Salient features and Major Landmarks of Ancient and Medieval India- For RAS/RTS Mains and RAS/RTS Prelims examination

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 phases
  • Sites
Early (pre-Harappan) Mature (Harappan) Late phase (post-urban)
Harappa
Mohenjodaro
Chanhu-daro
Lothal
Kalibangan Kalibangan
Banawali Banawali (Hissar)
Sutkagendor (Pakistan)
Sukotada (Gujarat)
Dholavira (Kutch) Dholavira Dholavira
Rakhigarhi (Ghaggar) Rakhigarhi Rakhigarhi
Bhagwanpura
Manda (Jammu); Chandigarh, Shangol (Punjab); Daulatpur, Mitthal (Haryana); Alamgirpur. Hulas (West UP)

 

Site Remarkable Feature
Sutkagendor – Surkotada Marked by a citadel
Mohenjo-daro Great Bath;

Large granary

Impressive drainage system

Piece of woven cotton

Mother Goddess

Seal of pashu-pati

Kalibangan Grain and plough

 

  • Town planning
    • Grid system
  • The Indus people were the earliest to produce cotton

Aryans

  • Male dominated
  • Pastoral
  • 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

 

Jainism

 

  • 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

Buddhism

  • 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)
  1. Right observation
  2. Right determination
  3. Right speech
  4. Right action
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right exercise
  7. Right memory
  8. Right meditation

Do not

  1. Covet other’s property
  2. Commit violence
  3. Lie
  4. Use intoxicants
  5. 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

Territorial States

 

Kingdoms and Capitals

Kingdom  Capital
Kapilavastu Piprahwa
Lichchhavis Vaishali
Mahajanpadas
Anga Champa
Kashi Varanasi
Koshala Shravasti
Mallas Kushinara
Vatsa/Vamsa Kaushambi
Avanti Ujjain (North)/ Mahishamati (South)
Magadha Rajgir (Girivraja)
Chedi/Cheti
Kuru
Panchala
Matsya
Surasena Mathura
Ashmaka
Gandhara
Kamboja
Vriji/Vajji Mithila
Satvanahanas Paithan
Pandya Madurai
Chola Puhar (kaveripattanam)
Chalyukyas Badami (Bijapur)
Pallavas Kanchi
Kadambas Vijayanti
Gangas Kolar

 

First Magadhan Empire

Dyansty Ruler Remark
Haryanka Bimbisara Contemporary of Buddha
Ajatsatru
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 (Patliputra)
Mauryas had a very elaborate bureaucracy Chandragupta Maurya Megasthenes visited during his time
Bindusara Links with Greek princes
Ashoka Buddhism
Shunga
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

 

Literature

Book Author/Language Remark
Digha Nikaya Pali Buddhist text

 

North-West India

Menander (Milinda) was the most famous Indo-Greek ruler.

  • His capital at Sakala (Sialkot)
  • Converted to Buddhism by Nagasena (Nagarjuna)

Shakas

  • Succeeded the Greeks in North West
  • Rudradaman I : most famous ruler
    • He issued first ever long inscription in chaste Sanskrit

Parthians

  • Followed Shakas
  • Famous king: Gondophernes
    • Thomas came during his reign

Kushans

  • 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

 

Deccan

Satavahanas

  • 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
  • Administration
    • 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

South

Pandya

  • Sent embassies to the Roman emperor Augustus

Chola

  • Elara conquered Sri Lanka
  • Karikala founded Puhar aka Kaveripatnam which was their capital

Cheras

  • 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

Chalukyas

  • Badami (Bijapur)
  • Pulakesin II was the important ruler
  • Court poet Ravikirti wrote his eulogy in the Aihole inscription

Pallavas

  • They succeeded the Ikshvakus
  • Kanchipuram was their capital
  • Came in conflict with kadambas
    • Mayurasharman had founded the Kadamba kingdom (Capital: Vijayanti/Banavasi)
  • Nasrimhavarman occupied the Chalukya capital Vatapi in 642 AD
    • Assumed the title of Vatapikonda
  • Constructed a number of temples
  • Ratha temples at Mahabs built by Narsimhavarman who founded Mahabs
  • Pattadakal: Papanatha temple and Virupaksha temple
  • Kailashnath temple at Kanchi

