Ancient India: Summary Notes
The post contains short notes in bulleted from for Ancient India:
Paleolithic or Old Stone Age
- Stone tools, hand-sized and flaked-off large pebbles for hunting animals- made of quartzite
- The Soan valley and Potwar Plateau on the northwest India.
- The Siwalik hills on the north India.
- Bhimpetka in Madhya Pradesh.
- Adamgarh hill in Narmada valley.
- Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh
- Attirampakkam near Chennai
- From 10000 B.C. to 6000 B.C
- Tiny stone artifacts, often not more than five centimeters in size, and therefore called microliths
- Animal hunting +Fishing
- Use of bow & arrow
- Domestication of animals, horticulture and primitive cultivation started.
- Langhanj in Gujarat,
- Adamgarh in Madhya Pradesh
- Some places of Rajasthan, Utter Pradesh and Bihar
- Approximately dated from 6000 B.C to 4000 B.C.
- Practice of agriculture, domestication of animals, polishing of stone tools and the manufacture of pottery.
- Emergence of village communities based on sedentary life.
- Stone tools—now- Polished.
- Mud brick houses were built instead of grass huts.
- Wheels were used to make pottery. Pottery was used for cooking as well as storage of food grains.
- Large urns were used as coffins for the burial of the dead.
- Agriculture- Wheat, barely, rice, millet were cultivated in different areas at different points of time. Rice cultivation was extensive in eastern India.
- Domestication of sheep, goats and cattle was widely prevalent. Cattle were used for cultivation and for transport.
- The people of Neolithic Age used clothes made of cotton and wool.
- Kashmir valley,
- Chirand in Bihar,
- Belan valley in UP
- South India – Maski, Brahmagiri, Hallur and Kodekal in Karnataka.
- Paiyampalli in Tamil Nadu.
- Utnur in Andhra Pradesh.
- Use of copper and bronze
- Technology of smelting metal ore and crafting metal artifacts + Stone tools use not give up
- Most in river valleys -South India the river valleys of the Godavari, Krishna, Tungabhadra, Pennar and Kaveri
Indus Valley Civilization
- Discovered in 1921
- Belonged to the bronze age
- An area of about 1.3 mn sq km
- Existed between 3300-1600 BC in three phases: early, mature and late phase
- Town planning
- Grid system
- The Indus people were the earliest to produce cotton
|Early (pre-Harappan)||Mature (Harappan)||Late phase (post-urban)|
|Manda (Jammu); Chandigarh, Shangol (Punjab); Daulatpur, Mitthal (Haryana); Alamgirpur. Hulas (West UP)|
|Sutkagendor – Surkotada||Marked by a citadel|
Impressive drainage system
Piece of woven cotton
Seal of pashu-pati
|Kalibangan||Grain and plough|
The cities of the Harappan Culture had declined by 1500 B.C
This period between 1500 B.C and 600 B.C may be divided into:
- The Early Vedic Period or Rig Vedic Period (1500 B.C -1000 B.C)
- The Later Vedic Period (C – 600 B.C).
- Frequently referred to in the Vedas
- Southern peninsula is often related to Megalithic Burials
- Important megalithic sites are:
- Hallur and Maski in Karnataka,
- Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh
- Adichchanallur in Tamil Nadu.
- Black and red pottery
Features of Society:
- Male dominated Society
- Horse was a significant animal
- Rig veda – Consists of 10 mandalas (books): Book 1 and 10 are relatively new
- Earliest specimen of Indo-European language: 2200 BC inscription in Iran. Later in the Hittite inscriptions in Anatolia
- 1500 BC came to India
- Sindhu is the river par excellence for them
- Saraswati is the best of the rivers in Rig Veda
- Panchajana – five tribes into which Aryans were divided
- Used ploughshare
- Land did not form a well-established type of private property
- Metal working was known
- Rajan – king
- Samiti, sabha, vidatha,gana – tribal assembly
Four Vedas – Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva.
