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Indian Civilizations

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  1. Indian Civilizations

  2. Paleolithic and Neolithic Cultures • Diverse Paleolithic Cultures on Indian subcontinent • Neolithic pottery and hunting tools in present-day Pakistan, c. 5500 bc. • Although a bit later than Near East, cultures are generally considered of independent origin on most, if not all of Indian subcontinent.

  3. Indus Valley Civilizationc. 2500-1750 bc • Fertile floodplains of Indus River • 2 major cities: Harappa and Mohenjo Dara • Civilization flourished for about 500 years

  4. Indus Valley Civilization • Vast territory united in homogeneous culture suggests strong centralized government, integrated economy and good internal communications

  5. City Layout in Harappa and Mohenjo-daro • N-S, E-W grid of avenues • walled citadel on western edge of city • cemeteries on periphery • private houses built around central courtyard

  6. Building Construction of Burnt Brick

  7. Harappa • large granary for food storage

  8. Mohenjo-daro • Elaborate plumbing facilities unequalled until Roman times Private baths Household wells

  9. Standard Weights and Measures

  10. Writing • Indus inscriptions are found only on small objects, mostly stone seals and on pottery. • About 3700 inscriptions are presently known. • The inscriptions are all extremely brief, averaging not more than about five signs in a text. Longer inscriptions might have been written on palm leaves or cloth which have perished. • Sanskrit or Dravidian language?

  11. Seals

  12. Unicorn Sealmost common motif on Indus seals

  13. Seals Bull Bison

  14. Material Culture • Fine bronze and stone statues • Copper and bronze tools and vessels • Black-on-red painted pottery • Silver and gold vessels and jewelry • Dyed woven fabric • Flat stamp stone seals

  15. Statue of Priest-King

  16. Stone and Terra-cotta Sculptures

  17. Gold and Agate Ornaments

  18. Painted Burial Pottery

  19. Cooking Pots and Vessels Terra-cotta Copper/bronze

  20. Toys Ox-carts Whistles

  21. Economy • Thriving agriculture: wheat, barley, peas, lentils, sesame, cotton • Cattle, dogs, sheep, fowl, water buffalo • Cotton weaving, metalworking, wheel-driven pottery • Trade contacts in Mesopotamia, central Asia, possibly Arabia and prehistoric Greek cultures

  22. Religion • Elaborate bathing facilities suggest ritual bathing and purification rites • Recurrent images: • pipal tree & swastika -- also in Hindu imagery • humped bull -- animal worship? • tiger, snake, unicorn • “Lord of All Creatures” -- merges with Shiva • pregnant & madonna female figures -- prefiguration of Devi, Shiva’s consort

  23. Elaborate Public Baths

  24. Libation Vessels

  25. Three-headed Totemic Animal Antelope Unicorn Bull

  26. Male Deity

  27. Gods and Goddesses

  28. Miniature mask from Mohenjo-daro of bearded horned deity

  29. Religious Ritual

  30. End of Indus Civilization • Began to decline during early 2nd millenium bce • Possible causes: • abnormal flooding of Indus River • ecological destruction -- baked bricks of construction led to deforestation • no firm evidence that invading Aryans destroyed civilization Dravidan Hero Stone

  31. Indo-Aryan Invasionsc.2000 bce-1500 bce • Aryas -- name of peoples who migrated from steppelands between Eastern Europe and Central Asia into Europe, Greece, Anatolia, the Iranian plateau and India in the 2nd and 1st millenia bc. • Warlike peoples with horse-drawn chariots conquered the Dravidians of central India • “Aryan” -- 19th c. term used to describe language group now called Indo-European.

