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HIS 105 Chapter 10. Iran and India Before Islam. Iran. India. Parthians in Iran. Began the Arsacid rule (247 B.C.E.- 223 C.E.) Took hold in eastern Iran Dominated Iranian heartlands of Achaemenids and Selucids Continued imperial and cultural traditions of Achaemenids.

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his 105 chapter 10

HIS 105Chapter 10

Iran and India Before Islam

parthians in iran
Parthians in Iran
  • Began the Arsacid rule (247 B.C.E.- 223 C.E.)
  • Took hold in eastern Iran
  • Dominated Iranian heartlands of Achaemenids and Selucids
  • Continued imperial and cultural traditions of Achaemenids
Tolerant of different religions
  • Allowed strong local governments
  • Aramaic, Greek, and other regional languages spoken
  • Supported Zoroastrianism and Iranian traditions
  • Fought with neighbors in the east and in the west
sasanids 224 651 c e
Sasanids (224 – 651 C.E. )
  • Persians
  • Claimed to be the rightful heirs to the Achaemenids
  • Ardashir (r. 224-239 C.E.) was the first Sasanid king
  • He was followed by his son, Shapur (r. 239 – 272 C.E.)
Both father and son had a strong internal administration in the area called Persia (Fars)
  • The empire grew under Shapur
  • He defeated 3 Roman emperors including Valerian whom he captured
  • Shapur called himself Shahanshah, “King of Kings”
life under sasanids
Life under Sasanids
  • Family was basic social unit
  • Practiced Zoroastrianism
  • 4 classes: priests, warriors, scribes, and peasants
  • Agricultural economy
  • Land was owned by the rich and worked by the poor
Peasants paid taxes, worked the land, and went into the army
  • Government controlled land and sea trade, silk and glass production, and mining
  • Bills of exchange were introduced by bankers
  • Check comes from a Pahlavi word
Under Chosroes, Sasanids reached great heights, influenced by Indian, Iranian, Buddhist, Hellenistic, and Byzantine ideas
    • Led to achievements in art, sciences/math, and philosophy
  • Zoroastrianism made state religion with help from Ardashir’s chief priest, Tosar
  • Kartir succeeded Tosar and was the chief priest to Shapur I and his 3 successors
    • Less tolerant of other relions
    • Kartir tried to convert pagans, Christians, and Buddhists
Manichaeans were Kartir’s chief opponents
    • Led by Mani
    • Centered on a radically dualistic and moralistic view of reality where good and evil, spirit and matter warred
    • Tried to unite Zoroastrian, Christian, and Buddhist teachings
    • Tried to found a new religion
Manichaeism spread to the east and to the west even after Mani’s death
  • Zoroastrians
    • Backbone of Sasanid culture
    • Its texts written in Pahlavi, the official imperial language
    • Priests became jurists, legal interpreters, and scholars and controlled much of the Iranian wealth
later sasanids
Later Sasanids
  • Inequities in society brought about a rebellion led by Mazdak
    • Taught about the evils of materialism
    • Was for vegetarianism, tolerance, and brotherly love
    • Wanted a more equal distribution of society’s goods
Kavad I (r. 488-531 C.E.) was sympathetic to Mazdak
  • However, his third son massacred Mazdak and many of his followers
  • Gupta era was the high point of Indian civilization
  • Chandragupta (r. 320 -330 C.E.) was the first Gupta king
    • He seized the throne of a local ruler in eastern Ganges area
    • Helped establish an empire that lasted for 250 years
Chandragupta II (r. 375-415 C.E.) established the empire and its Golden Age
    • Under him, India was arguably the most civilized and peaceful country in the world

Two more kings sustained this prosperity for another half century despite nomadic invasions of the Huns after 440 C.E.

By 500 the Huns had overrun western India.
  • Gupta Empire collapsed 550 C.E.
  • Harsha, a descendent of the Guptas, did revive a semblance of the old empire 616 -657 C.E.
  • Harsha died without heirs and the empire broke up again
Several dynasties had power in the north before the coming of the Muslims in 1000 C.E.
  • There was no unified rule of any duration until 1947
  • As Guptas declined, so did Buddhism
  • Guptas preferred Hinduism and it was at the core of Indian culture
  • Became supreme overlords
  • Collected tribute
  • Local rulers represented Guptas
  • Guptas backed Hinduism
  • Brahman power was restored
  • Brahmans once again became teachers, advisors, and religious leaders
Brahmans were patrons of the arts; carved temples and sculpture were built
  • Sculptures stood for creation, destruction, fertility, and death
  • Each idea represented by a god
    • Brahma – creation
    • Shiva – destruction
    • Lakshmi – fertility
    • Kali -- death
achievements of the guptas
Achievements of the Guptas
  • 2 written languages – Sanskrit, a sacred and classical language and Tamil, from the south
  • Kalidasa was the greatest of Sanskrit writers; poet
  • Advances made in geometry and algebra
Calculated the circumference of the earth and the value of pi, independent of the Greeks
  • Devised decimals and the “Arabic” number system
  • Developed surgical techniques and new ways to treat illness
caste and gender inequities
Caste and Gender Inequities
  • Life changed for many when brahmans regained power
    • Caste system was reinstated
      • Lines were more rigid
      • Untouchables had to warn people they were coming by clapping sticks
      • Untouchables could only drink from their own wells
Status of women changed
    • Dominated in every way by men
    • Marriages were arranged
    • Fathers had to pay dowry
    • Woman respected only if she bore sons
    • She could inherit nothing
    • Women could be courtesans, wives, or prostitutes
Elites of society
    • Had servants
    • Had nice houses with gardens
    • Had clothes of silk and cotton
    • Gave festivals
    • Played chess and parchesi
    • Males were expected to follow 4 stages of life: youth, householder, hermit, holy man
Ordinary Folks
    • Most Indians were peasants, artisans, or sweepers
    • Life was hard, and they had no servants
    • Bowed to superiors
    • Performed household and farm tasks
    • Attended festivals, watched dances, and played dice
gupta decline
Gupta Decline
  • Guptas held their domain together for 250 years
  • There were challenges from the Huns to the north
  • There were challenges from their own states to the south by 5th century C.E.
  • Skanda Gupta was the last monarch and died in mid-5th century C.E.
The empire fell apart after his death
  • Chaos followed
  • Peace finally came to the region in the 13th century C.E. under the Delhi Sultinate
  • Spread to other areas as it declined in India
  • It developed into 2 schools
    • Mahayana – emphasized Buddha’s compassion for all beings, and its highest goal was Bodhisattva, the postponing of Nirvana until one has helped all others to reach enlightenment
Theravada – emphasized the monastic ideal; focused on the monastic community; work toward a better rebirth and visit various stupas (shrines)

Mahayana spread to Central Asia, China, Korea, Japan, & Tibet

Theravada spread to Ceylon, Burma, & parts of S.E. Asia