Indus valley civilization and early aryan society
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INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION AND EARLY ARYAN SOCIETY. THE GEOGRAPHIC SETTING. Indian Subcontinent To North: Impassable Himalayas To East: Passable low hills To Northwest: Passable Hindu Kush, Khyber Pass To West: Arabian Sea Northern Plain of Indus, Ganges Rivers Southern Deccan

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Indus valley civilization and early aryan society


The geographic setting


  • Indian Subcontinent

    • To North: Impassable Himalayas

    • To East: Passable low hills

    • To Northwest: Passable Hindu Kush, Khyber Pass

    • To West: Arabian Sea

  • Northern Plain of Indus, Ganges Rivers

  • Southern Deccan

    • High plateau, extremely dry

    • Bordered on East and West by mountains

    • Separated from north by river, low mountains

  • The Monsoon Winds

    • Off the land October to April: Dry Season

    • Off the Indian Ocean May to September: Wet Season

Harappan society


  • The Indus River

    • Runs through north India, sources at Hindu Kush, Himalayas

    • Rich deposits, but less predictable than the Nile

    • Wheat and barley were cultivated in Indus valley

    • Cultivated cotton before 5000 B.C.E.

    • Complex society of Dravidians, 3000/2500 B.C.E.

  • Harappa and Mohenjo-daro

    • Possibly served as twin capitals

    • Each city had a fortified citadel and a large granary

    • Broad streets, market places, temples, public buildings

    • Standardized weights, measures, architecture, bricks

  • Specialized labor and trade

    • Domestic trade, items inc. pottery, tools, metals

    • Trading with Mesopotamians about 2300 to 1750 B.C.E.

Harappan society culture


  • Social distinctions as seen from living styles

  • Religious beliefs strongly emphasized fertility

    • Many deities were feminine

    • In later Hinduism, Dravidian gods are blue-faced

  • Harappan society declined from 2000 B.C.E. onward

    • Ecological degradation led to a subsistence crisis

    • Natural catastrophes - floods or earthquakes

    • Population began to abandon their cities by about 1700 B.C.E.

    • Almost entirely collapsed by about 1500 B.C.E

    • Evidence of warfare, invasion

Indo europeans aryans


  • Indo-Europeans

    • Linguistic similarities among Europe, Persia, and India

    • Indo-European family of languages

      • Indo-Iranian including Aryans (India), Medes/Persians (SW Asia)

      • Greek, Balto-Slavic, Germanic, Italic, Celtic

      • Tocarian, possibly Shang of China

    • Migrations as the key to explain linguistic similarities

  • Indo-European origins

    • North of Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Aral Sea; Ukraine, Southern Russia

    • Common origins established through key vocabulary, traditions, myths

  • Indo-European migrations

    • To Tarim Basin, fourth millennium B.C.E.

    • Shang of China appear to have been Indo-Europeans

    • To Anatolia (the Hittites), 3000 B.C.E.

    • By 2nd millennium, established communities in Europe

    • Around 1500 BCE, domesticated horse amongst Indo-Europeans

    • Often called the Chariot Peoples; introduced iron and horse technologies

Aryans in india


  • The early Aryans

    • Depended heavily on a pastoral economy

    • No writing system, but orally transmitted works called the Vedas

    • Sacred language (Sanskrit) and daily-use language (Prakit)

  • The Vedic Age: 1500 to 500 B.C.E.

    • A boisterous period, conflict with indigenous peoples

    • Called indigenous people dasas - "enemies" or "subject people"

    • Indra, the Aryans' war god and military hero

    • Aryan chiefdoms fought ferociously among themselves

  • Aryan migrations in India

    • First settled in the Punjab, the upper Indus River valley

    • Spread east and south from their base

    • After 1000 B.C.E. settled between Himalayan foothills and Ganges

    • Used iron tools and developed agriculture

    • By 500 B.C.E. migrated as far south as the northern Deccan

    • Lost tribal organizations but established regional kingdoms

The caste system


  • Caste and varna

    • Caste:

      • Hereditary, unchangeable social classes

    • Sanskrit word varna, "color," referring to social classes

    • Social distinctions based on racial skin colors

  • Social distinctions in the late Vedic Age

    • Four main varnas, recognized after 1000 B.C.E.

      • brahmins (priests)

      • kshatriyas (warriors and aristocrats: rulers)

      • vaishyas (cultivators, artisans, and merchants)

      • shudras (landless peasants and serfs)

      • Later, the category of the pariah (untouchables) was added

      • Subcaste or jati

        • Represents more elaborate social classification, developed after 6th c. B.C.E.

        • Jati, or subcastes, were determined by occupations

        • The elaborate rules of jati life

      • Caste and social mobility

        • Caste system was capable of accommodating social change

        • Social mobility was very difficult but still possible

        • Foreign peoples could find a place in society of the castes

Rise of patriarchal society


  • Patriarchal, Patrilineal society

    • Original Aryan Society: women had rights, some were chiefs

    • Changes occurred with change to sedentary civilization

    • Men served as priests, warriors, and tribal chiefs

    • Family lines based on male descendants (the patriline)

    • Only males could inherit property

    • Men learned the Vedas and received formal education

  • Source: The Lawbook of Manu

    • Prepared by an anonymous sage, 1st century B.C.E.

    • Dealt with moral behavior and social relationships

    • Advised men to treat women with honor and respect

    • Subjected women to the control and guidance of men

    • Women's duties: bear children, maintain the household

  • Sati as a social custom

Aryan religion


  • The Aryan gods

    • The war god, Indra

    • The gods of the sun, sky, moon, fire, health, etc.

    • The god Varuna - an ethical concern

  • Ritual sacrifices

    • Importance of ritual sacrifices

    • Horse sacrifice originally

    • Priests were specialists of the ritual sacrifices

    • Ritual sacrifices for rewards from the divine power

  • Spirituality

    • Many Aryans dissatisfied with ritual sacrifices in late Vedic age

    • A shift to spiritual contemplation

    • Thoughtful individuals retreated to forests as hermits

    • Dravidian notions were coopted

      • Transmigration of soul

      • Reincarnation (nirvana)

The rise of hinduism


  • The Upanishads

    • Works of religious teachings, 800 to 400 B.C.E.

    • The religious forums: dialogues between disciples and sages

  • Brahman: the universal soul

    • Brahman was the only genuine reality

    • Highest goal: to escape reincarnation and join with Brahman

  • Teachings of the Upanishads

    • Samsara: An individual soul was born many times

    • Karma: specific incarnations that a soul experienced

    • Moksha: permanent liberation from physical incarnation

    • Dharma: Caste duties

  • Religion and Vedic Society

    • Samsara and karma reinforced social hierarchy

    • Upanishads were also spiritual and intellectual contemplations

    • Taught to observe high ethical standards

    • Respect for all living things, a vegetarian diet

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