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Today about 110 languages are spoken in
India. The Indian Subcontinent in Asia is made
up of a number of important regions. These
regions include:
1. The Himalaya mountains
2. The Ganges and Indus River valleys
3. Deccan Plateau
The Himalayas are the highest mountains
range in the world, reaching approx. 29,000
feet with Mt. Everest.
 The Ganges River valley is rich while the Indus
River valley is dry.
 The Deccan plateau is hilly and dry in the
interior and lush in the west and east.
 The primary feature of India’s climate is the
monsoon, a seasonal wind pattern in southern
One monsoon blows warm, moist air from the
southwest during the summer and another
blows cold, dry air from the northeast during
the winter.
 The southwest monsoon brings heavy rains,
and throughout history Indian farmers have
depended on these rains to grow their crops.
 If the rains come early or late, or too much or
too little rain falls, crops are destroyed and
thousands starve.
The earliest civilizations in India flourished in
the Indus River Valley. Two of these civilizations
were in the major cities of Harappa and
 Both of these cities were carefully planned and
had streets and roads, large walled
neighborhoods, mud brick buildings, public
wells, bathroom with drainage system and
garbage collection system.
The two cities had well-organized governments
and rulers based their power on religious
 The economy was based primarily on farming &
the Indus valley civilization traded with nearby
civilizations such as Mesopotamia.
 Traded goods included:
textiles, food, copper, lumber,
Precious stones, and cotton.
Much of this trade was done by ship and some
by land.
The civilization in the Indus River Valley was
affected by floods, an earthquake and climate
 Invaders, known as Aryans, brought its final
end. The Aryans were nomadic people who
moved south across the Hindu Kush mountain
range from central Asia into the plains of
northern India.
 They conquered the Harappans and created a
new society based on their culture & traditions.
The Aryans moved eastward across the Ganges
Plain and southward into the Deccan Plateau.
Eventually, the Aryans extended their control
throughout most of India.
 The Aryans were pastoral, or country, people
with a strong warrior tradition. They eventually
became farmers and developed farming tools
such as the plow.
With the plow other tools and irrigation, the
Aryans cleared the jungle along the Ganges
River and turned it into a rich farming area.
 They Aryans also developed Sanskrit, which
was India’s first system of writing.
 Sanskrit enabled them to write down legends
and religious rituals that had been passed
 Early writings reveal that between 1500 and
400 B.C., India was a world of warring
kingdoms. The Aryan leaders, known as Rajas,
would fight other rajas for property, cattle,
treasure, and women.
The conquest by the Aryans had a lasting impact on
society. Out of this came a set of social traditions
and class divisions that has lasted in India to the
present day.
 The caste system of ancient India was a set of rigid
social categories that determined a person’s
occupation and economic potential but also his or
her position in society.
 The caste system was based in part on skin color.
The Aryans were light-skin people who looked down
on their dark-skinned subjects; even though the
dark-skinned people were more advanced than the
There were five major
divisions of Indian castes
Brahmans (priests)
Kshatriyas (warriors)
Sudras (dark-skinned natives;
Untouchables (not considered
The Brahmans and Kshatriyas were Aryan. The
Sudras were not. Most of the Indian population were
Sudras. They had limited rights in society.
The untouchables were not considered a real part of
the caste system and were given degrading tasks such
as collecting garbage and handling dead bodies.
Untouchables, often live in urban slums and have little
access to healthcare, clean water, and other basic
resources. Although the Indian government has tried
to work to improve their status, untouchables continue
to suffer discrimination and exploitation by the higher
castes. Today, there are more than 160 million
Life in Ancient India was centered around the
family. Males were considered superior in Indian
society. Women were not allowed to serve as
priests and were generally not educated.
 Divorce was not allowed but husbands were
allowed to take a second wife if the first was
unable to have children.
 Children were important because they were
expected to take care of their parents as they
grew older.
 Marriage arranged by the parents was common for
young girls.
Perhaps the most vivid symbol of a women’s
dominance by a man was the ritual of the
 In ancient India, the dead were placed on
heaps of material called pyres, which were set
on fire.
 Suttee required a wife to throw herself on her
dead husband’s funeral pyres. Those who
didn’t were held in disgrace.
One of the major world religions, Hinduism had
its origins in the religious beliefs of the Aryans
who settled in India after 1500 B.C.
 Early Hindus believed in the existence of a
single force in the universe called Brahman.
 The individual, called atman, had a duty to
seek to know Brahman so he could merge with
Brahman after death.
 By the 6th century B.C., the idea of
reincarnation had appeared in Hinduism.
Reincarnation is the belief that the individual soul
is reborn in a different form after death.
 According to Hinduism, all living beings seek the a
union with Brahman. For Hindu’s achieving
oneness with Brahman is done through yoga.
 Karma is an important aspect of this process.
Karma is the force that is generated by a person
that determines how the person will be reborn in
the next life. (what goes around comes around.
Karma is ruled by the dharma, or divine law. It
is a law that requires all people to do their duty.
 People’s duties vary depending on their caste.
 It is a law that requires all people to do their
 Reincarnation provided religious reasons for
the caste divisions: it justified the privileges for
those on top, and it gave hope to those on the
lower castes.
Hindus achieved oneness with Brahman
through yoga.
 There are hundreds of
the creator
gods in Hinduism.
The three chief gods
the preserver
the destroyer
In the 6th century B.C., a new religion, called
Buddhism appeared in northern India and soon
became a rival of Hinduism. The founder of Buddhism
was Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Buddha,
or “Enlightened One”.
Buddhists believe that pain, sorrow, and poverty are
caused by their attachment to material things. Once
people let go of their material things, pain ad sorrow
can be forgotten.
Achieving bodhi, or wisdom, is a key step in achieving
nirvana, the ultimate reality which means the end of
the self and a reunion with the Great World Soul.
Four Noble Truth
This message/philosophy is based on the four
noble truths:
Ordinary Life is Full of Suffering.
Suffering is caused by our desire to satisfy
To End Suffering is to end the desire for selfish
The way to end desire is to follow the eightfold
Eightfold Path
The eightfold path is also known as the
Middle path. It is called the eightfold path
because it has eight steps.
1. Right View
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
Ethical Conduct
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration
Mental Development
Buddhism: A Philosophy
The Buddha accepted the idea of reincarnation but he
rejected the harsh Hindu caste system.
Instead, he taught that all human beings could reach
nirvana. Buddhism is simpler than Hinduism because
it does not have hundreds of gods.
Buddha did not allow his followers to worship his
person or image after his death. He died in 480 B.C.
For that reason, many Buddhist see Buddhism as a
philosophy rather than a religion.
Philosophy is an organized system of thought,
according to the teachings of Buddhism a way of
Compare and Contrast
Insert the following concepts in the Venn diagram
found on the last page of your notes.
- Emerged in India
-More Strict
- Dharma
-Eightfold Path
- Meditation
- 100’s of gods
- No gods
-Caste system
- Reincarnation
- Philosophy
- Three chief gods
- Gave people hope
-Follow Rules
- Complicated