“Arya” is a title used by pastoral nomads who migrated into Punjab in the later centuries of the second century BCE
Their migration occurred amidst a broad prehistoric dispersion of peoples using languages in the family called Indo-Aryan or Indo-European, which includes Greek and Latin as well as Sanskrit
In the Punjab, pastoral peoples using Vedic Sanskrit in their rituals mingled with local agro-pastoral cultures, producing new cultural forms
In first millennium -- the iron age -- Sanskrit textsindicate adaptation of Brahmanic rituals, ideas and authority down the Ganga River basin
A Chronological Framework for Ancient History I. Prehistory BCE • pre-2500 stone age, microlithic tool cultures, Merhgarh, agro-pastoral community formation • 2500-1500 Harappa and Indus Valley urban culture, urbanism, urban decline, cultural dispersion around Indus basin II. Early Antiquity to 600 BCE • 1200-400s early Vedas, late Vedas and Brahmanas. Agro-pastoral communities, lineage leadership, ritual authority • 1000 onward: iron mining, smelting and tool-making • 900s period of wars recounted in Mahabharata • 700s formation of janapadas and sixteen mahajanapadas • 200sBCE-1200s Sri Lanka: Lambakannas
III. The Ancient Transformation • a. Early States, circa 600 to 327 BCE • 600s-500s rise of states: Kuru, Panchala, Kosala, Magadha (“republics”) • 500s Persian king Darius occupies Sind and Gandhara; life of Mahavira • 327 Alexander the Great enters Punjab • 400s Life of Buddha; composition of Ramayana and Mahabharata • b. The Original Empire, 300s - 185 BCE • late 300s Chandragupta founds Maurya empire; composition of Pannini's grammar, possible first version of Arthasastra • 268-233 Ashoka Maurya • 185 Last Mauryas. Founding of Sunga dynasty in Pataliputra. • c. Imperial Competition 250 BCE - 250 CE • 250BCE-250 Northwest: Indo-Greeks, Northern Sakas, Indo-Parthians, Kushanas • 55BCE-500s South: Satavahana and Vakataka dynasties in Prastisthana and Vidarbha • 70-409CE West: Sakas in Malwa Ujjaini-Rajasthan-Gujarat • 100BCE-100 early Siva and Vishnu worship; Buddhist stupas prominent in northwest, southeast, Sri Lanka; early Sangam literature; composition of Manu's Dharmasastra, Bhagavad Gita • d. Dynastic Territories circa 200 BCE - 600 CE • 320-840s Ganga Basin: Guptas and Pusyaputis • 400s-500s Northwest: Southern Hunas. • 100BCE-400 Southern Peninsula: Cheras, Cholas, and Pandyas • 200s-500s Maharashtra: Vakatakas, Kalacuris, and Rashtrakutas • 500s-750s Karnataka: Chalukyas
Lineage-based “monarchies” and “republics” scattered across the Ganga Basin
Ancient Greek military mobility introduced new imperial models of power into Punjab and opened new routes of trade East-West
Ancient imperial heartlands emerged among eastern Gangetic kingdoms, strategically placed on trade routes (E-W & N-S), among rice lands (Bihar), near iron mines (Jharkhand).
Ashokan sites display imperial symbolism of transcendent authority and spread Buddhism
THE BUDDHIST STUPA Sanchi NAEEM AHMED "The Stupa is truly the image, or rather the epiphany, of the Buddha, of his Law that rules the universe, and is moreover a psycho-cosmogram. The form, suggested by the apparent aspect of the vault of the sky, implies in its turn the total presence and intangibility of the Buddha, who in this way is seen not as a human teacher but as the essence of the Universe."
Chandra Gupta I (reigned AD 320-c. 330), • Founder of the imperial Gupta dynasty. • Grandson of Sri Gupta, the first of the Gupta line, • Became a local chief in the kingdom of Magadha. • Increased his power and territory by marrying, about 308, PrincessKumaradevi of the Licchavi tribe, controlling north Bihar, perhaps Nepal. • At that time, India polities consisted of independent states, monarchical and nonmonarchical, and it is likely that Guptas and Licchavis ruled over adjoining principalities. • The marriage enhanced the power and prestige of the new kingdom. • Special gold coins depicted King and Queen on one side and Licchavis on the other. • The chronology of the Gupta era, dating from AD 320 is believed to be based on the date either of his coronation or of his marriage. • By the conclusion of his reign, his kingdom probably extended west to the present city of Allahabad and included Ayodhya and south Bihar. • These regions were assigned to him by Puranas (ancient chronicles of early Sanskrit literature) composed in later centuries. • His inscriptions proclain his glory with the imperial title maharajadhiraja--"king of kings"--and his son Samudra Gupta used that imperial ambition to launch wars of conquest that produced the Gupta Empire.
Buddhism under the Guptas • Under the Gupta dynasty (c. AD 320-c. 600), Buddhism in India was being affected by spreading Gupta patronage for Brahmanic religion and by the rising tide of bhakti (a devotional ritualism centered on temples to Puranic deities), which emphasized a devotee’s love for a personal god). • During this period, some Hindus practiced devotion to Buddha, whom they regarded as an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu. • During the Gupta period some Buddhist monasteries joined together to form mahaviharas that functioned as universities. • The most famous of these at Nalanda had a curriculum that went far beyond the bounds of traditional Buddhism. • Nalanda soon became the leading centre for the study of Mahayana, which was rapidly becoming the dominant Buddhist tradition in India. • Though Buddhist institutions seemed to be faring well under the Guptas, various Chinese pilgrims visiting India between AD 400 and 700 described a decline in the Buddhist community and the beginning of the reabsorption of Indian Buddhism by Hinduism. Among these pilgrims were Fa-hsien, Sung Yün, Hui-sheng, Hsüan-tsang, and I-ching.