Chapter Three Classical India Ms. Sheets University High School • Most of India Geography of India separated from rest of Asia, subcontinent. • Himalayas linked India to the Middle East. • 2 important agricultural regions: along the Indus and along the Ganges. Vedic and Epic Ages • Aryan (Indo-European) hunter-gatherer migrants came from central Asia to India. • Vedic Age (1500-1000 BCE) = Indian agriculture flourish in Indus and Ganges Rivers • Sanskrit: the literary language of Vedic culture • Religious texts: Vedas • Indian Caste System: began as Indian social classes Indian Caste System • Brahmans- priests • Kshatriya- warriors • Vaisya- merchants, traders • Sudra- artisans, farmers • Harijan- “outside” of the caste system, Untouchables • Castes became hereditary, can only marry within castes. • Aryans developed caste systems because they saw themselves as superior and wanted to distinguish themselves from non-Aryans. Patterns in Classical India • Regionalism – Divided into sixteen regional states. – Used many languages – Allowed the caste system, which promoted tolerance within society by living with rigid social structures • Political Diversity: – Chandragupta Maurya- the first Mauryan ruler, who helped to unify much of India – Government was usually autocratic (one person with absolute power) and the ruler had to rely on personal and military power Ashoka • Extended Mauryan conquests, gaining control of all by the southern tip of India. • Converted to Buddhism, which helps to spread Buddhism, but honored Hinduism • Improved trade routes Kushans and Guptas • Kushans pushed into northwestern India – Civilization collapsed in 220 CE • Guptas established a large empire in 320 CE – Political stability – Conquered by the Huns in 535 CE Religion and Culture • Hinduism and Buddhism were the religions of classical India. • Hinduism – Developed gradually over many centuries – Sacred texts: Vedas – No founder, no central holy figure • Buddhism – Developed in 563 BCE after Siddhartha Gautama, who becomes the Buddha – Buddhism didn’t “stick” in India despite Ashoka’s conversion, but spread throughout Asia Culture in India • Most epic poems written down during the Gupta period. • Science and Math. – Science: Aryabhatta calculated the length of a solar year, circumference of earth, developed a theory of gravity – Medical advancements: bone setting, inoculation against smallpox – Math: Invented the concept of zero, negative numbers, square roots and the number system as we know it today (Arabic numerals) • Guptas supported one of the world’s first universities. – Lecture halls, libraries, observatory. Art in India • Stupas: spherical shrines • Art was less realistic, and more stylistic • Art was very colorful, religious Economy and Society in India • Caste system – Assigned people to occupations and regulated marriages – Lower caste people had fewer rights • Family life – Patriarchal society – Rights of women limited – System of arranged marriages • Economy – Excelled in iron-making – Textiles, cotton – Emphasis on trade (cinnamon, elephants, salt, fish) – Agriculturally based Chapter 3 Discussion Questions • What is the purpose of the Indian caste system? • Describe the Indian caste system. What is the purpose of the Indian caste system? How did the caste system affect the daily lives of people living on the Indian subcontinent? • What were significant advancements in science and math during Classical Indian civilization? • How did empires and smaller kingdoms contribute to the advancement of cultural and economic life of the Indian subcontinent? • How did the invasion of Aryan migrants influence classical Indian civilization? • How did the Maurya and Gupta civilizations unite parts of India at crucial periods of Indian history? • How did the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism influence the arts and sciences in classical India? • What was the Indian economy based upon? • How do China and India offer contrasts in political emphases, social systems, and cultures?
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