - "Godhan" - What a beautiful word! I'd watch this episode again just for the sound of that word.