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Early Indian Civilizations. From Neolithic Origins to 300 CE. Agenda. Notes- Early India, Religion & Culture, Mauryan Empire Discussion- Laws of Manu, Hinduism & Buddhism Small Group- Networks of Exchange Quiz 4 (Qin and Han). Introduction. Israel. Mesopotamia. China. Egypt.

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Early indian civilizations
Early Indian Civilizations

  • From Neolithic Origins to 300 CE


  • Notes- Early India, Religion & Culture, Mauryan Empire

  • Discussion- Laws of Manu, Hinduism & Buddhism

  • Small Group- Networks of Exchange

  • Quiz 4 (Qin and Han)






Early India


  • Indian subcontinent produced three major religious traditions

  • India retained fundamental social stability despite political upheaval

  • Functioned as matrix for networks of trade and cultural diffusion

Early india
Early India

  • “India”- Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka

  • Geographic borders- Indian Ocean, Himalayas

  • River systems- Indus and Ganges Rivers

The indus civilization
The Indus Civilization

  • 2500-1500 BCE

  • Civilization appeared along Indus River

  • Repeated earlier Mesopotamian pattern (Neolithic farmers- river valley- cities)

  • Harappa/ Mohenjo-Daro

The indus civilization1
The Indus Civilization

  • Urban centers had writing system, standard weights

  • First to domesticate chickens, grow cotton for textiles

  • Used copper, bronze for tools

  • Trade established with Mesopotamia


Mohenjo daro artifact
Mohenjo-Daro- Artifact

  • What inferences can be made about this artifact?

  • For what purpose was it created?

Early vedic age
Early Vedic Age

  • 1900-1000 BCE

  • Arrival of the Aryans (conquerers, slow infusion)

  • Put an end to Indus civilization

  • Conquered, assimilated, or drove native Dravidians to southern India

Early vedic age1
Early Vedic Age

  • Aryans were...

  • Indo-Europeans, spoke Sanskrit, used chariots

  • Pastoral people, counted wealth in cattle

  • Effective warriors , used horse-drawn chariots

Early vedic age2
Early Vedic Age

  • Aryan priests- Brahmans (high place in society)

  • Gods- Indra, Agni, Varuna, Mitra

  • Varnas (social classes)- Nobles, commoners, non-Aryan conquered people

Later vedic age
Later Vedic Age

  • 1000-600 BCE

  • Aryans had mastered iron metallurgy

  • Some states were oligarchic republic

  • Led by Raja (king)

  • Taxes, building projects common

Later vedic age1
Later Vedic Age

  • Three pillars of society- village, caste, and family

  • Formation of the caste system (From Brahman to Untouchable)

  • Three-generation household led by patriarch (Laws of Manu)


The laws of manu
The Laws of Manu

  • Read the excerpts from the Laws of Manu.

  • Discussion- Explain the importance of social classes in early India.

Religion and culture 600 320 bce
Religion and Culture 600-320 BCE

  • The Upanishads (texts that form the basis of Hinduism) introduced new concepts

  • Transmigration of the soul

  • Karma, Dharma, Samsara

  • Soul seeks union with Brahman

Religion and culture 600 320 bce1
Religion and Culture 600-320 BCE

  • The Jains, defenders of all beings

  • Jainism, “most Indian” of non-Vedic religions

  • All beings have souls, jiva

  • Ahimsa, non-violence, requires respect for all forms of life

  • Small numbers, very influential

Religion and culture 600 320 bce2
Religion and Culture 600-320 BCE

  • Buddhism- The Middle Way

  • Gautama Buddha- experienced the “Great Awakening”

  • Gave “Four Noble Truths”

  • Suffering dominates experience, caused by desire, ends when nirvana is achieved, path leads to nirvana

Religion and culture 600 320 bce3
Religion and Culture 600-320 BCE

  • “The Noble Eightfold Path”

