A BRIEF SURVEY -ANCIENT INDIA (SI)
A BRIEF SURVEY OF ANCIENT INDIA
The Indus Valley Civilisation: In the early 1920s, the Archaeological Department of India unearthed Mohen Jo Daro, (means “The Mound of the Dead”) near the Larkana district of Sind in Pakistan and Harappa in the Montgomery district of Pakistan. These excavations revealed that four to five thousand years ago, a highly developed urban civilisation flourished here.
The Vedic Age: Arrival of the Aryans: The European scholars place the period of their coming between 2005 BC. and 1500 BC. The late Mr B.G. Tilak and other Indian historians push the date far backwards i.e. 4000 BC or even earlier. The Aryans occupied North India, pushing the Dravidians to the South.
The Later Vedic Period or The Epic Age: The Aryans had settled in the valleys of the Ganga and the Yamuna. Two important epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata reflect the social, religious, economic and political condition of India in the Later Vedic period.
The political condition now was more developed than that in the early Vedic period. The tiny tribal settlements of the Vedic period were replaced by strong kingdoms. The power of the kings increased immensely and kingship became hereditary. In addition to agriculture and cattle rearing, trade and industry had also made a great progress. Many crafts were practised. The merchants were organised.
The Vedic religion had undergone a great change. In the Epic or later Vedic period, the religion came very near modern Hinduism. It is called Brahmanical Hinduism.
The Aryans were split up into/four groups according to occupation
Brahmins or the priestly class
Kshatriyas or military class
Vaishyas or trading class or the farmers and artisans
Shudras or the labour class.
Various religious books of the Aryans are.
The Vedas, the most sacred books of the Hindus. The Vedas are four in number:
The Rig Veda
The Yajur Veda,
The Sama Veda.
The Atharva Veda.
The Upanishads deal with Aryan philosophy and theology. Do they elaborate the main problems of man: What is God? What is Soul? What is Matter? How are they related?
Mann Smirti. Manu was the great lawgiver in the Aryan period. His Smriti deals with laws of inheritance, duties of kings and subject of the four castes and the four ashramas.
The Puranas are eighteen in number. The most important is Bhagavata and Vishnu Pitrana. The former describes the life story of Shri Krishna.
Buddhism: Buddhism was founded by Gautama Siddhartha (623 B.C. to 543 B.C.), a Kshatriya prince who left his family for retirement in the forest at the age of twenty-eight. The event is called the Great Renunciation. He got enlightenment under a Pipal tree at Bodh Gaya. He now became the Buddh^. He gave his first sermon at Sarnath. The highlights of Buddhism are:
The Four Noble Truths:
Life is suffering;
Cause of suffering is desire;
When desire ceases, rebirth ceases and Nirvana is attained;
Desire can be conquered by the Noble Eightfold Path.
The doctrine of Panchshcel:
Not to kill any living being:
Not to take’what is not given to one;
Not to lie;
Not to drink intoxicants;
Not to be unchaste.
The Eightfold Path consists of Right Faith, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Rig Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Remembrance and Right Concentration.
Buddhism believed in karma and rebirth.
Buddhism is silent upon the existence of God.
Jainism: Vardhamana Mahavira (599-527 BC), the 24th Tirthankara (religious teacher), is considered to be the founder and the greatest exponent of Jainism.
24 JAIN TIRTHANKARAS
Name Symbol Name Symbol
1. Rishabha Bull 2. Ajitnath Elephant
3. Sambharanath Horse 4. Abhiaandam Swamy Monkey
5. Snmathinath Curlew 6. Padamprabhu Red Lotus
7. Suparaswanalh Swastik 8. Chandraji Prabhu Moon
9. Snvidhinath Crocodile 10. Shitalnath Srivatsa
11. Shregansnalh 12. Vasupujya Buffalo
13. Vimalnath Boar 14. Ananthnath Falcon
15. Dharamnath Vajra 16. Shantinath Deer
17. Kuniunath He-Goat 18. Arndth Fish
19. Mallinath Water Pot 20. Mitniswasth Tortoise
21. Naminath Blue Lotus 22. Neniinath Conch Shell
23. Parswanalh Serpent 24. Mahavir Lion
The teachings of Jainism are:
Attain Nirvana, or release from rebirth through the three-fold path (Tn Ratna) consisting of Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right conduct, belief in Ahinsa or non-injury in word thought or deed to any living being
Belief in Karma though denying the existence of God. Dismissal of Rituals as useless.
