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Classical India. Aryans ~ Maurya ~ Gupta. Indian Geography. Himalayas – tallest mountains in the world Ganges River – sacred river fed by the snow of the Himalayas Indus River – drier than Ganges Deccan Plateau – relatively dry Coasts – historically the most populated. Monsoons.

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classical india

Classical India

Aryans ~ Maurya ~ Gupta

indian geography
Indian Geography
  • Himalayas – tallest mountains in the world
  • Ganges River – sacred river fed by the snow of the Himalayas
  • Indus River – drier than Ganges
  • Deccan Plateau – relatively dry
  • Coasts – historically the most populated

Summer – warm moist wind from the southwest

Winter – cold, dry wind from the northeast

  • War-like people from southern Russia invaded the Indus Valley around 1500BCE.
  • Superior technology: horses, chariots, bronze weapons.
  • Brought herds of cattle, goats, and sheep.
  • There is a vague reference to the conquest of city dwellers in Aryan oral tradition.
vedic age 1500 500 bce
Vedic Age 1500-500BCE
  • Aryans created a new civilization along the forested Ganges River.
  • Abandoned nomadic life to become farmers.
  • Mingled with Dravidians (Indus Valley people they conquered).
  • Knowledge of Aryans came from Vedas – a collection of prayers, hymns, and religious teachings that were first memorized and recited by Aryan priests.
aryan society
Aryan Society
  • Lived in tribes (groups of related families) led by rajahs (warrior chiefs).
  • Advised by council of elders (heads of families).
  • Warfare continued as different tribes battled for control.
aryan culture
Aryan Culture
  • Loved feasting, music, chariot races, dice games, and cattle.
    • Wealth was measured in cows and bulls.
    • Word for war meant “more cattle.”
    • Later, the slaughter of cattle was forbidden, but they were used for milk, plowing, and transportation.
  • Polytheistic
  • Developed the Sanskrit language.
caste system aka varna
Caste System aka Varna
  • Four Castes
    • Brahmins – priests
    • Kshatriyas – warriors
    • Vaisyas – herders, farmers, artisans, and merchants
    • Sudras – farmworkers, servants, laborers
      • They were Dravidians.
  • Outcastes (Untouchables or Pariahs) had unclean occupations . Began as children of upper castes with Sudras or non-Hindus.
Brahmins = mouth

Kshatriyas = arms

Vaisyas = thighs

Sudras = feet

maurya empire
Maurya Empire
  • 321-183BCE
  • Well-administered government
  • Governors supervised tax collecting, road repair, justice, and defense.
  • Brutal, yet efficient, secret police ensured honesty of governors.
  • Pataliputra had schools, libraries, parks, temples, and palaces.
asoka ruled 269 232 bce
Asoka (ruled 269-232BCE)
  • Expanded Maurya Empire to its greatest size.
  • After 100,000 were slaughtered in a battle, he converted to Buddhism and ruled by moral example.
  • Promoted peace and religious tolerance.
  • Sent out missionaries.
gupta empire
Gupta Empire
  • Golden Age of peace and prosperity
  • Great advances in the arts and sciences
    • Concept of zero
    • Decimal System
    • Hindu-Arabic Numerals replaced Roman numerals in the 700s
    • Medicine included plastic surgery and bone setting.
indian culture
Indian Culture
  • Rajah – local ruler who controlled many villages
  • Headman – wealthy farmer ran the village
  • Extended (joint) family – dominated by eldest male included several generations in the same home
  • Patriarchal
status of women
Status of Women
  • In early Aryan society women had decent status – declined later.
  • At marriage, women joined husband’s family – dowry was expected.
  • Widows encouraged to commit suttee –suicide by throwing themselves on their husband’s funeral fire.
  • Polygamy common in higher castes.
india today
India Today
  • Even today, three-fourths of Indians in villages ranging from several hundred to a couple thousand families separated by caste.
  • Many homes are one-story mud huts of one or several rooms.
  • One quarter of the population lives in urban areas.
  • Many live in slums.
  • One of every six people on the planet lives in India.