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World History. Chapter Three: Section Three. Powerful Empires of India. Northern India was a battleground for rival rajahs fighting to control the Ganges Valley Chandragupta Maurya – created first Indian empire Gained control of the Ganges Valley, then northern India

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World History

Chapter Three:

Section Three

Powerful Empires of India

  • Northern India was a battleground for rival rajahs fighting to control the Ganges Valley

  • Chandragupta Maurya – created first Indian empire

  • Gained control of the Ganges Valley, then northern India

  • Son and grandson went south and captured land in the Deccan


  • Maurya Dynasty – ruled most of India

  • Order was maintained in bureaucracy

  • Built roads, harbors, collected taxes, royal courts

  • Used secret police force to control crime and corruption

  • Used specially trained women warriors to guard his palace


  • Asoka – Chandragupta’s grandson and the most honored Maurya emperor

  • Fought bloody battle to conquer the rest of the Deccan – over 100,000 people died

  • Turned his back on war, accepted Buddhism and ruled by moral example

  • Stopped eating most meats and limited Hindu sacrifices


  • Sent missionaries across India to spread Buddhism

  • Preached tolerance for other religions

  • Set up stone pillars that offered advice and moral guidance to those reading them

  • Peace and prosperity – built hospitals and shrines


  • Asoka died – Maurya power declined

  • Unity of empire broken as princes fought for power

  • India often remained divided due to the numerous ethnic groups in the area trying to take control


  • Gupta Empire – India enjoyed a golden age or a period of great cultural achievement

  • Gupta vs. Maurya Empire

  • Gupta was more relaxed and let villages rule themselves

  • Trade and farming flourished

  • Farmers harvested: wheat, rice, sugar cane

  • Artisans produced: cotton cloth, pottery, metal ware

Advances in learning

  • Students educated in religious schools

  • Taught religion, mathematics, medicine, physics, languages, literature and other subjects

  • Gupta mathematics – created system of writing numbers that we use today

  • Created concept of zero

  • Developed decimal system based on ten


  • Folklores collected and written in Sanskrit – language of the area

  • Indian stories went to Egypt, Persia, and Greece

Gupta Decline

  • Gutpa declined due to weak rulers, civil war, and foreign invaders

  • Invaders from Central Asia – the Huns – nomadic people who overran the Gupta empire

  • Now India was again split up into many smaller kingdoms

Family Life

  • Most Indians were peasants

  • Life revolved around the caste system, rules, duties and family

  • Joint family – parents, children, and offspring shared a home – this was considered ideal

  • Oldest male was in charge

  • Usually only made decisions after consulting his wife

  • Property belonged to the entire family


  • Family trained children to perform the duties of their caste

  • Family interest came before individual interests

  • Daughter learned that she would serve husband and family

  • Son learned rituals to honor ancestors

  • Arranged marriages based on caste and family interests

  • Brides family often provided a dowry – payment to the bridegroom and financed the wedding

  • Daughter would go live with husband after marriage


  • Early Aryan society – women enjoyed higher status than in later times

  • Women restricted to the home, when they went outside they had to cover from head to toe

  • Lower class women were outside in the fields or weaved cloth

  • Women believed to have shakti– creative energy – completed her husband

  • Few rights in family or society – they were simply supposed to marry and raise children

Village Structure

  • Homes made of dirt and stone

  • Surrounded by fields of wheat, sugar, cotton, rice

  • Village council made decisions for village

  • Women used to be allowed in it but Hindu teachings eventually led to women having less rights and freedom


  • Farming relied on rains from the summer monsoons – winds

  • Too much or too little meant famine

  • Landlords often owned the land that was farmed

  • They were paid part of the harvest by farmers

  • What was left was barely enough to feed farmer and his family