Ancient India Ancient India A Presentation for English 2332

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					      Ancient India
A Presentation for English 2332
     Central Texas College
      Dr. Brenda Cornell
Beginnings: Overview of Ancient
• Overview of Ancient
•   The earliest civilizations
    in the Indus valley were
    characterized by nomadic
    pastoralism, eventually
    developing into cities at
    Mohenjo-Daro and
    Harappa (see p. 1324).
Early society

• With their cattle-based farming economy,
 these communities established the early
 Vedic period (1500-500 B.C.E.). Society
 was structured around the clan, an
 extended family group headed by a chief,
 whose job was that of a war leader and
 protector of the clan.
From Chiefdom to Empire

• By the end of the Vedic era, large
 settlements became kingdoms rather than
 chiefdoms. The king replaced the chief
 and had greater responsibilities,
 overseeing the welfare as well as the
 defense of the people. Fancy ceremonies
 demonstrated and honored the king’s
 power and position.
From Chiefdom to Empire
• When Chandragupta Maurya (r. 321-296
 B.C.E.) established the first Indian empire,
 this idea of king and state shaped his
 reign and the Maurya empire that
 followed. “All men are my children,”
 Ashoka, the third Maurya ruler, claimed.
 India flourished under Maurya rule and
 came to include almost the entire
Collapse of the Empire

• The centralized government was
 supported by land revenues and trade
 profits. The expansion of both enabled the
 government to extend the empire’s
 borders and benefit from foreign
 technology. However, because the
 economy could not keep pace, the Maurya
 empire eventually collapsed
           • Brahma , a major Hindu god
             in the late Vedic period, is
             regarded as the creator of the
             universe. He was said to have
             been born from a golden egg,
             symbolic of the birth of the
             universe. It was the doctrine of
             Trimurti that brought Brahma,
             Vishnu, and Shiva together as
             the three aspects of a supreme
             deity. To this day, any temple
             dedicated to Vishnu or Shiva
             also contains an image of
The Caste System

• The caste system is one of the lasting influences of early Hinduism on Indian society.
    As early as the Rig Veda one can find references to the four groups said to have
    emerged from Purusha's body (see The Song of Purusha, p. 1342-1343): the
    Brahmins (from the mouth), the Kshatrias (from the arms), the Vaishya (from the
    thighs), and the Shudras (from the feet).

• A Brahmin is designated as one with divine knowledge, a Kshatria as one with
    authority, and a Vaishya as one settled on the land.
•   Scholars have generally regarded the non-Aryan derivation of Shudras as evidence
    that this caste originally consisted of non-Aryan cultivators who were conquered by
    the Aryans and often enslaved.

• In Hinduism, one of the main distinctions between the groups is that members of the
    first three can become "twice-born" (dvija) after undergoing the ceremony of spiritual
    rebirth (upanayana), receiving the sacred wool thread. This ceremony is meant to
    initiate one into Aryan adulthood. Shudras are denied this opportunity.

• The literary language of
  classical India, Sanskrit
  was the written and
  spoken language of the
  Aryan peoples who
  invaded the Indian
  subcontinent around
  2000 B.C.E. The Vedas
  (the collective term for all
  of the sacred Hindu
  scriptures) were all
  composed in Sanskrit.
Literary Contributions

• The Vedas: foundation of Hinduism.
  “Veda” means “knowledge,” knowledge
  about the world, about superhuman
  powers and how to influence them.
• There are 4 Vedas in the Hindu tradition:
  Rig Veda, Yayur Veda, Sama Veda, and
  Atharva Veda, all of which feature a wide
  variety of literature.
Contents of Vedic Literature (c.
1000, 1st Century B. C. E.).
• The Rig Veda: creation stories, sacrificial rites, and formulas for
  priests. Earliest known Indo-European document and the oldest
  Veda. “Hymn to the Sun God” is an example of this literature.
• The Yayur Veda: priestly chants, litanies, and ritual sacrifices for
  maintaining the favor of the gods.
• The Sama Veda: known for its songs of praise; contains the “Hymn
  to the Horse,” for the occasion of the horse sacrifice, the elaboriate
  ritual created exclusively for kings.
• The Atharva Veda: focus on spells and magic.

• Some of these works are believed to be divinely inspired and
The Bhagavad-Gita
• The Bhagavad Gita (Sanskrit भगवद्गीता, Bhagavad Gītā,
  "Song of God") is one of the most important Hindu
  scriptures. It is revered as a sacred scripture of
  Hinduism,[1][2] and considered as one of the most
  important philosophical classics of the world.[3] The
  Bhagavad Gita comprises 700 verses, and is a part of the
  Mahabharata. The teacher of the Bhagavad Gita is
  Krishna, who is revered by Hindus as a manifestation of
  the Lord Himself,[3] and is referred to within as
  Bhagavan—the divine one.[4] The Bhagavad Gita is
  commonly referred to as The Gita for short
Works Cited

• Davis, et. al. The Bedford Anthology of
     World Literature. Volume I. Boston:
      Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006.

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