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A History of Ancient India [For UPSC and State Civil Services Examinations]
 9789353438371, 9789353941437

Table of contents :
Cover......Page 1
Title......Page 4
Copyright......Page 5
Contents......Page 6
Preface......Page 10
Dedication......Page 11
About the Author......Page 12
Reading Map......Page 13
Chapter 1 Understanding Ancient Indian Sources......Page 16
Literary Sources......Page 17
Religious Literature......Page 21
Smriti Literature......Page 24
Buddhist Literature......Page 28
Jaina Literature......Page 30
Kavya Literature......Page 32
Early Indian Historical Tradition......Page 34
Foreign Account......Page 35
Greek Account......Page 36
Chinese Travellers’ Accounts......Page 37
Archaeological Sources......Page 39
Epigraphy (Inscriptions)......Page 40
Numismatics......Page 43
Monuments......Page 45
Previous Years’ Questions:How to Approach......Page 46
Chapter 2 Prehistoric Cultures in India......Page 50
Prehistoric India......Page 51
Earth and Geological Formation of India......Page 52
Formation of the Himalayas......Page 53
Alluvial basins of Indus and Ganga–Brahmaputra......Page 54
Evolution of Humans......Page 55
When did humans begin to live in India?......Page 56
Palaeolithic Age in India......Page 58
Mesolithic Age......Page 60
Neolithic Age......Page 64
Chalcolithic Farming Cultures in India at a Glance......Page 71
Subsistence Pattern of Chalcolithic Cultures......Page 73
Chalcolithic Age: Transition from Pre to Protohistoric Period......Page 74
Previous Years’ Questions:How to Approach......Page 76
Chapter 3 Indus Civilization......Page 78
A Civilization in Totality......Page 79
Origin and Chronology of the Civilization......Page 81
Detailed Analysis......Page 82
Extent and Geographical Distribution......Page 85
Clear Evidence of Centralized Planning......Page 87
Definite Link Between Urban and Rural Centres......Page 90
Agriculture and Animal Husbandry......Page 92
Craft Production and Trade......Page 96
Society, Religion and Religious Beliefs......Page 101
Decline of the Civilization......Page 102
Previous Years’ Questions:How to Approach......Page 108
Chapter 4 The Aryans andThe Vedic Age......Page 110
Literary Sources—The Vedic Texts......Page 111
Comparison of Literary and Archaeological Sources......Page 116
Who Were The Aryans?......Page 117
Geographical Extent......Page 119
Transition from Rig Vedic to Later Vedic Phases......Page 120
Early Vedic Society......Page 121
Early Vedic Religion......Page 123
Early Vedic Polity......Page 126
Previous Years’ Questions:How to Approach......Page 129
Chapter 5 The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400 bce)......Page 132
Early Historic Period......Page 133
State Formation and Emergence of Cities......Page 134
Magadha Empire......Page 142
Persian Invasions......Page 144
Alexander’s Invasion of India......Page 145
The Impact of Alexander’s Invasion......Page 146
Rise of Heterodox Sects......Page 147
Socio-Economic Milieu for the Religious Uphe avals......Page 148
Jainism and Its Philosoph y......Page 152
Buddhism and Its Philosoph y......Page 155
Diffe rences between Jainism and Buddhism......Page 162
Previous Years’ Questions:How to Approach......Page 164
Chapter 6 Mauryan Age: The FirstEmpire (300 bce–200 bce)......Page 166
Sources......Page 167
Origin of Mauryas......Page 170
Chandragupta Maurya (321–297 bce)......Page 171
Ashoka......Page 175
The Mauryan Administration......Page 188
Central Administration......Page 189
The Army......Page 190
Local Administration......Page 191
Judicial Administration......Page 192
Mauryan Economy......Page 194
Social Organization Under the Mauryas......Page 195
Relationship Between Mauryan Polity, Economy and Society......Page 196
Ashoka’s Responsibility for the Downfall of the Empire......Page 198
Economic Factor......Page 199
Architecture......Page 200
Sculpture......Page 203
Foreign Influence on Mauryan Art......Page 205
Previous Years’ Questions:How to Approach......Page 206
Chapter
7 Contact with the Outside World: The Post-Mauryan Period......Page 208
Post-Mauryan Period—A Period of Transition......Page 209
Political Developmpments......Page 210
Dynasties of External Origin......Page 212
Economic Condition......Page 213
Social Conditions......Page 217
Religion......Page 218
Literature......Page 220
Art and Architecture......Page 222
Previous Years’ Questions:How to Approach......Page 226
Chapter
8 The Gupta and Post-Gupta Periods......Page 228
Political History......Page 229
Origin of the Dynasty......Page 230
Samudragupta’s Campaigns as per Prayag Prashasti......Page 232
Administration......Page 234
Social-Economic Changes......Page 237
Economic Changes: Fourth–Seventh Centuries ce......Page 239
Religious Life......Page 241
Art and Patronage......Page 243
Literature......Page 244
The Gupta Age: The Myth of the Golden Age......Page 247
Previous Years’ Questions:How to Approach......Page 249
Chapter
9 Developments in Ancient SouthIndia: The Sangam Age andThe Megalithic Cultures......Page 250
The Sangam Age......Page 251
The Sangam Literature......Page 253
Administrative Systems......Page 255
Economic Conditions......Page 256
Social Conditions......Page 259
The Megalithic Cultures......Page 263
Categories of the Megaliths......Page 264
Subsistence Pattern......Page 265
Religious Beliefs......Page 268
Previous Years’ Questions:How to Approach......Page 270
Chapter 10
Education in Ancient India......Page 272
Vedic Period......Page 273
Mauryan and Post-Mauryan Period......Page 274
Gupta and Post-Gupta Period......Page 275
Subjects Studied......Page 276
Astronomy......Page 277
Medicine......Page 278
Geography......Page 279
Baudhayana......Page 280
Brahmagupta......Page 281
Varahamihira......Page 282
Sushruta......Page 283
Yoga and Patanjali......Page 284
Chapter 11
Society, Religion, Art andArchitecture: An Overview......Page 286
Purus.ārtha......Page 287
Varnashrama System......Page 289
Ashram or the Stages of Life......Page 291
Marriage......Page 293
Samskaras......Page 295
Brahmanism......Page 296
Highlights of Vaishnavism and Vaishnava Cults......Page 298
Highlights of Saivism......Page 299
Highlights of Shaktism......Page 300
Highlights of Tantrism......Page 301
Six Orthodox Schools of Indian Philosophical Systems......Page 302
Highlights of Buddhism......Page 304
Highlights of Jainism......Page 306
Stupa Construction......Page 309
Chaitya Construction......Page 311
Vihara Construction......Page 312
Structural Temple Architecture......Page 313
Paintings......Page 318
Previous Years’ Questions:How to Approach......Page 321
Chapter 12
Early Medieval India(750 ce–1200 ce)......Page 322
Understanding Early Medieval India......Page 323
Feudal State Formation......Page 324
Political History of North India......Page 328
Social Change......Page 339
Proliferation of Castes......Page 340
Changes in Economy......Page 342
Urbanization......Page 343
Cultural Developments......Page 344
Previous Years’ Questions:How to Approach......Page 350
Photo Credits......Page 351

Citation preview

A HISTORY OF

For UPSC and State Civil Services Examinations

Ajeet Jha

About Pearson Pearson is the world’s learning company, with presence across 70 countries worldwide. Our unique insights and world-class expertise comes from a long history of working closely with renowned teachers, authors and thought leaders, as a result of which, we have emerged as the preferred choice for millions of teachers and learners across the world. We believe learning opens up opportunities, creates fulfilling careers and hence better lives. We hence collaborate with the best of minds to deliver you class-leading products, spread across the Higher Education and K12 spectrum. Superior learning experience and improved outcomes are at the heart of everything we do. This product is the result of one such effort. Your feedback plays a critical role in the evolution of our products and you can contact us - [email protected] We look forward to it.

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A HISTORY OF

For UPSC and State Civil Services Examinations

Ajeet Jha

Editor—Acquisitions: Sharel Simon Editor—Development: Ruchira Dash Editor—Production: Vipin Kumar The aim of this publication is to supply information taken from sources believed to be valid and reliable. This is not an attempt to render any type of professional advice or analysis, nor is it to be treated as such. While much care has been taken to ensure the veracity and currency of the information presented within, neither the publisher, nor its authors bear any responsibility for any damage arising from inadvertent omissions, negligence or inaccuracies (typographical or factual) that may have found their way into this book. Copyright © 2020 Pearson India Education Services Pvt. Ltd No part of this eBook may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the publisher’s prior written consent. This eBook may or may not include all assets that were part of the print version. The publisher reserves the right to remove any material in this eBook at any time. ISBN: 978-93-534-3837-1 eISBN: 978-93-539-4143-7 First Impression Published by Pearson India Education Services Pvt. Ltd, CIN: U72200TN2005PTC057128. Head Office:15th Floor, Tower−B, World Trade Tower, Plot No. 1, Block−C, Sector−16, Noida 201 301, Uttar Pradesh, India. Registered Office: The HIVE, 3rd Floor, Metro zone, No 44, Pilliayar Koil Street, Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Anna Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600040. Phone: 044-66540100 Website: in.pearson.com, Email: [email protected]

Contents

Prefaceix Dedicationx About the Author xi Reading Map xii

Chapter 1 Understanding Ancient Indian Sources1.1 Literary Sources

1.2

Religious Literature

1.6

Smriti Literature 

1.9

Buddhist Literature

1.13

Jaina Literature

1.15

Kavya Literature

1.17

Early Indian Historical Tradition

1.19

Foreign Account

1.20

Greek Account

1.21

Latin Account

1.22

Chinese Travellers’ Accounts

1.22

Tibetan Account  Archaeological Sources

2.6

When did Humans Begin to Live in India?

2.7

Palaeolithic Age in India

2.9

Mesolithic Age

2.11

Neolithic Age

2.15

Chalcolithic Farming Cultures in     India at a Glance  Subsistence Pattern of   Chalcolithic Cultures Chalcolithic Age: Transition from Pre to Protohistoric Period Previous Year’s Questions: How to Approach

Chatper 3  Indus Civilization A Civilization in Totality

2.22 2.24 2.25 2.27

3.1 3.2

Discovery, Origin, Chronology and Extent

3.4

Origin and Chronology of the Civilization

3.4

1.24

Detailed Analysis

3.5

1.24

Extent and Geographical Distribution

3.8

Epigraphy (Inscriptions)

1.25

Numismatics​

1.28

Monuments1.30 Previous Year’s Questions: How to Approach

Evolution of Humans

1.31

Chapter 2  Prehistoric Cultures in India 2.1 Prehistoric India

2.2

Earth and Geological Formation of India

2.3

Formation of the Himalayas

2.4

Western India and Deccan

2.5

Alluvial Basins of Indus and   Ganga–Brahmaputra

2.5

Characteristics of Indus Settlements

3.10

Clear Evidence of Centralized Planning

3.10

Definite Link Between Urban and   Rural Centres

3.13

Subsistence Pattern

3.15

Agriculture and Animal Husbandry 

3.15

Craft Production and Trade

3.19

Society, Religion and Religious Beliefs

3.24

Decline of the Civilization 

3.25

Previous Year’s Questions: How to Approach

3.31

vi

Contents

Chapter 4 The Aryans and The Vedic Age

Bindusara (297 bce–272 bce)6.10

4.1

Ashoka 

6.10

General Survey

4.2

The Mauryan Administration

Sources of Study

4.2

Central Administration

6.24

Literary Sources—The Vedic Texts

4.2

Municipal Administration

6.25

Archaeological Findings

4.7

The Army

6.25

Law and Justice

6.26

4.7

Provincial Administration

6.26

Who Were The Aryans?

4.8

Local Administration

6.26

Geographical Extent

4.10

Municipal Administration

6.27

Judicial Administration

6.27

Comparison of Literary and   Archaeological Sources

Transition from Rig Vedic to Later   Vedic Phases The Vedic Age: A Comparative Study

4.11 4.12

Early Vedic Society

4.12

Early Vedic Religion

4.14

Early Vedic Polity

4.17

Previous Year’s Questions: How to Approach

4.20

6.29

Mauryan Economy

6.29

Social Organization Under the Mauryas

6.30

Relationship Between Mauryan Polity,    Economy and Society

6.31

The Decline of the Mauryan Empire

6.33

Ashoka’s Responsibility for the    Downfall of the Empire

6.33

A Case of Despotic Rule

6.34

Economic Factor

6.34

5.2

Mauryan Art and Architecture

6.35

Chapter 5 The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400 bce)5.1 Early Historic Period

Socio-Economic Pattern of the Mauryan India 

6.23

5.3

Architecture6.35

Magadha Empire

5.11

Sculpture6.38

Persian Invasions

5.13

Alexander’s Invasion of India

5.14

The Impact of Alexander’s Invasion

5.15

Rise of Heterodox Sects

5.16

Socio-Economic Milieu for the   Religious Upheavals

5.17

Jainism and Its Philosophy 

5.21

Post-Mauryan Period—A Period of Transition 

7.2

Buddhism and Its Philosophy 

5.24

Political Developments

7.3

Differences between Jainism and Buddhism

5.31

Dynasties of External Origin

7.5

Previous Year’s Questions: How to Approach

5.33

Economic Condition 

7.6

State Formation and Emergence of Cities

Foreign Influence on Mauryan Art Previous Year’s Questions: How to Approach

Chapter 7 Contact with the Outside World: The Post-Mauryan Period

Social Conditions 

Chapter 6 Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300 bce–200 bce)6.1

6.40 6.41

7.1

7.10

Religion7.11 Literature7.13

Sources6.2

Art and Architecture

7.15

Origin of Mauryas

Previous Year’s Questions: How to Approach

7.19

6.5

Chandragupta Maurya (321–297 bce)6.6

Contents

Chapter 8 The Gupta and Post-Gupta Periods Political History  Origin of the Dynasty 

Science and Technology in India

8.1

10.6

Astronomy 

10.6

8.2

Mathematics 

10.7

8.3

Medicine 

10.7

Metallurgy 

10.8

Geography 

10.8

Samudragupta’s Campaigns as per Prayag Prashasti8.5 Administration8.7 Social-Economic Changes

vii

8.10

Economic Changes:   Fourth–Seventh Centuries ce8.12

Scientists of Ancient India  Baudhayana 

10.9 10.9

Aryabhata 

10.10

Religious Life

8.14

Brahmagupta 

10.10

Art and Patronage

8.16

Bhaskaracharya 

10.11

Literature8.17

Mahaviracharya 

10.11

The Gupta Age: The Myth of the Golden Age 8.20

Kanada 

10.11

Previous Year’s Questions: How to Approach

8.22

Varahamihira10.11

Chaper 9 Developments in Ancient South India: The Sangam Age and The Megalithic Cultures 9.1

Nagarjuna10.12

Rise of Tamil Dynasties

9.2

The Sangam Age

9.2

The Sangam Literature

9.4

Political Conditions

9.6

Administrative Systems

9.6

Economic Conditions

9.7

Social Conditions

9.10

The Megalithic Cultures

9.14

Dating and Spread

9.15

Sushruta 

10.12

Charak 

10.13

Yoga and Patanjali 

10.13

Chapter 11 Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview 11.1 Society in Ancient India 11.2 _ Purus.artha11.2 Social Institutions and Practices

11.4

Varnashrama System

11.4

Evolution of Jatis

11.6 11.6

The Iron Age Megalithic Culture of   South India

9.15

Ashram or the Stages of Life

Categories of the Megaliths

9.15

Subsistence Pattern

9.16

Marriage11.8

Social Life

9.19

Religious Beliefs Previous Year’s Questions: How to Approach

9.19 9.21

Chapter 10  Education in Ancient India 10.1

Samskaras11.10 Ancient Indian Religions

11.11

Brahmanism11.11 Highlights of Vaishnavism and   Vaishnava Cults

11.13

Vedic Period

10.2

Highlights of Saivism

11.14

Mauryan and Post-Mauryan Period

10.3

Moderate Saiva Sects

11.15

Gupta and Post-Gupta Period

10.4

Highlights of Shaktism

11.15

Aim of Education 

10.5

Subjects Studied

10.5

Highlights of Tantrism

11.16

Language 

10.6

Six Orthodox Schools of Indian   Philosophical Systems

11.17

viii

Contents

Highlights of Buddhism

11.19

Highlights of Jainism

11.21

Highlights of Ancient Art and Architecture

Chapter 12 Early Medieval India (750 ce–1200 ce)12.1

11.24

Understanding Early Medieval India

12.2

Stupa Construction

11.24

Nature of Polity

12.3

Chaitya Construction

11.26

Feudal State Formation 

12.3

Vihara Construction

11.27

Political History of North India

12.7

Brahmanical and Jaina Caves

11.28

Social Change

12.18

Structural Temple Architecture 

11.28

Proliferation of Castes

12.19

Changes in Economy

12.21

Paintings11.33 Previous Year’s Questions: How to Approach

11.36

Urbanization12.23 Cultural Developments  Previous Year’s Questions: How to Approach

Photo Credits

12.23 12.29

P.1

Preface

For UPSC aspirants, preparing for the Ancient History has always been a tedious task, as there is too much to study and plethora of textbook to consult from. This book on A History of Ancient India aims at not only to help the students to grasp the topics well, but also to provide them with a right approach to write answers correctly and score well in Mains as well as in Prelims. This book is a breakthrough in the arena of understanding the Ancient History, as it breaks the p ­ re-conceived notion of History being monotonous and complex. The book has been designed keeping in mind the pattern of UPSC examination's changing trend and ­pattern. The sole purpose of this book is to help UPSC aspirants to be aided with an exam preparatory text that has easy explanations of the concepts along with the right approach to derive at the method to answer the questions. Salient Features: 1. Content is coherent and strictly in accordance with the UPSC syllabus. 2. Previous years’ questions are tagged chapter-wise and are discussed in a novel and systematic manner through flowcharts and diagrams. 3. Every chapter is minutely detailed with required pictures and tables. 4. A special section at the end of each chapter is designed to provide the Right Approach to answer ­Questions to handle Main examination. 5. One-stop solution for ancient history preparation as significant parts of art and culture are also ­beautifully woven in this book. The chapters are partitioned and sub-categorized for comprehensive information, followed by selected citations linked to the text for review and revisiting, raising relevant questions for reconsideration and discussion. Also included are simplified maps with topographical and geographical history relevant to the subject matter of the chapters. Numerous images included in the chapters illustrate the grandeur and greatness of ancient India. Designed primarily for the students of UPSC and State Civil Services Examination, the book can prove of equal help to the students of History at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Wish you all Success! 

Ajeet Jha

Dedication

To my late grandparents who taught me to become rational and tolerant

About the Author

Ajeet Jha is an Assistant Professor in History at Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi. He obtained his Post-Graduate and PhD degree from the Department of History, University of Delhi. He has been a dedicated teacher in addition to his relentlessly pursued research, which resulted in publication of his articles in reputed journals and proceedings. He has recently co-authored a book, titled Changing Complexions of Delhi: A Study of Jhuggi-Jhopadi Clusters and Cultural Transition, which was a part of Delhi University Innovation Project. His other areas of interest include Religion, Regional History and Culture.

xii

Reading Map

Reading Map

A HISTORY OF ANCIENT INDIA

Prehistoric Period—Stone Age, Paleolithic Age, Mesolithic Age, Neolithic Age, Chalcolithic Age (Chapters 1 and 2) • Classification of Prehistoric period • The mode of living of people

Indus Valley Civilization/ Harappan Civilization (2500 bce–1500 bce) (Chapters 2 and 3) • Lifestyle—Social, Economic (agriculture, trade and commerce), Religious and Cultural activities • Important Harappan sites and its ­significance • Script and language • Art and Crafts—seals, pottery, etc. • Why did the civilization decline?

Vedic Period (1500 bce–1000 bce) (Chapters 4 and 5) • Society (people and their lifestyle)—family, marriage, status of women, caste system or social divisions. • Economic Life and Political Organisation • Culture and Religion • Literature during Vedic times—Vedas, Upanishads, Dharma Shastras, Puranas and Six systems of Philosophy • Important Gods worshipped and their significance to Vedic people • Differences between Early and Later Vedic Society and lifestyles ­followed

Reading Map

Buddhism and Jainism (Chapters 5 and 6) • Reasons for the growth of such religious movements • Buddha and Mahavira—their Believes (in Nirvana, Law of Karma etc.) their Contributions, Teachings, Philosophy and Literature • Important Events during their Life (Enlightenment); Buddhist and Jaina Councils • Types of Buddhism—Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana (their believes and differences among them) • Two Sects of Jainism—Svetamabara and Digambara; Ajivikas • Differences between Jainism and Buddhism • Causes of Decline of Buddhism and Jainism

Kingdoms/Empires during the Ancient Period (Chapter 6–12) • Empires and Dynastic rule—The Mauryan Empire, Guptas, Sunga, Kanva dynasties’, Satavahanas, Rastrakutas, Pallavas, Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas, Chalukyas • The rise of the Empires—causes, impact • Important Rulers—Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka (Ashoka’s Dhamma, Edicts and important sites where they were found) and their contribution to the society, art and culture • The Economic and Social Conditions during the rule • Art and Architecture • Literature—Famous literary works—Kalidasa’s ‘Abhigyanashakuntalam’ etc. • Development of Science and technology—Aryabhatta’s ‘Suryasiddhanta’ etc. • The Decline of the empires—causes • Foreign travelers and their works Example: Chinese traveler Fa Hein’s account of India during 5th century

xiii

xiv

Reading Map

Crack your History Paper by following these Thumb Rules: • Keep a copy of a syllabus with you, no matter wherever you are. • Study the topics from our book but grasp the concept with a matured graduate brain. • Get familiar with all the topics and sub-topics by writing them many times; they should be strongly etched in your memory. • The assessment of your answers to the questions in the Mains is based on your ability to put-forth your point-of-view, that is original yet logical. So, state the facts with assertion and intelligence. • Revision is the key term when it comes to preparing for UPSC examinations. Read, write and practice as much as possible. • UPSC has started picking terms such as Purohita, Jana or Kula and asking simple questions based on the term. So be prepared for these questions. • Special importance should be given to Mauryan and Gupta’s time. Therefore, concentrate on these two, at length.

1

Chapter

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources

1.2

Chapter 1

Historical understanding of the past depends upon how we interpret historical data, and such databased interpretations are the result of various evidence derived from the two major sources of history, i.e., literary and archaeological. Though literary sources include all kinds of texts—written and oral, and archaeological sources include all tangible, material remains, yet all remains of the past, be it literary manuscripts or writings inscribed on images, inscriptions or coins may constitute sources of history no matter whether they are conventionally divided into literary (religious and non-religious/secular texts, foreign accounts, etc.) sources and archaeological (artefacts, coins, inscriptions, all kinds of material remains) sources.

A careful analysis of the sources is key to understanding history of the past. Since both literary and

archaeological sources have their own respective potential vis-à-vis limitations, neither of the categories can be taken for granted. The corroboration of evidence from texts and archaeology is generally considered important for an inclusive and comprehensive reconstruction of the past, though given the inherent differences in the nature of literary and archaeological data, it is often difficult to integrate them in totality to present a coherent picture of the past.

Objectives After reading this chapter, you will be able to: • Learn about twin epics in Sanskrit—Ramayana and Mahabharata • Develop an understanding of religious and non-religious Indian texts • Understand the origin and importance of Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads • Learn about the Greek, Chinese and Tibetan travellers who visited India • Explain how archaeological remains such as monuments, coins, pottery and pillars help in interpreting the stories about the people who used them • Conrelate evidence from texts and archaeology for an inclusive understanding of Ancient India.

Literary Sources Ancient Indian texts are generally divided into religious and non-religious texts. This division might appear misleading to others with regard to description of the term ‘religion’, especially while making a distinction between the literary sources. The English term ‘religion’ emphasizes upon belief, practices, rigidity and distinct religious identities which have a definite, exclusive boundaries. On the other hand, the Sanskrit term ‘dharma’ does not attach such meaning. It precisely denotes a set of things such as codes of conduct, social practice, forms and objects of worship including rituals, philosophical ideas, etc., that people are supposed to follow. In other words it suggests a particular way of life. It appears that ancient Indians did not distinguish between the religious and secular domains, and perhaps that is the reason why we witness a fine interplay of both religious and non-religious contents and themes in the majority of ancient Indian texts.

Shruti

Dharmashastras

Upanishads

Twelve Angas

Nitishastra

Epics

Aranyakas

Mainly in Sanskrit

Tripitaka Literature

Twelve Upangas

Vasuvandhu

Ten Pakirnan

Ashvaghosha

Dharmakirti

Nandisutra

Anuyogadara

Two miscellaneous works

Dinnag

Celonese Chronicles

Mahavamsa

Dipavamsa

Mahavastu

Milindapanho

Pali Non-Canonical

Non-Canonical

Six Chhedasutras Four Mulasutras

Svetambara Literature

Jain Literature

Asanga

Yogachara Aulthors

Abhidhamma Pitaka

Archaeological Sources Non-Religious Secular Literature

Vinay Pitaka Literature produced by two major schools Sutta Pitaka Madhyamika

Mahayana Canon

Canonical

Buddhist Literature

Hinayana Canon

Nagarjuna

Mahabharata

Puranas

Brahmanas Ramayana

Vedangas

Smriti

Four vedas samhita

Brahmanical or Vedic Literature

Religious

Literary Sources

Sources of Ancient Indian History

Harisena’s Prayaga prashashti

Aihole Prashashti of Ravikirti • • • • • • • • • • • •

Sudraka’s Mrichhakatikam

Kalidasa’s texts such as Abhigyanashakuntalam

Bharata’s Natyashastra

• Pliny • Pompeius

Latin Account

Foreign Accounts

Drama

Herodotus Ctesias Megasthenes Arrian Strabo Diodorus Justin Plutarch Deimachus Dionysius Ptolemy Periplus of the Erythraean Sea

Greek Account

Bharavi’s Kiratarjuniya

Ashvaghosha’s Buddhacharita and Saundarananda

Bhartrihari’s three Shatakas

Kalidasa’s Meghaduta and Kumarasambhava

Kavya Literature

Non-Religious Secular Literature

Prashasti

Kautilya’s Arthashastra

Religious

Literary Sources

Sources of Ancient Indian History (Continued)

• Fa-Hien • Hiuen-Tsang • I-tsing

Chinese Account

• Taranath’s Account

Tibetan Account

Bilhana’s Vikramankadevacharita

Banabhatta’s Harshacharita

Vishakhadatta’s Mudrarakshasa

Dandin’s Dashakumaracharita

Prose Literature

Archaeological Sources

1.4 Chapter 1

Stone tools and artefacts • • • • • • • •

Religious Didactic Administrative Commercial Eulogistic Votive Denotive Literary

Inscriptions • Graeco-Roman coins • Punch • Marked coins • Figure-impressioned coins

Coins

Archaeological Sources

• • • •

Buildings Pillars Cave Temples

Monuments

• Red ware • Black-on-red ware • OCP • PGW • NBPW

Pottery

Sources of Ancient Indian History (Continued)

Seals

Other material remains such as sculptures, cave paintings, statues, etc.

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources 1.5

1.6

Chapter 1

Literary texts do have historical contexts as they are produced and circulated in definite time periods. With regard to our ancient Indian religious texts, it may be said that some of these oldest texts present a complex and refracted image of the past as they were not primarily meant to be read but to be recited, heard and performed. They, in fact, were passed on orally for generations before they were available as written manuscripts in a much later period.

Religious Literature Vedic Literature

Mahabharata—The Epic Religious Literature

The entire corpus of Vedic literature is broadly divided into Shruti (that which has been, heard’) literature and smriti (that which has been ‘remembered’) literature. Shruti literature consists of the four Vedas, Samhitas, Brahmana texts, Aranyakas and Upanishads whereas the smriti literature includes the Vedangas, Puranas, epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata), Dharmashastras and Nitishastras.

Shruti Literature

Vedic Literature

The Vedas present a multitude of gods, most of them related to natural forces such as storm, fire and wind.

The word ‘veda’ is derived from the root ‘vid’ which means to know. It is applied to a branch of literature which is declared to be sacred knowledge or divine revelation, that is, Shruti. Samhitas are collections of hymns sung in the praise of various gods. They are the most essential part of the Vedic literature. They are four in number—Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda Samhitas. The Rig Veda is also known as knowledge of the hymns of Praise. It consists of a collection of 1,028 poems grouped into 10 ‘circles’ (mandalas). 1017 hymns (suktas) and supplemented by 11 other called valakhilyas. It is divided into ten books or mandalas. The Rig Veda is the oldest and as well as the most important of all the Samhitas. Earliest mandalas, i.e., from book II to VII are called ‘family books’ as they are ascribed to particular families of sages or rishis. In mandal III, which was composed by Vishvamitra, we find the famous Gayatri mantra, addressed to the solar deity Savitri. The term ‘Harirupiya’ (resembling Harappa) finds mention in mandala VI, and the famous ‘Battle of Ten Kings’ is described in mandala VII. Book IX is dedicated to soma. Books I and X are later additions and the latter contains the famous Purusha sukta hymn, explaining the division of society into four varnas. The Rigvedic priest is known as Hotri (the invoker). Recently, the Rigveda has been included by the UNESCO in the list of World Human Literature. The Sama Veda is the Knowledge of the Melodies (the name derived from saman, meaning a song or melody) consists of 1810 stanzas (except 75) taken from the Rig Veda. They were set to tune for the purpose of chanting by the udgatri priests at the soma sacrifice. It is called the book of chants, and the origins of Indian music are traced to it.

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources

1.7

Brahmanas and Upanishads of the Vedas

Rigveda

Brahmanas:

• Aitereya Brahmana

Upanishads: • Aitereya Upanishad

The 4 Vedas

and the

Yajurveda

Kaushitaki Brahmana

Kaushitaki Upanishad

Krishna Yajurveda

Shukla Yajurveda

Taittiriya Brahmana

Satapatha Brahmana

• Brihadaranyaka • Taittiriya Upanishad Upanishad • Isha Upanishad • Maitrayani Upanishad • Katha Upanishad • Svetasvatara Upanishad

Samaveda

Atharvaveda

• Tandyamaha Brahmana • Panchvisa Brahmana • Shadvisha Brahmana • Chandogya Brahmana • Jaiminiya Brahmana

• Gopatha Brahmana

• Chandogya Upanishad • Jaiminiya Upanishad

• Prasna Upanishad • Mundaka Upanishad • Mandukya Upanishad

10 Main Upanishads

The Yajur Veda is the Knowledge of the Sacrificial formulae consists of various mantras (hymns) for the purpose of recitation and rules to be ­observed at the time of sacrifice. It is primarily a guide for the use of the adhvaryu priest who performed the ritual. The two royal ceremonies of rajasuya and vajapeya are mentioned for the first time in this Veda. In contrast to the first two which are in verse entirely, this one is in both verse and prose. It is divided into two parts—Krishna and Shukla. The Atharva Veda is the knowledge of magic formule (Veda of the atharvans or the knowledge of magic formulas) contains charms and spells in verse to ward off evils and diseases. Believed to be the work of non-Aryans, its contents throw light on the beliefs and practices of the non-Aryans. It is divided into two parts— Paippalada and Saunaka. Brahmanas are treatises relating to prayer and sacrificial ceremony. Each Veda has its own Brahmana text/texts attached to it. Their subject matter is ritual and the language is prose. In short, they deal with the science of sacrifice. The important Brahmanas are—Aitareya, Kausitaki, Tandyamaha Brahmana, Jaiminiya, Taittiriya, Satapatha and Gopatha Brahmanas. Tandyamaha Brahmana, is one of the oldest, and contains many legends, and includes the Vratyastoma, a ceremony through which people of non-Aryan stock could be admitted into the Aryan fold. But the most important as well as the most voluminous of all the Brahmanas is the Satapatha Brahmana. It provides us information about not only sacrifices and ceremonies but also theology, philosophy, manners and customs of the later Vedic period.

1.8

Chapter 1

Aranyakas are called the forest books as they were composed mainly by hermits living in the forests for their pupils. These texts deal with mysticism and symbolism of sacrifice and priestly philosophy. The Aranyakas contain transitional material between the mythology and ritual of the Samhitas and Brahmanas on the one hand, and the philosophical speculations of the Upanishads on the other.

Upanishads Upanishad, though literally means ‘to sit around gurus/teachers’, is colloquially understood as establishing connections and equivalences between things. The upanishadic thoughts emphasize upon the attainment of the ultimate knowledge. Upanishad that imparted knowledge was not the ordinary one; it was all-encompassing which was the key to liberation from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Such a knowledge could only be imparted to deserving disciples as it was difficult to explain and comprehend. It could only be revealed through debate and discussions, using devices like stories and images among its seekers. Of 108 Upanishads, only 12 are very important. They are: Aitareya, Kausitaki, Chandogya, Kena, Taittiriya, Katha, Svetasvatara, Brihadaranyaka (oldest), Isa, Mundaka, Prasna and Mandukya. Upanishadic thoughts mainly revolve around the two fundamental concepts of Brahma and Atman. The Sanskrit term ‘Brahma’ comes from the root ‘brih’ which means to be strong and firm, and something that grants prosperity. It is in fact, the ultimate, imperishable reality pervading the universe. The term ‘Atman’ is the ultimate reality of the individual, i.e., the imperishable self. The reference of the term ‘maya’ or illusion (Shvetashvatara Upanishad) is defined in negative terms. It occurs in the human mind because of ‘avidya’ or ignorance, i.e., inability to realize oneness with Brahma which is the creative power of ‘Ishwar’ or God. Some of the Upanishads explain the doctrine of transmigration (freedom from a cycle of death and rebirth) by asserting that death and rebirth, which are connected with ‘avidya’ could be averted through attainment of ultimate knowledge. Hence, the objective of upanishadic thought is the realization of Brahma and liberation the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara) could only be achieved through knowledge or jnana.

Excerpts from Upanishads Tattiriya Upanishad: Satyam vada, Dharam chara, Matri devo bhava, Pitri devo bhava, Atithi devo bhava (Speak the truth, Practice dharma, Treat your mother, father and guest as Lord). Chandogya Upanishad: The significance of OM syllable is discussed—the chant of OM is the essence of all. Ashrama (stages of life) system is mentioned. The story of satyakaram, the son of Jabala is mentioned. Katha Upanishad: ‘Rise, awake! Having obtained these boons’, understand them!’ This slogan was adopted by Swami Vivekanand for his Ramakrishna Mission. Conversation between father Vajasravasa and son Nachiketa. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: Longest of all upanishads. Popular Verses: Aham brahmasmi, asato ma sadgamaya..., om shantih, shantih shantih’. Stories of King Janaka of Mithila and dialogues between sage Yajnavalkya and two learned ladies, Gargi and Maitreyi. Mundaka Upanishad: Satyameva Jayate mentioned.

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources

The Upanishadic principles embody the epitome of the Vedic thoughts. The ­ nal culmination of Upanishadic thought, interpreted in various Upanishads fi in the later period is the philosophy of Vedanta (end or culmination of Vedic thoughts) or Uttara-Mimamsa. They reflect different ideas about atman, brahma and the world, and statements such as tat tvam asi (you are that), aham brahma asmi (I am brahma) and brahma atma aikyam (non-dualism of brahma and atman) can be interpreted in different ways. Bhagavad Gita incorporated some aspects of upanishadic philosophy with a doctrine of advocating righteous action (karma). One of the prominent scholars of Vedanta philosophy was Shankaracharya of ninth century who propounded the theory of monistic advait vedanta. According to this theory, there is only a single unified reality—brahma and everything else appears to be a myth including the world. On the other hand, there exists a pantheistic stand too, in upanishadic thought which identifies the universe with brahma. The Upanishads are also seen as anti-sacrifice or anti-Brahmin. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad mentions that the performance of sacrifice leads to ‘world of fathers’ but knowledge leads to ‘world of Gods’. There are references to Brahmins being instructed by Kshatriya kings (such as Ajatashatru, Ashvapati, Prabahana, etc.) in imparting the knowledge of brahma. Despite these references, there are Upanishads, included in Vedic corpus as part of Shruti, suggest that Upanishads do not reject sacrifice, rather they employ the vocabulary of sacrifice to new ends. There are symbolic representations of rituals in Upanishads. In a nutshell, Upanishads are philosophical texts dealing with topics like the universal soul, the absolute, the individual self, the origin of the world, the mysteries of nature, and so on. They mark the culmination of Indian thought in the Vedic period. They indirectly criticize the rituals and lay stress on the value of right belief and knowledge. Though Shruti literature comprises a religious literature, references to historicity and historical events in them can be discerned. Book VII of Rig Veda refers to a battle of ten kings over the question of the distribution of water of river Ravi (parushni). In this battle, Sudas defeated his enemies who had confederated against him. Moreover, Shruti literature forms an important part of the Brahmanical traditions. It reflects their religious beliefs and practices, apart from various facets of their social life. As a source of history, these texts are used for collecting information about the life and condition of the people in parts of north-western and northern India during the second and first millennia bce.

Smriti Literature Vedangas and Sutra Literature: There are six Vedangas: Siksha (Phonetics), Kalpa (Rituals), Vyakarana (Grammar), Nirukta (Etymology), Chandas (Metrics) and Jyotisha (Astronomy). Smirti

Manu Smirti

Narada

Katyayana Smirti

Yajnavalykya Smriti

Parasara

In contrast to the Vedic literature which is considered as Shruti or divine revelation, the Vedangas are called smriti or literature handed down by tradi-

Brihaspati

1.9

1.10

Chapter 1

tion because they are of human origin. The Vedangas are written in the form of sutras (literally thread), i.e., condensed prose style intended for memorization. The sutra literature helps us in the study of the Vedic literature. Of all the sutra texts, only Kalpa Sutras have come down to us, and these are again divided into three classes: Srauta Sutras, Grihya Sutras and Dharma Sutras. The Srauta Sutra deals with the rituals of the great sacrifices of Agni, Soma and animal; the Grihya Sutra deals with the domestic ceremonies and sacrifices to be performed by the householder; and the Dharma Sutra is concerned with the laws, manners and customs of people in general. It is the Dharma Sutra with which the historians are mainly concerned, for it constitutes the foundation of the Dharmashastras such as the Laws of Manu. Attached to the Srauta Sutras are the Sulva Sutras, the oldest books on Indian geometry containing instructions for the measurement and construction of the complex Vedic fire altars and the laying out of the sacrificial area.

The Epics—Ramayana and Mahabharata These twin-epics in Sanskrit are considered ‘itihaas’ (traditional history) as well as smriti. Cultural milieu of both appears to be almost the same, ­partly because of similarities in language and styles found in these texts, and partly because of stray references of each other’s stories and places used in these texts. Reference of Valmiki and Ramayana is found in Ramopakhyana section of Mahabharata and mention of sites of Mahabharata such as Kurus, H ­ astinapur, is found in Ramayana. The composition of the Ramayana can be placed between 500 bce and 300 ce and Mahabharata between 400 bce and 400 ce. Ramayana’s original authorship is attributed to Valmiki. It received its present form two or three centuries later, but there are a number of different versions which exist today. Out of its seven books (kandas), the first and last are the latest. The former states that Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu, an indication of its later composition, but many of the stories are very old and include some which probably originated in the kingdoms of Magadha and Kosala. Orginally known as Jaya Samhita, the Mahabharata includes the Harivamsa (the genealogy of Hari or Vishnu) and the Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord). Traditionally it is attributed to Krishna Dwaipayana, also known as Maharashi Veda Vyasa. The Gita represents the views of Krishna Devakiputra who declared that righteous conduct is more efficacious than gifts made to a priestly sacrificer. Whether the great battle between the Pandavas and Kauravas described in the Mahabharata ever happened cannot be proved or disproved. There may be a possibility that there was a relatively small-scale battle, transformed into a gigantic epic war by bards and poets. The text consists of 18 books or sections (parvans). The Harivamsa forms an appendix to the Mahabharata and consists of three parts which give an account of creation, a genealogical list of the Yadavas, myths, the adventures and love affairs of Krishna and the cowherd girls. These epics may be used as historical sources, though with cautions. Traditionally, Rama lived in the treta yuga and the Mahabharata war happened later, in the dvapara yuga. But, some scholars argue that the activities and episodes associated with the Mahabharata reflect a slightly earlier period than those of the Ramayana because of different geographical settings of the epics. The events of Mahabharata takes place in Indo-Gangetic divide and the upper Ganga valley, while the centre of activities in Ramayana appears to be shifted eastward, to the middle Ganga val-

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources

ley. Moreover, the dominant women characters of the Mahabharata suggest an earlier stage of social development. Archaeological findings at the site of Ayodhya have indicated the presence of a settlement here from the Northern Black Polished Ware phase, which may go back earliest to around 700 bce. However, excavation reports with regard to the existence of a settlement in the geographical settings of the Mahabharata doesn't speak much about it. The stories of the epics are so well-knit and powerful that millions of people, irrespective of their caste, community and race in India and outside (Tibet, Myanmar, Laos, Indonesia, etc.) are familiar with them. Such popularity and dynamism of the epic stories are attested by the presence of their different versions in succeeding periods. Apart from the oldest version of Valmiki’s Ramaya- Northern Black Polished Ware na, numerous other tellings of Rama story include Paumachariu of Vimalsuri—a Jaina version in Prakrit, the Dasaratha Jataka in Pali—a Buddhist version, Kamban’s Iramavataram—a 12th century Tamil version, and the Ramacharitamanas of Tulsidas—a 16th century Awadhi version, to name a few.

Puranas The word purana means ‘old’. Although the tradition names Vyas as its author, the current forms of Puranas cannot be said to be the work of one person or age. None of the 18 main Puranas date earlier than the Gupta period, although much of the legendary material is older. The names of the 18 Puranas are Vishnu, Agni, Bhavishya, Bhagavata, Naradiya, Garuda, Padma, Varaha, Matsya, Kurma, Linga, Siva, Skanda, Brahma, Brahmananda, Brahmavaivarta, Markandeya and Vamana. In some lists, the Vayu is substituted for the Agni Purana, and in others for the Siva Purana. The Vayu Purana is perhaps the oldest; some others may be as late as the 15th or 16th century, but all appear to have undergone much revision. The Puranas are mainly composed between fourth c. bce and fifth c. ce. Puranas greatly aided the dissemination of Upanishadic teaching to the illiterate, and to the majority of women to whom education was deliberately denied. The Puranas have immense contributions in disseminating secular knowledge among the masses in ancient India.The conception of ‘time’ mentioned in the Puranas is relevant to the present times. There are four ages (Yuga), i.e., satya, treta, dvapara and kali, all consisting of thousands and thousands of years. These four make a mahayuga and a hundred mahayuga constitute a kalpa. Every kalpa is divided into 14 manvantaras, each presided over by a manu. One Yuga follows the other and periodic destruction of world is followed by recreation. Apart from the mythical description of genealogies of the kali age, the Puranas describe the process of the formation of the universe including that of earth and explains how bharatavarsha came into existence. The texts describe a universe shaped like an egg, vertically divided into celestial worlds, earth, and netherworlds. The earth is described as a flat disc, consisting of seven land masses (varshas) arranged in concentric circles, alternating with seas of salt water, molasses, wine, butter,

1.11

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Chapter 1

Historical Importance of Puranas • Vayu, Brahmanda, Harivamsa, Matsya, Vishnu and Brahma puranas provide historical information about dynasties of ancient India. • The descriptions of Haryanka, Shisunaga, Nanda, Maurya, Shunga, Kanva and Andhra dynasties are found in these puranas. • Most of the puranas are compiled between 4th to 6th centuries ­(Gupta Period). • The genealogies of kings are mentioned. • Some of puranic myths such as encounters and interactions between asuras, devas and sages may be interpreted as interactions among people of different cultures. • Information in puranas reflect comingling of Brahmanical and non-Brahmanical culture traditions. • Account of mountains, rivers and places are useful for studying historical geography of ancient India. • Helps in understanding the development of cults and cultic practices based on the worship of Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti.

curd, milk and fresh water. Bharatavarsha (India) forms the southernmost part of which is situated in the centre of the earth. The Puranas, especially ‘Vayu’, ‘Brahma’, ‘Harivamsa’, ‘Matsya’ and ‘Vishnu’ do provide useful information on ancient political history. They shed significant light on dynasties like Haryanka, Shishunaga, Nanda, Maurya, Shunga, Kanva and Andhras (Satavahanas). They also mention kings with names ending with ‘Naga’ who ruled in northern and southern India. Puranas provide accounts of mountains, rivers, and places which are ­useful for historical geography. They also talk about emergence of cults ­arising out of devotion to gods such as Vishnu, Shiva and goddess S ­ hakti. Manifestations of such devotion is expressed through the worship of their images in temples, pilgrimage or tirtha, and vows or vrata. Though ­traditionally, Puranas are considered to be the vehicle of Brahmanical, social and religious values, they also reflect the interaction of Brahmanical social and non-Brahmanical socio-cultural traditions.

Dharmashastras or Smritis The word dharma may be conceptualized as an idea that the universe is regulated by a certain natural law and the moral principles that guide people’s lives should be in consonance with natural law. Dharma refers to proper ideal conduct of a person in the society. It involves a course of action which leads to the fulfillment of human life. In other words, the goals or purusartha of life has to be achieved for

The Puranas Traditionally, the Puranas expound five subjects (panchalakshana): • • • • •

The creation of the world – Sarga Its destruction and recreation – Pratisarga Genealogies of gods and patriarchs – Vamsa Reigns of the Manus of various world periods – Manvantaras The history of the Solar and Lunar royal dynasties - Vamsa charita

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources

this fulfillment. They are dharma (righteous conduct), arth (material well-being), kama (sensual pleasure) and moksha (salvation). The contents of Dharmashastras include the sources of dharma; the duties of the four varnas and asramas\various samskaras of man; the avocations of the four varnas in life; the duties and responsibilities of the king; rules for taxation, etc.; impurities of birth, death, and other causes; different kinds of sraddhas; rules about food, duties of women and their property; niyoga (levirate) and its conditions; and sins and their expiations, and penances and their conditions. The Smritis deal with these topics in an analytical and systematized form under three main heads—achara (rites), vyavahara (dealings), and prayaschitta (expiation). Among all Smritis, the Manu Smriti is the most a­ ncient and a­ uthoritative. It has 12 chapters dealing with achara, vyavahara and p­ rayaschitta. It is looked upon as having served as a model to all the later Smritis. It has many masterly commentaries like those of Medhatithi, ­Govindaraja and Kulluka Bhatta. The next in importance is the Yajñavalkya Smriti, which has three kand (sections) namely achara-kanda (customs), vyavahara-kanda (judicial process) and prayascitta-kanda (crime and punishment, penance). It agrees with the Manu Smriti on many points, but disagrees on issues like niyoga, inheritance and gambling. It has got a few valuable commentaries like Balakrida, Apararka, and Mitaksara, of which Mitaksara is the most critical and authoritative. The Parasara Smriti is noted for its advanced views and it is considered the most suited for the Kali yuga. It deals with achara and prayaschitta only. It mentions the apaddharma of the four castes: agriculture, trade and commerce for the Brahmins, etc. Its commentary by Madhvacharya is very popular and authoritative and explains vyavahara under raja-dharma. The Narada Smriti occurs in two recensions and deals with vyavahara only. It closely follows Manu, but introduces a few innovations in the 18 titles of law and permits niyoga, remarriage of women and gambling under certain conditions. The Brihaspati Smriti has seven sections dealing with vyavahara, achara and prayaschitta. It closely follows the Manu Smriti and is known as a ‘parisista’ (supplement) to the latter. The Katyayana Smriti follows closely the works of Manu, Brihaspati and Narada. It specially deals with ‘stridhana’ (a woman’s personal property). Among others, mention may be made of the Smritis of Angirasa, Daksa, Pitamaha, Prajapati, Marici, Yama, Vishwamitra, Vyasa, Sangrahakara, and Samvarta.

Buddhist Literature Buddhist literature is classified into canonical and non-canonical texts. The canonical texts lay down certain basic tenets of Buddhism. The Pali canon of Buddhist sacred literature may be divided into two great classes—the Hinayana canon written chiefly in Pali, and hence spoken of as the Pali canon; and the Mahayana canon written chiefly in Sanskrit and widely translated into Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan and other Mongolian languages. The Pali canonical books consist of three parts collectively known as the Tripitakas (the three baskets) which were reduced to writing between 350 bce and 90 bce. The first one, Vinaya Pitaka The Vinaya Pit.aka is one of the three parts that make up the Tripit.akas. Its primary subject matter is the monastic. The Vinaya has three divisions: • Sutta-vibha´ngha (Divisions of Rules) • Khandhaka (Sections) • Parivãra (Accessary), a short summary of the rules and how to apply them

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Chapter 1

The second one Sutta Pitaka (300 bce) consists of five nikaya or collections of aphorisms, precepts and discourses for the laity. They are mentioned as follows. • Digha nikaya, a collection of long sermons and an account of Buddha’s last speeches and his death and the funeral ceremonies; • Majjhima nikaya, a collection dealing with the relation of Buddha to the Jainas and others, various forms of asceticism, and a long enumeration of offences and the punishments; • Samyutta nikaya discusses Buddhist doctrine and many sayings of Buddha; • Anguttara nikaya, a collection of sermons arranged in ascending numerical order, enumerating doctrines and principles; • Khuddaka nikaya comprises 15 books of miscellanea which are essential for an understanding of Buddhism. The important ones are: m The Jatakas comprises stories of Buddha’s former lives, which are among the most ancient fables in the world of literature. m The Theragatha and the Therigatha, the Songs of the Male and Lady Elders, containing religious lyrical poetry of a high order. m The other important books under Khuddaka nikaya are: Khuddaka Path, Dharamapada, Udana, Ittivuttan, Suttanipata, Vimanavathu, etc. The third one Abhidhamma Pitaka deals with the same subjects as the Sutta Pitaka, but in a more scholastic manner. It consists of supplementary philosophical dissertations and expositions of the finer points of mind training, psychology and dogma. Of its seven books, the Dhammasangani provides a good exposition of Buddhist philosophy, psychology and ethics. The Kathavatthu (or Vinnanapada), ascribed to Moggaliputta Tissa, is valuable for the light it throws on the evolution of Buddhist dogma. Buddhist Literature

Canonical

Non-Canonical Milindapanho

Pali canon

Mahavastu

Tripitakas

Vinaya Pitaka

Sutta Pitaka

Lalitvistara Abhidhmma Pitak

Sutta-vibhangha

Digha nikaya

Khandhaka

Majjhima nikaya

Parivara

Samyutta nikaya Anguttara nikaya Khuddaka nikaya

Dipavamsa Mahavamsa

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources

Pali Non-Canonical Texts are the next body of Buddhist scriptures which were composed some time during the Bactrian Greek and the Kushana periods of Indian history, since these foreigners favoured the Mahayana form of the religion that had been evolving ever since the first Buddhist schism. • The Milindapanho (130 bce) which relates how the sage Nagasena converts the Bactrian Greek king Menander (Milinda) to Buddhism. • Another work, the Mahavastu (75 bce) presents some Hinayana doctrines along with additional metaphysics of the Mahasanghika (proto-Mahayana) sects. • The Lalitavistara (30 bce), an anonymous biography of Buddha, contains some Hinayana material, but is largely Mahayanist. • The Dipavamsa (350 ce), of unknown authorship, speaks of introduction of Buddhism into Ceylon by Asoka’s son Mahinda. • The Mahavamsa (550 ce), composed by the monk Mahanama and based on a lost work, tells the same story in greater details giving the island’s history up to 350 ce.

Sanskrit Texts The period between the second and sixth centuries bce is that of the Mahayana classics and the age of the great translations. The scriptures are presented in a series of dialogues, discourses and sermons, delivered by Buddha in what is called the sutra (Pali, Sutta) form, and generally known as the Vaipulya Sutras or ‘expanded discourses’. They were translated into Chinese, and from Chinese into Japanese and Tibetan, and several sutra works exist only in these versions, the originals being lost. The task of codifying the Mahayana doctrines is associated with such scholars as Nagarjuna (100 ce), founder of the Madhyamika school and compiler of several Mahayana works such as, Madhyamika Karika; Asvaghosha (100 ce), author of the Buddhacharita, a poetic biography of Buddha, besides other notable works; and the brothers Asanga and Vasubandhu (fourth century ce), founders of the Yogachara school, and authors of numerous Mahayana texts.

Jaina Literature Use of Prakrit The Jainas utilized the prevailing spoken languages of different times at d ­ ifferent places in the country for their religious propaganda and the ­preservation of sacred knowledge. They even gave a literary shape to some vernaculars for the first time. Mahavira himself preached in the mixed ­dialect called Ardha-Magadhi so that people speaking Magadhi or Suraseni might understand him thoroughly. His teachings that were classified into 12 books called Srutangas are written in the Ardha-Magadhi language.

Svetambara Literature The sacred literature of the Svetambaras is written in the Arsha or ­Ardha-Magadhi form of Prakrit, and may be classified into 12 Angas, 12 Upangas, 10 Prakirnas, 6 Chheda sutras, 4 Mulasutras and 2 miscellaneous texts. The Jainas themselves do not

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Chapter 1

Principal Sutra Works Some of the principal sutra works are: • Saddharma-pundarika (250 ce), also called the Lotus Sutra, has been described as the Bible of half-Asia. It is the most important of all the sutras. It is a sermon delivered by Buddha on a mountain to an august assembly. • Prajna-paramita deals especially with the notion of sunya or nothingness. According to it, beyond this illusory and impermanent world is a new world of freedom, which one can attain with the aid of prajna or intuitive and transcendental wisdom. • The main doctrine taught in the Avatamsaka Sutra is that of ‘interpenetration’; everything in the world being interpenetrated by everything else, and mutually conditioning and being conditioned. • Gandavyuha describes how Buddha while living in a grove at Sravasti entered into a state of profound meditation and the bodhisattvas with him became filled with compassion for all beings. • Other important sutras are: the Sukhavati-vyuha, the Vajrachhedika, the Maha-pari- nirvana and the Lankavatara (400 ce).

claim that these texts are the authentic productions of the founder of Jainism, but maintain that the 12 Limbs were codified some 200 years after Mahavira’s death, while the whole canon did not receive its definitive form until the fifth century ce, when it was finally established at a council held at Valabhi in Saurashtra.

Angas • The Acharangasutra deals with the rules of conduct which a Jaina monk was to follow. • The Sutrakritanga is mainly devoted to a refutation of the heretic doctrines. • The Sthananga and Samavayamga present the Jaina doctrines in an ascending numerical series. • The Bhagavati sutra is one of the most important Jaina canonical texts. It contains a comprehensive exposition of the Jaina doctrine, and gives a vivid description of the joys of heaven and the tortures of hell. • The Jnatadharmak-athah teaches the main principles of the Jaina doctrine by means of parables, legends and stories. • The Upasakadasah narrates the story of ten rich merchants who were converted to Jaina faith. • The Antakriddash and Anuttaraupapatika-dasah contain stories of Jaina ascetics who saved their souls by following a course of rigorous self-torture, leading to death. • The Prasnavyakaranani is a dogmatic treatise dealing with the ten precepts, ten prohibitions, etc. • The Vipakasrutam contains legends illustrating the consequences, after death, of good and bad deeds of a man done in this life. • The Drishti Vada contains miscellaneous doctrines of a varied character.

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources

Upangas They possess very little literary interest, as their contents are mostly dogmatic and mythological in character. • The second Upanga, Rayapasenaijja is, however, of some literary merit, and contains a dialogue between the Jaina monk Kesi and a king, Paesi (probably Prasenajit of Kosala). • The fifth, sixth, and seventh Upangas deal with astronomy, geography, cosmology, etc. • The eighth Upanga, Nirayavalisuttam contains an interesting account of Ajatasatru, but its historical authenticity is doubtful.

Other Canonical Works • The Prakirnas, deal with various doctrinal matters and are written in verse. • The Chheda Sutras deal with disciplinary rules for monks and nuns, and illustrate them by various legends. The best known work is Kalpasutra, attributed to Bhadrabahu. The Kalpasutra forms a part of the fourth Chheda Sutra and consists of three sections. Another Kalpasutra which forms the fifth Chheda Sutra is looked upon as the principal treatise on the rules of conduct of the Jaina monks and nuns. • The Mulasutras are very valuable Jaina texts. The first, the ­Uttaradhyayana Sutra, forms one of the most important portions of the canon, and contains parables, maxims, ballads and dialogues. • Among the miscellaneous canonical texts which do not belong to any group, mention may be made of Nandi Sutra and Anuyogadvara which are encyclopaedic texts, containing accounts of the different branches of knowledge pursued by the Jaina monks.

Non-religious/Secular Literature The foremost in this category is Arthashastra of Kautilya of the Mauryan period. An edition of this text, written in Sanskrit on palm leaves, was rediscovered by R. Shamasastry, in 1905. This edition is dated to around 250 ce, but the contents of the book are largely of the Mauryan period. As the book is centred on the theme of statecraft, it summarizes the political thoughts of Mauryan times. The author, Kautilya, (also known as Chanakya or Vishnugupta), is often compared to Machiavelli (the Italian Renaissance thinker who wrote The Prince). The text consists of 15 books known as adhikaranas, out of which the first 5 deal with internal administration (tantra), and next 8 with inter-state relations (avapa). The last two books deal with other miscellaneous topics. The book contains detailed information about specific issues that are important for rulers for effective running of administration. Apart from emphasizing upon diplomacy and military tactics, the text also highlights the other aspects such as laws, spies, prison, taxation, irrigation, agriculture, fortifications, mining, manufacturing, trade, etc., in detail.

Kavya Literature Though the two great Ithihasas (Ramayana and Mahabharata) are undoubtedly the precursors of Sanskrit Kavya literature, its origin can be traced to the Vedic

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hymns. Patanjali mentions three akhyayikiis: Vasavadatta, ­Sumanottara and Bhaimarathi. Unfortunately, we have no definite knowledge of the growth and development of Kavya in the period between the second century bce and the third century ce. The name of Kalidasa, the most celebrated Indian poet, stands high in the realm of Sanskrit lyrics. His Meghaduta is the finest work in this genre. Bhartrihari, assigned to the seventh century ce has to his credit the three Satakas, viz., the Sringara Sataka, the Niti Sataka and the Vairagya Sataka. The advocates of the theory of renaissance of Sanskrit literature sought to prove that Brahmanic culture passed through its dark age at the time when India was continuously facing foreign invasions; and that the earliest revival of this culture is to be found in the so-called golden age of the ­Guptas. ­Recent research has, however, rejected both the theory of renaissance and the concept of golden age.

Court Epics Asvaghosha, the most outstanding Buddhist writer in Sanskrit, adorned the court of Kanishka. He wrote, apart from the Buddhacharita, another epic named Saundarananda. After Asvaghosha the most celebrated Indian poet is Kalidasa. His Kumarasambhava is an epic in 17 cantos of which only the first 8 are believed to be genuine. Its theme is the marriage of Lord Siva and Uma and the birth of Karttikeya. The Raghuvamsha, another epic of Kalidasa, has 19 cantos based on the history of kings of the Ikshvakus. Bharavi, who is generally associated with the Pallavas of Kanchi and whose name is mentioned along with Kalidasa in the famous Aihole inscription (634 ce) of Pulakesin II, wrote the epic Kiratarjuniya in 18 cantos. Based on the Mahabharata, the poem describes how Ariuna obtained the Pasupata weapon from Siva. Bhatti, who belonged to the late sixth and early seventh century ce and was patronized by Sridharasena of Valabhi, composed the Bhattikavya or Ravanavadha, comprising 22 cantos, with the sole object of illustrating the rules and principles of grammar and rhetoric. Other prominent Sanskrit epics include Kumaradasa’s Janakiharana (sixth century ce) and Magha’s Sisupalavadha (eighth century ce).

