CLASSICAL INDIA FROM THE MAURYANS TO THE GUPTAS THE LATE VEDIC AGE The Vedic Age: 1500 500 BCE Name from Vedas, which records history Began with Aryan migration into India Aryans pushed into Ganges, up to Deccan Eventually nomadic Aryans settled down Ruled local inhabitants (dasas, Dravidians) Ganges Republics (mahajanapadas): 900 500 BCE Generally 16 larger states dominated Indus-Ganges Region Republics dominated by kshatriyans (warrior-rulers) States vied for power constantly with each other Within states, kshatriyans vied for power with rulers Rulers performed social, religious rituals Magahda was one of the most dominant of the states
Religious society dominated by brahmins Controlled ritual, rites, religious duties Religion often called Brahmamism JAINISM Vardhamana Mahavira Jainist doctrine and ethics Born in north India, 540 B.C.E. Left family, searching for salvation from cycle of incarnation Gained enlightenment, taught an ascetic doctrine His disciples began to lead a monastic life Mahavira became Jina, the "conqueror," and followers, Jains Inspired by the Upanishads Everything in the universe possessed a soul Striving to purify one's selfish behavior to attain a state of bliss The principle of ahimsa, nonviolence toward all living things Believed that almost all occupations entailed violence of some kind Too demanding, not a practical alternative to the cult of the brahmins Appeal of Jainism
Social implication: Individual souls equally participated in ultimate reality The Jains did not recognize social hierarchies of caste and jati Became attractive to members of lower castes The ascetic tradition continues to today EARLY BUDDHISM Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 B.C.E.) The Buddha and his followers Born in 563 B.C.E. to the Kshatriya caste Witnessed miseries of the human condition Gave up his comfortable life Began searching for enlightenment Intense meditation and extreme asceticism Received enlightenment under the bo tree "Turning of the Wheel of the Law," 528 B.C.E. Organized followers into a community of monks Traveled, preached throughout north India Buddhist doctrine: The dharma The Four Noble Truths
The Noble Eightfold Path (Setting the wheel in motion) All life involves suffering Desire is the cause of suffering Elimination of desire brings an end to suffering The Noble Eightfold Path brings the elimination of desire Right belief, right resolve, right speech, right behavior Right occupation, right effort, right contemplation, and right meditation Religious goal: Nirvana, a state of perfect spiritual independence APPEAL OF BUDDHISM Appealed strongly to members of lower castes Appealed to women as all souls considered equal Less demanding than Jainism, more popular Used vernacular tongues, not Sanskrit Holy sites and pilgrims The monastic organizations
Salvation without services of the brahmins Did not recognize social hierarchies of castes and jati Spread the Buddhist message, won converts Could be endowed by others to support the religion Centers of learning, good works, contemplation Ashoka's support Emperor Ashoka became a devout Buddhist, 206 B.C.E. Banned animal sacrifices in honor of ahimsa Granted lands to monasteries Sent missionaries to Bactria and Ceylon SPREAD OF BUDDHIS M VARIANTS OF BUDDHISM Early Buddhism Development of Buddhism
Made heavy demands on individuals Giving up personal property Forsaking the search for social standing Detaching oneself from worldly pleasures Buddha gradually seen as god by ex-Hindus, in China The bodhisatva - "an enlightened being" Monasteries accepted gifts from wealthy individuals Buddhism became more attractive The Schism of Buddhism: Was he a god or man? Mahayana - "the greater vehicle" Spread to Central, East Asia Blended in India with Hinduism, which coopted Buddha as a god Coopted Chinese traditions and Taoist gods in China Hinayana or Theravada Continued to view Buddha as human Practiced in Sri Lanka, parts of India, SE Asia Buddhism died out in India as it merged with Hinduism RISE OF MAURYAN EMPIRE Western Intrusions Intrusions of Persians (520 B.C.E.)
