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FAQs Ancient Indian History

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What is Indus Valley Civilization?

Harappa discovered first by Dayaram Sahni in 1921.

Mohenjo-Daro discovered by RD Bannerji in 1922.

Covered parts of Sindh, Punjab, Gujarat, Baluchistan, Rajasthan and parts of Western UP.

Sites of Pakistan are Harappa (Ravi) Mohenjo-Daro (Indus), Chanhu-daro (Sindh).

Major sites of India are Lothal, Rangpur and Surkotda (Gujarat), Kalibangan (Rajasthan), Bawali (Hissar) and Alamgirpur (UP)

Town Planning was elaborate. Grid system followed.

Town divided into blocks by well laid roads. Burnt bricks used. Well laid and proper drainage systems were found.

A big public bath found in Mohenjo-Daro.

Agriculture -  Wooden Ploughs were used.

Wheat, rai, barley, sesamum, mustard, peas, rice (Lothal) cotton dates melons were grown. 

Arts and Crafts

Culture of Harappa belongs to Bronze Age.

Used Potter’s wheel.

In Mohenjo–daro bronze image of dancing girl found.

Economics

Barter system existed.

16 was the unit of measurement.

Seals and Beads found.

Religious Life

Mother goddess worshipped.

Phallus and yoni worship existed.

Papal, bull, dove, pigeon were worshipped.

Script not deciphered.

Excavation Highlights

Harappa – Graveyard.

Mohenjodaro –Granary, Pashupati Shiva seal and bronze statue of dancing girl.

Surkotda – Horse seal.

End

Earthquakes

Floods

Invasion of Aryans

Social Break ups

Other factors.

What is Vedic Period?

The Aryans

Aryans – pastoral, semi nomadic.

Origins – Area around Caspian Sea in Central Asia

Max Mueller – Central Asian Theory

Entered India through Khyber Pass

Around 1500 BC.

Early Vedic or Rig Vedic period 1500 BC to 1000 BC

Political

Monarchy.

Tribe called Jan and King called Rajan 

Family Basic Unit of Society

Family Type – Patriarchal

Economy - Pastoral and Agricultural

Standard unit of exchange – Cow. Coins also present.

Religion – Natural Forces worshipped.

Most important deity was Indra.

Indra as warlord – Purandar.

Later Vedic Period. 1000-600 BC

Painted Greyware Phase.

Emergence of Strong Kingdoms

Division of society based on occupation.

Brahmins – Priests

Kshatriyas – Warriors

Vaishyas - Traders, Agriculturers

Shudras - Others serve the other three classes

Religion

Agni and Indra lost importance.

Prajapati – Creator was supreme

Vishu – Seen as preserver and protector.

What is The Vedic Literature?

The Four Vedas.

Veda – Means Knowledge, To Know.

Rig Veda –Oldest religious text in the world.

Has 1028 hymns and 10 mandals

Sama Veda –Collection of melodies

Yajur Veda – Procedures for sacrifices

Atharva Veda - dealing with magic and other issues.

What are The Upanishads?

Known as Vedanta

108 in numbers and source of Indian philosophy. 

The Brahmins

Explained meaning of sacrifices and procedures for conducting them.

The Shatapatha Brahmana is a prose text.

It describes Vedic rituals, history and mythology.

The Aranyakas are books of instructions and constitutes the philosophy behind ritual sacrifice of the Vedas.

These were studied in forests.

What are the Epics?

Mahabharata

Witten by Ved Vyas in Sanskrit

It describes the war between Pandavas and Kauravas at Kurukshetra (950 BC).

Badayuni translated Mahabharata in Persian and is called The Razmnāma (Book of War).

Ramayana

Written by Valmiki in Sanskrit.

It is also known as Aadi Kavya

Translated in Persian by Badayuni and In Tamil by Kamban

Tulsidas wrote Ramacharitamanas

Puranas

18 in numbers

Written during Gupta Age - 4th century AD

Oldest purana is Matsya Purana

Which are the Important Religious Movements?