Drama The roots of the Sanskrit drama can undeniably be traced to Bharata’s Natya Sahatra, the earliest known book on Sanskrit dramaturgy. But the most outstanding early Sanskrit dramatist is Bhasa, whose 13 dramas have now been discovered. Though scholars widely differ on the authenticity and authorship of the plays ascribed to him, Bhasa is mentioned by Kalidasa, Bana, Rajasekhara and other later writers with great respect. His plays are taken from the two great epics and various popular tales. The plays based on the Ramayana are Pratima and Abhisheka, while Madhyamavyayoga, Dutaghatotkacha and Karnabhara are based on the Mahabharata. But it is Svapnavasavadatta which is undoubtedly the best of Bhasa’s dramas. Though the date of the famous ten-act play Mrichchhakatika, ascribed to Sudraka, is still disputed, it was definitely written after Bhasa’s Charudatta (third century ce). The name of king Sudraka is, however, found in Kalhana’s Rajatarangini,​ Somadeva’s Kathasaritsiigara and Skanda’s Purava. Kalidasa’s Malavikagnimitra, Vikramorvasiya and Abhijnanasakuntala have earned him recognition as the greatest of Indian dramatists. Particularly, his Abhijnanasakuntala, the most mature product

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources

of his genius, has gained worldwide recognition. Three dramas are attributed to Harsha, whose Ratnavali is a masterpiece. Priyadarsika and Nagananda are his other creations. Bhavabhuti, considered next only to Kalidasa, is mentioned by Kalhana as a poet in the court of king Yasovarman of Kanyakubja (736 ce). The dramas Mahaviracharita, Malatimadhava and Uttararamacharita are ascribed to Bhavabhuti.

Prose Literature The earliest specimens of Indian prose-writing are found in the Krishna Yajur Veda. The prose portions of the Mahabharata, the Vayu and Bhagavata P ­ uranas, and the medical compilations of Charaka are worth mentioning. The writings of Sabarasvamin and Vatsyayana are good specimens of Sanskrit prose. The extant prose literature may be divided into two classes—romance and fable. The prose-romances are of two main types, viz. Akhyayika and Katha. Dasakumoracarita of Dandin (seventh century ce) was a work of the Akhyayika type. Subandhu (early seventh century ce) wrote V ­ asavadatta. Several other secular works supplement our knowledge of Ancient India. Mudrarakshasa of Vishakhadatta gives the story of C ​ handragupta Maurya and Chanakya. It explains how the Nandas were overthrown and Chandragupta became the emperor of the Magadh. Patanjali’s Mahabhasya and Panini’s Ashtadhyayi are treatises on Sanskrit grammar but there are some occasional references to kings, republics and other political events. Harisena was the poet laureate of Samudragupta and his poetical works especially the Prashasti on the Allahabad pillar inscription throw significant light on the achievements of Samudragupta. Certain writers took the lives of royal patrons as the themes of their literary works, Bana wrote Harshacharita or ‘life of Harsha’ in prose and this book is useful not only from the point of view of political history but also for depicting the economic, social and religious life of the people of seventh century ce. Vakapati and Bilhana described the achievements of Yashovarman and Vikramaditya in the Gaudavaho and Vikramankdevacharita. Another poetical work named Ramcharita of Sandhyakar Nandi tells the story of king Rampal of Bengal. The other biographical works are the Kumarapalacharita of Hemachandra, eulogizing the king Jayasimha.

Early Indian Historical Tradition The earliest written sources that claims that history and history writing was absent in ancient India is the work of the great Muslim traveller Al-Biruni who wrote Kitab Fi Tahqiq-i-Ma Li'l-Hind in about 1020 ce. Further a fresh investigation into India’s ancient past began during the colonial rule when James Mill in his book The History of British India (1818 ce) propounded that ancient India in contrast to colonial India lacked a sense of history. However, such opinion seems irrelevant in the light of the recent researches as in ancient India, records were maintained and references were made to the past events that were believed to have happened. Early India was conscious of its past and also recorded it in various ways and forms. The emergence of a historical tradition depends on a number of factors. Initially it may take an oral form, when it comes to be written with increased literacy, its forms may change. Also, each generation shapes its historical tradition in tune with what it believes to be most worthy of preservation, thus making it difficult to locate its starting point. Hence, historical tradition may refer to those aspects of past, recorded orally or in texts, which are consciously transmitted from generation to generation carrying the sanction of antiquity and a believed historicity.

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The early Indian historical traditions have mainly three distinct trends. The first emerges from Puranic framework, the second from the Sramanic ideologies, especially the Buddhist and Jaina, and the third, maintained by bards, goes back to the early epics’ composition (Mahabharata and Ramayana). All these traditions contain narratives which go into the making of historical consciousness and become the basis for a collective identity. The two major terms associated with traditions relating to the past are ‘Itihasa and Purana.’ Itihasa literally means, ‘thus indeed it was’ and Purana means something which is old and includes events and stories believed to go back to ancient times. Later, around first millennium ce, the term purana was applied to a specific body of texts which focussed on religion, myths and historicity as well. Atharvaveda and Satapatha Brahmana refers to the terms itihasa and purana. The conjoint term itihasa-purana, referring to the past events that took place, is mentioned in the Brahmanas and Upanishads. Itihasa-purana is described in these texts as the fifth Veda which simply means that it has been given the status of a separate branch of knowledge. The itihasa-purana was central to the kshatriya tradition of the ruling class. The recitation of Itihasaveda and Puranaveda is recommended during the ashvamedha sacrifice. The text Arthashastra uses the term itihasa in secular terms such as purana itivritta (past events), akhyayika (narrative), udaharana (example), as well as, dharmashastra and arthashastra (ideas on both sacred and socio-economic duties). The Buddhist tradition recognizes the term itihasa and calls it a written authority. Jinasena, a ninth century author of a Jaina text, Adipurana defined itihasa as something that actually happened. The historicity of the Buddha and Mahavira was emphasized and monasteries or sangha’s activities were linked to political events and personalities. The itihasa-purana tradition also acted as a means of legitimizing status and genealogical records (vamsavalis) give lists of successions (vamsa), kinship patterns, marriage forms, geographical settlements, politico-administrative structures, etc. All these evidences suggest that early India was pretty conscious of its past, aware of the changes and bothered to record them into historical traditions. On the basis of such records, it can be said that early Indian society did have a sense of identity recorded in texts and traditions. This history, however, may not pertain to western understanding of history, yet ancient India was certainly conscious of its historical past and had a range of historical traditions based on itihasa-purana genre. At the same time, it may be inferred that it some way or the other, lacked the scientific methodology of recording the past and also some of the narratives were often mixed with mythological details which tended to weaken its potentiality as a good source of history.

Foreign Account There are many references to India in foreign texts as the Indian subcontinent had never been an isolated geographical region right from the early times. Since such accounts represent the perceptions of foreign scholars about India and its people, there is a need to carefully distinguish between the statements based on hearsay and those grounded in perceptive observations. There may be a possibility that the scholar, a certain opinion about the Indian way of life which had nothing to do with the actual conditions and that the scholar had concluded such things on the basis of his personal understanding based on his own country’s traditions. In fact, we come across some of such unreliable accounts about India. One such account is

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources

the Indica of Ctesias of fourth century bce, which is full of strange and unfamiliar stories about India and its people. He wrote such account on the basis of hearsay while living in Persia as a royal physician. The Greek scholar Onesicritus who took part in the expedition of Nearchos wrote a book about India, the information of which is challenged by Starbo. Megasthenes, though a s­ cholar of repute, also tried to idealize Indian society with that of Egyptian and Greek standards which were not true. But, barring few examples that we would see in the discussion, these foreign accounts are of utmost importance for the reconstruction of India’s ancient past.

Greek Account Herodotus, known as ‘Father of History’, in his Histories gives much information about the Persian and Greek Wars and Indo-Persian relations. He also tells us about the political condition of north-west India in his time which was a part of the Empire of Darius and constituted the 20th satrapy or province. The account of Ctesias is full of fables. Arrian wrote a detailed account of the invasion of India by Alexander and he based his account on the evidence of Nearchos who was the Admiral of the Fleet of Alexander. Skylax wrote a book which contains a detailed account of his voyage between the Indus and the Persian Gulf. It also gives a good deal of incidental information about India. Onesicritus took part in the expedition of Nearchos and wrote a book about India. However, Starbo considered him untruthful. Alexander’s invasion has been described by both Greek and Latin writers, such as Arrian (96–180 ce) in his The Anabasis of Alexander, Curtius (41–54 ce), Diodorus Siculus (second half of first century bce), Justin (second century) in his Epitoma and Plutarch (46–120 ce). The names of the three ambassadors sent by the Greek sovereigns to Pataliputra were Megasthenes, Deimachus and Dionysius. Megasthenes was sent by Seleucus to the court of Chandragupta Maurya. He wrote his magnum opus on India called the Indica. The original work has been lost but the later writers quoted passages from the original book and those passages have been collected to give us an idea as to what Megasthenes wrote about India. Those have been translated into English by McCrindle. The information given by Megasthenes is quite detailed on certain points. Indica describes the subcontinent as a quadrilateral-shaped country b ound by the ocean on the southern and eastern side and provides details of soil, climate, rivers, plants, animals, produce, administration, society, legends and folklore. The text refers to Indian worship of Lord Krishna as Herakles and Dionysus. It also says that Indians were so honest that ‘theft was rare in India’. Megasthenes also underlines the general prosperity of India and ‘famine never visited India’. However, one can notice Megasthenes’s tendency to idealize Indian culture by Greek standards. It seems that he, having influenced by Herodotus’s traditional classification of Egyptian society into seven classes, divided Indian society into seven categories—philosophers (Brahmanas and Shramanas), farmers, herdsmen, artisans, soldiers, overseers and councillors. Deimachus was sent from the Syrian court to Bindusara. Dionysius was sent from the Egyptian court of Ptolemy Philadelphus. The writings of Deimachus and Dionysius have been lost completely. Very few quotations from their writings have come down to us and those also refer to unimportant matters. Patrocles who was the governor of the provinces between the Indus and the Caspian

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Sea under Seleucus and Antiochus I, wrote an account of those countries including India. Strabo testifies to the veracity of his account. The unknown author of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a Greek text, made a voyage to the Indian coast around 80 ce and he has left to us a record of its ports, harbours and merchandise. This book gives us an idea of the maritime activities of the ancient Indians. Ptolemy wrote about the geography of India during the second century ce. Although his knowledge of the geography of India was defective, he gives us a lot of valuable information.

Latin Account Latin documents give us some useful information about the history of Ancient India. Pliny gave an account of the Indian animals, plants and minerals in the first century ce in his book Naturalis History. Trogus Pompeius wrote a historical account known as Historiae Philippicae. Although the work is lost, some prologues to the chapters are preserved in Epitome of Justin. This book throws a flood of light on the relations of Seleucus with India and the Bactrian invasion of India. From the geographical point of view, Pomponius Mela is very important as he gives us valuable information about the geography of India.

Chinese Travellers’ Accounts The first recorded Chinese visit to India took place at the end of the fourth century ce. The last record left by a Chinese traveler is dated 1033 ce in a Bodh Gaya inscription. According to the Chinese Buddhist encyclopaedia, Fo-tsu-tong-ki, hundreds of Chinese travelers visited India to learn at the fountain-head of their faith, and pay homage to the Great Deliverer, Lord Buddha during his one thousand years of cultural collaboration. For that we have to turn to the accounts of three Chinese monks who came to India, they are Fa-hien, Hiuen Tsang and l-tsing. Fa-hien accompanied by the three Chinese monks, left for India in 399 ce and returned to China in 414 ce. They came by the overland route and returned by sea. During their stay, they visited many important places in north India and collected Buddhist texts which indeed was the object of their visit. Hiuen Tsang was the greatest Chinese to visit India. He started for India in 629 ce in defiance of a ban on the Chinese to leave their country and alone crossed the perilous land route to India, for which he had no guide and for long stretches had to depend on his wit, luck and determination to carry him through, till he reached Turfan. He stayed in India for 16 years and returned to China in 645 ce. He was received with great honours by Harshavardhana of whom the monk has left a good account. He lived for a considerable period at the Nalanda monastery and developed cordial relations with Indian scholars. After he left India, Hiuen Tsang and his Indian friends maintained contact through correspondence and some of these letters have been discovered. I-tsing started for India in 671 ce at the age of 37 and returned to China in 695 ce. He came by the sea route and on his way, stopped for some time at Srivijaya (Palembang in Sumatra). In India, I-tsing visited many places and spent ten years in Nalanda, mostly copying Buddhist texts, and returned to China with 400 of them.

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources

The major drawback of these pilgrims’ accounts is that they were mainly intended for the edification of Chinese Buddhists so that the pious monks record only objects of Buddhist interest. Political history, therefore, formed no part of their accounts. This is not true of Hiuen Tsang who has given an account of the country as well as of some kings. But it should be remembered that two books go under his name; one is his Records of the Western World and the other being the Life. Of these the first was written by Hiuen Tsang but the second has a slightly different history. While resting in the evening, Hiuen Tsang used to tell his friends and disciples some of the incidents he saw in India or some other details too insignificant to find a place in his magnum opus. His student Hwui-lih diligently recorded whatever Hiuen Tsang said and later compiled them into a book form. Neither Fa-hien nor l-tsing gives us any political information and they do not even mention the names of the kings in whose realm they lived while in India. But their accounts are significant in many ways. For example Fa-hien has left the only description of a voyage in an Indian vessel, while l-tsing gives a good account of the condition of Sanskrit learning in Srivijaya. These informations are of inestimable value. Their accounts of Buddhism in India are also equally valuable for Pliny Latin Author of Naturalis History the history of Buddhism in India. These Chinese travelers left valuable accounts about what they saw. Hiuen Tsang is called the Prince of Pilgrims. He stayed in India for many years and studied at the University of Nalanda. He was patronized by Harsha and his account is rightly considered as Gazetteer of India. Fa-hien also gives us useful information about India in the reign of Chandragupta II. I-tsing visited India during the seventh century and he has left to use useful information about the social and religious condition of the people. These eminent Chinese visitors were all devout Buddhist monks, whose journey to India was merely a pilgrimage to holy lands and whose outlook was purely religious. Neither Fa-hien nor l-tsing refers to secular matters, except very incidentally nor do they even mention the name of the king or kings whose dominions were visited by them. Hiuen Tsang is not so circumscribed but gives some interesting information about his royal patron Harshavardhana and other contemporary kings of India. He also briefly refers to the political condition of the kingdom through which he passed and devotes the entire chapter to a general account of India. These are no doubt, very valuable but they form only a very small part of his extensive records which like those of Fa-hien and l-tsing are otherwise devoted to a minute and detailed description of Buddhism in India—its rituals and practices, sanctuaries and memorials, sects and doctrines, scriptures and traditions. Fa-Hien

at the ruins of

Ashoka Palace

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Besides these accounts, some Chinese historical works give important information about the Scythians and Yue-chis who invaded India. These are Che-ki (Historical memoirs) or Sseu-ma-tsien (first century ce). Tsien Han-Chou (History of the Early Han dynasty) by Pan-Kou and Pan Chao (end of first century ce) and the Hou-Han-Chou (History of the Later Han Dynasty) by Fan Ye (398–445 ce). The Chinese historical works contain numerous references to the movement and migration of nomadic tribes living on the borders of China and some of which eventually invaded India. These and other chronological references have been found useful in building up the framework of Indian chronology. Many original books on Buddhism were taken from India to China and translated into Chinese. Although the originals have been lost, the translations remain and those give us a lot of useful information.

Tibetan Account The Tibetan historian, Taranath, in his History of Buddhism, gives us a lot of valuable information about Buddhism. Tibetan works like the Mani Bka, Bum a sacred history of Tibet and Bu Stons Chos Byun, the birth of the Law in three parts, also gives us very useful information about the history of India.

Archaeological Sources Archaeology is the study of human past through material remains that include structures, artifacts (portable objects made or altered by human hands such as pottery, tools, etc.), seals, coins, inscriptions, sculptures, etc. These material evidence, which is a key to understanding human behaviour and experience help us telling their stories about the people who used them. Artefacts as the product of craft traditions and a medium of knowing the lifestyles of people are rooted in a certain cultural context. Therefore, archaeologists use the term ‘culture’ in a specific and technical way that describes behaviour and activities of a group of people categorized on the basis of tools, pottery/ware, burial or assemblage such as Palaeolithic culture, painted Grey Ware culture and so on. Archaeology generally gives us anonymous history which focuses more on cultural processes than events. It is the only source of understanding prehistory and proto-history. It also furnishes details on the history of human settlements, modes of subsistence including the food people procured, the crops they grew, the tools they used and animals they hunted and domesticated. Archaeology also informs about various aspects of the history of technology such as raw materials, their sources and how artifacts were made and used. It also let us know about routes and network of exchange, trade and interaction between people living in distant areas. Coming to understanding history through archaeological sources, there are good reasons why a historical study of ancient India cannot realize its full potential on the basis of textual sources alone. First, the sources which have been used, beginning with the Rig Veda were not strictly meant to be historical sources and whatever historical information has been gleaned from them is not free from questions regarding their chronology, geographical applicability and even content. Except for the history of the kings of Kashmir written by Kalhana in the 12 century, there is no proper historical chronicle dating from the ancient period of Indian history. Not only is there a paucity of professed historical work but of very few really ancient compositions do we know with certainty the time and place of

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources

origin. Lastly, in the few works of which we have definite knowledge in regard to authorship and provenance, a great amount of space is taken up by conventional ­descriptions and it is seldom that we come across the plain downright statement of a fact. Archaeology can greatly expand the nature of the sources in the context of ancient India. Even in the areas with a much larger mass of detailed and rigorous textual documentation, archaeological research often leads to the historical landscape. In the case of ancient India, where the basic quantum and the rigour of textual documentation are comparatively limited, archaeological research becomes more than being of ordinary significance. Archaeology can also greatly change the nature of historical questions and it is here that the second reason for the significance of archaeology in ancient Indian historical research is rooted. Although modern archaeology is not afraid of handling a multitude of issue ranging from environment and subsistence to symbolism and cognition, it is primarily in the reconstruction of the story of man–land relationship through the ages that the subject excels. What to be emphasized in the context of the ancient history of such a vast land mass as the subcontinent of India is that it is only through the reconstruction of the historical development of mainland interaction in different parts of the subcontinent that the framework of a past acceptable to all segments of its population can emerge. In order to create a non-sectarian and multilingual image of ancient India, archaeology, especially aided by the scientific techniques which are now available to the cause of archaeological research, provides the most significant area of historical enquiry.

Epigraphy (Inscriptions) Epigraphy is the study of inscriptions on rocks, pillars, temple walls, copper plates and other writing material. It deals with the art of writing and provides us with an instrument for conservation and transmission of historical traditions from generation to generation as they have the advantage of durability. Inscriptions are the major source for reconstructing the history and culture of ancient civilizations. It serves as primary documentary evidence to establish legal, socio-cultural, literary, archaeological, and historical antiquity on the basis of engravings. Inscriptions are of very great value as they are engraved on stone and metals which cannot be tampered without detection. Consequently, we can be sure while using the material from inscriptions that they contain what was originally written. The inscriptions also give us a correct idea of the method of writing followed at a time when they were actually inscribed. The character of their script also enables us to fix their approximate age. Location can also throw some valuable light. The difficulty of deciphering inscriptions has been overcome in most of the cases although the script of the Indus valley still, remains undeciphered. Inscriptions can be grouped under the following heads: commercial, religious and didactic, administrative, eulogistic, votive or dedicative, donative, commemorative and literary. As regards commercial inscriptions, their specimens are to be found on the Indus seals. Some of these seals must have been used for the ­stamping for commercial purposes. These seals may have been used by seafaring traders engaged in foreign trade. It seems that nigamas and shrenis which were commercial organizations had the authority of minting their coins and they must used them f​or commercial purposes. Religious and didactic inscriptions include seals and tablets of the Indus civilization which possibly were ​used as objects of worship. The inscriptions of Asoka are the best specimen of the religious and didactic inscriptions.

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Comparative Importance of Inscriptions as a Historical Source • Usually contemporaneous to the events. • More durable than manuscripts. • Information can be connected to a time and place. • Help in determining the extent of kingdoms/empires on the basis of geographical spread of a particular type of inscriptions. • The Prashastis give detailed description of dynasties and reigns of kings. • Shed light on political structure, administrative and revenue systems. • Later inscriptions also provide records of land grants. • Gupta, Chola and Pallava inscriptions found in different forms help in reconstruction of political, social and religious history of their times. With regard administrative inscriptions, mention may be made of the Sohgaura copper plate inscription of Chandragupta Maurya which suggests the State’s measures to deal with the famine conditions. Asokan edicts may be referred to as the specimen of administrative inscription. An extract from one of his inscriptions reads thus: ‘Everywhere in my dominions, the Yuktas, the Rajjukas and the Pradeshikas shall proceed on circuit tour every five years as well for this purpose (for the instruction of Dhamma) as for other businesses’. The Junagarh Rock inscription of Rudradaman I talks about Sudarshana lake to facilitate irrigation for peasants. A large number of copper plate inscriptions have been found both in the north and south, and they contain many useful administrative details. Reference may be made in this connection to the Banskhera copper plate inscription of Harsha. As regards the eulogistic inscriptions (Prashasti), they are very important from the political point of view. They contain names and genealogies of the rulers, their military, political and administrative achievements, the existence of contemporary states coming into conflict with them and the inter-state relations, the administrative system, the political ideals, etc. The one great difficulty in these inscriptions is that there is a tendency on the part of the authors to exaggerate the achievements of their patrons. The Hathigumpha inscription of king Kharavela of Kalinga belongs to the category of pure eulogy. It describes in detail the achievements of Kharavela in a chronological order. To the same category belongs the Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudragupta. Important specimens of the eulogistic types, though with some valuable information are to be found in the Nasik Cave inscription of Ushavadata, the Junagarh Rock inscription of Rudradaman I, the Mandasor Stone pillar inscription of Yashodharman, the stone inscription of Ishanvarman, the Aihole stone inscription of Pulakesin II, the Talagunda stone pillar inscriptions of Dantivarman, and Mandasor stone inscription of Kumaragupta II. A large number of votive or dedicative inscriptions have also been discovered. It is possible that some of the tablets found in the Indus valley contain votive inscriptions. The Piprahwa inscription records the dedication of the relic casket of Lord Buddha. The Besnagar Garuda Pillar inscription of Heliodoros also belongs to this category. Many of the dedicative inscriptions deal with the installation of images and the construction of temples. Reference may be made in this connection to the Mandasor inscription of the time of Kumaragupta II and the Bhittari inscription of Skandagupta and the Aihole inscription of Pulakesin II. During the period following the Gupta and Post-Gupta ages and particularly in the early medieval phase of Indian history, several kings in their inscriptions are shown protecting and promoting the traditional social order based on varnash-

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources

1.27

rama dharma as their duties. Mention may be made of the royal prashastis of Samudragupta, Kumaragupta, Harshavardhana, Senas of Bengal, kings of early medieval kingdoms and the Pallava, Chalukya, Chola and Vijayanagara inscriptions, where the kings are eulogized as protector of their people, custodian of dharma and maintainers of their varna and ashramas. The king in these inscriptions is often eulogized as performer of Vedic sacrifices and remover of the kaliyuga. Since the Smritis prescribed such activities, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the references to the preservation of varnashrama system by the kings eulogized in inscriptions are, to the greater extent, the reflection of the smriti traditions. Thus, inscriptions have proved a source of the highest value for the reconstruction of the political history of ancient India. The series of Indian inscriptions open with the memorable edicts of the great Mauryan emperor Asoka, engraved on rocks and pillars throughout his vast empire. The records of Asoka form a class by themselves and contribute largely to our knowledge of the history of the period and the spirit that animated one of the greatest men that ever sat on a royal throne. The inscriptions of the post-Asokan period may be broadly divided into two classes, official and private. The official records are in most cases either Prashasti, i.e., eulogies of kinds written by their court-poets, or land-grants. The most famous example of the former is furnished by the long record of Samudragupta engraved on an Asokan pillar, now in the Allahabad fort. It describes in great detail the personal qualities and the military achievements of the great Gupta emperor and forms the chief document of his memorable region. Among other prashastis, supplying valuable historical information, mention can be made of king Vijayasena of the Sena dynasty of Bengal engraved on a slab of stone found at Deopara. Its nominal object is to record the building of a temple by Vijayasena, but it is almost wholly devoted to a panegyric of the great king, recording his victories and achievements in the most high-flown language. The Aihole inscription of Pulakesin II, the Chalukya king, belongs to exactly the same type.

Ancient Inscriptions temple

on

1.28

Chapter 1

By far the largest number of official documents are charters conveying the sale or gift of lands. These are mostly engraved on copper plates (tamrapatra), though in very rare instances they are also found on stone pillars and in temples. These charters define the boundaries of the lands and specify the object and conditions of the grant, often enumerating other interesting details such as the price of land, the mode of its measurement, exhortations to future kings not to confiscate the grants and quotations from the scriptures threatening severe punishment after death for those who violate the grants in any way. In case where the inscriptions are engraved on rocks or objects not easily ­portable, their find-spots become of great importance as indicating the territorial jurisdiction of the king. Sometimes the records of vassal chiefs and finds of coins corroborate the claims of territorial conquests. By these and other means, it is almost always possible to make legitimate inferences from these documents about the achievements of the kings. Despite providing dateable information about political history, the epigraphic sources reflect the growth and development of art and culture to a far greater extent. They provide glimpses into sects and cults such as ajivika sect and yaksha, and naga cults that were once important and did not leave any literary text of their own. Inscriptions shed sufficient light on the history of iconography, art and architecture by helping us identifying and dating sculptures and monuments. They refer to the performing arts as reflected in the seventh century Kudumiyamalai inscription, giving detail about the musical notes used in seven classical ragas. Inscriptions from south India, especially from Tamil Nadu talk about the performance of various kinds of dances; the Nataraja temple at Chidambaram has label inscriptions portraying the dance poses of 108 sculpted figures carved on its pillars. The entire study of art, architecture and sculptures of Mauryan period (monolithic pillars and their capitals, barabar and other caves, sculptures of yakshas and yakshanis), Gandhara, Mathura and Amaravati schools of art in post-Mauryan period and temple architecture of Gupta and post-Gupta period, Pallava-Chalukya art and architecture and the three major styles of temple architecture (nagara, besara and dravida) could not have been possible without epigraphic sources. We come to know about the undeciphered script of Harappans and the deciphered scripts such as brahmi, kharoshthi in Prakrit and Pali languages, Greek and Aramaic scripts through inscriptions only. Hence, they reflect the history of language and literature.

Numismatics​ Numismatics is the study of coins. To a great extent, the political, and economic history of a country is constructed by numismatics and historical facts are very often corroborated or rejected on the basis of numismatic findings. Many facts connected with administration, historical geography and religious history of ancient India are revealed to us by numismatics. A study of Indian coins enlightens us to a great deal regarding the history of ancient India. Coins are of various metals such as gold, silver and copper. The coins help us to build up the history in many ways. The coins contain the names of the kings who ruled at various times in different parts of the country. In many cases, the coins are the only source of information about the existence of certain kings. Without those coins, the very existence of those kings would have remained unknown. Many a time the information from the coins can be used to corroborate the information provided by other sources. The existence of a large number of coins issued during

Understanding Ancient Indian Sources

the different years of the reign of a king helps us to a​ scertain exact dates of accession, extent of the kingdom and death of the kings such as Samudragupta. The earliest coins of India have only figures or symbols and no legends. Sometimes, the coins were cast in dies but very often symbols were punched on metal pieces. The symbols varied from time to time and were punched with a view to guarantee their genuineness and value. On account of the absence of legends on them, much information could not be discerned. After the Greek invasion of India, the practice of writing the names of the kings on the coins was started. A large number of coins were issued by the Indo-Bactrian rulers who had under their control over Punjab and the North-Western frontier. These coins possess a high degree of coinage. The thing borrowed in the Indian coinage was the name and the portrait of the ruler. The Greek coins refer to about 30 Greek kings and queens who ruled in India. The classical writers refer to only four rulers would have remained absolutely unknown. The coins of the Scythians and partisans are of inferior quality but they also give us a lot of historical information. Their coins have enabled us to have an outline of the history of their rulers and without them even the outlines would have been missing. A branch of the Scythi-

Coinage in Ancient India • Though Rigveda and later Vedic texts talked about niskha (gold) and hiranya-pinda (gold object) which may have been metal pieces, the earliest authoritative literary and archaeological evidence of coinage dates back to 6th to 5th centuries bce when urbanization and state formations took place. • The basic unit of Indian coin weight system was gunja berry known as rattika or ratti. • The oldest coins are punched-marked coins, made mostly of silver and some of copper. They weighed 32 rattis or 56 grains (1 grain = 64.79 mg). • Punch-marked coins were generally issued by states. These coins do not have anything written on them. Only symbols of geometric designs, plants, animals, the sun, wheels, mountain, tree branches and human figures were found. • Next in the line was uninscribed cast coins made of copper or alloys of copper found at Ayodhya and Kaushambi (3rd to 2nd bce). • Next stage in the coinage is marked by the die-struck Indo-Greek coins of 2nd to 1st bce. These are round silver coins though some of them are in copper, nickel and lead. They bear the name and portrait of the rulers who issued them. Examples are coins of Menander and Strato I. The reverse of the coins had religious symbols. • The Indo-Greeks issued bilingual (Greek and Prakrit) and bi-script (Kharoshthi-Aramaic) coins. • The Kushans were the first to mint gold coins (1st to 4th centuries). They also issued copper coins of low denominations. On the front these coins bore the name and titles of the rulers and in the reverse, the deities of Brahmanical, Buddhists, Greek and Roman pantheon figured. • In the Deccan, the pre-satavahana coinage was followed by the copper and silver coins of Satavahana kings. They issued lead and potin coins as well. Most of them were die-struck, though some of them were cast coins. The legends were in Prakrit language and Brahmi script. • The Gupta kings issued well-executed and die-struck gold coins with legends in Sanskrit known as dinars (mostly found in north India). The coins of Samudragupta and Kumaragupta I depicted lute or veena on them. The reverse of Gupta coins have religious symbols (Bhagamtas). There was a decline in the metallic value of gold coins in later phase of Gupta rule. The Gupta also issued silver coins, but copper coins were rare.

1.29

1.30

Chapter 1

ans settled in Gujarat and Kathiawar and they issued coins in which the names of the ruling king and their fathers were mentioned in the Saka era. These coins have helped us to reconstruct the history of the western Satraps for more than three centuries. The Kushanas also issued a large number of coins. The coins have also been the principal source of our information regarding the various Indian states— both monarchical and republican—that flourished during the same period. Most of them, like the Malavas, Yaudheyas and the Mitra rulers of Panchala are known only from the coins. The coins of the Satavahana supplement, correct and corroborate the accounts of the Puranas. The Guptas, who founded the greatest empire in India after the Mauryas issued a large variety of fine coins. Although we know a great deal of their history from epigraphic records, the coins form an important additional source of information. The coins of Samudragupta are particularly remarkable. The Indian coins after the Gupta period do not give us much historical information.

Monuments The ancient monuments like buildings, statues of stones or metals, ornamental and decorative fragments, pottery, etc., give us a lot of useful and reliable information. The excavation of the sites of the old towns like Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro and Taxila has given us a lot of information hitherto unknown and changed our conception of the history of ancient India. It is after the discovery of the Indus valley civilization that we began to talk of a civilization in India prior to that of the Aryans. The excavations at Taxila throw welcome light on the Kushanas. A study of the sculptures found from there highlights the importance of Gabdhara School of Art. The digging of the old sites of Pataliputra gives us some information regarding the old capital of the Mauryas. The Angkor Vat temple complex in Cambodia and Borobudur in Java bear testimony to the commercial and cultural activities of the Guptas. The excavations at Sarnath have added to our knowledge about Buddhism and Asoka. The excavations in Chinese Turkistan and Baluchistan by Aurel Stein prove the intimate contacts of India with those territories. The progress of archaeological work in India in the future is bound to enrich our knowledge of ancient Indian history.

Mohenjo-Daro

Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach

1.31

1. How did the early Indian historical tradition, as reflected in Itihasa-Purana, emerge? What are the distinctive features of this genre? [2018]

The Right Approach

Meaning of historical tradition Those aspects of past recorded orally or in texts which are consciously transmitted from generation to generation carrying the sanction of antiquity and a believed historicity Understanding Itihasa-Purana

ITIHAS

PURANA Description of past as it was preserved in Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit literature Twin epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata) are parts of it

Description of past as it was preserved in Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit literature Important from social, political, geographical, historical, religious and cultural angles.

How Itihasa-Purana reflects the early Indian historical tradition Itihasa-Purana Referring to the past events Sources are: the twin epics, Puranas, Brahmanas, Smriti texts and Upanishadas Distinctive features of this genre Reflection of history, geography, polity, concept of time, culture and religion History + Polity • Carried geneological records of dynasties (examples) and acted as a means of legitimising dynasties and geneologies (vamsavalis) Notion of time + geography • Division of 4 Yugas • Universe → Earth→ Jambudvipa (India) Religious + Secular Thoughts Conclusion: Itihasa-Purana is described as Fifth-Veda, i.e., given are status of a separate branch of knowledge [For more detail, refer to pg.1.11–1.13 and 1.20–1.21]

1.32

Chapter 1

2. Art and culture are reflected to a far greater extent than political history in the epigraphic sources Comment.  [2017]

The Right Approach

 eneral understanding of the epigraphic sources: G • Mention that they throw significant light on political exploits and deeds of kings and others as they are issued by them only.

• Then write about Inscriptions which have more intrinsic values with regard to art and culture of the times. Artistic importance of the epigraphic sources: • Epigraphy as a chronological guide to the study of visual arts - examples: Mathura sculptures places of post-Mauryan period and of 5th century ce, Karle cave temple of the Satvahana period, Gandhara arts, cave inscriptions of Ajanta, Ellora and Bagh (of the Vakatakas and Guptas) apart from the Indus seals and Ashokan Stone and pillar inscriptions that describe how artistically animals and flora and fauna are engraved on them. • Various titles such as ru-pa-kara, Shilpin, Sutradha-ra, chitraka-ra are mentioned on these inscriptions. Some technical and iconographic information can be derived from these inscriptions. • Design and methods of temple construction, such as panchayatan style, Dravida, Na-gara and Besara styles are mentioned in inscriptions. • South Indian inscriptions describe the prevalence of performing arts, such as music and dance. Cultural significance of epigraphic sources • Inscriptions constitute the principal historical sources–Indus seals, Punch-marked coins and other coins, stone and pillar inscriptions providing various historical details of various dynasties. • They provide details of administrative, economic and social history. • They help in understanding various aspects of Indian literature–Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, Tamil, etc. • Helps in understanding different cults and sects and prevalence of various religious beliefs in general: Vedic, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Sakta, Buddhist and Jain religious traditions. [Refer to page no.1.26–1.27 and other relevant pages.]

3. How does the numismatic evidence of the period reflect the political and economic outlook of the Kushanas and the Satavahanas? [2016]

The Right Approach

• M  eaning and significance of numismatic evidences. • A little bit reference to coinage in ancient India. • Write, how does the numismatic evidence of the period reflect the political and economic outlook of the Kushanas and Satavahanas. • Kushanas issued large number of coins. •  The coins of the Satavahna supplement, correct and corrobrate the accounts of the Puranas. [For more details, refer to section: Numismatics, pg. 1.29.]

Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach

1.33

4. 'The copious references to the preservation of Varnashrama system by the kings eulogized in inscription are mere reflection of the Smriti tradition.’ Discuss. [2016]

The Right Approach

• Begin answer by refering to the meaning of Smriti tradition. • Then mention how Varnashrama system eulogized in inscription are mere reflection of Smriti tradition. [For more details, refer section: Epigraphy, pg. 1.23].

5. How far can the ancient Indian Sruti literature be used as historical sources? 

[2015]

The Right Approach



• S  ignificance of Indian Sruti lieratue. • What comprises of Sruti literature. • Mention Sruti literature comprises religious literature, references to historicity and historical events in them can be discerned. Book VII of Rig Veda refers to a battle of ten kings over the question of the distribution of water of river Ravi (parushni). [For more details, refer to section: Shruti literature, pg. 1.6]

6. (a) 'While using the accounts of foreign writers, historians must distinguish between statements based on hearsay and those grounded in perceptive observations.' Elaborate with examples.  [2014]

The Right Approach

• B  egin writing answer, mentioning the difference between hearsay observation and perceptive obserations. • Mention the name of the scholars as Ctesias, Onesicritus, Starb etc. [For more details, refer to section: Foreign Account, pg. 1.21]

6. (b) 'The Upanishadic principles embody the epitome of the Vedic thought.' Discuss.

The Right Approach

[2014]

• Focus should be on Upanishadic principles. • How they embody the epitome of Vedic thought? • Upanishads are philosophical texts dealing wih topics like the universal soul, the absolute, the individual self, the origin of the would, the mysteries of nature and so on. • They mark the culmination of Indian thought in the Vedic period. [For more details, refer to section: Upanishads, pg. 1.9]

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2

Chapter

Prehistoric Cultures in India

2.2

Chapter 2

Prehistoric culture refers to human evolution and development that occurred before the discovery of writing. This period is sometimes called the Stone Age because the most common edged tools humans had were made of stone. It is believed that prehistoric people had lived on earth for millions of years before writing was invented, that is, more than 5000 years ago. Recent finds of prehistoric fossils have led some scientists to believe that the first hominids or human-like creatures may have appeared in Africa seven million years ago. They think that a large range of different hominid species developed over the next millions of years. Some scientists think that the first species of Homo, the genus to which humans belong, emerged about 2.5 million years ago and that their successors eventually began making stone tools, mastering the use of fire, living in cave entrances and simple shelters. Scientists hold that modern humans first appeared in Africa, eventually leaving that continent to spread across the whole world. Some of our hunter–gatherer ancestors eventually took up farming, and their early settlements gradually grew into cities and formed the basis for the first civilizations on earth. After people found time to devote to art, religion and trade, the invention of writing finally marked the end of the prehistoric period.

Objectives After reading this chapter, you will be able to: • Learn about the three major prehistoric cultural stages of India: Palaeolithic Age, Mesolithic Age and Neolithic Age • Explain how the geological formation took place in India • Know about evolution of humans and when did they begin to live in India • Get to know about chalcolithic farming cultures in India • Understand the transition of chalcolithic age from pre to protohistoric period

Prehistoric India The Indian pre-history has broadly been divided into three cultural stages which are described as follows: 1. Palaeolithic Age or the Old Stone Age: (From 2.5 million years ago to 10,000 bce), when first stone tools were made, and people lived in hunting and food-gathering era . 2. Mesolithic Age or the Middle Stone Age: (10,000 bce–4000 bce), when microlith (small-sized) tools were made and used. It was the transitional period between the Palaeolithic and the Neolithic ages. Along with the continuation of hunting and food gathering, this period witnessed the first evidence of domestication of animals and origin of agriculture. 3. Neolithic Age or the New Stone Age: (7000 bce–1000 bce) when people began to lead a settled and sedentary life by producing food with the help of sophisticated and polished stone tools. The major source of understanding prehistory is archaeology, but historians also rely on data provided by a wide variety of natural and social sciences, such as biology, palaeontology (study of fossils), geology, anthropology linguistics, genetics and many others.

Prehistoric Cultures in India

CONTINENTAL DRIFT BEFORE

AFTER

The World 230 Million Years Ago

Earth

and

Geological Formation

of I ndia

The prehistory of India requires an understanding of geological formation of India. The formation of the earth itself is dated to a time 4600 million years ago. The oldest rocks on the earth surface, thus belonged to Archean Age in ‘Geologic Time’ (see Table). What is now India, is supposed to have belonged to supercontinent designated ‘Gondwanaland’ situated in the Southern Hemisphere. Gondwanaland (named after Gondwana rocks in the central India) is thought to have comprised India, Australia, Antarctica, Africa and South America. The fact that India once belonged to this supercontinent has been supported by the discovery of fossils (traces of bodies of living things found in rocks) of similar species in all these areas in earlier geological times. This similarity between the said regions tends to cease after the end of Jurassic period (144 million years ago) when various parts of this supercontinent are supposed to have started to pull apart. The portion, later to form India, moved north to join the Eurasian continent (modern landmass of Europe and Asia) during Eocene epoch (58–37 million years ago). This process of scattering of such a large landmass is now attributed partly to the expansion of the ocean-floor. Studies of undersea ridges have suggested that the sea-floor has been constantly pushing against land. This process is also linked to the formation of tectonic plates. The present understanding is that India, Australia and Indian Ocean constitute a plate, known as Indian Plate, which presses

2.3

Chapter 2

E U R A S I A E u r a s i a n p l a t e P CHINA ala e o Coastli Pala ne 3.7 eo 5.4 S S E IRAN Y A Co ast Ho line T Coastline E T INDIAN Arabian PENINSULA e o a stlin Plate Pa lae

2.4

C

2.0

I n A f r i c a n I N D I A N P l a t e

d

i a n

O C E A N

P

l a

t e

2.5

Divergent plate motion in cms

Palaeo Coastline

Convergent plate motion in cms

Preseent Coastline

India, 65 Million Years

ago , with

Boundaries

of

Tectonic Plates

against the African plate on the north. These plates rest on hypothetical lower soft layer called the ‘Asthenosphere’ on which each plate would slide. As a result of this process of alterations, scientists believe that by the end of Palaeozoic times (248 million years ago), the shape of the Deccan or peninsular India was almost similar to what it is now. Its base is mainly built of rocks formed in Archean times, which makes the Indian peninsula one of the oldest and geologically most stable blocks on earth. Stuck vertically to its northern edge, the Aravallis is thought to be one of the oldest, still surviving, mountain ranges of the world. The earlier Deccan rocks do not contain any fossils, but the Gondwana rocks, belonging to the Carboniferous times have fossils of land organisms. This suggests that by about 300 million years ago, the Deccan was already a mass of land uncovered by sea. Before the end of the Lower Cretaceous period, (about 98 million years ago), the Gondwana rocks have fossils of dinosaurs.

Formation of the Himalayas The rocks of Himalayan and Salt Ranges, on the basis of fossils of marine life found there, suggest that they developed out of sea sediments in Cambrian period (570 million years ago). So the region of Himalayas that we see today was once a sea. It could have been a part of what the geologists call the Tethys Sea,

Prehistoric Cultures in India

2.5

which is supposed to have extended from the Mediterranean to China. Marine fossils in the Himalayas are found until the Mesozoic Age (65 million years ago), and western Rajasthan and Kutch have yielded marine fossils of Jurassic times (between 213 and 144 million years ago) so that these two must have been covered by the sea.

Western India and Deccan In the north-western parts of the Deccan and Gujarat, there occurred massive volcanic activity in Cretaceous period (144–65 million years ago). As a result of lava-flows and ash beds, the ‘Deccan Trap’ was formed, covering an area of more than 1.5 million square kilometres. From the beginning of the Tertiary period (65 million years ago), and especially in the Eocene epoch, the Himalayas began to rise, a momentous lift that continued into Miocene epoch (25–5 million years ago). It was during Miocene epoch that the earliest apes appeared on the scene. It is believed that the Himalayas and their related mountain chains arose out of the severe folding caused by the pressures of the Indian Plate against Eurasian Plate.

Alluvial basins of Indus and Ganga–Brahmaputra From the Himalayas, large amount of broken rocks and alluvium were brought down by glaciers and rivers to form the Siwalik Hills along the foot of the Himalayas, a process of secondary hill formation which continued down to perhaps one-million-year ago. At the same time, the alluvium was continuously deposited through Himalayan drainage below the Siwaliks so that by the Pleistocene epoch (1.8 million–10,000 years ago) the Tethys Sea (varying in depth from 2000 to 6000 m) was filled up and the great alluvial basins of the Indus and the Ganga–Brahmaputra rivers were formed.

Other Parts of India When the earliest humans appeared in the Salt Range and Siwaliks just before the beginning of Pleistocene epoch (2 million years ago), some processes, such as Himalayan uplifts and rock accumulations in Siwaliks continued. Since repeated phases of glaciations (Ice Ages) were special features of nearly two million years of Pleistocene, Indian physical shape also witnessed certain changes in the form of a great fall in the sea level. It meant that both the Gulf of Kutch and the Gulf of Cambay became stretches of dry land. Sri Lanka was joined to South India by a broad belt of land around ­Adam’s Bridge; and north, middle and south Andaman Islands formed a single island. Such land bridges allowed animals, including early humans to reach areas which are now islands. However, in the numerous interglacial phases, when warmth returned, the sea rose again to reclaim all of the lost land, just as it did after the beginning of the present epoch, i.e., Holocene (10,000 years ago). Only at great river deltas would the coastlines have advanced less farther inland in each later interglacial. During some of the warm interglacial phases, for example, within present Holocene epoch, the sea level possibly rose some 5000 years ago to a level 3 m above the present one. In such situations, the Rann of ­Kutch could well have become a seasonal, shallow inlet of sea.

The geological epoch we are today living in is known as Holocene (10,000 years ago). Much change in the coastline has occurred in this period in terms of the rise in the sea level because of melting of ice.

2.6

Chapter 2

Geological Timetable Eon

Period/system (epoch/series)

Era

Beginning of age (million years ago)

Archean Proterozoic

Pre-Cambrian

Phanerozoic

Palaeozoic

Mesozoic

Cenozoic

4,000

Earliest algae, and bacteria

2,500

Colonial algae; softbodied invertebrates

Cambrian Ordovician Silurian Devonian Carnpmoferpous   Lower   Upper Permian

570 505 438 408

Fish Corals Land plants and insects Ferns, mosses; amphibians

360 320 286

Winged insects Reptiles

Triassic Jurassic Cretaceous   Lower

248 213

Dinosaurs Birds, mammals

144

  Upper

98

Flowering plants, Dinosaurs ascendant Last age of dinosaurs

Tertiary   Paleocene   Eocene   Oligocene   Miocene   Pliocene Quarternary   Pleistocene

65 55 38 25 5 1.8

  Holocene

Evolution

Charles Darwin

Organic life

of

0.01

Dinosaurs extinct large mammals Grasses Apes Hominids Human species; cattle, elephant, horse –

Humans

The theory that living things evolved with time, giving rise to new species, was first proposed in the 1790s by English scientist Erasmus Darwin (­ 1731–1802). But there was no convincing explanation as to exactly how a species might evolve. Then, in 1859, Erasmus’s grandson Charles Darwin (1809–1882) published The Origin of Species, in which he explained that evolution was driven by a process, he called, ‘natural selection.’ Darwin’s theory led to the conclusion that humans and apes had evolved from a common ancestor. Hominization is the evolutionary process that results in the present human being. It was a very long process. The first ancestors of the human beings appeared about five million years ago. We call them Australopithecus (more details provided later on in the chapter). They were quite similar to chimpanzees. Two million years ago, a new human species called Homo habilis appeared. They made tools of stone and lived on hunting and gathering. Homo habilis and Australopithecus lived in Africa. Homo erectus appeared a million and a half years ago. They were similar to Homo habilis, but they made more perfect tools. They had a greater technological development. This species discovered and learned how to use fire. Remains of Home erectus have been found out of Africa,

Prehistoric Cultures in India

Stages

of

Human Evolution

in Europe and Asia. Then, about 1,00,000 years ago, Homo sapiens appeared. This species is divided into two subtypes: Homo sapiens neanderthalensis or Neanderthal man and Homo sapiens sapiens. Neanderthal man looked like us but he was more robust and sturdy. This species became extinct. Homo sapiens sapiens is the species we belong to. Archaeologists have found remains of Homo sapiens in America and Australia. The continent where human beings first appeared is Africa. Homo erectus were the first human beings to leave Africa. Their remains have been found in Asia, Europe and Africa. In America and Australia, there are no remains of Homo erectus. The only vestiges that archaeologists have found there belong to Homo sapiens. There are several characteristics that make human beings different from other similar species—they invent tools (thanks to the evolution of their intellect); they can walk on two legs (biped walk) so they can work with their hands; they have an opposable thumb, which, for example, allows them to make tools or write; and, finally, the fact that learning is possible because human beings develop a symbolic language and have a long childhood.

When did humans begin to live in India? The answer is suggested by a large number of stone tools found in different parts of India, right from Jammu and Kashmir to Tamil Nadu. The antiquity of the tools and their makers goes back more than two million years ago, to what is known as the Pleistocene period. The discovery was made in India, about a hundred years ago, in Shivalik Hills, of a fossil ape termed Ramapithecus (female), and later Sivapithecus (male) found among other Miocene sediments. The species is related to ape orangutan, found wild in Indonesia. It thus belonged to a branch that had taken off from the main line of hominid evolution, and we cannot count it among our ancestors. Our ancestral line, it now seems certain, actually evolved within ­Africa, where the two African great apes, the chimpanzee and the gorilla, evolved from species branching off from it. Kenyapithecus (found in Kenya, 14 million years ago), though being first in line of pre-hominid, the crucial discovery, made in East Africa, which supplied the link (i.e., the intermediate species through which the Anatomically Modern Man—Homo sapiens sapiens evolved), was that of a group of species called Australopithecines (3.8 million years). These, being bipeds (walking erect on two legs), were true hominids.

2.7

Kind

in India at

Jasper + Chert

Chalcedony Crystals, Carnelian + agate

All kinds of stones

Upper Palaeotithic 40,000– 10,000 bce

10,000– 4000 bce

7000–1000

bce

Jasper + Chert

Middle Palaeolithic 100,000– 40,000 bce

Advanced ­technology tools are well shaped, sharp and polished

Fluting

Technique of making parallel sided blades



Flint

relatively advanced technique



Levallois

Oldowan + Acheulean

All types of tools: Celts, polished hand axe, etc.

Microlith Tools and geometrical designs like, Lunet, Trapize, etc. Bifacial points. harpoons shaped but not polished.

Blade Tools: Parallel-sided blades + burnis

Flakes: Scraper, Knife, points, ­borers, burins not well shaped

Core Tools: (Pebbles) Hand axe, cleaver, chopper– chopping tools Not well shaped

Features

Tool features Technology

A Glance

Early Quartzite Palaeolithic 500,000– 100,000 bce

Age

Stone Age

Palaeolithic

Mesolithic

Neolithic

Pakistan: Soan valley (Chauntara, Adial, Balwal) (Potwar plateau) Pabbi Hills Kashmir: Pahlgam, Didwana in Rajasthan, ­Nevasa in Maharashtra, Hathnora in Narmada valley, Belan valley, Mirzapur, U.P. Bhimbetka in MP, Husangi in Karnataka, Attiraupakkam, ­Badmadurai, Pallavaram in Tamil Nadu

Sites

Homo sapiens sapiens

Homo sapiens sapiens

Homo sapiens sapiens

Pakistan: Mehrgarh, Kili Gul, Muhammad, Rana Ghundai, Loralai valley, Anjira Jammu and Kashmir : Bunzhom, Gufkral, Kenishkapura Central India: Vindhyan and Kaimur hill, ­Koldihwa and Mahagara in Allahabad district, Sinduria in Mirzapur, Kunjun in Sidhi (MP) Mid Gangetic Basin: Narhan (on Saryu river), Indish Sohaguara (on Rapti), Chirand (on Ganga), Teradih, Senuwar Eastern India: West Bengal: Pandu Rajar Dhibi, Birbhum Mahisdal Orissa: Kuchai hills, Keonjhar, Mayurbhai Golbaisasan, Jharkhand: Barudih North Eastern: Assam = Deojali hading in kachhar distt., Sarataru Manipur = Napchick Meghalaya = Pynthrolangtein.

Rajasthan: Baghor, MP : Bhimbetka and Adamgarh, UP: Belan valley: Sarai Nahar Rai, Maharshtra: Chopani Mando. Orissa: Mayunthanj, Keonhar, Kuchai Gujarat: Langhnaj

Southern UP, Southern Bihar MP: Bhimbetka Andhra Pradesh: Kurnool Distt.

Homo erectus + Valley of Narmada, Tungabhadra and Godavari Homo sapiens (Nevasa + Sonegaon in Maharashtra), Orsang Archaic + Nean- Valley in Odisha derthal

Homo habilis + Homo erectus

Species

2.8 Chapter 2

Prehistoric Cultures in India

The late-Australopithecus comes anatomically very close to what is probably the first true human species, namely Homo habilis (found in East and South Africa between 2.6 and 1.7 million years ago). Homo habilis has a cranial capacity of 700 cc and so, presumably, greater intelligence than any preceding hominid. He could make stone tools by striking one stone against another and so breaking flakes off pebbles to obtain cutting edges in the cores. These tools, first associated with the site of Olduvai in Kenya, are therefore termed ‘Oldowan’. Homo habilis has given some evidence of ­collective life as because of increased intelligence, he could now use a series of sounds to stand for what would today call ‘words’. Homo erectus or Homo ergaster happened to be the younger contemporary of Homo habilis (1.8–2 million years ago). Homo erectus was relatively more robust and had a very heavy skull, though the cranial capacity increased to about 1000 cc. His was the first species that knew how to use and control fire. Homo erectus used the same tools as Homo habilis, but introduced greater sophistication by shaping not only the cores but also the flakes taken off the stone cores into tools, thus giving rise to a ‘flaked pebble tool’ industry. Finally came the ‘hand axe’ in which the stone had two sloping sides (bi-facial). The technique of making such hand axes is called ‘Acheulean’ as it is named after St. Acheul cave in France from where such tools were found. In India, earliest human presence is indicated by stone tools obtained from the deposits ascribable to the second glaciations, which could be dated around 2,50,000 bce. Recent reported artefacts from Bori in Maharashtra may take the appearance of man in India as early as 1.4 million years ago, though further research is needed in this direction. The early man used tools of stone roughly dressed by crude chipping, which have been discovered throughout the country except the alluvial plains of Indus, Ganga and Yamuna rivers. Soan valley of the Potwar plateau in western Punjab, now in Pakistan bears traces of earliest tools used ever either by Homo habilis or by early Homo erectus in the Indian subcontinent. It is from this point of time that we start studying this period as Palaeolithic Age in India. Therefore, it would be interesting to study the activities of early humans in India, with regard to the continuing process of human evolution up to their evolution as Anatomically Modern Man (Homo sapiens sapiens), their spread, types of stones they used and so on.

Palaeolithic Age in India Palaeolithic Culture of India developed in the Pleistocene period of the Ice age. Palaeolithic age in India is divided into the following three phases ­according to the nature of stone stools used by the people and also according to the nature of change in the climate. Lower Palaeolithic or the early Stone Age (between 5,00,000 bce and 1,00,000 bce)  Middle Palaeolithic age (between 1,00,000 bce and 40,000 bce)  Upper Palaeolithic or phase (between 40,000 bce and 10,000 bce)



Lower Palaeolithic or the Early Stone Age The main characteristic feature of this period is the use of hand axe and ­chopper-chopping tools. In Pakistan, the main flaked pebble, also called ‘chopper chopping’ tools in the Pabbi Hills, near Soan valley, belong to lower Palaeolithic age. Similar such tools are reported from Pahalgam in Kashmir.

2.9

2.10

Chapter 2

Many sites in South India including Hunasagi valley in Karnataka, and ­Attirampakkam, near Chennai, have turned up ‘Early Acheulean tools’ (of the ­so-called ‘Madras Industry’), that is hand axes, etc., made mainly from the cores. Apart from Didwana in Rajasthan and Nevasa in Ahmednagar district of ­Maharashtra, smaller tools out of flakes or the late ‘Acheulean tools’ have been found in the Narmada valley, where they appear in ­association with the ‘Narmada skull’ (Homo erectus) discovered at Hathnoora. At famous cave of Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh), such tools are found. Sites are found through India except the northern alluvial corridor and Kerala, but the most prominent is the valley of the river Soan in Punjab, now in Pakistan and is sometimes termed as Sohan Industry. Several sites have Lower Palaeolithic Tools from Attirampakkam also been found in the Belan Valley in Mirzapur district in Uttar Pradesh. They are also found in the valley of the Narmada and in the caves and rock shelters of Bhimbetka near Bhopal. They roughly belong to 1,00,000 bce. Robert Bruce Foote discovered the prehistoric hand axe in 1963 at Attirampakkam near Chennai. Other sites near Chennai are Badmadurai and Pallavaram.

Middle Palaeolithic Age This period refers to Stone age culture of the last phase of Pleistocene. As Homo erectus evolved, he also improved his tools, giving them new shapes and adjusting the techniques to locally available materials. These ultimately led to the rise of regional ‘cultures’. The term ‘culture’ is used when archaeologists find, at a layer in one or more sites, a similar assemblage of tools and other products of human labour, which they call ‘artefacts’ as well as indications of similar customs and beliefs, such as system of disposal of the dead and ritual symbols. Regarding late Homo erectus\Neanderthals, there is little known of custom or belief, the form of his stone tools alone supply us with clues to his varied cultures. As the millenia passed, the tendency was for the production of smaller and thinner tools. This led to the making of flake blade and it marked the beginning of the Middle Palaeolithic stage in India. The sites from where these tools are found included regions of ‘Nevasa culture’ that extended over central India and Southern peninsula. The principal tools are varieties of blades, points, borers and scrapers made of flakes. The most important sites have been found in Maharashtra, especially from Godavari valley such as Nevasa and Suregaon. The principal tools are varieties of blades, points, borers and blade-like tools.

Upper Palaeolithic Phase In all likelihood, the Anatomically Modern Man or Homo sapiens sapiens appeared in the Upper Palaeolithic stage. This species is marked, in comparison with the other hominid species, by a large forehead, the elimination of the heavy ridge above the eyes, a vertical line of the face and a chin. His bones tend to be thinner (‘gracile’ rather than ‘robust’) and had the highest cranial capacity of brain (1250–1450 cc).

Prehistoric Cultures in India

Upper Palaeolithic Tools

The tools of this period are found in the sites of Renigunta in Chittoor d ­ istrict, Andhra Pradesh, Shorapur Doab in Karnataka, Budha Pushkar, in ­Rajasthan, Belan valley in Uttar Pradesh, etc. During this period, there was evidence of ­religious belief and symbolic representation of a deity at Bagor in ­Rajasthan. ­Besides these, the tools are also found in central  Madhya  Pradesh, Maharashtra, s­ outhern ­Uttar Pradesh, south Bihar plateau and the adjoining areas. Caves and rock shelters for use by human beings in this phase have been discovered at ­Bhimbetka, 45 km to the south of Bhopal. It appears that Palaeolithic sites are found in many hill slopes and river ­valleys of the country while they are absent in the alluvial plains of the Indus and the Ganga.

Mesolithic Age A reflection of the immense potential thus obtained in the preceding periods is to be seen in the increase in the pace of change that was taking place in the s­ ucceeding period. This transitional period, marked by microliths, is designated Mesolithic or the Middle Stone Age. The Palaeolithic Age came to an end with the end  of the Ice age around 9000 bce. In 9000 bce, began an intermediate stage in Stone Age culture, called ­Mesolithic age. Mesolithic people lived on hunting, fishing and food gathering, while at a later stage they also domesticated animals. The first three occupations continued the Palaeolithic practice, while the last one was inter-related with the Neolithic culture.