The Greek Interlude (c. 327 B.C.E.) Alexander the Great conquered Persia, Invaded India Alexanders withdrawal left a political vacuum Seleucid Empire succeeded to Alexanders lands in India Magadha kingdom filled the vacuum in Ganges Chandragupta Maurya Persians established Indus satrapy Introduced imperial government, ruling style, coins As young prince, held hostage by Greeks, escaped back to India Overthrew the Magadha kingdom in 321 B.C.E. The founder of the Mauryan empire Conquered the Greek state in Bactria, Selecuid control of Indus Chandragupta's empire embraced all of northern India Chandragupta's government Government procedures devised by Kautalya, the advisor of the empire The political handbook, Arthashastra, outlined administrative methods ASHOKA
Ashoka Maurya (reigned 268-232 B.C.E.) Chandragupta's grandson Ruled through tightly organized bureaucracy Established a tolerant rule of righteousness Sent out missionaries to Sri Lanka, SE Asia, Central Asia Decline of the Mauryan Empire Ashoka died in 232 B.C.E. Heirs were not strong and cost of ruling was expensive Suffered from acute financial and economic difficulties Established capital at Pataliputra Policies of encouraging agriculture and trade Converted to Buddhism
The high point of the Mauryan empire Conquered the kingdom of Kalinga, 260 B.C.E. Developed remorse and renounced future war High cost for maintaining army and bureaucrats Debasing the currency, not a effective resolution The empire collapsed by 185 B.C.E. THE NOMADIC INTERLUDE Northwestern Kingdoms: 200 BCE to 300 CE Indo-European nomads enter India from Central Asia Indo-Greeks came from Bactria c. 180 BCE Indo-Scythians (Sakas) come from C. Asia c. 80 BCE Indo-Parthians came from Persia c. 20 CE Influenced Indian art, commerce, religion Syncretic blending of Greek culture, Buddhism Indians saw them as foreigners, impure barbarians Linked India to the Silk Road, China, Western Asia Became Indianized over time The Kushans Indo-Europeans pushed out of China
Took over Scythians, Central Asia, Northwestern India Dominated Silk Road trade between Mediterranean, China Adopted Buddhism, blended with Greek, Persian traditions Gandaran art style was a major artistic period Helped facilitate spread of Buddhism back to China THE GUPTAS The Gupta Dynasty: 320 CE to 550 CE India was controlled by regional kingdoms The Gupta state rose to power in Magadha Chandra Gupta founded the new dynasty Gupta dynasty was relatively decentralized An Indian Golden Age Local rulers had great power Guptan rulers reigned but did not rule Guptan rulers acquired divine right status
Guptas supported revival of Hinduism During this age Hinduism took its major form Guptas supported arts, sciences, mathematics Gupta decline Invasion of White Huns weakened the empire After 5th century C.E., Gupta dynasty ruled in name only Large regional kingdoms dominated political life in India POPULAR HINDUISM The epics Mahabharata A secular poem revised by brahmin scholars Honored Vishnu, the preserver of the world The Bhagavad Gita Ramayana Secular story of Rama and Sita was changed into a Hindu story Shows extent of spread of Hinduism in region Hindu ethics
A short poetic work within the Mahabharata A dialogue between the god Vishnu and Prince Arjuna Illustrated expectations of Hinduism and promise of salvation Lower demands for achieving salvation Individuals should meet their responsibilities in detached fashion Balance of dharma, artha, karma to attain moksha, end samsara Popularity of Hinduism Became more popular than Buddhism; Buddhism too aesthetic The Guptas helped Hinduism become the dominant religion Guptas placed Brahmins as lead caste above Kshatriyas ECONOMICS AND SOCIAL Towns and manufacturing Long-distance trade Strong patriarchal families; subordination of women to men Child marriage placed women under control of old men
Development of caste system Invasions by Persians helped build trade networks Trade with China through silk roads of central Asia Trade in Indian Ocean basin, Africa to Southeast Asia Spread Buddhism, Hinduism to Central, Southeast Asia Social and gender relations Towns dotted countryside after 600 B.C.E. Towns provided manufactured, luxury goods New social groups of artisans, craftsmen, and merchants appeared Individuals of same trade or craft formed a guild; guilds were subcastes, jatis Functions of guilds: social security and welfare systems Wealth and social order Trade and industry brought prosperity to many vaishyas and shudras Old beliefs and values of early Aryan society became increasingly irrelevant
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