Proto-historic period is the age nearest to the historical period. In so far as India is concerned the civilisation of the Vedic period is the proto-historic period. The hymns composed by the Vedic priests had perfected a poetic technique. These hymns were praise of their gods and were sung at sacrifices. These were not reduced to writing but were handed down by words of mouth.
Even when the art of writing was widely known to the Indians, hymns were not committed to writing. The period of the Vedas, Brahmanas and Upanishads, says Prof. Basham, “is a sort of a transition from prehistory to history”. Naturally it falls in the proto-historic period of Indian history that is nearest to the historical period. But as Prof. Basham points out, If history, as distinct from archaeology, is the study of the human past from written sources, then Indian history begins with the Aryans. The Rig Veda and the great body of oral religious literature which follow it in the first half of the first millennium B.C. belong to the Hindu tradition. The Vedic hymns are still recited at weddings and funerals, and in the daily devotion of the brahman. Thus they are part of historical India, and do not belong to her buried pre-historic past.
But it cannot be denied that the Vedic period is not within the really historic period of India, for it is only the matter of religion about which we are fully informed. About other matters or events we have only indirect and vague references. Thus the Vedic Age of Indian history has to be regarded as the period immediately preceding the historical period; hence it belongs to the proto-historic period of India, a period which marks the transition from pre-historic to historic period of the Indian History.