2.11

2.12

Chapter 2

Palaeolithic Sites

The characteristic tools of Mesolithic Age are microliths, ranging from 1 to 8 cm. The sites are found in good numbers in Rajasthan, southern UP, central and eastern India and also south of the river Krishna. The important sites are: • Bagor in Rajasthan is the type site of microlith excavations and had a distinctive microlith industry. The main raw materials to make such tools were quartz and cherts. The tools followed geometric pattern that was geared to a hunting economy. Prehistoric Stone Tools

Prehistoric Cultures in India

Cave Painting: Animals

being

Hunted

by

Men

with

Bow

and

Arrows

• Adamgarh and Bhimbetka (MP) are two of the earliest known sites. Bhimbetka has more than 500 painted rock shelters which are distributed in the area of 10 km. • Langhnaj in Gujarat furnishes the evidence of use of rhinoceros bones for making blades. • Sarai Nahar Rai and Mahadaha in UP. • Other sites are Teri in Tamil Nadu, Birbhanpur in West Bengal, etc. The earliest evidence of cultivation of plants dates back to 7000 bce–6000 bce in Rajasthan from a study of the deposits from Sambhar salt lake. Sites like Sarai Nahar Rai and Mahadaha have turned up burials with skeletons of tall, large-boned, rather robust people. The tool types had by now multiplied, but were still based on ­parallel-sided blades. Arrowheads of bone and flint, show that the bow and ­arrow had been added to the hunter’s equipment. The animals hunted and eaten ­include zebu or Indian humped oxen, buffalo, sheep, goat, stag (deer), pig, rhinoceros, e­ lephant, tortoise, turtle and different birds. There is no firm evidence that cattle or sheep or goats had been domesticated. With regard to the customs and practices, ornaments of bones (pendants and necklaces) have been found at Mahadaha, apparently worn only by men and not women. The burials indicate the existence of religion and s­uperstitions. Bone

2.13

2.14

Chapter 2

­ rnaments and bones of slaughtered animals were buried with the dead, showing o a belief in after life. Women were buried in the same manner as men; and, though there are double burials, there is nothing to show that one of the two was killed to accompany the other in after life. A bone figurine has been recovered from the Belan valley and engraved ostrich shell from Patne in Maharashtra and Rojde in MP; these were probably not made only for aesthetic purposes but had some cultic significance or superstition behind them as well. Adamgarh in the Narmada valley represents a further advance in Mesolithic culture, with bones of domesticated animals such as dogs, zebu cattle, buffalo, sheep and pig appearing in equal number with wild animals like species of deer, porcupine and lizard. Clearly, this was a hunting community that had turned partly pastoral. Hand-made pottery was also found from Chopanimando in UP. The people lived in rock shelters and were perhaps the first authors of cave paintings in India. The earliest paintings in Bhimbetka rock shelters near Bhopal could go back to 6000 bce, they show animals being hunted by men with bow and arrow. In paintings, human figures appear in stick-like forms. There is a striking painting of a woman carrying a load. No inflation of particular human figures such as might reflect a measure of distinction of rank or class within society, is discernible. Nor is there any suggestion of agricultural or even pastoral activity in these paintings. The drawing of a peahen represents genuine artistic skill.

Bhimbetka Cave

Prehistoric Cultures in India

Neolithic Age The term ‘Neolithic’ was coined by John Lubbock in his book, Prehistoric Times, in 1865. The Neolithic age is the final phase of the Stone Age and it also marks the beginning of food production. The fundamental and much-debated question is— What led scattered human settlements which had no contact to move to adopt agriculture almost concurrently? While we may not have conclusive answers to this question the following three triggers are considered responsible for this shift:

The climactic change during the initial Holocene period The increasing population density, and  The evolution of technological and cultural strategies among human groups.  

Characteristics of Neolithic Age The Neolithic age is not only the final phase of the Stone Age but also the foundation for subsequent evolutionary developments. The following are some of its distinct features: Tools: Unlike the light and sharp Paleolithic or Mesolithic tools, the Neolithic stone tools are heavy grinding tools - pestles, mortars, grinders and pounders along with axes and sickles. These have been found with a characteristic sheen of being used regularly for harvesting wild and cultivated plants. Food Production: Apart from stone tools, there is very little that the ­Neolithic people had in common with their predecessors. The Paleolithic and ­Mesolithic people were nomadic hunter-gatherers who traveled long distances for food. In contrast, Neolithic settlements across the globe relied heavily on food production via rudimentary agriculture and domesticated animals. In the pattern of this rudimentary agriculture also one can see an unusual similarity-all the largest and the most complex civilizations throughout recorded history have been based on the cultivation of one more of six plant genera-wheat, barley, millet, rice, maize and potatoes. These have been referred to as ‘the engines of civilizations’. Settlements: Sedentism is a notable feature of the Neolithic period. Somewhere between 10,000 to 3,500 years ago, people all over the world, without any apparent connection began to live together in agricultural communities, which gradually coalesced into villages and then cities. The use of pottery and the wheel and the subsequent invention of crafts like spinning, weaving and bead-making also serve to demonstrate the uniqueness of the Neolithic phase. Most Neolithic cultures start as aceramic or pre-pottery Neolithic. However, soon enough, sherds of hand-made pottery were found, often followed by wheel-thrown pottery. The technological breakthrough of the wheel enabled developments like spinning and by the time of the Bronze Age civilizations, the use of the wheel in carts. It was a consideration of all these developments that made the prehistorian Gordon V. Childe (1892–1957) designate this phase as the ‘Neolithic Revolution’. However, his critics were quick to point out that the term ‘revolution’ is synonymous with sudden or abrupt change, often accompanied by bloodshed and that the Neolithic was a gradual unfolding of developments towards the culmination of the Stone Age. While the significant socio-economic impact of the Neolithic Age cannot be denied, it is today generally viewed as a ‘transformation’ or ‘evolution’ rather than a ‘revolution’.

2.15

2.16

Chapter 2

Neolithic Sites

in I ndia

Neolithic Age in India Another important aspect of Childe’s hypothesis, which has direct impact on the advent of the Neolithic in the Indian subcontinent, is the presumption that farming was first invented in a single ‘nuclear region’—the Fertile Crescent in Mesopotamia or the Near-East from where it spread. This diffusionist paradigm propounded that the ‘idea’ of agriculture arose at one center of origin and then spread to other regions depending on their proximity to the center. India was thus, for a long time seen as having borrowed the idea of food ­production from its western neighbour, Mesopotamia, via the Iranian plateau. Modern research on the subject, especially since the 1970s, has discredited this viewpoint. It is now generally believed that agriculture in India was an independent, indigenous development. Three of the main staples of the subcontinent—the

Prehistoric Cultures in India

discovery of wheat and barley in Mehrgarh, Pakistan grown almost contemporaneously with the Fertile Crescent sites cancels the possibility of diffusion from Mesopotamia. Similarly, the discovery of rice from Koldihwa in UP, and millet from the sites in South India have put a question mark on the idea of diffusion of these two crops from South China and South Africa, respectively. The occurrence of food production in India was spread over a few ­millennia— from the eighth millennium bce to c. 1000 bce. A Neolithic celt was discovered as early as 1842 by Le Mesurier in the Raichur district of ­Karnataka, and later by John Lubbock in 1867 in the Brahmaputra valley of upper Assam. Today, as a result of vast explorations and excavations, the distribution and nature of the Neolithic Age in the subcontinent has been brought to light. Regional Distribution of Neolithic Sites in Indian Subcontinent The Neolithic phase in India neither developed everywhere at the same time nor did it end simultaneously. In fact, there were many Neolithic cultures which were coexisting with the copper using, urban Harappan Civilization (2600–1900 bce). These cultures, besides having different time frames, exhibit some regional variations too. For example, in the northeast region, Neolithic tools have been found but there is no evidence so far of plant cultivation. Similarly, while most of the Neolithic cultures evolved out of the preceding Mesolithic cultures, no such evidence is reported from the Kashmir Valley. Bone tools have only been recovered from sites in Kashmir and from Chirand in Bihar and in terms of cereal consumption, while wheat and barley predominate in Mehrgarh in Pakistan, it is rice from the Central India and millet and ragi cultivation from the South Indian Neolithic sites. These evidences gathered so far suggest that while each region responded to its specific geographical setting, the tapestry that finally emerged had distinct parallels. This was the rise and growth of agriculture and the beginning of settled village life.

Neolithic Tools

2.17

2.18

Chapter 2

North-West India Comprising the province of Baluchistan and the Indus plains in Pakistan, this area represents the earliest evidence of the Neolithic Culture in the subcontinent, indicated by the growth of farming and animal husbandry. Basically, an inhospitable mountainous region, with a climate of extremes, Baluchistan has nevertheless revealed many traces of early settlements in its valley pockets. The important sites are Mehrgarh in the Kachhi plain, Kili Gul Muhammad in the Quetta Valley, Rana Ghundai in the Loralai valley and Anjira in the Surab valley. The Indus plains provide a sharp contrast in the archaeological setting from that of Baluchistan. The lifeline of the area, the Indus, is a highly unstable river, which flows through a wide alluvial flood plain. Neolithic sites start appearing in the North-West Frontier Province —Gumla, Rehman Dheri, Tarakai Qila and Sarai Khola; Jalilpur in Punjab. The earliest evidence of agricultural life based on wheat, barley, cattle, sheep and goat in the subcontinent comes from the site of Mehrgarh (7000 bce) on the bank of the Bolan river in the Kachhi plain of Baluchistan. Excavations at the site began in 1974 under the leadership of J. F. Jarrige and continued into the 1980s and later. Spread over about 200 hectares of land, this imposing site bears evidence of occupation in different periods: Period I from 7000 to 5500 bce; Period II, from 5500 to 4500 bce; and Period III, from 4500 to 3500 bce. The earliest level of occupation, Period I (aceramic), marks the transition from nomadic pastoralism to agriculture. The Neolithic character of the site is reflected in the bones of cattle, sheep and goat, indicating their domestication as also in the bones of water buffalo, which is the earliest instance of the domestication of this animal in the subcontinent. Evidence of plant domestication comes from the charred seeds of wheat and barley as also Indian jujube (ber) and dates. The beginning of sedentism can be gleaned from foundations of mud-brick houses and small cell-like compartments which might have been used for storage of grains. But perhaps the most surprising piece of information concerns long-distance trade and craft production. As part of the grave goods were found, turquoise beads, probably from the Nishapur mines of Iran; shell bangles, with the seashell being from the Arabian Sea coast and beads of lapis lazuli, procured from the Badakhshan region of Afghanistan. This clearly demonstrates that the Neolithic people of Mehrgarh, Period I, were not an isolated community but engaged in exchange activities with other contemporary cultures. Period II is characterized by an intensification and diversification of the economic base (coarse handmade pottery is found). Towards the end, wheel-made and painted, as well as basket marked sherds are found having parallels with Kili Gul Muhammad I in the Quetta Valley. Houses became larger and one structure on the site has been termed ‘granary’. Charred cottonseeds indicating cotton plantation and perhaps, spinning and weaving; ivory-making, from an elephant tusk bearing groove marks; terracotta human figurines; a steatite workshop and beads of lapis lazuli and turquoise, all testify craft production, trade and the co-Neolithic stage of human evolution. Period III at Mehrgarh represents the final stage of the Neolithic phase. Surplus production was achieved through a consolidation of agriculture and animal-rearing activities. Apart from the finding of a vast quantities of pottery, a continuity in the long-distance trading pattern can be assessed from the beads of lapis lazuli, turquoise and fragments of conch shell. Copper objects found on the surface and traces of the metal found in crucibles suggest that the Neolithic people of Mehrgarh were

Prehistoric Cultures in India

familiar with copper smelting. A picture of continuous growth of village life also emerges from a number of collective graves that appear in this period and indicate an increase in population. The sites, such as like Kili Gul Muhammad (excavated by W. A. Fairservis, Jr. 1949–51), in the Quetta Valley; Rana Ghundai (excavated by Brigadier E. J. Ross in 1946 ); Gumla in the Gomal valley; Rehman Dheri (a fortified structure showing a clear transition from the Neolithic to the Kot Dijian and finally the Indus civilization phase); Amri, a prominent pre-Harappan site in Sind), etc., clearly show the prevalence of Neolithic characteristics before the beginning of Indus civilisation. North India Evidence for the north Indian Neolithic cultures comes mainly from the Kashmir Valley and is represented by a large number of sites above the flood plains of river Jhelum. The three principal sites of the area are: Burzahom, northeast of Srinagar; Gufkral, southeast of Srinagar; and Kanishkapura or modern Kanispur, in the Baramulla district. All three are multi-cultural sites, where prolific Neolithic remains are followed by evidence of megalithic and historical periods. An important feature of the northern Neolithic is the absence of a preceding Microlithic/Mesolithic phase and the development of this phenomenon occurred between 3500 and 1500 bce. Literally meaning, the ‘cave of the potter’, the site of Gufkral, started as an aceramic Neolithic site, probably around 3000 bce. The discovery of large dwelling pits surrounded by storage pits and hearths, and with post-holes around the mouths of the pits and hearths, remains of domesticated sheep and goat as well as barley, wheat and lentil along with wild sheep, goat and cattle, deer, wolf and bear, and polished stone tools, steatite beads and a terracotta ball, etc., indicate the transition from a hunting to a food-producing economy. Later periods witnessed an intensification of the Neolithic—handmade crude grey ware followed by wheel-made pottery, abundance of stone querns, pounders, double-holed harvesters, etc., along with domesticated sheep, goat, cattle, dog and pig. The Neolithic people of Burzahom, beginning with around 2700 bce, lived in circular or oval-shaped lakeside pit dwellings and subsisted on a hunting and fishing economy, being familiar also with agriculture. The site has yielded mostly coarse and handmade grey, buff and red pottery. The bone industry at Burzahom is most developed of all the Neolithic cultures of India and comprises harpoons, needles, arrowheads, spear-joints, daggers, etc. Another distinctive feature is the burials—graves, both of humans and animals, especially dogs, have been found. Sketchy evidence for ritual practice can be gathered from stone slabs depicting hunting scenes, or another representation of the sun and a dog. Two finds from later period, dated around second millennium bce show contact with the Indus plains—a pot with carnelian and agate beads, and another pot which bears the Kot Dijian ‘horned deity’ motif. The focus of the Central Indian Neolithic is, broadly speaking, the Vindhyan and Kaimur hill ranges of UP and MP, i.e., the area, having as its periphery with river Ganges in the north and river Son in the south. The important Neolithic sites are Koldihwa and Mahagara in Allahabad district, Sinduria in Mirzapur district and Kunjun in the Sidhi district of MP. The ­dating of the Neolithic horizon for this area remains problematic—some suggesting the beginning of the Neolithic culture at Koldihwa to c. 6000 bce, while others assign it to a time range of 4000–2500 bce or 3500–1250 bce. Situated in the Belan valley of Uttar Pradesh, Koldihwa has a rich prehistoric sequence down to the Mesolithic phase. The site’s claim to fame is the earliest evidence of rice—‘domesticated rice comes from the earliest, metal-free level of

2.19

2.20

Chapter 2

Koldihwa and occurs in a context of wattle-and-daub houses, polished stone celts, microliths and three types of handmade pottery: cord marked and incised ware, plain red ware with ochre slip on both sides and a crude black-and-red ware. Rice occurs as husks embedded in the clay of the pottery. The overlap of the Microlithic and the Neolithic phases is testified by the presence of blades, flakes, lunates as well as polished and ground axes, celts, querns and pestles. Evidence of animal husbandry comes from the bones of cattle, sheep, goat and deer, and fishing can be gleaned from the bones of turtles and fish. Almost contemporaneous with Koldihwa, the site of Mahagara has yielded some bone implements along with a tool kit of Mesolithic and Neolithic tools made of materials, such as chalcedony, agate, quartz and basalt. This site has also reported a cattle pen, which indicates the domestication of cattle. The pottery used by the Neolithic folk was handmade and poorly fired; with straw and rice husk being used as tempering agents. Mid-Gangetic Basin Covering the areas of eastern UP and Bihar, the mid-Gangetic basin encapsulates the Ganges in its expansive, midstream flow, carrying along with it, the drainage of its tributaries like the Saryu and the Ghaghra. Predictably then, most of the ­Neolithic sites dotting the area are found on banks of r­ ivers and streams—Narhan, on the banks of River Saryu; Imlidih, on Kuwana stream; Sohagaura, on the banks of River Rapti; Chirand, on the confluence of the Sarum and the Ganga in Chaparan, Bihar; besides other sites like Teradih and Senuwar. Chirand, considered to be the representative site of the area has revealed a cultural assemblage going back to the Neolithic phase, dated from 2100 to 1400 bce. The 1-km long mound of Chirand has yielded coarse earthenware, comprising red, grey and black handmade wares, some with post-firing painting and graffiti. Terracotta objects including figurines of humped bull, birds, snakes and bangles, beads, sling balls, etc.,

Neolithic StoneTools

Prehistoric Cultures in India

have been found. People lived in circular and semi-circular wattle-and-daub huts with post-holes and hearths. For subsistence, they relied on plant cultivation and animal domestication. Among the crops are rice, wheat, barley, moong and lentil, which may indicate the raising of two crops a year, winter and autumn. Animal remains include a wide range from domesticated cattle to elephants and rhinoceros. Chirand is the only other site in the country, besides Burzahom in Kashmir that has given a substantial range of bone and antler objects such as needles, scrapers, borers and arrowheads. Bone ornaments like p ­ endants, bangles and earrings have also been discovered. These findings suggest a movement towards craft production and possibly, exchange of ­commodities. Eastern India The Neolithic sites in Eastern India comprise the states of (modern day) Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha. Important sites include Kuchai in Mayurbhanj district and Golbai Sasan on banks of the Mandakini in Odisha; Pandu Rajar Dhibi, Bharatpur and Mahisdal in West Bengal; and Barudih in Jharkhand. Since no rigorous excavations have been undertaken, only a tentative picture of the Neolithic way of life can be hinted at and dating too remains a problem. North-Eastern India The north-eastern region has yielded a rich haul of polished Neolithic tools but no consolidated picture of a Neolithic level has yet emerged. The spread of the Neolithic is considered by some to be an import from South East Asia on account of the use of shouldered axes and also cord-impressed pottery, which has close affinity with the pottery from China and South East Asia. On the basis of this link, the Neolithic cultures of north-eastern India have been dated between 2500 and 1500 bce. The important sites of the region are Daojali Hading in northern Kachhar district and Sarutaru in Assam, Napchik in Manipur and Pynthorlangtein in Meghalaya. South India The South Indian Neolithic culture, spread over the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, has given us the largest number of Neolithic settlements, because of the easy availability of stone. The geographical terrain of this culture is that part of the Deccan plateau bound by river Bhima in the north and river Kaveri in the south, with a major concentration of sites being in the Raichur and Shorapur doabs. Besides the profusion of sites, what makes the South Indian Neolithic remarkable is the issue of ash-mounds and the location of settlements on the flat-topped or castellated granite hills or plateaux of the region. Ash-mounds are vast mounds of burnt cattle dung ash accumulated as a result of periodical burnings, and F. R. Allchin in 1960 suggested a West Asian origin for these. However today, their growth and development is viewed in the context of earlier indigenous Stone Age traditions. Some of the important Neolithic sites of the region are: Sangankallu, Hallur, Tekkalakota, Brahmagiri, Maski, Tirumakudal Narsipur and Piklihal in Karnataka; Utnur, Palavoy, Kodekal and Budihal in Andhra Pradesh; and Paiyampalli in Tamil Nadu. The chronological bracket for these sites ranges from about 2400 to 1000 bce. The location of Neolithic settlements near hills or plateaux seems to have been motivated by access to perennial water in the form of streams or rivers, plentiful game, pasture for grazing animals and raw materials like stone and wood. Subsistence was primarily on a mixed economy—rudimentary farming and animal hus-

2.21

2.22

Chapter 2

bandry. Charred grains of millet, barley, horse gram, black gram and green gram have been found and scholars were earlier of the opinion that millet might have been introduced in south India from South Africa. But recent research negates this hypothesis and favours an indigenous growth of these crops. Fish bones, and charred and split animal bones show that fishing and hunting contributed substantially to dietary requirements. Sanganakallu presents a picture of a long occupation, beginning with the Palaeolithic phase. Palaeoliths are followed by a Microlithic industry of quartz flakes, cores and lunates. The classic Neolithic industry of polished stone tools features next in the sequence but not before a sterile dark brown soil was formed at the site suggesting a time-gap between the Neolithic and the earlier Microlithic levels. Coarse grey, red pottery was discovered which was either handmade or produced on a slow wheel. Storage pits have given remains of charred grains and bones of domesticated animals like cattle, sheep and goat. The site of Piklihal is essentially an ash-mound situated in District Raichur in Karnataka. The Neolithic people who occupied the site were cattle herders who had domesticated animals like cattle, sheep, goat, etc. A mobile group, they set up seasonal camps surrounded by cowpens made with wooden posts and stakes in which they gathered dung. When it was time to move, the entire camping ground was set afire and cleared for the next session of camping. To sum up, it may be said that the above studies help us to understand the larger and local dynamics, which shaped this phenomenon. While profuse Microlithic remains precede the Neolithic at some sites, others give a silent testimony and reveal only a full-blown Neolithic phase. Yet, all across the country between the fifth and first millennium bce, people were moving towards a ‘neolithic’ way of life—settled hutments, practice of agriculture and animal husbandry, pottery and beginning of craft production. But the story of human cultural evolution did not stop here, for this was just the base on which, the next chapter, i.e., of largescale civilizations was to arise.

Chalcolithic Farming Cultures

in I ndia at a

Glance

Besides Indus culture there existed various other non-urban Chalcolithic cultures characterized by the use of copper and stone. The contrasts between these cultures were primarily confined to pottery. These cultures are said to have their first appearance at the turn of the second millennium BCE. The following may be summarised as the underlying characteristics of Chalcolithic cultures in India. • The period following the Neolithic period saw the use of metals. First metal to be used was copper, and the culture based on the use of stone and copper implements was called chalcolithic (i.e., copper stone). • The chalcolithic people mostly used stone and copper objects, but they also occasionally used low-grade bronze. They were primarily rural communities spread over a wide area in those parts of the country where hilly lands and rivers were available. • In India, settlements belonging to the chalcolithic phase are found in south-eastern Rajasthan, western part of Madhya Pradesh, western Maharashtra and in southern and eastern India. In south-eastern Rajasthan, two sites, one at Ahar and the other at Gilund, have been excavated. They lie in the zones of the Banas valley. In western MP, Malwa, Kayatha and Eran have been exposed.

Prehistoric Cultures in India

Cave Images

of

Domestic Animals

• The Malwa ware—typical of the Malwa chalcotithic culture of central and western India—is considered the richest among the chalcolithic ceramics. Some of its pottery and other cultural elements are also found in Maharashtra. Most extensive excavations have taken place in western Maharashtra. Several chalcolithic sites, such as Jorwe, ­Nevasa, Daimabad in Ahmadnagar district; Chandoli, Sengaon and Inamgaon in Pune district, Prakash and Nasik have been excavated. • They all belong to the Jorwe culture named after Jorwe, the type-site situated on the left-back of the Pravara river, a tributary of Godavari, in Ahmednagar district. The Jorwe culture owed much to the Malwa culture. However, it also contained elements of the southern Neolithic culture. The Jorwe culture, from 1400 to 700 bce covered modern Maharashtra except parts of Vidarbha and coastal region of Konkan. Although the Jorwe culture was rural, some of its settlements such as Daimabad and Inamgaon had almost reached the urban stage. • Out of the 200 Jorwe sites discovered so far, the largest is Daimabad in Godavari valley. It also seems to have been fortified with a mud wall ­having stone, rubble bastions. Daimabad is famous for the recovery of a large number of bronze goods, some of which were influenced by the ­Harappan culture.

2.23

2.24

Chapter 2

• Several chalcolithic sites have been found in the Vindhyan region of Allahabad District. In eastern India, besides Chirand on the Ganga, ­ ­mention may be made of Pandu Rajar Dhibu in Burdwan district and ­Mahishadal in Birdhum district in West Bengal. Other sites excavated ­recently are Senuar, Sonpur and Taradih in Bihar and Khairadih and ­Narhan in east UP. • The period covered by the OCP (Ochre Coloured Pottery) culture may roughly be placed between 2000 and 1500 bce on the basis of a series of eight scientific dating. The upper portion of the doab settlement begins with the advent of the ochre-coloured pottery people. • Chronologically there are several series of chalcolithic settlements in India. Some are pre-Harappan, others are contemporaries of the Harappan culture and still others are post-Harappan. Pre-Harappan strata on some sites in the Harappan zone are also called early Harappan in order to distinguish them from the mature Urban Indus civilization. Thus, the pre-Harappan phase at Kalibangan in Rajasthan and Banawali in Haryana is distinctly chalcolithic. So is the case with Kot Diji in Sindh in Pakistan. • Although most chalcolithic cultures of India were younger than the Indus Valley Civilization, they did not derive any substantial benefit from the advanced technological knowledge of the Indus people. • The copper hoards of chalcolithic cultures are interesting objects of study. The largest hoard comes from Gungeria in MP; it contains 424 copper tools and weapons and 102 thin sheets of silver objects. But nearly half of the copper hoards are concentrated in the Ganga–Yamuna doab. • In the chalcolithic cultures, the more northern settlements of the Gandhra Grave culture in the Swat valley were familiar with horse by the late second millennium bce and show evidence of the use of iron weapons in the early first millennium.

Subsistence Pattern of Chalcolithic Cultures The subsistence system is often linked with cultural and technological aspects of the protohistoric cultures. The zoological remains in the form of bones, and material remains in the form of copper and bronze tools from various Chalcolithic sites reveal information about the animals exploited for subsistence. Interestingly, such remains have been unearthed from a vast majority of protohistoric Chalcolithic sites. The primary occupations of the Chalcolithic people were hunting, fishing and farming. Cattle like sheep, goat, buffalo, pig, stag, etc. were reared and some of them were slaughtered for food as well. The subsistence pattern of Malwa people indicates cultivation of barley besides domestication of animals and hunting of wild beasts. Though the agricultural tools like plough or hoe have not been attested to Chalcolithic sites except for Walki in Maharashtra, but evidence of perforated stone discs which could be used as weights for the digging sticks have been found. A variety of crops such as barley, wheat, millets, ragi, pea, lentil, green gram, etc. were grown. People of Inamgaon cultivated rice. Farmers of Jorwe culture practiced rotation of Kharif and Rabi crops. Traces of irrigation channel and embankment parallel to it, belonging to Jorwe culture have been found. It suggests that it could be used as a narrow water tank and water could be diverted to adjoining fields by gravity flow.

Prehistoric Cultures in India

Fish and animal flesh happened to be the chief diet of the Chalcolithic people. Fish bones and fish-hooks which are found in plenty, attest to fishing as a major occupation. The discovery of bones of wild animals like wild pig, deer, sambhar, etc., is suggestive of hunting as another important occupation of the people.

Chalcolithic Age: Transition from Pre to Protohistoric Period The Chalcolithic phenomenon is considered an epoch in human development, the transition between the Neolithic (Pre-Historic) and Bronze Age (Proto-Historic) associated with the opening of the first processed metal, i.e., copper. Generally Chalcolithic is considered like an early Bronze Age, and in this age were manufactured copper tools, which, although they are soft and fragile, are more precise and better than the previous stone. However, throughout this period the use of stone remain more common due to the still primitive method of extraction and processing of metals. Also, during this period, other metals such as gold and tin is found for the first time. Hence, Chalcolithic period denotes a transition from pre to Proto history because of transformations the period brought about in tool making technology, both in stone and metals, pottery making, subsistence pattern and development of a distinct settlement pattern and social setup. During the Copper Age began the construction of a hierarchical social system and observed a greater division of labor than in previous eras. In Indian context, there existed an overlapping period when both stone and metals, were used. This is evident by the close resemblance of metallic tools and implements with those made of stone. It must, however, be noted that there has been the lack of uniformity in terms of use of metals in different parts of India. The case of north India is different where copper was the metal that came to be used after stone, whereas in South India iron replaced stone without the intermediate stage of use of copper. Bronze (an alloy made of copper and tin) was in use in India simultaneously. Thus, the Chalcolithic age of India was a period of use of copper-bronze. Bronze implements of India have been found along with those of copper.

Painted Grey ware (PGW), Northern black Polished ware (NBPW) Cultures The painted grey ware culture, of which some sites are located in the Hakra plain in a post-Harappan context, was predominant in the western Ganga plains in the first millennium bce, spreading from the Indo–Gangetic watershed to the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna. Important settlements of the PGW include Roper (Punjab), Bhagwanpura (Haryana) and Atranji Kheda, Hastinapur, Ahichhatra and Jakhera (UP). The Northern black polished ware, characteristic of the urban centres of the Ganga plain, is thought to have developed from high-temperature firing techniques used in smelting iron and from the use of local hematite soil. Its extensive distribution as a luxury ware helps the tracking of exchange and trade in various parts of the subcontinent. A wide distribution in Gujarat, Rajasthan, the fringes of the Doab and the middle Ganga valley, extending to parts of Bengal is recorded for a pottery technique that resulted in double colours of black and red which has been labelled as black and red ware. This was neither the pottery of a single, uniform culture, nor was it the sole pottery at these sites, although it often predominated. The earliest dates for this pottery range, according to region, from the second to the first millennium bce.

2.25

2.26

Chapter 2

Prehistoric Paintings at a Glance The earliest paintings in India are rock paintings of prehistoric times. Although the history of discovery of earliest rock paintings in India goes back to 1867–1868 when Archibald Carlyle discovered rock paintings at Sohagihat in the Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh, a systematic study on the topic was conducted by V. S. Wakankar who discovered several hundred painted shelters mainly in Central India, and attempted a broad survey of the rock paintings of the whole country and prepared a chronology of the paintings based on the content style and superimposition. The most important of his discoveries is Bhimbetka near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh (1957), which has one of the largest concentrations of rock paintings in India. Bhimbetka drawings and paintings can be classified under different ­periods: • Upper Paleolithic: In green and dark red, of huge figures of animals such as bison, tigers and rhinoceroses. • Mesolithic: Smaller figures, with linear decorations on the body of both animals and human figures and of hunting scenes and communal dancing. • Chalcolithic: Drawings of the hunting cave dwellers, exchanging goods with food-producing communities. • Early Historic: Figures painted mainly in red, white and yellow of horse riders and of religious symbols, figures of yaks.as (supernatural beings) and sky chariots. • Medieval: Linear and more schematic paintings that show a certain degeneration and crudeness of style in colours prepared by combining manganese, hematite and wooden coal.

The Chalcolithic sites of Eastern Rajasthan, western Madhya Pradesh, western Maharashtra and Deccan have yielded evidence of use of metals and stones through different pottery cultures. The residential structures, different pottery designs, subsistence patterns, social differentiation, religious and burial practices are suggestive of such transition from pre to proto historic period in India. The Bhimbetka rock shelters are an archaeological site in central India that span the prehistoric Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods, as well as the historic period. It exhibits the earliest traces of human life on the Indian subcontinent and evidence of Stone Age starting at the site in Acheulean times. It is located in the Raisen district in MP about 45 km (28 mi) southeast of Bhopal. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2003 that consists of seven hills and over 750 rock shelters distributed over 10 km. Bhimbetka rock paintings display the concerns of early man—food, survival in a difficult environment and struggle in subduing animals. The colours used are mostly of mineral origin and have survived because the paintings were deep inside the caves or on inner walls.

Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach

2.27

1. The emergence of Non-Harappan Chalcolithic cultures in Central India and the Deccan mark a change not only in the subsistence pattern of people but an overall transition from pre to proto historic period. Critically analyze.  [2017]

The Right Approach

• A brief introduction of Non-Harappan Chalcolithic culture with suitable illustrations and names of prominent Chalcolithic culture (Non-Harappan). • Explain briefly the meaning of subsistence pattern of people. • The last part should analyze, how the emergence of non-Harappan Chacolithic cultures embarked an overall transition from pre-historic (Neolithic) to proto-historic (Bronze) Age.

For more info visit: • Subsistence pattern of Chalolithic culture (pg.2.25) • Chalocolithic Age: Transition from pre to proto historic period. (pg. 2. 24)

2. Delineate and account for the regional characteristic of the Neolithic period in India. [2016]

The Right Approach

Region

• • •

Brief introduction of Neolithic period in India. Special features of Neolithic period. Region-wise characteristics of Neolithic period.

North-west India

North India

Mid-­ Gangentic Basin

Baluchistan and Indus plains in Pakistan

Kashmir valley Areas of Eastern UP, Bihar, the mid-Gangetic basin, along with drainage of Saryu & Ghaghra

Eastern India

Noth-Eastern India

South India

Modern day Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.

Spread of Neolithic is considered to be imported from SE Asia.

Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu.

2.28

Chapter 2

North-west India

North India

Mid-­ Gangentic Basin

Eastern India

Noth-Eastern India

South India

Important feature

Growth of farming and animal husbandary

Multi cultural sites. Absence of proceeding Microlith/Mesolithic phase

People lived in circular and semi-circular wattle and daub huts with postholes and hearths

No rigorous excavation has been done, only tentative picture can be hinted

Close affinity with the pottery of China and SE Asia

Geographical strech of culture is the part of Deccan plateau bound by river Bhima in North and Raveri in South.

Important sites

Mehragrah, kili Gul Muhammad Rana Ghundai Anjira.

Burzahom, Gufkral, Kanishkapura.

Narhan, Imlidih, Chirand. *Chirand is the only other site in the country besides Burzahom that has substantial range of bone and anther objects

Kuchai, Golbai, Sasan, Pandu Rajar Dhibi, Bharatpur and Mahisdal and Barudih.

Daojali, Handing, Sarutaru, Napchik, Pynthorlangtein.

Sangankallu, Hallur, Tekkalakota, Brahmagiri Maski, etc.

3

Chapter

Indus Civilization

3.2

Chapter 3

The term ‘Indus Civilization’ refers to the urban and literate culture of roughly the third millennium

bce

that flourished in the area around the Indus river and its tributaries. Its first known cities were Harappa on the banks of a dried up bed of the Ravi river, an Indus tributary; and Mohenjo-Daro, in the vicinity of the Indus river itself. Geographically, however, this civilization (also called the Harappan civilization as per the archaeological convention of naming a culture after the site where it was first identified) included much more than the Indus zone; it was a combination of riverine lowlands that stretched to the east and southeast, highland areas to the north, and the coastal belt towards the southwest and southeast of the Indus system.

Objectives After reading this chapter, you will be able to: • Learn about the discovery, origin and developments of Indus Civilization • Understand what sets this civilization apart from other contemporaneous cultures in the Indian subcontinent • Explain the characteristics of Indus settlements; its major cities and their special features • Study what attributed to the decline of the Indus Civilisation

A Civilization

in

Totality

Before focusing on its various facets, it is pertinent to be clear about the character of the Indus Civilization in order to understand what sets it apart from other contemporaneous cultures in the Indian subcontinent and from the Bronze Age civilizations of West Asia and Egypt. The Indus phenomenon is called a civilization because it incorporated within itself the social configurations and organizational devices that characterize such a cultural form. Besides over 4000 inscriptions found so far, it was the only literate subcontinental segment of its time. Even though it remains undeciphered, the script was used for mercantile purposes (as suggested by the seals and sealing), personal identification (in the form of shallow inscriptions on bangles, bronze implements, etc.) and possibly for civic purposes (underlined by the remains of a massive inscribed board at Dholavira). The nucleus of the civilization was a settlement pattern with planned cities and towns. That such urban centres contained monumental structures whose construction required large outlays of labour and resources, and were marked by heterogeneous economic activities, are other conspicuous indicators. Today, apart from Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa we know of many more cities which stood out as the civilization’s large cities. These are fairly spread out—Ganeriwala in Cholistan, Dholavira in Kutch and Rakhigarhi in Haryana are such centres—and symbolize the creation of aggregates of population on a scale previously unknown. The largest variety and quantity of jewellery, stone images and seals, are found in urban centres and indicate that craft production was, in the main, geared to the demands of city dwellers. Further, the characters of planning, the necessity of written transactions, and the existence of a settlement hierarchy in which various types of urban and rural settlements were functionally connected

Indus Civilization

Mohenjo-Daro

in important ways, all indicate administrative organization on a scale that was unprecedented in relation to other preceding cultures. Many of these are archaeological indicators of a state society as well. Although the question of the presence of several states or a unified empire in Harappan times remains unclear, urban settlements may have functioned as city-states since their layout and character suggest the presence of local aristocracies, merchants and craftspeople. The Indus Civilization, while sharing many general features with the contemporary Bronze Age cultures such as the Sumerian Civilization of Mesopotamia and Old Kingdom Egypt, had its own unique identity. With a geographical spread of more than a million square kilometres, this was the largest urban culture of its time. Unlike Mesopotamia and Egypt, there were neither grand religious shrines nor magnificent palaces and funerary complexes constructed for the rulers. Instead, its hallmark was a system of civic amenities for its citizens rarely seen in other parts of the then civilized world—roomy houses with bathrooms, a network of serviceable roads and lanes, an elaborate system of drainage and a unique water supply system. Dholavira’s network of dams, water reservoirs and underground drains and Mohenjo-Daro’s cylindrical wells, one for every third house, epitomize the degree of comfort that city dwellers enjoyed in relation to contemporary Mesopotamians and Egyptians. Thus, the people of this region developed a sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture. We have the evidence of the surplus production, urban planning, well-developed drainage system, system of weights and measures,

3.3

3.4

Chapter 3

knowledge of metallurgy, trade and commerce, etc., that help us understand the social, economic, political, cultural and religious life of the people of the Harappan Civilization.

Discovery, Origin, Chronology and Extent In 1826, Charles Masson, a British traveller, stood on the mounds of Harappa, a village in Sahiwal district of Punjab, Pakistan. He was convinced that this must have been the very place where, in the fourth century bce, the Macedonian invader Alexander had defeated king Porus in battle. In 1831 Col. Burns, a traveller, visited Harappa. He thought it was an important site, but was clueless about its precise significance. In 1850s, Harappa was visited by Cunningham. A military engineer with the East India Company, he conducted a small excavation and discovered the remains of some structures, but was not impressed. In 1872, Cunningham came as Director General of the newly established Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). He is known as father of Indian archaeology. He found stone tools, pottery and a seal with a bull and some strange writing. In 1921, Daya Ram Sahni excavated Harappa and in 1922 R. D. Banerjee excavated Mohenjo-Daro. The formal announcement of the discovery of the Indus or Harappan civilization was made in 1924 in London Weekly by John Marshall, the then Director General of the ASI. An important and exciting fragment of India’s past had been uncovered.

Origin and Chronology of the Civilization This discovery of India’s first civilization initially posed a historical puzzle. It seemed to have suddenly appeared on the stage of history, and this understanding led scholars, such as Mortimer Wheeler to believe that it was a colonial offshoot of the Mesopotamian civilization which was brought to the Indus region by the Sumerians. However, the striking difference in seals, town planning, skill in making of burnt brick, etc., between the Indus and Mesopotamian civilizations clearly show that the Indus Civilization owed little to Mesopotamia. However, on the basis of the extensive excavation work conducted at Mehrgarh in Baluchistan (between 1973 and 1980 by two French archaeologists namely J. F. Jarrige and Richard H. Meadow), the historical puzzle r­ egarding the origin of the civilization could largely be solved. The settlement in Mehrgarh gives us an archaeological record with a sequence of occupations, which clearly shows a process of continuing elaboration that affected cereal cultivation, animal husbandry, crafts, architecture and even ideology. Such developments gradually set the stage for the growth of the complex cultural patterns that became manifest in the great cities of the Indus Civilization in the middle of the third millennium bce. Research over past eight decades has established a continuous sequence of strata. These strata have been named: • Pre-Harappan Phases: 5500–3500 bce; transition of nomadic herdsmen to settled agriculturists in eastern Baluchistan. • Early Harappan Phases: 3500–2600 bce; growth of large villages and rise of towns in the Indus–Hakra valley. • Mature Harappan Phases: 2600–1800 bce; emergence of great cities. • Late Harappan Phases: 1800–1200 bce; decline of urban features of the civilization.

Indus Civilization

Excavated Mehrgarh Town, Approximately 7000

bce

Phases. Most important consequences of this research are a clear proof of long-term evolution of this civilization.

Detailed Analysis

Harappa

The settlements around Indus mainly flourished in the western part of the Indian subcontinent. SevMehrgar h eral segments of that zone had seen the birth and development of agricultural communities, around Mohenjo -Daro 7000 bce and the genesis of urban centres in the early 3000 bce. The subsistence pattern that is widely Lothal seen at Harappan sites—a ­combination of wheat and barley cultivation and domesticated a­nimal species in which cattle was most preferred—goes back to Mehrgarh (in Baluchistan) which has also yielded the earliest e­ vidence of agricultural life in South Asia (c. 7000 bce). From the fifth millennium bce onwards, this pattern is found spread all over the major areas of Baluchistan, from the Zhob–­Loralai region in the northeast to Las Bela towards the south. Similarly, a majority of classic Indus sites are in riverine lowlands and the manner in which settlements and subsistence patterns had evolved in those areas, over a span of more than a thousand years prior to the efflorescence of the Harappan civ- Location of Lothal and Extent of Harappan Civilization

3.5

3.6

Chapter 3

ilization, is central to understanding its evolution. In s­ everal lowland areas, there was a long period of antecedence. At the beginning of the fourth millennium bce, the Cholistan tract saw a well-defined phase of occupation, known as the ‘Hakra

In

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Jhel um

Ch

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Ra

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und

us

Ga

Metres

500

SEA

0

Distribution

of

Major Harappan Sites

Ya

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4000

ARABIAN

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Ghaggar-Hakra River

Sab ar m at

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1500

Sutlej

Su t

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Narmada

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Indus Civilization

ware’ culture, named after the river around which its distinctive ceramic assemblage was first discovered. Although the largest concentration of sites is around the Hakra River, its spread included Jalipur in Multan and Kunal in Haryana. Most of the sites seem to be small camps with a few permanently established settlements of substantial size (such as Lathwala in Cholistan, with an area of 26.3 hectares). The Hakra horizon is the first culture of the lowlands, which utilized both the desert and the riverine environments, using a variety of stone and copper tools. Towards the western fringe of the Indus lowlands, the fourth millennium bce witnessed the birth of another culture, known as the Amri culture (after the type site of Amri) which dominated the Kirthar piedmont and Kohistan. What is most significant is that some Amri sites are marked by a ‘lower town’ division, a settlement plan that can be witnessed subsequently, in a highly developed and sophisticated form, in the layout of Indus cites. The general habitation area, which was lower town, possibly contained domestic structures. Majorly in three areas which are relevant to growth of Indus Civilization is there a clear sequence of village growth: Kirthar piedmont and Kohistan to southwest of Indus floodplain in Sind; Cholistan area; and Gomal valley. Out of these only Cholistan can boast of a dense and well-integrated distribution of early Harappan sites to be followed by denser and equally integrated mature Harappan sites (174 in number, as compared to 138 in Rajasthan–Haryana–Punjab and 101 in Gujarat). Cholistan desert lies to the south and east of Hakra depression. The lower course of Hakra joins Indus and flows into, or in vicinity of Rann of Kutch. On Indian side it is known as Ghaggar and is identified with Saraswati. Due to geotectonic upheavals, its two main tributaries—palaeo-Sutlej and palaeo-Yamuna—were pirated by Indus and Ganga, respectively, leaving Saraswati or Ghaggar high and dry. In dry months, braided shallow channels of Ghaggar–Hakra flow or ancient Saraswati formed lakes/lagoons at various places and proto-historic inhabitants of the area distinctly preferred such areas. Snow-fed Indus had always been a very difficult river to control. On the contrary, potential of the shallow, braided channels of ancient Saraswati were much easier to utilize just as Neolithic settlers of Mehrgarh decided to settle in a zone where hill streams got dissipated into innumerable courses. Hence, in all likelihood, it was in Ghaggar–Hakra system that the transition from early Harappan culture to mature Harappan civilization was achieved. The immediate backdrop to the Indus Civilization is formed by the next phase, known as the Kot Diji culture, when elements of a common culture ethos can be seen across the Indus–Hakra plains and the Indo-Gangetic divide. There are several planned and fortified settlements; the construction of habitational areas aligned around a grid of north-south and east-west streets at Harappa; and the use of mud bricks in the ratio of 1:2:4, along with a drainage system based on soakage pits in streets at Kunal are especially noteworthy. There is also an extensive but partly standardized repertoire of ceramic designs and forms (some of which are carried over into the Indus civilization), miscellaneous crafts and a sophisticated metallurgy that includes the manufacture of silver objects and ‘armlets’ as also disc-shaped gold beads (typical of the Indus Civilization), wide transport and exchange of raw materials, square stamp seals with designs, the presence of at least two signs of Indus writing at Padri and Dholavira (both in Gujarat) and ritual beliefs embodied in a range of terracotta cattle and female figurines. Considered in totality, the term ‘early Harappan’ is appropriate for this phase since a number of features related to the mature Harappan period (a designation used for the classic urban, civilizational form) are already present. Several of these features also evoke the presence

3.7

3.8

Chapter 3

of commercial and other elite social groups. When one considers the intensification of craft specialization, dependent on extensive networks through which the required raw materials were procured, or the necessity of irrigation for agriculture in the Indus flood plain, without the risk of crop failure, for which a degree of planning and management was essential, the emergence and the character of the controlling or ruling elites become clear. On the whole, there is little doubt that the Indus Civilization had indigenous roots and that its cultural precursors were the chalcolithic cultures of the northwest that flourished in the fourth and third millennia bce. To sum up, it may be said that the Indus Civilization covered not merely a vast geographical territory but also a large segment of time. It had its origin in Cholistan. Later it spread across Hakra–Indus doab towards Sind. Along with this movement, there was another towards Kutch. Then, spread towards Harappa and expansion towards Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab took place simultaneously. It appears that movement towards Saurashtra and mainland Gujarat took place from Kutch at a later period.

Extent and Geographical Distribution The Indus civilization was very extensive geographically. In terms of modern territorial boundaries, it covered most of the areas of Pakistan including Sind, Baluchistan and Punjab provinces, a few sites in Afghanistan and Indian sites covering parts of Jammu, Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, 50

60

Major Sites and Interaction Networks of the Indus Tradition, Integration Era, Harappa Phase

70

80 38

Am

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Da

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Shortughai

36

34 N

32

HIMALAYAN MTs. 32 R. b R. . lum hena R C . vi Mundigak Ra eas R B par Ro Harappa R. R j e Z l b h Seistan o 30 Sut ll and gan lm wa ban He na Shahr-i-Sokhta all a PUNJAB K B Dabarkot Mehrgarh R. N hi Girawad r A a a T r Chagai Hills IS ig Farmana Nausharo 28 ak OL kh CH Ya In d r-H Ra mu ent agga i c n Ganweriwala aR An Gh . Mohenjo Kot Diji Bampur Daro RAJASTHAN Lakhan-Jo-Daro 25 SINDH Kulli Bampur R. Ghazi Chanhu Daro Shah Amri Shahi Tump Sokhta Koh . tR h a s 24 ad Da Balakot ot rk r u Allahdino S e Sutkagen Dor Dholavira nm Ka Desalpur Rehman Dheri

.

20

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us

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CHI

Jiroft

Major Sites

and

Trading Networks During Mature Harappan Civilization

M

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GULF OF

Hill

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Umm an-Nar

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.

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BAL U

Tepe Yahya

R.

R.

nga

Ga

28

Indus Civilization

Gujarat and Maharashtra. The civilization extended from Jammu (Manda on river Chenab) in the north to the Narmada estuary (Daimabad, Maharashtra) in south and from the Sutkagendor (near Makran coast in Baluchistan) in the west to Alamgirpur (on river Hindon, Meerut) in the east. With regard to its geographical distribution, more than 500 Indus ­settlements are spread over a wide stretch of north-west India and ­Pakistan. In fact, their distribution illuminates the various ways in which this ­varied geographical areas were exploited. In the lower Indus basin of ­Larkana, ­Mohenjo-Daro dominated the flood plain, which was agriculturally the r­ ichest part of Sind. Larkana is also marked by lake depressions, such as the Manchhar, where fishing settlements existed. In the foothills of the Kirthar mountain range and the Kohistan, there were clusters of sites towards the west. There, agriculture must have depended on spring water and rains. Routes linking up with Baluchistan also passed through this area. The ­Sukkur-Rohri hills in upper Sind saw settlements of workmen in and around flint quarries, the raw material from which Harappan blades were manufactured. The course of the Indus river in the third millennium bce was more south-easterly and it flowed into the Arabian Sea in the vicinity of the Rann of Kutch. It is suggested that Indus river adopted its present course only between the tenth and the thirteenth centuries ce. Towards the west, Indus settlements are found in Baluchistan in a variety of terrain—across the northern mountain edge, on the flat Kacchi plain, in the district of Las Bela towards the south and along the coastal country known as the Makran. In the latter area, the fortified sites of Sutkagendor and Sotka-koh were important in terms of the Indus Civilization’s maritime trade with the Persian Gulf and Mesopotamia. Both were suitable landing places for maritime traffic and from these points, convenient routes linked up with the interior. In other parts of Baluchistan, Indus sites are found in areas that are still agriculturally viable and lie on arterial routes. Pathani Damb, for instance, was near the Mula pass, from where a route went across the Kirthar range while Naushahro was in the general vicinity of the Bolan, through which a major route led to Afghanistan. These routes were important because through them, Baluchistan’s mineral ores (copper and lead) and semi-precious stone (lapis lazuli and turquoise) could be procured by the resource-poor Indus Valley. The northernmost site of the Indus Civilization, Shortugai, is in north-east Afghanistan. Shortugai provided access to Badakhshan’s lapis lazuli and possibly to the tin and gold resources of Central Asia. Another region to the north-east of Sind in Pakistan is comprised doabs or tracts lying between two rivers. Out of these, the Bari doab (or land b ­ etween the Ravi and an old bed of the Beas) sites are noteworthy, especially the sprawling city of Harappa. No settlements are found in the region between the Jhelum and the Indus or that of the Jhelum and Chenab. South of the Sutlej River, is Bahawalpur. Part of it is made up of the desert trace of Cholistan, through which the Hakra River flowed. As per the excavation report of 1974, the largest cluster of Indus settlements is found here. Geographically, this tract connects the Indus plains with Rajasthan, which had vast copper deposits. Out of several exclusive, industrial sites, 79 of them were found in Cholistan, marked by kilns, devoted to large-scale craft production. The alluvial terrain of the Indo-Gangetic divide, to the east of Sutlej, is a transitional area between the Indus and the Ganga river systems. The region consists of the Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Ghaggar river course in Rajasthan. A large part of the riverine and stream drainage from the Siwalik ridge between the Sutlej and Yamuna used to converge into the Ghaggar, the Indian name for the river known as the Hakra in Pakistan. There were several

3.9

3.10

Chapter 3

provincial urban centres in this region, such as Kalibangan and Banawali, although Rakhigarhi (in the Hisar district of Haryana) was the largest city and is said to be as large as Harappa. Classic Indus sites are also found in the Yamuna–Ganga doab around Saharanpur. Finally, the spread of the Indus Civilization included the quadrilateral of roughly 1,19,000 square km between the Rann of Kutch and the Gulf of Cambay. Dholavira was the city par excellence of the Rann, with its vast expanse of tidal mud flats and dead creeks. Further east, the great mass of Kathiawad, now known as Saurashtra, is formed of Deccan lava and on its eastern edge flourished the port town of Lothal. The mainland of Gujarat is alluvial, formed by the Sabarmati, Mahi and minor parallel streams, actively prograding into the Gulf of Cambay. Here, Bhagatrav, on the estuary of the Kim River, forms the southernmost extension of the Indus Civilization.

Characteristics

of I ndus

Settlements

Clear Evidence of Centralized Planning The settlement pattern was a multi-tiered one with urban and rural sites that were markedly varied in terms of size and function.

ad

Dholavira,

with I ts

Main Ro

Indus Civilization

3.11

Granary in Harappan Civilization

There were cities of monumental dimensions like Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa, Dholavira and Rakhigarhi that stand out on account of their size (more than 100 hectares each) and the character of their excavated remains. While the older premise that such cities were based on a gridiron system of planning has been shown by recent research to be invalid, there is impressive evidence of centralized planning. City space was divided into public and residential sectors.

One of the Water Reservoirs, with Steps, Dholavir

at

3.12

Chapter 3

At Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, the separation of the largely (though not exclusively) public administrative sector from the residential part of the city took the form of two separate mounds. Dholavira’s city plan was more intricate. At its fully developed stage, it had three parts made up of the citadel which was divided into a ‘castle’ and a ‘bailey’ area, the idle town and the lower town, all interlinked and within an elaborate system of fortification. The character of some of the structure is also worth considering. ­Mohenjo-Daro’s citadel, for instance, was constructed on a gigantic artificial platform (400 x 100 m) made of a mud brick retaining wall (over 6-m thick) enclosing a filling of sand and silt. This platform, after being enlarged twice, attained a final height of 7 m and provided a foundation on which further platforms were built in order to elevate important structures such as the Great Bath and the granary, so that the highest buildings were about 20 m above the surrounding plains and could be seen on the horizons for miles around. Another architectural marvel is Dholavira’s system of water management, crucial in an area, which is prone to frequent droughts. Rain water in the catchment areas of the two seasonal streams—Manhar and Mansar—was dammed and diverted

Large Well

in the

Northern Sector

of

Mohenjo-Daro

Indus Civilization

to the large reservoirs within the city walls. Apparently, there were 16 water reservoirs within the city walls, covering as much as 36 per cent of the walled area. Brick masonry walls protected them, although reservoirs were also made by cutting into the bedrock. Furthermore, drains in the ‘castle–bailey’ area carried rainwater to a receptacle for later use. The intermediate tier of the urban hierarchy was made up of sites that in several features recall the layout of the monumental cities of the civilization but are smaller in size. Kalibangan, Lothal, Kot Diji, Banawali and Amri are some of them and they can be considered as provincial centres. Kalibangan, like Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, comprised two fortified mounds—the smaller western one contained several mud brick platforms with fire altars on one of them. Most of the houses on the eastern mound had fire-altars of a similar type. Lothal was also a fortified town with its entire eastern sector being taken up by a dockyard (219 x 13m in size) which was connected with the river through an inlet channel. In its vicinity was the ‘acropolis’ where the remains of a storehouse, in which clay sealing, some with impressions of cords and other materials on them, were discovered. Lothal’s urban morphology also suggests that there is no necessary relationship between the size of a city and its overall planning. Mohenjo-Daro was at least 25 times the size of Lothal but the latter shares with it the presence of two separate areas, burnt brick houses, and regularly aligned streets and drains. In fact, its paved streets and lanes are unrivalled in the Indus context. The third tier of the Indus settlement hierarchy is made up of small, urban sites. These show some evidence of planning but no internal sub-divisions. Notwithstanding their size and structurally unprepossessing character, they had urban functions. Allahadino in Sind is one such site, which had a diameter of only 100 m but was an important metalcrafting centre. Similarly, Kuntasi in Gujarat is a small Harappan fortified settlement where semi-precious stones and copper were processed.

Definite Link Between Urban and Rural Centres Finally, urban centres were supported by and functionally connected with rural hinterlands of sedentary villages and temporary/semi-nomadic settlements. While the latter are generally small with thin occupational deposits, in the case of villages, outlines of huts and relatively thick deposits have been encountered. Kanewal in Gujarat, for instance, is 300 square m and its cultural deposit (of 1.5-m thickness) is suggestive of a secure village settlement. Similarly, the archaeological deposits of the Harappan phase in the Yamuna–Ganga doab—1.8 m at Alamgirpur and 1.4 m at Hulas—indicates that the pioneer colonizers of that area lived there for a long period of time. What is worth remembering is that, on the basis of size, it is not wise to distinguish rural and urban sites of the Indus Civilization. In Cholistan, there are a few large sites, one of which covers 25 hectares (and, thus, is larger than Kalibangan), which have been described as nomadic settlements, not urban ones. On the other hand, Kuntasi was only 2 hectares in size but has been rightly classified as an urban settlement because of its functional role as a provider of craft objects.

3.13

3.14

Chapter 3

Major Cities and Their Special Features Mohenjo-Daro: • The largest of all the Indus cities • Great Bath—the most important public place, remarkable for beautiful brickwork • Great Granary—the largest building • Multi-pillared assembly hall and a big rectangular building • Another building, identified as the temple. • Mohenjo-Daro in Sindhi language means the ‘Mound of the Dead’ • It was excavated in 1922 by R. D. Banerji. From the ruins, the archaeologists have concluded that it was once a well-planned city with straight, wide roads and a very highly developed system of drainage and sanitation • The famous the ‘Dancing Girl’ is found from this site only Harappa: • The first Indus site to be discovered and excavated in 1921. The Indus Civilization was originally called Harappan Civilization after this site • Granaries—two rows of six granaries; these were the nearest buildings to the river • Working floors—rows of circular brick platforms meant for threshing grain • Barracks—rows of single-roomed barracks, housed labourers • ‘Workmen quarter’ has been found Chanhudaro: • Only Indus city without a citadel • Like Mohenjo-Daro it was also flooded more than once • Discovery of a small pot which was probably an ink-well Kalibangan: • One of the two Indus cities which have both proto-Harappan and Harappan cultural ­phases • In its proto-Harappan phase, the fields were ploughed • Discovery of platforms with five alters Lothal: • The only Indus site with an artificial brick dockyard • Evidence for the earliest use of rice • Discovery of fire alters Banawali: • Evidence of having both proto-Harappan and Harappan cultural phases Surkotada: • The only Indus site where the remains of a horse have actually been found • Must have been another port-city

Indus Civilization

Subsistence Pattern Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Amidst the widely differing ecological conditions of the distribution area of this civilization, the subsistence strategy is not likely to have been a single or uniform one. The Harappans were familiar with the plough. Terracotta ploughs have been found at Indus sites in Cholistan and at Banawali and a ploughed field was revealed through excavation at Kalibangan. The Kalibangan field contained two sets of furrows crossing each other at right angles, thus forming a grid pattern, and it is likely that two crops were raised in the same field. In modern fields in that zone, mustard is grown in one set of furrows and horse gram in the other. Mixed cropping is suggested by other evidence as well, for instance, in the mixture of wheat and barley at Indus sites. Such mixed cropping is practiced even today in many parts of north India as an insurance against weather hazards so that wheat fails to ripen, the hardier barley is sure to yield a crop. In the Indus area, the cereal component was considered to be exclusively of wheat and barley while in Gujarat, rice and millets were more important. However, both rice and finger millet have now been discovered in Harappa.

An Ancient Well

and the

Drainage Canals

at

Lothal

3.15

3.16

Chapter 3

Other Characteristics Drainage System • Most distinctive feature of civilization • Each house had its own small drains which were directly connected with the street drain which ran under the main streets and below many lanes • Each house had its own soak-pit and water flowed from the sink into the underground sewers in the streets • The drains were made of mortar, lime and gypsum. They were covered with bricks and stones • There were manholes at regular intervals for inspection. These features show that the drains were constructed on scientific lines! • A number of burnt brick drain at Mohenjo-Daro and Lothal • Drains in all larger streets and smaller lanes • Drains subjected to regular cleaning • Existence of soak or sediment pits • No system of street drainage in Kalibangan • Evidence of covered drains Provision of Wells • • • •

Presence of brick-built wells Mohenjo-Daro is a representative site Usually round wells, made of especially designed bricks Mostly they lay within house but occasionally were placed between two houses

Streets and Lanes • • • •

Main streets had proper width (Mohenjo-Daro street—10 m) Lanes were relatively narrower Streets ran remarkably straight though their width were not constant Inner lanes often twisted/ turned

Fortified Walls • When bastions, corner-towers and gateways are envisaged together, such complexes elucidate ‘defensive’ character. There is also a moat • This is reminiscent of early historic cities where a fortification and a moat were common feature Uniformity in House Construction • Indus houses impress us with their general uniformity • Remains of staircases suggest an upper storey • Roofing was of mud-plastered reed matting supported by timber. Plastering was normally of clay, and mortar used was also clay • Entrance doors usually opened into side- lanes and alleys. Windows are rare • Bathrooms were an invariable feature, but privies were less common • Woods must have been used extensively along with bricks Civic Organization An efficient civic organization was the monumental achievement of the Harappans. Besides well-planned towns and the adequate arrangement of water supply, the Harappans used lamp-posts erected at intervals that reveals the existence of street-lighting. Garbage was dumped into the dustbins. All these things indicate the existence of some civic organization in the Indus Valley.

