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India during the Classical Period. Historians believe that before the fall of the Indus Valley civilization, a light- skinned, nomadic people from the.

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Presentation on theme: "India during the Classical Period. Historians believe that before the fall of the Indus Valley civilization, a light- skinned, nomadic people from the."— Presentation transcript:

1 India during the Classical Period

2 Historians believe that before the fall of the Indus Valley civilization, a light- skinned, nomadic people from the Black Sea region known as the Aryans migrated to the Indian sub-continent. After about 1000 BCE, they had settled in the area between the Himalayan foothills and the Ganges River, and by 500 BCE they had migrated as far south as the Deccan plateau in the south- central part of the sub-continent.

3 India during the Classical Period

4 As these nomadic peoples settled, they cleared great forests for cultivation and fuel. As a result, major climatic changes began to occur in India (as they occurred in other places doing the same thing). At first, Aryan society was probably a fairly simple one of farmers and herders led by warrior chiefs and priests.

5 India during the Classical Period As they settled, their social complexity grew, especially as they interacted with the native, darker skinned Dravidians. This developing culture developed the language and literary form called Sanskrit.

6 India during the Classical Period Sacred texts were developed, as oral traditions and stories were written down. These early texts were known as the Vedas. The early part of Indian history is often called the Vedic Age, and the term Veda is Sanskrit for “knowledge.” The early Vedas (the most famous is the Rig- Veda) talk about Aryan gods/goddesses who regulated nature and took human form.

7 India during the Classical Period The Aryan religion centered on sacrificial concepts; through sacrifice the process of creation which the gods achieved at the beginning of time would be endlessly repeated. Great importance was given to the Brahmins, the priests who presided over these ceremonies.

8 India during the Classical Period Agni, the god of fire, was very important because it was through his sacrificial flames that men could reach the gods.

9 India during the Classical Period Many of the gods/goddesses in the Aryan tradition had similarities to Greek and Scandinavian deities.

10 India during the Classical Period The Rig-Veda reflected an Aryan culture that was shaped after it settled in India. Even though its hymns are believed to be from before 1000 BCE, it wasn’t put into a written form until after 1300 CE. It was during this early “formative” period that the caste system began to develop.

11 India during the Classical Period

12 The Development of the Caste System: The term caste—a social class of hereditary and unchangeable status—was first used in India by Portuguese merchants and mariners during the 16 th century CE when they observed sharp social distinctions among the Indian people. The Aryans used the term varna, a Sanskrit word meaning “color,” to refer to their social classes.

13 India during the Classical Period By about 1000 BCE, the Aryans recognized four major varnas and explained them in their creation myth which revolved around the father of humankind, Purusha.

14 India during the Classical Period The first Aryan epic, the Rig-Veda attributed the rise of the caste system to the gods: “When they divided the original Man into how many parts did they divide him? What was his mouth, what were his arms, what were his thighs and his feet called? The Brahmin was his mouth, of his arms was made the warrior. His thighs became the vaishya, of his feet the shudra was born.”

15 India during the Classical Period Brahmins: the highest social classes were the priests and scholars, who sprang from Purusha’s mouth, and represented intellect, knowledge, and wisdom. Brahmins were the “lightest” in skin color.

16 India during the Classical Period Next came the Kshatriya—the warrior- aristocracy, the rulers and government officials who came from the arms of Purusha.

17 India during the Classical Period The third layer of people, the Vaishya, came from Purusha’s thighs. They were the landowners, merchants, artisans (or skilled laborers).

18 India during the Classical Period The fourth level, the Sudra (or Shudra), came from Purusha’s feet. They were the common peasants, (unskilled) laborers, and servants.

19 India during the Classical Period During the classical era, the caste system became much more complex with each caste further subdivided into jati, or birth groups, each with its own occupation, duties, and rituals. Each jati had little contact with others, and its members married and followed the same occupations as their ancestors. Marriage between castes (often even between jati) was forbidden, under penalty of death 

20 India during the Classical Period A fifth group eventually developed, considered so low, they didn’t even merit a caste designation. Called the Dalits (or untouchables), they were relegated to the jobs considered the most “polluted” or defiling (handling garbage, dead bodies, animal skins, etc). Nearly 20% of all Indians were a part of this group.

21 India during the Classical Period Today, these people are known as the Harijan (so named the “Children of God” by Gandhi).

22 India during the Classical Period A good example of how women were regarded in classical India comes from the Lawbook of Manu (1st century BCE): “It is the nature of women to seduce men in this world; for that reason the wise are never unguarded in the company of females… In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent. She must not seek to separate herself from her father, husband, or sons; by leaving them she would make both her own and her husband’s families contemptible…”

23 India during the Classical Period During the early classical period another of the world’s major religions developed, Buddhism. Founded by Siddhartha Gautama ( BCE), a member of a Kshatriya family in northeastern India. He led the life of a prince, comfortable and isolated. But he wanted to know the true meaning of existence, so he abandoned the life of pleasure.

