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Empires of South Asia

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  1. Empires of South Asia Ms. Wolk-Rogers Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

  2. Timeline • 1500-500 BCE- Vedic Age • 321-185 BCE Mauryan Empire • 320-550 CE Gupta Empire • 400s CE Hun incursions into northern India

  3. The Vedic Age- 1500-500 BCE • Named after the Vedas- religious texts of Hindus that provided the main source of information about this time period • Around 1500 BCE a group of invaders possibly through the Kyper Pass entered into South Asia • Spoke an Indo-European language. • Tall light skinned warriors on horse drawn chariots • For several generations waves of Aryans swept through the mountains known as the Hindu Kush into Indus river Valley and from there into northern India

  4. Aryans • Cattle was the basis of their wealth and served as money • They often raided each others cattle. They were often at war • Fertile Indus Valley ideal for farming so soon they settled into an agricultural way of life • Cattle provided meat, fresh milk, and liguid butter. Aryans also hunted game and butchered sheep and goats • Later herds would be considered so sacred that a ban was placed on eating meat. • Aryans ate bananas, cucumbers, and barley cakes

  5. The Aryans • Pushed the Dravidian, dark skinned people who traded in cotton, gold, pearls, and pepper southward • Aryans never conquer the southern portion of India and 2 distinct cultures will develop as a result of this division although some Dasas (Dravidian) were probably assimilated into the Aryan culture • Aryans were warlike people who brought Sanskrit, an ancient language with them. Their name meant nobles or owners of land • Tribes were led by a rajah or chief • Legends and hymns from the earliest known Veda- the Rigveda describes people who delighted in waging war, gambling on chariot races, and singing and dancing at festivals

  6. Treatment of women • Men dominated Aryan world • Although an Aryan women had some say in choosing a husband the man she married expected no challenge to his authority • Women took part in religious ceremonies and social affairs • They were allowed to remarry if widowed-freedoms they would lose in the centuries to come • Both girls and boys from families of high rank attended school where they learned Aryan traditions

  7. Treatment of women • During the Vedic Age women in the upper castes studies lore, composed religious hymns, and participated in sacrificial ritual • Producing children was important because it provided security for parents and proof of male potency • Child marriage was common maybe because of the desire for many children and daughters represented an economic liability-dowries expected-this ensured a girl a husband • Women would commit sati-or suttee- upon their husbands death-women who refused were held in disgrace • Women were subordinated first to fathers, then husbands, and 3rd sons • Fascination of the woman’s sexuality

  8. Aryans Introduce Varna • Skin color becomes a divisive force light skin vs dark skin • Eventually this develops into a major social stratification system know as the caste system • It probably derived from • Family ritual practices • Racial distinction • Occupational differences • Specialization of jobs • Vedas describe the beliefs that Aryans saw themselves as superior and natural masters of the inferior Indians

  9. Jati • Aryans divide the population into 4 broad class distinctions or jati-sometimes used to mean birth groups, sometimes called caste, from a Portuguese work meaning breed caste = an entity or social unit into which individuals are born and that dictates most aspects of daily life

  10. Jati • Brahmin -one possessed of Brahman, reserved only for the Aryans and their pure blooded descendents- priests • Ksatriyas- warriors and eventually become the governing class • Vaisyas -the most numerous group-freemen, farmers, traders, merchants, artisans, landholders • Sudras- peasants the laboreres serfs, unfree, this would be reserved for the Dasas, they were given menial jobs. The word Dasas means slave • Untouchables (added later)- the outcasts the pariahs-treated worse then animals, maybe originated as prisoners of war, criminals, forced to live in ghettos caste = an entity or social unit into which individuals are born and that dictates most aspects of daily life

  11. Untouchables • They were shunned ignored avoided excluded • Had the most undesirable jobs • Tanning hides of dead animals for leather • Collecting unclaimed dead and ashes of the dead • Street sweepers • Some were lepers-skin disease and lived inleper colonies

  12. Caste System • Implies a status that can not changes • Each caste had special duties and privileges (with exception of the lowest) • Some of the privileges were • 1) economic • 2) dietary • 3) social • 4) religious • Different castes did not mingle • Once born stayed in your caste for their entire life • No upward mobility

  13. Caste System • You could not marry into a higher rank • If contact was made a purification ritual had to be done • System still exists today while outlawed in 1947- it is still strong in rural areas and closely tied to the religious beliefs of Hinduism • *Because of the Caste system -it has had the effect of inhibiting change- particulary social change in India • Limited political power to the uppermost ranks • Caste discouraged cultural innovation by those in lower ranks • Those on top saw no reason to enact changes or better the entire society • Did not allow or promote free thinking • Highly stratified immobile society - page 155

  14. Hinduism • Caste system incorporated into Hinduism • Most Indians today are Hindu • Hindu considered a cultural religion- a faith that dominates a single national culture (other-Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Judaism) • It is not a rigid set of theological doctrines that must be believed to find truth or to be saved in eternity • Hinduism is a product of mixing Aryan beliefs with those of native Indians

  15. Hinduism • One of the oldest of major religions- dating back to at least 2000 BCE • It emerged without a prophet, founder, it was not founded by an individual person • Hindus do not call their religion Hinduism but refer to it as Sanatana dharma= “eternal teaching” or “eternal law”

  16. Hinduism • Hinduism teaches that each living being has a soul called Atman • Some believe that Atman(individual soul) is part of Brahman (the universal soul) • Some say it is polytheistic because of the number of gods and goddesses associated with religion • Others say it is monotheistic because of the focus placed on Brahman the omnipotent one • Hinduism does have thousands of gods and goddesses each has its own characteristics and Hindus choose which they wish to worship