Indus Civilization

Harappan Seals

A wide range of other cultivated crops including peas, lentils, chickpeas, sesame, flax, legumes and cotton are found. The range suggests cotton. In Sind, cotton is usually a summer crop and such crops have generally been cultivated with the help of irrigation. This is because rainfall is extremely scanty, at about 8 inches. The favourite animal food of the Indus people was the cattle meat and cattle bones have been found in large quantities at all sites that have yielded bones. In addition to their meat, cattle and buffaloes must have supported agricultural operations and served as draught animals. Among other things, this is suggested by their age of slaughter. At Shikarpur in Gujarat, a majority of the cattle and buffaloes lived up to the age of maturity (approximately 3 years) and were then killed at various stages till they reached 8 years of age. Mutton was also popular and bones of sheep/goat have been found at almost all Indus sites. Hunting of animals was not a negligible activity; the ratio of the bones of wild animals in relation to domesticated varieties is 1:4. The animals include wild buffalo, various species of deer, wild pig, ass, jackal, rodents and hare. The remains of fish and marine molluscs are frequently found as well. As for food gathering, wild rice was certainly consumed in the Yamuna–Ganga doab al-

Characteristics

of the

Harappan Civilization

showing

Various Figures

and a

Script

which is still

Undeciphered

3.17

3.18

Chapter 3

Harappan Seals

Terracotta Sealing from a Unicorn (Mythical Animal) Seal, Mohenjo-Daro

In 1872, archaeologist Alexander Cunningham was puzzled by a flat piece of stone from Harappa which had writing on it. It was a seal. Over 3500 seals have now been found. Most are square or oblong, and small, about 25-mm across. They are made from steatite, usually baked hard. Each seal has a picture and writing on it, carved with a copper tool. Pressed into soft clay, a seal left an impression (a copy of the picture and writing). When the clay dried hard, it could be used as a tag which could then be tied to a pot or basket. Indus Valley traders probably used seals like labels, to show who owned a sack of grain, or that the correct city tax had been paid. Seal Animals Many seals have pictures of animals on them. Animals on seals include elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, fish-eating crocodiles and zebu (humped cattle). The most commonly pictured animal on Indus seals is a ‘unicorn’. In ancient stories, the unicorn was a mythical beast, usually looking like a horse, with one horn. Some people think the Indus Valley ‘unicorn’ is really a cow sideways-on. It may have been a ‘good luck’ charm, or the badge of an important group of traders. Other features are as follows: • They are greatest artistic creations. Made mostly of steatite, they differ in size. Though there are different types of seals, only two are main types: square type and rectangular type • The most frequently encountered animal is the humpless bull, called ‘unicorn’ (ekasringa) • Other animals on seals are elephant, tiger, bison and rhino • Purpose of seals was probably to mark the ownership of property The Priest-King

Stone Statue of the Priest King Discovered Mohenjo-Daro

at

A stone statue found at Mohenjo-Daro, in 1927, shows the head of a man with a beard and headband. He is wearing a robe with a three-leaf pattern on it. He looks important, and people have called him the ‘Priest-King’. A priest is someone who leads people in religious worship. It is possible that the cities of the Indus Valley were ruled by priests. But it cannot be said with a certainty. If this man was a ruler, he probably lived in the citadel. He and other rulers may have made the laws to run the city, and collected taxes from traders.

though the most striking evidence comes from Surkotada in Gujarat where the overwhelming majority of identified seeds are of wild nuts, grasses and weeds. In general, the Indus food economy was a broad-based, risk-mitigating system—a pragmatic strategy, considering the large and concentrated population groups that had to be supported.

Indus Civilization

3.19

Terracotta Figurines • • • • •

They are mostly hand-modelled. A few are made in single moulds The main category includes birds and animals Both male and female figurines are found, latter being more common A group of heads with horns may be regarded as deities Another group consists of models of carts, used as toys

Images • They are made of both stone and metal • Best specimen among stone sculptures is steatite image of a bearded man • Among bronze sculptures, best specimen is nude dancing girl • Four unique bronzes are excavated at Daimabad. Pottery

Female Figurine Discovered at M ohenjo -D aro

• It is bright red and well baked. It consists of wheel-made wares, both plain and painted. Plain is more common • Several devices were employed for decoration • Harappans used different types of pottery, such as glazed, polychrome, incised, perforated, knobbed, etc. • Forms include goblets, dishes, basins, flasks, vases, bottles, tumblers, jars, etc. • It was highly utilitarian in character

Craft Production and Trade A wide range of artisanal production is encountered at Indus cities. Specialized crafts that had roots in the preceding period became more complex in terms of technological processes during this period and the combinations of raw materials being used, also expanded. Along with the widespread urban demand for shell artefacts, semi-precious stone and steatite beads, faience objects, and implements as jewellery in base and precious metals were in vogue. In terms of metallurgy, it is now reasonably clear that the Indus Civilization was not, in the main, a bronze-using culture. Pure copper was the dominant tradition. Additionally, there was a variety of alloys ranging from low- and high-grade bronzes to copper–lead and copper–nickel alloys. Some of the crafted objects are quintessentially Indus, in the sense that they are neither found prior to the advent of the urban civilization nor after its collapse. Indus seals (inscribed, square or rectangular in shape, with representations of animals, most notably the ‘unicorn’), for example, are rarely found in the late Harappan and post-Harappan contexts since the commercial transactions for which they were used had dramatically shrunk. This is also true for the series of Indus stone statues of animals and men, of which the most famous is that of the ‘Priest-King’. These appear to have had a politico-religious significance. The disappearance of this stone-carving tradition can be linked to the abandonment of urban centres, along with the migration and transformation of elite

Bronze Dancing Girl Statue Discovered in Mohenjo-Daro

3.20

Chapter 3

Terracotta

jars and figurines from I ndus

Valley

groups. Similarly, long barrel carnelian beads are a typical Indus luxury product, which were primarily manufactured at Chanhudaro. Their crafting demanded both skill and time; the perforation in a 6–13 cm length bead required between 3 and 8 days. Evidently, the largely deurbanized scenario that followed the collapse of cities could not sustain such a specialized production. Another feature that makes Indus Civilization special in terms of craft traditions is that they are not region- specific. Shell objects were manufactured at Nagwada and Nageshwar in Gujarat and at Chanhudaro and Mohenjo-Daro in Sind. Similarly, metal artefacts were produced at Lothal in Gujarat, at Harappa in the Bari doab of Punjab and at Allahadino and Mohenjo-Daro in Sind. While craft objects were manufactured at many places, the manufacturing technology could be surprisingly standardized. In the case of shell bangles, at practically all sites they had a uniform width of between 5 and 7 mm and they were almost everywhere sawn by a saw that had a similar blade thickness. What is equally striking about the wide distribution of craft production is that, in a number of cases, manufacture depended on raw materials that were not locally available. At Mohenjo-Daro, shell artefacts were manufactured from the marine mollusc, found along the Sind and Baluchistan coast which was brought in a raw state from there. Similarly, there is impressive evidence of manufacture of copper-based craft items at Harappa ranging from furnaces to slag and unfinished objects, even though the city was located in a mineral-poor area.

Trade with Mesopotamia Sargon of Akkad (2334–2279 bce) was a king in Mesopotamia. This was one of the first ancient civilizations. We know Indus Valley traders went there, because Indus seals have been found in Mesopotamia. Sargon’s scribes kept written records of ships from other lands. So we learn that the Mesopotamians bought gold, copper and jewellery from ‘Meluhha’. Was Meluhha the Mesopotamian name for the Indus Civilization? Or was it the Indus Valley people’s own name for their land? To reach Mesopotamia, Indus ships sailed west. They probably kept close to land. Bits of old Indus pottery found on beaches in Oman, in the Gulf, came from storage jars left behind by traders.

Indus Civilization

Such craft production could survive and prosper because of a highly organized trading system. Indus people had the capacity to mobilize resources from various areas ranging from Rajasthan to Afghanistan and, considering the scale of manufacture, it is likely that there were full-time traders that helped in providing the necessary raw materials. Most of these resource-rich areas also show evidence of contact with the Indus Civilization. For example, at Chalcolithic Kulli culture sites, Harappan unicorn seals and pottery have been found. Similarly, the Moulded Terracotta Tablet Depicting a Harappan River Boat exploitation of Rajasthan’s raw materials is underlined by Harappan pottery at some sites of the Ganeshwar–Jodhpura chalcolithic complex and by the strong stylistic similarities in the copper arrowheads, spearheads and fish hooks of the two cultures. In addition to raw materials, other types of objects were traded. There was trade in food items as is underlined by the presence of marine cat fish at Harappa, a city that was hundreds of kilometres away from the sea. Craft items were also traded. Small manufacturing centres, such as Nageshwar were providing shell ladles to Mohenjo-Daro which also received chert blades from the Rorhi hills of Sind. It is now possible to visualize the exchange of finished objects between the monumental cities of the Indus Civilization as well. For instance, stoneware bangles—a highly siliceous, partially sintered ceramic body with low porosity—manufactured at Mohenjo-Daro have been found 570 km north, at Harappa. The nature of the social process involved in this exchange is unknown, but is unlikely to be a case of satisfying an economic demand, since Harappa was also producing such bangles. Possibly, the unidirectional movement of some bangles from Mohenjo-Daro to Harappa is related to social transactions among related status or kin groups in the two cities. In terms of external trade, the Indus Civilization had wide ranging contacts with cultures and civilizations to the north-west and west of its distribution area. Indus and Indus-related objects have been found in north Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, north and south Iran, Bahrain, Failaka and the Oman Peninsula in the Persian Gulf, and north and south Mesopotamia. The objects include etched carnelian and long barrel-cylinder carnelian beads, square/rectangular Indus seals, pottery with the Indus script, ‘Indus’ motifs on local seals, ivory objects, and various terracotta articles including phallic specimens that have strong Indus analogues. Externally derived objects and traits have been found at Indus sites such as seals with Mesopotamian and Persian Gulf affinities, externally derived motifs on seals and steatite–chlorite Clay Models of Carts of the Harappan Er vessels.

3.21

3.22

Chapter 3

Dock

at

Lothal

Evidence for and Nature of Interaction • There are finds of Indus objects in all these areas. Similarly, there are non-Indus objects in distribution area of Indus Civilization. • In Indus area, seals of Mesopotamia. Iran and central Asia occur at Mohenjo-Daro and Kalibangan. Gulf seal was found at Lothal and seal with a Gulf motif was also found at Bet Dwarka • Several seals of Gulf origin bear Indus motifs and script in Gulf, Mesopotamia and Iran • Whole region was tied by a network of overland and maritime trade. The term ‘Meluhha’ in Mesopotamian literature may not denote exclusively area of Indus, but whole area to the east of Khuzestan and Iran and included Indus area • There could also be settlements of Harappan traders in Mesopotamia Mode of Transport • • • •

Land transport was by bullock carts and pack oxen There is evidence of sea and river transport in seals and terracotta models, and dockyard at Lothal Of inland travel there is evidence from terracotta models of carts. For longer journeys and through rougher country, chief means of transport was by caravans of pack-oxen.

Indus Civilization

3.23

Weights and Measures • Articles used as weights have been discovered. They proceeded in a series, first doubling, then going in decimal multiples of 16 • Sticks inscribed with measure marks have been discovered. Harappans were authors of a linear system of measurement Social Stratification • Harappans were probably divided into three sections • Whether these divisions were based on economic factors or had a Toy Cart in Harappan Excavations socio-religious nature cannot be stated • Evidence from Kalibangan indicates that religion did play a part in it • Structural remains of houses indicate class differentiation • Big houses and smaller ones represented existence of rich and poor • Burial remains speak of class differentiation on the basis of types of materials found Clothes and hairstyles Impressions on seals and other artefact show us how some Indus people dressed. It was hot all year round, so people did not need thick clothes to keep warm Many workmen probably just wore a loincloth, whereas the rich wore tunics. Women wore dresses that probably covered much of the body though some might have been topless Both men and women wore jewellery, especially beads and arm-bangles. Some women had elegant hairstyles, with braids and beads. Some arranged their hair in headdresses shaped like fans. Political Set-up • Indus features would have required a mechanism not only competent in initiating them but also powerful enough to enforce them. What was nature of this mechanism? Whether there was a single state? Or were there many small States? • Some visualized transformation of petty chiefdoms into organized states • This envisioned scenario of many states is not improbable • It has been argued that uniformity over such a vast area could not have been achieved without an ‘empire’. Such an argument is nullified by example of early historical times. Around 500 bce, there did exist a uniform material culture in a vast area • Were there kings in each state or an emperor in case of an empire? If kings and emperors cannot be established because of lack of ‘palaces’ and ‘royal tombs’, what could have been the alternatives? Religion • Human Forms: Chief male deity was Pasupati Mahadeva ­(proto-Siva). Chief female deity was Mother Goddess (Goddess of Earth) • Symbolic Forms: There is evidence for both phallic and yoni ­worship • Nature Worship: They worshipped gods in form of trees, animals, snakes and birds • Anthropomorphism: Tree-spirit is shown in a tree, with tiger standing before it Another theme shows a row of seven figures Some are suggestive of Mesopotamian mythology, like G ­ ilgamesh Weights and a Ruler in the Harappan Some abstract symbols and motifs anticipate later Indian religion Civilization

3.24

Chapter 3

Indus Valley Beads

and

Jewellery

Headband

and

Waist Ornament

There is an abundance of raw materials on the peripheries and within the area where Indus cities and settlements flourished. While, there may have been some raw materials involved in long-distance trade, there is no reason to argue that the Indus Civilization was in any way either solely or significantly dependent on the regions to the west for such resources.

Society, Religion and Religious Beliefs Since Indus writing has not been satisfactorily deciphered, it is difficult to determine past ways of thought and beliefs, especially in the case of the Indus Civilization where these must be inferred from material remains. The archaeological indicators here are mainly portable objects of various kinds, figural representations and a few areas within settlements which seem to have been set apart for sacred purposes. There are no structures at Indus sites that can be described as temples nor are these any statues, which can be considered as images that were worshipped. A few structures reflect a connection between concepts of cleansing through water in relation to ritual functions. The sunken, rectangular basin known as the ‘Great Bath’ at Mohenjo-Daro is one such instance. The cult connection of this water-using structure is evident from its method of construction which had three concentric zones around it, including streets on all four sides (making it the only free standing structure of the city), for the purpose of a ritual procession leading into it. The bathing pavements and well in the vicinity of the offering pits on Kalibangan’s citable also underline this connection. As for beliefs connected with fertility, some terracotta figurines from Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa show some connections. At towns, such as Kalibangan and Surkotada, female figurines are practically absent. Even at Mohenjo-Daro, the fact that only 475 of the total number of terracotta figurines and fragments represented the female form means that this was not as common a practice as it has been made out to be. Several of the female figurines were utilized as lamps or for the burning of incense. Fertility in relation to the male principle has also been evoked not merely in the context on the ‘Siva-Pasupati’ seal but also with reference to the phallic stones that have been found at Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa and Dholavira as also with regard to a miniature terracotta representation of a phallic emblem set in an ovular-shaped flat receptacle from Kalibangan. Religious sanctity was associated with particular trees and animals as well. The presence of part human–part animal characters on Indus seals and a human personage on a pipal (Ficus religiosia) tree, in fact, suggest a shamanistic compo-

Indus Civilization

map of

nent in Harappan religion. None of these features, however suggests a transregional Indus religion with cult centres and state-dominated rituals, of the kind that is writ large on the architectural landscape of Bronze Age in West Asia and Egypt.

Decline of the Civilization The decline of Indus Civilization like its origin has long been a matter of debate. But amidst such debate, one thing is clear that by decline it does not mean an abrupt end of the entire civilization. It only means the decline of the urban characteristics. The process of urban decline appears to have unfolded in various ways. At Mohenjo-Daro there was a steady deterioration, apparent in the fact that the walls of the terminal level structures are frequently thin walled, haphazardly laid out, made of unstandardized bricks. This is also true of Dholavira whose progressive

3.25

Harappan Civilisation

3.26

Chapter 3

impoverishment was hastened by two spells when the city was deserted. As urbanism crumbled, rickety, jerry-built structures and the reused stones robbed from older structures came to be commonly encountered on the other hand, Kalibangan was abandoned relatively suddenly and the same is true for Banawali. In other words, it is not one event but different kinds of events that must have led to the disappearance of urban life. There is, however, no unanimity about these events or about their relative importance. In fact, the collapse of the Indus Civilization continues to be a focus of large historical speculation and debate. The earliest formulations for urban collapse revolved around the hypothetical Aryans and the allusions in the Rigveda to the destruction wreaked on forts/ cities (Indra is referred to as Purandara, meaning ‘breaker of forts’) by them. This idea continued to remain a popular one till the 1940s when archaeological ‘proof’ of Aryan invasions was claimed to have been discovered at Mohenjo-Daro, on one hand, in the assortment of scattered skeletons (apparently sings of a ‘massacre’) and at Harappa, on the other hand, in the form of deliberate blocking of entrances and a culture (Cemetery H culture) overlying the mature Harappan phase which was supposed to represent the conquerors. Since the 1950s, however serious doubts have been raised about the historicity of an Aryan invasion. Among other things, it has been demonstrated that the massacre evidence was based on very few skeletons that cannot be dated to the same stratum. Increasingly, greater attention has been paid to the question of the e­ nvironment in the Indus distribution area and the role of rivers and c­ limate in the decline of an urban culture. At several Indus cities, such as M ­ ohenjo-Daro, Chanhudaro and Lothal, there are silt debris intervening b ­ etween phases of occupation and these underline the possibility of damage being caused by the inundations of swollen rivers. It has been suggested that the excess river water was a product of earthquakes, although this has not been consequence not of excessive but insufficient river water. The river in question is the Ghaggar–Hakra, often been identified with the Vedic Saraswati, which was drying up, number of sites dramatically shrank in the phase that post-dates the urban one. The reduction in the flow of the Ghaggar–Hakra was a consequence of river diversion and, according to one group of scholars it was the Sutlej that abandoned its channel and began to flow westwards, while others have contended that the Yamuna was diverted from the Indus into the Ganges system. The impact of the Harappans on their environment is also a factor that has been considered as contributing to the collapse of the Indus Civilization. A possible disequilibrium between urban demand and the carrying capacity of the land, leading to a fodder requirements and fuel for firing bricks are among the explanations that have been offered. However, the archaeological scaffolding for supporting such arguments remains to be systematically worked out. In the stretch that lies roughly east of Cholistan, the absence of long-term cultural roots has been highlighted. It has been suggested that since the Indus phenomenon there did not evolve through a long process but was imposed on a hunting–gathering economic context, its presence over time came to be thinly stretched and eventually, could not be sustained. The question of the absence of a long antecedence for the civilization in the Indo-Gangetic divide and Gujarat may require modification in the context of the discovery of cultures antedating the mature Harappan phase in Kutch and Saurashtra on one hand, and in the Hisar area of Haryana on the other. At the same time, in the period following the demise of the urban form, chalcolithic village cultures as also microlithic hunter-gatherers are encountered, an indicator

Indus Civilization

that such cultures were economically sustainable in those regions. However, the highly complex system of an urban civilization, which delicately balanced different social and economic sub-system, was no longer viable. Archaeological findings do not directly suggest the possible socio-political dimensions responsible for the decline of Harappan civilization. Instead, they very clearly portray the image of a gradual process of de-urbanisation. What followed the collapse of Indus urbanism was a variety of late/post Harappan cultures—the Cemetery H culture in Punjab and Cholistan, the Jhukar culture of Sind, the Rangpur IIB and Lustrous Red Ware phases of Gujarat. In this latter phase, a few elements of the Harappan tradition, by which one means features whose genealogy can be located in the mature Harappan period, persisted to a greater or lesser degree, medicated by other cultural elements. However, the civilization had ended and even though aspects of this tradition continued, it was in a landscape whose cultural diversity contrasts sharply with that of the preceding, mature Harappan period. What does the end of the Indus Civilization mean in relation to the character of the cultural developments that followed? Urban settlements, for example, did not disappear completely—Kudwala in Cholistan, Bet Dwarka off the coast of Gujarat and Daimabad in the upper Godavari basin are three of them. But they are relatively few, and certainly there is no city that matches the grandeur and monumentality of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappan cities, these are now few and far between, although baked bricks and drains are present in the Cemetery H occupation at Harappa while at Sanghol there was a solid mud platform on which mud houses stood. Writing is occasionally encountered but remains generally confined to a few potsherds. The same holds true for seals, which became rare, and at Daimabad and Jhukar are circular, not rectangular like the typical Indus specimens. The Dholavira specimens, on the other hand, are rectangular but without figures. The other indicator of a reduction in the scale of trade is the relatively sparse evidence of inter-regional procurement of raw materials. On the whole, one would say that elements emblematic of the urban tradition of the Indus Civilization dramatically shrank and finally disappeared. Not everything that is associated with the Indus Civilization disappeared, as it were, without a trace. A few craft traditions survived urban collapse and are found in the makeup of the late/post-Harappan mosaic. Faience was one such craft and ornaments fashioned out of this synthetic stone are commonly found in the post-Harappan period. A similar continuity can be seen in the character of metal technology, although there was a general decrease in the use of copper. The bronzes from Daimabad in Maharashtra made by the ‘lost wax’ process and the replication of a marine shell in copper at Rojdi in Gujarat are evidence of this and underline the continuation of the technical excellence of the Indus copper and copper ­alloy traditions. There was also an extension of multi-exponential expansion in agriculture, settlements of late/post-Harappan lineage in the aftermath of the Indus phenomenon. There was no cultural cohesion or artefactual uniformity of the kind that was a hallmark of that civilization. Instead of a civilization, there were cultures, each with its own distinct regional identity.

3.27

3.28

Chapter 3

Script and Language • Undeciphered so far; evidence from Kalibangan show that writing was ‘Boustrophedon’, i.e., written from right to left and from left to right in alternate lines. • Script: It is regarded as pictographic. • Number of signs is between 400 and 600, of which about 40 or 60 are basic • Language: There are two main arguments about its nature—Indo-European or Dravidian • Harappan Inscriptions: Number of inscribed objects is around 3675. They consist of seals, copper tablets, implements, pottery and other miscellaneous objects. About 50 per cent of these objects are found at Mohenjo-Daro. • Decipherment: The task remains problematic and shortness of inscriptions renders it difficult. No two attempts are in agreement • Script is still undeciphered, and there is nothing to choose between different linguistic hypotheses • There could be a whole range of texts on perishable materials • An inscription of nine letters was found on floor of western chamber of north gate at Dholavira Dice and chess The Indus people may have been the first people to have used dice. Cube dice with six sides and spots have been found by archaeologists. The dice found in the Indus Valley are very similar to the ones we use today. They have spots (nowadays called pips) on each side numbering from one to six. Dice have also been found in south-eastern Iran, from a place known as the Burnt City. The dice from this archaeological site date back to 5000 years ago. Dice may have come from Iran to the Indus Valley, or from the Indus Valley to Iran. An early form of chess may have been played by the Indus people. Objects with grids on them and playing pieces have been found at sites in the Indus Valley. Could these have been early chess boards and pieces? Did the modern game of chess originate from these objects?

Copper Implements Excavated

from

Surfaces

of

Mature Harappan Sites

Indus Civilization

3.29

Burial Practices • Cemeteries are located around the perimeter of settlements • Three forms of burials are found at Mohenjo-Daro, but the general practice was extended inhumation • Different sites show different forms of burial • In the grave, people put pottery jars, with food and drink for the dead person Indus Legacy Balance Scale

and

Weights

used

Indus and Hindus in H arappan C ivilization The religion of Hinduism probably has its roots in the Indus Valley Civilization. For example, Hindus worship a ‘mother goddess’ (her names include Parvati and Sakti), and the Indus religion had its own ‘mother goddess’. The Indus people thought the cow a special animal, the giver of life (meat and milk). Today, Hindus regard the cow as sacred. Hindus bathe in the River Ganges, which for them is a holy river. Indus people too probably bathed as part of their religion, to clean the ‘inner being’ as well as the body.

The Indus and the Swastika The swastika is a cross with its arms bent at right angles to either the right or left. In the 20th century, a black swastika became the hated symbol of the Nazis in Germany. But the swastika is in fact an ancient symbol of goodness, and appears on seals found in the Indus Valley cities. The name ‘swastika’ comes from an ancient language called Sanskrit, and means ‘good to be’. It was a ‘good luck’ sign for Hindus, and to Buddhists it meant ‘rebirth’. Ancient swastikas have been found on Hindu architecture, on coins from Mesopotamia, in the ruins of the city of Troy (Turkey), and in other Asian, European and The Well at Mohenjo-Daro, 2500 b Native American cultures.

c

Living Together The Indus people’s gift to the world was showing how to live in peace in cities. Their way of life was based on trade, without money. With few, if any, enemies, they did not need large armies. Not everyone was rich, but even the poor probably got enough to eat. In their clean, well-run cities the Indus people enjoyed beautiful as well as useful things. Life was not all work. They made toys and jewellery, as well as drains. City life requires law and order. The Indus system of city government worked well for at least 500 years.

3.30

Chapter 3

Relationship of Indus with Indian History India derived its name from the river ‘Indus’, for India means the country of the Indus. The earliest literary text, Rigveda, however, refers to the Indus as the ‘Sindhu’ (a huge sheet of water). The Aryans in their long trek through Iran into India did not encounter a river of such magnitude as the Indus. In 518 bce, Darius I, the Persian emperor, conquered the area around the Indus and converted it into a Persian Satrapy (province). The Persians, because of their own difficulty in pronouncing the initial ‘S’ turned ‘Sindhu’ into ‘Hindu’. Later, passing through the hands of the Greeks, ‘Hindu’ became ‘Indus’. Thus, to the Greeks and Romans India came to mean the country of the Indus. With the Arab conquest of Sind, however, the old Persian name returned in the form of ‘Hindustan’ (Land of Hindu); the people who inhabited the land came to be called ‘Hindus’; and their region was described as ‘Hinduism’. The name ‘India’, thus, goes back to the earliest civilization in India, the Indus Civilization, though no one had heard of such a civilization till the third decade of the 20th century.

Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach

3.31

1. Explain why the majority of the known Harappan settlements are located in the semi-arid areas with saline groundwater. [2016]

The Right Approach

• Mention the origin of Harappan valley civilization in Cholistan. • Do mention its later spread across Hakra-Indus Doab towards Sind and Kutch • Then spread towards Harappa, Rajasthan, Harayana and Punjab • Movement towards Saurashtra and mainland Gujarat took place from Kutch at a later period. • Refer to the major settlements of the Harappan Civilization, which were located in the semi-arid areas with saline ground water will not be free from mistakes since the weather pattern of those sites in the present days are not the same as that of 5000 years ago. So, the major climatic shift coupled with the drying up of river Saraswati/Ghaggar could have been the possible reasons for the areas to be semiarid in course of time. [Refer pages 3.4–3.10]

2. The decline of Harappan civilization was caused by ecological degradation rather than external invasion. Discuss.  [2015]

The Right Approach

• Begin your answer with the researches that emphasize upon the question of the ecological degradation in the Indus distribution area. • Write about role of rivers and climate in the decline of civilization

• A  lso mention that at several Indus cities, such as Mohenjodaro, Chanhudaro and Lothal given the evidence of possibility of damage caused by the inundiation of swollen rivers. • Then mention possible disequilibrium between urban demand and the carrying capacity of the land, leading to a fodder requirements and fuel are some of the explanations offered. • Also write that the archaelogical findings do not directly suggest the possible socio-political dimension responsible for deline of Harappan civilization. [Refer pgs. 3.23–3.25]

3.32

Chapter 3

3. Do you think the Harappan civilization had a diversity of subsistence base?

The Right Approach

[2014]

• G  ive a brief idea about the meaning of subsistence pattern. • Then mention how Harappan civilization had a diversity of subsistence base. • Give very strong points to support the idea that Harappan civilization had a diversity of subsistence base. Harappan Civilization Diverse Subsistence Base

Different ecological conditions

Mixed Cropping Pattern

Wide range of cultivated crops as peas, lentels, flax, chickpeas, etc.

Favourite animal food was cattle meat and bones

4

Chapter

The Aryans and The Vedic Age

4.2

Chapter 4

As we have seen in the previous lesson, our study of the Harappan Civilization is based entirely on archaeological sources as their writing or script has not, so far, been deciphered. The Harappans lived in cities and had well-organized trade and craft activities. However, around 1900 bce, these cities began to decline. A number of rural settlements appeared afterwards. Around the same time we find archaeological evidence of the arrival of new people known as Aryan or Indo-Aryan on the outskirts of the Harappan region. In the present lesson, we shall study the circumstances under which these new people arrived and also learn about the main features of their culture as depicted in the literature called the Vedas.

Objectives After reading this chapter, you will be able to: • Learn about the Vedic texts and the nature of their content • Know about the Aryans and identify the region from where they migrated • Locate the regions inhabited by the Early Vedic (1500–1000 bce) and the Later Vedic people (1000–600 bce) • Explain the importance and impact of the use of iron implements which began in Later Vedic period; Identify the changes which appeared in the economic, social, religious and political structures and institutions of the Vedic people over a period extending from 1000 to 600 bce

General Survey The Vedic culture is known largely from Vedic literature (Rigvedic Age: 1500–1000 bce and Later Vedic Period 1000–600 bce). The discovery of 700 Painted Grey Ware (PGW) sites (900–500 bce) so far in Indo-Ganga divide, upper Ganga valley and Ganga Yamuna doab has provided archaeological materials to corroborate and verify literary data in Vedic literature. Also, the beginning of use of iron, not encountered in Harappan times, is also recorded archaeologically. Moreover, Rigveda speaks of a simple socio-economic, political set up and religious life. The later Vedic times witnessed spread of Vedic culture from Punjab area to south, east and southeast, i.e., in various parts of Ganga valley. Changes brought about greater complexities in socio-economic, political and religious conditions than those of Rigvedic times. PGW sites are found to have borne material evidence for changes noted above. Therefore, a detailed study of both the Rigvedic and Later-Vedic cultures would help us in understanding these changes.

Sources

of

Study

Literary Sources—The Vedic Texts

Atharva Veda Samhita

What is Veda? The word ‘Veda’ is derived from the root ‘vid’ which means ‘to know’. The word Veda means the sacred knowledge contained in the texts known as Vedic text. Two categories of texts are included in the ­corpus of the Vedic literature. These are Mantra and Brahmana. The Mantra category forms the core of the Vedic texts and has four separate c­ ollections. These are the Rigveda, the Samaveda, the Yajurveda and the Atharvaveda. The Brahmanas not to be confused with Brahamanical class are prose texts containing the explanations

The Aryans and The Vedic Age

4.3

of the mantras as well as the sacrificial rituals. The four Vedas together with their Brahmanas are also known as shruti or ‘hearing’, that which was directly heard by the sages. The Aranyakas (literally forest treatises) and the Upanishads (sitting down beside) are mainly appendices to the Brahmanas. These are also known as the Vedanta (end of the Veda) and contain philosophical discussions. The social, economic, political and religious aspects of the life of the people came to be reflected in the Vedic literature. Thus, Vedas became the storehouse of knowledge.

The Vedas The Rigveda: It is the oldest religious text in the world and is therefore, known as ‘the first testament of mankind.’ It contains 1028 hymns divided into 10 mandalas or chapters. It is said to have been composed during the early Vedic period. The hymns are dedicated by the sages to the Gods. They were passed on orally from teachers to their disciples. The Rigvedic hymns are the authentic sources of knowledge of the life of people of the time. Much of the Indian philosophy is based on the Rigveda. It also contains the famous Gayatri mantra. Although religious in nature, the Vedas are a valuable source of information on various subjects. The Samaveda: The term, ‘Sama’ means ‘sweet song’ or ‘the melody’. In this Veda, there are 1875 hymns, some of which are borrowed from the Rigveda. These hymns were meant to be sung at the time of the sacrifice by the priests. The Yajurveda: It deals with rituals or the hymns recited during the performance of Yajnas. There are 2086 hymns which throw light on the social and religious life of the Aryans. The Atharvaveda: The 731 hymns contained in this Veda deal with magic and charm. Most of the hymns are taken from the Rigveda. Besides the powers of ghosts and spirits, the hymns deal with gyan (knowledge), karma (action) and upasana (invocation). Some hymns also deal with medicines for the treatment of various diseases. Careful studies have shown that the Vedic texts reflect two stages of development in terms of literature as well as social and cultural evolution. The Rigveda which is the oldest Vedic text reflects one stage of social and cultural development whereas the other three Vedas reflect another stage. The first stage is known

Important Mandals of Rigveda Mandal 3: Gayatri Mantra Mandal 6: Mention of the term Hariyupiya Mandal 7: Battle of 10 kings Mandal 9: Dedicated to Lord Soma Mandal 10: (a) Nadistuti Sukta (b) Nasadiya Sukta, dealing with speculations about creation of Universe (c) Purusha Sukta, dealing with division into 4 varnas - Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras

Recently, the Rigveda has been included by the UNESCO in the list of literature signifying World Human Heritage.

4.4

Chapter 4

as the Rigvedic period or Early Vedic period and the later stage is known as the Later Vedic period. The age of the Early Vedic period corresponds with the date of the composition of the Rigvedic hymns. This date has been fixed between 1500 and 1000 bce. The Later Vedic period is placed between 1000 and 600 bce. Other Later Vedic Sources The Brahmanas: Written after the Vedas as their simple commentary, the Brahmanas are in prose. They explain the social and religious importance of rituals as well as the value of sacrifices. The Brahmanas are of great historical value. Each Veda has several Brahmanas. The Aranyakas: They are known as ‘forest books’ written for the guidance of the hermits and the students living in forests. They form the concluding part of the Brahmanas. Their main themes are mysticism and philosophy. The Upanishads: They are philosophical commentaries on the Vedas. The doctrines such as Karma, Moksha and Maya are explained in detail. The Upanishads form the basic source of Indian philosophy. Composed between 1000 and 800 bce by different sages, they are said to form the foundation on which later additions to Vedic Literature rest. Hayagriva a Horse-headed Incarnation of Lord Vishnu Restoring Vedas to B rahma which were Taken to Rasatala (The Netherworld) This story is mentioned in Shantiparva of Mahabharata, when Madhu and Kaitabha, the two demons had stolen the Vedas from Lord Brahma.

Allied Vedic Literature The Vedangas: They deal with the ways in which the Vedas ought to be chanted: and are thus important in the understanding of the Vedas. The six Vedangas deal with pronunciation, grammar, etymology, metrics and astronomy. The Sutras: They are divided into three groups: the Shulba Sutras which deal with yajna and sacrifices; the Grihya Sutras or Smarta Sutras, which deal with the ceremonies connected with family life; and the Dharma Sutras which provide rules of conduct for the various classes of people and the various stages in their life. The Upavedas: As the name suggests, they are subsidiary Vedas. They are four in number. Ayurveda deals with Indian system of medicine; the Dhanurveda. describes the art of warfare; Gandharvaveda describes the art of music; and Shilpaveda deals with the art and architecture. Darshanas: There are six schools of Indian philosophy known as Shad-Darshanas. They include—Nyaya, Vaishesika, Sankhya, Yoga, Purva Mimamsa and Uttar Mimamsa. They all propagate the virtues of life and are opposed to external rituals. The Dharmashastras: The law-books called the Dharmasutras and the Smritis together with their commentaries are called Dharmashastras. The Dharmashastras were compiled in 500–200 bce and the principal Smritis were codified in the first six centuries of the Christian Era. They lay down the duties for different classes of people as well as for

The Aryans and The Vedic Age

kings and their officials. Manusmriti gives the description of Hindu code of law including the Varnas (the Castes) and the Ashramas. The Ashtadhyayi: It is a treatise on Sanskrit grammar by Panini. Information is given about the roots of the words and the context in which they were used in Vedic literature.

The Epics Besides the Vedas, we have two famous Epics—the Ramayana and the ­Mahabharata— that give us glimpses of the later phase (1000–700 bce) of ­Aryan civilization in India. Ramayana: The Ramayana was originally composed in Sanskrit. The Sanskrit version is said to be the work of Maharishi Valmiki who lived in the third century bce. The story of Ramayana revolves around Rama and the abduction of his wife sita by a demon called Ravana. Rama, prince of Ayodhya, won the hand of the beautiful princess Sita, but was exiled with her and his brother ­Laksmana for 14 years through the plotting of his stepmother. In the forest Sita was abducted by Ravana, and Rama gathered an army of monkeys and bears to search for her. The allies attacked Lanka, killed Ravana, and rescued Sita. In order to prove her chastity, Sita entered fire, but was vindicated by the gods and restored to her husband. After the

Mahabharata, Sanskrit

script

4.5

4.6

Chapter 4

couple’s triumphant return to Ayodhya, Rama’s righteous rule (Ram-raj) inaugurated a golden age for all mankind. Hence, he is praised for upholding the ideals and values of society of his times at great personal sacrifice. In this process, Ramayana becomes an important source of information for understanding not only the geography of the period but also social, economic and religious life of the period as well as the ethical and moral values that guided the society of those times. Mahabharata: Believed to be the work of sage Vyasa, Mahabharata is written in Sanskrit language. Originally, it consisted of 8800 verses and was called Jaya or the collection dealing with victory. These were subsequently raised to 24,000 verses and came to be known as Bharata, because it contains the stories of the descendants of one of the earliest Vedic tribes called Bharata. The final compilation brought the verses to 1,00,000 which came to be known as Mahabharata. The story is of a war of succession to the throne between first cousins of the Kuru clan known as the Kauravas and the ­Pandavas, i.e., between the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, the blind king, and the Pandavas. Duryodhana was the eldest of the Kauravas and Yudhisthira of the Pandavas. Once during a game of dice. Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava lost his kingdom as well as Draupadi to Duryodhana. In accordance with the terms of agreement, the Pandavas had to go into exile.

Painted Grey Ware

The Aryans and The Vedic Age

After the completion of the exile, the Pandavas asked the Kauravas to return their kingdom but Duryodhana refused to give anything. So the war followed. ­Arjuna, a Pandava was reluctant to fight. Krishna ultimately gave him a discourse and prevailed upon him to do his duty. This discourse at the battlefield is compiled in the form of Bhagavad Gita. It forms a part of the Mahabharata. The Pandavas, hence, were unjustly denied their claim to the throne leading to the famous battle of Kurukshetra. It is said that all the kings from all the directions took part in the battle that lasted for 18 days. The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most popular religious texts considered sacred by many people in India. The interests of the self might conflict with duty and whenever there is such a conflict the Bhagavad Gita does give the answer. That is the secret of the undying popularity of this religious text. It teaches that the Soul is immortal. Regarding the significance of these epics, it can be said that they serve as the main source of information on the political institutions and the social and cultural organization of the Epic Age. They provide information on the various Aryan Kingdoms, about their army and the weapons they used during the period. The Kshatriyas were entrusted with the defence of their kingdoms. They talk about the high ideals of family life of the Aryans. The great heroes, depicted in the Epics are the embodiment of high moral principles, and made a great impact on successive generations. The Bhagavad Gita elaborates the Karma philosophy and the immortality of the soul. These epics have undoubtedly remained sources of inspiration for centuries and are looked upon as valuable sources of information for reconstructing the history of early phase of ancient Indian history.

Archaeological Findings iron implements and tools, and remains of pottery are found from a number of sites in Haryana, Eastern Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh that constitute the archeological sources of the Vedic period. The use of iron was an important development of this period as it shows a very significant transition from the use of copper and bronze tools to iron. The use of iron tools greatly boosted agricultural productivity and strengthened carpentry and weapon making works. Most importantly, new tools of iron helped to clear forest and bring new areas under cultivation. The pottery and other associated objects found in different areas provide us an insight of the phase during which the nomadic Aryans were settling down in villages and small towns. The kinds of potteries found are classified as Ochre Coloured Pottery (OCP), PGW and Black on Red Ware (BRW). The sequence in which pottery is found indicates transition from one phase to another.

Comparison of Literary and Archaeological Sources • Earlier theory of invasion of northern India by Aryans is no longer acceptable. This view was prevalent due to a particular interpretation of Vedic texts, and when only literary sources were used. But recent archaeological work and refinements in linguistic studies have led to questioning of this theory. • Major archaeological cultures succeeding Harappan in northern ­India were: ■  Gandhara Grave Culture of Swat Valley; ■  OCP culture from 1500 bce;

4.7

4.8

Chapter 4

 Chalcolithic cultures associated with BRW and Black-slipped potteries from 2000 to 500 bce; ■ PGW from 1200 to 400 bce—first in Rajasthan and Punjab and later in Doab. • Contemporary with some of these archaeological cultures was V ­ edic literature. • Earliest was Rigveda. Subsequent to this are Atharva, Yajur and Sama Vedas. Attached to each Veda are other categories of texts composed later, such as Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads. ■  Their dating is uncertain as they were memorized and handed down orally for centuries and could only have been written down by about 400 bce. ■  Further additions are made to Vedic corpus such as sutra texts. These cover a wide range of subjects from ideal society of Dharma Sutras (giving rise to later Dharma-shastras) to details of etymology as in Yaska’s Nirukta. ■  Norms relating to social duties, obligations and rites are included in Dharma Sutras, Grihya Sutras and Srauta Sutras. These three sutra texts attributed to the same author are sometimes given label of Kalpa-sutras. • These three sutra texts attributed to same author are sometimes given label of Kalpasutras. There is also a division into sruti, those which are revealed such as Vedas, as distinct from smrti texts which are memorized such as sutras. Smrti also included, according to some, itihasa- purana tradition, which covered two epics as well as much later texts of Puranas. • Within Vedic texts there are sections which are of an earlier date and others which are later. Therefore chronology of such texts can only be approximate. In using these as source material, we have to also keep in mind that these were concerned with religious rituals and beliefs. ■

Who Were The Aryans? Indo-Aryans are regarded as the architects of the Vedic culture. The authors of the Vedic hymns were the Aryans. But who were the Aryans? In the 19th century, Aryans were considered a race. Now it is thought of as a linguistic group of people who spoke Indo-European language from which later emerged into Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, etc. This is reflected from the words in these languages which are similar in sound and meaning. Thus, the ­Sanskrit words ‘matri’ and ‘pitri’ are similar to the Latin ‘mater’ and ‘pater’, respectively. Similarly, Inar of the Hittite (Turkey) language is similar to Indra of the Vedas. Suryyas and Maruttash of the Kassite (Mesopotamia) inscriptions are equivalent of the Vedic Surya and Marut. Although the issue regarding the original homeland of Aryans is a subject of debate, most of the scholars accept the view of Professor Max Mueller, the German scholar, who believed that the Aryans came to India from Central Asia. He gave two reasons in support of this theory. Their reasons for accepting the theory are: • In ancient times, the land in Asia Minor was fertile which made it suitable for agriculture and domestication of animals. • The stone inscriptions discovered in Asia Minor prove that the Aryan gods like Indra and Varuna were worshipped in that country in ancient times. • The flora and fauna and objects referred to in the Rigveda were found in Asia Minor. • Asia Minor is situated at equidistance from Europe and India.

The Aryans and The Vedic Age

Biologists noticed the genetic traits (DNA) of the Steppe people of Central Asia and found similar traits in 35 per cent of the Hindi-speaking people in north India. Thus, they concluded that the Indo-Aryans migrated from Central Asia to India. However, it may be noted that some scholars still argue that the Aryans were the indigenous people of India and that they did not come from outside. The new people came in several batches spanning several hundred years. In the process, interaction between the indigenous inhabitants and the newcomers continued. One of the important results of this process of interaction was that the Vedic form of the Aryan language became predominant in the entire north-western India. The texts composed in this language, as mentioned above, are popularly known as the Vedic Texts.

map of

Location

of

Places Under Indus Valley

4.9

Important Rigvedic Rivers Modern Names

Rigvedic Names

Indus

Sindhu

Jhelum

Vitasta

Ravi

Parushni

Chenab

Askiri

Beas

Vipas

Sutlej

Satudri

Ghaggar

Drishadvati

Gomati

Gomal

Kurram

Krumu

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Chapter 4

Geographical Extent Rigvedic Period The Rigveda gives us an idea of the geographical expanse of the Early Vedic period. Aryans were confined to the area which came to be known as the ‘Saptasindhu’ or ‘Saptasindhava’ (land of the seven rivers) comprising the modern day eastern Afghanistan, Punjab (both of India and Pakistan) and parts of western Uttar Pradesh. According to scholars, these seven rivers are the five rivers of the Punjab along with the Indus and the Sarasvati. The Rigveda mentions the following rivers: Kubha (Kabul in the modern times), Krumu (Kurram), Gomati (Gomal), Sindhu (Indus), and its five tributaries (Vitatsa or Jhelum, Asikni or Chenab, Parushni or Ravi, Vipas or Beas and Sutudri or Sutlej) Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Ghaggar (Drishadvati), Sarayu and some other rivers are also mentioned. The Rigveda also talks about Dasarajna or the battle of ten kings as an important historical event, and many of the important tribes and principalities figured in this battle. Along with the thirty tribes mentioned in the ­Rigveda, the five tribes— Yadu, Turvasa, Puru, Anu and Druhyu are collectively known as Pancha-jana or Pancha-manusa. The Purus and the Bharatas appeared to be very dominant ones. The position and extent of the tribal settlements referred to in the Rigveda may be determined roughly as follows: • The extreme north–west was occupied by the Gandharis, Pakthas, Alinas, Bhalanases and Vishanins.In upper Sind and Punjab were settled the Sivas, Parsus, Kekayas, Vrichivants, Yadus, Anus, Turvasas and Druhyus. • Further east (western UP) was the settlements of the Tritsus, Bharatas, Purus and Srinjayas, the eastern most part being in the occupation of Kikatas of Magadha. • The Matsyas and Chedis were settled towards the south of the Punjab in the region of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

Later Vedic Period This period witnessed further expansion of the Aryans to parts of eastern Rajasthan, eastern Uttar Pradesh and northern Bihar. The text, Satapatha Brahmana throws light on this expansion to the eastern Gangetic plains. It reports the founding of a realm called ‘Videha’ by a prince, Videha Madhava.

The Battle of 10 Kings • The battle was fought between the Bharata chief, Sudas, the grandson of Divodasa on the one side and a confederacy of 10 tribes on the other. • The battle was fought on the banks of river Parushni or Ravi • The Bharatas remained victorious by defeating their rival Bheda • Sudas, after the victory, performed Ashvamedha sacrifice, near river Saraswati. • The political alliances during the battle were not static as, the Purus, who initially were with the Bharatas, shifted to the confederacy. Similarly, Vishwamitra, the priest of the Bharatas, was replaced by the sage Vashishta, before the beginning of the battle.

The Aryans and The Vedic Age

Various tribes and kingdoms find mention in the later Vedic literature. The Purus and the Bharatas were amalgamated to form the Kurus. The Kuru ­kingdom corresponds to modern Thanesvar, Delhi and the upper Gangetic Doab. The Panchalas were also a composite class, as this name, derived from pancha (five), shows. The territory of this tribe roughly corresponds to the Bareilly, Badaun. Farukhabad and other adjoining districts. After the downfall of the Kurus and the Panchalas, Kosala, Kasi and Videha came into prominence in Later Vedic age. Kosala was under the domination of the house of lkshvakus. Its early capital, Ayodhya, was later replaced by Sravasti. This kingdom roughly corresponds to Oudh. Its most famous ruler was Para. The famous ruler of Kasi was Ajatashatru. The 23rd Jaina Tirthankara Parsvanatha, who died 250 years before Mahavira, was the son of King Asvasena of Kasi. Videha, with its capital at Mithila is identical with modern Tirhut. The most notable ruler was Janaka, whose court was adorned by Yajnavalkya. Magadha, Anga and Vanga seem to be the eastern most tribes. Magadha corresponds roughly to southern Bihar. Angas set up their settlements on the rivers Son and the Ganges. Vangas appear to be the residents of eastern Bengal. The Later Vedic texts mention more rivers such as Narmada, Gandak, Chambal, etc. With regard to the seas, the Satapatha Brahmana mentions the Eastern and Western Seas (Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea). The texts also have references to the territorial divisions of India. The three later Vedas give three broad divisions of India, viz. Aryavarta (northern India), Madhyadesa (central India), and Dakshinapatha (southern India). But Aitareya Brahmana divides the whole country into five parts, viz. eastern, western, northern, central and southern.

Transition from Rig Vedic to Later Vedic Phases On the basis of various literature along with excavated sites, many changes could be observed from Rigvedic to later Vedic phases. Rigvedic society was pastoral but familiar with agriculture. Cattle being main wealth, cattle raids were a major form of increasing wealth apart from breeding cattle. Identity was related to jana or tribe. Vis was a smaller unit than jana and was possibly a clan. Group of families constituted grama, which means a village. There was a broader division of society initially into two varnas: arya varna and dasa varna. Both arya and dasa have been interpreted as referring to race as well as to social differentiation. But racial identification needs correction. Later Vedic texts suggest a gradual change from pastoralism to agriculture. The pattern varied, however, from area to area. Economic changes had a bearing on changes in society. Four varnas are not only mentioned, but their various functions are also described and their hierarchy established. Roots of system may go back to societies prior to those described in Vedic texts and therefore known to us from excavations in northern India. Recent studies have attempted to present new formulations, particularly viewing caste as an Indian social organization extending over time. Janas go back to Rigvedic times but there are references in later texts to larger groups resulting from coalition and confederating of individual janas, such as Kurus or Panchalas. Vedic raja gradually evolved into a king. Heightening of power is also associated with royal sacrifices. Societies eventually evolved into states ruled by kings.

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Chapter 4

The Vedic Age: A Comparative Study Early Vedic Society Social Organization The family was the basic unit of the Rigvedic society. It was patriarchal. This means that the oldest male member of the family was its head. He was called Grihapati. The society was patriarchal in nature. Monogamy was the usual norm of marriage but the chiefs at times practiced polygamy. Marriages took place after attaining maturity. After marriage the wife went to her husband’s house. Several families lived in a grama or village. Several villages formed a Visha. Many Vishas formed a Jana (tribe). The head of the village was called Gramani, that of Visha, Vishapati. Rajan or king was the head of a Jana. The family was part of a larger grouping called vis or clan. One or more than one clans made Jana or tribe. The Jana was the largest social unit. All the members of a clan were related to each other by blood relation. The membership of a tribe was based on birth and not on residence in a certain area. Thus, the members of the Bharata tribe were known as the Bharatas. It did not imply any territory. An Egalitarian Social Set-up The Rigvedic society was a simple and largely an egalitarian society. There was no caste division. Occupation was not based on birth. Members of a family could Important Vedic Terms Aranya

Rain or wild animal

Aghanya

Not to be killed; usually cow

Bhishaka

Physician

Brihi

Rice

Datra

Sickle

Duhitri

One who milks; usually ­daughter

Gaura

Buffalo

Gavisti/Gaveshana/Gavyut

Searching for cows; Fights for cows

Godhuma

Wheat

Goghna

Cow-killer; sometimes ­refers to a Guest

Hiranya

Gold

Karmara

Blacksmith

Kulala

Potter

Kulya

Wells

Kusidin

Usurer

Narishta

Sabha

Sira

Plough

Sita

Furrows

Takshana

Carpenter

Titau

Seive

Vapta

Barber

The Aryans and The Vedic Age

adopt different occupations. However, certain differences did exist during the period. Varna or colour was the basis of initial differentiation between the Vedic and non-Vedic people. The Vedic people were fair whereas the non-Vedic indigenous people were dark in complexion and spoke a different language. Thus, the Rigveda mentions arya Varna and dasa Varna. Here dasa has been used in the sense of a group different from the Rigvedic people. Later, dasa came to mean a slave. Besides, certain practices during this period, such as concentration of larger share of the war booty in the hands of the chiefs and priests resulted in the creation of some inequalities within a tribe during the later part of this Vedic phase. The warriors, priests and the ordinary people were the three sections of the Rigvedic tribe. The Sudra category came into existence only towards the end of the Rigvedic period. This means that the division of society in the Early Vedic period was not sharp. This is indicated by the following verse in the Rigveda: ‘I am a poet, my father is a physician and my mother grinds grain upon the stone. Striving for wealth, with varied plans, we follow our desires like cattle.’ Position of Women The women in society enjoyed respectable position. She was married at a proper age and could choose a husband of her own choice. There are no examples of ­child-marriage. The marriageable age in the Rigveda seems to have been from 16 to 17. She could take part in the proceedings of the tribal assemblies called sabha and samiti. Some of the women like Ghosha and Apala were said to have compiled the hymns of the Rigveda.

Changes in the Later Vedic Phase Changes in composition of Social Organization The family remains the basic unit of the Vedic society. However, its composition underwent a change. The Later Vedic family became large enough to be called a joint-family with three or four generations living together. The rows of hearths discovered at Atranjikhera and at Ahichchhatra (both in western Uttar Pradesh) show that these were meant for communal feeding or for cooking the food of large families. The institution of gotra developed in this period. This means that people having common gotra descended from a common ancestor and no marriage between the members of the same gotra could take place. Monogamous marriages were preferred even though polygamy was frequent. Some restrictions on women appeared during this period. Declining Status of Women There was significant decline in the status of women. Their participation in Yajnas was not considered necessary. They did not enjoy the right to property. Man’s opinions were respected. As a result the freedom to choose the husbands by women was curtailed. In a text, woman has been counted as a vice along with dice and wine. In another text a daughter has been said to be the source of all sorrows. Woman had to stay with her husband at his place after marriage. The participation of women in public meetings was restricted. A Divided Society: Varna System However, the most important change was the rise and growth of social differentia-

4.13

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Chapter 4

tion in the form of Varna system. The four varnas in which society came to be divided were the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. The growing number of sacrifices and rituals during the period made the Brahmanas very powerful. They conducted various rituals including those related to different stages of agricultural operations. This made them all the more important. The Kshatriyas, next in the social hierarchy, were the rulers. They along with Brahmanas controlled all aspects of life. The Vaishyas, the most numerous Varna were engaged in agriculture as well as in trade and artisanal activities. The Brahmanas and the Kshatriyas were dependent on the tributes (gifts and taxes) paid to them by the Vaishyas. The Shudras, the fourth Varna were at the bottom of the social hierarchy. They were ordained to be in the service of the three upper Varnas. They were not entitled to the ritual of upanayana samskara (investiture with sacred thread necessary to acquire education). The other three varnas were entitled to such a ceremony and hence they were known as dvijas. This can be construed as the beginning of the imposition of disabilities on the Shudras as well as the beginning of the concept of ritual pollution. Indra, Principal of the Vedic Gods Mounted on his Elephant

Hindus

Introduction of Ashram Vyavastha Another important institution that began to take shape was Ashrama or different stages of life. Brahmacharya (student life), grihastha (householder) and vanaprastha (hermitage) stages are mentioned in the texts. Later, sanyasa, the fourth stage also came to be added. Together with Varna, it came to be known as varna-ashrama dharma. of

Early Vedic Religion Objective Behind Prayers The people of this age worshipped forces of nature. They personified these natural forces and looked upon them as living beings to which they gave human or animal attributes. The prayers to propitiate gods for physical protection and for material gains were the main concerns of the Rigvedic people.

Gods and Their Roles The Rigvedic gods were generally personifications of different aspects of natural forces such as rains, storm, sun etc. The attributes of these gods also reflect the tribal and patriarchal nature of the society as we do not find many goddesses mentioned in the text. Indra, Agni, Varuna, Mitra, Dyaus, Pushana, Yama, Soma, etc., are all male gods. In comparison, we have only a few goddesses such as Ushas, Sarasvati, Prithvi, etc., which occupy secondary positions in the pantheon. The functions of different gods reflect their needs in the society. Thus, since the Rigvedic people were engaged in wars with each other they worshipped Indra as a god. He is the most frequently mentioned god in the Rigveda. He carried the thunderbolt and was also respected as a weather god who brought rains. Maruts,

The Aryans and The Vedic Age

the god of storm, aided Indra in the wars in the way tribesmen aided their leader in the tribal wars. Agni, the fire god was the god of the home and was considered an intermediary between gods and men. Soma was associated with plants and herbs. Soma was also a plant from which an intoxicating juice was extracted. This juice was drunk at sacrifices. Varuna, another important deity, was the keeper of the cosmic order known as Rita. This Rita was an important aspect of tribal set-up. Pushan was the god of the roads, herdsmen and cattle. In the life of the pastoral nomads, this god must have been very important. Other gods were similarly associated with other aspects of nature and life. All these gods were invoked and propitiated at yajnas or sacrifices. These sacrifices were organized by the chiefs of the tribes and performed by priests. Gods thus invoked in the sacrifices supposedly rewarded the sacrificers with success in wars, progeny, increase in cattle and long life. It also brought large number of gifts in the form of Dana and Dakshina to the priests. It is important here to note that during the entire Vedic phase people did not construct temples nor did they worship any statue. These features of Indian religion developed much later. We have already noted that in the Later Vedic period, agriculture had become an important activity of the people. Changes in the material life naturally resulted in a change in their attitude towards gods and goddesses too. Continuous interactions with the local non-Aryan population also contributed to these changes. Thus, Vishnu and Rudra which were smaller deities in the Rigveda became extremely important. However, we do not have any reference to different incarnations or avataras of Vishnu, we are so familiar with, in any of the Later Vedic texts.

Vedic Religion Nature of Vedic Religion • It was known as Henotheism, i.e., a belief in single gods, each in turn standing out as the highest. • There was a tendency towards both monotheism and monism. • Divinities are 33 in number, divided into three groups, namely terrestrial (prithvisthana), atmospheric or intermediate (antarikshasthana or madhyamasthana) and celestial (dyusthana). • Devasur sangram is most important story in Satapatha Brahmana. Important Divinities • Indra or Purandhara was the most important god of Rigvedic period (250 Rigvedic hymns are devoted to him). • Agni was the second most important god (200 Rigvedic hymns). • Varuna personified water and was supposed to uphold Rita or natural order. • Soma was god of plants. He is the third most important deity in Rigveda. • In hymns to Surya (Sun), as in those to Dawn, Night, Thunderstorm and other gods of nature, attention is ­always on visible phenomenon itself. • Hymns to Ushas (Dawn) are among most attractive in Rig Veda. • Other prominent female divinities were Aditi (the goddess of eternity), Aranyani (goddess of forest), Nirrti (goddess of decay and death), etc. In Later Vedic period, new gods like Prajapati (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver and Protector of people) and Rudra (God of animals) emerged and their importance grew at cost of Indra and Agni (Rigvedic gods). • There was male domination even in divine pantheon during both periods.