What is Buddhism?

Lord Buddha also known as Tathagata or Sakyamuni

Born to Suddhodana Sakya Ruler and Mahamaya in 563 BC on the Vaishaka Purnima at

Birth Place - Lumbini in Nepal (near kapilavastu)

Married to Yashodara. A son named Rahul.

Left his palace at age 29.

Wandered for Six years

Attained Enlightenment at Gaya (age 35) under a peepal tree.

Delivered First sermon at Sarnath

His first sermon was called Turning of the Wheel of Law –Dharmachakrapravartan.

Attained Mahaparinirvana at Kushinagar in 483 BC at the age of 80. 

What are Buddhist Councils?

First Council – 483 BC – Rajgriha under the chairmanship of Mahakashyap and during the rule of king Ajayshatru.

Second Buddhist council was held in 383 BC at Vaishali under chairmanship of Sarvkami and under the reign of Kalashoka

Third Buddhist council was held in the year 251 BC at Pataliputra under the chairmanship of Mogaliputta Tissa and during the rule of King Ashoka.

Fourth Buddhist Council was held in 72 AD in Kashmir under chairman ship of Vasumitra and under the rule of King Kanishka.

In the fourth council Buddhism separated into Mahayana and Hinayana Sects.

What is Buddhist Literature?

Is written in Pali language and commonly referred as Tripitakas.

Vinaya Pitaka – Rules and Discipline in Buddhist Monastries

Sutta Pitaka – Buddha sermons and Jatakas which are fables about different birth of Buddha.

Buddha - Stressed on four noble truths. Sorrow. Reason for sorrow is desire. No desires no sorrows. Eight fold path for controlling desires.

Stupa and Vihara

Stupa – Relics of Buddha.

Sanchi Stupa built by King Ashoka in Vidisha ( MP)

Viharas – residential places for Bodh Bikshu

Nalanda Vihar built by Kumar Gupta – I 

What is Jainism?

Founded by Rishaba. 24 Tirthankaras. First was Rishaba

Vardhaman Mahavira was the 24th and Last Tirthankara – Emblem Lion

Born in Bihar - Kundagram in 540 BC

Born to Siddhartha and Trishla

Bimbisara was related to Lord Mahavira

Married to Yashoda and had a daughter named Priyadarsena.

Priyadarsena’s husband was Jamali and First Disciple of Mahavira

At 30 became an ascetic.

13th year of asceticism attained supreme knowledge - Kaivalya at Jrimbhikgrama

He was called Jaina or Jitendriya and Mahavira.

His followers are called Jains.

Also called Arihant – worthy.

At the age of 72 attained Nirvana at Pawapuri – Bihar

Jainism sects

Shwetambars – Wear white clothes

Digambars – Remain naked

Who were the Magadhas?

Haryanka Dynasty

Founded in 566 BC by Brihdratha grandfather of Bimbisara. Actually established by Bimbisara

Bimbisara – 544 BC to 492 BC

Ajatshatru 492 Bc to 460 BC. Killed his father and seized the throne.

Udayin 460 BC to 444 BC – Founded capital at Pataliputra.

Shishunaga Dynasty

Founded by Shishunaga - a minister

Succeeded by Kalashok.

Nanda Dynasty

Founded by Mahapadma Nanda.

In 326 -Alexander invaded India during the reign of Dhana Nanda.

Who were the Mauryas?

Chandragupta Maurya – 322 BC to 298 BC

Chandragupta with the help of Chanakya (also known as Vishnugupta/ Kautilya) overthrew the Nandas and established the Mauryan Dynasty.

Defeated Selucus Necator in 305 BC

Greek ambassador Megasthenes sent by Selecus) visited his court.

Megasthenes wrote the Book – Indica

Bindusara – 298BC to 272 BC

Bindusara son of Chandragupta succeeded in 297 BC. Almost whole of Sub continent under Mauryan Rule. 

Who was Ashoka?