- The Rig Veda is the earliest of the four Vedas and it consists of 1028 hymns. The hymns were sung in praise of various gods.
- The Yajur Veda consists of various details of rules to be observed at the time of sacrifice.
- The Sama Veda is set to tune for the purpose of chanting during sacrifice. It is called the book of chants and the origins of Indian music are traced in it.
- The Atharva Veda contains details of rituals.
- 24 tirthankaras.
- First: Rishab Dev
- 23rd: Parshavnath
- Mahavir (599 BC – 527 BC) or (540 BC – 468 BC)
- In Kundagrama near Vaishali
- Father – Siddartha (Jnatrika clan)
- Mother – Trishala (sister of Lichchhavi chief Chetaka)
- Died at Pavapuri near Rajgir
- Five doctrines: Do not – violence, steal, lie, acquire property and do observe brahmacharya
- Did not condemn the varna system
- Triratna: right knowledge, right faith, right action
- Spread to Kalinga in first century BC. King Kharavela
- Used Prakrit language. Literature written in Ardhamagadhi
- Prepared the grammar of Apabhramsha
- Contributed to the growth of Kannada
- 563 – 483 BC – Lumbini, Kapilavastu, Nepal. Shakya family.
- Suddhodan and Mahamaya
- Death: Kushinagar (Kasia in Deoria distt of UP)
- Eight-fold path (for end of misery)
- Right observation
- Right determination
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
- Right exercise
- Right memory
- Right meditation
- Do not
- Covet other’s property
- Commit violence
- Use intoxicants
- Indulge in corrupt practices
- No god or atman exists
- Used Pali
- Main elements of Buddhism: Buddha, Sangha, Dhamma
- Brahamana ruler Pashyamitra Shunga persecuted the Buddhists
- Mihirakula (Huna king) killed Buddhists
- Buddhist text: Suttanipata
- Gandhara Art
- First human statues worshipped
- Barabar hills: Caves for monks
|Avanti||Ujjain (North)/ Mahishamati (South)|
First Magadhan Empire
|Haryanka||Bimbisara||Contemporary of Buddha|
|Udayin||Built fort on the confluence of Ganga and Son at Patna|
|Shishunagas||–||Destroyed the power of Avanti|
|Nandas (most powerful rulers of Magadha)||Mahapadma Nanda|
|Mauryas had a very elaborate bureaucracy||Chandragupta Maurya||Megasthenes visited during his time|
|Bindusara||Links with Greek princes|
|Pushyamitra Shunga||Destroyed the Mauryan empire. Killed Maurya king Brihadratha|
- Balisadhaka – tax collectors during the times of Nandas
- Shaulkiki or shulkadhyakshas were also toll collectors
- Shakyas and Lichchhavis were republics
Menander (Milinda) was the most famous Indo-Greek ruler.
- His capital at Sakala (Sialkot)
- Converted to Buddhism by Nagasena (Nagarjuna)
- Succeeded the Greeks in North West
- Rudradaman I : most famous ruler
- He issued first ever long inscription in chaste Sanskrit
- Followed Shakas
- Famous king: Gondophernes
- Thomas came during his reign
- Aka Yuechis or Tocharians
- Kadphises was the first king
- Kanishka is the most famous ruler
- Started the Shaka era in 78 AD
- Held the Buddhist council in Kashmir where the doctrines of Mahayana form were finalized
- Patronized Ashvaghosa
- Kushan inscriptions and coins found at Toprak Kala in Khorezm
- Kushanas were the first rulers to issue gold coins on a large scale
- Introduced the Satrap system of government
- They controlled the Silk Route
- Worshipped both Shiva and Buddha. Some worshipped Vishnu too.
- Kanishka built a large number of Stupas
Greek ambassador Heliodorus set up a piller in honor of Vasudeva near Vidisa.
