Things You Need To Know
About Ancient India
• About the river system and the physical
• About the Aryan invasions
• About Hinduism and Brahmanism
• About the caste system
• About Buddha
• About the Maurya empire
• About Emperor Asoka
Ancient India Geography
India is a subcontinent, separated by the rest of the
continent by the Himalayas. India can be divided in
two, the northern plains, a flat low plain and the
Deccan, a land with many hills. Up in northwest
India is the Thar Desert. The Himalayas provided
natural protection from northern invasions. The
Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea provided
protection for the west and the east.
The River System
The main river in Ancient India was the
Indus River. The Indus River deposited
fertile soil during annual flooding. The
source of the Indus River is in the
The Aryan Invasions
• At about 1500 BC the Aryans began to migrate
into India from the dry plains near the black sea.
Nobody really knew who they were, their name
meant noble, but scientists believe that they were
warriors and herders. They also do not know why
they left their homeland, but it may have been
because of overpopulation. They moved into
Mesopotamia, then across Persia, and then decided
to settle on the Punjab plain which is now in
Pakistan. At first they were herders but over time
they adapted into farmers and became more and
more like the Indian people.
The Maurya Empire
• Chandugragupta Maurya ordered land to be cleared
and swamps drained to help out farmers, he improved
the roads, and he did this by using taxes. This helped
out the richer people but the common people suffered,
because they could not pay them. He was very mean, but
this helped him expand his empire, this made the
overworked and overtaxed people thought of him as a
cruel man. Knowing that people hated him, he feared he
was in danger, and he was very cautious, he slept in
different rooms each night, and he had his servants
taste his food first for poison. He had a grandchild who
became one of the greatest rulers of India, his name was
• As a young ruler he was very cruel, but after he
conquered Kalinga in 261 BC his life changed, he
began to hate violence and he became a Buddhist.
He then made Buddhism the state religion and
built Buddhist temples and sent out missionaries.
Asoka had commands carved into stone pillars and
they were posted all across his empire. Some
pillars still stand today.
The Caste System
• The Aryan society was divided into four
classes, or varnas. The highest are
Brahmans, priests, second is Kshatriyas,
warriors, third is Vaishyas, farmers,
merchants, and craftsmen, fourth, the
lowest is Shudras, they are servants or
The Caste System cont.
The cast system determined many things about how
people live, it determines their job, what they eat,
what they wear, where they live, and who they
marry. People are born into their caste, and have it
for life. The Indian legend is that the castes
emerged from body parts of Purusha the first
BRAHMANS: Head, they perform religious ceremonies, and offer
sacrifices to the god. Passed down info through WORD.
KSHATRYAS: Arms, took charge of the army and government.
Use arms to FIGHT.
VAISHYAS: Legs, merchants, farmers, and craftsmen. They
traded, tended cattle, lent money, like a bank, and farmed. Much
SHUDRAS: Feet, very poor and uneducated. On their FEET
• Hinduism evolved from the Aryans beliefs and
from those of the people of India. The most
important deities, or gods, in Hinduism were
Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The most important
thing in Hinduism is how you act to other living
things and what you do. They believe that each
living thing has a soul that is reincarnated into
another thing. Dharma, religious duty, and
Karma, actions, decide the new caste they are
reincarnated into, if you do well at both
you move up and not so good you move
• Buddhism was introduced Siddhartha
Gautama, a prince who believed in Hinduism
except if you are good and pure you no longer
have to go through the cycle of reincarnation.
These ideas eventually formed into Buddhism.
One day Siddhartha went in the shade of a tree
and meditated on the idea of suffering and once
he found what he wanted, became Buddha.
• Buddha spread his teachings to northern India
with followers becoming monks. Each monk
meditated for multiple hours every day. The first
written versions of Buddha’s teachings were made
around 200 and 100 BC. Buddha’s teachings were
centered around the Four Noble Truths. #1 said
that suffering is part of life. #2 says that wanting
things is the root of suffering. #3 says becoming
wise and not wanting things takes away suffering.
#4 is a guide to living with the eightfold path.
• The city Harappa was rebuilt 6 times due to
• The game chess began in India
• Ancient Indians invented the number system and
• They used anesthesia
• No slavery was known of
• They were the first ones to calculate pi
• It held the worlds first university
• They came up with navigation