One of the major revolt in the south was the Kalabhras revolt. It was so widespread that it could be put down only through the joint  efforts of the Pandyas, the Pallavas and the Chalukyas

Three types of villages: Ur (commoners), Sabha (Brahmans), Nagaram (traders etc)

Foreign Invasions

 

 

Major events

326-325 BC Alexander’s invasion

 

Literature

Book Author
Mudrarakshasa (play) Vishakhadatta
Indika Megasthenes
Milind Panho Buddhist literature of questions of Manender to Nagarjuna
Buddhacharita Ashvaghosha
Saundarananda (Sanskrit kavya) Ashvaghosha
Mahavastu (Buddhist-hybrid Sanskrit)
Divyavandan (Buddhist-hybrid Sanskrit)
Kamsutra Vatsyayana
Charaksamhita Charaka
Gathasaptasatti (Prakrit book) Hala (Satavahana king)
Tolkkappiyam (deals with grammar and poetics)
Silappadikaram and Manimekalai are Tamil epics <Ilango Adigal? (silappadikaram)>
Natural History (Latin) Pliny (Roman writer)
Mrichchhakatika Shudraka
Abhijnanashakuntalam Kalidasa
Amarakosha Amarasimha
Romaka Sidhanta (Astronomy)
Harshacharita Banabhatta
Priyadarshika; Ratnavali; and Nagananda (plays) Harshavardhana
Astadhyayi Panini
Mahabhashika Patanjali
Suryasiddhanta A treatise on astronomy. Authorship disputed.
Brihatsamhita Varahmira (5th CE)
Sushrutsamhita Sushrut (2nd CE)
Charaksamhita Charak (2nd CE)

 

Travelers

Traveler During time of Work
Megasthenes (ambassador of Seleucus) Chandragupta Maurya Indika
Fa Hein Chandragupta Vikramaditya
Hsuan Tsang Harshavardhana

 

Pliny wrote Naturalis Historia

Philosophy

Six schools

School Philosophy Major proponent
Samkhaya Materialistic. No god. Later turned spiritualistic. Prakriti-Purusha. Salvation through knowledge acquired through pratyaksha, anumana, shabda Kapila
Yoga Slavation through meditation and physical application
Nyaya System of logic. Salvation through acquisition of knowledge.
Vaisheshika Discussion of material elements or dravya. Atom theory. (beginning of physics). Belief in god.
Mimansa Vedas contain the eternal truth. Reasoning provided for vedic rituals. Perform vedic rites for salvation.
Vedanta Brahmasutra. Brahma is the reality. Atma is identical with Brahma. Shankara (Advaita) – born in Kerala

Ramanuja (Vishistadvaita)

Shuddhadvaita (Vallabha)

Lokayata Materialistic philosophy. Charavaka

 

 

Mauryan officers

Rajukas – a class of officers appointed by Ashoka for administration of justice

Dhammamahamatras – officers of Ashoka for propagating dharma among various social groups

Tirthas – important functionaries

Samaharta – highest officer for tax assessment

Sannidhata – chief custodian of the state treasury

Sangam literature

  • Sangam was an assembly of Tamil poets held under royal patronage in Madurai
  • Compiled around 300-600 AD
  • Can be divided into two groups: narrative and didactic
  • Narrative: Melkanakku (or Eighteen Major Works)
  • Didactic: Kilkanakku (Eighteen minor works)
  • Silappadikaram and Manimekalai are Tamil epics

 

Misc

  • Shataka was a special type of cloth made at Mathura
  • Artisan guilds were called shrents
  • Uttarapatha was a sea route most frequently in use
  • Gomat – wealthy person

Guptas

  • 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
    • Navratnas
    • 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
    • Kalidasa
    • 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

Harshavardhana

  • 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

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