  • Accept and act according to the Four Noble Truths

  • Words and deeds in accordance with the Five Moral Precepts

  • Importance of meditation

Religion and culture 600 320 bce4
Religion and Culture 600-320 BCE

1. Right view or understanding

5. Right livelihood- based on correct action, ideal society

2. Right attitude- acting from love and compassion

6. Right effort- complete or full effort, energy or vitality

3. Right speech- clear, truthful communication

7. Right mindfulness- complete or thorough awareness of yourself, others

4. Right action- non-exploitation of others

8. Right concentration- be fixed, absorbed in or established at one point.

Religion and culture 600 320 bce5
Religion and Culture 600-320 BCE

  • Buddhists revere Buddha’s teachings

  • Monks- wear yellow or orange robes , live in monastic communities

  • Monks who reached nirvana known as arhats

  • Buddhism universal in its approach

Hinduism and buddhism
Hinduism and Buddhism

  • Discussion-

  • Explain the similarities.

  • Explain the differences.

The mauryan empire
The Mauryan Empire

  • 326-184 BCE

  • Founded by Chandragupta Mauryan

  • At peak, ruled most of Indian subcontinent

  • Enlarged territory after defeating Alexander the Great’s successor

The mauryan empire2
The Mauryan Empire

  • Capital at Patna, large sophisticated city

  • Most effective government until British rule

  • Provinces, districts, villages, all under legal code

  • 700,000-man army

The mauryan empire3
The Mauryan Empire

  • Ashoka- India’s Greatest King (269-232 BCE)

  • Adopted principle of ahimsa

  • Enlightened lawgiver, convert to Buddhism

  • Helped spread Buddhism beyond India

The mauryan empire4
The Mauryan Empire

  • The fall of the empire began immediately after Ashoka’s death (5 centuries of anarchy)

  • Invaders took advantage- Bactrian Greeks, Kushans

  • Possibilities- reaction to Buddhism, nonviolence left India vulnerable

Emergent hinduism
Emergent Hinduism

  • 200 BCE- 300 CE

  • Tolerant religion- cycle of birth, death, and rebirth

  • Accumulation of good actions aids in the cycle

  • Beliefs in karma, dharma, and reincarnation gave support to caste system

Emergent hinduism1
Emergent Hinduism

  • Vishnu- pacific father-god, comforter, savior, appeared in human form nine times

  • Shiva- cosmic force of change that destroys to build anew (spouse- Parvati)

  • Devi- goddess, appears as tender mother, ferocious warrior

Emergent hinduism2
Emergent Hinduism

  • Mahabharata- world’s longest work of literature

  • Similar to the Iliad

  • Includes the Bhagavad-Gita (stressed performance of duty)

  • Krishna reveals wisdom

Buddhism after the buddha
Buddhism after the Buddha

  • Mahayana Buddhism (“Great Vehicle” Movement)

  • Began 100 BCE in response to Buddhism

  • Stressed dharma, compassion for others

  • Spread to Tibet, Korea, Japan, China

Buddhism after the buddha1
Buddhism after the Buddha

  • Theravada Buddhism- older form of Buddhism

  • Stressed attainment of nirvana

  • Seeks to eliminate separate identity and attain absorption into spirit

  • Spread to Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia

Networks of exchange
Networks of Exchange

  • Research and bring in an item that was traded in the Indian Ocean Trading network.

  • What is your item?

  • Where was your item produced? Where was it traded to?

  • Analyze the significance of your item in the global network.

Networks of exchange1
Networks of Exchange

  • Extensive east-west trade

  • Han China, India, Roman Empire, and others

  • Trade via caravan route across Asia

  • Trade via sea route facilitated by monsoons

Networks of exchange2
Networks of Exchange

  • Romans sought luxury goods- cotton, silk, ivory, pearls, spices

  • Indian built magnificent palaces

  • Middlemen (Parthians, Kushans) profited

  • Travelers, envoys, pilgrims, missionaries followed


  • Three major religions evolved in India- Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism

  • Indian philosophy tends to justify and explain social order

  • Classical Indian religion, philosophy, and traditions endure today

Quiz 4
Quiz 4

  • Provide a 2-3 sentence response to each question including historical evidence and perspective.

  • 1. What are the Vedas and what do they teach us about early Indian societies?

  • 2. Define karma, dharma, and the transmigration of the soul, and explain how these concepts related to the social structure of early India.

  • 3. Compare the political, social and economic contributions of Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka.