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Classical India: Maurya (324-184BCE) Gupta (320-550 CE)

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Presentation on theme: "Classical India: Maurya (324-184BCE) Gupta (320-550 CE)"— Presentation transcript:


2 Classical India: Maurya ( BCE) Gupta ( CE)



5 Aryan Migration  pastoral  depended on their cattle.  warriors  horse-drawn chariots.

6 Sanskrit writing

7 The Vedas  1200 BCE-600 BCE.  written in SANSKRIT.  Hindu core of beliefs:  hymns and poems.  religious prayers.  magical spells.  lists of the gods and goddesses. Rig Veda  oldest work.

8 Varna (Social Hierarchy) Shudras Vaishyas Kshatriyas Pariahs [Harijan]  Untouchables Brahmins

9 The Caste System  The mouth?  The arms?  The legs?  The feet? WHO IS… What is a JATI? Brahmins Kshatriyas Vaishyas Shudras

10  Literature › Rig Veda › Upanishads › Lawbook of Manu  Ideas found in the literature › Reincarnation › atman  Foundation for Hinduism established

11 Buddhism Hinduism


13 Buddhism in the Subcontinent

14 The essence of Buddhism  The “middle way of wisdom and compassion.”  2,500 year old tradition.  The 3 jewels of Buddhism:  Buddha, the teacher.  Dharma, the teachings.  Sangha, the communi ty.

15 Siddhartha Gautama ( BCE)  Born  Born in NE India (Nepal).  Raised  Raised in great luxury to be a king.  At  At 29 he rejected his luxurious life to seek enlightenment and the source of suffering.  Lived  Lived a strict, ascetic life for 6 yrs.  Rejecting  Rejecting this extreme, sat in meditation, and found nirvana.  Became  Became “The Enlightened One,” at 35.

16 What is the fundamental cause of all suffering? Desire!  Therefore,  Therefore, extinguish the self, don’t obsess about oneself.

17 Four Noble Truths 1. There is suffering in the world. To live is to suffer. (Dukkha)  The Buddha found this out when he was young and experienced suffering and death in others.

18 Four Noble Truths 2. The cause of suffering is self- centered desire and attachments. (Tanha)

19 Four Noble Truths 3. The solution is to eliminate desire and attachments. (Nirvana = “extinction”)

20 Four Noble Truths 4. To reach nirvana, one must follow the Eightfold Path.

21 Eightfold Path Nirvana  The union with the ultimate spiritual reality.  Escape from the cycle of rebirth.

22 Buddha – 19c Thailand

23 Buddha’s head : 2c Pakistan Buddha’s head : 2c Pakistan

24 Mandala: Wheel of Life Motif


26 Buddhist Altar

27 Types of Buddhism  Therevada Buddhism  Mahayana Buddhism  Tibetan Buddhism  Zen Buddhism  Therevada Buddhism  Mahayana Buddhism  Tibetan Buddhism  Zen Buddhism

28 Theravada Buddhism  The oldest school of Buddhism.  The “Way of the Elders” or the “Small Vehicle.”  Found in southern Asia.  The monastic life is the best way to achieve nirvana.  Focus on wisdom and meditation.  Goal is to become a “Buddha,” or “Enlightened One.”  Buddha was a mortal man  The oldest school of Buddhism.  The “Way of the Elders” or the “Small Vehicle.”  Found in southern Asia.  The monastic life is the best way to achieve nirvana.  Focus on wisdom and meditation.  Goal is to become a “Buddha,” or “Enlightened One.”  Buddha was a mortal man

29 Theravada Buddhism

30 Mahayana Buddhism  The “Great Vehicle.”  Founded in northern Asia (China, Japan).  Buddhism “for the masses.”  Seek guidance from Boddhisatvas, wise beings.  Often worship Buddha  Goal: Not just individual escape from the wheel, but the salvation of all humanity through self-sacrifice of those enlightened few.

31 Mahayana Buddhism

32 Seated Boddhisatva – 16c Bhutan

33 boddhisatva

34 Tibetan Buddhism  The “Diamond Vehicle.” [Vajrayana]  Developed in Tibet in the 7c CE.  A mix of Theravada and Mahayana.  Boddhisatvas include Lamas, like the Dalai Lama.  The Tibetan Book of the Dead [Bardo Thodol].

35 The Dalai Lama

36 zen Buddhism  The “Meditation School.”  Seeks sudden enlightenment through meditation, arriving at emptiness  Use of meditation masters.  Beauty, art, and aesthetics:  Gardens.  Archery.  Tea ceremony.  Calligraphy.

37 Relieve Stress & Meditate: Get a Mantra ! Ohm...mani...padme...hung... Hail to the jewel in the lotus!


39  One of the oldest religions of humanity  The religion of the Indian people  Gave birth to Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism  Tolerance and diversity: "Truth is one, paths are many"  Many deities but a single, impersonal Ultimate Reality  A philosophy and a way of life – focused both on this world and beyond

40  No particular founder  Indus River Valley Civilization >5000 years ago  Aryans enter years ago  Vedic Tradition 3500 – 2500 years ago: › rituals and many gods (polytheism) › sacred texts (Vedas) › social stratification (caste system)  Upanishads (metaphysical philosophy) 2800 – 2400 years ago  Vedic Tradition develops into Hinduism

41  Shruti (“heard”) – oldest, most authoritative: › Four Vedas (“truth”) – myths, rituals, chants › Upanishads - metaphysical speculation › Plus other texts  Smriti (“remembered”) – the Great Indian Epics: › Ramayana › Mahabharata (includes Bhagavad-Gita) › Plus others