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Chapter 4

Mode of Worship • Rigvedic period was marked by recitation of prayers and making offerings. • In Later Vedic period, there was a change in mode of worship. Importance of prayers declined and that of s­ acrifices increased. • In addition to the simplest form of sacrifice, grand sacrifices, called sattras, were performed. There was too much emphasis on rituals and sacrifices. Social Life • Kula or Family: It was the foundation of the social structure. In the Later Vedic period, increase in the powers of the father over the family members; beginning of the practice of ‘Primogeniture’ (the eldest son succeeding the father) in princely families. • Varna System: Varna literally means ‘colour’; partial responsibility of the colour distinction in the rise of social division, but mainly due to the conquest of indigenous inhabitants by the Aryans. Initial division of the tribal society (Rigvedic) into three groups—warriors, priests and the commoners—on the basis of occupation. Appearance of the fourth division, viz, Shudras, towards the end of the Rigvedic Period (mention of the Shudras in the tenth book or mandala of the Rigveda; the ‘Purusha Sukta’, this book clearly mentions the four-fold division of the society). Significant changes in the Varna system during the Later Vedic period. Increase in the privileges of the two higher classes (Brahmins and Kshatriyas) at the cost of the two lower classes (Vaishyas and Sudras). • Ashramas or Stages of Life: Mentioned in the Chandogya Upanishad for the first time and so belonged to the Later Vedic period for regulating the life of the male members of the higher casts. Four stages: Brahmacharin or student life, Grihastha or life of the householder, Vanaprastha or partial retirement and Sanyas or complete retirement or ascetic life. Full recognition of the fourth stage is only in the post-Vedic period. • Institution of Gotra: Literally meaning cow-pen, it came to signify descent from a common ancestor; appeared only in the Vedic Period; beginning of the practice of Gotra exogamy, i.e., prohibition of marriage between persons belonging to the same gotra. • Position of Women: Monogamy (a man having one wife) was very common; Polygamy (a man having more than one wife), though known, was not common; Re-marriage of widows was permitted; child marriages (unknown); prevalence of symbolic self-immolation (sati) by widows; women’s participation in religious ceremonies and tribal assemblies (Sabha, Vidatha); no evidence of seclusion of women. In the Later Vedic period, they lost political right of attending assemblies; there were also instances of child marriages. • Institution of Slavery: Prevalent from the Rigvedic times; mainly women slaves, employed for domestic purposes. There was decent treatment of slaves and even enjoyment of certain rights by them. • Education: Illiteracy (lacking of the art of writing and reading) of the early Aryans; possibility of the use of script by the later Vedic Aryans from 700 bce onwards (but the earliest evidence for the use of a script in India, besides the pictographic script of the Harappans, comes from the Mauryan period in the form of Ashokan edicts); restriction of education only to the higher casts. Subjects of study included arithmetic, grammar, astrology, etc.

Growing Impetus to Sacrifices Another important feature was the increase in the frequency and number of the yajna which generally ended with the sacrifices of a large number of animals. This was probably the result of the growing importance of a class of Brahmanas and their efforts to maintain their supremacy in the changing society. These

The Aryans and The Vedic Age

yajnas brought to them a large amount of wealth in form of Dana and Dakshina. Some of the important yajnas were—ashvamedha, vajapeya, rajasuya, etc. You must have heard about these yajnas in the stories of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. In these yajnas, which continued for many days, a large part of gifts went to the Brahmanas. The purpose of these yajnas was twofold. Firstly, it established the authority of the chiefs over the people, and secondly, it reinforced the territorial aspect of the polity since people from all over the kingdom were invited to these sacrifices. It is interesting to know that people began to oppose these sacrifices during the later Vedic period itself. A large number of cattle and other animals which were sacrificed at the end of each yajna must have hampered the growth of economy. Therefore, a path of good conduct and self-sacrifice was recommended for happiness and welfare in the last sections of the Vedas, called the Upanishads. The Upanishads contain two basic principles of Indian philosophy viz., karma and the transmigration of soul, i.e., re-birth based on past deeds. According to these texts, real happiness lies in getting moksha, i.e., freedom from this cycle of birth and re-birth.

Early Vedic Polity Tribal Political Set Up We have mentioned above that the chief social unit of the Aryans was known as Jana. The chief of this unit was the political leader called rajan. The main function of the chief was to protect the jana and cattle from the enemies. He was supposedly elected by the members of the Jana as he was referred to in the Rigveda as Janasya Gopa.

Assemblies The king was helped in his task by the tribal assemblies called sabha, samiti, vidatha, gana and parishad. Out of these, sabha and samiti were the most important assemblies. All aspects of life were discussed in these assemblies. These may include wars, distribution of the spoils of wars, judicial and religious activities, etc. Thus, these assemblies, in a way, limited the powers of the chiefs. Interestingly, women were also allowed to participate in the deliberations of the sabha and samiti.

Management of Tribal Affairs The post of the chief was not hereditary. The tribe generally elected him. Though the succession in one family was known, that was not based on the rule of primogeniture (i.e., the eldest son acquiring the position). The purohita assisted and advised the chief on various matters. Other than the purohita, there were a limited number of other officials who assisted the chief in the day-to-day tribal affairs. Senani, kulapa, gramani, etc., are some of the functionaries which find mention in the Rigveda. The sena or army was not a permanent fighting group and consisted of able-bodied tribesmen who were mobilized at the time of the wars. Takshan, the carpenter and rathakara (the chariot maker) were responsible for making chariots. There is no official mentioned as a collector of taxes. The people offered to the chief what is called Bali. It was just a voluntary contribution made by the ordinary tribesmen on special occasions. All this shows that the early Vedic polity was an uncomplicated system based on the support and active participation of all the tribesmen. This situation, however, changed during the later Vedic phase.

4.17

4.18

Chapter 4

Changes in Later Vedic Phase Beginning of Monarchy The changes in the material and social life during the Later Vedic period led to changes in the political sphere as well. The nature of chief ship changed in this period. The territorial idea gained ground. The people started to lose their control over the chief and the popular assemblies gradually disappeared. The chief ship had become hereditary. The idea of the divine nature of kingship gets a mention in the literature of this period. The Brahmanas helped the chiefs in this process. The elaborate coronation rituals such as vajapeya and rajasuya established the chief authority. As the chiefs became more powerful, the authority of the popular assemblies started waning. The officers were appointed to help the chief in administration and they acquired the functions of the popular assemblies as main advisors. A rudimentary army too emerged as an important element of the political structure during this period. All these lived on the taxes called Bali, the Shulka and the Bhaga offered by the people. The chiefs of this period belonged to the Kshatriya Varna and they, in league with the Brahmanas, tried to establish complete control over the people in the name of dharma. However, all these elements do not show that a Janapada or territorial state with all its attributes such as a standing army and bureaucracy had emerged in the Later Vedic period but the process has started and soon after the Vedic period in the sixth century bce, we notice the rise of 16 Mahajanapadas in the northern India. Vedic Period: Important Officials Vrajapati

Incharge of pasture land

Spasa

Spy

Kulap

Head of family

Jivagribha

Police officials

Madhyamasi

Mediator

Bhagaduha

Tax collector

Sangrahitri

Treasurer

Mahishi

Chief queen

Palagala

Messenger

Akshavapa

Accountant

Kshata

Incharge of Royal h ­ ousehold

Suta

Charioteer

Govikartana

Keeper of games

The Aryans and The Vedic Age

Political Life • • • •

Family or Kula—basis of the political organization, and headed by Kulapas or Grihapatis. Grama or Village—headed by the Gramani. Vis or a group of villages—headed by Vispati Jana or tribe—consisting of a group of ‘Vis’ and headed by the Rajan or tribal chief. In Later Vedic period, many tribes (Janas) were amalgamated to form ‘Rashtras’ or kingdoms. • Rajan: He did not exercise unlimited powers and had to reckon with the tribal assemblies in the Rigvedic Period. In the Later Vedic Period, royal power grew due to the amalgamation of tribes and the increase in the size of kingdoms. Performance of various rituals and sacrifices by the king to strengthen his position; Rajasuya—confers supreme power on the king; Asvamedha (horse sacrifice)— meant to establish his supremacy over his neighbours; Vajapeya (Chariot race)—meant to establish his supremacy over his own people. • Tribal Assemblies: Sabha (council of tribal elders) and Samithi (general assembly of the tribe), and exercised deliberative and military powers; Participation of women in the Sabha. In the Later Vedic period, they lost their importance due to the rise of royal power. • Officials: Purohita (priest), Senani (Commander), Vrajapati (in charge of pasture lands). Gramani (head of village), etc. In the Rigvedic Period, there was no official connected with the collection of taxes, but there were only voluntary offerings (Bali) from the people and also spoils of war (Bhaga). In the Later Vedic period, some more officials came into existence due to economic changes, e.g., Bhagadugha (collector of taxes), Sangrihitri (treasurer), etc. In both periods, the king did not possess a standing army due to financial limitations. • Political Transformation: In the Rigvedic period, it was mainly a tribal system of government. In the Later Vedic period, a rudimentary system of administration emerged due to the increasing importance of agriculture and beginning of settled life.

4.19

4.20

Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach

Chapter 4

1. Critically examine various views regarding the Vedic-Harappan relationship in light of the latest discoveries. [2017]

The Right Approach

• A cautious approach needs to be adopted for this question. • Build a bridge between Vedic-Harappan relationship with reference to the latest discoveries. • Though question is complex but answer appraoch should be easy and systematic. [Refer Chapter 2, pg. 2.25 and Chapter 3, pg. 3.25]

2. In what way was the egalitarian character of the early Vedic society changed during the later Vedic period? [2016]

The Right Approach

• Meaning of egalitarian character of a society. • Features of Rigvedic society with special focus on status of women. • Highlight the changes in the later Vedic phase with significant focus on declining status of women and emergence of a divided society. [Refer pages 4.11–4.13] Early Vedic Society

Later Vedic Society

Social Organisation

Simple, patriarchal and largely egalitarian occupation was not based on birth

Egalitarian character began to fade. A divided society cropped up.

Position of women

Enjoyed respectable position. Freedom to choose husband. Participated in Sabha and Samiti.

Significant decline in the status of women. Participation in public meetings was restricted.

Gods and there roles

Gods were perforifications of different aspects of natural forces Rain, Storm, Sun etc.

Importance of prayer declined and cult of sacrifices increase.

Political set up

Tribal. The chief unit of Aryans was known as Jana. The king was helped in his task by the tribal assemblies called sabha, samiti, vidatha, gana and parishad.

Beginning of Monarchy. The notion of divine nature of kingship.

Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach

4.21

3. ‘Archaeology knows of no Aryans; only literature knows of Aryans.’ Examine critically.  [2015]

The Right Approach

• The statement should be examined critically by comparing literary and archaeological sources regarding Aryans. • Archaeology, too know of Aryans-references of various archaeological cultures, such as Gandhara Grave culture, OCP culture, BRW, PGW cultures, etc substantiate Aryans in greater details. • Keeping comparison in mind, justify the statement by giving more impetus to literature of Aryans. [Refer pages 4.6–4.8]

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5

Chapter

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400 bce)

5.2

Chapter 5

In the previous chapter, we studied how later Vedic people started agriculture in the Ganga basin and settled down in permanent villages. In this chapter, we will discuss how increased agricultural activity and settled life led to the rise of 16 Mahajanapadas (large territorial states) in north India in the sixth Century bce.

We will also examine the factors, which enabled Magadha, one of these states to defeat all others

to rise to the status of an empire later under the Mauryas. This period (6th century

bce)

is also known

for the rise of many new religions, such as Buddhism and Jainism. We will be looking at the factors responsible for the emergence of these religions and also inform you about their main doctrines. It would be interesting to understand the nuances of the Persian and the Greek incursions on India during the period under study.

Objectives After reading this chapter, you will be able to: • Explain the material and social factors (e.g., growth of agriculture and new social classes), which became the basis for the rise of Mahajanapadas and the new religions in the sixth century bce • Analyse the doctrine, patronage, spread and impact of Buddhism and Jainism • Trace the growth of Indian polity from smaller states to empires; and learn about 16 Mahajanapadas • Discuss the Persian and Greek (Alexander’s) invasions and their impact in India.

Early Historic Period The sixth century bce was marked by far reaching changes in almost every aspect of life in India. This period saw the spread of agriculture over large parts of the country, the rise of cities and the formation of states. The period is important for both political and cultural unity. In the field of religion, heterodox sects especially Jainism and Buddhism, which arose in the sixth century bce left a lasting influence on the religious beliefs and practices. Numerous religious sects arose in the mid-Gangetic plains as a result of an upheaval of new ideas and the resulting rise of new philosophical tenets. These ideas were so diversified that the philosophical speculations based on them varied from religious speculations to the search for the ‘Truth’ which the Upanishads had emphasized. The efforts in this direction brought about results in this century. In this period, we notice a growing resentment to the ritualistic orthodox ideas of the Brahmanas. In other words, the old Vedic religion had ceased to be a living force. The spiritual unrest and the intellectual stimulation led to the rise of various heterodox religious movements. The religious sects were based on regional customs and rituals practiced by different people living in north-east India. Out of these sects, Jainism and Buddhism were the most important and they developed into most potent well-organized popular religious reform movements. The Varna system, the system, of social organization, later on popularly known as the caste system, which had arisen in the Vedic age, now became well-established and gradually became the dominant form of social organization throughout the country. The rise of cities, crafts and trade also furthered the process of cultural unity. One point to be remembered here is that the focus of the Aryan civilization had now moved to Magadha, Vatsa, Kosala and Avanti, eastwards during this pe-

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

riod. Out of all the 16 principal states, four great kingdoms and the Vajji Republic of the Lichchhavis eclipsed the old land of the Kurus both in political and economic importance. It was in this period that we understand how the changes taking place in the earlier period matured to give a new dimension to the political developments, which were deep rooted in the changed material life of the people. In the context of the agrarian situation, a new type of society emerged in the Gangetic valley during this period. That is why historians place the beginning of the early historic period of Indian history in this phase.

State Formation

and

Emergence

of

Cities

During the sixth century bce, contemporary political developments were entrenched in the changed material life of the people. The increasing use of iron in eastern UP and western Bihar created platforms for the formation of large territorial states. The use of the new agricultural tools and implements that led to surplus production enabled the people to be self-sufficient and remain on their land. They could now expand at the cost of the neighbouring areas and pass on their extra produce to the princes for military and administrative requirements. This led to the rise of large states with towns as their centre of activity. Since towns emerged as the seats of power and as the base for operations, this idea reinforced the concept of territorial affiliations. Now people’s allegiance to the territory or Janapada to which they belonged became more pronounced. Thus, the emergence of several territorial states in different parts of the country in the sixth century bce formed an important feature of the political life of the times. The Janapadas as mentioned in texts and traditions (the later Vedic, Jain and Buddhist texts), signify that for the first time in Indian history, regions with different types of human settlements came to acquire geographical names. The incorporation of the Janapadas by powerful rulers of the Mahajanapadas as mentioned in the contemporary literature led to political conflicts between rulers and in the later period, to the establishment of the Magadha Empire. The emergence of Janapadas signified the birth of geography in Indian history. During the Vedic times, people were not attached to any particular geographical region because they led a nomadic life wandering in search of food from one place to another. With the passage of time, people developed ways and means to earn a source of livelihood not only by depending on the forces of nature but also by practicing agriculture and engaging themselves in the production of food. This was the time when they learnt to call a particular surrounding as their own. This geographical space was separated from those of the other communities (Janapadas) who might be friendly or hostile to them. These Janapadas were characterized by cohesion from inside and separation from the outside world. These Janapadas became the centres for the development of uniform language, customs and beliefs. With progress in agriculture and settlement by 500 bce, Janapadas became a common feature. Around 450 bce, over 40 Janapadas covering even Afghanistan and south-eastern Central Asia are mentioned by Panini in his Ashtadhyayi. However, the major part of southern India was excluded. Pali texts show that these Janapadas or small principalities grew into Mahajanapadas, that is, large states. These texts mention 16 of them. Janapada, literally means the place where the people place their feet. In the early Vedic times, the members of Jana were pastoral groups roaming in search of

bce )

5.3

5.4

Chapter 5

pastures. In later Vedic phase, the members of Jana took up agriculture and began to lead a settled life. These agriculture settlements came to be known as Janapadas. Initially, these settlements were named after the dominant Kshatriya lineages settled in that area. The Kuru and Panchal Janapadas located around Delhi and upper UP were named after their Kshatriya lineages. With the use of ploughshares and introduction of iron, people decided to settle down in one place and practice agriculture. Middle Gangetic valley, i.e., the area east of Allahabad came to be recognized as best suited for wet rice cultivation. The agricultural expansion led to the growth of population. Agricultural surplus was made available. Money economy had surpassed barter system. This led to the chiefs of the lineages constantly at war with each other either to show their might or to surpass each other by financial strength. Through the process of agricultural expansion, war and conquest, the Vedic tribes had come in closer contact with each other and with the non-Aryan population. This in fact led to the formation of large territorial units. For example, the Panchalas represented the amalgamation of five different tribes. By the sixth century bce, some of the Janapadas developed into Mahajanapadas. This happened Sixteen Mahajanapadas S. No. Mahajanapadas

Location

Capital

Important Information

1.

Anga

Near Bhagalpur, Bihar on river Ganga and Champa

Champa (Ancient name Malini)

•  Important trade centre. • Merchants sailed from Champa to Suvarnabhumi (South East Asia).

2.

Magadha

Land between Patna and Gaya (Bihar)

Rajgriha/Girivraja, Latu, Patliputra

• Most important of all; conquered many other states to become an empire.

3.

Kashi

On confluence of rivers Varuna and Asi

Varanasi

• Captured by Kosala in the later period.

4.

Kosala

Eastern UP including Ayodhya. Bounded by river Sadanira (Gandak)

Shravasti on the banks of Saryu river

• King Prasenajit was Buddha’s contemporary. • Important cities: Saket, Ayodhya, Shravasti.

5.

Vajji

North of Ganga in Trihut division

Vaishali

• This republican state was a confederacy of nine clans including those of the Videhans, Licchavis, Jnatrikas, Vajjis, etc. Lord Mahavira belonged to the Jnatrikas.

6.

Vatsa

On the banks of river Yamuna

Kaushambi (on the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna near Allahabad)

• Kurus of Bharatas were migrated to Vatsa. Udayan, the most powerful king had a strong passion for catching elephants. He has shown as legendary hero in Sanskrit dramas like Svapnabasavadatta and Ratnavali. • Vatsa was known for its fine cotton textile.

7.

Mallas

Borders of Bihar and UP

Pava (Bihar) Kushinara (Gorakhpur, UP)

• The two capitals are famous centres of Buddhism. Buddha took his last meal and was taken ill at Pava and went for his Mahaparinirvana (death) at Kushinara.

(Continued)

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

bce )

5.5

Sixteen Mahajanapadas (Continued) S. No. Mahajanapadas

Location

Capital

Important Information

8.

Avanti

Central Malva

North Avanti: Ujjain South Avanti: Mahishmati

• According to Buddhist traditions, Chanda Pradyota was the king of Avanti.

9.

Kuru

Western UP

Indraprastha

• Famous rulers were Koravya, Isukara and Kuru who had matrimonial relations with the Yadavas. The Bhojas and the Panchalas.

10.

Panchalas

Modern Badaun and Farrukhabad (western UP)

Northern Capital: ­Ahichchhatra (Bareilly) Southern Capital: ­Kampilya (Farrukhabad)

• The city of Kannauj was situated in Panchala. The king mentioned in Ramayana was chulani ­Brahmadutta

11.

Chedi or Cheti

Eastern Bundelkhand (Central India)

Suktimati

• According to Puranic traditions, king Shishupala was an ally of Jarasandha of Magadha. He was a rival of Lord Krishna, who was his uncle’s son. He was killed by Lord Krishna at the time of Rajasuya sacrifice of Panadava king Yudhisthira. • Kharvela’s Hathigumpha inscription suggests that a branch of Chedis founded a royal dynasty in Kalinga.

12.

Matsya

Jaipur, Alwar and Bharatpur regions ­(Rajasthan)

Viratnagar or Bairat

•  King Sahaja and Virat were famous. •  They ruled over a part of the Chedis.

13.

Surasena

Western UP

Mathura (on the banks of Yamuna)

• Its king Avantiputra was one of the disciples of Buddha.

14.

Gandhara

Modern Peshawar in Pakistan and Kashmir in India

Taxila

• Mentioned in Behistun inscription of Darius I. • Taxila was a major centre of education and trade. • King Pukkusati was a contemporary of Bimbisara of Magadha.

15.

Assaka

On the banks of Godavari, Maharashtra and parts of Telangana

Potana

• Only Mahajanapadas located south of Vindhya. • Assaka and Mulaka are mentioned as two Andhra territories in ancient texts. Bhattaswami, the commentator of Arthashastra mentioned Asmaka as a territory in Maharashtra. The famous kings were Aruna and Brahmadatta.

16.

Kamboja

Regions north-west of Rajpur or Hataka India in Pakistan (Hazara) and Kashmir in India

•  Famous for good quality of horses. • It was a part of Uttarapatha trading routes.

5.6

Chapter 5

as a result of the series of changes in the internal social and political organization of the Janapadas. The first important change as mentioned earlier was the expansion of agricultural communities. Agricultural land now came to be considered as an important economic asset as against cattle. Another important change was the emergence of new categories and groups of people in the society, namely the Gahapati or the master of an individual household which owned land, and merchants or settlers or a person having the best, a term used by the Buddhist texts for people who dealt with money and had acquired considerable prestige and power. Combined with developments in the social and economic fields were changes in the nature of the polity of the Mahajanapadas. In the period prior to our period of study the word ‘Raja’, was referred to as the chief of a lineage. Rama was referred to as Raghukularaja meaning one who rules over Raghu clan. They ruled over their lineage and the concept of ruling over a territory had not come into existence. The taxes collected from the kinsmen were mostly voluntary contributions. King was a father figure who ensured the safety and prosperity of the lineage. He did not function independently and taxation or maintenance of independent army was not his prerogative. The reference to kings in the sixth century bce on the other hand indicate his rule over a geographical unit belonging to him with a regular taxation system and an army. The distinction between Raja or Ruler and Praja or the ruled became more pronounced. There are references to Krsaka or peasants who paid taxes to the king. The cattle raids of the preceding period were now replaced by organized campaigns in which territory was annexed and the agriculturists and craftsmen were to pay taxes. Bhaga or share of the agricultural produce was given to the king for safeguarding their interests and welfare and for being in subordination to the king. Survey of the agricultural land was done by an officer called Rajjugahaka besides Bhagadugha, an ­officer who collected bhaga. These officers are mentioned in the contemporary literature. The Jatakas also mention royal officials measuring out grain to send to royal granary. The Mahajanapadas did not bear the name of the dominant Kshatriya lineage. For example, Kosala, Magadha, Avanti, Vatsa were not named after any Kshatriya lineage. Thus, one notices that a new political system had emerged by the sixth century bce. The word ‘Mahajanapadas’ denoted large Janapadas like those of Magadha, Kosala, etc., which were ruled by powerful kings or oligarchs. In fact, many of the Mahajanapadas of the sixth century bce came up by incorporating Janapadas which were earlier independent. For example, Kosala Mahajanapada included the Janapada of the Sakyas and of Kashi. Magadha came to include the Janapada of Anga, Vajji, etc., even before it grew into an empire. In the Mahajanapadas, the basic unit of settlement was the ‘Grama’ meaning village. Agriculture, being the main occupation of people in these settlements denotes a transition from pastoral and nomadic economy to an agricultural and settled economy. The villages were small and large varying form a single household to many families. Probably the households were part of an extended king group where each person was related to another in the village. Now, there emerged villages inhabited by non-kingship groups came into being who took the services of dasas, karmakara and porisas. The contemporary literature talks about land ownership and tenancy rights that prevailed during this period. Ksetrika or Kassaka denoted the peasantry class who generally belonged to the Sudra category. Since Varna system was fully entrenched in the social and economic hierarchy, these peasants must have formed the lowest rung of the hierarchical order. The leaders of the villages were called ‘Gamini’ meaning managers

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

of stage, soldiers or elephant and horse trainers. Sources attest to the prevalence of villages of cattle keepers, ironsmiths and woodworkers that indicate specialization of crafts by now. Increasing trade and prosperity of the economy is reflected by the engagement of villagers not only in agriculture but also in diversified arts and crafts. Barter system and regular exchange of goods became an integral part of the economic life of the people. Specialization of crafts along with localization of the people led to a major change in the socio-economic and political life of the sixth century bce. Urban centres dominated by the monarchs and merchants had at the same time heterogeneous population in the new kinds of settlements. Although the differences between the new settlements named as Nigama, Nagara, Pura, etc., are not known, the size and the varying features of these settlements must have led to their different identities. These towns and cities were definitely larger than villages. Big cities, such as Ayodhya and Varanasi find a mention in the contemporary literature. This historic phase is associated with settlements using a pottery called the Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW). Prospering trade and developing economies led to massive fortification of the cities, such as Kaushambi, Ujjain, Rajghat (Vanaras), Rajgir, etc. These cities emerged as the centres of power and control over the Mahajanapadas. In the wake of growing economy, the use of coinage made the position of the merchant class stronger. Thus, the period beginning with the sixth century bce saw the emergence of cities in ancient India for the second time. This ‘second urbanization’ was more significant since it endured for a longer time and saw the beginning of a literate tradition. This tradition is embodied in Buddhism, Jainism and many strands of Hinduism. It is not only the big cities which emerged at this time. Along with agriculture-based villages, there existed market centres, small towns, big towns and other types of settlements. The rise of cities in the sixth century bce should be understood in terms of the need of establishing new centres of political power and activity in the wake of changing socio-economic milieu. The establishment of urban centres need not necessarily mean the increase in population of a particular area. In fact, urban centres are undoubtedly larger in size where people not only engage themselves in agriculture-related activities but also in diversified non-agricultural activities. Moreover, an urban centre functions in relationship to a large hinterland. In other words, cities are able to harness the resources of the countryside. Also, the cities could provide administrative, economic or religious services to the rural areas where the population residing is much larger than the physical space of the city. This could lead to the emergence of a class of kings, priests and merchants living in the cities who may turn out to be wealthier and more powerful than the common man. To lessen the economic disparity between different groups of people and to keep in check the hostilities between the rich and the poor, the centralized machinery of the state is needed. This kind of social structure also implies the beginning of a state society. It is against this background that the study of urban society and the rise of cities characterized by the presence of craft specialists, rich and poor people and a state administration, should be studied. By the sixth century bce, the superior position of the Brahmins who specialized in ritual activity became questionable. The warrior class or Kshatriyas surfaced as a class of landowners. They preferred a settled life based on agriculture and thus, the introduction of the iron technology proved a boon for augmentation of agricultural surplus and clearing of forests especially in mid-Gangetic plains.

bce )

5.7

5.8

Chapter 5

•  Cities India, 600 bc The 16 Mahajanapadas

Rivers Current borders

Larger food production made it possible to sustain increased production which is reflected in an increase in the number of ­settlements in the archaeological records of the period between sixth century and fourth century bce. The groups that grew up controlling surplus wealth became the ruling class of the newly emergent kingdoms. And on the foundation of this wealth, the cities of the sixth century bce were born. The rise and growth of urbanism is mentioned in the Brahmanical, Buddhist and Jain texts of the times. It was this period which saw the beginning of the written tradition in ancient Indian literary history. This evidence of the emergence of cities is corroborated by the archaeological sources. In the upper Gangetic valley, people used a particular kind of pottery called the painted grey ware (PGW), whereas in middle Gangetic plains, black and red pottery (BRW) was known. By about the sixth century bce, people of this entire zone started using NBPW which is representation of the broad cultural uniformity in the Gangetic towns in the sixth century bce. Punch-marked coins made of silver and copper, probably issued by merchants, reflect organized commerce by this time. The introduction of money in turn led to the emergence of the class of money-lenders. The use of terms ‘Pura and Durga’ to denote fortifications to protect urban centres and separate them for

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

Punch-marked Coins Made

of

Silver

rural areas is an important indication for the rise of cities not only as seats of political power but also as centres of commercial activity. The use of term ‘Nigama’ in Pali literature meant a township of specialized craftsmen. The term ‘Nagara’ was commonly used for towns or cities which combined the political functions of the Pura and commercial functions of the Nigama. The Buddhist literature refers to six Mahanagaras located in the middle Gangetic valley namely Champa, Rajgriha, Kashi, Sravasti, Saketa and Kaushambi. It was during the same period that India came to be divided into a number of independent states and even north India had no single paramount power. Most of these states were monarchical but quite a large number of them had republican or oligarchic constitutions. The Buddhist and Jain religious texts are more informative regarding them as compared to the Hindu religious texts. The Buddhist texts mention the following republican or oligarchic states: • The Sakyas of Kapilvastu in the foothills of the Himalayas near the border of Nepal. • The Bhaggas of Sumsumara hill in eastern UP. • The Bulis of Allakappa between the districts of Sahabad and Muzaffarpur in Bihar. • The Kalama of Kesaputta. • The Koliyas of Ramagama. • The Mallas of Pava-modern Fazillpur in Bihar. • The Mallas of Kusinara—modern Kasiya in eastern Utter Pradesh. • The Moriyas of Pipphalivana in the foothills of the Himalayas. • The Videhas of Mithila—modern Janakpur near the boundaries of Nepal. • The Licchavis of Vaishali—Basarah in the modern district of Muzaffarpur in north Bihar.

bce )

5.9

5.10

Chapter 5

The concept of ‘republic’ has been variously explained from time to time according to its varying content. In its most elementary meaning, republic is contrasted with monarchy, and means a form of state and government in which there is no hereditary monarch. The head of the state is usually elected directly and in modern usage, this fact distinguishes a republic from a monarchy in which the head is hereditary. The age of republics can be ascribed to the post-Vedic period. Indian writers call republics as Ganas or Sanghas meaning a community organized by law, belief, external habits and principles of life which formed basic laws of republic. According to A. S. Altekar, republics had a definite constitutional meaning. Since republic denoted a form of government where the power was vested not in person but in Gana or group of persons, Sangha is another term of the same sense as distinguished from monarchy. Altekar’s definition is in conformity with Panini’s Ashtadhyayi, writings of Katyayana and Mahabharata, as a political term of Gana. The existence of republics along with monarchies in the sixth century bce is found in Avadanasataka, accounts of visits of merchants from mid-India to Deccan, Jain Ayengasutra, Bhagvati Sutra and coin legends also refer to the existence of republics at that time. The existence of republican form of government signifies noticeable advancement in the political career of the people in this age. The tendency to exert superiority over others often gave rise to rivalries between the monarchical states. In such a situation, the states involved in warfare lacked organisational skills to govern their territories. Such developments gave rise to republican states where smaller territorial units (gana) were brought under a major unit (samgha) to form a republic (ganarajya) which were known for their better organisational skill because of distribution of political authority among these units. In historic times, republics existed in north-west and north-east zones, and in Punjab. Buddhist canons and Jataka stories refer to republics in UP and north Bihar. But very little is known about the political history of these states except for Sakyas and Licchavis. The Gana-Sangha were distinct in many ways as compared to the ­monarchical states. The corporate aspect of the republican government was unique in the sense that it was based on the principle of representative government. The santhagara was a place/a hall where major discussions were held. The council discussed over major issues and there was a voting provision in case no unanimity could be reached upon between the members of the assembly. Voting was done with the help of the pieces of wood known as salakas and the official associated with it (known as salaka-gahapaka) ensured the impartial functioning of this voting system. Ironically the greatest feature of the republics (the system of ­governance through assemblies and discussions) became their major weakness when compared to that of the monarchies. The republican states were v ­ ulnerable to internal strife that further weakened their political strength against the ­monarchies. The military defeats of theses ganas or ganasanghas at the hands of monarchical states should be understood as a result of the inability of their system of governance and military organization to meet the challenges that come in the way of empire building. The concept of universal empire (samrajya) or a universal ruler (chakravartin, Samrat, svarat, etc.,) found missing with them. On the other hand, such notions prevailed amongst the monarchical states which were truly manifested in the efforts of the Magadha rulers who carved out a huge principality in the form of the Magadha empire. Hence, the specialities of the republics accounted for their downfall as well. The Buddhist sources refer to the presence of 16 Mahajanapadas in the peri-

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

od when Buddha lived. Since north India had no single paramount power, sixth century bce witnessed the emergence of these independent states. The Mahajanapadas represented a conglomerate of thousands of villages and a few cities. These Mahajanapadas extended from the north-west ­Pakistan to east Bihar, and from Himalayas in the north to river Godavari in the south. Traditional literature also refer to 16 large states each comprising several agricultural settlements (Janapadas) as existing in India in the sixth century bce. The Buddhist text Anguttara Nikaya which is a portion of Sutta–Pitaka gives a list of 16 Mahajanapadas in the time of Buddha. The focus of the Aryan civilization had now moved to Magadha, Vatsa, Kosala and Avanti, eastwards during this period of our study. Out of all the 16 principal states, these 4 great kingdoms and the Vajji Republic of the Lichchhavis eclipsed the old land of the Kurus both in political and economic importance. Pradyota, a very powerful king of Avanti was an outstanding ruler. Even Ajatashatru, the ruler of Magadha, was afraid of him. His daughter Vasavadatta was married to Udayana, the ruler of Vatsa. In the beginning of the fourth century bce, Shishunaga, the ruler of Magadha, destroyed the power of the rulers of Avanti. In Vatsa, Udayana was the most famous ruler. He married the daughters of the rulers of Magadha, Anga and Avanti, and thus increased his powers. But his career was meteoric. He left no worthy successor. In the end, ruler of Avanti annexed it to his own kingdom. Prasenjit was the ruler of Kosala. He was a disciple of Lord Buddha as is evident from a sculpture at Bharhut. He gave his sister, Kosaladevi, in marriage to Bimbisara, the ruler of Magadha and gave a part of Kasi to her as pin-money. When Ajatashatru, the son of Bimbisara, starved his father to death, Kosaladevi died of grief. Thereupon, Prasenajit confiscated the part of Kasi which he had given to his sister. This led to a war between Kosala and Magadha which continued for a long time. In the end, Prasenajit gave his daughter Vajira in marriage to Ajatashatru and with her the revenues of Kasi. Thus, the conflict was patched up between two royal families. Some references in the early Buddhist works suggest that Prasenajit was inefficient and controlled the administration of his kingdom through tribal chieftains and vassal kings. When his son became king, he treated his generals cruelly and this led to the decline of the kingdom.

Magadha Empire Amidst such political turmoil, ultimately it was the kingdom of Magadha which eclipsed the power of the other three kingdoms. There were a number of factors which contributed to the growth of Magadha as the most powerful monarchy and later on assumed the status of the empire from the sixth century bce to the fourth century bce. Magadha occupied a strategic position between the upper and lower parts of the Gangetic plain and it was a very important centre for trade and commerce. Though half in size in comparison to Kosala, it had abundant forest resources, metal and prosperous agriculture. Social rigidity in terms of Varna system appeared to be absent in Magadha. Its people were not orthodox in the social matters. Herein, a Brahmana could live on friendly terms with the Vratyas or degenerate Kshatriyas and the Kshatriyas could even marry Sudra girls. The ruler of Magadha built an impregnable mountain fort and organized a strong army because they had sufficient resources in men and money. They also had the wisdom of establishing an efficient system of government on the basis of

bce )

5.11

5.12

Chapter 5

regular officials and standing army devoid of tribal life. The bards of Magadha inspired the people and with their support, the rulers realized the ideal of establishing an empire under a Chakravarti ruler which had been the goal that many of the authors of the Brahmanas and the Upanishads in pre-historic times had set for the rulers. The rulers of Magadha established matrimonial relations with different kingdoms in order to extend their sphere of influence in those kingdoms and beyond. In the sixth century bce (c.543–c.491 bce), Magadha was ruled by Bimbisara of the Haryanka kula. He was also known as Srenika. At first his capital was Girivajra, later he transferred it to Rajagriha some 60 miles to the south-east of Patna. Bimbisara was succeeded by his son Ajatashatru (c.491–c.459 bce) Ajatashatru had served as his father’s viceroy at Champa before he was crowned as king. It is said that Ajatashatru imprisoned his father, and starved him to death, and afterwards expressed remorse to Lord Buddha for this heinous act. This and the story of how Kosaladevi died of grief led to war between Ajatashatru and Prasenajit and how in the end, the latter gave his daughter Vajira in marriage to Ajatashatru and with it the part of the territory of Kasi which had originally been given as pin-money to Kosaladevi is vividly mentioned in texts and traditions. Another important event of Ajatashatru’s reign was his war against the Lichchhavis. Various causes have been assigned for this war, the most important one being but Ajatashatru’s motive to destroy the power of the neighbouring oligarchy which was no doubt a thorn in the side of an ambitious ruler. Before undertaking this ambitious project, Ajatashatru took all the necessary precautions. He sent two of his trusted ministers Sunidha and Vassakara to sow the seeds of dissensions among the Lichchhavi chiefs. He organized his army carefully and equipped it with as many destructive weapons (Masashilakantak and Rathamusala) as he could. As a result of this war (the preparation for which had continued for 16 years), some parts of the Lichchhavi territories were incorporated within the Magadhan empire. Both the Buddhists and the Jains claim that Ajatashatru was a follower of their faith. It is said in the Buddhist works that when Lord Buddha died in c.483 bce, Ajatashatru claimed a share of his relics and enshrined them in a stupa. The account of the reigns of Bimbisara and Ajatashatru show that they were the first Indian kings who sought to establish a far-flung empire in historic time. According to Pali sources, Ajatashatru was succeeded by his son Udayibhadra (also known as Udayin) in c.459 bce. He founded the city of Pataliputra on the confluence of the Sone and the Ganges. Udayibhadra’s s­ uccessors were Anurudha, Munda and Nagadasaka. They were weak and unpopular rulers. Hence, Sisunaga, the minister of the last ruler, seized the throne and founded the Sisunaga dynasty. Sisunaga destroyed the power of the ruler of Avanti and thus became the undisputed ruler of almost the whole of Madhyadesa, Malwa and other territories in the north. About the middle of the fourth century bce, the Sisunaga dynasty was overthrown by the first Nanda ruler Mahapadma. There are different traditions about his origin. According to the Puranas, he was born of a Sudra woman. In the Jain works, he is described as the son of a courtesan by a barber and according to a Greek writer Curtius, Mahapadma was the son of a barber who by is good looks had won the queen’s heart and who subsequently assassinated the ruler of Sisunaga dynasty (probably Kalasoka Kakavarna). All these accounts show that Mahapadma was of low origin, and succeeded in capturing the Magadhan throne by political intrigue.

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

Mahapadma is said to have uprooted the Kshatriyas by defeating the Iksvakus, Kurus, Panchalas, Kasis, Surasenas, Maithlas, Kalingas, Asmakas and Haihayas. There may be some exaggeration in this tall claim but it is certain that almost the whole of Madhyadesa and Malwa region formed parts of Sisunaga’s empire. From the ‘Katha-sarit-sagar’, we know that Kosala formed a part of Magadhan empire and the Hathigumpha inscription refers to the excavation of a canal by a Nandaraja who has been identified with Mahapadma. In view of this, the Nanda control over parts of Kalinga, the conquest of Asmaka and other regions lying further south do not seem to be altogether improbable. On the Godavari, there is a city called Nav Nand Dehra. This also suggests the inclusion of a considerable portion of the Deccan in the Nanda domains. According to Pliny, (who wrote Naturalis Historia) the Prasi (Easterners) surpassed in power and glory every other people all over India. This shows the high reputation which the Nandas enjoyed at that time. The eight sons of Mahapadma are said to have ruled for 12 years in succession. The last Nanda ruler was probably Dhananada. According to Greek writer Curtius, he maintained a strong army consisting of 2,00,000 foot soldiers, 2000 horses, 20,000 chariots and 4000 elephants, and had immense riches. But he was irreligious (adharmika), and of tyrannical disposition. He was, therefore, very unpopular. After Alexander’s departure, Chandragupta Maurya took advantage of the situation and destroyed the power of the Nandas of Magadha (c.320–21 bce). Magadha had thus step-by-step emerged as the premier kingdom in northern India, and henceforth its history merged with the history of India itself. The glamour of the Nandas had been dimmed by the greater splendour of the Mauryas. But we should remember that it was they who for the first time united the petty states of northern India, who were generally at war with one another, into one strong military unit. In other words, it was the Nandas who established a strong and unified political authority which covered most of northern India excluding Bengal. In the sixth century bce, unlike in north-east India where smaller principalities and republic merged with the Magadhan empire, there was no political unity in the north-west India. Several small principalities, such as those of the Kambojas, Gandharavas, and Madras fought one another. This, together with the fact that the area of north-western India was fertile and rich in natural resources, attracted the attention of its neighbours and most probably persuaded the Persian emperors to seek territorial aggrandizement in the north-western region of India.

Persian Invasions The Iranian ruler Darius I penetrated into north-west India in 516 bce and annexed Punjab, west of Indus and Sindh. Cyrus, the grandson of Darius I, and his successors seem to have maintained some control of the Indian provinces, which furnished contingents to their army. It appears that India considered to be a part of the Iranian empire till Alexander of Macedonia defeated Darius III, the last Achaemenid (Iranian) emperor, and proceeded to conquer to whole of his empire. The Persians brought India into contact with the Western world and thus gave an impetus to her trade and commerce with the west. The cultural results were more important. The Indo-Iranian contact lasted for about 200 years. D. B. Spooner has tried to prove that at Pataliputra, the Mauryan palace was modelled after the palace of Darius. But the evidence on which he had relied is scanty and unreliable. That is why his view is not accepted by the vast majority

bce )

5.13

5.14

Chapter 5

of other scholars. H. G. Rawlinson has suggested that the bell capital of Ashokan pillars shows many traces of Persian influences. This view is also untenable. As pointed out by E. B. Havell, the capital represents inverted lotus which is characteristically a significant motif in Indian art. It is however, possible that the inspiration for building pillars might have come from the Persians, but the Ashokan pillars are in no way imitations of their Persian prototype. The Persian shaft is fluted, i.e., has semi-cylindrical vertical grooves or channels, while Ashokan pillar is plain and circular. The Persian shaft is built or separate pieces of stone, while the Ashokan shaft is monolithic (i.e., single block of stone). So even when the inspiration for erecting pillars might have been derived from Persia, indigenous and original contribution to the creation of this item of Mauryan art is undeniable. The Persian scribes introduced into India a new form of writing called Kharoshthi, which was made use of by Ashoka in some of his inscriptions in north-western India and beyond. This script is a derivative of the Aramaic alphabet which was extensively used in the Achaemenid Empire (558–338 bce). This script, like the Arabic script, is written from right to left. The popularity of the Kharoshthi did not extend beyond third century ce. Certain words and the preamble of Ashokan edicts also show some Persian influences. The word dipi is used for a script and nipishta for ‘written’ which are clearly Indianized forms of Persian words. Though the idea of chakravarti ruler having an empire existed in the protohistoric times as it is definitely mentioned in the Brahmanas, it is possible as suggested by Prof. Basham that the expansionist policy of Bimbisara and Ajatashatru, the rulers of Magadha, ‘was inspired by the example of the Persians.’ We learn from Megasthenes that Chandragupta Maurya imitated the Persian hair style. He celebrated the hair-washing ceremony, employed women body-guards and lived in seclusion and like the Persian Emperors got their administrative edicts inscribed on rocks. It is therefore probable that Ashoka borrowed this practice from the Persian but his use was not only the practice with the Persian but also his exhortations for spreading his dhamma. We also know that the Persian system of government by satraps was introduced in several provinces of north-western India.

Alexander’s Invasion

of I ndia

In 330 bce, Alexander (356–323 bce) of Macedon defeated Darius III, the last Persian emperor of Achaemenid (Persia) and set out to subdue the whole of the former Persian Empire. After a long campaign in Bactria, the region on the borders of the modern Soviet Union and Afghanistan watered by the river Oxus, Alexander crossed the Hindukush and occupied the district of Kabul. At this time, the north-western India was divided into a number of petty principalities as there existed no great power in that area which could curb their mutual strifes and jealousies. These principalities had little tendency to unite even against a foreign enemy. Ambhi, the ruler of Taxila, was at war with the Abhisaras and Poros. Poros and the Abhisaras were also enemies of the autonomous tribes like the Ksudrakas and the Malwas. The relations between Poros and his nephew were far from friendly. Owing to these quarrels among these petty states, Alexander did not face any united resistance. Some of these ruler like Ambhi of Taxila received him with open arms out of hatred of his neighbours. Alexander also received assistance from Sanrajya of Puskalavati, Kophaios of the Kabul region, Asrvajit and Saisgupta. No doubt Poros and Abhisaras, the Malwas, the Ksudrakas and the neighbouring tribes presented stiff resistance to the invader. Massaga or Masaka or Maskavati (as mentioned in panini’s Ashtadhyayi), one of the strongest

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

centres of Assacanians or Ashvakayans was stormed with great difficulty. Poros, the Malwas, and the Ksudrakas were no doubt defeated but Alexander’s army met with stubborn resistance from them. The Malwas almost succeeded in killing Alexander. But ultimately all this was of no avail. The disunited people could not long resist the united forces of the Greeks led by Alexander, one of the greatest generals of ancient Europe. Alexander had succeeded in conquering the old Persian provinces of the Gandhara and north-western India but was unable to defeat the powerful Nanda king of Magadha, and other rulers to march further for his soldiers has heard that the Nanda king and the rulers of the Gangetic provinces were waiting for Alexander with an army of 80,000 horses, 2,00,000 foot, 8000 war chariots and 6000 fighting elephants. The stout resistance put up by the Brahmins of the Punjab and the cities of Malwas was indeed the beginning of the reaction that was soon to wipe out all traces of Alexander from India. Alexander’s efforts to persuade his mercenaries to proceed further were of no avail, and his soldiers refused to advance beyond the river Beas (hyphasis). He was left with no option but to order retreat in September, 326 bce. Thus, he failed to achieve his strongly held aim ‘of planting the Hellenic standard in the eastern ends of India.’ Alexander himself died in June 323 bce in Babylon and his dream of World Empire came to an end.

The Impact

of

Alexander’s Invasion

The consequences of Alexander’s invasion of India have been exaggerated out of all proportion by some foreign writers. Rapson and Smith regard this invasion an important and successful landmark in the history of India, while according to Radha Kumud Mukherjee it cannot be called a singular victory for Alexander. Alexander, of course, tried his best to consolidate his conquest in India as far as possible by suitable administrative arrangements. He posted Greek governors to the west of the Indus; Peithon in Sind. Philip in the north, in the lower Kabul valley up to Bactria, and Oxyartes in the valley of the Hindukush. To the east of the Indus, however, he did not dare to appointment Greek governors, but appointed only Indians, such as the King of Taxila, Abhisaras and Poros to rule over his conquered territories. Nonetheless, one of its important consequences was that the political vacuum created in the north-west by Alexander’s retreat did produce ‘indirect effects of utmost importance’ in so far as the exploits of Alexander must have provided Chandragupta Maurya with some added inspiration to undertake his extensive territorial ventures. Alexander’s invasion by destroying the power of the petty states of north-western India gave an impetus to united India. Thus, by increasing the existing facilities for trade, Alexander’s campaign paved the way for Greek merchants and craftsmen. Alexander established in India a number of Greek settlement, some of which may have survived till the time of Ashoka’s and even later. This promoted an exchange of ideas between Indian and Bactrian Greeks. Greek influence can be seen on Buddhist religion and also on art. In course of time, there grew a cosmopolitan school by the Hellenic influence. V. A. Smith has put it: ‘whatever Hellenistic elements in Indian civilization can be detected were all indirect consequences of Alexander’s intension.’ An immediate effect of Alexander’s invasion was the destruction/weakening of tribes of India which had survived from earlier times. This made it easier for Chandragupta Maurya to bring them under his survey.

bce )

5.15

5.16

Chapter 5

Map

of

Mauryan Empire

under

Chandragupta II

Thus, the process of political unification of northern India under one Government was unleashed. Alexander’s historians besides having left valuable geographical accounts have also left clearly dated records of Alexander’s campaign, which enable us to build Indian chronology for subsequent events on a definite basis.

Rise

of

Heterodox Sects

Sixth century bce witnessed many religious movements in different parts of the world. Heraclitus in Eoinia Island, Socrates in Greece, Confucius in China, Zoroaster in Persia and Isaiah in Babylon preached new ideas. These widely separated parts of the world displayed a wave of discontentment with the traditions

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

of Kingships, priesthood and ritualistic sacrifices. People were waking up to find answers to their questions regarding salvation and the ultimate Truth. In India, too, numerous religious sects arose in the mid-Gangetic plains as a result of an upheaval of new ideas and the resulting rise of new philosophical tenets. These ideas were so diversified that the philosophical speculations based on them varied from religious speculations to the search for the Truth which the Upanishads had emphasized. The efforts in this direction brought about results in this century. In this period, we notice a growing resentment to the ritualistic orthodox ideas of the Brahmanas. In other words, the old Vedic religion had ceased to be a living force. The spiritual unrest and the intellectual stimulation led to the rise of various heterodox religious movements. The religious sects were based on regional customs and rituals practiced by different people living in north-east India. Out of these sects, Jainism and Buddhism were the most important and they developed into most potent well-organized popular religious reform movements. Brahmanical socio-religious order by this time had made its influence so widely spread on Indian soil that people started realizing that the degeneration in Indian society was mainly because of the evils of Varna and caste hierarchy. Brahmanism was associated with perverted values. The emphasis on sacrifices, rituals and the dominance of Brahmanas had vitiated the original doctrines. Society was largely guided by Brahmanism which was firmly established by now and priesthood had also become predominant. It was against this background of exploitation of the masses by the Brahmanas and discrimination among people on the basis of caste system that Mahavira and Buddha revolted. They came forward as reformers very much determined to clean Brahmanical order of its innumerable evil practices. They did not want to start new or independent religions but drew their inspiration from the teachings as embodied in the Upanishads. They provided a rational approach to handle the problems that had crept in the Indian society as a result of the prevailing complexities. They did not approve the costly religious rituals and bloody sacrifices. There was hatred against the prevailing social order which led to pitiable conditions of the low born. The changing features of social and economic life, such as the growth of towns, expansion of the artisan class and the rapid development of trade and commerce also focused on the necessity to bring about changes in society and religion. The new ideas brought about by the reform movements challenged the established social order particularly the caste-system, the religious rituals and sacrifices, the supremacy of the Brahmanas, particularly by the Kshatriyas, and all the dead customs of the society. Outwardly, this spirit of the age was against the existing organization of the society and inwardly against the caste-system. It was based on elevation of man individually and spiritually. It emphasized personal liberty and purity and claimed that every individual had the right to attain Nirvana. These new religious ideas emerged out of the prevailing socio-economic and religious conditions of the times.

Socio-Economic Milieu

for the

Religious Upheavals

The fourfold Varna order with the defined hierarchy started creating a ­series of problems during this period. Each varna was assigned w ­ ell-defined function. Though varna was based on birth, the two higher varnas captured power, prestige and privileges at the cost of the two lower varnas. The Brahmanas who were allotted the functions of priests and teachers, claimed the highest status in society. They

bce )

5.17

5.18

Chapter 5

demanded several privileges, including those of receiving gifts and exemption from taxation and punishment. The next in hierarchy were the Kshatriyas who lived on the taxes collected from the cultivators. The third category, the Vaishyas, thrived on agriculture, ­cattle-breeding and trade. They were the main tax payers. All these three classes were considered ‘dvijas’ or twice born. The Sudras formed the lowest rung of the social order and were meant to serve the upper three castes as domestic slaves, agricultural labourers, etc., in the post-Vedic times. They were the down-trodden class because of the varna. The vertical hierarchization of society on varna lines generated frustration and chaos among the adversely affected people. The Vaishyas and the Sudras were not satisfied with the division of society on the basis of birth but we do not have evidence of their open resistance. The reaction came in strongly from the Kshatriya class because Mahavira and Buddha, both belonged to Kshatriya clan. However, the real cause of the rise of these new religions lay in the spread of a new agrarian economy in north-eastern India. The primary factor that provided stimulus the material life of the people around 700 bce in eastern UP and Bihar was the beginning of the use of iron. Iron implements were made and used for agricultural purposes which resulted in enhancement of agriculture land and its production. Increased agriculture production led to the growth of trade and commerce. It resulted in the growth of cities where the population of traders and artisans was concentrated. It required changes in society and certain well-entrenched traditions. The Vaishyas, having accumulated wealth and property, were gaining higher social status. The trading and commercial communities, i.e., Vaishyas wanted their private property to be secure and social and religious sanctions for foreign trade and sea-travelling which, by then, was not sanctioned by the Vedic religion. These economic conditions necessitated changes in the society as well. The newly emerged financially strong class wanted changes in their status but the Kshatriyas took advantage of utilizing this opportunity to gain more importance and abolish the supremacy of the priestly class. That is why the preceptors of both Jainism and Buddhism, which came forward as reform movements and later became most popular religious movements, were Kshatriya princes. On the basis of the support that they acquired from Vaishyas and Sudras, the Kshatriyas opposed the supremacy of the Brahmanas, the prevalence of caste system, the complexities of rituals and sacrifices, and desired change in caste according to Karma and not according to birth. Both these religious sects, therefore provided grounds to bring about changes in the social and economic set up. It was for this reason that Jainism discarded agriculture but did not protest against trade, and Buddhism exhibited favourable opinion towards sea-voyages. R. S. Sharma says that northern India entered into a full-fledged iron age by the sixth century bce. In the second phase of iron associated with the NBPW levels, (500–200 bce) we encounter lot of agricultural implements. The use of iron led to the urban settlements in UP, Magadha and Bihar. Now, there were the prosperous iron-using villages, whose prosperity increased with easier access to both iron ore and more land for cultivation, and this led to surplus production. Thus, this became the stable base for the growth of towns. This urbanization of the Gangetic valley is often referred to as the second urbanization with iron technology as its crucial factor. Surplus produce and specialization of crafts, increase in trade based on production as well as improved communication (both by land and through the use of river navigation) all combined together to make urbanization possible. This in

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

turn produced the characteristics associated with urban centres, the building of fortified cities, the introduction of script, the use of coinage (punch marked coins), a wide range of intellectual and metaphysical speculation (from the Carvakas to the Ajivikas), some of which reflected the requirement and aspirations of the new urban groups, the artisans, the merchants and the traders. The Jaina canonical writings mention different kinds of urban centres in the age of Mahavira. Taking the country as a whole, nearly 60 towns are assigned to the period 600–300 bce. The big cities, such as Sravasti were 20 in number and 6 of them (as already mentioned) were important enough to be associated with the passing away of Gautama Buddha. Thus, from Buddha’s time onwards, a remarkable beginning of town life in north-eastern India seems to have taken place. Trade was both the cause and effect of increasing urbanization. The Jatakas, the Buddhist birth stories, make numerous references to caravans with 500 or 1000 carts going from one place to another. One such group of 500 carts is mentioned as passing by a street where Gautama Buddha was meditating. The prevalence of iron technology helped in clearing forest-lands that further facilitated the process of movement and establishment of material culture in such regions. Trade, on an increasing scale, led to the birth of money economy, i.e., coinage. The earliest coins discovered cannot be dated beyond the time of Buddha. These coins were issued by the merchants and bore punch-marks. The use of coins in this period seems to have become fairly common and even the price of a dead mouse is stated in terms of money. Diverse arts and crafts developed. Apart from such service occupations as those of the washer man and dyer, the painter, the barber, the tailor, ­weaver and the cook, several manufacturing crafts (reed-working pottery, vehicle making, needle-making, goldsmithery, metal-smithery, carpentry, ivory-working gar-

Punch-Marked Coin Issued

by the

Merchants, 500-300 b.c.

bce )

5.19

5.20

Chapter 5

land-making and silk manufacturing) are mentioned in the early Buddhist writings. The existence of so many crafts implies increasing specialization in the field of commodity production. Now, the artisans and craftsmen were often organized into guilds. Later, Buddhist works refer to the existence of 18 guilds in Rajgriha, though the names of only four, wood workers, smiths, leather workers and painters are specified. Each guild inhabited a particular section of the town. This led not only to the localization of crafts and industries but also to their hereditary transmission from father to son. Every guild was presided over by a head (Jetthaka). The Setthis, who also sometimes headed the guilds, handled trade and industries. They generally lived in towns but those among them who were granted revenues of villages for their maintenance (bhogagama) by the king had to keep links with the countryside. The Setthi was in some sense a financier or banker and sometimes also head of a trade guild. He was treated with respect even by absolute and despotic kings. All this implies that in towns, artisans and Setthis were emerging as important social groups. In the countryside also, a new social group was coming up to the forefront by virtue of its wealth. The greater part of land came to be owned by gahapati (peasant-proprietors). In the earlier period, the word gahapati (literally the lord of the house) stood for the host and principal sacrificer at any considerable sacrifice. But in the age of the Buddha, it came to mean the head of a large patriarchal household of any caste who got respect p ­ rimarily because of his wealth, which in the post-Vedic period was measured not so much in cattle as in land. References to several affluent gahapatis occur in the early Buddhist writings. The gahapati, Mendaka is described as paying wages to the royal army, as donor he is said to have instituted 1250 cow herds to serve the Buddha and his samgha. Anathapindika, another gahapati is said to have paid a fabulous price for Jetavana, a plot of land which he donated to the Buddha. Sometimes, the gahapatis are also represented as lending money to promising shopkeepers. The emergence of the gahapatis from the Vedic householder to a comparatively wealthy head of the household may indicate the growing disparity of wealth within the society. Common people, slaves and labourers, seem to have coveted his wealth and wished his harm, often he is depicted as keeping a bodyguard to protect himself. Accustomed to the old ways of life, some individuals found it difficult to adjust themselves to the breakup of the old tribal society caused by new material conditions which gave rise to social inequalities. Whatever may have been the ultimate objectives of Buddhism, ordinary people, whose support really mattered to the new religion, were certainly attracted towards it because of its successful response to the challenge posed by the social developments generated by the material conditions created by the use of iron, plough agriculture, coins and the rise of towns in eastern UP and Bihar. Many aboriginal non-Aryan tribes, which remained unaffected by the knowledge of iron-technology lived at a very low level of material culture. The cultural lack of the aboriginals, living mainly as hunters and fowlers in contrast to the varna-divided society, which possessed the knowledge of implements and agriculture, perhaps led in the post-Vedic period to the growth of untouchability. The newly developed features of the social and economic life of people did not fit in with the Vedic ritualism and animal sacrifice. The conflict between the Vedic religious practices and the aspirations of the rising social groups led to the search of new religions and philosophical ideas which would fit with the basic changes in

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

the material life of the people. Thus, in the sixth century bce, in the Gangetic valley there emerged many new religious teachers who preached against Vedic religion. Ajita Kesakambali propagated a thorough going materialistic doctrine called annihilationism (uchchaedavada). From this, the Lokayata or Charvaka School of philosophy is believed to have derived a great deal. Pakudha Kaccayana, another religious leader, held that just as the earth, water, air and light are primary indestructible elements, so are sorrow, happiness and life. It has been suggested that from his ideas, the later Vaisheshika School originated. Purana Kassapa, the third contemporary preacher, who regarded the soul as distinct from the body laid the foundations of what later came to be known as the Samkhya School of philosophy. But of all the sects prevalent in northern India around the sixth century bce, only Jainism and Buddhism came to stay in India as independent religions. Also, the urban setting in the age of the Buddha gave rise to certain features of town life which did not find favour with the Brahmanical society. The urban surroundings and breakup of the old tribal family created a class of alienated women who took to prostitution as a source of livelihood. So prostitution, characteristic of urban society, is tolerated by Buddhists but not by Brahmanas. The use of iron weapons revolutionized military equipment and added to political importance of warriors in contrast to that of priests. They naturally claimed a position of equality in other fields. The conflict between the interests of the Brahmanas and Kshatriyas is evident in many texts. This partly explains the Kshatriya origin of Mahavira and Gautama and also the fact that from the beginning, Buddhism texts accord the first place to the Kshatriya and the second to the Brahmanas. As the Kshatriya rulers could be maintained only by regular payment of taxes, so both Brahmanical and Buddhist texts of the age of the Buddha justify the royal share of the peasant’s produce on the ground that the King gives protection to the people (contract). In this way, with the change from nomadic pastoralism to settled agrarian villages, tribal identity was extended to territorial identity as is reflected in tribal names being given to geographical areas. This, in turn, gave rise to the concept of the state with both monarchical and non-monarchical form of government and woven into this concept were the institutions of caste and property, as already pointed out. With the rise of city life in the Ganges valley, a new pattern developed in the subcontinent, the cultural dominance of the Ganga region—the Hindustan of later centuries—exerted itself over all the regions.

