Ancient India Unit 3-7th grade social studies Physical Geography of India India is a subcontinent, which is a large landmass that is part of a continent but is considered a separate region. The subcontinent used to be part of a separate landmass. Millions of years ago, it inched north until it hit Asia. The collision pushed up mountains where the two lands met. Those mountains form mountain ranges, including the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas, the highest mountains in the world, located between China and India. The subcontinents rivers include the Ganges and the Indus: these two rivers carry water for irrigation. The silt they deposit makes the land fertile. The Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, and Bay of Bengal surround India. Ancient Indians sailed
these water to other lands for trade. Climate: The tall mountains help block cold north winds from reaching much of India. As a result, temperatures are generally warm there. In addition, seasonal wind systems called monsoons shape Indias climate. They produce a wet or dry season in a region, sometime with heavy rainfalls. The summer monsoon provides rain for Indias crops, but these rains can also cause severe floods. Well-Planned Cities By 2500 BC, well planned cities were thriving by the Indus River. The Indus River is located in modern day Pakistan, just west of modern day India. The Indus River of South Asia is one of the longest rivers in the world, and it flow out of the worlds highest mountains, the Himalayas; located in modern day Pakistan.
Like the Nile, its floods brought fertility and supported large populations The two key ancient cities on the banks of the Indus River were called MohenjoDaro (On the lower Indus) and Harappa (along the upper Indus). Harappan culture spread to the Ganges River area as well. Ganges River: Second longest river in India, flows from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal in east India. Harappa Mohenjo Daro Mohenjo-Daro Name means mound of the dead 2500-1700 BC
Harappa 2500-1700 BC Well-planned city structure At least 35,000 people may have lived along the site that was discovered by archaeologists in 1922. Built on brick platforms to protect it from flooding. Included a large citadel used to house the royal famiy. Built in a grid format with streets as wide as thirty feet. Almost every house contained a bathroom and a toilet, and underground sewers carried away the waste. A mysterious form or writing covered the stone seals that people found in the
ruined cities, these may have indicated types of trade goods. Harappan Culture Mohenjo-Daro had a huge public bath that may have been used for religious rituals. Archaeologists have found figures of animals, such as bulls that Indians today still regard as holy. They also found figurines that may be deities or simply dolls. Religious objects found in the ruins show links to modern Hindu culture. Harappan culture spread across a wide, urban area as large as the size of Texas.
Trade and Decline of Harappan Culture Harappan people used standard weights and measures. They used stamps and seals made of carved stone were likely used by Indian merchants to identify their goods. There is evidence of ample trade with Mesopotamia during the time of Sargon of Akkad, around 2370 BC. Around 1700, the quality of Harappan buildings began to decline, and some historians think the Indus River changed course so that floods no longer fertilized the fields near the cities. The changing course of the River may have been caused by an Earthquake and floods. Those who remained in the area after the decline of the Harappan cities became known as Dravidians: Descendants of ancient Harappans.
Influence of Nomads Another impact on the subcontinent of India was the arrival of a nomadic people from north of the Hindu Kush mountains: Mountain range on the west end of the Himalayas, through which the Aryans passed in to India. This group of Indo-Europeans swept into the Indus Valley around 1500 BC. Indian civilization would grow again under these nomads, who came in on horse-drawn chariots, fought with bows and arrows and bronze axes. These nomads lived in family groups or clans, and herded sheep, cattle and goats. It is believed that a plague may have drove them away from their homeland, which was between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. Aryans: group of Indo-Europeans who are believed to have migrated to the
Indian subcontinent around 1500 BC. These nomads were known as Aryans The Aryans were herders who lived in simple houses, and were in sharp contast to the city-dwelling Dravidians (descendants of Harappans) that lived in the Indus Valley when they arrived. The Aryans entered India gradually, and they practiced a religion that appealed to many Dravidians. The Aryans spoke a language called Sanskrit: language of the Aryans As a result, Aryan religion and language spread. In turn, the Dravidians taught the Aryans about city life. Because of these interactions, India developed a complex, blended culture.
The Caste System Aryan society was organized into classes: warriors priests and commoners. As Indian society grew more complex, these classes developed into what was later called the caste system. A CASTE is a social class that a person belongs to by birth. These castes became associated with different jobs. These groups are organized into four categories: Brahmans (priests, scholars and teachers), Ksatriya (rulers, nobles, and warriors), Vaisya (bankers, farmers, and merchants), and the Sudra (artisans and laborers) Centuries later, another group developed that was considered below all other groups: the untouchables: they did the jobs no one else wanted, such as disposing of dead bodies, and cleaning sewers.
