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Ancient Civilizations: India


The Ganges River is considered the most sacred place to scatter ashes. ... Islam arrived in the Ganges basin in the 7th century, but its influence was not ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Ancient Civilizations: India

Ancient Civilizations India
India - Geography
Origins Pre-Historic India 3000-1000 BCE
  • Archaeological excavations in the Punjab and
    Indus valleys (right) have revealed the existence
    of urban cultures at Harappa, the prehistoric
    capital of the Punjab (located in modern
    Pakistan) and Mohenjo-Daro on the banks of the
    River Indus.
  • This early Indian culture is sometimes called the
    Indus Valley civilization.
  • Historians are not sure who the origin
    inhabitants were. Many believe the people may
    have been proto-Dravidians, related to the
    Dravidians of southern India.
  • Historians are also unclear as to why the Indus
    civilization ceased to exist.

Origins Arrival of the Aryans 2000-1000 BCE
  • Some time in the second millennium BCE the Aryan
    people arrived in north-west India.
  • The Aryans (Aryan means noble) were a nomadic
    people who may have come to India from the
    Caucasus region of southern Russia.
  • They brought with them their language and their
    religious traditions. These both influenced and
    were influenced by the religious practices of the
    peoples who were already living in India.

Origins Pre-Historic India 3000-1000 BCE
  • Language Sanskrit
  • The classical literary language of Hindu Indians.
  • First appeared in the text of the Rig Veda.
  • Grammar is similar to the other Indo-European
    languages such as Greek and Latin.

Origins Pre-Historic India 3000-1000 BCE
  • Aryan Migration to India

Origins Arrival of the Aryans 2000-1000 BCE
  • Why is the Aryan invasion of India theory so
    controversial to the understanding of the origins
    of Indian civilization?

Belief Systems India
  • Hinduism
  • Considered the worlds oldest religion over
    3,000 years old.
  • The worlds third largest religion after
    Christianity and Islam.
  • - over 900 million followers
  • The dominant religion in India and Nepal (80) of
    the pop. In both.

Belief Systems India
  • Hinduism
  • Hinduism claims to have many founders, teachers
    and prophets who claim first hand experience of
  • Hindus recognize one God, Brahman, who is the
    cause and foundation of all existence.
  • The gods of the Hindu faith represent different
    expressions of Brahman.

Belief Systems India
  • Hinduism
  • Hindus recognize three principal gods
  • - Brahma, who creates the universe
  • - Vishnu, who preserves the universe
  • - Shiva, who destroys the universe.

Belief Systems India
  • Hinduism
  • Hindus believe that existence is a cycle of
    birth, death, and rebirth, (Samsara
    reincarnation) governed by Karma.
  • Hindus believe that the soul passes through a
    cycle of successive lives and its next
    incarnation is always dependent on how the
    previous life was lived (karma).
  • Moksha is the end of the death and rebirth cycle.

The Wheel of Life(Samsara Reincarnation)
Belief Systems - India
  • Hinduism The Ganges River and Varanasi/Benares
  • After a Hindu is cremated, the ashes are usually
    scattered in water.
  • The Ganges River is considered the most sacred
    place to scatter ashes.
  • Varanasi (Benares), one of the oldest cities in
    the world, is seen as a desired place to die.
  • - Anyone who dies here breaks the cycle of life
    and achieves moksha.

Varanasi / Benares - Cremation
Hindu Men Bathing in the Holy Ganges River
Belief Systems India
  • Hinduism Religious Texts
  • The Vedas are the most ancient religious Hindu
    text and define the truth.
  • Hindus believe that the texts were received by
    scholars directly from God and passed onto
    generations by word of mouth.

Belief Systems India
  • Hinduism Religious Texts The Vedas
  • The Vedas are the most ancient religious texts
    which define truth for Hindus.
  • They got their present form between 1200-200 BCE
    and were introduced to India by the Aryans.

