Facts about Ancient India
India History is classified into three broad categories: Ancient, Medieval and Modern.
Indus Valley Civilization
The development of Indus Valley Civilization is the most important event of ancient Indian history. This civilization wad developed on the banks of river Indus. It extends from Jammu in the north to Ahmednagar in the south, and in various regions of Gujarat. The main sites which have been found in the excavation are Kalibangan in Rajasthan, Lothal in Gujarat, Banwali in Haryana and Ropar in Punjab. Indus Valley Civilization period lies between 3000 BC and 1500 BC. The main cities associated with are Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, and Lothal. The main features of this civilization are the town planning. They had a great building, well-planned roads, cities, and drainage system. Hunting and agriculture were their main sources of livelihood. They were the first to produce cotton.
A. Vedic Period
This is marked by the entry of Aryans, who were originally inhabitants of Central Asia around the Caspian Sea and probably came through Hindukush mountains. The period lies between 2500-2000 BC. The main feature of Aryans was – They were the admirers of nature and worshiped sun, fire, and water. Yagna was an important part of their religion. They had organized a system of living and were quite matured socially and politically. They had following religious books:
These books were their most sacred books. These are the oldest known books of Indus Valley Civilization. They were four in number, viz. Rig Veda- The oldest and contained prayers of God, Vayu, Varun, Indra and Agni Sam Veda- It dealt with music. Yajur Veda- It dealt with formulae and rituals. Atharva Veda- It dealt with medicines.
2. The Purana
The Puranas were 18 in number and contained details of Aryan Civilization like their rituals, traditions, and formulae.
3. The Upanishads
They are the main source of Indian Philosophy and are 300 in number. The Brahmans and Aranyakas are the other important religious books of Aryans.
B. The Later Vedic Period
This period ranges from 2000-700 BC. The important features of this period are: It is also known as the period of Brahmanical Age which is very near to modern-day, Hindu religion. Society which was in Hindu divided into four castes (a) Brahmins, (b) Kshatriyas, (c) Vaisyas, and (d) Sudras, depending on the work they did in the mentioned order of preference. Caste system in India taken from the ancient India | Image Source Brahmins were the priestly class, Kshatriyas were the fighter, Vaisyas were the business class, and Sudras represented the labor class. Two great epics and Shastras were written in this period, namely Mahabharata by Ved Vyas and Ramayana by Maharishi Valmiki. The Shastras dealt with Indian philosophy and concepts of birth, death, and God.
C. Rise of religion (other than Hinduism)
Initiated by a Kshatriya prince of Shakya Clan, Siddhartha, (later came to be known as Buddha) around 6th century BC, who was born at Lumbini (in Nepal) near Kapilvastu. He was the son of King Shuddhodhana, He went in search of truth and attained enlightenment under a papal tree at Bodh Gaya, and delivered his first sermons at Sarnath in U.P. He spread his message of many years and died at Kushinagar in U.P. There are many sects of Buddhism out of which three are important: Mahayan (the higher vehicle) – It believes Buddha to be a God Hinman (the lesser Vehicle) – It does not believe that Buddha was a God. It is a more pristine form of Buddhism. Vajrayan- It is the tantric form of Buddhism. Now prevalent in Ladakh and Bhutan. Buddhism got divided into Hinyan and Mahayan at the fourth Buddhist council held during the reign of Harshavardhan. The main Buddhist teachings are: The eight-fold path of right faith, thought, action, livelihood, efforts, speech, remembrance and concentration. Belief in Nirvana (freedom from the cycle of birth and death), Ahimsa, the law of karma.
Founded by Rishabha (a Kshatriya), Jainism attained peak under Vardhamana Mahavira (the 24th Tirthankara). Mahavira was born was born at Kundagrama in 540 BC in Bihar, and attained perfect knowledge, ‘Kaivalya,’ after he becomes ascetic at the age of 30. He became a ‘Jina’ one who has conquered happiness and misery) and died at Pava near Rajgiri. Jainism is also divided into two sects, viz., digambars and shwetambara. Former is a more pristine form and remain naked, while latter, wear white clothes. The main feature of Jainism are: The tri–ratna concept, consisting of (a) right knowledge, (b) right faith, (c) right conduct. Belief in Karma and belief in Ahimsa, are the other two great teachings of this religion. [table id=1 /] Hope you liked the detailed information on ancient India. In the next post, we will discuss medieval India.