Caste System: A system of social stratification in India, deriving from the Aryan hereditary division of the population into priests (Brahmins), warriors and rulers (Kshatriya), farmers and merchants (Vaisya), and laborers, artisans, and domestic servants (Sudra). Aryan Beliefs and Brahmanism The early religion of the Aryans is now called Brahmanism, after the name of the Aryan priests, or Brahmins. The Aryans worshipped many deities, and made sacrifices to those deities by offering animals to a sacred fire. Over time, the ceremonies became more and more complex, some lasting for days and even months. The rituals of the Aryan religion and many hymns to their deities
are found in ancient Sanskrit sacred texts called the VEDAS. The Vedas are four collections of prayers an instructions for rituals. The most important of the collections is called the Rig Veda. As time passed Indians began to question how the world came into being. These questions led to changes in the religious ideas of the time. Later, Indians wrote their ancient history in such works as the Mahabharataan epic poem that retells many legends. The Bhagavad Gita is part of the Mahabharata. It tells the story of deity named Krishna. It became a sacred text of HINDUISM. HINDUISM is the modern name for the major religion of India, which developed from Brahmanism.
People learn the fundamentals of Hinduism through gurus: In Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism, a personal spiritual teacher. Hinduism Hindus worship many deities, but they also recognize one supreme god or life force. Hindus consider the other deities to be parts of the universal God. The three most important of the other deities are Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the protector, and Shiva, the destroyer. Hindus believe n reincarnation, which means that a person has many lives. What a person does in each life determines what he or she will be in the next life, according to a belief called Karma. In Hinduism, Karma is the belief that the consequences of a persons actions
in this life determine his or her fate in the next life. Reincarnation creates a repeating cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth and this cycle ends when a person achieves a mystical union with God. To achieve that, a person must come to realize that his or her soul and Gods soul are one. Many Paths to God Hindus believe they connect with God by following their own individual path. Part of that path concerns ones job, with is linked with the caste system. Devout Hindus must faithfully carry out their assigned duties in life. Hindus have a choice of spiritual practices to grow closer to God. Two of these are also popular with many non-Hindus.
Meditation is the practice of making the mind calm, Yoga is a complex practice that includes exercise, breathing techniques, and diet. Hinduism spread to Nepal: A country in the Himalayan mountains between India and China, that was the worlds only Hindu kingdom until 2008. Other Religions in India Jainism: Jains teach ahimsa which means nonviolence. They practice ahimsa very strictly. They believe that every living thing has a soul and should not be hurt. Some Jains even wear masks to avoid breathing in insects. Buddhism: Also began in India, and is based on the teachings of
Siddharta Gautama (563 to 483 BC), a prince who gave up his wealth and position to try to understand the meaning of life. Later when he began to teach what he had learned, he was called the BUDDHA, or enlightened one. The Buddhas Life and teachings Siddharta was born a Hindu prince or a raja: A prince of India. A priest had predicted that he would become a wandering holy man. To prevent this, his father sheltered him; he did not allow Siddharta to see old age, death, illness or poverty until age 29. When he finally did see such troubles, they upset him, so he fled his home to search for peace in a world of suffering. For six years, Siddharta starved himself, but this sacrifice did not help him
find the answers he sought. Then he sat under a fig tree and meditated until he found understanding. This gave him insights into reality, which he called the FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS The Four Noble Truths First, existence is suffering. Second, that condition comes from wanting what one doesnt have or from wanting life to be different. Third, people can stop suffering by not wanting. Fourth, people can stop wanting by following the eightfold path. THE EIGHTFOLD PATH involved right opinions, desires, speech, actions, job, effort, concentration, and meditation.
This path could lead to NIRVANA, the end of suffering. Reaching nirvana broke the cycle of reincarnation. Nirvana: state in which the mind, enlightened as to the illusory nature of the self, transcends all suffering and attains peace. After the Buddha died, his followers gathered his teachings to pass on to others: these collected teachings are called the dharma, which means the true nature of things. Dharma is often shown as a wheel. Stupa: A dome shaped monument used as a Buddhist (or Jainist) shrine. Dalai Lama: The traditional temporal head of the dominant sect of Buddhism in Tibet and Mongolia, revered by Tibetan Buddhists as the living incarnation of the bodhisattva of compassion.