Belief Systems India
  • The Vedas are made up of four compositions
  • - The Samhitas
  • - The Upanishads
  • - Bhagavad Gita
  • - The Ramayana

Belief Systems India
  • The Caste System
  • The Aryans introduced the varna system (varna
    estates or classes) to India.
  • Varnas are the historical division of society
    into 4 broad classes

Belief Systems India
  • The Caste System
  • The Brahmins priests and teachers the highest
  • Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity,
    tolerance, honesty, wisdom, knowledge, and
    religiousness--these are the qualities
    by which the brahmanas work.
  • - Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 18, Verse 42

Belief Systems India
  • The Caste System
  • 2. The Kshatriyas warriors, soldiers
  • Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness,
    courage in battle, generosity, and leadership are
    the qualities of work for the ksatriyas.
  • - Bhagavat Gita, Ch. 18, Verse 43.

Belief Systems India
  • The Caste System
  • 3. The Vaishyas merchants and artisans
  • 4. The Sudras unskilled laborers and servants
  • Farming, cow protection and business are the
    qualities of work for the vaisyas, and for the
    sudras there is labor and service to others.
  • - Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 18, Verse 44

Belief Systems India
  • Outcastes Untouchables Dalits
  • Too low to be in the caste system
  • Considered impure from birth
  • Perform jobs that are traditionally considered
  • - scavengers
  • - clean toilets and sewers
  • - handle dead bodies
  • - many Dalit girls forced into prostitution

Belief Systems India
  • The Caste System Jatis
  • Hundreds of sub-castes.
  • Exclusive social groups defined by birth,
    marriage occupation, region, dialect.
  • The higher a person's birth, the greater the

Belief Systems India
  • Buddhism
  • Is 2,500 years old.
  • Originated in Nepal when it was part of India.
  • Currently 376 million followers worldwide.
  • There is no belief in a personal God. It is not
    centered on the relationship between humanity and
  • Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or
    permanent - change is always possible

Belief Systems India
  • Buddhism
  • Founder Siddharta Gautama (580 - ) born in
  • He was born into a royal family, and his
    privileged life insulated him from the sufferings
    of life sufferings such as sickness, age and
  • Once he left his royal surroundings he saw an old
    man, a sick man, and a corpse. He learned that
    sickness, age, and death are inevitable. He
    decided to give up his royal lifestyle and become
    an ascetic.

Belief Systems India
  • Buddhism
  • Buddha became a wandering monk, devoting himself
    to meditation and denying himself of material
  • After six years of asceticism, he concluded that
    suffering was not the answer.
  • He devoted his life to the Middle Way a life
    without luxury or poverty.
  • Most important Buddhist doctrines
  • - Four Truths for the Spiritually Noble
  • - The Eightfold Path

Belief Systems India
  • Buddhism - Four Truths for the Spiritually Noble
  • Suffering is a fact of life.
  • - Birth, aging, sickness, death, encountering
    the unpleasant, separation from the
    pleasant, and not gaining what one desires
  • 2. Origin / Cause of suffering
  • - Unsatisfied cravings, desires
  • - Negative deeds and actions

Belief Systems India
  • Buddhism - Four Truths for the Spiritually Noble
  • 3. Cessation of suffering nirvana.
  • 4. The path to the cessation of suffering.
  • - that path is known as the Eightfold Path.
  • Like in Hinduism, Buddhism recognizes
    reincarnation and karma. Your karma determines
    what form your reincarnation will take.

Belief Systems India
  • Buddhism The Eightfold Path
  • Correct view accurate understanding of the
    nature of things
  • Correct intention avoiding thoughts of
    attachment, hatred, and of harmful intent.
  • Correct speech refraining from lying, hurtful,
    harsh, devisive speech
  • Correct action refraining from killing,
    stealing, sexual misconduct

Belief Systems India
  • Buddhism The Eightfold Path
  • 5. Correct livelihood avoid selling drugs,
    weapons, slaves, poisons
  • 6. Correct effort abandoning negative thoughts
    and actions sustaining positive thoughts and
  • 7. Correct mindfulness awareness of body, mind,
  • 8. Correct concentration through meditation

