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Chapter 5 India

Chapter 5 India

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Chapter 5 India

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  1. Chapter 5India Indus River flows south, west from Himalayas Himalayas are highest range separating India from China Archaeological digs at Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa

  2. Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa • What was there? • City probably housed over 100,000 people • Many smaller towns also in the area • Physical layout • Fired brick structures • Streets at right angles • Buildings 2, even 3, stories high – unusual • Sewage canals from houses to larger canal • All this requires powerful government - theocracy

  3. Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa • Communal granaries, temples of local gods were together • High standard of living • Traded with Mesopotamia, southern India, Afghanistan • Writings has not yet been deciphered • We know almost nothing about religion, government, society • It is clear they were prosperous until about 1900 BCE • Long decline, abandonment of site • May have happened because river changed course, or malaria broke out • Perhaps land became unproductive • Invasion of Aryan nomads

  4. The Vedic Epoch • Aryans • Were one of earliest horse-breeding peoples of Asia • Overwhelmed Indians, set themselves as master group • Our knowledge of them comes from Vedas, ancient oral epics • Indo-European speakers, worshipped gods of sky and storm, used bronze • Rigveda (oldest of Vedas) shows them to be violent people • In time, ruled all of northern India • Gradually settled down as farmers, townspeople

  5. Beginnings of the Caste System • Four groups • Brahmins - priests, highest ranking • Kshatrija – warriors • Vaishya – freemen, farmers, traders • Shudra – non-free serfs • Over time, these classes evolved into more complex castes • Caste is social unit into which individuals are born, dictates everything of their daily life • Status of person cannot be changed • Special duties, privileges • High-caste person has little contact with lower castes

  6. Caste System • This stratification still continues • By 18th century were over 3000 sub-castes • Belief is still strong today • Inhibits any type of change • Nearly impossible for person to climb up social ranks • Limits political power to highest ranks • Discourages or prohibits cultural innovation by those of lower ranks • Under the caste system, Indian society became highly stratified, immobile

  7. Hinduism • Fourth largest religion in the world – about 900 million members • Is a way of life, philosophical system, inspiration for art, basis of all Indian political theory • Slow mix of Aryan beliefs and local Dravidian culture • Principles reflect patriarchy, class conscious society • Laws of Manu • Major difference – tangible world is illusory, person has to accept their fate in earthly life

  8. Hinduism • Basic principles and beliefs • Non-material world is real, permanent • Soul passes through series of existences, is reincarnated • Karma – tally of good and bad committed by individual • Dharma – code of morals for one’s caste • Many gods, most important being • Brahman – life force • Shiva – creator and destroyer • Vishnu - preserver

  9. Hinduism • Moksha • Final release from reincarnation when person has lived a perfect life • End of individuality, soul is submerged into a world-soul • Two new modes of thought appeared • Jainism • Emphasized the sacredness of all life • Found today only among small group of high-caste people • Buddhism

  10. Buddhism • Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, or Enlightened One • His life is well documented • Became teacher of large group of disciples • His teachings eventually were more important in China, Japan, than in India

  11. Teachings of the Buddha • Basic ideas • Everyone can attain nirvana (release from earthly woes) • Release comes from self-taught mastery of oneself • Gods have nothing to do with it • Way to self-mastery is through Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path • Four Noble Truths • All life is permeated by suffering • All suffering is caused by desire • Desire can only be overcome by attaining nirvana • Way to nirvana is guided by eight principles

  12. Teachings of the Buddha • Eightfold Path • Right (righteousness) ideas, thought, speech, action, living, effort, consciousness, meditation • Anyone who follows these steps will conquer desire, be released from suffering • Suffering and loss are caused by desire for illusory power and happiness • Once one sees these are not desirable, temptation will vanish • Then will find serenity of the soul, harmony with nature and people

  13. Buddhism • Buddhism spread among Indians of all backgrounds • Popularity from its democracy of spirit • Everyone can discover path to nirvana • After his death, Buddhism split • Theravada • Stricter version • Claims to be the pure form of his teachings • Mahayana • More liberal, sees doctrines as initial step, not the ultimate word • Many ways to salvation • There are many buddhas, many more will appear • Followers far outnumber stricter adherents • Two forms take a “live and let live” attitude

  14. The Mauryan Dynasty • Moved into political vacuum left when Alexander the Great retreated • Arthsastra – hard-bitten government policies emphasizing that the end justifies the means • Ashoka (ruled 269-232 BCE) • Founding spirit of Indian unity, nationhood • He became devout Buddhist, spread Buddhism, encouraged mutual tolerance • Period of internal prosperity external peace • He saw himself as “father” of his people • Successors were weak, conquered by invaders • New peoples became sedentary, adopted Buddhism • But political unity disintegrated

  15. Daily Life in Ancient India • Villagers were almost entirely elf-governing • Rural misery seen today is recent phenomenon • Plenty of suitable agricultural land • When shortages happened, people could emigrate to new area

  16. Women in India • Began in near-equality, possibly matriarchy • Lost equality in Vedic Hindu era • Customs became established like widow’s suicide, isolation from all non-family males • Woman’s dharma was to obey, serve husband and sons • Emphasis on female sexuality • Woman seen as more sexually potent than man • Possibly a personification of goddess of destruction, Kali

  17. Buddhism’s Spread • Land routes from northwest made invasion possible • Most intruders adopted Indian culture and Buddhism • Little cultural exchange with China • Extremely difficult to cross Himalayas or Burma’s jungles • Exception was export of Buddhism to China in 1st century CE • Mahayana form deeply affected Chinese culture • Most of China’s educated class became Buddhists • This was possibly the most far-reaching single cultural event in world history • Chinese passed Buddhism to Korea, Vietnam, Japan

  18. Discussion Questions • 1. The caste system which still characterized Indian society began in the Vedic Era. What do you see as the differences between castes and classes? Which provide mobility? What advantages can you see in the caste system? • 2. Ancient Indian religion centered on Hinduism and Buddhism, two of the great religions of the world. What common threads do you see between them? What comparisons (not contrasts) do you see with Christianity?