The Maurya Empire: A United India One reason Buddhism became so influential is that a famous Indian king ruled by its teachings. He was the third king of the Maurya dynasty, which united India. This made India a theocracy for a time: a government ruled by or subject to religious authority. For centuries, separate Aryan kingdoms battle each other. Around 550 BC, Magadha, a northeastern kingdom, began to gain strength. About 321 BC, Chandragupta Maurya became king of Magadha, conquering much territory. He then moved northwest, seizing all the land from Magadha to the Indus. His Maurya empire soon covered much of the subcontinent. Chandragupta: First Emperor and Founder of Mauryan Empire in India, beginning around 321 BC.
Use of Spies Chandragupta controlled his empire by using spies to learn what people did and an army of soldiers to keep order. His vast army included 600,000 foot soldiers, 30,000 cavalry, and 9,000 elephants. Many officials ran the government. To pay these people, Chandragupta taxed land and crops heavily. The Maurya Empire was the most effective government in India until the British controlled India in the 20th century. Legend says that Chandragupta became a nonviolent Jainist monk by the end of his life.
Capital of Maurya Empire: Pataliputra Ashoka, the Buddhist king Ashoka: The greatest Maurya king was Chandraguptas grandson Asoka, who began to rule in 272 BC. Early in Asokas reign he fought a bloody war and conquered a neighboring kingdom. Afterward, Asoka decided to rule by Buddhist teachings, giving up constant warfare and trying to rule peacefully by law instead. Asoka had his policies carved on rocks and pillars, and those that survive from his reign advise people to be truthful and kind; other urge people not to kill living things.
As a result of Asokas patronage, Buddhism attracted people to join its order of monks. Asoka and Buddhist rulers that followed him sent missionaries to bring new converts to Buddhism. Freedom of Worship Asoka also allowed people of other religions to worship freely. Asokas officials planted trees, set up hospitals, and built rest houses along main roads. These improvements allowed people to travel in more comfort than before. Better travel conditions helped traders and officials. Such actions demonstrated Asokas concern for his
subjects well-being. Noble as his policies were though, they failed to hold the empire together after Asoka died about 230 BC. Changes to Hinduism The popularity of Buddhism meant that fewer people were worshipping Hindu deities. Early Hindusim had a set of complex sacrifices that only priests could perform; they conducted the rites in Sanskrit, which few people spoke anymore. This caused people to feel distant from the deities and many people turned to Buddhism instead. Rulers who had come under the influence of Buddhism encouraged this shift.
Then Hindu thought began to change: poets began to write hymns of praise to the deities Vishnu and Shiva. These poems were written in languages that common people spoke, instead of in Sanskrit. Poetry has its effect: Hinduism revived The poems became popular across India and as a result, many Indians felt a renewed love for their Hindu deities. The renewal of interest in Hinduism occurred at the same time as a decline in Buddhism, which eventually lost most of its followes in India. By that time, however, Buddhism had spread to many other countries in Asia. Shortly after Asoka died, the Maurya Empire collapsed because
of poor rulers and enemy invasions. Five centuries of conflict followed until the Gupta family took control. The Golden Age of the Guptas Like the Mauryas, the Guptas began as leaders in Magadha. Chandra Gupta I became king in AD 320. (He was not related to Chandragupta Maurya.) He immediately married a kings daughter and gained new lands. Later, his son enlarged the empire by fighting wars. But, Chandra Guptas grandson, Chandra Gupta II, was the greatest ruler of the family: During his reign (AD 375-415) India experienced a golden agea time of great accomplishments.
Under Chandra Gupta II, Indian arts flourished. Architects erected gracefully designed temples, and artists painted murals and sculpted statues, many of which had religious subjects. The ancient Sanskrit epic, The Mahabharata, became the basis of many plays written in the Gupta period. Poetry also flourished under the Guptas. Gupta Gupta: A Hindu dynasty that ruled most of northern India from 320 AD-520 AD, under which the arts flourished and a strong central government was established.
Mathematics and Science Indian mathematics was among the most advanced in the world; Indian scholars invented the numeral system we use today. They also developed the decimal system and the symbol for zero. One mathematician figured out the length of a year. He also estimated the value of pi. Pi is the number that is used to calculate the length of circles boundary, called the circumference. During the Gupta Empire, knowledge of astronomy increased. Almost 1000 years before Columbus, Indian astronomers proved that the earth was round by observing a lunar eclipse. During the eclipse, the earths shadow fell across the face of the moon and the astronomers noted the earths shadow was curved, indicating that the earth itself was round.