Appointed governors called strategos
- Succeeded Mauryas in Deccan
- Brahmana rulers
- Gautamiputra Satkarni (AD 106-130)
- Vashishthiputra Pulimayi: Capital at Paithan
- Started the practice of granting tax-free villages to Brahmanas and Buddhist Monks
- Yajna Sri Satakarni
- Chaityas (Buddhist temples) and Viharas (monastaries) were constructed during their times
- Most famous Chaitya at Karle in Deccan
- Show trace of matrilineal social structure
- Ahara – district
- Officials – amatyas or mahamatras
- Gaulmika – head of a small military regiment and look after administration in rural areas
- Three grades of feudatories: raja, mahabhoja, senapati
- Language: Prakrit
- After the fall of Kushans and Satvahanas in mid 3rd century AD
- Perhaps of Vaishya origin
- Chandragupta 1- Samudragupta – Chandragupta II – Kumargupta – Skandagupta
- Capital: Patliputra
- Chandragupta I
- Started the Gupta era in AD 319-20
- Samudragupta (aka Napoleon of India)
- Delighted in violence and conquest
- Court poet: Harishena
- Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya) [375-415 AD]
- Exercised indirect influence over the Central Indian kingdom of Prabhavati through his daughter
- Ujjain was his second capital
- Kalidasa, Varahmira and Amarsimha were at his court
- Fa-hsien visited India
- Royal seal: Garuda
- Decline in long distance trade
- Emergence of priestly landlords
- Position of shudras improved
- Subordination of women
- Buddhism did not receive royal patronage
- Golden age of ancient India
- Ajanta Paintings <not by Guptas but mostly during their period>
- Nalanda university flourished
- 13 plays written by Bhasa
- Mrichchhakatika – Shudraka
- Plays were mostly comic
- Ramayana and Mahabharata compiled
- Development of Sanskrit Grammar
- Aryabhatiya – Aryabhatta
- Romaka Sidhanta – book on astronomy
- Was poor in architecture
- Huna invasion made the empire weak
Vishti – forced labour by peasants for the army officials
- After the fall of Guptas
- Capital: Kanauj
- Banabhatta: court poet (wrote Harshacharita)
- Ran the administration on similar lines as Guptas
- Law and order: not well maintained
- Nalanda flourished as a centre of Buddhist learning
- Became a great parton of Buddhism (was a Shaiva earlier)
- Convened a grand assembly as Kanauj to widely publicise the doctrines of Mahayana
- Authored three dramas: Priyadarshika, Ratnavali and Nagananda
- Sent embassies to the Roman emperor Augustus
- Elara conquered Sri Lanka
- Karikala founded Puhar aka Kaveripatnam which was their capital
- Kerala and parts of TN
- Senguttavan is the greatest king
- Roman influence: Muziris. Also built a temple of Augustus
- Vellalas – rich peasants
- Arasar – ruling class
- Pariyars – agricultural labourers
- Shrent – artisan guilds
The most probable date of the Sangam literature 3rdC. to 3rd A.D. According to Tamil legends, there existed three Sangams (Academy of Tamil poets) in ancient Tamil Nadu popularly called These Sangams flourished under the royal patronage of the Pandyas. Three Sangam are believed to have taken place:
- I Sangam was held at Madurai of which no literary work remains
- II Sangam was held at Kapadapuram, from which all text perished except Tolkappiyam.
- III Sangam was again held at Madurai, founded by Mudathirumaran. Few literary works that remain are the main source of Sangam Age reconstruction.
The corpus of Sangam literature includes:
- Authored by Tolkappiyar is the earliest of the Tamil literature
- Tamil Grammar+ Info on pol/eco/soc
- Eight Anthologies consist of eight works
- Or Ten Idylls consist of ten works
- Contains eighteen works mostly dealing with ethics and morals.
- The most important among them isTirukkural authored by Thiruvalluvar
- Epic1: Silappathigaram
- written by Elango Adigal
- Epic2: Manimegalai
- Written be Sittalai Sattanar
- Both Ettutogai and Pattuppattu were divided into two main groups – Aham (love) and Puram (valour).