  17. Hinduism • There is a trinity • 1) Brahma (don’t confuse with Brahman) is the creator • 2) Vishnu- is the preserver-thought to come down into the world as various human forms known as avatars. • The 10th and last avatar has not yet appeared. It is said that at the endo fo the present age, Vishu will come to Earth as Kalki, riding a white horse to destroy the wicked and re-establish order. (equated with second coming of Christ?) • 3) Shiva- is the destroyer a.k.a. the liberator because through destruction comes re-creation

  18. Hinduism • Other gods and goddesses include • Rama-he and his wife Sita represent the ideal couple respected for their purity of character, their love of each other , and their high moral character • Parvati- wife of Shiva. Ganesha son of Shiva is thought to remove obstacles. Usually he is worshipped at the beginnings of new undertakings. Ganesha was beheaded by Shiva in a fit of anger and later Shiva restored Ganesha to life by giving him an elephants head. With his big ears he listens to everyone’s prayers. • Durga- slays dragons • Kali-destroys evil

  19. Reincarnation The class and caste system came to be connected to the belief of reincarnation Those who had good Karma and Dharma would be born into a higher class Hindus believe that living things don not just have one life, but have an endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth called reincarnation or Hindus hope to break this cycle of life, death, and rebirth. It is symbolized by a wheel, known as the wheel of life. Karma keeps the wheel spinning

  20. Karma Refers to a person’s actions- good or bad Every action shows result in this life and next Good actions lead to a better lifethe next time and bad actions lead to a life of suffereing Some Hindus believe that very bad actions can result in a person’s rebirth not as a human but an animal or insect This would make it very difficult to gain the knowledge needed to break Samsara

  21. Moksha Once Samsara has been broken, the Hindu reaches moksha Moksha is the release of the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth The soul, atman becomes one with Brahman An analogy would be , “that of a rain drop, which after many transformationsfinds its way back to the ocean that originated it and is dissovled therein.”

  22. Sacred Texts While there is no holy book such as the Bible, Torah, or Koran, there are books that describe the teachings of Hinduis, explain the existence of Hinduism and tells stories of the religion 1) Vedas- passed along by mouth for centuries before being written down 2) Rig Veda- oldest most sacred. Tales of the deities (poetic hymns) 3) Mahabharata- epic poem has 100,000 verses could be the world’s longest poem. Tells of the life long strife between two line of princes of a royal family, resulting in war and one line is destroyed

  23. Sacred Texts While there is no holy book such as the Bible, Torah, or Koran, there are books that describe the teachings of Hinduis, explain the existence of Hinduism and tells stories of the religion 4) Upanishads- philosophical discussions that teach about Brahman and the ways to achieve moksha. Between 600 and 400 BCE religious thinkers had grown discontent with complex Vedic rituals so reflected their search for truth in these religious writings. It is thought they came up with cycle of rebirth 5) Brahmanas- detailed prose descriptions of ritual and sacrifice 6) Ramayana- tells of the life of Rama and Sita

  24. Worship Between the ages of 8 and 12, Hindu boys have a coming of age ceremony called the Upanayana-this shows boy is old enough to learn about his religion Hindu priest will bless along white cotton thread and place it over the boy’s left shoulder and under his right arm. There are 3 strands representing the Trinity and reminds the boy he has a debt to god, ancestors, and a spritiual teacher. He wears the sacred thread the rest of his life Worship can take place at a temple or home Shrine area in home brings the entire family together No strict rules when Hindus should go to temple May choose holidays, festivals, and tempels can be dedicated to certain gods or goddesses.Fruits and flowers brought in for blessings.Tilaka-red powder mark of blessing.

  25. Chandragupta Maurya321 BCE • Began a program of conquest • United northwestern India and reas of the ganges plain that would form the first unified, centralized government in India • Chandragupta and his successors amassed an empire that encompassed all of present day India except for the southern tip

  26. Chandragupta Maurya321 BCE • Skilled administrator whose achievements included the development of an efficient postal system • Kept control of his stong army by using an extensive spy network • Founded a Mauryan kingdom that included most of northern and central India that lasted until 184 BCE

  27. The Mauryans • Supported their government by taxing agricultural crops • Standard coinage facilitated trade • Gov’t control of manufactures,mines, and shipbuilding strengthened the state • National army consisted not only of infantry and cavalry but also of chariots and war elephants

  28. Ashoka • Indian civilization blossomed during the reign of Chandragupta’s grandson Ashoka • His rule began in 274 BCE with fierce wars of conquest • He built an empire that covered two thirds of the Indian subcontinent • After one particularly brutal battle he rode out to view the battlefield • The experience changed his life

  29. Rock of Edicts • Issued laws stressing concern for other human beings • To make sure they were widely known he wrote them in local languages rather than in Sanskrit • They were carved on rocks and on tall stone pillars throughout the vast empire • Reflected care for animals too • Provided frees hospitals and vet clinics • Built fine roads with rest houses and shade trees for travelers

  30. Rock of Edicts • His highway rest stops were marked by stone pillars engraved with Buddhist teachings • Sample pillar.. • “I have ordered banyan trees to be planted along the roads to give shade to men and animals. I have ordered mango groves to be planted. I have ordered welss to be dug every half mile, and I have ordered rest houses built”

  31. Collapse of Mauryan Empire • Declined after Ashoka’s death in 232 BCE • His successors were not as enlightened as he was • They levied heavy taxes on the goods sold by merchants and seized large portions of crops grown by peasants • Such harsh policies caused the people to turn against the Mauryas • When the last Mauryan ruler was murdered in 184 BCE northern India was again split into many small warring kingdoms

  32. Mauryan Empire • When Alexander the Great and his troops departed India in 325 BCE, a local ruler from the prosperours agricultural and trading center or Magadha in the central Ganges plain rose to power • His name was Chandragupta Maurya (322-298 BCE)