Chapter 9: State, Society, & the Quest for Salvation in India
520 BCE Persian Emperor Darius conquers north-west India Introduces Persian ruling pattern 327 Alexander of Macedon destroys Persian Empire in India Troops mutiny, departs after 2 years Political power vacuum India Before the Mauryan Dynasty
Most significant remaining kingdom after Alexander’s departure Central Ganges plain Economic strength Agriculture Trade in Ganges valley, Bay of Bengal Dominated surrounding regions in north-eastern India Kingdom of Magadha
Took advantage of power vacuum left by Alexander Overthrew Magadha rulers Founder of Maurya Empire - creates 1st unified Indian empire Chandragupta Maurya
The Maurya Empire 321 BCE – 185 BCE
Chandragupta: 321 BCE-298 BCE • Founder of Mauryan Empire • Unified northern India. • Defeated the Persian general Seleucus. • Divided his empire into provinces, then districts for tax assessments and law enforcement. • He feared assassination food tasters, slept in different rooms, etc. • 301 BCE gave up his throne & became a Jain.
Kautilya (or Chanakya) • Chandragupta’s advisor. • Brahmin caste. • Wrote The Treatise on Material Gain or theArthashastra (advice manual). • A guide for the king and his ministers: • Supports royal power. • The great evil in society is anarchy. • Therefore, a single authority is needed to employ force when necessary!
Like Persia & China, built a bureaucratic administrative system. Domestic policies Network of spies Legend: Chandragupta retires to become a monk, starves himself to death Chandragupta’s Government
Ashoka (304 – 232 BCE) • Grandson of Chandragupta • Represents high point of Mauryan Empire, r. 268-232 BCE • Expanded empire to include all of Indian subcontinent except for south • Positive leadership integrated Indian society • Est. capital @ Pataliputra • Better known as a governor than conqueror
Ashoka • Religious conversion after the gruesome battle of Kalinga in 262 BCE. • Dedicated his life to Buddhism. • Built extensive roads. • Conflict how to balance Kautilya’s methods of keeping power and Buddha’s demands to become a selfless person?
Ashoka’s law code • Wrote law code on rocks or pillars (Stupas) • Edicts scattered in more than 30 places in India, Nepal, Pakistan, & Afghanistan. • Written mostly in Sanskrit, but one was in Greek and Aramaic. • 10 rock edicts. • Buddhist principles dominate his laws.
Economic crisis follows death of Ashoka High costs of bureaucracy, military not supported by tax revenue Frequent devaluations of currency to pay salaries Regions begin to abandon Mauryan Empire Disappears by 185 BCE Decline of the Mauryan Empire
Northwestern India Ruled by Greek-speaking descendants of Alexander’s campaigns Intense cultural activity accompanies active trade Regional Kingdom: Bactria
Turmoil & a Power Vacuum:220 BCE – 320 CE Tamils The Maurya Empire is divided into many kingdoms.
Nomads of Central Asia Ruled C. 1-300 CE Maintained silk road trade network High point under the rule of Kashika, empire expands thruout So. Asia. Regional Kingdom: Kush
Based in Magadha Founded by Chandra Gupta (no relation to Chandragupta Maurya), c. 320 CE Slightly smaller than Mauryan Empire Highly decentralized leadership Foundations for studies in natural sciences and mathematics The Gupta Dynasty
Gupta Rulers • Chandra GuptaI • r. 320 – 335 CE • “Great King of Kings” • Chandra Gupta II • r. 375 - 415 CE • Profitable trade with the Mediterranean world! • Hindu revival. • Huns invade – 450 CE
Fa-Hsien: Life in Gupta India • Chinese Buddhist monk traveled along the Silk Road and visited India in the 5c. • He was following the path of the Buddha. • He reported the people to be happy, relatively free of government oppression, and inclined towards courtesy and charity. Other references in the journal, however, indicate that the caste system was rapidly assuming its basic features, including "untouchability," the social isolation of a lowest class that is doomed to menial labor.
Extensive Trade:4c spices silks cotton goods spices rice & wheat horses gold & ivory gold & ivory cotton goods
GuptaArt Greatly influenced Southeast Asian art & architecture.