- Greek authors like Megasthenes, Strabo, Pliny and Ptolemy mention the commercial contacts between the West and South India.
- The Asokan inscriptions mention the Chera, Chola and Pandya rulers on the south of the Mauryan empire. The Hathikumbha inscription of Kharavela of Kalinga also mentions about Tamil kingdoms.
- The excavations at Arikkamedu, Poompuhar, Kodumanal and other places reveal the overseas commercial activities of the Tamil
The Tamil country was ruled by three dynasties namely the Chera, Chola and Pandyas during the Sangam Age.
- The primary deity of the Sangam period was Seyon or Murugan, who is hailed as Tamil God.
- Other gods worshipped during the Sangam period were Mayon (Vishnu), Vendan (Indiran), Varunan and Korravai.
- The Hero Stone or Nadu Kal worship was significant in the Sangam period. The Hero Stone was erected in memory of the bravery shown by the warrior in battle.
Position of Women
- Women Poets
- Women were allowed to choose their life partners
- However, widow life miserable. Higher strata – Sati Practise
- Poetry, music and dancing were popular
- Kings, chieftains –donated
- The royal courts were crowded with singing bards called Panar and Viraliyar. Expert folk somgs/dance.
- A variety of Yazhs and drums are referred to in the Sangam literature.
- Dancing was performed by Kanigaiyar.
- Koothu was the most popular entertainment of the people.
Economy of the Sangam Age:
- Agriculture – Rice was the common crop.
- Jack fruit and pepper – Chera
- Pandya/Chola- Paddy
- Handicrafts- weaving, metal works and carpentry, ship building and making of ornaments using beads, stones and ivory
- Trading: internal(barter) +External(Coins)
- Silk & Cotton –weaving: Uraiyur: weaving center
- The port city of Puhar became an emporium of foreign trade, as big ships entered this port with precious goods.
- Other ports of commercial activity include Tondi, Musiri, Korkai, Arikkamedu and Marakkanam.
- The main exports of the Sangam age were cotton fabrics, spices like pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric, ivory products, pearls and precious stones.
- Gold, horses and sweet wine were the chief imports.
End of Sangam Age:
- 3rd AD – decline
- TheKalabhras occupied theTamil country for about two and a half centuries.
- After the decline of the Sangam Age in the Tamil country, the Kalabhra rule lasted for about 250 years. Thereafter, the Pallavas established their kingdom in Tondaimandalam with its capital at Kanchipuram.
- Simhavishnu was the first ruler of this line. He destroyed the Kalabhras and firmly established the Pallava rule in Tondaimandalam.
- He also defeated the Cholas and extended the Pallava territory up to the river Kaveri.
Pallava: Mahendravarman I (600 – 630 A.D.)
- Pulakesin II of Chalukya defeated him
- Follower of Jainism in the early part — > converted to Saivism by the influence of the Saiva saint, Thirunavukkarasar alias Appar. He built a Siva temple at Tiruvadi.
- Great builder of cave temples.
- The music inscription at Kudumianmalai is ascribed to him
Pallava: Narasimhavarman I (630-668 A.D.)
- Victory over Pulakesin II in the Battle of Manimangalam near Kanchi is mentioned in Kuram copper plates
- Naval expedition to Sri Lanka
- During his reign, Hiuen Tsang visited the Pallava capital Kanchipuram.
- calls it a big and beautiful city, six miles in circumference
- 100 Budhhist monstries-10,000 monks lived
- Ghatika at Kanchi – center of learning
- Founder of Mamallapuram and the monolithic rathas were erected during his reign
Pallava: Narasimhavarman II or Rajasimha (695 -722 A.D.)
- Peaceful and he evinced more interest in developing the art and architecture.
- Structural: The Shore temple at Mamallapuram and the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram were built in this period.
