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 Civilization. • 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 India. • 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 Vedas. • 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 writings. Civilization continued… • 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 India. • 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 continued… • The Mauryan Empire reached its height during the reign of Emperor Ashoka, also known as Ashoka the Great. • 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 continued… • 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 India…continued… • 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 philosophy. • 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 India. • The Mahabharata also includes other stories and statements about Hinduism. Literature continued… • 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 kingdom. • 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 society. 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. Government • 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. Culture • 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. Religion • The Gupta were tolerant of many religions, however, Hinduism was the most influential in northern India. • Gupta emperors practiced and supported Hinduism, causing it to have a greater influence on the people. • 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. Inventions • 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 century.