24 India during the Classical Period The Buddha believed that “desire” was the root cause of all human suffering and that to end suffering, one must end desire. Once he attained “enlightenment,” the Buddha spent the rest of his life spreading his knowledge to others.

25 India during the Classical Period The Buddha never claimed to be divine, but after his death some of his disciples elevated him to that status (Mahayana). Even though Buddhism spread, by the third century BCE, it looked as though it would remain a small regional religion.

26 India during the Classical Period Political developments greatly impacted the growth of Buddhism, particularly after Ashoka, the third and greatest ruler of the Mauryan Empire converted to it.

27 India during the Classical Period India, among the great classical civilizations, developed in sharp contrast to China. By 600 BCE, classical India was emerging as a fragmented collection of towns and cities, some small republics governed by public assemblies, and some regional states ruled by kings.

28 India during the Classical Period A large range of ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity characterized this civilization, as an endless variety of peoples migrated into India from Central Asia across the mountain passes in the northwest. Add to this the countless terrains of India: mountains, river valleys, forests, steppes, and deserts—all made transportation and communication difficult.

29 India during the Classical Period India’s recognizable identity and character didn’t develop from an imperial tradition nor ethnolinguistic commonality; it developed because of a distinctive religious tradition (Hinduism) and the unique social system of caste. These would be the “glue” that held India together for several millennia.

30 India during the Classical Period Despite this, emperors and empires were not entirely unknown in India’s long history. Northwestern India had been briefly ruled by the Persian Empire and then conquered by Alexander the Great.

31 India during the Classical Period These Persian and Greek influences helped stimulate the first and largest of India’s experiments with a large-scale political system, the Mauryan Empire ( BCE). Founded by a young soldier named Chandragupta Maurya, the Mauryan Empire was the first to unify most of the Indian subcontinent.

32 India during the Classical Period The short-lived Mauryan Empire was an impressive political structure, rivaling the power of Persia, Rome, and China.

33 India during the Classical Period The Mauryan Empire might have had as many as 50 million people, with a military force reputed to have 600,000 soldiers of infantry, 30,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots, and 9,000 elephants.

34 India during the Classical Period The caste system was in place across the sub-continent, and even though religious beliefs were shared, the hundreds of jati separated people into groups of identification…so political authority wasn’t as important as caste status.

35 India during the Classical Period The Mauryan Empire began in eastern India in the state of Magadha. The kingdom was wealthy and strategically located along the trade routes of the Ganges River Valley. The Mauryan Empire created a civilian bureaucracy and several ministries to help manage the large empire.

36 India during the Classical Period A large number of state paid spies provided the rulers with local information.

37 India during the Classical Period A famous treatise called the Arthashastra (The Science of Worldly Wealth) was written by Chandragupta’s Chief Minister. It was Machiavellian 15 centuries before Machiavelli wrote The Prince. It was realpolitik…how the political world truly operated…and it instructed a king how to be calculating and sometimes brutal (instead of morally just) to preserve the state and common good.

38 India during the Classical Period The Mauryan state operated many industries—spinning, weaving, mining, shipbuilding, weapons manufacturing, even a postal system. This was financed by taxes on trade, on herds of animals, and especially on land, which the emperor claimed ¼ of the crop.

39 India during the Classical Period The most famous of the Mauryan emperors was Chandragupta’s grandson, Ashoka (r BCE).

40 India during the Classical Period Ashoka was not his father’s chosen successor and there was a struggle for succession to the throne (which explains the 4 year gap between rulers). Legend says there were 99 brothers in Ashoka’s way, and he ruthlessly had all but one killed (that one was a Buddhist monk—a career choice probably made for self-preservation). The legend also says Ashoka visited Hell so he could construct something similar on Earth, equipped with the latest instruments of exquisite torture, for all who incurred his displeasure.

41 India during the Classical Period Ashoka was initially a ruthless and brutal king who faithfully followed the dictates of the Arthashastra by consolidating power and expanding the frontiers of his empire by force. Legend has it that eight years into his reign there was a particularly bloody battle against the state of Kalinga (today’s Orissa) which caused Ashoka to have a revelation.

42 India during the Classical Period Repulsed by the wanton slaughter and bloodshed of battle (his army reportedly killed in excess of 150,000 people and another 150,000 were deported), he converted to Buddhism and turned to more peaceful ways of governing his huge empire.