Belief Systems India Belief Systems India
  • Sikhism - monotheistic
  • Sikhism was born in the Punjab area of South
  • which now falls into the present day states
    of India and
  • Pakistan.
  • 1.3 of Indias population are Sikhs.
  • The Sikh faith was founded by Guru Nanak around
    1500 CE.
  • Sikhism combines elements of Hinduism Buddhism
    (cycle of life, death, reincarnation, karma) with
    Islam (monotheism, all humans equal in the eyes
    of God).
  • Sikhism stresses the importance of doing good
    actions rather than merely carrying out rituals /
    emphasizes honest living and hard work.
  • Sikhs reject the caste system.
  • Sikhs have had strained relations with Hindus and

Belief Systems India
  • Jainism
  • Jainism is an ancient religion from India that
    teaches that the way to liberation and bliss is
    to live lives of harmlessness and renunciation.
  • No single founder. The truth has been revealed at
    different times by a tirthankara teacher.
  • There are no gods or spiritual beings that will
    help human beings.
  • Animals and plants, as well as human beings,
    contain living souls. Each of these souls is
    considered of equal value and should be treated
    with respect and compassion. (ahisma
  • Jains are strict vegetarians and live in a way
    that minimizes their use of the world's
  • Believe in karma as a determination of what the
    persons soul will be reincarnated as. The goal
    is to be liberated from the cycle of rebirth.

Belief Systems India
  • Islam
  • Islam arrived in the Ganges basin in the 7th
    century, but its influence was not really felt
    until the Turks arrived in the 11th and 12th
    centuries CE.
  • Muslim rulers sought to conquer Hindu territories
    and, from the 17th century, to assert the
    superiority of Islam.
  • India under the Mughals was ruled by Muslims.
  • Islam was established and flourished chiefly
    in areas where Buddhism was in a process of slow
    decline, that is mainly around modern-day
    Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir.

Politics and Government India
  • Pre-Imperial Rule
  • 1500-500 BCE - Aryan conquest.
  • 513 BCE - Persians under Darius conquered the
    Indus Valley brought India in contact with
    Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece.
  • - As part of the larger Persian Empire, Indian
    commerce grew.
  • 326 BCE After defeating the Persians, Alexander
    the Great (Macedonia / Greece) took the Indus

Politics and Government India
  • India had three major forms of imperial rule
  • The Mauryan Empire (322 180 BCE)
  • The Gupta Empire (320 480 CE)
  • The Mughal Empire (1526 1858)
  • In between these periods, India was divided and
    suffered from constant warfare.
  • Beginning in 711 CE, Arab Muslim armies invaded
    and plundered India.
  • By 1206, Persian, Afghan, and Turkish Muslim
    armies made Islam a permanent fixture on the

Politics and Government India
  • The Mauryan Empire (322 180 BCE)
  • Alexander the Greats retreat from India led to
    the rise of the first unified Indian Empire
    under Chandragupta Maurya.
  • - United the Gangetic and Indus Valleys.
  • - Made Pataliputra the capital city.
  • - Learned from the Persians how to divide
    territory into provinces and rule through
  • - Established a bureaucracy to help govern and
    collect taxes on agriculture that
    financed public services.
  • - The state exercised control over all mines
    and forests, some farms, granaries,
    shipyards, and spinning and weaving factories.

India under the Maurya

Politics and Government India
  • The Mauryan Empire (322 180 BCE)
  • Ashoka (269-232 BCE), Chandraguptas grandson,
    extended the empire to its farthest limits.
  • 261 BCE - He embraced Buddhism after a
    particularly bloody was of conquest against
    Kalinga over 100,000 were killed in battle.
  • - He used the governors in his empire to spread
    Buddhist teaching all over India and beyond.
  • For the rest of his rule, Ashoka promoted
    non-violence, humane treatment for all, from
    Brahmans to slaves.
  • Asoka saw government as a father that takes care
    of his children without giving them much freedom.
  • After he died, the dynasty declined and
    eventually the empire collapsed.

