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Ancient India
Geography and Indian Life
Physical Geography of ancient India
India is subcontinent: a large landmass that is smaller than a continent.
This area is called: South Asia and it is kite shaped
India moved north colliding with southern Asia and this collision created mountains.
Mountains and waterways
to the north are the Hindu Kush and the Himalaya mountain ranges.
The Ganges and the Indus Rivers make the land fertile
The area where ancient Indians settled was called Indus River Valley
Geography and Indian Life
The mountain ranges block most of the cold winds keeping it warm.
India has a dry season in the winter and rainy season in the summer due to the monsoons:
seasonal winds
India’s rainy season can cause severe flooding.
Review: When the summer monsoon hits it rains a lot…the rivers flood, leave silt for fertile soil.
Rain helps the crops grow. This allows a civilization to develop.
Cities in the Indus Valley
Why was the earliest Indian Civilization located near the Indus River Valley? They settled near
the Indus Valley because they were near a river which allowed a civilization to develop.
Civilization here began with: It began with farming, by making copper and bronze tools.
They farmed: Wheat, barley, and cotton.
They domesticated: cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens.
They became a more complex culture because? They became a complex culture by the wealth
they got from trade. They traded timber, ivory, and beads. They received silver, tin, and woolen
Great Cities: Harappan Civilization and
Harappan Culture
BY 2500 B.C…
Some villages have grown to become great cities. At least 35,000 people lived in the largest and best known
cities Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. The Harappan city became an Ancient culture. It is called the Harappan
A planned city is?
City built by design. City streets crossed each other. Heavy brick protective walls. Along the streets there
were homes, factories, and shops. The cities also had large public building that were used for religious or
government functions.
Problems in large cities.
One of the problems was removing human waste. Another problem was planning an organization to build
such complex cities.
Great Cities: Harappan Civilization and Harappan
Culture cont…
Harappan Culture.
Mysterious forms of writing (nobody has figured how to read it). Some of the seals
may have indicated types of trade goods. There were 500 pictographs or picture signs
in the Harappan Culture.
Harappan culture spread to a region 2 times the size of Texas.
Artifacts show they had more than just what they needed
Harappan Religion
Archaeologists haven’t found any temples for specific gods. Archaeologists have
found figures of animals such as bulls that Indians still regard as holy. They also found
clay figures that may have been goddesses or dolls.
What happened to Harappan life?
Around 2000-1500 BC there were many earthquakes
This made some rivers dry up while others may have flooded.
These events may have made people leave their cities and the Harappan civilization went into
Lesson 2: The Origins of Hinduism
Aryans: People who traveled east into India around 1500 BC. They were herders (people who gather and bring animals
from place to place), they lived simple lives in simple houses and they spoke an Indo-European language called Sanskrit
Caste: members of a social class that is determined by their job. People were born into their caste and they could not
change their caste.
Brahmanism: the Aryans started the early religions and later became the name of their priests AKA Brahmins.
Worshipped many gods (deities) and sacrificed dead animals to the gods. Later their ideas changed to the belief in one
Hinduism: The major religion of India. It came from Brahmanism and they worshipped many gods, most important:
Brahma: the creator Shiva: destroyer Vishnu: the protector
They believed in reincarnation
Reincarnation: a belief that you have many lives…come back another soul. IF you were good on earth your next life
would be better. If you were bad your next life would be worse. In the afterlife you could change life form. Animals
and humans were the highest form of life. Reincarnation is a constant cycle birth, death, re-birth.
Karma: what you did in your previous life will affect your next life. What goes around comes around.
Lesson 3: Buddhism and India’s Golden
Ahimsa: the belief in nonviolence
Buddhism: a religion taught by Buddha…
Siddhartha Gautama: he is a prince who gave up his role to look for the meaning of life: He
became the Buddha
Nirvana: the end of suffering
Dharma: collected teaching of Buddha
Asoka: the greatest Buddhist king/ Maurya
The Rise of Buddhism
Jainism started in India. Jains practice non-violence or Ahimsa. They think nothing should be
hurt because… they believe everything has a soul
Buddhism was started by Siddhartha Gautama . He was actually a spoiled prince who decided to
search for the meaning of Life. Buddha wandered for 6 years until he finally leaned the 4 Truths
sitting under a fig tree.
One of these Truths tells of following the Eightfold Path. This path can lead to nirvana.
Buddha believed in non-violence, did not worship the Hindu Gods, nor did he believe in the
caste system.
Buddha is still worshipped today as a divine being.
The Maurya Empire
After a long time of India being made up of many Aryan kingdoms a King named Chandragupta
Maurya took over in 321 BC. The Maurya Empire took up most of India.
ruled by using spies and taxing the crops.
Maurya’s grandson was a Buddhist King named Asoka. He decided to rule with Buddhist teachings
after fighting a bloody war…he gave up warfare. He also converted others to Buddhism while
allowing people to practice their own religion. Some of the positive things he did during his rule are:
he improved the way people could travel: rest stops. He also set up hospitals, dug wells, and planted
trees to make it look nicer.
Many people stopped practicing Hinduism during this time for several reasons such as… only priests
could perform the sacrifices, the rites in Sanskrit which most people could not understand…people
did not feel connected to their gods.
The result is Hinduism changed so that everyone could understand it not just those who spoke
Sanskrit. Buddhism then declined in India but had already begun to spread in more Asian countries.
The Golden Age of the Guptas
After Asoka dies there was about 500 years of conflicts. In 320 AD the Gupta family took over.
The first thing Chandra Gupta I did as ruler was he married a king’s daughter so he could gain
more land. His son enlarged the kingdom even more by fighting wars.
The greatest ruler of the Gupta Empire was Chandra Gupta II and during his rule India had its
time of great accomplishment which is called The Golden Age.
There were many accomplishments during the golden age. Some are: trade expanded,
designed temples, created Pi (3.14 the circumference of a circle) wrote Sanskrit poems and plays
and is considered one of the greatest writers in India. Developed the decimal system, a symbol
for 0, Ayurvedic medicine, made new metals.
Why it matters: Hinduism and Buddhism shaped Asia’s cultures for years to come.