- The famous Sanskrit scholar Dandin is said to have adorned his court.
Administration of the Pallavas
- Pallava state was divided intoKottams.
- King-Central-justice-ruled thru officers
- King provided land-grants to the temples known as Devadhana
- Constructed irrigation tanks
- Village assemblies calledsabhas and their committees.
Society Under Pallavas:
- caste system became rigid
- witnessed the rise of Saivism and Vaishnavism and also the decline of Buddhism and Jainism
- Bhakti mov- Saiva Nayanmars and the Vaishnava Alwars contributed to the growth of Saivism and Vaishnavism.
Pallava Art and Architecture
- Dravidian style of temple architecture began with the Pallava rule
- Evolution starting from the cave temples to monolithicrathas and culminated in structural temples
- Four stages
- I- Rock-Cut temples:
- Introduced by Mahendravarman I
- II –Monolithic rathas and Mandapa
- found at Mamallapuram.
- Narasimhavarman I
- Panchapanadava rathas, signifies five different styles of temple architecture.
- III- Structural Temples
- The Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi and the Shore temple at Mamallapuram
- IV- Structural Templs by Later Pallavas:
- The Vaikundaperumal temple, Muktheeswara temple and Matagenswara temples at Kanchipuram belong to this stage of architecture
- Open Art Gallery’ at Mamallapuram
- The Descent of the Ganges or the Penance of Arjuna is called a fresco painting in stone
- figures of lice-picking monkey, elephants of huge size and the figure of the ‘ascetic cat’ standing erect
- The Mamandur inscription contains a note on the notation of vocal music.
- The Kudumianmalai inscription referred to musical notes and instruments.
- The Alwars and Nayanmars composed their hymns in various musical notes.
- The Sittannavasal paintings belonged to this period.
- The commentary called Dakshinchitra was compiled during the reign of Mahendravarman I, who had the title Chittirakkarapuli
Besides the Pallavas, the Western Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas in the Deccan constitute important political forces.
Chalukyas (543 – 755 A.D.)
- The Western Chalukyas ruled over an extensive area in the Deccan for about two centuries after which the Rashtrakutas became powerful.
- The family of Western Chalukyas had its offshoots like the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi and the Chalukyas of Kalyani.
- Pulakesin I was the founder of the Chalukya dynasty.
- He established a small kingdom with Vatapi or Badami as its capital
Chalukya: Pulakesin II (608-642 A.D.)
- Most important ruler
- The Aihole inscription issued by him
- Fought with the Kadambas of Banavasi and the Gangas of Mysore and established his suzerainty
- Defeated of Harshavardhana on the banks of the river Narmada
- Defeated pallava Mahendravarman I but suffered defeat from Narasimhavarman I near Kanchi
- Reign of Pulakesin II was the visit of Hiuen Tsang to his kingdom
Kirtivarman II was the last of the rulers of the Chalukyas. He was defeated by Dantidurga, the founder of the Rashtrakuta dynasty.
Administration and Social Life under the Chalukyas
- Highly centralized unlike that of the Pallavas and the Cholas. Village autonomy absent.
- great maritime power
- Badami Chalukyas were Brahmanical Hindus but they gave respect to other religions
- Pulakesin I performed the asvamedha sacrifice
- Hiuen Tsang mentioned about the decline of Buddhism in western Deccan. But Jainism was steadily on the path of progress in this region.
- Ravikirti, the court poet of Pulakesin II who composed the Aihole inscription was a Jain.
Art and Architecture
- Developed Vesara Style. However, thevesara style reached its culmination only under the Rashtrakutas and the Hoysalas
- The structural temples of the Chalukyas exist at Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal.
- Cave temple architecture was also famous under the Chalukyas. Their cave temples are found in Ajanta, Ellora and Nasik.
- The best specimens of Chalukya paintings can be seen in the Badami cave temple and in the Ajanta caves.
The Chalukya temples may be divided into two stages.
