Ancient India

Ancient Indian Civilizations
2500 B.C. – 500 A.D.
Indus River Valley Civilizations
• Surrounded by Ocean on three sides
• The Himalayan Mountains provide protection
from the north
• Indus and Ganges Rivers lie south of the northern
• The Deccan Plateau makes up most of the country
• Early inhabitants were sea traders
Indus River Valley Civilizations
– Monsoons & high temperatures
– Monsoons are winds that signal a change in
• November – March = little rain
• Mid June – October = wet season
Indus River Valley Civilizations
Early Civilizations
– 1st great civ. was from 2500 BC – 1500 BC
– Two main cities were Mohenjo Daro &
Water system
Public Bath
Strong central fortress – Citadel
Store houses for grain
Indus River Civilizations
Indus River Valley Civilizations
– Farmlands surrounded the cities
• Also raised cattle
– City dwellers were involved making or trading
– Believed in a great god, symbolized through
animals and nature
– Disappeared due to a natural disaster
• Great flood or earthquake
Indo – Aryan Migrants
Nomadic Indo – Aryans
• Sheep and cattle herders
• Skilled warriors
• Most of what we know came from the Vedas
– Vedas are ancient religious records and stories
– Told from generation to generation
– Written in Sanskrit by scholars
Indo – Aryan Migrants
Indo – Aryan Religion
– Early gods were based on elements of nature,
such as:
• Earth
• Fire
• Water
Shiva – the destroyer
Indo – Aryan Migrants
– Brahmans were the ancient priests
– As time went on ceremonies became more
Indo – Aryan Migrants
Early Indo-Aryan Society
– Built civilizations at the end of the Neolithic
– Governed by a raja
– These people had lighter skin
– Developed a social structure with priests and
warriors at the top
– Arranged marriages were common
Indo – Aryan Migrants
Indo – Aryan Economy
– Grew
Sugar cane
– Language was an early form of Sanskrit
Indo – Aryan Migrants
Southern India
– Protected from invasions by mountains
– Some hunted, gathered, fished, or farmed
– Some traded, which made them wealthy and
led to cultural diffusion
Hinduism and Buddhism
Upanishads and the Epics
– Some began to question the authority of the
• Collection of writings was called the Upanishads
• Eventually combined into two epics (poems)
– Mahabharata and Ramayana
Hinduism and Buddhism
Caste System Developed
• Complex form of social hierarchy
• Five varnas (classes)
Rulers and
Merchants, traders,
Hinduism and Buddhism
 Hinduism
– Believed in Monism- the unity of God and Creation
– Hindu Beliefs
The world we see is an illusion or maya
It can take many lifetimes to reject maya
Believe in reincarnation
Dharma is the duty of people to be good
Karma is the force created by good and bad actions
Nirvana is when the soul reaches peace and connects with
• Polytheistic
Hinduism and Buddhism
Hindu Religious Practices
– Yoga
– See many animals as sacred, especially cows
Hinduism and Buddhism
 Buddhism
– Founded by Siddhartha Gautama
• Wealthy Hindu prince who sought the meaning of life
• Became known as Buddha – Enlightened One
 Buddha’s Teachings
– Accepted some Hindu ideas
– Taught Four Noble truths and the eight-fold path
– Denied the importance of the Hindu caste system
• Very appealing to the poor and untouchables
Hinduism and Buddhism
 The Four Noble Truths
– 1. Life means suffering.
– 2. The origin of
suffering is
– 3. It is possible to end
– 4. The Eightfold Path
leads to the end of
Padma - Symbol of
Purity. Can be of
any color except
Hinduism and Buddhism
 8 Fold Path
Right Views
Right Intentions
Right Speech
Right Action
Right Living
Right Effort
Right Mindfulness
Right Concentration
The wheel of the law.
The eight spokes
represent the eightfold
Hinduism and Buddhism
 Spread of Buddhism
– Buddha himself only
had a few followers
– Split into two sects
• Theravada (Southeast
– Buddha was great
teacher and leader
• Mahayana (East Asia)
– Buddha was God
and Savior
Ancient Indian Dynasties
and Empires
 Mauryan Dynasty
– King Bimbisara of Magadha began to unify India
• Helped to fight off invaders from Persia
– Chandragupta Maurya
Started Mauryan Dynasty
Controlled most of India
Developed mining and weaving towns
Standardized weights throughout kingdom
Established physician qualifications
He slept in a different room each night, fearful of
assassination attempts
Ancient Indian Dynasties
and Empires
 Mauryan Dynasty
– Asoka
Grandson of Chandragupta Maurya
Extended control of empire to all of India except southern tip
Spread Buddhism with missionaries
Revised laws
Advanced India culturally and politically
After his death the empire would slowly decline
Ancient Indian Dynasties
and Empires
The Gupta Rulers
– New dynasty lead to rise of Hinduism and
decline of Buddhism
– Gupta family came to power
– Expanded territory
• Conquest
• Intermarriage
– Society prospered under their rule
– Gave more power to local leaders
Ancient Indian Life and Culture
Economy and Society
– Most economy came through trade
– Sold:
• Wool, Cotton, Spices, Silk, Precious gems, Ivory
– Women did not have the same rights as men
• Obey fathers
• Obey husbands
• If husband died, obey sons
– Sometimes they would throw themselves on the burning
funeral pyre of their husbands
• Called Suttee
– Polygamy was practiced
Ancient Indian Life and Culture
 Cultural Achievements
– Art and Architecture
• Early Buddhist art show Greek and Roman influence
• Growth of Hinduism brought about growth of temples
– Education
• Very advanced
• University of Nalanda – center of higher learning during Gupta
• First people to use algebra and solve quadratic equations
• Also came up with concept of innoculation
– Infecting a person with disease to build up immune system
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