Jainism

and I ts

Philosophy

Jain tradition speaks of 24 Tirthankaras (prophets). In the Rigveda Mantras, there are references to Rishaba, the first Tirthankara as claimed by Jains. However, the first 22 Tirthankaras have no historical foundation. Only the last two, Parsva and Mahavira, are historical personages. Very little is known about the life of Parsva. It is believed that he was the son of the King of Banaras who became an ascetic at the age of thirty, got enlightenment after 84 days of penance, gave his message to the people up to the age of 100 years and died in Bihar nearly 250 years before Mahavira. In fact, the real founder of Jainism was its 24th Tirthankara, Mahavira. It is difficult to fix the exact dates of birth and death of this reformer. Most Tirthankaras up to the 15th, were supposed to have been born in eastern UP and Bihar but their historicity is extremely doubtful. No part of the mid-Gangetic plains was settled on any scale until the fifth century bce. Evidently, the mythology of the Tirthan-

bce )

5.21

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Chapter 5

Mahavira Original Name

Vardhaman

Born in

540 bce at Kundagrama near Vaishali in Bihar

Clan

Jantrika ­Kshatriya clan

Father

Siddhartha

Mother

Trishla

Wife

Yashoda

Daughter

Anojja

Left Home

At the Age of 30

Attained ­Kaivalya

At the age of 42 at Jrimbhikagrama in Eastern India

Died

At the Age of 72 in 468 bce at Pavapuri near Rajgriha

karas, most of whom were born in the mid-Gangetic basin and attained nirvana in Bihar, seems to have created to endow Jainism with antiquity. According to one tradition, Vardhaman Mahavira was born in 540 bce in a village near Vaishali. Being the son of the head of a Kshatriya clan, he also had connections with the royal family of Magadha. Initially, Mahavira led the life of a householder but in his quest for truth, he abandoned the world at the age of 30 and became an ascetic. After wandering from place to place for 12 years, he attained omniscience (Kaivalya) through which he conquered misery and happiness. Because of this conquest, he is known as Mahavira or the great hero or Jina that is why the conqueror and his followers are known as Jainas. He propagated his religion for 30 years and his mission took him to Kosala, Magadha, Mithila, Champa, etc. He passed away at the age of 72 in 468 bce at Pavapuri near modern Rajgir. Religious texts written in Pali do not recognize Mahavira as an originator of a new religion but as a reformer of an existing religion. Mahavira accepted mostly the religious doctrines of Parsva but certainly made some alterations and additions to them. Parsva emphasized self-control and penance and advised his followers to observe Satya (truth), Ahimsa non-violence), Aparigraha (no possession of property), Asteya (not to receive anything which is not freely given). To these Mahavira added Brahmacharya (celibacy). As regards philosophy, Jaina philosophy shows a close affinity to Hindu Samkhya philosophy. It also ignores the idea of God, accepts that the world is full of sorrows and believes in the theory of Karma and transmigration of soul. Jaina philosophy is that of dualism. It believes that human personality is formed of two elements: Jiva (soul) and Ajiva (matter). While Ajiva is destructible, Jiva is indestructible and the salvation of an individual is possible through progress of Jiva. In short, the living and non-living (soul and matter), by coming into contact with each other, create energies which cause birth, death and various experiences of life. These energies, already created, could be destroyed by a course of discipline leading to salvation or nirvana. This means seven things: 1. There is something called the living. 2. There is something called the non-living. 3. The two come in contact with each other. 4. The contact leads to production of energies.

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

5. The process of contact could be stopped. 6. The existing energies could be exhausted. 7. Salvation could be achieved. These seven propositions are called the seven ‘tattvas’ or truths or realities by Jainas. On the basis of these propositions, Jaina philosophy states that if one desires to attain Nirvana, it is important for him to destroy Karma. One could gradually do it by avoiding evil Karma first and later other Karma. To equip himself for such a task, a person should observe the five principles of the religion namely Satya, Ahimsa, Aparigraha, Asteya and Brahmacharya. Jainism is essentially atheistic; the concept of God being irrelevant. But it accepts a group of prophets or Tirthankaras who were deified men. Every mortal possesses the potentiality of becoming as great as they were. Jainism represents the universe as functioning according to eternal law continuously passing through a series of cosmic waves of progress and decline. According to it, the sole purpose of life is the purification of soul. Unlike the Upanishads, Jainism preaches that the purification of soul cannot be attained through knowledge but only through rigorous ascetic punishment of the body thereby freeing the soul from the sorrows of life. In other words, right belief, right knowledge and right action or ratnatraya or three jewels of Jain religion formed the basis of a man’s life. Jainism believed that the highest state of a soul was God. According to Mahavira, man is the architect of his own destiny and he could attain salvation and even the status of a God by pursuing a life of purity, virtue and renunciation. A monastic life was essential for full salvation. No lay Jaina could take up the profession of agriculture since this involved not only the destruction of plant life but also of many living things in the soil. That is why strict limitation of private property enforced by Jainism was interpreted to mean only landed property. There was no restriction on amassing wealth by means of trade and commerce. The practice of non-violence in Jainism had more of negativity since it lays greater emphasis on vegetarianism and precaution against killing of insects and animals rather than on loving them. The principal sects of the Jainism are two, Svetambara and Digambara. There are differences between the two sects regarding versions of some incidents of the life of Mahavira, the type of food taken by Jaina preacher or munis, and the question whether women could attain Nirvana or not. But the basic difference is on the use of clothes. The preachers of Svetambara wore white clothes while the preachers of Digambara sect practice complete nudity. Some scholars maintain that Parsva did not ask his followers to discard clothes but Mahavira insisted on nudity. Jain sacred texts known as 12 Angas were also non-acceptable to Digambaras as authentic. The original doctrines taught by Mahavira were contained in 14 old texts known as ‘purvas’. In the first council at Pataliputra, the Jaina canon was divided into 12 sections which the Svetambaras accepted but Digambaras refused to accept this claiming that all old scriptures were lost. At the second council held at Vallabhi new additions were made in the form of ‘Upangas’ or minor sections. Among the 12 Angas, the Acharayanga Sutta and the Bhagwati Sutta are the most important. While the former deals with the code of conduct which a Jaina monk is required to follow, the later expound the Jaina doctrines in a comprehensive manner. Teachings of Mahavira became very popular among the masses and different sections of society were attracted to it. One of the important causes for the success was the use of popular dialect (Prakrit) in place of Sanskrit. The simple and

bce )

5.23

5.24

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homely morals prescribed to the masses attracted the people. The royal patronage by the rulers of Magadha later made Mathura and Ujjain great centres of Jainism. Jain councils collected the material of the sacred texts to write them down systematically, in Ardhamagadhi. But in the absence of popular religious preachers after the death of Mahavira, its division into two important sects, absence of protection by the later rulers, revival of Hinduism under the Guptas, Cholas, Chalukyas and Rajput kings, contributed to its slow decline. But its contribution to Indian culture particularly literature, architecture and sculpture has been remarkable. Though the language of its religious texts had been Prakrit, it helped in giving a literary shape to some spoken languages of India. The temples and idols still existing in various cities as Mathura, Gwalior, Junagarh, Chittor and Abu have been accepted as some of the best specimens of Indian architecture and sculpture particularly the temples of Abu, the Jaina tower at Chittorgarh, the elephant caves of Odisha and the 70-feet-high idol of Bahubali in Mysore.

Buddhism

and I ts

Philosophy

Out of all the religious preachers of the sixth century bce, Gautama Buddha is the best known. Gautama Buddha or Siddhartha was a contemporary of Mahavira, born in a royal family of the Sakyas at Kapilavastu in the southern part of present Nepal in the year 566 bce. Siddhartha (original name of Gautama Buddha) renounced the world at the age of 29. He moved from place to place in search of truth for 7 years and then attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya under peepal tree. From this time onwards, he began to be called the Buddha or the enlightened one. Though his life was spent in royal splendour, it failed to attract the mind of Gautama. As traditions describe, he was deeply affected by the sight of an old man, a sick person, a dead body and an ascetic. The misery of the human life left a deep impact on Gautama. To find a solution to the misery of mankind, he spent years as a wandering ascetic. From a sage called Alara Kalama, he learned the technique of meditation and the teachings of the Upanishads. After attaining the Gautham Buddha Original Name

Siddhartha

Born in

563 bce at ­Lumbini in Nepal

Clan

Sakya ­kshatriya clan of Kapilavastu

Gotra Name

Gautam

Father

Suddodhana

Mother

Mahamaya

Wife

Yasodhara

Son

Rahul

Cousin

Devadatta

Teacher

Alara Kalama

Left Home

At the age of 29

Attained ­Nirvana

At the age of 35 at Bodh Gaya ­under a Pipal tree

First sermon

At Saranath near Varanasi

Died

At the age of 80 in 483 bce at ­Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

bce )

5.25

supreme knowledge, he proceeded to Sarnath near Varanasi to deliver his first sermon which is known as ‘Dharma Chakra Pravartana’ (setting in motion the wheel of Dharma). Asvajit, Upali, Magallana, Sariputra and Ananda were the first five disciples of Buddha. His message laid down the foundation of both Buddhist religion and philosophy which in course of time spread far and wide to Ceylon, Burma, Siam, Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, etc. Buddhism stood between the two extremes—unrestrained individualistic self-indulgence and equally individualistic but preposterous ascetic punishment of the body. Hence, its steady rise and its name ‘The Middle Way’. The central theme of Buddha’s religion is the eight-step path (Ashtangamarga). The first step is the proper vision leading to the realization that the world is full of sorrows caused by desire, greed, etc. The second is right aim which seeks to avoid the engagement of the senses and luxury. It aims to love humanity and increase the happiness in others. Right speech is the third step, it implies the practice of truthfulness promoting mutual friendship. Right action includes abstention from killing, stealing and unselfish deeds. Right livelihood instructs a man to live by pure and honest means. Right effort means proper way of controlling one’s senses so as to prevent bad thoughts. The seventh step is correct awareness or right mindfulness which means understanding the idea that the body is impermanent and meditation is the means for the removal of worldly evils. The last step is right concentration which will lead to removal of evils generated by attachment to the body and the mind. This will lead to peace and unravel the real truth. Anyone who would follow the noble eightfold path would attain nirvana irrespective of his social origin. Lord Buddha emphasized Four Noble Truths to mankind. He said that the world is full of suffering. All sufferings have a cause; desire, ignorance and attachment are the causes of suffering. The suffering could be removed by destroying its cause. In order to end suffering, one must know the right path. This path is the Eightfold Path. Buddhism laid emphasis on the law of ‘Karma’ by which the present is determined by the past actions. If an individual has committed no sins, he is not born again. This is an important part of Lord Buddha’s teachings. Buddha preached that the ultimate goal of one’s life is to attain Nirvana, the eternal state of peace and bliss, which is free from desire and sorrow, decay or disease, and of course from birth and death. Therefore, annihilation of desire is the real problem. Prayers and sacrifices will not end desire nor will rituals and ceremonies as emphasized by Vedic religion but he stressed on moral life of an individual. Buddha neither accepted nor rejected the existence of God. He was a practical reformer who took note of the realities of the day. He said everything is transient in this Universe. There is Famous Lord Buddha statue on lion throne Gandhara Takht-iBahi,

in

Mardan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

5.26

Chapter 5

no immortal soul. The Universe is soulless. The transmigration is no transmigration of soul. In transmigration, nothing passes over from one life to another, only a new life arises as part of events which include the old or rather it is the reaction of one’s own actions. He believed that one’s ignorance makes a person believe in existence of God or soul and this ignorance creates desire in man, then leads to action and that action leads to impulse to be born again to satisfy desire. This leads to chain of birth and rebirth which is the primary cause of misery of a man. The chain of ignorance, desire, attachment, etc., can be snapped by knowledge or Gyan. According to him, the time knowledge is to acknowledge the absence of soul. He who realizes the absence of soul knows that he does not exist as an individual and as such there can be no relationship between him and the objects around him. Therefore, nothing in this world can make him happy or sad. So he is free (Vimukta)—he is an Arhat. Those who wish to attain this knowledge to attain salvation should have faith in ‘Four Noble Truths’ and ‘Eightfold Path’. For this, he has to work out mental training for concentration. Briefly, it is to Buddhism what gymnastics was to the Greek body. The moral doctrines of Buddha were simple. He believed that every individual is the maker of his own destiny. We are born time and again to reap the fruits of our Karma. Good deeds lead to higher life till salvation is achieved while evil deeds hinder our spiritual elevation. One should neither lead a life of luxury nor a life of severe asceticism. The best course to be pursued by an individual is the Middle Path (Madhyama Pratipat or Tatha Grah Marg). Buddha laid stress on truth, charity, purity and control over passions and advocated for cardinal virtues, i.e., Maitri (Love), Karuna (Passion), Mudita (joy at other’s success) and Upeksha (Equanimity) towards all living being in order to lead a better life in the next birth. Besides one should avoid pursuing bad instincts such as ill-will, anger, deceit, jealousy, arrogance, etc. One should not steal, speak lie or get drunk or have illicit relations. Thus, Buddha preached moral and ethical conduct for the common man. He stressed that the Noble Eightfold Path by which a person could attain Nirvana, is not only a matter of belief or knowledge alone but also conduct. The teaching of Buddha put forward a serious challenge to the existing Brahmanical order. Buddha’s liberal and democratic approach quickly attracted the people of all sections. His attack on the caste system and the supremacy of the Brahmanas was welcomed by the lower orders. Irrespective of caste, creed and sex, people were welcomed in the new order. Buddha rejected the authority of the Vedas and condemned animal scarifies. He detested the complex and meaningless rituals. He strongly believed that sacrifices and rituals could neither help a person to wash away his sins nor benefit any sinner by performing various ritualistic practices. Max Muller wrote ‘What was felt by Buddha had been felt more or less intensely by thousands and this was the secret of his success.’ The practice of social equality on which Buddhism was based was the call of the day. Buddha understood and preached what masses desired at that time. Thus Buddhism represented the spirit of its age. Lord Buddha was a living example of righteousness, chastity and holy ideals. He was a prince yet he accepted the life of a monk. He attained knowledge not by studying religious texts but by self-realization and self-emancipation. His religion was a religion in practice. He preached what he himself practiced in real life. He was on embodiment of truth and a living example of a holy life based on love and simplicity. Therefore, he could attract not only the common people but also princes, rulers and upper strata of the society to his faith, who in turn, helped in the propagation of his faith.

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

The teachings of Buddha were not only simple but also quite practical. Buddha prescribed a middle path for the attainment of Nirvana. For the common man, it did not mean acquisition of difficult knowledge, observance of costly rituals, severe asceticism or abandoning family life but it meant observing certain simple rules of morality to attain salvation. This factuality was not catered to by contemporary religions. Moreover, Buddha preached in the language of the masses, i.e., Magadhi which facilitated the spread of Buddhist doctrines among the common people. Gautama Buddha also organized the samgha or the religious order whose doors were open to all irrespective of caste, creed and sex. However, slaves, soldiers and debtors could not be admitted. The Buddhist samghas proved to be the best instruments in the propagation of Buddhism. Each local samgha was like a workplace or an assembly for the followers of Buddhism where teachings of Buddha were imparted to the followers. The samghas were also centres of learning, spiritual exercise for the monks and exchange of ideas among the members. These Samghas prepared religious preachers or monks into a well-organized body to propagate the teachings of Buddha. These monks worked selflessly for propagation of Buddhism. According to V. Smith, ‘The well-organized body of monks and nuns was the most effective instrument in the hands of this religion.’ Besides various scholars like Nagarjuna, Vasumitra, Dinang, Dharamkisti, etc., produced vast literature on Buddhism which provided the base for its strength. From its inception, Buddhism got the protection and support of various rulers. Bimbisara and Ajatashatru of Magadha, Prasenajit of Kosala and Udayana, king of Kaushambi, were either followers or admirers of Buddha. Pradyota, king of Avanti too had invited Buddha to his kingdom. King Ashoka also played an important role in the propagation of the religion. Emperor Kanishka also patronized Buddhism and took measures to propagate it outside India. Ashoka’s son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra were sent to Sri Lanka to preach Buddhism. Many monasteries were established by him and the samghas were also liberally donated by the Mauryan Emperor. Buddhism also came to be adopted by merchant class. Merchants like Anathapindika and courtesans like Amrapali accepted the faith because they got due respect in this religion. According to tradition, shortly after the death of Buddha, the first Buddhist Council was held in 483 bce near Rajgriha where an attempt was made to compile the teachings of Buddha. Since the scripture of Buddhism grew by a long process of development over several centuries, this council did not meet with much success. The second council was held at Vaishali in 383 bce which ended in a permanent split of Buddhist order into Sthaviravadins and Mahasanghikas. The former upheld the orthodox Vinaya Pitaka dealing with the teachings of Buddha while the latter favoured the new rules and their relaxation. In the third council at Pataliputra, held in 250 bce, the philosophical interpretations of the doctrines of Buddha were collected into the third Pitaka called Abhidhamma Pitaka. An attempt was made to define true canonical literature and eliminate all disruptive tendencies. The fourth council held in Kashmir, under the auspices of Kanishka, compiled three commentaries of the three Pitakas. By this time, Buddhism was already divided into 18 important sects but the two most important and major ones were Hinayana or the Lesser Vehicle and the Mahayana the Great Vehicle. The Hinayanists believed in the original teachings of Lord Buddha and did not want any relaxation in them. Whereas Mahayanists accepted many Bodhisattvas who were in the process of obtaining but had yet not obtained Buddhahood. Both the sects agreed that the Buddha had taken birth

bce )

5.27

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Chapter 5

Buddhist Councils Council

Period

Place

Under the Auspicious of (King)

Presided Over by

Features

First

483 bce

Rajgir

Ajatashatru

Mahakasyapa

• Buddha’s teachings were categorized under three baskets or Tripitaka. • Vinaya Pitaka recited by Upali. • Sutta Pitaka recited by Ananda. • Abhidhamma Pitaka was likely composed starting after 300 bce.

Second

383 bce

Vaishali

Kalasoka or ­Kakavarni

Sabbakammi

• Debate on certain practices by the monks led to the division into two groups: (i) Sthaviravadinas or Theravada: They believed in the original teachings of Buddha. (ii) Mahasamghikas: They interpreted Buddha’s teachings in a liberal and unorthodox ways.

Third

250 bce

Pataliputra

Ashoka

Moggaliputta-Tissa

• Tripitaka literature was finally codified in Pali. • The philosophical interpretation of the doctrine of Buddha were collected into the third pitaka— Kathavatthu of Abhidhamma Pitaka known as Vignanavada was added by Moggaliputta-Tissa (specialized in metaphysics).

Fourth

78 ce

Kashmir

Kanishka

Vasumitra or Ashvaghosha

• Schism in Buddhism and division of Buddhist sects into two: (i)  Mahayana: The great vehicle (ii)  Hinayana: The lesser vehicle

several times and in several forms as bodhisattvas before the attainment of Buddhahood and would take birth in future also. But both differed with regard to the cause of these births and deaths. According to Hinayanism, the different births were simply different stages of progress of the Buddha till salvation. Thus, they believed that Buddha was a man and his birth as Gautama was his last stage in the attainment of Nirvana. But Mahayanism believed that Buddha was an incarnation of God. He took birth several times not to attain Nirvana for himself but to help others in the attainment. Secondly, whereas the Hinayanism regarded the salvation of one’s own self as the highest goal, Mahayanism believed that the greatest ideal is to help the society in self-elevation. Thirdly, Hinayanism regarded Nirvana as a state of permanent bliss or peace away from the cycle of birth and death while the Mahayanism regarded it as the union of an individual with Adi Buddha, an idea quite simpler to the union with the Brahman of the Upanishads. Fourthly, Hinayana did not regard the Buddha free from the bond of birth and death while Mahayana regarded the Buddha as God and believed in his different incarnations, all free from the cycle of birth and rebirth. Fifthly, Hinayanism believed in the practice of self-culture and good deeds as the only way to salvation. Mahayanism was based on faith and devotion to various Buddha to attain salvation. Finally, while the religious texts of Hinayanism were written in Pali, those of Mahayanism

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

Gateway; Bhudhist Stupa, Sanchi

were written in Sanskrit. The Mahayanism remained closer to the concepts of Hinduism with regard to Nirvana, Brahma, incarnations of God, faith, devotion, etc., thus forming a bridge between the old Buddhism and modern Hinduism. Buddhism remained one of the foremost religions of not only India but also the whole of Asia for many centuries but slowly it lost its hold over Asia and practically became non-existent in India. Corruption had crept in Buddhist Samghas because of the free entry of wealth and women in the monastic order. The division of the Buddhism into different sects also contributed to the destruction of the image of the movement among the people. The adoption of Sanskrit as language of the Buddhist texts made Buddhism lose popular contact and hold over the masses, since Sanskrit was not the language of the masses. The moral corruption of monks led to intellectual bankruptcy of the Samgha and when Hinduism was reviewed particularly under the patronage of

bce )

5.29

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Chapter 5

Gupta rulers, Buddhism failed to meet its intellectual challenge and therefore lost popular support. Moreover, Buddhism basically was an atheistic system which did not regard God as an essential creator and preserver of the Universe. On the other hand, Hinduism, a strong faith based on the existence of God, preached the masses about the God as saviour and perpetual merciful helper of mankind. The ruling class also realized might as the order of the day and need of the time where non-violence and other teachings were becoming increasingly irrelevant, and thereby withdrew its support to Buddhism. Hinduism bounced back with the spirit of toleration and the acceptability of new ideas in its fold. But the final blow to Buddhism came with the invasion of Hunas and the Turks. Thus, Buddhism lost its control over the country of its birth. Nevertheless, Buddhism made positive contribution to Indian culture. It gave to Indian people a simple, economical and popular religion. It rejected rituals and sacrifices, authority of the Brahmanas which had made Hinduism unpopular. The monastic system or the organization of religious devotees in disciplined communities or orders was another contribution of Buddhism to India. It also provided religious unity to Indian people by raising the public morality by its adherence to a high moral code. At the same time, it gave serious impetus to democratic spirit and social equality. The philosophers of Buddhism had a rational approach towards religion and individualistic in its approach.

Dhameka; Dhamek Stupa Buddhist

landmark

Showing Buddhist Architechture

The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

It preached that the self-emancipation could alone help an individual to attain Nirvana. As far as the Indian education and literature is concerned, the Samghas became the centres of learning and Taxila, Nalanda, Vikramshila became centres of Buddhist learning. In the domain of architecture, sculpture and painting, the stupas of Sanchi, Sarnath, Nalanda, Amravati and Ellora are regarded as the best specimens of Indian architecture. The famous lions of the Sarnath columns, the beautiful bull of Rampurva column and the carvings on the gateways of the great Buddhist sites at Bharhut, Ganga and Sanchi are remarkable specimens of sculpture. The schools of Gandhara and Mathura produced the first images of Buddha which are appreciable pieces of art. The statues of Buddha carved in stone, copper and bronze are also some of the best examples of Buddhist art. The mural paintings of Ajanta caves earned world-wide fame. Thus, Indian architecture, sculpture and painting owe a large debt to Buddhism. Finally, the power to assimilate foreigners into its fold and the spirit of toleration has been a source of great inspiration from Buddhism to Indian society.

Differences

between

Jainism

and

Buddhism

Mahavira and Buddha were contemporaries and there was much in common between them. It is because of the similarities between the two that some scholars think that Jainism owes its origin to Buddhism or Jainism is the oldest branch of Buddhism. Berth wrote ‘Jainism is a sect which took rise in Buddhism.’ Others, such as Weber and Lassen believe that Jainism branched off from Buddhism. But modern scholars disagree with the above views and maintain that the two religions have a lot in common but the basic difference in the philosophies of the two makes each of them a distinct religion. Both of them were the products of intellectual, spiritual and social forces of their age which arose as a challenge to the existing Brahmanical order. Both possessed Aryan cultural background and were inspired by Upanishads especially the Samkhya—yoga, atheism, pessimism about human life being full of misery, doctrines of transmigration of soul and theory of Karma, and the belief in dualism about spirit and matter are all essence of Samkhya Yoga which Jainism and Buddhism adopted with some modifications. Both were started by Kshatriya class who appealed and gave social status to the Vaishya and Sudra castes. They emerged in eastern India, a place which had retained some feature of pre-Aryan culture. Their common place of origin and their newly acquired support from the economically prosperous Vaishyas and socially oppressed Sudras all together helped in the publicity of their principles. Their attack on caste system, rituals and sacrifices, supremacy of the Brahmanas led the people to acquire new dimension to deal with problems of life and living. Both aimed at Nirvana or salvation from the cycle of birth and death as the ultimate aim of life. Both laid stress on pure and moral life for spiritual upliftment. Both emphasized Ahimsa or non-violence. Both denied authenticity of the Vedas as an infallible authority. Both emphasized the doctrines of transmigration of soul and laid stress on the effects of Karmas on individual’s future birth. Both discontinued with Sanskrit and Jain text took to Prakrit and Buddhist to Pali, which was the language of the masses. In order to preach their religion, both established Samghas or orders for monks and nuns, and encouraged criticism as means to attain enlightenment. Although Jainism and Buddhism resembled each other very much, there were distinctions between the two religions. Jainism is a much more ancient religion as compared to Buddhism. According to Jain tradition, it had 24 Tirthankaras of whom

bce )

5.31

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Chapter 5

Mahavira was the last. In this light, Mahavira has been regarded as a reformer of an already existing religion while Buddha is the originator of a new one. Jainism believes that all elements of nature have a soul whereas Buddhism believed in life in animate things only. As far as non-violence is concerned, Jainism laid lot of emphasis on it and believed in extremities but Buddhism is liberal in approach and even permitted eating of flesh to its followers where it is a traditional diet of the people. Buddhism emphasized love to all beings which is a positive virtue and more affirmative concept of Ahimsa than the concept of non-injury to all beings as emphasized by Jainism. Jainism advised practice of strict asceticism to attain Nirvana while Buddhism preached the middle path to attain salvation. While Jainism thought women and men householders could not fulfil the eligibility to attain salvation, Buddhism believed both could attain and were eligible for the Nirvana. According to Jainism, salvation is possible only after death while according to Buddhism, it is possible during one’s own life if one is able to detach oneself from the worldly existence. While Jainism describes Nirvana as freedom from body, Buddhism describes it as an end of the self and breaking the cycle of birth and death by detriment from the worldly attractions. Buddhism was more practical in approach towards the problems of the time. It was more flexible to adopt changes into its fold with changing circumstances but Jainism was more rigid. While Buddhism spread all over Asia accommodating the traditions of the local population, Jainism remained confined to India only. Jainism remained closer to Hinduism than Buddhism. Therefore, conflicts between Jainism and Hinduism were negligible but Buddhism proved as a major rival to Hinduism. But with the bouncing back of Hinduism as a more positive religion with broader perspective, Buddhism practically disappeared from the land of its birth as a major reform movement. Thus, there is no doubt that Jainism and Buddhism, born at different intervals, though at about the same period, had strong resemblances. Causes

of

Decline

of

Buddhism

• Incorporating Brahmanical rituals and ceremonies, such as idol worship, receiving gifts and practising sexual ­mysticism which tenets of Buddhism did not allow • Revival of Brahmanism in the form of preserving the cattle wealth and giving status of ‘Aryans’ to Shudras • Rise of Vaishnavism and Bhagavatism which equally gave stress on love and devotion, and denounced unnecessary vedic rituals and sacrifies • Deterioration in the moral standard of monks and nuns living in Buddhist samghas (because of inclusion of women into samghas) • Invasion of Hunas (6th century) and that of Turks in the form of Mohammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khalji who destroyed Nalanda University in the 12th centuary

Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach The State Formation and The Rise of Heterodox Sects (600 bce–400

bce )

5.33

1. The second urbanization gave rise to the organized corporate activities that reached their zenith during the Gupta period. Discuss.  [2017]

The Right Approach

• Meaning of second urbanisation. • A detailed mention of prospering trade and developing economics led to massive fortification of cities, such as Kaushambi, Ujjain, Rajghat, Rijgir etc. • Use of Coinage made the position of merchant class stronger • Refer to Gupta period as well

2. Buddhism and Jainism were social movements under the umbrella of religion. Comment.  [2017]

The Right Approach

• Significance of 6th century bce witnessed many religous movements in different parts of the world as China, Greece, Persia. • In india, spiritual unrest and the intellectual stimulation led to rise of various heterodox religious movements. • Jainism and Buddhism were the most important and well-organized popular religious reform movements

3. Buddha’s teaching to a large extent could be helpful in understanding and resolving the problems of today’s society. Analyse critically. [2017]

The Right Approach

• Primary focus should be on how teachings of Buddha are still relevant in today's society. • Buddha's attack on caste system and supremacy of the Brahmanas. • Rejected authority of Vedas and condemned ammal sacrifices.

5.34

Chapter 5

4. 'Examine the relationship among economic growth, urbanization and State formation from c. 7th century bce to 3rd century bce. [2016]

The Right Approach

• A comparative study of economic growth, urbanisation and State formation. • Mention the significance of rise of Janpadas and Mahanjanpas.

Economic Growth

Urbanization

•  Increasing use of iron in eastern

•  Emergence of urban centres. •  Emergence of Janpadas. •  Historic phase is associated with •  Janpadas became centres for

UP and western Bihar created platforms for the formation of large territorial states. •  New agricultural tools and implements. •  Surplus production enabled people to be self-sufficient.

Northern Black Polished Ware.

•  Phase of 'Second Urbalization.' •  Prosperous trade and massive

fortification of kausambhi, Ujjain Rajghat, Riggir etc.

State formation

the development of uniform language, customs and beliefs. •  Political conflicts among rulers began and in the later period led to the establishment of Magadha empire

5. How far is it correct to say that changes in the post-Vedic economy gave birth to new religious movements in India? [2015]

The Right Approach

• Give a brief about orthodox Brahamanical order and rigid caste system. • Mention that as a resentment against such a society, numerous religious sects arose in the mid-Gangetic plains as a result of upheaval of new ideas and new philosophical tenets. •  Write about Jainism and Buddhism were the most significant social as well as religous reform movements.

Chapter

6

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300 bce–200 bce)

6.2

Chapter 6

The accession of Chandragupta Maurya to the throne of Magadha in 321

bce

marks the beginning of a

new epoch in early Indian history as Magadhan supremacy reached its zenith during the Maurya rule. In fact, in the political history of early India, the Mauryas had a pre-eminent position since it established the earliest and largest empire, that lasted, although, for a relatively brief period of about 140 years. The immense power of the dynasty is best seen during the reigns of the first three rulers, Chandragupta Maurya (c. 324–300

bce),

Bindusara (c. 300–272

bce)

and Ashoka (c. 272–233

bce).

The much coveted

ideal of Ekrat Sarvabhaum since the later Vedic period was given the political reality for the first time in the history of India by the Mauryas. The authors of this political reality, Chandragupta, his son Bindusara and his grandson Ashoka, in a real sense, for the first time brought about political and administrative unity of Indian sub-continent.

Objectives After reading this chapter, you will be able to: • Explain about the first empire in India • Discuss about the greatest Mauryan emperor Ashoka and his ­religious policy • Identify various aspects of Mauryan administration • Define the social and economic condition of India during that ­period • Explain various causes which led to the decline of the Mauryan ­empire

Sources The sustained interests in the study of the Maurya Empire are ensured by the availability of diverse sources, mostly contemporary. These are: • Classical writings—Greek and Roman. The most valuable account has been left by Megasthenes, ambassador of Seleucus to the court of Chandragupta Maurya. The Indica by Megasthenes, who stayed at the Maurya capital Palibothra/Pataliputra (modern Patna, Bihar), which is now lost and preserved in quotations, summaries and excerpts in the later accounts of Diodorus (2nd century bce), Strabo (late 1st century bce) and Arrian (2nd century ce). These few extracts from his work, extensively found incorporated in the writings of many subsequent Greek and Roman writers are of immense importance. The Indica refers to Mauryan administration, seven-caste system, absence of slavery and usury in India, etc. The excerpts have to be treated with caution. • In addition to Megasthenes, we have an account of the voyage between the Persian Gulf and the Indus by Nearchus, one of the great naval commanders of Alexander. Then there was Deimachus who was sent by the Syrian court to Amitrochates, i.e., Bindusara. Similarly, the Egyptian courts sent an envoy named Dionysus to Pataliputra. Though somewhat later, the account left by Patroclus, one of the governors of Seleucus Nicator and Antiochus I of the region lying between the Indus and the Caspian Sea, and Eratosthenes, the President of Alexandrian Library (from 296 to 249 bce) provide us with geographical and political data of considerable value.

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

bce –200 bce )

It must be kept in mind that accounts of the classical writers are not uniformly reliable because even a man like Megasthenes included in his work much that was based on secondary information of which he had no personal knowledge. Nonetheless, the observations, and comments of these foreigners have served us fairly reliable information and have also provided valuable corroborative evidences to indigenous sources of India. All these accounts studied with care have yielded information which has been ably utilized by many scholars and historians. • Jain and Buddhist Sources. Traditions also throw a flood of light on the Mauryan Age. The Jains claim that Chandragupta Maurya in the later part of his career became a Jain. Ashoka, as you know, was personally a Buddhist. A work known as Jain Kalpasutra by a Jain writer Bhadrabahu of about fourth century bce imparts some useful information about the Mauryas. Sanskrit Buddhist texts, such as the Divyavadana, Lalitavistara and the Mahavastu, also provide valuable information for the period. Likewise, the Jataka stories of previous births of Lord Buddha or Bodhisattvas (compiled in the second or third century bce) also provide some useful data about the social economic and religious condition of India during this age. The Pali chronicles of Ceylon the Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa (the former being older of the two) most probably completed in the fifth century ce throw some light on Mauryan India. • Kautilya’s Arthashastra: A valuable source of information for this age is the treatise on statecraft, the Arthashastra, generally ascribed to Kautilya (also known as Vishnugupta or Chanakya) who was a councillor of Chandragupta. Though traditionally believed to have been written by Chandragupta Maurya’s chief minister, the exact dating and authorship of the text has generated many scholarly controversies. However, the oldest part of the text may go back to the third century bce and hence is nearly contemporary to the Mauryan period. • Other Texts: A historical play written in about 500 ce by Vishakhadatta named Mudrarakshasa also yields useful data about the history of the Nandas and early Mauryan rule. • Archaeological Sources: Inscriptions of Ashoka, the first lithic ­records in Indian history, are perhaps the most important sources as these record the ruler’s proclamation in first person on rock ­surfaces and pillars at carefully chosen sites. These inscriptions are of the following types—(i) 14 Major Rock Edicts (REs); (ii)  2 Minor Rock Edicts (MREs); (iii) 7 Major Pillar Edicts (PEs); (iv) 2 Separate Rock Edicts (SREs); (v) Minor Pillar inscrip-

Buddhist and Jain Sources Jatakas reveal a general picture of socio-economic conditions of Mauryan period. Digha Nikaya helps in determining the influence of Buddhist ideas on Mauryan polity. Vamsathapakasini gives us information about the origin of the Mauryas. Ceylonese Chronicles: Both Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa describe the part played by Ashoka in spreading ­Buddhism to Sri Lanka. • Parisistaparvan: This Jaina work talks about the conversion of Chandragupta Maurya to ­Jainism. • • • •

6.3

6.4

Chapter 6

Ashoka Pillar, Vaishali

tions; and (vi) 7 edicts in Aramaic and Greek found in the north-western frontier and Afghanistan. These remarkable inscriptions of Ashoka engraved or rocks and pillars which notwithstanding the ravages of time have supplied us with authoritative details of inestimable value. • A very large number of punch-marked coins which, though not carrying any dynastic labels or the issuing authority’s name, are ascribed to the Maurya period on the grounds of the common symbols on these coins. •  Field archaeological sources, particularly from Taxila, Charsadda (both in Pakistan), Patna and Mahasthangarh (Bangladesh) show material remains of Mauryan occupations. • Many specimens of Mauryan sculpture. All these sources of information have certainly increased our knowledge about almost every aspect of the life of our countrymen during the Mauryan Age and also explain why, as graphically described by one scholar ‘the advent of the Mauryan Dynasty marks the passage from darkness to the light for the historian’ as chronology comparative to the previous ages becomes more definite.

Archaeological Sources • Chandragupta Maurya’s Inscriptions: Mahasthan (Bogra district, Bengal) and Sohgaura (Gorakhpur, UP), throwing lights on state’s preparations in famine conditions. • Ashokan Edicts: 14 Major and 3 Minor Rock Edicts, 7 Major and 3 Minor Pillar Edicts, and 3 Cave Edicts located at several places in the Indian subcontinent. Their decipheration was done by James Prinsep of the East India Company in 1837. Majority of them are in the nature of Ashoka’s proclamations to the public at large. Three languages but four scripts were used in these edicts (Prakrit in Brahmi in mainland India, Prakrit in Kharoshthi in the North­west, Greek and Aramaic languages and their scripts in Afghanistan). • Other Inscriptions: Nagarjuna Hill cave Inscription of Dasaratha, Jungadh Rock Inscription of Rudradaman. • Coins: Consists of a number of silver and copper punch-marked coins, and also some silver bar coins. • Material Remains: Pottery-use of Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW). Wooden palaces and halls are the other material remains. • Art Remains: Ashokan Pillars with their animal capitals (lions, elephants, bulls and horses), stupas, caves, terracotta objects, etc. • Greek and Aramaic Edicts of Asoka: The most spectacular evidence is found in Ashoka’s edicts in Greek, Aramaic and Graeco- Aramaic (bilingual) languages and scripts, found from Afghanistan (two Aramaic edicts from Laghman, one stone tablet from Pul-i- Darunta, Graeco-Aramaic bilingual record from Shar-i-Kuna, a Greek and an Aramaic edict from Kandahar) and Taxila in Pakistan. • Importance of Diverse Ashokan Edicts: The wide range of Ashoka’s edicts, mostly addressed in first person directly to his subjects and/or his officers, however speaks of diversity in the contents of these inscriptions. • These cannot but give an impression that the edicts probably had a master or central draft, prepared by the emperor himself at Pataliputra; these were later adopted, extended and abridged by provincial and local authorities, according to the local needs but within the broad framework of the central drafts of the edicts. • This is once again corroborated by the emperor’s own classification of his edicts as vistata (extended), majhima (medium size) and samkhita (short or abridged). • The Greek and Aramaic edicts were partly translations, transliterations, explanations and also summaries of Ashoka’s ideas and ideals found in his Prakrit inscriptions written in Brahmi and Kharoshthi.

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

Origin of Mauryas The Mauryan dynasty’s origin is shrouded in uncertainty. In all likelihood, the dynastic name Maurya could have been derived from ‘mayura’ or peacock, thereby suggesting their origin from a peacock-tamers’ clan. The other alternative possibility is that the name has its roots in Mura, supposedly the name of Chandragupta’s mother, who is said to have been a slave woman serving the last ruler of the immediately preceding Nanda dynasty. Both the accounts are found in late literary sources. The Puranas, one of the earliest available Brahmanical sources in this context, are more concerned with the origin of Nandas than with that of Chandragupta. They simply mention that the irreligious Nandas were uprooted by the Brahmin Kautilya who appointed Chandragupta as sovereign of the realm. The formal appointment (Rajyabhisheka) of Chandragupta by Kautilya, an uncompromising champion of Dharma, indicates that Chandragupta was a Kshatriya eligible for kingship. Nowhere in the Puranas there is any mention of Mura, the supposed mother or grandmother of Chandragupta. Nowhere in these works is attributed to Chandragupta a Sudra or base origin, nor do they link him with the preceding Nanda Dynasty. Sridharswamy, the commentator of Vishnu Purana, mooted the theory for the first time about the base origin of Chandragupta by way of explaining his title Maurya. He sought to derive this appellation from Mura, one of the wives of a Nanda king and made her the mother of Chandragupta. But the commentator is guilty both of bad grammar and fictitious history. The derivative from Mura is Maureya and not Maurya, and again the commentator makes Chandragupta the scion of Nandas. However, he does not fasten the blame of the base-origin to the name of Mura. He describes her as the lawfully wedded wife of the Nanda king, thereby implying that Chandragupta was of Sudra origin as the Nandas themselves belonged to that caste. The Mudrarakshasa calls him Mauryaputra. Kshemendra and Somadeva refer to him as Purvanandasuta, son of the genuine Nanda. The commentator on the Vishnu Purana says that Chandragupta was the son of Nanda by a wife named Mura. Hence he and his descendants were called Mauryas. Dhundiraja, the commentator on the Mudrarakshasa informs us on the other hand, that Chandragupta was the eldest son of Maurya, who was the son of the Nanda king, Sarvarthasiddhi by Mura, daughter of Vrishala (Sudra). The Buddhist text, Divyavadana, however, refers to Bindusara, the son of Chandragupta, as an anointed Kshatriya, thereby alluding to a Kshatriya origin of Chandragupta. The Mahavamsa, a Ceylonese chronicle, makes Chandragupta a scion of the Kshatriya clan named Moriyas (after peacock or Mora) of Pipphalivana lying somewhere between Rummindei in the Tarai and Kasia in the Gorakhpur district of eastern UP of today. The existence of this clan can be traced back to the time of the Buddha and is mentioned in the Mahaparinibbanasutta, one of the most authentic and ancient canonical texts of the Buddhists. According to this text, the Moriyas sent a messenger to the Mallas, claiming portion of the relics of the Buddhas, by saying: ‘The Blessed one belonged to the Kshatriya caste and we too are of the Kshatriya caste.’ The Jain tradition supports the Buddhists in indicating a connection between peacocks and the family name of Chandragupta. Whereas according to the former, Chandragupta was the son of a daughter of a village headman of peacock-tamers (mayuraposhaka), according to the latter, he was the son of the Moriya clan. It ap-

bce –200 bce )

6.5

6.6

Chapter 6

pears that Jain writers were not aware of the origin of Chandragupta’s family and have given only an etymological meaning of the Pali word ‘Moriya’. Aelian informs us that these peacocks were kept in the park of the Mayura Palace at Pataliputra. Sir John Marshall points out that figures of peacocks were employed to decorate some of the projecting ends of the gateway at Sanchi. Justin, the Latin classical writer, knew Chandragupta as a ‘novus homo’, a man ‘Born in humble life.’ This does not necessarily meant that he was a man of low caste but merely a commoner with no pretension to the throne yet aspiring for royalty. According to a Greek biographer and moral philosopher, Plutarch it was Chandragupta who was seeking to make capital out of the base origin of his rival instead of himself suffering from the same disability. A Buddhist canonical text going back to the pre-Mauryan times informs us of a non-monarchical clan (ganarajya) of the Moriyas of Pipphalivana. In view of the above conflicting arguments and in the light of phonetic affinity between Moriya and Maurya, it is reasonable to assume that the Maurya dynasty emerged from an ancient non-monarchical clan associated with a forest tract (vana). In other words, the Maurya dynasty did not enjoy a royal pedigree and an elite political background, an impression also left behind in the classical texts. The founder of the dynasty, Chandragupta Maurya (Sandrocottus in Greek texts), established the dynasty in the last quarter of the fourth century bce (321 bce) after Alexander of Macedon had left the Punjab and the north-western parts of the subcontinent (c. 327 bce).

Chandragupta Maurya (321–297

bce )

Mahavamsa refers to the early life of Chandragupta Maurya. His mother, after the death of her husband sought shelter in Pushpapura (Kusumpura–Pataliputra) where she gave birth to him. He was brought up first by a cowherd and then by a hunter in a village. The child showed promise right from his childhood. He towered over his friends when he played the role of the king with them. This attracted the notice of Chanakya, i.e., Kautilya, who once happened to pass through that village. The latter took him away to the city of Taxila. The new mentor gave him a thorough grounding in certain aims and objectives and, the most important was that he must rid the country of the hated rule and tyranny of the Nanda king, who had insulted Chanakya. The Nanda ascendancy was not only regarded as ‘unlawful’ and ‘irreligious’ because of their origin, but also it was equally despised for the wickedness of the disposition of its rulers and the forcible exactions levied by them on their subjects. The ‘unlawfully’ amassed wealth of the Nandas had become almost proverbial. Its notoriety had reached as far south as the Tamil Country. The Punjab and the north-western India lay exposed to ­Alexander’s invasion. These areas were being constantly squeezed and hurried by his prefects. Chandragupta had thus a double-fold task to accomplish. He must rid the country of foreign domination and liquidate the oppressive rule of the Nandas. These tasks with which Chanakya had entrusted Chandragupta were indeed very difficult yet the latter achieved both these aims with resounding success. Thus well equipped, he began the task with utmost determination which proved eminently successful and resulted in bringing about a political unity in the country which was envied by many successive rulers of India and which India had never witnessed before. He sought to accomplish a part of his mission by including Alexander, when he was in Punjab in 326 bce to attack the Nandas. But Alexander was greatly offended by the tone

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

Map

of

Mauryan Empire Under Chandragupta II

and boldness of Chandragupta and gave order to kill him. According to another account, he was caught spying in Alexander’s camps where he had gone to study the Greek military strategy. He, however, escaped. Encouraged by various visions, he was determined to claim the sovereignty of India. Chandragupta and Chanakya both set out according to the Pali work Mahavamsatika, to collect a huge army from different sources. Justin describes these soldiers as mercenaries, hunters as well as robbers. According to Arthashastra, a treatise on policy whose authorship is attributed to Kautilya, the army is to be recruited from the Choras, i.e., thieves, Mlechchhas, choraganas (organized gangs of robbers), Atavikas or foresters, and Sastro-pajivi or warrior clans. Such elements were found in great abundance in the Punjab after the defeat and disintegration

bce –200 bce )

6.7

6.8

Chapter 6

of the large number of republican people. The Greek traditions mention them as Mailoi, Oxydrakai Astakenoi, etc., who had fought Alexander heroically but had failed for want of cohesion and leadership. Chandragupta obviously weaved together these loose elements into a huge and formidable army. His personal heroism and magnetic personality provided the required leadership. He also made an alliance with the Himalayan King Parvataka (of doubtful identity according to Mudrarakshasa and Jain work Parisistaparvan). This alliance with the Himalayan king gave to Chandragupta as stated in the Mudrarakshasa a composite army formed with the Sakas, Yavanas, Kirathas, Kambojas, Oarsikas and Bahilikas. Chandragupta tapped all the available sources and armed with a huge composite army attempted to overthrow the existing Nanda Empire. With regard to the conquest of Magadha by Chandragupta, the details are not preserved but the related episodes can be gleaned from the different traditions. The Mahavamsa-tika talks about the initial mistakes of his campaign in attacking on the centre without conquering the frontier regions. The Jain tradition similarly compares the advance of Chandragupta to a child who puts his thumb into the middle of a hot pie instead of starting from the edge which was cool. But the Buddhist traditions mention his preliminary failure to consolidate the frontier rashtras and Janapadas en route to Pataliputra. The different stories point to the fact that Chandragupta had to make repeated attempts on Pataliputra before he could wrest it from the Nandas. The Milindapanho gives an exaggerated account of the slaughter from the destruction of the Nanda army led by Bhaddasala (Bhadrasala). The Brahmanical tradition, however, gives credit for the overthrow of the Nandas to Kautilya. The Puranas, Arthashastra and the Mudrarakshasa all of them cast the figure of Chandragupta into shade in this heroic fight and give full credit to Chanakya (Kautilya) for bringing about the dynastic change in Magadha by his diplomacy and appointing Chandragupta as king. The aforesaid conflicting views can be easily reconciled by stating that the military skill and bravery of Chandragupta in the battlefield were ably seconded by the astute diplomacy of Chanakya. The two together brought about the downfall of the Nandas. The extensive Nanda empire comprising the entire Gangetic Valley and eastern India along with the considerable portion of the Deccan, passed into the hands of Chandragupta who thus, heralded the foundation of the Mauryan Empire. According to Plutarch, this event took place ‘not long after’ Chandragupta’s meeting with Alexander in the Punjab in 326–325 bce. The Buddhist tradition dates the accession of Chandragupta 162 years after the Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha which according to the Ceylonese tradition took place in 486 bce thus, assigning Chandragupta a period of 24 years rule, i.e., from 324 bce to 300 bce as the first Mauryan empire. However, the inscriptions suggest Chandragupta’s rule between 321 bce and 297 bce. After accomplishing his first task, he turned his attention towards the second, viz, freeing his country from foreign domination. This became easier owing to the growing difficulty of the Greek position in the Punjab, by many uprisings of the Indians, against the Greek Satraps and the outbreak of jealousy between the Greek and Macedonean elements of the occupying forces. Above all, there came the death of Alexander himself in 323 bce. This led to the disruption of his empire and letting loose of the centrifugal tendencies. At the first partition of Alexander’s empire at Babylon in 323 bce, no change was affected in the term of Indian position. Both Porus and Ambhi were left free in their respective domains which were

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

greatly increased. Greek authority was limited. Eudemus, in charge of the Greek garrisons in India and Pithon, son of Agenor, as the Greek Satrap of Sind were the two important officials left in India. But during the second partition of Alexander’s empire that took place at Triparadisus in 321 bce. Pithon, was transferred to the North West without appointing any substitute. The quiet withdrawal of the Greeks from India in 321 bce was most probably due to the fact that Chandragupta had already started war of the liberation in Sind by then. He carried further north where Eudemus after testing the blood of Chandragupta’s sword discreetly retired from India in 317 bce. Pithon who was in the north was also left in 316 bce to participate in the Greek war of succession. The achievements of Chandragupta are thus summed up by Justin: ‘India after the death of Alexander had shaken off the yoke of servitude and put his governors to death. The author of this liberation was Sandrocottus.’ This Sandrocottus was obviously Chandragupta. The task of liberating the Punjab and Sind was not an easy one. It invited hard fighting which lasted for almost a decade from about 323 bce to 316 bce. While Chandragupta was engaged in emancipating his country and consolidating his conquest, the Greek King, Seleucus of Syria, who had succeeded Alexander in the eastern part of his empire was moving towards India to recover the lost provinces. The river Indus formed the boundary between his dominion and that of Chandragupta, before the two kings came to wage conflict. The former, according to another classical writer, is said to have ‘crossed the Indus and war with Sandrocottus, king of the Indians who dwelt on the banks of the streams.’ Neither the date of the war, nor its duration is known for certain reasons. Justin however, dates Seleucus’s treaty or understanding with Chandragupta and settlement of affairs in the East prior to the former’s return home to prosecute the war with Antigonus who died in 301 bce. The conflict between the two is generally assumed to have taken place in 305 bce. The Greek writers who were painstakingly meticulous about Alexander’s campaigns were abnormally reticent about the details of Seleucus’s invasion of India. Reasons are quite obvious. This was indeed a very humiliating treaty for the Westerners. According to another classical writer, Strabo, Seleucus ceded to Chandragupta territories then known as Aria (i.e., Herat), Arachosia (i.e., Kandhar), Propanisade (i.e., Kabul) and part of Gedrosia (i.e., Baluchistan) in return for 500 elephants, and a matrimonial alliance, the exact nature of which is not clear. The incorporation of these three areas into the Mauryan realm is clearly evident from the availability of Ashoka’s Greek and Aramaic edicts precisely from these areas, which were not conquered, but inherited by Ashoka. The diplomatic relations were also established between the two as Strabo refers to the sending of Megasthenes—Seleucus’s ambassador to the court of Chandragupta in Pataliputra where he wrote his famous book called ‘Indica.’ These terms of the treaty leave no doubt that Seleucus fared badly at the hands of Chandragupta who thereby secured a scientific frontier by acquiring Afghanistan and Baluchistan for his newly founded empire. About the subsequent career of Chandragupta, we have to rely on the stray inscriptional and written notices. In a vague statement, Plutarch asserts that ‘with an army of 6,00,000 men Chandragupta overran and subdued all India.’ Justin also refers to mastery over the entire country. The conquest and inclusion of one important province that is of Saurashtra in the empire of Chandragupta is clearly attested to by the testimony of Junagadha inscriptions of Rudradaman of 150 ce (72 Saka Era) where it is mentioned that Saurashtra–Kathiawar was governed by Chandragupta’s Rashtria, Vaishya Pushyagupta, who constructed the famous Sudarshan Lake there.

bce –200 bce )

6.9

6.10

Chapter 6

Bindusara (297

bce –272 bce )

Chandragupta’s son and successor Bindusara, identifiable with ­Amitrochades/ Amitrochates of the Greek accounts (the name possibly corresponds to his epithet Amitraghata or a slayer of foes, suggesting his invincible military prowess), is not known to have made fresh conquests, nor lost any territory, implying thereby that he maintained intact the expansive realm. Early Tamil poets of the South mention Mauryan chariots thundering across the land, their white pennants brilliant in the sunshine. Some scholars have suggested that this reference to Mauryan expansion in the Deccan could only have taken place during the reign of Bindusara. To Bindusara goes the credit of continuing the dynastic policy of maintaining friendly diplomatic relations with Seleucid rulers of West Asia. Bindusara had contacts with Antiochus I, the Seleucid king of Syria whose ambassador, Deimachus, was said to have been at the Mauryan court. Bindusara was interested in the Ajivika sect. He died in 273–272 bce.

Ashoka Mauryan power reached its climax during the reign of Asoka, the third and the most celebrated ruler of the dynasty, known best from his own edicts, which mark important events and promulgations of his reign in expired years since his coronation and not his accession to the throne in c. 273 bce. The coronation took place in c. 269 bce, suggesting that the intervening 4 years witnessed fratricidal struggles for succession to the throne. But, till the beginning of the 20th century, Ashoka was just one of the Mauryan kings mentioned in the Puranas. In 1837, James Prinsep deciphered an inscription referring to a king called ‘Devanampiya Piyadassi’ (literally ‘the beloved of the gods and of beautiful looks’). Later, many more similar inscriptions were discovered. Initially these records could not be attributed to Ashoka. But in 1915 was discovered the Maski inscription which speaks of Ashoka Piyadassi, This, corroborated by the Ceylonese Chronicle ‘Mahavamsa’, established that Ashoka used ‘Piyadassi’, as his second name in the inscriptions. There was a struggle for the throne among the princes on the death of Bindusara. This war of succession accounts for the interregnum of 4 years (272–268 bce), and only after securing his position on the throne, Asoka had himself formally crowned in 268 bce. The event of utmost importance of Ashoka’s reign seems to have been his victorious war with Kalinga (260 bce). In 261 bce, when in Ashoka’s own words, 8 years had elapsed since his coronation, he conquered Kalinga (present Odisha), which was as yet an unconquered (avijita) area. The horrific violence in this war, graphically described in his Major Rock Edict XIII, filled him with deep remorse. He eschewed war for good, not in defeat but after a victory. However, the territory of Kalinga, after victory was annexed to the Maurya domain, leading to the maximum expansion of the Mauryan realm. Ashoka was himself clearly aware that his realm was vast in size (mahalake hi vijitam: Major Rock Edict XIV). The distribution of Ashoka’s edicts is the best index of the vastness of the empire, since these administrative orders were meant for areas under his jurisdiction. These records show beyond doubt that the Maurya Empire stretched from Afghanistan in the north to Karnataka in the south and from Kathiawad in the west to northern Bangladesh in the east. It encompassed a nearly pan-Indian territory, except the far southern parts and the areas to the east of northern Bangladesh. This is indeed the largest territorial empire in early Indi-

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

map of

Mauryan Empire

during

– Ashoka

an history. Within his realm were included diverse communities like the Bhojas, Rathikas, Petenikas (Maharashtra), Andhras (eastern Deccan), Pulindas (possibly in the forest tracts of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh), and Yonas and Kambojas (in the north-western borderlands). One can envisage a distinct pattern of the distribution of Ashokan edicts: the Major Rock Edicts were engraved at sites located on the bordering regions of his realm, while the Pillar Edicts were found in the Ganga valley itself. The Minor Rock Edicts were distributed all over the realm and were not region-specific. Put differently the edicts were distributed with a conscious design, typical of an imperial authority. Ashoka himself was clearly aware of peoples, countries and rulers

bce –200 bce )

6.11

6.12

Chapter 6

beyond his jurisdiction, located outside his domain. Such areas were marked as unconquered frontiers (antaavijita) where the Cholas, Pandyas, Satyaputras, Keralaputras (in south India), Sri Lanka (Tambapanni), and five Greek (Yavana) rulers of West Asia and Africa were situated. These Yavana kings were:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Antiyoka (Antiochus Theos of Syria 261–246 bce); Turamaya (Ptolemy Philadelphos of Egypt 285–247 bce); Antekina (Antigonus Gonatas of Macedonia); Maga (Magas of Cyrene, 258 bce); Alikasundara (Alexander of Epirus 272–235 bce).

Reference of these kings as contemporaries of Ashoka immensely helped scholars to determine the possible date of Ashoka’s reign. It cannot but demonstrate how the Mauryas maintained long-term diplomatic relations with both the Seleucid and Ptolemaic rulers, while these kings were engaged in hostilities. It is interesting to note that that the areas clearly designated as anta/pratyanta and avijita (unconquered areas beyond the frontiers of the empire) have not yielded any edicts of Ashoka. Thus, the impressions of the physical distribution of his edicts (external evidence) match his own inscribed words (internal evidence) on the extent of his realm.

14 Major Rock Edicts: Messages I : Prohibition of annual sacrifices and social gatherings. II : Adequate treatment to human animals animals, digging of wells for public, planting medicinal herbs, trees and fruits. III : Officials like Yuktas, Rajukas and Pradeshikas were appointed; they were supposed to go on tours for inspection every five years as part of their duties; also they were to preach Dhamma and adopt liberal attitude towards Brahmanas and Shramanas. IV : Sound of war Drum (Bherighosha) replaced by sound of Dhamma (Dhammaghosha). V : Appointment of Dhamma Mahamattas. VI : Council of ministers (Mantriparishada) and officers like Pulisani and Pratividikar (Reporters) entrusted with adminstrative tasks. VII : Adopting policy of Religious Toleration among all sects—the policy to live and let live. VIII : Royal pleasure tours replaced by Dhamma yatras. King Ashoka himself toured to Bodhgaya. IX : Talked about uselessness of unnecessary cermonies that incurred huge expenditure and laid stress on good moral conduct. X : King is not desirous of fame and glory. XI : Gift of Dhamma is the best gift, Dhamma means giving respect to elders and good behaviour towards slaves. XII : Stress on Religious Toleration among all sects and mention of Ithijika mahamatta (incharge of women’s welfare). XIII : Mention of Kalinga war (261 BCE the 9th regnal year) that changed Ashoka’s attitude who turned towards Buddhism. Mention of victory by Dhamma on his Hellenistic neighbours Antiochus and others like the Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas and Satiyaputras. Warning to Atavikas (the forest ribes). XIV : Objectives of installing rock edicts.

