Topography of India Subcontinent of India is partially separated from the rest of the Asian continent by the Himalayas
Passes through the mountains linked India to other civilizations in the Middle East
Divisions within India itself made full unity very difficult.
The most important agricultural regions are those along the Indus and the Ganges Rivers
The Formative Period Indian civilization was also shaped by its Vedic and Aryan Ages. Aryan conquerors gradually came to terms with agriculture. These ages brought the caste system, Sanskrit and many other religious beliefs to India.
Political eras were less clear in India – Invasions constantly disrupted the flow of rule.
Classical India alternated between widespread empires and a network of smaller kingdoms.
The Maurya and Gupta dynasties constituted the most successful political regimes in India. They were run entirely by Indians themselves as opposed to outside conquerors.
The Maurya Dynasty The first to unify much of the subcontinent. It’s first major ruler was Chandragupta. He ruled along the Ganges River around 322 BCE. He borrowed from Persian political models, and Alexander the Great.
Chandragupta and his successors maintained large armies, developed large bureaucracies, and developed a postal service. Their style of government was highly autocratic.
Ashoka was even greater than his grandfather. Through fierce fighting, he gained control of all but the southern tip of India.
Ashoka worked to improve trade and communication. Built an extensive road network, with wells and rest stops for travelers. Commerce grew. After Ashoka, the empire to fall apart.
The Guptas Began around 320 CE - No individual rulers but a great impact - Power was spread through intermarriage and negotiation. This was the greatest period of stability for India. They were overthrown by the Huns in 535 CE
The Caste System Provided the stability in India that most countries received from government.
The caste system developed during the Vedic and Epic Ages. It slowly developed into almost 300 sub castes. It provided a network of rules and promoted public order.
Hinduism The religion of the majority of people from India. Hinduism had no single founder and no central holy figure.
Features of Hinduism Upanishads – Epic poems Dharma – Hindu moral law
Buddhism – Founded on the teachings of Gautama born around 563 BCE – Accepted many Hindu beliefs but attacked the priests and caste system.
Buddha argued that holy life could be attained from any level of society.
Characteristics of India’s Society Family life emphasized rigidity and tight organization Male dominance was greater in theory than reality Families formed economic units Economy rivaled China in sophistication and technology but was still agricultural based Very prosperous upper class Emphasized trade and merchant activity (greater than China and the Med. World