Doctors added new techniquest to the ancient practice of Ayurvedic medicine, which promotes health, diet and exercise. Trade Spreads Across Indian Culture The royal court of the Gupta king was a place of excitement and growth, as Indians revered the kings for their heroic qualities. The kings displayed these qualities by adding territory to their empire, which allowed Gupta India to expand and profit from foreign trade. Traders sold Indian goods such as cotton and ivory to foreign merchants, and Indian merchants bought Chinese goods such as silk. They resold these goods to traders who were traveling west. Both traders and missionaries spread Indian culture and beliefs, as Hinduism spread to parts of Southeast Asia.
Buddhism spread to Central Asia, Sri Lanka (formerly calle Ceylon), China, and Southeast Asia. Eventually, the influence of Hinduism declined in Southeast Asia, but it remained the dominant religion of India. Buddhism was the opposite: It became the dominant religion in th regions to which it spread, while at the same time, it declined as an influence in its place of origin. The Legacy of India Four out of five people living in India today are Hindus. Hindus also live in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and many other countries. About one million people in the United States practice Hindu. Buddhism did not remain strong in India, as not even one percent of Indians today are Buddhists. But the religion is popular in Asia, Western Europe and the United States.
In the mid-1900s, Indian leader Mohandas Gandhi used ahisma (nonviolence) in his fight against British rule to gain independence for India. His life inspired U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. who led nonviolent protests to gain rights for African Americans. Today, Hindu and Buddhist influences continue. For example, millions of people from other religions meditate and practice yoga. Indias Artistic Legacy The arts of India have strongly influenced the world, and this influence can be seen in literature, art, sculpture and architecture. One of Indias greatest writers was Kalidasa, who may have been the court poet for Chandra Gupta II. Kalidasas most famous play is Shakuntala. Shakuntala tells the story of a beautiful girl who falls in love and marries a
middle-aged king. After Shakuntala and her husband are separated, they suffer tragically because of a curse that prevents the king from recognizing his wife when they meet again. Generations of Indians have continued to admire Kalidasas plays because they are skillfully written and emotionally stirring. Southern India also has a rich literary tradition. In the AD 100s, the city of Madurai in southern India became a site of writing academies: more than 2000 Tamil poems from this period still exist. Drama In addition to literature, drama was very popular in ancient India. In Southern India, traveling troupes of actors put on performances in cities across the region: women as well as men took part in these
shows, which combined drama and dance. Many of the classical dance forms in India today are based on techniques explained in a book written during this ancient period. In many Southeast Asian nations, people perform plays based on the ancient Sanskrit epic The Mahabharata. The Bhagavad Gita has been translated into many languages and is read throughout the world. Art and Sculpture Indian art and sculpture have influenced art in other cultures; both Hindu art and Buddhist art were important in the development of art in India. The main difference between Buddhist art and Hindu art in India was its subject matter. Buddhist art often
portrayed the Buddha or bodhisatvas, who were potential Buddhas. Hindu deities, such as Vishnu and Ganesha, were common subjects in Hindu art. Beyond the differences in subject, Hindu and Buddhist beliefs had little influence on Indian artistic styles. For example, a Hindu sculpture and Buddhist sculpture created at the same time and place were stylistically the same. In fact, the same artisans often created both Hindu and Buddhist art. Architecture The influence of Hindu traditions can be seen in Indian architecture and many
architectural trends began in Gupta times. These include building with stone instead of wood, and building a high pyramid roof instead of a flat roof; and sculpting elaborate decorations on the roof. The influence of Indian architecture spread throughout Southeast Asia, including Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. In northwestern Cambodia, ancient builders erected a large complex of Hindu temples called Angkor Wat. The architectural trends that began in Gupta times can be seens in this complex, which was built in the 1100s. It is the worlds largest religious structure and is considered one of the worlds greatest architectural achievements. Indian influences are seen in the design of Angkor Wat. For example, the buildings in the temple complex have pyramidal roofs, and they are built of stone, with elaborate sculptures decorating the walls and roof.
The complex covers nearly a square mile. Angkor Wat The Legacy of Indian Mathematics The numerals we use originated in India: people in India have been using the numerals 1-9 for 2,000 years. Arab traders brought these numerals to the West. As a result, they are frequently referred to as Arabic numerals, however, in contemporary usage, they are more often called Hindu-Arabic numerals. The number system first developed in India and is widely used today is called the decimal system. The name comes from the Latin word decem, which means ten. In a number such as 5,555, each numeral is worth ten times as much as the
number to its right. The place of a numeralthe ones place, the tens place, the hundreds place, and so ontells how much that numeral is worth. The decimal system would not work without a symbol for zero. It would be impossible to write a number like 504 without some way to show that the tens place was empty. In India, the use of the zero goes back about 1,400 years.
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