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• Bhabru inscription states that after a period of two and a half years, Ashoka became an ardent supporter of Buddhism under the influence of a Buddhist monk, Upagupta. • According to tradition, Ashoka built the city of Srinagar. • Khotan in Central Asia was also under Mauryan sway. • The Mauryans had closed connections with the area of modern Nepal. One of Ashoka’s daughters married a noble from Nepal. • The Ceylon ruler, Tissa, modelled himself on Ashoka. • The Mauryan emperor sent his son (Mahendra) and daughter (Sanghamitra) as Buddhist missionaries to Ceylon, besides sending a branch of the original ‘peepal’ tree under which the Buddha had received enlightenment.

The set of 14 edicts has been found at eight places. Dhauli (Orrisa) The site is identified with Tosali. Girnar of Jungarh in kathiawar): an important site for edification as inscriptions of Skandagupta dn Rudradaman have also been found here. (iii) Jaugada (Behrampur talkua in Ganjam district of Orissa. It is similar to the Dhauli version. ( iv) Kalsi (in Dehradun district in the lower hills of the Himalayas). (v) Mansehra (in Hazara district, nort-west province of Pakistan) Inscribed in Kharosthi, it was probably on an important pilgrim route. (vi) Shahbazgarhi in Yusufzai area of Peshawar district) It was inscribed in Kharosthi. (vii) Sopara (in Thane district in Maharastha) The site was an important seaport and town in the ancient period. (viii) Yerragudi (on the southern border of district Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh) The site may have been a frontier town in Asokan times. (i) (ii)

The two separate edicts were located in Kalinga. They have been included among the Jaugada series. Significantly enough, the realm was designated as a conquered area (vijita) and a royal domain (rajavishaya) in Asoka’s records, which also carried two other labels. Ranabir Chakravarti writes that these are Jambudvipa (usually coterminous with the subcontinent in the later Puranic texts) and Pathavi/Prithvi (literally ‘the Earth’) —both terms actually stood for the Maurya Empire. In this vast realm existed three categories of territories. The metropolitan area of Magadha was of outstanding importance as it initiated and directed all conquests, and to it flowed the bulk of resources procured from disparate regions of the empire. The core areas of the realm embraced greater parts of the Ganga valley where complex territorial polities (Mahajanapadas) had existed prior to the Mauryas and were annexed by them. In contrast to the metropolitan and the core areas stood the peripheral zones, either located in outlying and border regions (such as Kathiawad and parts of Afghanistan) or in areas where complex state society had not yet emerged. A good example is the peninsular territories of the subcontinent which in spite of having been under the Mauryan rule for nearly a century did not experience any major restructuring of their socio-economic and political milieu. In other words, the Mauryas appear to have been interested in extracting mineral resources from the peninsular parts to enrich the metropolitan Magadhan area. The recent historiography highlights the imbalances in the material and political cultures in these

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three zones, which suggest a much more complex arrangement than the conventional portrayal of the Mauryan realm as a unitary and heavily centralized polity. That the Maurya realm contained in it multiple ethnic and social groups at different levels of their socio-political developments and was marked by unequal economic conditions and religious plurality is clearly demonstrated by the available sources, especially Ashoka’s edicts. The vastness of the realm and the accompanying multiplicities in socio-economic, political and cultural situations required statecraft far more complex than that in a compact territorial polity (Mahajanapada). Seen from this position, the Mauryan realm deserves the application of the label ‘empire’, though a corresponding indigenous term is absent in Ashoka’s edicts.

Ashoka’s Dhamma The figure of Ashoka takes an honourable place in the galaxy of monarchs ever known to Indian history. As a great harbinger of peace, he is the only monarch in the history of the world who is the preacher of universal morality to the people. The ideal of kingship of Ashoka was to promote the material as well as spiritual welfare of his subjects, to make the mankind happy in this world and also in the other world. Ashoka’s efforts after Dhamma date from his conquest of Kalinga. The reason of his moral propagandism is suggested to be that he feels bound to promote the real welfare of his subject, as ‘a father does of his children.’ The reason is further indicated in the following statement: ‘And whatever efforts I am making is made that I may discharge the debt which I owe to living beings, that I may make them happy in this world and that they may attain heaven in the other world’ (Major Rock Edict VI). Thus, Ashoka takes to moral propagandism as an absolute duty of the ruler towards his subjects, one of the obligations of kingship. Such a duty must need to be wide and Catholic in its outlook and scope, such as the promotion of happiness of all sections of people both in this world and the next. We are told in Major Rock Edict XIII that a turn in his ideal of kingship or in his religious thought came after his conquest and annexation of Kalinga in his ninth regnal year. There arose in his mind a heavy remorse by thinking of horrors of Kalinga war. The slaughter, death and captivity seemed exceedingly serious to the monarch. His actions as a monarch were changed and since then the sound of ‘Bheri’ (war-drum) had become the sound of ‘Dhamma’.

Dhamma Mahamattas • They were a body of officials instituted by Ashoka in his 14th regnal year (Major Rock Edict V) • They served as propagator of Dhamma. • Their task was to keep the emperor in touch with the public opinion. • They were the officers specially appointed to look after the interests of all sects and spread the message of Dhamma. • They served not only within the empire but also were sent to frontier and neighbouring states to propagate dhamma. • This special cadre of officials were asked to look after the welfare of all the subjects including the prisoners.

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Dhamma: Salient Features • Ashoka’s Dhamma was neither a new religion nor a new philosophy. Rather it was a way of life, conduct and a set of principles to be practised by the people at large. • Its contents were so broad and humanitarian that no cultural group religious sect could object to its propagation by Ashoka. • Though the concept was not new, Ashoka gave a new meaning and significance to the concept by humanizing it. • While different Major Rock Edicts talk about different aspects of the Dhamma, the Major Rock Edict XI contains an elaborate explanation of the Dhamma. We can mention the following as the main features of the Dhamma: Prohibition of animal sacrifices and festive gatherings (Major Rock Edict I), and avoiding expensive and meaningless ceremonies and rituals (Major Rock Edict IX); Efficient organization of administration (Major Rock Edict VI) in the direction of social welfare (Major Rock Edict II); Consideration and non-violence to animals and courtesy to relations (Major Rock Edict IV) and liberality to Brahmins, Sramanas, etc. (Major Rock Edict III); Humane treatment of servants by masters and of prisoners by the government (Major Rock Edict V); it also mentions the appointments of Dhamma-Mahamatras; Tolerance among all the sects (Major Rock Edicts VII and XII). Replacement of ‘Bherighosa’ (sound of wardrums) by ‘Dhammaghosa’ (sound of peace), i.e., conquest through Dhamma instead of war (Major Rock Edict XIII); Maintenance of constant contact with the rural people through the system of Dhammayatras (Major Rock Edict VIII). • Ashoka’s creation of the institution of the Dhamma Mahamattas is the proof that the king did not favour any particular religious doctrine. • Appointment of Dhamma mahamattas was open to all including the Brahmanas and the Shramanas. After the war, the major conquest, in his opinion, was not the victory in a military war, but the victory of law of piety (dhammavijaya) and in a way he advised his sons and grandsons not to think of conquering a new conquest by war, and that they should consider that to be the real conquest which is through the law of piety, as it avails both for good in this world and the next. It appears that after Kalinga war, he altogether stopped slaughter and killing of animals. It cannot be ignored that Ashoka was up in arms against sacrificial slaughter that was prevalent in this country under the Brahmanic system of Vedic sacrifices. He found offence in even convivial gatherings where meat doles must have been distributed to merry makers. Due to his compassion for animal life, the king brought out a code of regulations (in ­Major Rock Edict V) restricting slaughter and mutilation of various kinds of animals, birds and aquatic lives, prevention of caponizing of cocks, burning of chaff along with living creatures within, forest conflagration, feeding of the living with the living, and destruction of elephant preserves or fish ponds and these were prominent features in the king’s restrictive regulations. D. R. Bhandarkar opines that ‘his ideal was to promote material and spiritual welfare of the whole world consisting not only of men but also of beasts and other creatures, not only again in his own kingdom but also over the world known or accessible to him.’

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The source of his ideal was his Dhamma. Ashoka’s Dhamma is a code of certain ethical principles and humanitarian ideals with its universal dimension. And it is this which Ashoka tries to propagate as far as possible. His Dhamma of edicts is not any particular religious system but the moral law independent of any caste or creed, the Sara or essence of all religions. One can see in it the efforts on the part of the king to unite the various sects and sections of the society and to promote the ideas of peaceful co-existence and universal brotherhood.

7 Major Pillar Edicts: Messages First: Code of social conduct. Second: Dhamma consists of least amount of sin and incorporates into itself virtuous deeds, compassion purity and truthfulness. Third: Mentions soul and sin. Fourth: Appointment of the officer, Rajukas. Fifth: Prohibition regarding animal killings; it’s known as Delhi–Topra pillar Edicts. Sixth: Mentions about public welfare. Seventh: Talks about Dhamma Mahmattas.

Delhi-Topra Pillar

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

Pictures

of

Pillar Edicts

Rummindei Pillar insciption of Nepal The insciption states that Ashoka visited Lumbini (Nepal) to commemorate the birth place of Buddha. He worshiped Buddha and gave tax concession to the villagers. The inscription records that the villagers had to now pay only 1/8th of the total produce to the state. Scholars dispute whether Ashoka’s concept of Dhamma was based on Buddhism or not. Negatively, we may say that it was not to be identified with any of the then prevailing faiths of the country. It was certainly not Buddhism, his own religious system. ‘We hear from him nothing concerning the deeper ideas or fundamental tenants of that faith; there is no mention of the Four Grand Truths, the Eightfold Path, the Chain of Causation, the supernatural quality of Buddha; the word and the idea of Nirvana fail to occur; and the innumerable points of difference which occupied the several sects are likewise ignored’ (Cambridge History p. 505). It can be argued that his idea of Dhamma absorbed common ethical principles or essence of all religious sects in which Buddhist principles also form a part. It has two aspects: negative and positive. Positive aspect of Dhamma: In its positive aspect, we find the mention of certain virtues in the edicts, viz, (i) Sadhuta, saintliness, (ii) Apasinavam, freedom from sin (iii) Daya, kindness (iv) Danam, liberality (v) Satyam, truthfulness (vi) Saucham, purity (vii) Mardavam, gentleness (viii) Samyama, self-control (ix) Dharmarati, attachment to morality. In Pillar Edict I, love to Dharma, self-examination, obedience, fear of sin and enthusiasm are mentioned as requisites for the attachment of happiness in this world and the next. In its practical aspect, it prescribes a comprehensive code of conduct embracing various relations of life. It is described as comprising: • Prananamanarambha, abstention from slaughter of living beings. • Avihisabhutanam, non-violence towards life.

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• Susrusa, obedience to father, mother and teachers • Apachiti, respect of pupils towards the gurus • Sampratipatti, proper treatment towards Brahmanas, Sramanas, relations and acquaintances. • Danam, liberality towards Brahmanas, Sramanas, friends and the aged. • Apa-vyayata, less expenditure • Apa-bhandata, moderation in saving By the inclusion of those common duties, the emperor no doubt aimed at this purity of domestic life so essential to the well-being of the society. The circle of human relations embraced even the Brahmanas and Sramanas, thereby making it necessary to the householders to support the ascetics. In Major Rock Edicts III and IV, the king gave the direction and even enforced it that the lower animals must be met kind treatment by their human masters. In Major Rock Edict XIII, the Dhamma is described in a nutshell as the right attitude towards all manifesting itself in non-injury, restraint, equal treatment and mildness in respect of all creatures, human beings as well as beasts and birds. The Minor Rock Edicts: Two Sections • The first section has the Minor Rock Edict, the Queen’s Edict, the Barbar Cave inscroptions and the Kandahar bilingual inscriptions. • The section of inscriptions related to the Buddhists or the community of Buddhists comprises the Bhabra Inscription, the Rummindei Pillar Inscription, the Nigalisagar Pillar Inscription and the Schism Edict (Kausambi Edict). • The Minor Rock Edict is spread on rocks at 13 places: (i) Bairat north-east of Jaipur in Rajasthan)—identified with Virata; (ii) Brahmagiri—said to be one of the southern outposts of the Mauryan kingdom; (iii) Gavimath (in Mysore a region specifically associated with this edict); (iv) Gujarra (near Jhansi in Datia district); (v) Jatinga-Rameshwar near Brahmagiri)— probably had been a place of religious interest; (vi) Maski (in Raichur district, Karnataka); (vii) Palkigundu (near Gavimath)—belongs to Brah-

Allahabad-Kosam Pillar: Kausambi Edict

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

Barabar Caves

• • • •

magiri group; (viii) Rajula-Mandagiri( near Paltikonda in Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesah); (ix) Rupanath (on Kaimur hills near Saleemabad in Madhya Pradesh)—the site may have been religious significance; (x) Sahasram in Shahabad district of Bihar)—near the town of Sahasram, probably an outpost of Magadha them; (xi) Siddapur west of Brahmagiri; (xii) Suvarnagiri (town of Kanakagiri, south of Maski, Raichur district, Karnatka)—capital of the southern province of the empire; and (xiii) Yerragudi (on the southern border of Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh). The Queen’s Edict was located at Allahabad Kosam. The Barabar inscriptions has been found at Barabar hill cave on the hills around Rajagriha city and these were probably donated to The Ajivikas. The Kandahar bilingual Greek-Aramaic Inscription is located at Shar-iQuna (in southern Afghanistan). The Bharbra Edict has been found at Bairat in Rajastham the Rummindei Pillar Inscription neat the shrine of Rummindei (ancient name, Lumbini) within the border of Nepal, the Nigalisasgar Pillar Inscription (believed to be originally located a few miles from Kapilavastu, but now

bce –200 bce )

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near ­Rummindei), and the three versions of te Schism Edict—one version probably originally located at Kausambi and the other two at Sanchi and Sarnath. • The Kausambi version was later inscribed on by Samudragupta J­ ahangir is thought to be responsible for its removal to Allahabad. The Pillar Edicts • The pillar edicts are the edicts found engraved on six monolith pillars. • The complete set of seven edicts is found on only one-originally at Topra. • The others contain six edicts only. • The site are → Allahabad-Kosam, → Merrut (original site) but nor in Delhi, → Topra (original site) but not in Delhi, → Lauriya-Araraj in northern Bihar, → Lauriya-Nandangarh in northern Bihar and → Rampurva (north of Bettiah in northern Bihar). Negative aspect of Dhamma: In its negative aspect, Ashoka has pointed out certain vices which should be avoided and not be practiced by human beings viz, krodhah/anger; manam/pride; irsa/envy; nisthuryam/cruelty; chandyam/rage or fury. In Major Rock Edict X, the Dhamma is also negatively defined as aparisravam, i.e., freedom from evil. Ashoka cherished all his domestic relations, brothers and sisters, sons and grandsons and other female relations of his, in whose affairs, moral welfare and happiness both in this world and the next, he was keenly interested. Those outside his own family, the people at large, he regarded as his own children for whose welfare he was constantly working. In Pillar Edict II, Ashoka himself refers to his many and various kindnesses and good deeds in respect of man and beasts, birds and aquatic creatures. Ashoka also insists on dharmanusasanam, preaching morality as the supreme duty of the king, and accordingly he himself undertook a part of this public instruction in morality by moving among his subjects in different parts of the country, instructing them in morality and questioning them also about morality as stated in Major Rock Edict VIII. In V Major Rock Edict I, he asserts the promotion of good of all as the most important duty of the king, which could only be discharged by exertion and dispatch of business. Ashoka had drawn certain comparisons between the practices of ordinary life and those of Dhamma so that the people may understand his idea of Dhamma. Dharmadana is better than the ordinary gift. While alms-giving was commended, the higher doctrine was taught that there is no such charity as the charitable gift of the law of piety; no such distribution as the distribution of piety Major Rock Edict XI. Secondly, Ashoka cared very little for ordinary rituals performed by the people especially by the women kind and was inclined to look with some scorn upon ordinary ceremonies, which, as he observed, bear little fruit. True ceremonial consists in the fulfilment of that law which bears great fruit; and includes kind treatment of slaves and servants, honour to teachers, respect for life and liberality towards Sramanas and Brahmanas. Thirdly, Ashoka insisted on Dhammavijaya, which, he considered is only the true conquest rather than an ordinary conquest. Glory of a king does not depend upon the physical extent of his dominion but upon the victory of hearts and wills of the people by the force of moral persuasion.

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

Salient Features of Ashoka’s Dhamma It is distinguished by several doctrines and philosophical positions bringing out Ashoka’s ideas of moral reform. Ashoka insisted on the quality of self-examination. This must mean examination of one’s bad deeds with his good ones (Pillar Edict III). In Pillar Edict I, he emphasised intense self-­examination (pariksa) and intense effort (utsaha) as among the aids to moral life. Next, he emphasised the need of self-exertion as a means of moral progress. The need, he frankly admitted, is all the greater for a man of ‘high degree’ (Major Rock Edict X). He further pointed out: ‘Difficult, verily, it is to attain such freedom (from sin), whether by people of low or high degree, save by the utmost exertion (parakrama), giving up all other aims.’ The Minor Rock Edict I publishes the declaration: ‘Let small and great exert themselves.’ He wanted to see such a purpose to increase from more to more. He did not forget to say that even people living outside the Indian borders should strive for the same end. Ashoka also emphasised on the quality of tolerance. It appears that many religious sects and faiths flourished during his reign in India and hence, toleration was insisted as an absolute duty. The root of toleration is restraint of speech, ‘refraining from speaking well of one’s own sect and ill of others.’ On that basis, toleration among the followers of different faiths will grow, and it should be further promoted by making them know of one another’s doctrines, so that the follower of one sect may be able to appreciate the doctrine of other sects. Out of this width of knowledge will spring a wider outlook, charity and toleration, and purity of doctrines, the essence of all religions (Rock Edict XII). Another important feature of his Dhamma is emphasis on the essence of religion. Every religion has two aspects: ethical and doctrinal. Ethics is the inner and doctrine is the outer manifestation of the religion. All religions agree on the ethical aspect but they differ with respect to outer manifestation. The ethics is the Sara or essence of all religions. In the words of D. R. Bhandarkar, ‘What constitutes Ashoka’s originality of mind, as of all saints, is his concentration on the essence of religion, which all sects possess in common specially at a time when they have lost sight of it.’ Lastly for kings and administrators, the ideal of Dharmavijaya has been prescribed. The real fame for a king does not depend upon the territorial expansion of his dominion, but upon the moral progress he can help his people to achieve. It is evident that by these and other similar prescriptions, Ashoka tried to install morality as the governing principle and force in every walk of life and to spiritualize politics and, indeed, all life’s activities. His new ideals and doctrines express themselves in a new language, a variety of terms invented by Ashoka himself. In Major Pillar Edict I, he summed his intention by saying that he wanted the maintenance, governance happiness and protection of the people to be regulated by Dharma, and the people to grow day-by-day in their dependence upon Dharma and devotion to Dharma. We may note that Ashoka had faith in the other world repeated in several of his edicts and also in the attainment of svarga or happiness in that world as a result of pursuit of Dharma in this world. He also believed in the eternity of heaven and, consequently, in the immortality of soul. He considered the other world, as the ultimate objective of life. In Major Rock Edict X, he made it clear that his endeavour is for the sake of other world. As a believer in the svarga, Ashoka also said in his Major Rock Edict IV how he tried to stimulate his people to virtue by presenting before them pictures of such blisses awaiting them after death.

bce –200 bce )

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The Dhamma that is thus presented in these Edicts is another name for the moral and virtuous life and takes its stand upon the common ground of all religions. It is not sectarian in any sense, but is completely cosmopolitan, capable of universal application and acceptance as the Sara, essence of all religions and is thus worthy of a sovereign of a vast empire comprising peoples following different religions. Thus, in the moral interests of the diverse peoples committed to his care, Ashoka was at pains to think out a system which might be imposed upon his subjects irrespective of their personal faiths and beliefs. Thus, he laid the basis of a universal religion and was, perhaps, first to do so in history. Dhamma in External Relations Ashoka maintained an efficient system of foreign missions with a desire to diffuse the blessings of his ethical system in all the independent kingdoms with which he was in touch. His conception of the idea of foreign missions was absolutely original, and produced the well-considered results. Royal missionaries were dispatched to all the dependent states and tribes on the borders of the empire, and in the wilder regions within its border to i­ ndependent kingdoms of southern India, and to the five Hellenistic countries of Syria, Egypt, Cyrene, Macedonia and Epirus. Ashoka for the same purpose sent his son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra to Ceylon in the reign of Tissa. The outlying territories and tribes brought in this way within the circle of his ethical system included the Kambojas; the Gandharas and Yavanas of the Kabul valley regions; the Bhojas, Pulindas and Pitenikas dwelling among the Vindhya Range and Western Ghats, and the Andhra Kingdom. Four independent Southern Kingdoms; the Chola, the Pandya, the Keralaputra and the Satyaputra were on such good terms with Ashoka that he was at liberty to send his missionaries to preach the people of these lands. In organizing such missions to foreign countries at the expense of India, Ashoka perhaps felt that India also would be benefited along with them. These were the countries with which India had active intercourse in those days, and it was desirable that they should conform to common codes and ideals of conduct and thought. The influx of foreigners to India in those days is quite apparent from the statement of Megasthenes that there was a separate department of administration to deal with their special interests. The history of the Western Greek countries does not preserve any record showing how Ashoka’s missionaries fared there, but we need not assume on a priori grounds that those countries did not welcome the Indians who too brought them only a message of peace and good will. In V. A. Smith’s words, it is difficult to dispute that Buddhist thought has left its marks upon some phases of Western thought, notably ‘the heretical Gnostic sects and some of the more orthodox forms of Christian teaching.’ It is almost certain that Ashoka, by his comprehensive and well-planned measures, succeeded in transforming the doctrine of a local Indian sect into one of the great religions of the world. He did not attempt to destroy either Brahmanical Hinduism or Jainism; but his prohibition of bloody sacrifices, the preference which he openly avowed for Buddhism and his active propaganda, undoubtedly brought his favourite doctrine to the front and established it as a dominant faith in India as well as Ceylon. Dhamma and its Concept of Peaceful Co-existence The discussion on Ashoka’s Dhamma would remain incomplete unless it is analysed in the light of his idea of peaceful co-existence. Religious toleration

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

in India is traditional co-existence of all religious sects and creeds that prevails even now. But the root of such toleration may be traced to Ashoka’s religious activities. His idea of peaceful co-existence suggests that there should not be shown dishonour and condemnation to another sect; all other sects should be honoured by all men and in all ways. Thus acting, they would be able to promote their own sect and benefit the other sect. Acting otherwise they would hurt their own sect and harm other sects. Ashoka’s principle of co-existence strove to bring together people following different faiths and to bind them in a harmonious union. As has been stated above, the king did not attempt to destroy Brahmanical religion, Jainism or any other faith but tried to provide a common ground for all sects by means of certain ethical principles and practices acceptable to all. And, therefore, Ashoka preached his concept of dhammavijaya. It differs from the concept of Digvijaya of later Hindu monarchs who believed in the territorial expansion of their dominions. Ashoka ardently desired to conquer human hearts not by sword but by the superior ideals of humanity, i.e., love, goodwill, sympathy and assurance of non-aggression and advancement of the cause of humanity through piety and works of public utility. The principles of non-violence and peaceful co-existence reflected in Ashoka’s Dhamma are the instruments of global force of ‘peace, progress and prosperity’ that plays by the rules without hegemonic designs based on military might. Hence, it was an empire of righteousness, an empire resting on right and not on the might. He also gave to his people belonging to different communities and sects, certain common ideas of thought and conduct which entitle him to be the humanity’s first ruler with universal love and morality. He lives with us even today in our national emblem. Such is the influence of Ashoka’s Dhamma on history. The significant role played by him in the history of the world has aptly been described by Toynbee in the following words: ‘Ashoka will continue to be remembered because he put conscience into practice in the exercise of his political power. This is all the more notable considering that unlike ourselves Ashoka lived in the pre-atomic age, and therefore he did not have the obvious urgent utilitarian incentive, that our generation of mankind has to renounce the use of war as an instrument of national policy. Waging war with even with the deadliest of weapons then at Man’s disposal, Ashoka would have run no risk of getting his own subjects exterminated not to speak of bringing annihilation upon the human race as a whole.’

The Mauryan Administration Undoubtedly, Indian history entered a new era with the beginning of the Mauryan Empire in around 321 bce as for the first time, India attained political unity and administrative uniformity. The Mauryan Empire as founded by Chandragupta stretched from the Bay of Bengal in the east to Afghanistan and Baluchistan in the west, the Himalayas in the north to the ChitalduRig district in the South. Chandragupta was not only a great conqueror, he was also a great administrator. Megasthenes, the ambassador of Seleucus in the court of Chandragupta, has left detailed accounts of his system of government. The treatise on state craft called the Arthasastra attributed to Chandragupta’s able minister Chanakya (also known as Kautilya), confirms and supplements the accounts of Megasthenes. According to the Puranas, the son and successor of Chandragupta was Bindusara who is believed to have ruled from 300 bce to 273 bce. After his death, there was a struggle for succession among his sons for 4 years. Ul-

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timately, Ashoka succeeded him to the throne. Ashoka’s imperishable records inscribed on rocks and pillars testify that the Mauryan Empire under Ashoka embraced the whole of India except Assam in the extreme east and the Tamil Kingdom of the Far South. Besides the sources mentioned above, the Buddhist and Jain traditions, the literary sources, such as the Divyavadara and Mudrarakshasa (though they belong to much later times) and inscriptions (e.g., the Girnar inscription of Rudradaman) provide us a variety of evidence for the study of the administrative organization under the Mauryas.

Central Administration The King At the apex of the Mauryan administrative system stood the king. The king was primarily the wielder of the power, who was given primacy among the seven components (Saptanga) of the state. His chief function was to promulgate the social order. It was his moral duty to punish the wrongdoers and to maintain peace in the empire. Arthasastra refers to him as Dharmapravartaka who had to set a high ideal in front of his subjects. The people were looked upon as children for whose happiness the head of the state was responsible and to whom he owed a debt which could only be discharged by a good government. Kautilya puts the following ideal before the king: ‘For a king his Vrata (religious vow) is a constant activity for the cause of his people (utthanam); his best religious ceremony is the work of administration, his highest c­ harity—equality of treatment noted out to all.’ The Brahmanical law books, such as Manu and Baudhayana stressed that the king should be guided by the laws laid down in the Dharmasastras and by the customs prevailing in the country.

The Council of Ministers According to Megasthenes, the King was assisted by a council of ministers, whose members were noted for their wisdom. From the councillors were chosen the high officers who were responsible for inculcating and enforcing the essentials of Dharma throughout the country. For the first time the ideal of Chakravarty was given a practical shape. But the Mantri-Parshad acted as a good check on the King’s autocracy for the latter had to ­consult it on important matters of policy and administration. These officers are differently stated in different texts. They are referred to as councillors and assessors by Greek writers whereas Rock Edict VI of Ashoka refers to them as Mahamatras or high officials. The most important among the officers were the Mantris or high ministers. The dharma-mahamatras and mahamatra of Ashoka were concerned with the propagation of dharma. Antapala of Arthasastra was concerned with guarding the frontier and controlling the import trade. The other officers were the high priest or Purohit, commander- in-chief or Senapati and crown prince or Yuvaraja and Adhyakshas or Superintendents who assisted the King in economic activities of the State. They controlled and regulated agriculture, trade and commerce, weights and measures, crafts such as weaving and spinning, mining, etc.

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

Important

terms used in

Mauryan Administrative System

Terms

Meaning

Akshapataladhikrita

Keeper of royal records

Khila

Untilled land

Aprahat

Cultivable land

Aprada

Unsettled land

Vastu

Habitat land

Pataka

Land measure equivalent to 60–80 acres

Mahapratihara

Chief of Palace guards

Pratihara

One who regulated ceremonies

Khadyapakika

Superintendent of the royal kitchen

Dutaka

Spies

Vinayasthitisthapaka

Maintained social and moral disciplines

Pushtapala

Record keeper of land transfers

Shaulika

Collector of taxes

Municipal Administration The city administration was entrusted to a commission of 30 members divided into 6 boards of 5 members each. Each board had its own departments allotted to it. The first board supervised industries and crafts, regulated work and wages and enforced the use of correct material. The second board looked after the comfort and security of the foreigners. Samaharta was the highest officer-in-charge of assessment and Sannidhata looked after the treasury. The third board’s work was registration of births and deaths. The fourth board regulated the sales of produce, supervised and tested weights and measures, stamped the articles sold, issued licenses to merchants. The fifth board inspected the manufactured goods and prevented the frauds arising from adulterations. The sixth board collected taxes on the goods sold.

The Army A considerable part of revenue was spent on the army. The maintenance of a huge army led to the political unification of nearly the whole of ­India except the extreme South. According to Indian tradition, the army c­ onsisted of four departments—elephants, chariots, cavalry and infantry. The Arthasastra maintains that the army was organized in squads of ten men, companies of a hundred and battalions of a thousand each. The king was the commander-in-chief of the Army and the Senapati was directly under him. According to Megasthenes, the army was controlled by a war office consisting of 30 members distributed among 6 boards who were in charge of different departments. Behind the success of the army was the diplomacy of the Mauryas. Arthasastra refers to the employment of secret agents or spies, winning over enemies’ people, siege assault as the fine means to capture a fort and it shows the importance given to diplomacy. The Arthasastra clearly prefers diplomacy to force.

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Espionage From Indian literature, we know that at all times kings used to entertain spies (chara or gudhapurusha). These agents were grade into high ones, low ones and those of middle rank. Recruits to the service of special agents or news writers were chosen for their good character. The employment of women of easy virtue as spies, is also alluded to by Kautilya’s Arthasastra. A similar class of officers which was created by Asoka himself were the reporters or prativedaka who were posted everywhere in order to report the affairs of the people at any time.

Law and Justice For the administration of justice, there were two sets of courts besides the village tribunals that dealt with petty cases under the guidance of the village headmen or the elders. These were styled the dharmasthiya and kantakasodhana. At the head of the judiciary stood the King himself. Greek writers refer to judges who listened to the cases of foreigners. Penal code was strict. We are informed by the Greek writers that ‘theft was a thing of very rare occurrence.’ They were surprised to observe that the people ‘have no written laws and are ignorant of writing but conduct all matters by memory.’ The crime of giving false evidence was punished by mutilation of limbs and in certain unspecified cases, offences were punished by the shaving of the offender’s hair. Torture for the purpose of extorting a confession was recognized and freely used.

Provincial Administration The Mauryan Empire was a vast one. But Chandragupta devised a plan in overcoming these difficulties and introduced a decentralized scheme of administration. The whole empire was divided into four administrative divisions; besides the centre with its headquarters at Pataliputra headed by the King and assisted by the ministers and the Council, the other four divisions had their capitals respectively at Taxila in the north-west, Ujjain in west, Suvarnagiri in the south and Tosali in the east, as mentioned in the edicts of Ashoka. Each administrative divisions was put in charge of Viceroy designated as Kumara or Aryaputra who was normally the prince of the royal blood or some other relative to the King or high official. The details of the provincial administration are not amply known. But even then it can be guessed that the Viceroy courts were the smaller replica of the imperial courts with the difference that the council of ministers could sometime even dwarf the viceroy and oppress the people as was the case in Taxila in the time of Bindusara. The same contingency led Ashoka to demonstrate with his officials to be honest in the discharge of their duties. The Viceroyalties were subdivided into provinces under the charge of the Pradeshikas referred to in Ashoka’s inscriptions and the Junagarh inscription of Rudradamen I of 150 ce. Girnar was one such province governed by Pushyagupta in the time of Chandragupta and Yavan Tushaspa in the time of Ashoka.

Local Administration The provinces were further split up into smaller areas equivalent to the district and tehsil comprising 100 villages under sihanika and from 5 to 10 villages under

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

Gopa, respectively. Each had its own staff of officials comprising mostly Yuktas and Rajukas. They were entrusted with the collection of revenue and general administration of their respective areas. They were, in fact, the link between the people and the government and were under the final authority of the Samaharta or the chief-collector. The smallest unit of administration which enjoyed semi-autonomous power was the village. It regulated its own affairs with regard to defence, discipline, cultivation, payment of revenue, land and water-rights, etc., through the gramani who was chosen from amongst the village elders who assisted the official of the government in disposing petty disputes arising in the village. Cultivable land was parcelled out in states belonging to individuals, while pastures and forest lands were held in common.

Municipal Administration The cities of the empire were administered, most probably, on the lines of the municipal administration of Pataliputra which has been graphically described by Megasthenes. He designated the town-official as Nagaradhyaksha of Kautilya. According to Megasthenes, the officers-in-charge of the city were divided into six boards, five members in each. Each board was assigned specific functions, e.g., the first board looked after everything relating to the industrial arts; the second looked after foreigners; the third recorded the births and deaths within the city, the fourth supervised trade and commerce; manufactured articles were the concern of the fifth board, and the sixth collected the tenth of the prices of the articles sold. Thus, nothing escaped the notice of the city officials from birth to death. In their collective capacity, these officials looked after the civic amenities like water, sanitation, cleanliness, public-buildings (temples), etc. There were city-magistrates, each termed as the Nagar Vyvaharika Mahamatra as mentioned in the Ashokan Edicts, to maintain law and order and to settle disputes of the residents of the city.

Judicial Administration King was at the head of the judicial administration. He constituted the highest appellate court in the realm. In the villages and towns, cases were settled by the Gramvrdha and Nagarvyavaharika Mahamatras, respectively. In the countryside, there were Rajukas who were equal to our modern district-magistrates. All disputes arising out of land and its ownership were heard by them and Ashoka made them autonomous to expedite the settlement of the disputes and to prevent undue delay in meeting out justice. Kautilya refers to two other kinds of courts: dharmasthiya and kanatakashodhana. The Dharmasthiya courts were civil courts presided over by three Dharmasthas learned in sacred law and three Amatyas and they were located in all important centres. They tried cases involving disputes in marriage, divorce inheritance, houses, water-rights, trespass, debt, deposits, serfs, labour and contract, sale, violence, abuse, assault, gambling and miscellaneous. Punishments were carefully graded and executed by royal authority; they included fines, imprisonment, whipping and death. There must have been in existence also caste panchayats and guildcourts which regulated the affairs of communities and professional, and dealt with disputes among them in the first instance. The Kantakashodhana courts were presided over by the three Pradeshties and three Amatyas. These were a new type of courts constituted to meet the grow-

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Officials Mentioned in Arthashastra • Sannidhata—the treasurer and keeper of royal stores (of income both in cash as well as in kind). He checked whether coins were counterfeit or not. • Samaharta—the collector-general who supervised revenue collection. He was expected to retain control of expenditure as well as explore ways and means to increase the revenue. • Sitadhyaksha—the officer in charge of cultivation of lands of farms that belonged to the royalty. • Akaradhyaksha—supervised mining and had expertise (expert knowledge of) mines, gems, and precious stones. • Akshapataladhyaksha—in charge of currency and accounts. • Lavanadhyaksha—supervised work related to manufacture of salt by a licensee, who paid for either by cash or by a part of the produce. • Navadhyaksha—headed the marine department dealing in traffic on waterways-coastal routes, rivers and the seas. • Panyadhyaksha—controlling supply, prices and sale of goods, issuing licences to traders, etc. • Suradhyaksha—in charge of production and sale of liquor and intoxicating drugs. • Sulkadhyaksha—collector or customs or tolls on goods. • Pautavadhyaksha—supervised and assayed measurers and wights (checking the weights used, etc.)   Under Ashok, the following were some of the important officials. • Dhamma mahamattas—for establishing and propagating Dhamma among all sects to promote welfare and happiness of the people. • Amta mahamattas—concerned with carrying out the king’s policy towards the frontier peoples (like the boarder tribes). • Nagalaviyohakala mahamattas—probably judicial officers who worked under the general administration of the nagaraka. • Ithijhakha mahamattas—associated with the kings wives and concubines and supervised other departments invloving women. • Pradesikas—function like those of pradestr in Arthashastra; in charge of overall administration of a district; supervised revenue collection and maintained law and order in rural areas and towns in the district under his rule. • Nagaraikas—city superintendents looking after and order in the city. • Rajukas—worked in a judical capacity and as revenue administrators (has judical powers in rural areas; acted as assessment officers; and had control over problems related to agriculture, land disputes, etc.). • Yuktas—subordinate officials doing largely secretarial work and accounting (accompanied the pradesikas and rajukas). • Gopas—(both in cities and rural areas) worked as accountants, also registered births and deaths. • sthanikas—(both in cities and rural areas) collected taxes, kept the accounts of the various sections of the city. • Pativedakas—special reporters of the king who had direct access to him (can be compared to the spies mentioned in Arthashastra). • Pulisani—acquainted themselves with the public opinion and informed the king about it. • Vachabumikas—concerned with superintendence of the cattle wealth.

ing needs of an increasingly complex socio-economic structure and to implement the decisions of a highly organized bureaucracy on all matters that were being brought under their control and were unknown to the old legal system. These courts were special tribunals to protect the state and people against the anti-social persons—the thorns (Kantaka) of society. These were designated to safeguard both

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

government and society from the possible evils of the new order that was being introduced, and at the same time, they served as powerful weapons to implement the mass of new regulations to regulate the new order. The sum total of this judicial system was that control of the bureaucracy over the people was strengthened and there was a sharp decline in crime as a result of fear and moral exhortation as mentioned by Megasthenes. To conclude, one may say that the imperial organization under the Mauryas as it comes down to us through the Arthasastra of Kautilya, inscriptions of Asoka and other sources, was of a very high order with the king as the head of the State, wielding all power, a huge standing well-organized military system and an efficient system of criminal administration, new sources of revenue and a huge bureaucracy organized in a hierarchical way, which together contributed to strengthen the royal power.

Socio-Economic Pattern

of the

Mauryan India

Mauryan Economy The discovery of iron and introduction of its technology in the Madhyadesa (UP and Bihar) by 800 bce, at the latest, revolutionized the economic pattern of India. Barring the Indus Valley experiment in Chalcolithic agrarian economy, the rest of India was passing through Neolithic pastoral-cum-agricultural village economy. The transition of India from the Neolithic to the Metal Age and its subsequent corollary of pastoral to agrarian economy was accelerated by the discovery and use of iron. The revolution took place in the Madhyadesa and it dominates the political scene than culminating in the Magadhan or Mauryan Empire. The use of iron facilitated the clearing of the jungles and furrowed the land more deeply so as to exploit fully the potential fertility of the Ganga–Yamuna valley. The spurt in agriculture resulted in the accumulation of the surplus food necessitating its exports which was facilitated by the natural waterway of the Ganga. The resulting trade and commerce led to the rise of gradual urbanization. The famous cities of Sravasti, Saketa, Varanasi, Champa, Rajagriha, Ujjain, etc., grew around market places and attracted artisans from far and wide with the allurement of easy availability of raw material and ready market for the disposal of their handiworks. With the consolidation of the markets, cities multiplied in number and became the storehouse of wealth. These famous cities were so much coveted and prized by the adventuring spirits that they became the capitals of the famous kingdoms of the sixth century bce, mentioned in the traditional lists of ‘Sixteen Mahajanapadas’. These centres of trade, commerce and craft were interlinked by means of trade-routes which linked Champa with Varanasi via Rajgriha, from then on to Taxila; the second linked Varanasi with Sravasti via Saketa and Ayodhya; the third joined Varanasi with Ujjain via Kaushambi and the fourth linked these northern centres with the Deccan via Ujjain. From Champa, the merchants were going to Suvarnabhumi (Arakan in Burma), Tamraparni (Ceylon) and the other islands to the east of India and Taxila became culture cum commercial distributing centre of ‘Indian Wares’ to Central and Western Asia and further to West Africa and Europe. No wonder that the background had been fully prepared by these spanning trade routes and expanding agrarian economy resulting in gradual urbanization for the rise of imperial polity manifested by the Mauryas. The importance of irrigation to Indian agricultural conditions was fully recognized. In certain areas, water for irrigation was distributed and measured. The

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Arthasastra refers to a water tax which was regularly collected wherever the State assisted in providing irrigation. One of Chandragupta’s governors was responsible for building a dam across a river near Girnar in western India. The construction and maintenance of reservoirs, tanks, canals, and wells were regarded as part of the functions of the government. One of the more notable results of the political unification of the subcontinent was the security provided by a stable and centralized government which patronized expansion of various, craft guilds and trade. The state directly employed some of the artisans such as armours, shipbuilders, etc., who were exempted from tax but others who worked in state workshops were liable to tax. A tax was levied on all manufactured articles and the date was stamped on them. The merchandise goods were strictly supervised. Various factors such as current price, supply and demand, and the expenses of production were considered by the superintendent of commerce, before assessing the goods.

Social Organization Under the Mauryas The duties of each caste had become more crystallized during Mauryan period. Castes increased in number due to the rise of mixed castes and new economic groups as stated by Kautilya in his Arthashastra. He enumerates the duties of the Brahmins as Adhyayana (study), Adhyapana (teaching), Yajna (worship), Yajana (officiating at worship), Pana, (pratigraha) or (accepting gifts). The highest position in the society was assigned to the Brahmana. He was supposed to fill the highest offices in the state and society as teacher, priest, judge, prime minister, assessor and member of the Dharma Parishad, the standing legal commissions, etc., in the administration. He was punishable in law, but not by capital punishment. A Brahmana lost his status if he violated the restrictions prescribed regarding food and gifts, and due to occupation of low profession for livelihood from which he was debarred. But in actual life, especially in times of distress, he was allowed to follow occupations not theoretically prescribed for him. This rule applied to other caste also. The duties of the Kshatriyas comprised adhyayana, yajna, dana, shgashtrajivi (profession of arms as source of livelihood) and bhutarakshana (protection of living being). The duties of the Vaisyas comprised Adhyayana, Yajana, Dana, Krishi (agriculture) Pasupala (cattle rearing) and Vanijya (trade). The functions assigned to the Surdas were Dvijajatisrusha (service of the three twice-born castes), for example, Varta (production of wealth), Karukarma (arts) and Kusilva-karma (crafts). The common duties of the three higher castes were study, worship and making gifts. These Sudras were debarred from sacraments (Samskara) and even from hearing sacred text. They were denied the rites of marriages, cooking of daily food in the grihya fires and funeral ceremonies (Shraddha). They had few privileges and a horde of obligations. Their position had degenerated to that of a slave except that there was still a freedom. This kind of social stratification could subsist as long as society was based on rural economy. With the onset of urbanization and revolution in agro-economy there came a change. The wealth accumulated with the merchants, artisans and craftsmen who mostly belonged to the Vaisya and Sudra class who began to occupy a position of honour in society. They grouped themselves into guilds which regulated all their affairs and lessened their dependence on the caste panchayats.

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

With the formation of their respective group guilds, they became free from fear of social isolation. Their increasing prosperity on the basis of their group unity increased social tensions between them and the upper two classes of the society. The guilds and corporations of people on the basis of trade, arts and crafts rose to such an extent that Megasthenes confused castes with profession or occupations. He enumerates seven class or castes into which the whole population of India was divided, viz., Philosophers, Husbandmen, Herdsmen, Artisans, Military, Overseers or Spies and Councillors or Assessors. He adds that no one is allowed to marry out of his castes, or to exchange one profession or trade for another or to follow more than one business. His observations seem to have been based on what he heard about the castes and formal division into seven classes. Thus, there emerged a big gulf between theory and practice in the caste system. This confusion could possibly arise only in an urban-centre, due to emergence of some liberalizing processes. But in rural areas, the caste system comparatively remained rigid and unchangeable, making invidious distinction and producing untouchables and Nirvasita Sudras. Slavery, which Megasthenes never heard of in India was very much there, though the treatment to them was very different from that prevailing in the Western world. They were not outcastes and were employed in the households. Forcible production through slave was of course non-existence. There were many attenuating circumstances for them by which they could buy their freedom and thus become honourable members of the society, for example, a slave girl bearing a son of her master automatically became free. Ashoka in his Edict, continuously exhorted the people to be humane and considerate to their slaves and servants and he specifically enjoined upon his Dharma-mahamatras to mitigate their physical suffering, if they had any. Ashoka, further, recommended (Alparyasta) to his people not to hoard wealth unnecessarily and not to spend it extravagantly. By this he was able to keep down the inflationary tendencies in the country which usually happened due to the production and inflow of wealth into the country. At the same time, he brought out the hidden wealth to promote trade and commerce.

Relationship Between Mauryan Polity, Economy and Society The pattern of Mauryan economy and society was largely influenced by its political system. No state in ancient India maintained such a vast army to defend the country and a huge bureaucracy to run the administration, as the Mauryas maintained. Secondly, they also maintained enough surplus in their exchequer to meet the need in emergency. Such a huge expenditure could not be maintained by the normal taxation. So, to find out a profitable source of income, it was essential for the Mauryan State to undertake and to regulate numerous economic activities. As a natural corollary to that the Mauryans adopted the policy of state control of the entire economic activities consisting of agriculture, industry, trade and transport, and the imposition of all possible varieties of taxes on the people.

Socio-Agricultural Policy of the Mauryas The Mauryas rendered enormous contributions to the further growth of rural economy. In that respect they adopted the dual policy of establishing new agricultural settlements and developing the decaying one by transferring its sur-

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plus settlers to the new one. To increase agricultural productivity, the Sudras who hitherto formed the collective property of the upper three classes and worked as their slaves and hired labourers, were now a­ llowed to settle down as cultivators in those new rural settlements. In order to convert virgin soil into cultivable one, they were granted state assistance in the form of remission of taxes, supply of cattle; seeds and money with deferred re-payment up to their attaining self-sufficiency. Secondly, lands were granted in new settlements to retired village officials and priests, without any proprietary rights. Thirdly, the failure of a farmer to cultivate his plot led to its transfer from him to others for proper utilization. Ordinary peasants were not allowed to transfer their plots to non-taxpaying peasants. Lastly, the state farms formed an important source of income to the state. These were managed by the superintendent of agriculture and tilled by slaves and hired labourers. The state regulated water supply and provided irrigation facilities, to the agriculturists. Thus, with the help of Sudra labour and proper irrigation facilities, a substantial portion of Ganga-basin was brought under cultivation.

Trade, Industry and Commerce The Empire regulated trade and industry with the help of a number of superintendents. The superintendent of commerce was in charge of the market, the superintendent of weights and measures used to enforce correct weights and measures, the superintendent of ships looked after water communications and collected ferry dues, the superintendent of tolls collected customs on commodities for internal and external commerce, the superintendent of weaving looked after weaving industry mainly run by women labourers, and the superintendent of liquor managed the state wine shops. State had the complete monopoly over the trade of salt and liquor. Mining and metallurgy formed the base of political as well as economic power of the Mauryas. It was looked after by the superintendent of mines who was to be an expert on mining and metallurgy. He was to develop the old mines and discover the new ones. The ores of gold, silver, copper, lead, tin, iron and Bitumen were worked upon. Literary evidence suggests that working of iron was much more expensive than any other metal. Lohadhyaksha was the officer-in-charge of iron working. The production of minerals and mining trade was the monopoly of the state. Thus, metals and mining were the most important factors in the Mauryan State policy. Kautilya points out that the origin of treasury is mining, and of force in treasury, and earth is acquired by means of treasury and force.

System of Taxation The state also imposed a large number of customary and new taxes. The main tax was the 1/6 of the production of the peasants as the royal share. The state also received 1/4 and sometimes 1/2 from the share croppers who received land and other agricultural inputs from it. The peasants also paid another tax known as the pindakara, imposed on the groups of villages. The old Vedic Tax bali, perhaps was then regarded as the religious tax. Kara was a tax received from flower and fruit gardens. Senabhakta was a tax received from the villagers in the form of supply of provisions to the army when it passed the villages concerned. Hiranya was known as payment in cash. The peasants had also to pay irrigation cases. There were also

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

customs and ferry dues. Taxes were also imposed on the guilds of urban artisans. Even those numerous taxes could not meet the mounting expenditure of the state. So, Arthashastra provides for large real emergency taxes. One such measure was the imposition of pranaya or the gifts of affection which was to be levied only once on peasants and which amounted to 1/3rd or 1/4th of their produce. Arthashastra also provided for compulsory raising of a second crop by the cultivators, a share of which went to the state. According to Patanjali and Kautilya, the Mauryan emperors also collected money by setting up images of Gods for worship. Jaina tradition also suggests that Kautilya issued 800 million karshapanas, i.e., Kautilya debased silver coins to fill up the treasury. All such emergence measures enormously increased the income of the Mauryan State. Normally half of the income of the Mauryan State was deposited in treasury to meet the emergency. In this way, the whole Mauryan economy was geared up to meet the financial requirements of the state. Most of these taxes were collected in kind. From the nature of the duties of the superintendent of mints, it appears that money economy under the Mauryas, made considerable progress. But the growth of money economy, at the same time, was retarded due to Mauryan policy of depositing half the amount in treasury, and not investing them for productive purposes. Moreover, taxes levied on all varieties of commodities also retarded the progress of money economy. Despite such limitations, the Mauryan age, witnessed significant economic progress with giant strides in the expansion of agriculture and mining industry. Development of transport and communications helped in expansion of inland trade and commerce.

The Decline

of the

Mauryan Empire

Despite enjoying a proud position and becoming the nucleus of diffusion of its civilization in the world under the Mauryas, the anti-climax came immediately after Ashoka and the Mauryan Empire disintegrated within fifty years of his death. It collapsed as suddenly as it had risen, but the suddenness of its collapse is not as startling as its longevity. In those early times with the primitive mode of transport and communication, to hold together different and diverse social, political, and cultural groups in a country as vast as India for even a century and a half was virtually a task of political geniuses and not dreamers as the Mauryan kings have sometimes been ­accused.

Ashoka’s Responsibility for the Downfall of the Empire The end of the dynasty at the coup of Pushyamitra Shunga was considered Brahmanical revolt against the pro-Buddhist policy of Ashoka. But there is no support for this contention. Ashoka never allowed his personal religion to come into conflict with his state religion (Dharma). A king who never felt tired of teaching his subjects the virtues of religious toleration, and who encouraged the different religious demonstrations all over his empire could not be blamed of religious intolerance. As aptly observed by one critic, ‘his general policy was neither specifically pro-Buddhist nor anti-Brahman. It was open to acceptance or rejection by all or any.’ Moreover, the Brahmanical dynasty founded by Pushyamitra Shunga, the annihilator of the Mauryans, was itself overthrown by another Brahmanical dynasty of the Kanvas. Thus, political and not religious causes were at the root of this change in dynasty accentuated no doubt by the vastness of the country.

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It is generally believed that Indian history is a continuous interplay of centrifugal (i.e., breaking away from the centre) and centripetal (i.e., on a centre) tendencies, when the former are on the ascendance, regionalism and disintegration assert themselves as was the case after Ashoka, and when the latter manifest themselves, the political unification becomes a natural sequence. The nature and scope of the unification depends on the personality of the unifier. The Mauryan Empire was not an exception to his historical phenomenon. Ashoka’s eschewing of war and its substitution by Dharmavijaya (conquest by religion of course did not lead to the disbanding of the army; nor was the advocate of it for his non-violence was not of such an unrealistic nature. It had likely dimmed the moral and spirit of the army and farsightedness of his successors. It is because of this that the rise of powers and new political combination of the Bactrians and Parthians across the Hindukush were overlooked, and frontiers were left inadequately guarded. This very dynastic empire had its inherent weakness of too much dependence on the personality of the king and when the supply of equally capable monarchs was exhausted. All the evils of centrifugal tendencies like rise of factions in the court, assertion of independence by the provincial governors and ­viceroys in the distant regions, and the resulting foreign invasions m ­ anifested ­themselves. The Mauryans, in spite of creating a permanent ­cadre of administrative service under the name Mahamatras could not check these tendencies, mostly because of the weak successors of Ashoka.

A Case of Despotic Rule Notwithstanding any high sounding theoretical basis claimed of monarchy in ancient India, Mauryan kings in practice were more or less despots. And as you know quite well no despot however, efficient, benevolent or conscientious and who knows his obligation to his subject, can despite his best efforts assure that his successors would follow his footsteps. There is no certain method by which he can pass on his virtues and qualifications to his successors. Thus most frequently—and the history of India is replete with innumerable such instances—a good and benevolent king is succeeded by a worthless, profligate and inefficient successor. This is the chief bane of almost every personal rule. The same thing happened when Ashoka died. His successors, by and large, were weak and irresponsible despots who wasted much of their time, energy and expense in dissipation at the cost of the subjects’ welfare and ‘thus the dominion of Dharma (Dharma-Chakra), the kingdom of Righteousness which Ashoka sought to establish, could not survive after him because it was not broad based upon the people’s will through a democracy which is independence of the personal factor in a monarchy.’ (R. K. Mukherjee).

Economic Factor We should never ignore the economic cause which precipitated the ­downfall and disintegration of the Mauryan Empire. The cumbersome and expensive Mauryan bureaucracy despite its excellent record of efficiency under ­Chandragupta and Ashoka, tended to be lax, indifferent and parasitic. The cost of administration increased phenomenally. But the resources remained almost static. The debasement of currency resorted to in the latter part of the Mauryan rule was indicative of the new trend towards economic stagnation. Growing weakness of the economy had its inevitable impact on administrative efficiency and his coupled with the

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

­ eakness of the rulers who succeeded Ashoka unavoidably led to the early disw solution of the once powerful Mauryan Empire. One should also not overlook another factor. Ashoka by preaching his Dharma had unwittingly deprived monarchy of its traditional strength based on the claims of divinity. This irresistibly led to one inevitable outcome. ‘Gradually Dharma replaced the idea of a state. Even a divine was no longer infallible, because an unrighteous king could be removed.’ (Romila Thapar) According to R. S. Sharma, the rise of material cultures in outlying regions also played a crucial role in decline of the nucleus centres of the empire.

Mauryan Art

and

Architecture

The history of art in ancient India virtually begins from the reign of ­Ashoka. Whatever we find in Indus valley is isolated, its continuity is broken. We find for the first time, buildings and structures of permanent materials like stone, rock and brick during the Mauryan period. During the Vedic and later Vedic period buildings were made of impermanent materials It was Ashoka who substituted stone for wood the common material for the construction of the buildings. This change from impermanent to permanent material was due to the desire of the emperor under whose patronage the Indian art flourished considerably. From c. 2500 bce to 250 bce is a long period of which we have hardly any record in the matter of artistic expression. The architecture of this period was mostly of wood and has perished without leaving a trace behind.

Architecture Ashoka was a great builder. The legend which ascribes to Ashoka the erection of 84,000 stupas within the space of 3 years, proves the depth of impression made upon the popular imagination by the number, magnitude and magnificence of the great Mauryan architectural achievements. Mauryan architecture can be divided into three categories for the sake of convenience. 1. Remains of the palaces 2. Remains of the stupas 3. Rock-cut caves

Remains of Palaces Megasthenes gave a detailed description of the Mauryan palace where the king resided. It was magnificent and famous for its artistic excellence. According to Megasthenes, the entire palace was made of wood and in splendour and magnificence it was better than the palaces of Susa and Ecbatana. So imposing was the structure that it was universally believed to have been erected by supernatural agency. Fa-Hien who visited India during the Gupta period, was so much impressed and surprised to see this palace, its skill and work magic that he thought that it was not the work of men, but of spirits. The Royal palace and halls in the midst of the city (Pataliputra), which exist now as of old, were all made by spirits which he employed, and which piled up the stones, reared the walls and gates, and executed the elegant carving and inlaid sculpture work in a way which no human hands of this world could accomplish.

bce –200 bce )

6.35

6.36

Chapter 6

Similar residences must have been built for the establishment of Kaushambi and other places and also for the Kumaras serving as viceroys. The excavations of Bulandi Bagh and Kumrahar near Patna have been carried out and remains of this palace have been actually discovered. Remains of some pillars of very huge size have been found, particularly a hall built of high pillars. Thus the accounts of Megasthenes and Fa-Hien are very well supplemented by the archaeological evidence.

Remains of Stupas A stupa was usually destined either to enshrine a casket containing the relics of Buddha or other saint or simply to mark permanently the reputed scene of some incident famous in the history of Buddhist church. Generally, a stupa was erected in the honour of Buddha. Origins of the stupas are to be found in the Vedic and later Vedic ‘chitas’. The stupas, are in purpose, similar to the Egyptian Pyramids. It is possible that architecture and designing of Pyramids must have influenced these stupas. It is significant point to note that stupas of huge bricks were made in India only after Ashoka when Sindh and western Punjab had been in possession of Persia for hundred years and when Egypt was also a province of Persia. Hence, it is possible that the architecture of the stupas might have been influenced by the Persian art like other artistic monuments of the Ashoka. A stupa was a nearly hemispherical mass of solid masonry either brick or stone, resting upon a plinth which formed a perambulation path for worshippers, and flattened at the top to carry a square alter shaped structure which was surmounted by a series of stone umbrellas one above the other. The base was frequently surrounded by stone railing. Sometimes the entrances through the railings were equipped with elaborate gateways (toranas). As stated in Divyavadana, Ashoka got built 84,000 stupas all over his empire. Yuan-Chwang who travelled in different parts of India visited these stupas in Afghanistan, Sarnath, Sanchi and Taxila in Northern India; Tamralipti and Pundravardhana in eastern India and Kanchi in south India. Now we shall discuss the art of stupas erected during the Mauryan period. Stupa of Bharhut: The stupa is situated at Bharhut a village in Nagod state of Baghelkhand, about 95 miles south west from Allahabad. It is a stupa made of bricks having a moderate size nearly 68 feet in diameter, surrounded by an elaborately carved railing bearing many dedicatory inscriptions. The stupa has wholly disappeared and its rich sculptures were principally devoted to the illustration of Buddhist Jatakas or Birth stories. As at Sanchi, the buildings were of different stages the stupa itself probably dating from the time of Ashoka while one of the gateways is known to have been erected in the Shunga period. The more or less similar railing, fragments of which exist at Bodhgaya has been generally designated as the ‘Ashoka Railing’ but in fact belongs to Shunga times like the Bharhut gateway. Stupa of Sarnath: The Dharmarajika stupa of Sarnath was possibly erected during the Ashokan period. Here we only find the ground plan. Mauryan polish is still visible on its railing. The stupa was erected at a place where Buddha gave his first sermon to his five Brahman companions.

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

Stupa

of

Sanchi (Southern Gateway)

Stupa of Sanchi: The principal stupa at Sanchi which stands on the top of a hill at a distance of 25 miles from Bhopal is built of red sandstone. Its diameter is 121 feet and its total height is 77 feet. It is enclosed by a massive plain stone railing having four gates in four different directions, 34 feet in height, covered with a profusion of relief sculptures. The railing too is covered with sculptures depicting either scenes from the life of Buddha or incidents from his legendary past lives. The art is essentially of folk art with an intense feeling of nature. The method is that of continuation narration suggesting everything. The stupa is one of the important monuments of Ashokan period. Other stupas in the neighbourhood are more or less alike in form.

Rock-cut Caves The Ashokan age is also noteworthy in the history of Indian art from the point of view of cave architecture. There are seven rock-cut caves of the Mauryan age. Four caves are to be found on a hill named Barabar in Gaya district. All these caves were excavated for the residence of the monks of Ajivika sect and these were places of shelter during the rainy season. The cost of such work must have been enormous and the expenditure of so much treasure on the Ajivikas is an evidence of their influential position and the catholic spirit of Ashoka for the Ajivikas were extreme fatalists having nothing in common with the Buddhists. Three other caves are to be found on Nagarjuni hill. These caves too were dedicated by the grandson of Ashoka—Devanampriya Dasaratha—to the monks of Ajivaka sect. These rock cut caves are important because of two reasons; firstly, they are the first examples of buildings in rock-cut architecture, and secondly these are the exact imitation of former wooden buildings. The cost, labour and skill in turning

bce –200 bce )

6.37

6.38

Chapter 6

these huge rocks into residential places is remarkable in reality. The interiors of these caves are highly polished. Thus the cave architecture in the age of Ashoka seems to have attained a high standard of workmanship and excellence.