  32. Vedic-Aryan Culture • Semi-nomadic warriors -- migrated in small tribal groups • Cattle herders and horsemen • Culture flourished for nearly a millenium without writing or building large cities • Language: Vedic Sanskrit > Sanskrit

  33. Vedic Texts • Texts date from 1700 bc - 500 bc • Veda means “Knowledge” -- the eternal wisdom realized by ancient seers and preserved over thousands of years by professional reciters in unbroken oral transmission • 4 main texts: • Rig Veda -- 1028 hymns --c.1700 bc-1000 bc • Upanishads -- philosophical poems -- c.700 bc • Valmiki’s Ramayana -- epic -- 6th c. bc • The Mahabharata -- epic -- 400 bc-400 ad

  34. Society • Patrilineal descent and inheritance • Patriarchal family -- monogamous, widows could remarry • Kinship groups -- tribes ruled by rajas/ kings (cf. Latin rex), warrior leader • Brahman -- chief priest. Powers of priestly class increased with those of king • Two classes -- noble and common --evolved into four classes

  35. Caste System • Four classes: • Brahman -- priestly • Kshatriya -- warrior/noble • Vaishya -- peasant/tradesman • Shudra-- servant • Numerous subgroups known as castes within the four classes • Dasas -- darker, conquered peoples -- socially excluded

  36. Material Culture • Gray painted pottery • Wood and thatch, mud-walled houses • Measured wealth in cattle • Gold ornamentation • Wool • Alcoholic drink and soma • Highly developed music -- singing and dancing • Gambling -- especially dice games • Writing -- c. 700 bc-500 bc -- scorned for sacred texts

  37. Rama and his allies begin the attack on Lanka, by Sahib Din. From a manuscript of the Ramayana, Udaipur, 1652

  38. Vedic Religion • Priests (Brahmans) serving a military aristocracy • Numerous gods connected to natural forces • Indra -- god of war and storms • Varuna -- guarded cosmic order • Agni -- god of fire -- sacrifices, hearth, home • Vishnu -- god of the sun • Rudra -- the archer • Soma -- god of hallucinogenic soma plant • Ushas -- goddess of dawn -- one of few female divinities

  39. Jainism • Vardhamana Mahavira was born in a village near Vaishali in north Bihar. His father was a ruler of that area and his mother a princess. At the age of thirty. he left home and started practicing penances in search of knowledge. After twelve years, he attained the state called Nirvana (enlightenment). Mahavira (540 BC - 467 BC) founded the sect of Jainism.

  40. Jainism • Emerged 6th c. bce • Total respect for animal life • Made farming and husbandry impossible • Jains became merchants – art patrons and now among the the wealthiest inhabitants of India A carved ceiling in the Jain temple at Mt. Abu, ca. 9th-13th century A D.

  41. Evolution of Hinduism:Indus Influences • Mother goddess • Bull figure: Nandi – still the symbol of Congress Party • Shiva cult: • seals with Shiva figure • lingam stones -- emblem of Shiva • Shiva cult may be world’s oldest surviving cult

  42. Evolution of Hinduism:Vedic Influences • Vishnu – preserver god • Sanskrit as language of religious learning • Vedic hymns -- nucleus for more abstract religious thought • Notions of Hell (House of Clay) and Heaven (World of the Fathers) • Karma: action determines destiny • Upanishads: through philosophical interpretation -- inner meaning of traditional truths, ascetic teachings

  43. Hinduism:all-embracing structure of thought • All creation linked in huge web of being • Transmigration of souls through various life forms • Proper behavior linked to purgation and renewal • Dharma: the duty of the believer

  44. Invasion of Alexander the Great327-325 bce • Spring of 327 BC, Alexander and his army marched into India • His goal was to reach the Ocean on the southern edge of the world • Alexander sought out, the Brahmins, and debated them on philosophical issues.

  45. Maurya Empire4th c. bce -- 2nd c. bce • Response to power-vacuum created by Alexander the Great’s conquest of northern India c. 326 bce • First emperor Chandragupta Maurya (r.324-301 bce) • Ashoka (r.269-232 bce) conquered and ruled almost entire sub-continent: encouraged spread of Buddhism • Last emperor assassinated 184 bc

  46. Siddhartha Gautama Sakya: Buddha ca. 563-483 bce • Prophesied to be king or world redeemer at birth • A prince who gave up his wealth to find escape from human suffering • Studied with Hindu masters • Became an ascetic • Meditated under Bo tree for 49 days and nights until he experienced enlightenment • Became a wandering preacher and teacher dedicated to help others achieve Nirvana

  47. Buddhism • A religion without a god • Each individual must find his/her own way to enlightenment • Four Noble Truths: • Life consists of suffering, impermanence, imperfection, incompleteness • The cause of suffering is selfishness • Suffering and selfishness can be brought to an end • The answer to the problem of suffering is the Eight-fold Path