Ancient India - Al Iman School

Ancient India
6th Grade
Ancient India
• Civilization began to develop in Ancient India around 2500 B.C.
• This time marks when some of the first people in India began to develop
a writing system.
• These first people established what is known as the Indus Valley
• They were later conquered by the Aryans, a people who came to India
sometime after 2000 B.C.
• Other civilizations followed, including the first empire of India, the
Mauryan Empire.
• These early years of developing civilizations saw many important
innovations that still influence life in India today.
Civilizations in
Ancient India
• Aryan Invasion
• Sometime after the year 2000 B.C., a
group of people known as the
Aryans invaded parts of modern-day
• They came from an area of Central
Asia near the Caucasus Mountains,
moving southeast and eventually
taking over the entire Indus Valley.
• They spoke a language called
Sanskrit, which became the basis of
many modern South Asian
Civilization of
Ancient India
• Much of what we know about them today
came from sacred writings called the
• The Vedas are mostly religious texts, but
they also described famous victories of the
Aryans as they invaded India.
• The religion of the ancient Aryans, known
as Brahmanism.
• It is a polytheistic and heavily influenced the
later development of Hinduism.
• Hinduism, which is one of the world's
oldest religions, has much in common with
Brahmanism, including the sharing of
many rituals and the belief that the Vedas
are some of the most important religious
• The Aryan civilization had a large
impact on modern-day Indian society.
• For example, one Aryan influence on
modern-day India was the development
of the caste system.
• The caste system began because the
Aryans had four social classes, which
they called varnas.
• This system divided people in Aryan
society into groups based on wealth
and occupation.
• Later societies in India developed
hundreds of different social classes.
Mauryan Empire
• The Mauryan Empire was founded in approximately
321 B.C. by Chandragupta Maurya.
• Around the year 326 B.C., Alexander the Great's
army invaded the northwestern part of present-day
• Alexander is known as one of the greatest military
commanders of all time and invaded India following
his successful conquest of the Persian Empire.
• His army did not stay long, however, and Maurya was
inspired by Alexander to attempt a conquest of his
own region. In 321 B.C., he took over the throne of
the king of Magadha and built up an immense army.
Mauryan Empire
• The Mauryan Empire reached its height during the
reign of Emperor Ashoka, also known as Ashoka the
• Ashoka rose to power over several older half-brothers
and one younger brother because of his military
conquests. He commanded the Mauryan army and
extended the empire to include most of South Asia,
from Afghanistan to Bengal.
Mauryan Empire
• After seeing many bloody battles, Ashoka
converted to Buddhism and began an official
policy of nonviolence in his reign.
• He built monuments marking several
significant sites important to Buddhism.
• He promoted vegetarianism and protected
wildlife against sport hunting and branding.
• He also built universities for study and
irrigation systems for trade and agriculture.
• Ashoka treated all his subjects equally, no
matter what caste they were in.
• He made many allies with weaker kingdoms.
His reign ended with his death in 232 B.C.
Religion in India
Hinduism actually consists of thousands of different
religious groups that have evolved in India since
approximately the 14th century B.C.
• There are many gods and shrines that are used to practice
personal worship and rituals. Many people who practice
Hinduism believe in karma, which is the belief that
everything happens for a reason.
Religion in
Buddhism is based on the teachings of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama.
• Born as a prince in present-day Nepal, Gautama decided to become a monk and
seek a path to enlightenment after seeing how many people suffered in the world.
• He changed his name to Buddha, which means "The Awakened One," and
became the founder of Buddhism.
• The core beliefs are the four noble truths.
• Believers practice meditation and believe a soul must go through several lifetimes.
• Nirvana, a Buddhist belief, brings ultimate freedom from ignorance and an ideal
condition of rest, harmony, or joy.
• Buddhism spread throughout India and Asia as its followers moved about.
• The first records of Buddhism spreading beyond India are from Emperor Ashoka,
who believed in the respect for animal life and prohibited animal sacrifices.
• He also believed in the Buddhist message of non-violence in general. People who
practice Buddhism believe in karma, much like the followers of Hinduism.
Literature in India
• The Bhagavad Gita is a sacred text of Hindu
• Making up one chapter of the larger religious
text the Mahabharata, it is a conversation that
takes place between Krishna, one of the gods in
Hinduism, and Arjuna, a prince, on a battlefield
just before the start of a war.
• The Mahabharata itself is mainly about the
struggle between the Pandava brothers and the
Kaurava cousins over a kingdom in northern
• The Mahabharata also includes other stories and
statements about Hinduism.
• Another important Hindu text is
the Ramayana.
• In this story, the hero, Rama, is the son
of an Indian king.
• The demon-king Ravana kidnaps
Rama's wife and takes her to his island
• Rama saves his wife when he shoots
Ravana with an arrow.
• The story is important to the religious
beliefs of Hinduism because it teaches
lessons like devotion to duties and
obligations. Fulfilling duties, known as
dharma, is an important idea to the
Hindu people.
Innovations…. Mathematics
The Hindu-Arabic numeral system is a decimal number
system invented in about the 5th century B.C. It is the same
system that we use for writing numbers today (0,1,2,3).
• The Hindu-Arabic number system was the first to use a decimal
marker, the first to have a symbol for numbers that occur for
infinity, and possibly the first to use zero as a number.
• Even though the numbers were developed in India, Europeans
called them "Arabic Numerals" because Arabs brought the system
to Europe.
Social life in India…
• A caste system developed, which is a social structure that
determines classes by heredity. Under this system, a person
is born into his or her caste. It is very hard, if not
impossible, to move up castes, and people do not often
socialize outside their caste. The different castes are:
• Brahmin: Brahmins are the creators, preservers, and
teachers of religion.
• Kshatriya: Kshatriyas are the leaders and warriors.
• Vaisya: Vaisyas are the farmers and traders.
• Sudra: Sudras are the laborers and servants.
• Untouchable: Untouchables are outside of the caste
system. They are considered the lowest members of
Caste System…
Gupta Empire…
The Gupta Empire
emerged in India
around 320 A.D.
and existed for
approximately 300
years. Indian art,
architecture, and
civilization reached a
pinnacle during the
Gupta period.
• One of the main goals of Gupta leaders was to reunite
the people of India.
• A second political goal was to bring peace and
prosperity to the empire.
• Indian society was organized into a caste system, which was
centered on social class and wealth.
• This caste system was based on heredity, meaning that a
person is born into a caste and can never switch castes during
his or her lifetime.
• The Brahman are the highest caste and perform the duties of
teaching religion.
• The lowest members of society are the untouchables, which
are outside the caste system and considered unfit to interact
with others.
• Indians used the Silk Road to trade with many countries.
Buddhist monks traveled the road on missionary journeys.
• The Gupta were tolerant of many
religions, however, Hinduism was
the most influential in northern
• Gupta emperors practiced and
supported Hinduism, causing it
to have a greater influence on the
• Later, when Islamic rulers came
to India, Hinduism continued to
be widely practiced because
many Hindus refused to convert.
As a result, the two religions
often fought for dominance.
• Hindu-Arabic numerals were invented in
India in 400 B.C.
• The Hindu-Arabic number system was the
first to use a decimal marker and the first
to use the concept of zero as a number.
• Hindu-Arabic numerals are also called
Arabic Numerals because Arab traders
brought the system to Europe in the 10th

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