The Magadh Empire: From 6th century BC to 4th century BC, the political scene in India is vague from the historical point of view. Magadha was the most powerful kingdom in North India. Its capital was Pataliputra. Notable rulers were Bimbisara and Ajatsatru.
Alexander’s Invasion (326 BC–323 BC): Alexander was the son of Phi lip of Macedon in Greece. In 326 BC he invaded India. His major battle was with Poms on the banks of Jhelum. Alexander was victorious.
The Mauryan Empire: Chandragupta (322 BC-298 BC) was the founder of the Mauryan empire. He overthrew the Nanda. He defeated Seleucus Nikator, a Greek, and extended the boundary of India right up to Hindukush. Chandragupta was the first Indian king who could be called a national ruler.
Ashoka, (273 BC-232 BC): The grandson of Chandragupta, Ashoka was one of the greatest kings of the world. The Kalinga War (261 BC) changed his attitudes. The vast destruction made him change his expansionist ideal to Dharma Vijaya. He became a Buddhist and his administration became mild, even though efficient.
Indo-Greek Rule: After Alexander’s invasion, there were a few Greek rulers, the most important being Demetrius and Menander. The latter became a Buddhist. Kadphises I, Kadphises II. Kanishka and Huvishka were important Kushan Kings of India.
The Guptas: Chandragupta-I (320-335 AD); Samudragupta (335-380 AD); Chandragupta Vikramaditya (380-413 AD), Kumaragupta (414-455 AD); and Skandagupta (455-467 AD) were the important Gupta kings.
The extent of Samudragupta’s Empire: Samudragupta’s empire extended from the Brahmaputra in the east to the Yamuna and the Chambal in the west; from the Himalayas in the north to the Narmada in the south. The Deccan and other neighbouring states also accepted his suzerainty. He is called the ‘Indian Napoleon’. Chandragupta-I I (Vikramaditya) defeated the Saka satraps of Malwa, Gujarat and Saurashtra and annexed their territories. The Gupta period is called the Golden Age of Ancient India.
Age of Harsha: Harshavardhana (606-47 AD) ruled over the kingdom of Thaneswar. His reign marks the culmination of ancient Indian culture. Marsha’s empire extended from the Brahmaputra in the east to East Punjab in the west and from the Himalayas in the north to River Narmada in the south. He called an assembly of Buddhist monks every five years at Prayag. He also held a grand assembly at Kanauj in honour of I lieu Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim.
The Rajputs (650-1200 AD): The Rajputs dominated the Indian political scene for about 500 years. Prominent Rajput rulers were: Prithviraj Chauhan who ruled over Delhi and Ajmer and defeated the well known Mohammad Ghori in 1191 in the first Battle of Tarain. But he was defeated and killed by Ghori in 1192, in the Second Battle of Tarain. Jai Chand Rathor was the last famous Rajput king, also to be defeated and killed by Mohammad Ghori in 1194. Palas ruled in Bihar an.d the Senas in Bengal. In Malwa, the Parmars ruled, the most famous of whom was King Bhoja. The Chandcls ruled in Bundelkhand till Qutb-ud-din Aibak conquered it in 1203. Mewar was the most important Rajput Kingdom. Rana Kumbha was a famous ruler of this dynasty. He defeated Mahmud Khilji and erected a victory tower in Chittor. His son, Rana Sangram Singh (Sanga), and Rana Pratap were other great rulers of this kingdom.
History of Peninsular India (from the Sangam Age to the Chola Age): In the Sangam Age, the region to the south of Krishna river was ruled by three kingdoms—Chola, Pandya and Chera, which are mentioned in the inscriptions of Ashoka.
The Satavahanas or the Andhra first established their rule in Maharashtra and gradually extended into Andhra and Karnataka. Satakarni (106-130 A.D.) was the most famous king of the dynasty.
The Chalukyas of Badami: The Chalukya King Pulakesin II fought against Harsha of Kannauj and the Pallavas, who finally defeated and killed Pulakesin II in 642 AD. The caves of Ajanta, Ellora, Badami, etc. were built during this period.
The Pallavas: In the far south, the Pallavas had established their power, with its centre at Kanchipuram. The Pallavas reached the height of their power during the reign of Mahendravarman I (600-630 AD), a contemporary of Harsha and Pulakesin II.
The Cholas: Cholas rose to prominence by inflicting a crushing defeat on the Pallavas. The Cholas captured Thanjavur (Tanjore) and established their capital there. The greatest king of the dynasty was Raja Raja I (885-1012 AD) who laid the foundation of the great Chola empire by extensive conquests.