Ashoka – 269 BC to 236 BC

One of the greatest kings of all times

There are 14 major and 17 minor rock edict inscriptions

 12 pillar edict inscriptions

Following Languages have been found in these inscriptions

Brahmi, Kharoshthi, Aramaic and Greek.

Kalinga war in 261 BC.

After the war his heart changed and he became a Buddhist.

Kalinga war mentioned in 13th rock edict.

Ashoka built the Sanchi Stupa

Officials appointed known as Dhamma Mahamatya – for moral control of people.

Last Mauryan King Brihadratha killed by Pushyamitra Shunga in 185 BC.

Which were the Post Mauryan Dynasties

Ad 300-300

Shunga Dynasty- Founded by Pushyamitra Sunga and Patanjali lived in his court

Kanav Dynasty – Founded by Vasudevkanav.

Satavahana Dynasty – Founded by SheeMukh.

Satavahanas started land grant systems to Brahmins.

Greeks first to issue gold coins in India.

Milind Panho was composed by Nagsen - a Bhikshu.

It is in Q&A form between Nagsen and Greek ruler -Minander.

The Shakas or Scythians.

The Greeks were followed by Shakas

Vikramaditya defeated Shakas in 58 BC and started the Vikram era.

The Parthians

Famous Parthian king was Gondophernes -AD 19-45.

During his period St.Thomas visited India (AD 1st)

The Kushans – 45 AD

From North central Asia.

Kanishka – most famous king.

The following persons were patronized.

1.Ashwaghosha who wrote Buddhacharita

2.Nagarjuna

3.Vasumitra

4.Physician Charak who wrote Charak Samhita

Saka Era started 78 Ad and followed by Government of India.

Who were the Guptas?

First two Kings were Srigupta and Ghatotkacha.

Chandragupta I - 319-350 AD

Started Gupta era 319-320 AD

Samudragupta – 350 -375 AD .He is known as Napoleon of India.

Chandragupta II – 375-415 AD

His court had the personalities known as Navratnas.

Prominent among them was – Kalidasa, Amarsimha, Varahmihir and Dhanvantri

Chinese pilgrim Fahein visited India during this period

Kumaragupta I - 415 -455

Founded Nalanda University

Skandagupta – 455 -467 AD.

After him Gupta Empire declined.

When was the Sangam Age?

300 BC to 600 AD.

The age of three Southern kings - Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas is known as Sangam Age.

Sangam Literature

Kural – Thiruvalluvar

Shilapaikaram – llango Adigal

Manimekalai - Chithalai Chathanar

Jivaka Chintamani – Tirutakkatevar

Three Sangam Assemblies

Madurai – Agastya Muni

Kapatapuram – Agastya Muni and Tolkapiyar

Madurai – Nakkirar.

7 AD to 12 AD

Harsha Vardhana 606 to 647 AD

From Pushybhuti Family

Chinese Pilgrim Hieun Tsang visited during his reign.

Banabhatta of his court wrote Harshacharita and Kadambari

Harsha wrote three plays – Priyadarshika, Nagananda and Ratnavali

Defeated by Pulakesin II - Chalukya King on the banks of Narmada in 620.

Who were the Rastrakutas

Founded by Dantidurga

Krishna I constructed rock cut –Kailasha temple at Ellora.

Elephanta caves were built by Rashtrakutas

The Pallavas

Greatest King was Narsimhavarman was a great king

Founded the town of Mamallapuram also called Mahabalipuram.

Rathas or Seven Pagoras adorn Mamallapuram

Who were the Cholas?

Founded by Vijayalaya.

Capital – Tanjore

Greatest Chola Rulers

Raja Raja I – 985-1014 AD

Rajendra I -1014 -1044

Raja Raja I constructed Brihadeeswarar Temple

His Son took the title of Gangaikonda

Dancing Shiva – Nataraja of this period.

Local Self Government prevalent. 

Who were the Pala of Bengal

Capital – Monghyr

Gopala – The Founder

Dharampala - He was a follower of Buddhism.

Founded Vikramsila University.

Revived Nalanda University. 

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