42  One impersonal Ultimate Reality – Brahman  Manifest as many personal deities  True essence of life – Atman, the soul, is Brahman trapped in matter  Reincarnation – atman is continually born into this world lifetime after lifetime (Samsara)  Karma – spiritual impurity due to actions keeps us bound to this world (good and bad)  Ultimate goal of life – to release Atman and reunite with the divine, becoming as one with Brahman (Moksha)

43  Respect for all life – vegetarian  Human life as supreme: › Four “stations” of life (Caste) - priests & teachers, nobles & warriors, merchant class, servant class › Four stages of life – student, householder, retired, renunciant › Four duties of life – pleasure, success, social responsibilities, religious responsibilities (moksha)

44  The Four Yogas - seeking union with the divine: › Karma Yoga – the path of action through selfless service (releases built up karma without building up new karma) › Jnana Yoga – the path of knowledge (understanding the true nature of reality and the self) › Raja Yoga – the path of meditation › Bhakti Yoga – the path of devotion  Guru – a spiritual teacher, especially helpful for Jnana and Raja yoga

45  Bhakti Yoga is seeking union with the divine through loving devotion to manifest deities  In the home (household shrines) In the home  In the Temples (priests officiate) › Puja – making offerings to and decorating the deity images Puja › Darsan – “seeing” the deity (not idol worship) Darsan › Prasad – taking the divine within your own being through eating of food shared with the deity

46 Brahma, the creator god

47 Vishnu, the preserver god :

48 Shiva, god of constructive destruction (the transformer) Appears as Shiva Nataraj, lord of the dance of creation… and with his wife, Parvati, and son Ganesha (the elephant headed remover of obstacles)

49 Saraswati, goddess of wisdom, consort of Brahma

50 Lakshmi, goddess of good fortune, consort of Vishnu

51 Parvati, divine mother, wife of Shiva

52 Durga, protectress Kali, destroyer of demons Plus about 330 million other deities

53 All these deities are but Manifest forms (attributes and functions) of the impersonal Brahman All these deities are but Manifest forms (attributes and functions) of the impersonal Brahman

54 “We are not human beings having spiritual experiences; We are spiritual beings having a human experience!” “That art Thou” Hinduism is about recognizing the all pervasiveness of the divine


56 Chandragupta : 321 BCE-298 BCE  Unified northern India.  Defeated the Persian general Seleucus.  Divided his empire into provinces, then districts for tax assessments and law enforcement.  He feared assassination [like Saddam Hussein]  food tasters, slept in different rooms, etc.  301 BCE  gave up his throne & became a Jain.

57 The Maurya Empire 321 BCE – 185 BCE

58 KautilyaKautilya  Chandragupta’s advisor.  Brahmin caste.  Wrote The Treatise on Material Gain or the Arthashastra.  A guide for the king and his ministers:  Supports royal power.  The great evil in society is anarchy.  Therefore, a single authority is needed to employ force when necessary!

59 Asoka (304 – 232 BCE)  Religious conversion after the gruesome battle of Kalinga in 262 BCE.  Dedicated his life to Buddhism.  Built extensive roads.  Conflict  how to balance Kautilya’s methods of keeping power and Buddha’s demands to become a selfless person?

60 Asoka’s Empire

61 Asoka’s law code  Edicts scattered in more than 30 places in India, Nepal, Pakistan, & Afghanistan.  Written mostly in Sanskrit, but one was in Greek and Aramaic.  10 rock edicts.  Each pillar [stupa] is 40’-50’ high.  Buddhist principles dominate his laws.

62 One of Asoka’s Stupas

63 Women Under an Asoka tree

64 Turmoil & a power Vacuum: 220 BCE – 320 CE Tamils The Maurya Empire is divided into many kingdoms.

65 Gupta Empire: 320 CE – 647 CE

66 Gupta Rulers  Chandra Gupta I  r. 320 – 335 CE  “Great King of Kings”  Chandra Gupta II  r CE  Profitable trade with the Mediterranean world!  Hindu revival.  Huns invade – 450 CE

67 Fa-Hsien: Life in Gupta India  Chinese Buddhist monk traveled along the Silk Road and visited India in the 5c.  He was following the path of the Buddha.  He reported the people to be happy, relatively free of government oppression, and inclined towards courtesy and charity. Other references in the journal, however, indicate that the caste system was rapidly assuming its basic features, including "untouchability," the social isolation of a lowest class that is doomed to menial labor.

68 Chandra Gupta 11

69 International Trade Routes during the Guptas

70 Extensive Trade: 4c Extensive Trade: 4c spices spices gold & ivory rice & wheat horses cotton goods silks

71 KalidasaKalidasa  The greatest of Indian poets.  His most famous play was Shakuntala.  During the reign of Chandra Gupta II.

72 Gupta Art Greatly influenced Southeast Asian art & architecture.

73 Medicine Literature Mathematics Astronomy Printed medicinal guides 1000 diseases classified Plastic Surgery C-sections performed Inoculations 500 healing plants identified Decimal System Concept of Zero PI = Kalidasa Solar Calendar The earth is round Gupta India Gupta Achievements

74 The Decline of the Guptas  Invasion of the White Huns in the 4c signaled the end of the Gupta Golden Age, even though at first, the Guptas defeated them.  After the decline of the Gupta empire, north India broke into a number of separate Hindu kingdoms and was not really unified again until the coming of the Muslims in the 7c. 

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