Kalidasa • The greatest of Indian poets. • His most famous play was Shakuntala. • During the reign of Chandra Gupta II.
Gupta Achievements 1000 diseasesclassified 500 healingplants identified Printedmedicinal guides Kalidasa Literature PlasticSurgery Medicine GuptaIndia Inoculations C-sectionsperformed SolarCalendar Astronomy Mathematics DecimalSystem The earthis round PI = 3.1416 Conceptof Zero
Frequent invasions of White Huns, 5th c. CE Gupta Dynasty disintegrates along regional fault lines Smaller local kingdoms dominate until Mughal Empire founded in 16th c. Gupta Decline
Manufactured goods in big demand Developed in dense network of small workshops Trade intense, capitalizes on trade routes across India Economy: Towns and Manufacturing
Persian connection since Cyrus, Darius Massive road-building projects under Persian rule Alexander extends trade west to Macedon Trade routes through Kush mountains, the silk roads Long-Distance Trade
Seasonal sea trade expands Spring/winter winds blow from south-west, fall/winter winds blow from north-west Trade from Asia to Persian Gulf and Red Sea, Mediterranean Trade in the Indian Ocean Basin
Patriarchy entrenched Child marriage common (8 year old girls married to men in 20s) Women encouraged to remain in private sphere Mahabharata & Ramayana portrayed women as weak-willed and overly emotional Society: Gender Relations
Social Order • Caste system from Aryan times • Brahmins (priests) • Kshatriyas (warriors, aristocrats) • Vaishyas (Peasants, merchants) • Shudras (serfs)
Increasing economic diversification challenges simplistic caste system Jatis formed: guilds that acted as sub-castes Enforced social order “outcastes” forced into low-status employment Castes and Guilds
Upward social mobility possible for Vaishyas, Shudras Wealth challenges varna for status as lower castes often accumulated more wealth than their brahmin & kshatriya contemporaries Wealth and the Social Order
Social change generated resentment of caste privilege e.g. Brahmins free from taxation 6th-5th c. BCE new religions and philosophies challenge status quo Charvakas: atheists whose beliefs reflected the increasingly materialistic character of Indian society and economy Religions of Salvation in Classical India
Vardhamana Mahavira, 540-468 BCE Abandoned privileged family to lead ascetic life Promotes 7th c. movement based on Upanishads Emphasis on selfless living, concern for all beings Jainism
Principle of extreme non-violence Jainists sweep earth, strain water, use slow movements to avoid killing insects Ahimsa continues to inspire modern movements (Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr.) Ahimsa
Rejected caste, jati distinctions Obvious appeal to underprivileged groups But asceticism too extreme to become a mass movement 2 million Jainist Indians today Appeal of Jainism
Siddhartha Gautama, c. 563-483 BCE Encountered age, sickness, death, then monastic life Abandoned comfortable life to become a monk Early Buddhism
Intense meditation, extreme asceticism 49 days of meditation under bo tree to finally achieve enlightenment Attained title Buddha: “the enlightened one” Gautama’s Search for Enlightenment
Begins teaching new doctrine c. 528 BCE Followers owned only robes, food bowls Life of wandering, begging, meditation Establishment of monastic communities The Buddha and his Followers
The Four Noble Truths all life is suffering there is an end to suffering removing desire removes suffering this may be done through the eight-fold path (right views, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, concentration) Buddhist Doctrine: The Dharma
Right views Right intention Right speech Right conduct Right livelihood Right effort Right mindfulness Right meditation The Eightfold Path
Less dependence on Brahmins for ritual activities No recognition of caste, jati status Philosophy of moderate consumption Public service through lay teaching Use of vernacular, not Sanskrit Monasteries became important institutions in Indian society. Appeal of Buddhism
A stupa (from Sanskrit literally meaning "heap") is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of a Buddha or saint. Stupas
Personal conversion to Buddhism Saddened after violent war with Kalinga Banned animal sacrifices, mandated vegetarianism in court Material support for Buddhist institutions, missionary activities Ashoka’s Support of Buddhism
3rd c. BCE – 1st c. CE Buddha considered divine Institution of Boddhisatvas (“saints”) Charitable donations to monasteries regarded as pious activity Changes in Buddhist thought