India Notes


  1. Indus River Valley
    1. Two major cities begin to form around 2500BC
      1. Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro
        1. Home to about 35-45 thousand people
        2. Built of fired clay brick with a 4:2:1 standard proportion
        3. Pre-planned cities
          1. Each about 3 miles in circumference
          2. Had a wall and 50 ft tall citadel
          3. Grid pattern layout
          4. Streets ranged between 9-34ft wide
          5. Plumbing
            1. Clay pipes
            2. Each house had a bathroom
          6.  Grain houses located next to government buildings
          7. Markets located around citadel
          8. Bath houses
        4. Domesticated cows, buffalo, fowl, pigs, and donkeys
        5. Harvest lapis lazuli and gold
      2. Don’t know much about culture
        1. We still haven’t translated their language
      3. Decline around 2000 BC
        1. Unknown what caused it but speculate
          1. Shift in course of the river
          2. Over farming land
          3. Trade collapse
          4. Economic depression
        2. No civilization in India would rival it for another thousand years
  2. Aryans (1500-500BC)
    1. Meaning “noble” or “high born”
    2. Came from central asia, similar to Persians
    3. Conquered the local peoples of India
      1. Brought with them chariots
      2. Iron tools and weapons
    4. Vedas
      1. Collections of hymns, rituals, and philosophy
      2. Written in Sanskrit
    5. They were collections of tribes instead of a unified nation
      1. Each tribe was lead by a raja
        1. Chosen for military skill
  3. Early Indian Society (1000-500BC)
    1. As nomadic Aryan leaders transitioned to territorial ones, culture changed
      1. Kingdoms began to form
      2. Brahman class formed
        1. Priests who conferred power and managed religious rituals
  4. Caste System
    1. Levels of status in Indian Society
    2. 4 distinct groups (varna) that don’t eat with or marry one another
      1. Brahman- priests
      2. Kshatriya- warriors and officials
      3. Vaishya- merchants and artisans
      4. Shudra- peasants and laborers
      5. outcastes/untouchables- had to caste because of a violation of ritual
        1. Considered impure
    3. Responsibilities
      1. The top three varna made up about 30% of the population
  5. Mauryan Empire (322-185BC)
    1. Background Context
      1. From 513-298BC Pakistan and the Indus Valley were controlled by western invaders
        1. Persians
          1. First the Persians came through and controlled the territory
          2. They brought with them many important things for the Indians
            1. Learned how to rule large tracts of land and people
            2. Minting standard silver coins (coinage)
            3. Aramaic script which they adapt to write their languages including Hindi
        2. Alexander the Great conquers and comes through in 326BC
          1. Defeats India’s war elephants
          2. Leaves behind Seleucus, a general to govern the territory
    2. Chandragupta (322-298BC)
      1. A leader of a state in the Ganges Valley
      2. Decides to use Alexander’s conquest to his advantage and begins to conquers other states around India
        1. Defeats Seleucus in 304BC
      3. Claims all of India under his rule and begins the Mauryan Empire
      4. Uses Persian influence to help govern
        1. Models government after Persian Bureaucracy
          1. Splits the Empire into provinces, each governed by a by a governor of his choosing
        2. A taxation system of agricultural trade
        3. Built a regular army
          1. Included departments like the navy or supply
        4. Funded libraries, universities, palaces, temples, gardens, parks, and defences 
        5. State controlled forests, mines, large farms, granaries, shipyards, and factories
      5. Ruled for many years but became worried about his assassination 
        1. Will eventually abdicate the throne and become a Jain monk
        2. Leaves kingdom to his son
        3. Dies in 298 BC
    3. Ashoka (269-232BC)
      1. Grandson of Chandragupta
      2. Expanded border of the empire to its greatest size
        1. In 261BC Ashoka marched to conquer Kalinga
          1. There he killed 100,000 and forcibly removed 150,000 from their homes
          2. After seeing the violence of the event, Ashoka was overcome by guilt and remorse
          3. He took up Buddhism as a result
      3. Buddhism under Ashoka
        1. His conversion completely changed his rule and the world
          1. He began to live a life of nonviolence
          2. He sent missionaries to the rest of asia to introduce Buddhism
          3. Appointed officials who were charged with moral welfare and governing humanely
          4. Erected pillars that informed people of policies
          5. Saw his rule as a responsibility to care for his people
          6. Established more trade routes
          7. Built many public works; including wells every mile on roads for people and animal to drink
          8. Strict about Buddhist doctrine to prevent schism
          9. Improved relation with neighboring kingdoms, especially along the coast and Sri Lanka
      4. Decline of Mauryan Empire
        1. Ashoka ruled for 37 years
        2. Although a long rule, the culture of his new rule wasn’t entrenched yet into the culture
        3. Under his heirs the kingdom would decline into ruin and break up into many small kingdoms
  6. Buddhism
    1. Founded by Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 BC)
      1. Prince in the modern day country of Nepal
        1. Lived life of extreme luxury
        2. Never experienced any form of suffering
      2. Experiences 3 forms of suffering outside his palace
        1. Aging, sickness, and death
      3. Became an ascetic to become enlightened
        1. Ascetic- person who gives up worldly pleasures
          1. Practices so rigorously he became incredibly thin
        2. Enlightened- state of gaining deep spiritual insight into universal truth
      4. The Middle Way
        1. A right balance between extremes of pleasure and pain
        2. While meditating under Bodhi tree finds the way to enlightenment on his 35th birthday
        3. Discover 4 Noble Truths
          1. Suffering is present in all things, and nothing lasts forever
          2. Suffering is caused by cravings
          3. The way to end suffering is to give up cravings
          4. The way to end cravings is the Eightfold Path
        4. Eightfold Path
          1. Right Understanding of the 4 Noble Truths
          2. Right Purpose of selflessness
          3. Right Speech of truth
          4. Right Action- do not kill or steal
          5. Right Way to Earn a Living- do not work a job that causes some harm
          6. Right Effort- promote good actions
          7. Right Mindfulness- be aware but not attached to emotions
          8. Right Concentration- meditation