World Civilizations - India

Indus and Ganges

The two major river systems in India

The Harappans

The first Indian civilization

What were the two Harappan cities and what are their importance?

- Mohenjodaro and Harappus
- Important archaeological finds

What are the Harappans known for?

Trade, especially with the Akkadians, their contemporaries

How were Harappan cities organized?

- In a grid system
- Shows signs of city planning

Harappan writing

- We can't read it
- Doesn't have a name

Why did the Harappans fall?

- Nobody knows
- Could be overuse of resources, irregular flooding of the Indus, or outside invaders

The Dravidians

- A dark skinned people from Africa
- Peaceful farmers
- Conquered by Aryans

Who founded Hinduism?

Indo-European Aryans

The three main gods of Hinduism

- Vishnu
- Shiva
- Kali

Vishnu

- One of two main gods of Hinduism
- Solar deity
- Benign patron god who protects humans
- Can take human form

Shiva

- One of two main gods of Hinduism
- God of destruction and rebirth
- Not evil, not Satan
- Good things can come from restarting

Kali

- Goddess of Hinduism
- Mother goddess and goddess of death
- Represents the embodiment of ancient Indian attitudes toward women
- Represents both good and evil

Mahavira

- Founder of Jainism
- Born to the elite, a soldier
- Abandoned the comfort of being an elite noble, as it got in the way of self-consciousness
- Died of starvation due to eating one grain of rice a day

Buddha

- Siddhartha Gautama
- The awakened/enlightened one
- Founder of Buddhism
- Grew up in comfort and privilege, sheltered from evil
- Sneaked out and saw sickness, suffering, and disease
- Became enlightened

Jainism

- One of the three main religions in India
- Founded by Mahavira
- Practices extreme asceticism
- Avoids all comforts in life, as well as violence
- Appeals to lower classes

Buddhism

- One of the three main religions in India
- All life is suffering
- The source of suffering is desire
- To stop suffering you must follow the eightfold path and end desire
- Avoids extremes, strives for a moderate lifestyle
- Hedonism and asceticism are

Dharma

- Two meanings
- In Hinduism, your destiny and place in life
- Defined by birth and caste
- If you follow your place, you'll be reborn as something better in your next life
- In Buddhism, the teachings of the Buddha

Ahimsa

- Non-violence
- A concept which applies to all three religions

Karma

- Do good things and good things will happen to you

Nirvana

- State of perfect nothingness and absolute peace
- Achieved by following your Dharma, contemplating, and meditating
- Achievable on Earth or after being reincarnated
- A concept of Buddhism

Caste system

- Social class founded by the Aryans
- They called it the Varnas
- Decided by religious purity and skin color
- Subdivided into hundreds of smaller classes called jatis
- Almost impossible to leave your class
- Divided into four classes

Brahmans

The clergy/priest caste

Kshatriyas

- The warrior/elite caste
- The most powerful caste

Vaishiyas

The commoner/farmer/merchant/artisan caste

Shudras

- The slave/untouchables caste

Aryans

- Made up of Indo-European tribes
- Conquered the Dravidians
- Dominant power in India, governed most of it
- Made Sanskrit
- Made the Caste system (called it the Varnas)
- Allowed the growth and development of Hinduism (did not make it)
- Made the Vedas

Sanskrit

- Developed by the Aryans
- The first major form of writing in India
- Somewhat similar to Cuneiform

Vedas

- Written compositions of religious nature
- Hymns, chants, moralistic stories, guide to life
- Most famous is the Rigveda
- Basis of Hinduism
- Made by the Aryans

Rigveda

- Most famous Veda
- Contains the world's origins and is still used in Hindu prayer today

Alexander the Great

- Conquered a small portion of India
- Entire army quit on him at the Indus river and he retreated
- Left behind local kings and princes to rule his small conquered areas

Chandragupta

- Overthrew the rulers installed by Alexander
- Founded the first major Indian empire: the Mauryan dynasty
- Patron of Jainism despite being an elite

Ashoka

- Last king of the Mauryan dynasty
- Reign was hegemonic
- Started off as a conqueror, later found religion
- Became Buddhist but was religiously tolerant
- Erected pillars and issued edicts that favorably described him
- Spread Buddhism throughout India

Edicts of Ashoka

- Written in Prakrit language
- Describes Ashoka as a paternalistic ruler who took care of his subjects and made them prosperous, as opposed to the tactic of scaring subjects into submission

Kushansa Dynasty

- Contemporaries of the Romans
- Traders (with Rome, the East, and the Silk Road)
- Formed a very small kingdom which showed continuity, change, and adaptation
- Coins had Greek alphabet which was adapted for Indian languages

Gupta Dynasty

- A kingdom which did not conquer much but had a longer reign and more influence
- Brought about the golden age of India
- Increase in art, literature, and architecture
- Favored Hinduism but was religiously tolerant
- After they fell, many kingdoms reeme

Mauryan Dynasty

- First dynasty
- Began after Chandragupta defeated the Alexander-installed rulers
- Short lived
- Ended after Ashoka due to civil war

Mahabharata

- Indian epic writing
- Describes war between cousins for control of an empire
- Hero is Arjuna

Ramayana

- Indian epic writing
- Hero is Rama, an exiled would-be king
- Recounts Rama's war with Ravana over the kidnapping of Sita, Rama's wife

What is the importance of India's epic writings?

- They are used as religious and moral stories
- You do what's right because it's moral
- One should only be aware of the moral rightness of the act itself

Kalidasa

- Poet of Gupta era
- Wrote "The Cloud Messenger," in which a man who is exiled from his wife by the gods uses the clouds to message her