Politics and Government India
  • 2. The Gupta Empire (320 480 CE)
  • Controlled less territory than the Mauryans, but
    they were able to unify much of northern India
    under their rule.
  • Modeled their government after the Mauryans.
  • Under Chandragupta II (375-415) India achieved
    its Golden Age
  • - Indian cash crops sugar, cotton, pepper,
    cinnamon was in great demand.
  • - Mathematics the Arabic numerical system
    was developed.
  • - developed the concept of zero
  • - The arts, poetry, drama flourished /
    Kalidasa Indias Shakespeare
  • - Religious toleration.

Politics and Government India
  • 2. The Gupta Empire (320 480 CE) The Economy
  • The textile industries were well developed
  • - Silk, calico, muslin, linen, wool, cotton
    were produced in large quantities and
  • - Merchants (Vaisyas) were well respected.
  • Around 480, the invasions of the Huns from
    Central Asia dealt the dynasty the final blow.

Politics and Government India
  • Islamic Conquests
  • Arab Muslims first pushed into the subcontinent
    beginning in 711.
  • 870-1030 Turks from Central Asia came.
  • - Systematically looted palaces and temples,
    destroyed religious statues.
  • 1206 Dehli Sultinate led by Persians
  • - Muslims saw Buddhism as a bigger threat than

Politics and Government India
  • 3. The Mughal Empire (1526-1858)
  • The largest, wealthiest, and most populous of the
    Islamic empires of the modern world.
  • Babur (1483-1530), Turkish ruler claiming to be
    descendent of Mongol conquerors Ghenghis Khan and
    Tamarlane, conquered northern India.
  • Mughals (Mongols) were mostly Turks, Persians,

Politics and Government India
  • 3. The Mughal Empire (1526-1858)
  • The high point of Mughal rule in India Akhbar
  • - Through conquest, he expanded and
    consolidated India under centralized,
    Mughal rule.
  • - Developed a sophisticated bureaucracy to
    govern his vast empire
  • - Practiced religious tolerance and promoted
    people of talent to positions of
    administration irrespective of religious
    affiliation (Hindus made up 30 of his
    imperial bureaucracy).
  • - Abolished the property tax on non-Muslims
  • - Made Persian the official language of the

Politics and Government India
  • 3. The Mughal Empire (1526-1858)
  • Akhbars grandson, Shah Jahan (1628-1658)
    continued to consolidate Mughal rule throughout
  • Had the Taj Mahal constructed in honor of his
    wife who died giving birth to their 15th child.

Politics and Government India
  • 3. The Mughal Empire (1526-1858)
  • The origins of the decline of the Mughal Empire
    start with Shah Jahans son Aurangzeb
  • Strict Muslim sent officials to enforce Islamic
    laws against gambling, prostitution, drinking
    the use of narcotics.
  • Forbade suttee.
  • Re-imposed the tax on non-Muslims.
  • Ordered the destruction of some Hindu temples /
    Made Hindus pay higher customs taxes than Muslims
    / but employed more Hindus in the imperial
    administration than any other Mughal ruler.

Height of the Mughal Empire
India China Rising
Thematic Questions
  • Compare the principles of Hinduism, Buddhism,
    Jainism, Sikhism, and Islam).
  • 2. Do you think Indias native religions
    (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism) will help
    or hinder Indias current economic reforms?
  • 3. Why is the Aryan invasion of India
    theory so controversial to the understanding of
    the origins of Indian civilization?
  • Compare the political theories of Kautilya, aide
    to Indias Chandragupta Maurya, the Chinese
    Legalists, and Niccolo Machiavelli.
  • Compare the crisis of conscience experienced by
    Ashoka Maurya and Emperor Constantine affected
    their respective empires.
  • 6. Discuss the major achievements of Indian
    civilization during the three great imperial
  • 7. For most of Indias early history (up to
    British colonialism), the country found itself
    divided. What other great ancient civilization
    in this project also found itself divided? Did
    the absence of unity help or hinder cultural

Recommended Web Sites
  • http// - The
    British Museum
  • http//
    re1/ - Untouchables
  • http//
    - Hinduism and Indian history