- The first stage is represented by the temples at Aihole and Badami.
- Among the seventy temples found at Aihole, four are important.
- Ladh Khan temple is a low, flat-roofed structure consisting of a pillared hall.
- Durga temple resembles a BuddhaChaitya.
- Huchimalligudi temple.
- The Jain temple at Meguti.
- Among the temples at Badami, the Muktheeswara temple and the Melagutti Sivalaya are notable for their architectural beauty.
- A group of four rock-cut temples at Badami are marked by high workmanship. The walls and pillared halls are adorned by beautiful images of gods and human beings.
The second stage is represented by the temples at Pattadakal.
- There are ten temples here, four in the northern style and the remaining six in the Dravidian style.
- The Papanatha temple is the most notable in the northern style.
- The Sangamesvara temple and the Virupaksha temple are famous for their Dravidian style.
- The Virupaksha temple is built on the model of the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram. It was built by one of the queens of Vikramaditya II. Sculptors brought from Kanchi were employed in its construction
Rashtrakutas (755 – 975 A.D.)
- The Rashtrakutas were of Kannada origin and Kannada language was their mother tongue.
- Dantidurga was the founder of the Rashtrakuta dynasty.
- He defeated the Gurjaras and captured Malwa from them.
- Then he annexed the Chalukya kingdom by defeating Kirtivarman II.
Rashtrakuta: Krishna I
- Defeated the Gangas and the eastern Chalukyas of Vengi.
- He built the magnificent rock-cut monolithic Kailasa temple at Ellora
Rashtrakuta: Amoghavarsha I (815- 880 A.D.)
- Popular for the cultural development.
- He was a follower of Jainism. Jinasena was his chief preceptor.
- He was also a patron of letters and he himself wrote the famous Kannada work, Kavirajamarga.
- He had also built the Rashtrakuta capital, the city of Malkhed or Manyakheda.
Rashtrakuta: Krishna III (936- 968 A.D.)
- He marched against the Cholas and defeated them at Takkolam.
- He went as far as Rameswaram and occupied it for sometime.
- Built Krishneswara temple at Rameswaram
Administration of Rashtrakuta
Empire was divided into several provinces called rashtras under the control ofrashtrapatis. They were further divided intovishayas or districts governed byvishayapatis. The next subdivision wasbhukti consisting of 50 to 70 villages under the control ofbhogapatis – appointed directly by central govt.
Society and Economy of Rahtrakuta
- Hindu sects of Vaishnavism and Saivism flourished. + patronage to Jainism (1/3rd poplation jain)
- Buddhist settlements at places like Kanheri, Sholapur and Dharwar.
- college at Salatogi, situated in modern Bijapur district
- Trade b/w arab & deccan
Cultural Contributions of Rahtrakuta
- Patronized the Sanskrit literature
- Rashtrakuta court. Trivikrama wrote Nalachampu and theKavirahasya was composed by Halayudha during the reign of Krishna III.
- The Jain literature flourished under the patronage of the Rashtrakutas.
- Amogavarsha I, who was a Jain patronized many Jain scholars. His teacher Jinasena composed
Parsvabhudaya, a biography of Parsva in verses.
- Another scholar Gunabhadra wrote theAdipurana, the life stories of various Jain saints.
- Sakatayana wrote the grammer work called Amogavritti.
- The great mathematician of this period, Viracharya was the author of Ganitasaram.
- The Kannada literature saw its beginning during the period of the Rashtrakutas.
- Amogavarsha’s Kavirajamarga was the first poetic work in Kannada language. Pampa was the greatest of the Kannada poets. His famous work was
- Ponna was another famous Kannada poet and he wrote Santipurana
Art and Architecture
- Architecture: Ellora & Elephanta
- Kailasa temple- excavated during the reign of Krishna I
- Elephanta – Shiva in various forms – Nataraja, Gangadhara, Ardhanareesvara and Somaskanda.
- Main figure of this temple is trimurti
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