43 India during the Classical Period He had edicts carved into rocks and pillars throughout the empire promoting his philosophy of nonviolence and toleration for Hinduism and the many sects and varied religious culture of India. He referred to all Indians as “my children,” and he promised to work for “every kind of happiness in this world and the next.” Only 19 pillars have survived.

44 India during the Classical Period Ashokan pillars.

45 India during the Classical Period This is the most famous pillar capital erected by Ashoka (c. 250 BCE). Located at Sarnath, the four lions stand above the symbolic wheel, which has become the national symbol of India.

46 India during the Classical Period Living up to this philosophy, he abandoned his much loved royal hunts, ended animal sacrifices in the capital, eliminated most meat from the royal menu, and he generously supported Buddhist monasteries. He ordered the digging of wells, the planting of shade trees, clearly marked milestones, and the building of rest stops along the empire’s major roads trying to integrate and improve the empire’s economy by aiding travelers and animals.

47 India during the Classical Period The construction of the Mahabodhi Temple (a Buddhist temple) began with Ashoka. It is located on the spot where the Buddha attained enlightenment. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

48 India during the Classical Period A Buddhist stupa built by Ashoka. A stupa was a domed shaped building that housed Buddhist religious relics.

49 India during the Classical Period

50 Ashoka’s reign certainly had a different tone than that of Qin Shi Huangdi or of Alexander the Great, (who, according to legend, wept because there were no more worlds to conquer). Ashoka’s policies made for good politics as well as morality. It was an effort to develop an inclusive and integrative moral code for an extremely diverse peoples.

51 India during the Classical Period Ashoka’s dominant image in Indian history is that of a young, brutal warrior who turned responsible monarch, a philosopher-king, who established a reign of virtue and saw himself as the father of his people. Ashoka is considered by many in India to be one of the greatest emperors in their history (and one of the few leaders mentioned by name on AP exams).

52 India during the Classical Period The British historian and novelist H.G. Wells (War of the Worlds) wrote: "Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history... the name of Ashoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star."

53 India during the Classical Period But after his death (231 BCE), the Mauryan Empire began to disintegrate, especially when new invaders from central Asia came in through the northwestern part of India. The last Mauryan king (considered a “half-wit”) was assassinated in 184 BCE by his military chief, and for the next 500 years, India went back to the familiar theme of political fragmentation.

54 India during the Classical Period The assassin was a Brahman, and was apparently no friend of the Buddhists (suggesting an orthodox Hindu backlash). The dynasty he founded was known as the Shunga, and they presided over a disintegrating kingdom for about 110 years. The last Shunga, reportedly “overfond of women’s company,” was assassinated by the daughter of one of his female companions.

55 India during the Classical Period In the 1 st century CE a people known as the Kushans, came from the northwest. Their greatest king, Kanishka, also converted to Buddhism causing Buddhism to decline in India because it became associated with outsiders.

56 India during the Classical Period When the Kushan kingdom collapsed around 220 CE, India went through another long period of fragmentation, turbulence, and political instability. The five hundred years between the Mauryas and the Guptas (c 200 BCE- 300 CE) is often known as India’s “Dark Age.”

57 India during the Classical Period By 320 CE a new Indian empire was established, the Gupta Empire. Founded by Chandra Gupta I r. c CE (no relation), he modeled himself after the Mauryan founder by borrowing his name and beginning his empire in the same place (Magadha).

58 India during the Classical Period Though not as large as the Mauryan Empire, the Gupta period was culturally superior, considered by many to be the “Golden Age” of India.

59 India during the Classical Period In the 4 th -5 th centuries CE, while Rome was being overrun by “barbarians” and its empire was disintegrating, the Gupta were experiencing the most prosperous era in Indian history (to that point). The empire thrived in trade, crafts, the arts, agriculture, and religious (both Hindu and Buddhist) expression.

60 India during the Classical Period Though much smaller than its Mauryan predecessor, the Gupta did not build much of a bureaucracy…they preferred to receive tribute from the regional warrior aristocrats. These regional warrior elites had a great deal of autonomy to rule their lands as they pleased as long as they sent tribute.

61 India during the Classical Period Rather than rule by force/coercion, the Gupta were known for negotiating and the intermarriage of royal/aristocratic families to preserve and expand power. The Gupta was a short lived dynasty (about 215 years), being overthrown by the central-Asian Huns in 535 CE. India then went back to the familiar pattern of fragmentation and regional politics.

62 India during the Classical Period The wall-paintings of Ajanta Cave (created during the Gupta period) in the central Deccan are considered among the greatest and most powerful works of Indian art. There are forty-eight caves making up Ajanta, most of which were carved out of solid rock between CE, and they are filled with Buddhist sculptures.

63 India during the Classical Period The Ajanta Caves.

64 India during the Classical Period

65

66 The Gupta Empire was sometimes known as a “Theatre State” which was a technique (also used by the Persians) to awe subjects into remaining loyal to the ruling family. The ruler took the title “King of Kings” and he required tribute to be brought to his capital, where a splendid palace, magnificent buildings, beautiful grounds, spectacular entertainment, and elaborate costumes were designed to impress visitors.

67 India during the Classical Period Even though religion (Hinduism & Buddhism) played a major part in classical Indian culture (both during the Mauryan and Guptan periods) it was not the only enduring part. India developed a tradition of mathematical and scientific learning (especially in astronomy and medicine) that rivaled any of their contemporaries.

68 India during the Classical Period Much of this scholarship occurred at one of the world’s first universities (in the town of Nalanda). The curriculum included religion, history, philosophy, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, architecture, and agriculture.

69 India during the Classical Period Indian astronomers accurately calculated a solar year (365 days) and calculated the circumference of the earth (just under 25,000 miles). They knew the Earth was round. Indian astronomers calculated the earth’s daily rotation on its axis, predicted solar eclipses, developed a theory of gravity (1300 years before Newton), and developed a telescope (1200 years before Galileo) that could see seven planets.

70 India during the Classical Period Indian medicine developed early plastic surgery and improved bone setting. Smallpox inoculations were developed 1300 years before the Europeans. India was among the first to create not only the idea of a hospital, but cleanliness within it. Indian doctors knew how to sterilize wounds.

71 India during the Classical Period The Indian practice of medicine called Ayurveda (means “the science of life and longevity”) developed during this time. Unlike medical practices in the West, Ayurveda focuses on treatment of the person rather than the disease. Rather than diagnosing and treating a virus or bacteria, Ayurveda looks at the total patient (diet, body type, personality, mental state, etc).

72 India during the Classical Period In mathematics, we owe classical India our numbering system (it’s not really Arabic even though we call it that), the concept of zero, the concept of decimals, and negative numbers. Indian mathematicians developed square roots, a table of sines/cosines, and calculated pi more accurately than the Greeks …

73 India during the Classical Period Indian steel was the world’s best and their capacity to make iron was equaled by Europe only within the last 200 years. The “Iron Pillar” of Delhi (23.5’ high – 6 tons) erected during the Gupta period…it doesn’t rust.

74 India during the Classical Period In Sanskrit, the inscription on the pillar reads: He, on whose arm fame was inscribed by the sword, when, in battle in the Vanga countries (Bengal), he kneaded (and turned) back with (his) breast the enemies who, uniting together, came against (him); he, by whom, having crossed in warfare the seven mouths of the (river) Sindhu, the Valikas were conquered; he, by the breezes of whose prowess the southern ocean is even still perfumed; (Line 3.) He, the remnant of the great zeal of whose energy, which utterly destroyed (his) enemies, like (the remnant of the great glowing heat) of a burned- out fire in a great forest, even now leaves not the earth; though he, the king, as if wearied, has quit this earth, and has gone to the other world, moving in (bodily) from to the land (of paradise) won by (the merit of his) actions, (but) remaining on (this) earth by (the memory of his) fame; (L. 5.) By him, the king,-who attained sole supreme sovereignty in the world, acquired by his own arm and (enjoyed) for a very long time; (and) who, having the name of Chandra, carried a beauty of countenance like (the beauty of) the full-moon,-having in faith fixed his mind upon (the god) Vishnu, this lofty standard of the divine Vishnu was set up on the hill (called) Vishnupada.

75 India during the Classical Period Indian literature during this period included the five volume Panchatantra (designed to teach children morals), and an early version of Cinderella. Indian drama flourished with stories of heroes, damsels in distress, and romantic adventure.

76 India during the Classical Period In economics, classical India rivaled China in sophistication and prosperity. Besides Chinese silk, Indian textiles (cotton, calico, cashmere) were the finest in the world.

77 India during the Classical Period Indian textiles (especially cotton) were traded throughout the entire Afro- Eurasian world. Strong guilds of merchants and artisans provided political leadership in major cities and the wealth they generated supported lavish temples, public buildings, and religious festivals.

78 India during the Classical Period Merchants in India attained relatively high caste status (Vaishya), as India promoted merchant activity more than China or the Mediterranean. Indian merchants were among the world’s most traveled, spreading ideas to and from the Roman Empire, the Middle East, southeast Asia, and China.

79 India during the Classical Period Classical India’s influence in religion, culture, mathematics, science, and manufacturing has had profound impacts on regions well beyond its borders ever since the fall of the Gupta Empire. For core remnants to have survived into the contemporary era is a testament to India’s ingenuity, flexibility and adaptability.


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