Sculpture The figure sculpture of the Mauryan period is important not only in the history of India but also in the world sculpture due to its workmanship, beauty and artistic magnificence. In this class of art, we shall first discuss the pillars of Ashoka. Because these are standing independently, and upon them we find animal sculpture, these can be placed among the sculptural work.

Lomash Rishi Cave

s

Pillars

Amaravati Major Pillar Edict Inscription

Ashoka took special delight in erecting monolithic pillars, inscribed and uninscribed, in great numbers and designed on a magnificent scale. No less than thirty pillars set up by Ashoka have been found so far. Hiuen Tsang mentions specifically 16 of such pillars, 4 or 5 of which can be identified with existing monuments more or less convincingly; and, on the other hand most of the extant pillars are not referred by the Chinese pilgrim. These pillars have been found in Bakhira, Lauriya-Nandangarh, Rampurva, Sanchi, Sarnath, Kaushambi and Allahabad. It is important to note that these pillars are distributed over a large area stretching from the northern bank of the Ganges to the Nepal border and were erected at the places connected with Buddhism. A Mauryan pillar consists of a shaft, surmounted by the capital. The shaft, plain and circular has a slight taper upwards is made out of a single block of stone (monolithic). Over the shaft is the capital being another piece of stone and fixed to the top of the shaft by means of a copper-dowel. The capital consists of an inverted lotus design, abacus (platform) and carved animal sculpture in the round. The surface of both the shaft and the capital has the Mauryan polish. The perfect uninscribed pillar at Bakhira near Basar, the ancient Vaishali in the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, is a monolith of fine sand stone highly polished for its whole length of 32 feet above the water level. A square ­pedestal with three steps is said to exist under water. The shaft taper uniformly from a diameter of 49 inches at the water level to 38 at the top. The total height above the level of the water is 44 feet. Including the submerged portion the length of the monument cannot be less than 50 feet and its weight is about 50 tonnes. The inscribed Lauriya Nandangarh pillar in the Champaran district of Bihar resembles that at Bakhira in design but is lighter and less massive and therefore appears

Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300

graceful. The polished shaft diminishes from a base diameter of 35 inches to a diameter of only 22 inches at the top. The entire monument is nearly 40 feet high. Two mutilated pillars exist at Rampurva in the Champaran district of Bihar. One Pillar was surmounted by a finely designed lion and the other uninscribed pillar had a bull capital. The Ashokan pillar found at Sarnath is the most famous among all Ashokan pillars. The abacus has an originality in having four animals—elephant, horse, bull and lion— separated from one another by figure of wheels. These wheels and animals have been carved out in moving position. The pillar represents the high watermark of the evolution of the capital. The whole pillar is gracefully united and indeed it ranks among the best sculptures of which our country is proud. Sixteen centuries later in 1356 ce, the two Ashokan pillars which now stand near Delhi on Firoz Shah Kotla and the Ridge near Bara Hindu Rao Hospital were transported by Sultan Firoz Shah the one from Topra in the Ambala district and the other from Meerut. Their transportation and erection bear eloquent testimony to the skill and resource of the stone cutters and engineers of the Mauryan age. No pillar has yet been discovered in the distant provinces, where the Rock Edicts were incised.

Figure Sculpture A few huge figure sculptures are ascribed to the Mauryan period on the basis of two facts: first they have the Mauryan polish and second they are made of sand stone of Chunar. These figure sculptures are mostly the portraits of Yakshas and

Dhauli Cave, Orrissa

bce –200 bce )

Ashoka Pillar

6.39

6.40

Chapter 6

Yakshinis. Two such Yakshas have been found at Patna having Mauryan polish. However, the ascription of these figures to the Mauryan period is by no means all certain. A fragmentary relief on a piece of stone belonging to Mauryan period is remarkable. It is intensely lyrical and subtle figure of a young sorrowing woman.

Terracotta Heads Terracotta is a material combined of sand and mud. A few male heads from Sarnath and Rajghat are also ascribed to the Mauryan period because they are carved out of the Chunar sand stone and have the Mauryan polish. It is very likely that they are parts of portrait figure. Their special feature is their headdress.

Rock-cut Elephant at Dhauli (Odisha) Maurya Period’s Punch-marked Coin

This rock-cut elephant at Dhauli coming out with fore parts of the body from the natural rock is artistically far superior to many Mauryan Sculptures.

Monolithic railing at Sarnath This railing was found at Sarnath. It is made of sand stone of Chunar having Mauryan polish. It is artistically excellent and smooth.

Foreign Influence on Mauryan Art European scholars trace the foreign influence on Mauryan Sculpture. Sir John Marshall is of the opinion that the Ashokan pillars were adopted and copied from the Persian pillars. Monolithic pillars prove the reality of Persian influence and it appears that early Indian art was largely indebted to Persia for its inspiration, But a minute observation would reveal many differences between the two. Ashoka may have borrowed the idea to raise pillars from Persian art, but it is not reasonable to say that the whole pillar is the imitation of the Persian Pillar. The Sarnath pillar is far less conventional than its prototypes and much superior in both design and execution to anything in Persia. V. A. Smith finds Greek influence on the animal sculpture of the Mauryan period. The treatment of the body and its different parts are said to have been derived from the Greek originals. But the Indian scholars point that we have our own traditions of carving animals for we find much resemblance between the Mauryan bull and that of Indus Valley. Therefore, it may be concluded that though there may be some Hellenistic influence on Mauryan art, yet the theme, spirit and details are purely Indian. To sum up Indian art in the Mauryan period, whatever may have been the nationality of the artists employed, attained a high standard of excellence and merit when compared to anything and that it deserves an honourable place in the artistic achievements of the world.

Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach Mauryan Age: The First Empire (300



bce –200 bce )

6.41

1. Do you agree with the popular view that Mauryas established a unitary and highly centralized if not monolithic state system. [2018]

The Right Approach • • • •

• Begin your answer by saying that the nature of the Mauryan state is a matter of debate among historians who put forward views about state being mainly centralised or decentralised in character by citing references from Arthashashtra, accounts of Aryan and Ashokan inscriptions. (Refer pages 6.4–6.8) Give an account of unequal economic conditions and religious plurality evident through Ashoka’s edicts. Imbalances in mauryan empire should be supported by recent historiographic indences. Argument on requirement of more structured statecraft to address socio-economic, cultural and political situations Romila Thapar’s theory of core, metropolitan and periphery needs to be mentioned. Finally, the overall state structure looks to be a unitary and centralised though elements of decentralisation did remain present because of practical constraints of transport and communication of Mauryan period. (Refer page 6.35)



2. ‘The concept of Ashoka’s Dhamma as found through his inscriptions had its roots in Vedic-Upanishadic literature.’ Discuss.  [2017]

The Right Approach

• Explain the origin of the word Dharma in Sanskrit. • Derivation of Ashoka’s ‘Dharma’. • Interlink Ashoka’s Dharma with Vedic Dharma. (Refer page 6.14)

6.42

Chapter 6

Dharma and its interlinks in Vedic and Upanishadic tests Ashoka’s Dhamma finds its origin from Dharma Means (in common parlance) Right way of living/path of Rightousness In Vedic and Upanishdic Literature Universal principal governing law, order, harmony and truth Regulatory body governing moral principals Law of Rightousness Condemnation of rituals and sacrifices Ashoka’s Dhamna To live in peace and harmony To practice principle of Ahimsa Respect and tolerance towards other religion To be truthful and obey elders Preaching of Ahimsa to humanity



3. Delineate the nature and impact of India’s contact with Western Asia and the Mediterranean world during the Mauryan period. [2015]

The Right Approach

• Briefly state diplomatic relations shared between Chandragupta Maurya and Greek Ambassador Megasthenes. • Write about growing trade relationships between India and Western Asia and Mediterranean world : Evident in Greek and Persian coins. • Give an account of Dhamma-Vijaya, where Dhamma omissions were sent out to different countries. • Draw a map showing trade connections of the Mauryas with Western Asia and Mediterranean world.

7

Chapter

Contact with the Outside World: The Post-Mauryan Period

7.2

Chapter 7

The name ‘Post-Mauryan’ denotes the period extending approximately from 200 bce to 300 ce, i.e., from the fall of the Mauryan dynasty to the rise of Gupta power. Generally, the period following the decline of the Mauryan Empire is often labelled as one of the ‘Dark’ periods of Indian history—a description which assumes political centralization and rule by indigenous powers to be important determinants of civilization. Otherwise, various important new developments are seen in this phase, and the period is best viewed in terms of the continuity and intensification of political, economic and social processes that started in the post-Vedic (6th century bce) and matured in the Mauryan, culminating in the post-Mauryan periods. We survey the chief features of this period. Our sources include literature (Brahmanical, Buddhist as well as foreign accounts), archaeological excavations (late Northern Black Polished Ware [NBPW] and postNBPW), coins (of a large variety and number), inscriptions (in Prakrit and, for the first time, Sanskrit), and architectural and art remains from these 500 years.

Objectives After reading this chapter, you will be able to understand: • Different political regions which came into focus after the decline of the Mauryan Empire • Groups of foreigners who came from Central Asia and got settled here • Growth of trade between the Roman world and India, and its ­impact • Important features of various schools of art and sculptures which emerged during 200 bce–300 ce • Emergence of new religious beliefs and practices

Post-Mauryan Period—A Period

of

Transition

The post-Mauryan period witnessed the transition from the proto-historical to the historical period over a large part of India. In the south, for example, the early megalithic culture representing a tribal stage was succeeded by the early historical phase which accompanied elements of culture from north India. The process of this transition is, of course, not well preserved in any literary document, but even so various details of early historical cultures in the three southern kingdoms— Chola, Chera and Pandya may be brought out from Sangam literature. Another important change that the period witnessed was that despite the geographical isolation which has shaped India into a subcontinent, Indian culture owes much to what was once ‘non-indigenous’, and evidence is available in plenty to show that contact with the outside world increased considerably in the post-Mauryan period. There were two major channels of contact through which the Indian socio-political organization interacted with the outside world. One was in the form of repeated inroads by various ethnic groups through the north-west—a development which was associated with ethnic movements in Central Asia. The earliest intruders, the Bactrian Greeks, were followed by the Scythians, the Parthians and the Kushanas—all easily recognisable in the Indian literary references to the Yavanas, Sakas, Pallavas and Tusaras.

Contact with the Outside World: The Post-Mauryan Period

7.3

The second channel of contact was extensive external trade in which India was involved now more intensely than in any earlier period. The western quest for luxuries of the East affected several regions; the North-West, the Ganges Valley and the entire peninsula.

Political Developments The disintegration of the vast Mauryan empire was followed by the rise of a number of smaller territorial powers in different regions of the subcontinent. In the Ganga valley, for instance, the Mauryas were immediately succeeded by the Shungas under Pushyamitra Shunga, the commander-in-chief of the Mauryan army who is believed to have assassinated the last Mauryan king, Brihadratha in 180/5 bce. The Shungas, who ruled for about a 100 years (and were then replaced by the Kanvas who quickly made way for the Mitras), included in their kingdom Pataliputra (Magadha), Ayodhya (central Uttar Pradesh) and Vidisha (eastern Malwa), and possibly reached up to Shakala (Punjab). Pushyamitra is associated with the performance of the Vedic Ashvamedha sacrifice and believed to have adopted an antagonistic attitude to the Buddhist faith. In Kalinga (south Odisha), Mahameghavahana Chedi set up a kingdom towards the end of the first century bc. This is evident by the Hathigumpha inscription of King Kharavela who belonged to this dynasty. The rise of a regular monarchy in Odisha represents the spread of state polity and society to new areas in this period. The same is also illustrated by the Satavahana kingdom that, with its capital at Pratishthana (modern Paithan on the Godavari river), covered Maharashtra and Andhra and, at times, parts of north Karnataka, south and east Madhya Pradesh and Saurashtra. The Satavahanas (the first century bc to the early third century ad) were a major ruling dynasty of the post-Mauryan period and ruled in unbroken continuity for 460 years. However, there is uncertainty about who the Satavahanas were and where they came from. While in their inscriptions, they claim to be exalted brahamanas (ekabahmana) who performed Vedic yajnas, the Puranas called them Andhras who were described as lowly social groups. At the same time, apart from the name ‘Andhra’, the finding of early Satavahana coins from sites in Andhra The

chedis/Mahameghavahanas of

Kalinga

• A local line of rules named Mahameghavahanas, the descendants of ancient line of the chetis/chedis ruled over Kalinga during this period. • The Hathigumpha inscription in the Udaigiri hills in Puri district belongs to one of its greatest kings, Kharvela (of Lunar race) • The inscription describes in length about king Kharvela particularly about his successful campaigns against the Bhojakas, the Rathikas and the Magadha. • His southern campaigns went beyond the Godavari and the state of Kalinga thrived under him. • He protected his capital Kalinga nagara, which was devastated by cyclones by rapairing the city gates and ramparts. • King Kharvela is known for his welfare measures like constructing canals, remitting taxes, etc. • Kharvela built Mahavijaya Prasada the palace of great victory to commemorate his north Indian campaigns. • Kharvela a follower of Jainism, patronized Jain ascetics and according to Hathigumpha inscription, he constructed residences for jain ascetics.

7.4

Chapter 7

Other Dynasties

of

North India

Dynasty

Span

Tribal Republic of Arjunayan

South-west of Mathura from Agra to Jaipur

Audumbaras

Between the upper courses of the Ravi and the Beas

Kunindas

Between the upper courses of Beas and the Jamuna

Warring tribes of Trigarta

Punjab region

Yaudheyas

Between the Sutlej and Yamuna

Pradesh gives the impression that the Satavahanas began their rule in the eastern Deccan and then spread westwards. On the other hand, their inscriptions in the Nasik and Nanaghat caves point to the western Deccan as the original power centre of the Satavahanas. At any rate, the Satavahanas adopted the title of Lord of Dakshinapatha and Pliny, the Roman chronicler, too says that the Andhras had many villages and thirty walled towns and a large army of 1,00,000 infantry, 2000 cavalry and 1000 elephants. The territories of Satavahanas were divided into a number of administrative divisions known as Aharas, and we hear of different sorts of officials such as Amatyas, Mahamatras, Mahasenapatis, and of Scribes and Record keepers. However, the basic organization of the empire was feudatory which means that there existed a number of local rulers of subordinate chiefs in the realm, known as the maharathis and mahabhojas whom the Satavahanas exercised political paramountcy over but did not eliminate. The first ruler of the Satavahana dynasty was Simuka. Simuka’s successor was his younger brother Kanha or Krishna who extended the kingdom upto Nasik in the west. The third king Sri Satakarni I was Simuka’s son. He conquered large areas and performed some Vedic sacrifices including asvamedha and rajasuya. His reign is also known from Nanaghat inscription of his wife Nayanika. Hala, the seventeenth king composed Gathasaptasati, an anthology of 700 erotic verses in Maharashtri or Paisachi Prakrit. Some of the major Satavahana kings were Gautamiputra Satakarni (c.106– 130 ce) during whose reign the empire seemed to have territorially reached its

Satvahana’s Successors Some more Indigenous Dynasties • Arjunayanas: to the south-west of Mathura, the territory extended from Agra in the east to Jaipur in the west. • Audumbaras: ruled between the upper courses of the Ravi and the Beas. • Kunindas: ruled over the territories between upper courses of the Beas and the Jamuna. • Trigarta: ruled over a part of Punjab. • Yaudheyas: Held the territory between the Sutlej and the Yamuna. • Abhiras: in the west around Nasik. • Ikshvakus: in the eastern Krishna–Guntur. • Chutus: ruled over far flung areas of the south-western part. • Pallavas: filled the poltical vacuum in the south-eastern parts.

Contact with the Outside World: The Post-Mauryan Period

peak, his son Vashisthiputra Pulumavi (130-154 ce), and Yajnashri Satakarni (165–194 ce). The use of metronyms (name deriving from the mother’s name) by Satavahana kings and the fact that their queens issued inscriptions are some interesting features. Another remarkable aspect about this dynasty is that they issued coins made of lead and its alloy, potin.

Dynasties

of

External Origin

Besides the indigenous political developments, in the post-Mauryan ­period, the north-west and west-central parts of the subcontinent witnessed the rule of not one but several dynasties of external origin, often simultaneously, as a result of tribal incursions from central Asia. The first to come were the Indo-Greeks or Indo-Bactrians who were from the area north-west of the Hindukush mountains, corresponding to north Afghanistan. They expanded into the Indus valley and the Punjab and founded an empire there, occasionally making inroads as far as the Ganga–Yamuna doab, between the second century bc and the first century ad. They are known for their coins which not only included the earliest gold coins recovered archaeologically in India but also bore legends and portraits of individual kings, thus facilitating their identification. Indo-Greek rule in the region is also responsible for the growth of Hellenistic cultural influences seen in the town planning, on the one hand, and sculpture, on the other. The most famous king is Menander (165–145 bce) who seems to have embraced Buddhism after an extension dialogue with a monk named Nagasena. The dialogue is captured in the Pali text Milindapanho, ‘The Questions of Milinda’ (Menander—the Indianized name). The next in line were the central Asian tribe called the Scythians or Shakas (as they came to be known here). Different branches of the Shakas took over different parts of north and central India, establishing their rule at Taxila, for instance, at Mathura. Shaka chiefs were known as Kshatrapas. The strongest and longest lasting Shaka presence was in Malwa where it continued till the fourth century ce. The best remembered kshatrapa of this line is Rudradamana I (c.130–150 ce) of the Kardamaka family who extended his hold over Saurashtra, Kathiawar, Konkan and Sindh, apart from Malwa. This brought him into prolonged, fluctuating conflict with the Satavahanas. This is something that both the Satavahana Nasik inscription and Rudrahamana’s Junagadh inscription tell us about. Significantly, Rudradamana’s inscription is the first long epigraph in chaste Sanskrit that we get from early India. Close on the heels of the Shakas were the Parthians or Pehlavas, ­originally from Iran. They occupied a relatively minor principality in the north-west, their best known king being Gondophernes. Last but not the least, the foremost central Asian force to enter the s­ ubcontinent in this period were the Kushanas. The Kushanas were a branch of a tribe bordering China known as the Yueh chi which, as a result of pressure from other tribes in their homeland, moved out to new regions. Out of the two sections, the Little Yueh chi settled in north Tibet while the Great Yueh chi occupied five principalities in the valley of the Oxus river. Then around the beginning of the first century ce, a chief by the name of Kujula Kadphises and his son Vima brought together the five areas and laid the foundations of a unified Kushana empire that extended from the Oxus river in the north to the Indus valley in the south, and from Khorasan in the west to Punjab in the east.

King Kanishka

7.5

7.6

Chapter 7

Causes of Foreign Incursions • Inability of the central Asian Tribes such as Shakas and Kushanas to sutain themselves in their own lands. • Their inability to move into China due to the Great Wall built by Shin Thang Ti in 220 bce and hence their invassion of Bactria. • Weakening conditions of the Seleucid empire ruled by the Greek who, thus pressed by the Central Asian tribes, were compelled to invade India. • Political disintegration of India after the downfall of the Mauryan Empire and inability of the local Indian powers (the Shungas, the Kanvas, etc.) to provide stiff resistance against the foreign invasion.

Kushana power entered the subcontinent proper, and reached its height, under a king named Kanishka. During his reign, which started circa 78 ce (the date from which a new era, later called Shakasamvat, was ­inaugurated), the Kushana empire extended further eastwards into the Ganga valley reaching right up to Varanasi, and southwards into the Malwa region. A vast expanse spanning diverse cultures—Indic, Greek, West and Central Asian—was thus brought under one umbrella, leading to the commingling of peoples and practices. Kanishka and his successors, like Huvishka, Kanishka II and Vasudeva I, ruled till circa 230 ce. Their Indian territories had twin capitals, at Purushapura (Peshwar) and Mathura. Though they adopted titles like Devaputra (son of god), Kaiser (emperor) and Shahinushahi (king of kings), the Kushana kings did not exercise direct and absolute control over the whole empire. Large parts were under subordinated rulers (like the Shakas) with the title of Kshatrapa and Mahakshatrapa. The Kushanas both introduced new features such as an improved cavalry with the use of reins and saddle or the trouser-tunic-and-coat style of dressing, and vigorously embraced elements of indigenous cultures as reflected in their patronage of Buddhism and Shaivism, and of Sanskrit literature. With the decline of the Kushanas, various local dynasties, subdued by them, resurfaced all over north and central India. These included the Shakas of Malwa and a number of Naga, Mitra and Datta kings, as well as non-monarchical ganas, such as the Arjunayanas, Malavas and Yaudheyas who are known from their coins, seals and inscriptions. These were the conditions in which a new phase started with the rise to power of the Guptas in the early fourth century ce.

Economic Condition Evidences, both literary and archaeological amply indicate that the post-Mauryan period was one of urban prosperity all over the subcontinent. Indeed it can be said to represent the climax of early historic urbanism. Not only did cities that arose in the sixth century bc, primarily in the Gangetic valley and the Malwa region, flourish but also new towns came into being and city life spread to new regions as well, such as Sind, Kashmir, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Orissa, Andhra, Karnataka and the deep south. This went hand-in-hand with the expansion of agriculture, crafts production and trade, on one hand, and the establishment of new ruling dynasties and power centres, on the other. Towns and cities in this period not only show extensive construction activity, complex burnt brick buildings, well-laid out streets and drains, and fortification walls but also the adoption of new techniques like the use of tiles in flooring and

Contact with the Outside World: The Post-Mauryan Period

roofing. There is also abundant evidence from the urban centres of the presence of coinage, a range of sophisticated artifacts, such as fine pottery, beads and terracottas, and of a population that engaged in a variety of urban occupations. A list of the thriving cities of this period includes Rajagriha, Pataliputra, Varanasi, Shravasti, Kaushambi, Mathura, Hastinapura, Ayodhya, Ujjayini, Pratishthana, and new towns like Sirkap, Sirsukh and Shaikhan (north-west) Hushkapura and Kanishkapura (Kashmir), Purushapura (Pakistan), Jaugada and Shishupalagarh (Orissa), Bairat and Nagari (Rajasthan), Kaundinyanagara and Bhogavardhana (Maharashtra), Nagarajunakonda and Amaravati (Andhra). The genesis of this urban efflorescence was undoubtedly a firm agrarian base. Though there was no state farms like those under the Mauryas, texts like the Jatakas, Milindapanho and Manusmriti convey a picture of thriving cultivation on privately or individually owned plots of land in this period. Inscriptions from the western Deccan indicate that the fields ranged in size from 2, 3 or 4 nivartanas (one nivartana = one and a half acres) to 100 nivartanas or more. Nonetheless, the king exercised a general territorial sovereignty because of which he could grant (the revenue from) entire villages as dana to brahmanas and bhikkhu sanghas. In fact the earliest inscriptional evidence of royal land grants comes from the Satavahana kingdom (Maharashtra) from the first century bc and then again from the second century ad. Royal land grants carried certain privileges for the donee like exemption from tax freedom from entry of royal troops. They began to be endowed in perpetuity, known as the akshaya-nivi land tenure, under the Kushanas. The practice of making land grants was to become common from the Gupta period onwards, with important consequences for the agrarian structure. A striking feature of the post-Mauryan economic scene was the remarkable growth in crafts production. Both texts and donative inscriptions from stupa sites, such as Sanchi, Bharut and Mathura indicate proliferation and a high degree of specialization of craft-based occupations. The Mahavastu lists 36 kinds in Rajagriha alone and the Milindapanho enumerates as many as 75. Some of the artisan groups mentioned are blacksmiths (lohakara), goldsmiths (suvarnakara), jewellers (manikara), stone masons (selavaddhaki), carpenters (vaddhaki), leader workers (carmakara), oil-pressers (tailaka), perfumers (gandhika), garland makers (malakara), and also weavers, potters, ivory carvers, sugar manufacturers, corn dealers, fruit sellers and wine makers. Indo-Greeks/Bactrians (200 bce) • They founded two dynasties in India. 1. EUTHEDAMUS Dynasty was founded by Demetrius I who invaded India at the time of Brihadratha (the last Mauryan king). He was later driven back by Pushyamitra ­Shunga.    • King Menander was the most famous of all the Indo-Greek kings. A Buddhist text, Milinda Pañha records his conversation with Buddhist monk Nagasena.    • Menander’s coins are found in Bharoach. 2. EUCRATIDES Dynasty was founded by Heliocles. He was the last ruler to rule over both Bactria and north west India.    • Antialcidas, another king sent his ambassador Heliodorous to king Bhagabhadra of Kasipura according to Besnagar inscription. • These Indo-greeks were the first to issue gold coins in India. • Their arrival in India contributed to the introduction of Hellenistic art features in nort-western India, facilitating the growth of Gandhara School of Art.

7.7

7.8

Chapter 7

Movements of Nomadic and Warlike Central Asian Tribes • Ancient Chinese texts inform us about Hsiungru (HUNS) the Sek (the Shakas or Scythians) and YuchChis who moved towards India. • Clashes among them resulted into their westward migration to Bactria in north eastern Afghanistan noted for its agricultural prosperity, availability of gold and most notably for having a centre of overland international trade at its capital Bactria which is today known as Mazar-i-Shariff. • The Saka incursions into this area led to the overthrow of the Greek kingdom but Sakas themselves were routed later by Yuch-Chis. Chinese texts inform us about how one of the five clans (Yabgu) beloinging to Yuch-Chis tribe, namely Kuci Shuang became the master of Ta-hsia (eastern part of Bactria) and then later conqured other parts of Bactria. • The expansionist attitude of the early Kuei-shuang rulers is evident from their occupation of territories to the north of the Oxus river during the region of its first ruler, Miaos. This paved the way for the emergence of one of the greatest political powers, namely, the Kushanas. Significantly, craftsperson and traders were organized into guilds (shreni, nigama) and the post-Mauryan period saw a considerable increase in their number and the scale of their activities. The Jatakas refer to 18 guilds. Inscriptions from the western Deccan record gifts made by various shrenis which reflects their prosperity and social standing. Guilds were headed by a chief called the jetthaka or pramukha who could be close to the king. Guilds could issue their own coins and seals as have been founded at Taxila, Kaushambi, Varanasi and Ahichhatra. They also functioned as bankers when people wishing to make a donation to the sangha deposited a sum of money with a guild. From the interest that accrued on that sum, the guild supplied at regular intervals provisions like grain or cloth, in accordance with the donor’s wish, to the sangha. A natural concomitant of all these developments was a monetary economy. A large number and variety of coins were in circulation in this period. As we have seen, these included coins issued by royal dynasties, ganas, shrenis and city administrations. They were made of gold (dinara), silver (purana), copper (karshapana)—the Kushanas issued a large number of coppers—lead, potin, nickel, etc. The range of metallic denominations shows that transactions at different levels—high value of small scale—were now being carried out in cash. And, finally, trade. If the sixth century bc was the ‘take-off’ stage, the post-Mauryan period saw trade activity, both internal and external, overland and maritime, acquire full-blown proportions, literary sources mention various items involved in trade within the subcontinent—cotton textiles from the east, west and far south, steel weapons from the west, horses and camels from the north-west, elephants from the east and south, and so on. Cities were renowned for particular merchandise, like the silk, muslin and sandalwood of Varanasi, and cotton textiles of Kashi, Madurai and Kanchi. Goods travelled up and down long distances connecting market towns by an intricate web of land and riverine routes that criss-crossed the subcontinent. For instance, the Uttarapatha was the major transregional route of north India, joining Taxila in the north-west with Tamralipti on the east coast via Mathura, Vaishali, Shravasti and Pataliputra. The Dakshinapatha started from Pataliputra and went up to Pratishthana and from there to ports on the west coast. Another route ran from Mathura to Ujjayini and on to Mahishmati, on one hand, and Bhrigukaccha and Sopara, on the other. Many routes then went further south.

Contact with the Outside World: The Post-Mauryan Period

The subcontinent’s internal trade networks were integrally linked up with its trans-continental commercial interactions with central and west Asia, south-east Asia, China and the Mediterranean. India’s external trade consisted of two kinds: terminal trade and transit trade. Terminal trade was in merchandise manufactured in India and exported to other shores, or ­imported for sale in India’s internal markets:—either way, India was a terminus. Transit trade involved such commodities that originated in and were destined for other lands and only passed through the subcontinent; India functioned as an entrepot. The chief stimulus for India’s transit trade was the demand for Chinese silk in the western world. The famous overland Great Silk Route from China to the Mediterranean passed through the northern frontiers of the Kushana empire—Kashmir and north Afghanistan, touching the cities of Purushapura, Pushkalavati and Taxila. Later, due to instability in the central Asian region, a part of this trade was diverted south further into India, and then from the Indian ports on the west coast, like Bhrigukaccha, Kalyana and Sopara, travelled on to the Roman Empire via the Persian Gulf. This maritime route was facilitated by the south-west monsoonal winds. (India also had independent trade with China, exporting pearls, glass and perfumes and importing silk). Indo-Roman trade, however, went beyond Chinese silk. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea and Sangam texts tell us that there was brisk commerce between first century bc and second century ce in spices, muslin and pearls that the Romans imported from India. In return the Romans, described as Yavanas, exported to India wine and certain kinds of jars known as amphorae and a ceramic type named Arretine ware. Most of all, it was Roman gold and silver that poured into the subcontinent as a result of the balance of trade being favourable to India. Pliny, the first century Roman historian, complains of the drain of gold to India. Hoards of Roman coins, especially of the emperors Augustus and Tiberius, have been found at numerous sites in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Earlier it was believed that Yavana traders founded trading colonies or ‘emporia’ here at sites like Arikamedu but historians now feel that this was not necessary since groups apart from Indians and Romans, like Arabs of the Persian Gulf and Greeks of Egypt, may have played the role of middlemen in carrying out Indo-Roman trade. The subcontinent also had commercial links with south-east Asia that expanded perceptibly in the post-Mauryan period. The Jatakas and the Milindapanho refer to traders undertaking difficult sea voyages to Survarnadvipa (Malaysia and Indonesia) and Survarnabhumi (Myanmar). Archaeological discoveries in this region corroborate interaction. Imports from south-east Asia to India included gold, tin, spices like cinnamon and cloves, sandalwood and camphor. Exports from India included cotton textiles, sugar, valuable beads and pottery. The SHAKAS (100 bce­–400 ce) • The Shakas, also known as Scythians replaced Indo-Greeks in India. • Out of the 5 branches, the earliest one ruled north-western India, with Moga or Maues being line first Shaka ruler. • Two families of the Shakas became important: ‘the Kshahartas’ and ‘the Kardamakas’. • Bhumaka and Nahapana belonged to the Kshahartas, while Chastana founded the Kardamaka family. • Rudradaman I, the grandson of Chastana became the most famous Shaka ruler in India. He was not only famous for his military exploits particularly against the Satavahanas but also for his public works and his patronage of Sanskrit. He repaired the famous Sudarsan lake of the Mauryan period and issued the first ever long inscription in chaste Sanskrit in 150 ce, known as Girvan Inscription.

7.9

7.10

Chapter 7

The Parthians or Pahlavas (100 bce–100 ce) • Originally lived in Parthia or Iran. • Replaced the Shakas in north western India, but controlled relatively smaller areas than that of the Shakas or Indo-Greeks. • Gondophernes was the most famous Parthian king whose reign is known to us from his Takh-i-Bhai inscription. • St. Thomas come to India to propagate christianity during Gondophernes reign. It is important and interesting to note that social and cultural exchange went hand-in-hand with India’s commercial contracts with the world. As we have seen, the north-west of the subcontinent was a cultural cross-road that witnessed the commingling of Greek, Persian and Mongol populations and traditions with the India. In the case of China, interaction took the form mainly of the spread of Buddhism—doctrines, scriptures, relics, and monks and pilgrims travelled over many centuries between the two regions; it is from China that the religion went further east to Japan and Korea and underwent significant transformations. And early south-east Asia was long believed to have been actually ‘colonized’ by people from India since the names, practices, religious affiliations and rituals of the earliest kingdoms that arose there (seen in their inscriptions) are Sanskritic and brahmanical while both Hindu and Buddhist sculpture and architecture prevail. However, it is now clear that all this may be evidence only of cultural borrowing rather than of a direct Indian presence and role.

Social Conditions It will be obvious that the intensified political and economic developments discussed above had important social implications. This took the form chiefly of the widening and deepening of the stratification along caste, class and gender lines that had started in the sixth century bc. The four varnas and the four ashramas (chaturvarnashramadharma) emerge as the pillars of brahmanical ideology in the Dhramashastra texts of this period. Important features of caste were the preference for endogamy and hereditary occupation. There are indications of localization of caste and occupation with people of the same profession living in their own separate settlements or in distinct parts within settlements. Principles of purity-pollution and hierarchy governed restrictions on the giving and receiving of food, particularly vis-a-vis brahmanas on the one hand and chandalas, the outcastes, on the other. The ‘untouchable’ (asprishya) occurs in the Vishnu Dharmasutra of this period. It signified complete segregation of the social group called chandalas, which include corpse-removers, cremators, executioners, sweepers, hunters, etc. According to the Manu Smriti, they had to live outside the village or town and could not eat out of other people’s dishes. There were a number of other groups too that were categorized as lowly ­(antyaja). At the same time, outsiders such as the Yavanas and Shakas, were sought to be assimilated within the traditional social structure by describing them as ­sankrita varnas, born out of the mixture of castes, or as vratya kshatriyas, degraded kshatriyas. All this shows that the forces of the ideologies of social exclusion and incorporation were simultaneously at work. Linked to the need for the maintenance and perpetuation of the caste and class structure was the strengthening of patriarchy in this period. It took the form of subor-

Contact with the Outside World: The Post-Mauryan Period

7.11

The Kushanas (100 ce–300 ce) • The Kushana empire was the most powerful empire in the classical world; the other being the Roman empire in the West, the Arsacid or the Imperial Parthians in Iran and the Han Dynasty of China. • At the height of the power, the Kushana rulers ruled over vast areas in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and greater parts of north India. • The recent studies based on the discovery of a Bactrian inscription found from Robatak in Afghanistan (issued by Kanishka) speaks of the maximum extent of the Kushana empire, as far east as Champa near Bhagalpur in Bihar. The Kushana empire included the areas of Champa, Pataliputra and Saketa as per the Kushana inscription. • The Kushanas replaced the Parthians in Bactria and north-western India and then expanded to the lower Indus basin as well as to the upper and middle Gangetic basin. • The Kushana dynasty was founded by Kujula Kadphises, while his son Vima Kadphises consolidated and promoted trade particularly the famous Silk Route between the China and the Roman Empire including the Mediterranean World. • The most famous of all the Kushana rulers was Kanishka, who is famous for starting the Saka Era in 78 ce and for his patronage of Mahayana Buddhism. dinating women and controlling their reproductive potential. The preference for sons over daughters continued. Women’s access to knowledge, secular and scriptural, was diminished. Women of affluent classes were increasingly confined to the domestic sphere, making them economically dependent on their male kinsmen. Great emphasis was put on the chastity of women which was sought to be preserved by early (Pre-puberty) marriages, on one hand, and severe strictures on widows, on the other. The texts also suggest that women were treated as property and akin to shudras. At the same time, they were denied rights to inherit property which was patrilineally passed on (passed on from father to son). The lawgivers of this period, however, do allow a married woman some control over the gifts made to her as a bride which was known as stridhana. It should be noted that the occurrence of number of women as donors of Buddhist sites indicates that certain women had some degree of access to economic resources of their households. The post-Mauryan period also saw the growing role of rituals in the life of the individual and household, and society at large. Known as sanskaras, these were rites performed to mark various life stages such as pre-natal (garbhadana), initiation by sacred threat (upanayana), marriage (vivaha) and death (antyesthi). And then there were panchamahayajnas that were actually simple ceremonies obligatory for upper caste householders, including making offering to ancestors (pitriyajna), to the sacrificial fire (daivayajna) and to all being (bhutayajna). These can be understood as ways to regulate the individual’s life as well as to string society together through common beliefs and practices. While in terms of economic, social and political history, the post-Mauryan period was one of the culmination, in various spheres of culture it saw the inaugurating and founding of fundamental trends. Below we outline the chief new cultural developments and specimens of the time.

Religion The post-Mauryan period witnessed the emergence of those principles of religious belief and practice that we popularly recognize as Hinduism today. These can be summarized as bhakti and puja.

7.12

Chapter 7

Bhakti refers to devotion centred on a distinct personal or favourite god (ishtadeva) (rather than on the yajna or a nameless Brahman). It manifested itself in three main theistic cults based on the worship of Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti. While these deities were not new, the pre-eminence they shot into now, and the elaborate ritual attention paid to them, and complex mythologies built around them, were certainly new and spectacular. The co-existence of the worship of the three gods and goddess, who were the focus of independent sects but were part of a common pantheon, can be described as monolatry—the belief in a supreme god while acknowledging the existence of other gods. In fact the three deities, as well as Brahma, were seen as closely related and performing complementary functions. This is an important feature of this religion. For example, the concept of trideva is that Brahma is the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer; Shakti in her various forms (Durga, Kali, Bhadrakali, Lakshmi, etc.) also performs these roles, and figures as the consort to these gods as well. Another important feature is that these cults developed in a syncretistic fashion, bringing under their folds and assimilating a number of other subsidiary cults. For example, the Dashavatara concept associates the worship of Vishnu with that of ten other cults, including some that appear to be of non-Vedic and totemic origin, such as the varah (boar) and matsya (fish). The most popular of the avataras who enjoyed a wide following already by this period is Vasudeva–Krishna. He emerges as the supreme god and author of the Bhagavad Gita, the most important Hindu scripture the composition of which belongs to this period. The most important mode of worship that characterizes religion from this period onwards is puja. Puja refers to ceremonial worship with the making of offerings such as flowers, fruits and camphor for the deity. The two natural accompaniments of this new form of ritual were image worship and worship in shrines/ temples evidence for both which can be traced to this period. They indicate growing institutionalization and permanence of cults. Shiva was most commonly worshipped in his linga (phallic) form. Earliest linga and man-like representations of Shiva are from second century bc Mathura. Idols of Vishnu and Vasudeva–Krishna and his brother Balarama and sister Ekanamsha increase in number and variety from the early centuries ce in central India, but their earliest images occur on coins from Ai-Kghanoum (Afghanistan) from second century bc. Earliest remains of stone temples are from those dedicated to Vishnu at Besnagar (Madhya Pradesh) and Nagari (Rajasthan) again from the second century bc. The most striking image of Shakti in this period is that Durga–Mahishasuramardini (The Slayer of the demon Mahishasura) on stone plaques from the Mathura area (first century bc–ad). Interestingly, Buddhism underwent transformation in this period along similar lines. In other words, the element of devotionalism came to dominate this creed which, in this form, is known as Mahayana (the Greater Vehicle) as opposed to Hinayana (the Lesser Vehicle), the older, orthodox and austere form. A central difference was that in Mahayana the highest goal was not that of attaining nirvana for oneself and disappearing from the cycle of life and death, but to be a Bodhisattva or the one who, although he had attained perfection himself, renounces nirvana so as to continue in the world for ages and work for the spiritual welfare of others. Great compassion (mahakaruna) and universal altruism are the key elements of the Bodhisattva ideal. This had a special messianic appeal that inspired bhakti and self-surrender to the lofty-minded and merciful bodhisattva. The direct result of these ideas was the deification of the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas and their worship in the form of images in shrines. This was a significant change from the earlier faith where the Buddha was worshipped only

Contact with the Outside World: The Post-Mauryan Period

through symbols like the Bodhi tree. Mahayanism, which was vigorously patronized by Kanishka who organized a great council in Kashmir, thus popularized the practice or worshipping at stupas and chaityas which proliferated in the postMauryan period. It also marked a greater use of Sanskrit in Buddhist scriptures and the growth of a Buddhist pantheon and mythology consisting of five dhyani buddhas, bodhisattvas like Maitreya, Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri, as well as female consorts known Tara. Among the famous philosophers who espoused Mahayana ideas were Nagarajuna (second century ad) and Vasubandhu (fourth century ad). Jainism also witnessed a schism or split in its ranks into the Digambara and the Shvetambara sects. The difference between the two related chiefly to rules of monastic discipline. Digambara monks, believing in absolute renunciation, did not wear clothes and walked nude, while the Shvetambaras wore white garments. The former received alms in their cupped hands and did not carry alms bowls, whereas the latter carried the vessel and ate out of it. They also accepted that women had the potential to attain salvation, whereas the Digambaras denied this. Eventually the Shvetambaras came to predominate in western India and the Digambaras in the south. They received the patronage of wealthy political and social elites. At the level of Jaina lay practice, the post-Mauryan period saw the development of a temple cult and related rituals which, interestingly, did not involve any intermediary monastic or priestly class. A number of images of Jainas and tirthankaras have been found from sites like Kankali Tila (Mathura) from 200 bce onwards while Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves in Odisha were the centres of Jaina monasticism.

Literature 200 bce–300 ce is a fairly prolific period in terms of production of literature, particularly a larger range of texts—religious and secular, technical and creative. These 500 years occupy an important place in the evolution of the epics—Mahabharata

Mahabharata: The Epic

7.13

7.14

Chapter 7

400 bce–400 ce and Ramayana 500 bce–300 ce. They also saw the compiling of law books known as the dharmasmritis which, together with the earlier dharmasutras (500–200 bce), comprise the bulk of the dharmashastra or socio-legal corpus. The Manusmriti, Naradasmriti and Yajnavalkyasmriti enshrine the fundamental principles of varnashramadharma and patriarchy that constituted the base of brahmanical society for centuries. The post-Mauryan period is significant for the composition of a number of philosophical treatises of the classical schools of early Indian orthodox philosophy. Jaimini’s Mimamsasutra of the second century bc emphasized Vedic ritual as the embodiment of dharma and the means to salvation. ­Badarayana wrote the Brahmasutra at about the same time. It is a key text of the early school of Vedanta which aimed at enquiring into the nature of Brahman (the universal spirit) and atman (the individual soul). Kanada’s Vaisheshikasutra, written between second century bc and first century ad, is an exposition on pluralistic realism which means that it aimed at classifying and explaining the special (vishesha) features of the multiple things that exist in the world (they enunciated a theory of atoms). Gotama’s Nyayasutra of the first century ad laid down the parameters of formal, step-by-step method of logic and reasoning. The Samkhyakarika of Ishvarakrishna belongs to the fourth-fifth century ad—the philosophy is much older, though, and revolves around the concepts of purusha (soul) and prakriti (matter) out of the union of which the universe comes into being and through the rupture between which liberation of the soul can be attained. Finally, the Yogasutras, ascribed to Patanjali, are a manual of Yogic thought and practice. They prescribe a series of exercises, physical and mental, to achieve cessation of the activities of the mind (cittavrittinirodha) whereby tranquillity and liberation can be achieved. All the works discussed so far were in Sanskrit. Works in Pali and Prakrit espousing Buddhist thought or chronicling the life of the Buddha also date to our period. For example, the Jatakas (300 bce–100 bce), the Nidanakatha and Milindapanho (100 bce–100 ce). However, the Mahavastu, a Hinayana text, is in mixed Prakrit–Sanskrit as in the Mahayanist Lalitavistara (100–200 ce) while the Avadanashataka (200 ce) on the life of Ashoka, is in Sanskrit only. An interesting aspect is represented by the technical treatises on a variety of ‘secular’ themes that are associated with our period. These include Patanjalis’s Mahabhashya, a commentary on Panini’s grammar, and Pingala’s Chhandasutra, a work on metrics. Parts of the Mauryan work on statecraft, the Arthashastra, were also composed in the post-Mauryan. Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra, an exposition on pleasure especially of the sexual kind, belongs to the end of our period. And so do the twin medical treatises, Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, though they were added to subsequently. They lay down with an astonishing degree of expertise and accuracy a comprehensive approach to human and even animal physiology, diagnosis of disease and treatment. Finally, to the post-Mauryan period can also be traced our earliest surviving kavyas or highly aesthetic, creative literature which includes poetry, drama, novel and biography. Ashvaghosha’s Buddhacharitam and Saundaranandam in Sanskrit were composed in the first century ad (he was patronized by Kanishka) while Bhasa’s 13 plays, such as Avimaraka, Svapnavasavadatta and Karnabharam, also belong to the first three centuries ad. An erotic poem, Gathasattasai, in Prakrit is attributed to a Satavahana king, Hala. The classical phase of Kavya writing followed in the Gupta period.

Contact with the Outside World: The Post-Mauryan Period

Art

and

7.15

Architecture

Post-Mauryan art has the following broad characteristics: • It is structural art, meaning that it was originally part of architectural structures like the gateways, railings and facades of stupas, chaityas, viharas and temples; • It is by and large narrative, describing scenes from myths and legends to do with divine and semi-divine beings, and also depicting signs and symbols; • It is regarded as popular art, representing the folk spirit of commoners, unlike Mauryan art which was royal and stately; • It is overwhelmingly religious in nature and predominantly Buddhist. It should be noted, however, that the earliest brahmanical stone temples and sculpture are also from this period. A Vishnu temple stood at Vidisha (Besnagar) from the third century bc onwards in the vicinity of the famous Heliodorus pillar which was a Garuda column dedicated to Vishnu by a Greek ambassador called Heliodorus. Remains of a Vishnu shrine are also found at Nagari (third century bc), of a Lakshmi temple (200–50 bce) at Atranjikhera, a Durga temple at Sonkh (100–200 ce) and one Vishnu and five Shiva temples at Nagarajunakonda (400 ce). A number of stone statues and reliefs depicting four-armed Vishnu, Krishna–Balarama– Ekanamsha triads, Govardhana–Krishna, Shiva lingas and Mahishasuramardini have been found from various sites, as already mentioned. The post-Mauryan period is the take-off stage for Buddhist architecture. It was the establishment of a large number of stupas (done-shaped funerary mounds preserving relics of the Buddha or special monks), chaityas (shrines) and viharas (monasteries) of varying size in every part of the subcontinent.

Architectural of C haitya

structure

7.16

Chapter 7

Chaitya Cave–with Buddhist Statue, Pune Maharashtra

In the north-west a large monastic complex was revealed at Takht-i-Bhai while Taxila yielded a number of stupas and chaityas including the huge Dharmarajika stupa. The stupas at Sanchi and Bharhut in central India are the best known. These were equipped with a stone circumambulatory path (pradakshina patha), two flights of stairs (sopana) at the base, stone balustrades (vedika) at the ground and a stone umbrella (chhattra) on the summit. Four gateways (torana) and a stone railing enclosed the stupa compound. Sculptural decoration was confirmed to these parts and was not done on the stupa itself. It consisted of narrative scenes from the Jatakas and also symbols like the triratna, and figures like yaksha and nagas.

Buddhist Architectures Dhamek Stupa, Sarnath

Buddha Statue

at

Karla Cave, Lonavala, Maharashtra

Contact with the Outside World: The Post-Mauryan Period

And then there are the rock-cut caves in the Western Ghats at sites like Bhaja, Pitalkhora, Nasik, Karle, Kanheri and Bedsa. These included chaityas, initially cut parallel to the rock-face and later perpendicular to the entrance facing directly the object of worship within, and viharas, some of these two-storeyed with cells arranged around a central hall and consisting of rockcut bed and pillow for the monks. A number of important Buddhist establishments were also located in Andhra, for example, at Amaravati (with its mahachaitya, now lost), Jaggayyapeta and Nagarajunakonda. The profuse inscriptions found at most Buddhist sites of the period show that they enjoyed the support of not only royalty but, more so, commoners like artisans, merchants, guilds, Yavanas, monks and nuns who appear as donors. Mention may also be made of the Jaina caves at Udayagiri and Khandagiri in Odisha. These consisted of only tiny, stark and plain monastic cells cut into the sandstone caves. The outer facade sometimes bore ornamentation. They were patronized by the Chedis of Kalinga. As regarding stone sculpture, two important schools developed in the post-Mauryan period. The Gandhara School flourished in the north-west from Gateway, Buddhist Stupa, Sanchi the first to the fifth century ad. It used blue schist stone and later lime plaster. Its themes were Indic, chiefly Buddhist, but its style showed a distinct Graeco-Roman influence. For instance, both standing and seated images of the Buddha show naturalism in body forms, muscular physique, heavy, three-dimensional folds of garments, sharp facial features and wavy or curly hair. Scenes from the Jataka tales were also depicted by this school including the famous Fasting Siddhartha statue from Sikri, Pakistan, that shows the prince in a striking state of emaciation.

Chaitya Hall Doorway, Pune, Maharashtra

Chaitya Hall Facade, Pune, Maharashtra

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7.18

Chapter 7

The Mathura school flourished under Kushana rule. Its distinguishing feature was the use of local red, mottled sandstone. Images of the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas are in a clearly indigenous style, showing a heavy, fleshy body, thin, clinging garments, stiff smile and shaved head. Numerous other relief subjects in this school include Jataka tales, Hindu and Jaina images, amorous couples, yaksha–yakshis, etc. The burst of cultural effort in the post-Mauryan period sampled above should be understood against the larger background of proliferation of centres of political power, a burgeoning economy, prospering, upwardly mobile social groups, institutionalization of religious cults and interaction with foreign traditions. (Refer Chapter 11 to get some more information on Art and Architecture of post mauryan period.)

Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach

7.19

1. What was the impact of trans-regional and trans-continental trade in the post Mauryan period on social and cultural life of India? [2018]

The Right Approach

• Focus should be on trans-regional and trans-continental trade. • Mention about the rule of several dynasties of external origin as Indo-Greeks and Indo-Bactrians • Growth of Hellenistic cultural influences • Remarkable growth in craft productions, active trade activity both external and internal led to emergence of new economic centres as Varanasi, Kashi, Madurai and Kanchi. • Draw a map showing trans-regional and trans-continental trade during the post Mauryan period. (Refer pgs. 7.5–7.8)

2. The period of Indian History from 3rd century bce to 5th century bce was the period of innovation and interaction. How will you react?  [2017]

The Right Approach • • • •

• Innovation and interaction should be discussed in terms of developments in metallurgy, discovery of monsoon and exploring trade routes across the world, interactions with Indo-Greeks, Shakas, Kushanas, Pallavas and with the people of different faiths across the sub-continent. Reference of trans-regional and trans-continental trade Extensive trade network both external and internal led to growth of novel techniques for manufacturing products as steel weapons Renowned cities like Varanasi, Kashi, Madurai and Kanchi emerged. Draw a map showing trans-regional and trans-continental connections. (Refer pgs. 7.5–7.6) 3. ‘The changes in the field of art from the Kushanas period to early medieval period are mere reflection of changing outlook.’ Comment. [2016]

The Right Approach

• Give detailed explanation of ‘art’ during Kushanas. • Mention the similarities in art forms between Kushanas and early medieval period. (Refer pg. 7.5)

7.20

Chapter 7

4. Review critically the evolution of different schools of art in the Indian subcontinent between the second century bce and the third century ce, and evaluate the socio-religious factors responsible for it. [2015]

The Right Approach

• This question requires comprehensive analysis of different schools of art but ­special focus on Mathura and Gandhara school of art. • Mention Brahmanical stone temples and sculpture. • Mention about establishment of large number of stupas. • Give socio-religions factors behind it.

Chapter

8

The Gupta and Post-Gupta Periods

8.2

Chapter 8

The period from the fourth to the seventh centuries is important in Ancient Indian history, as it was a period of transitions in terms of political, social, economic, religious and cultural history. On the ruins of the Kushanas, we witness the rise of the Gupta dynasty in north India. The rulers of this dynasty were able to establish a vast empire that included almost the entire north India. The Guptas had certain geostrategic and material advantages that helped them to carve an empire. They operated from the fertile tracts of eastern UP and Bihar which had substantial impact on the growth of material culture within the empire. They also successfully extracted the iron ores of central India and Bihar to their advantage. Their period was marked by great progress in art, architecture and literature. They ruled up to circa 550

ce.

After the decline of the Guptas, there emerged various regional kingdoms in north India. Peninsular India too witnessed the rise of two important kingdoms: the first under the Chalukyas and the second under the Pallavas during 550–750 ce.

Objectives After reading this chapter, you will be able to: • Understand the origin and the rise of the Gupta empire and the achievements of its rulers • Explain the rise of regional kingdoms after the collapse of the Guptas • Critically analyse the nature of the political structure of Gupta and post-Gupta periods • Witness social and economic changes from c. 300–750 ce • Identify cultural developments with special reference to art, architecture and literature • Understand the developments in science and technology

Political History The Guptas seem to have emerged from obscure beginnings. It was traditionally conceived that the family ruled a relatively small territory in Magadha, but recent research outlines the western Ganges plain as a base. In the light of the Prayag Prashasti (Allahabad inscription), the findings of coin hoards of the Guptas found from this place and the Puranic description of Gupta territories, it is believed that they originated somewhere in eastern UP. The name, ‘Gupta’ could indicate that they belonged to the Vaishya caste, but some historians accord them Brahmana status. The eulogy on a later king of the dynasty envisages many small states subsequent to the decline of the Kushans, and theirs may have been one such. Epigraphic records tell us that Srigupta was the first king and Ghatotkacha was the next to follow him. These two kings are referred to as maharaja. The Chinese pilgrim Itsing also refers to Srigupta as the first Gupta ruler and his territory included a portion of Bengal. Ghatotkacha has been described as the son and successor of Srigupta in Gupta records and in Rewa inscription of Skandagupta, Gupta genealogy starts with Ghatotkacha.

The Gupta and Post-Gupta Periods

8.3

Various Scholars’ theory on Gupta’s Origin Scholars

Origin

K. P. Jayswal

The Guptas were Jats/Shudra origin

The Puranas

The Guptas originated from Magadha and Ganges regions and extended up to Bengal

R. C. Majumdar

The Guptas originated from Murshidabad or Rajshahi district of Bengal

S. K. Ayangar, A. S. Altekar

Vaishya origin

H. C. Roychaudhary

Brahmana origin

G. S. Ojha, R. C. Majumdar

Kshatriya origin

Origin of the Dynasty The dynasty came into its own with the accession of Chandragupta I, who made his kingdom more than a mere principality. Chandragupta married into the Lichchhavi family, once and old, established gana-sangha (republic) of north Bihar, now associated with kingdom in Nepal. The marriage set a stamp of acceptability on the family and was politically advantageous for them, since Chandragupta I made much of it in his coins. These coins have the names Chandragupta and his queen Kumaradevi engraved on the obverse and a seated goddess on the reverse with a legend Lichchhavayah (the Lichchhavis). These are the gold coins, and this fact in addition to the fact that the Guptas followed the weight system of the Kushana gold coins suggests that the Guptas had been in contact with the Kushana territories. Chandragupta’s rule extended over the Ganges heartland (­ Magadha, ­Saketa and Prayaga, according to Vayu Purana) and he took the title of Maharajadhiraja (great king of kings), although this ceased to have much significance since it was now used by many rulers, major and minor. The Gupta era of 319-320 ce is thought to commemorate his accession. Some historians assign the extent of his kingdom beyond the Indus River on the strength of the Mehrauli Iron Pillar inscription in which, however, the king ‘Chandra’ mentioned is in all likelihood Chandragupta II of the Gupta dynasty.

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8.4

Chapter 8

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Map not to Scale Copyright © 2012 www.mapsofindia.com

Samudragupta Empire

Samudragupta claimed that he was appointed by his father to succeed him about 335 ce, a lengthy eulogy on him was inscribed on an Ashokan pillar, now at Allahabad, which provides the basic information on his reign. The eulogy, if it is to be taken literally, provides an impressive list of kings and regions that succumbed to Samudragupta’s triumphal march across various parts of the subcontinent. In the subsequent period, such lists of conquests were often part of the courtly rhetoric, but in his case, the exaggeration of a court poet may have been more limited. The emphasis seems to be on the payment of tribute rather than the annexing of territory. Four northern kings were conquered, mainly in the area around Delhi and the western Ganges plain. Kings of the south and the east were forced to pay homage, were captured and released. From the places mentioned, it appears

The Gupta and Post-Gupta Periods

that Samudragupta campaigned down the east coast as far as Kanchipuram (near modern Chennai). Nine kings of Aryavarta, in northern India, were violently uprooted; the rajas of the forest-peoples of central India and the Deccan were forced into servitude. In a sixth-century inscription, 18 forest kingdoms of central India are said to have been inherited by a local ruler, which suggests that the conquest of these areas began earlier. Kings in eastern India, as well as small kingdoms in Nepal and the Punjab are said to have paid tribute. Nine of what were earlier gana-sanghas in Rajasthan, including the age-old Malavas and Yaudheyas, were forced to accept Gupta suzerainty. In addition, more distant rulers such as the Daivaputra Shahanushahi (The Son of Heaven, King of Kings, clearly a Kushana title), the Shakas, and the King of Sinhala (Sri Lanka) also paid tribute, as did the inhabitants of all the islands. An interesting feature of the conquests is their variety and number, from chiefdoms to kingdoms. Samudragupta broke the power of the chiefdoms in the watershed and northern Rajasthan, which led to an unfortunate consequence for the later Guptas when the Huns invaded north-western India. Apart from this, the termination of these chiefdom was the death knell of the gana-sangha polity, which had held its own for a millennium as an alternative to monarchy. Regarding Sri Lanka, a later Chinese source provides evidence that Sinhala king sent presents and requested the Gupta king’s permission to build a Buddhist monastery at Gaya. Such a request can hardly be termed tribute, and it is probable that his relationship with other distant kings was similar. Who the ‘inhabitants of the islands’ were remains unclear and possibly refers to parts of south-east Asia hosting Indian settlements, with which contacts had increased. Samudragupta had more cause than other kings to perform the horse sacrifice when proclaiming his conquests.

Samudragupta’s Campaigns as per Prayag Prashasti The Allahabad pillar inscription is a reliable source to know about Samudragupta’s conquests and great qualities. The composer of this inscription was Harisena, the court poet, scholar and commander-in-chief of the army of Samudragupta. The conquests of Samudragupta may be divided into four groups. These are as follows:

Campaign Towards North Indian States The early years of his regime were spent in subduing the provinces of Gangetic plan called ‘Aryavarta.’ According to Allahabad inscription, he defeated nine kings in his northern campaigns and annexed them into his empire. He called it as ‘Digvijaya.’ The nine kings of Aryavarta defeated by him were Nandin, Balavarman, Nagasena, Rudradeva, Chandravarman, Mathila, Gangapathinaga, Nagadatta and Achyuta. The policy put forward to conquer north Indian states is mentioned in Prayag Prashasti as Rajaprasabhodhharan (defeating and annexing the regions to the main empire).

Campaign Towards Forest Kingdoms Samudragupta conquered the forest kingdoms of Jabalpur, Reva, Nagpur and Bundelkhand in the Vindhya region (central India). The name of the policy to conquer such states is Paricharikakrita (using the people of the defeated tribes as servants).

8.5

8.6

Chapter 8

South Indian Campaign After firmly consolidating his authority in the north, Samudragupta turned his attention towards the south, and he launched an expedition and his army travelled for about 3000 miles. He defeated the 12 kings of south India. But they were reinstated in their respective positions. These kings became his vassals and they accepted to pay tributes. He called this dharmavijaya. The 12 south Indian kings defeated by Samudragupta were as follows: 1. Mahendra of Kosala 2. Vyagraraja of Mahakantara 3. Mantharaja of Kowrala

Map

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Kingdoms Conquered

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Guptas

The Gupta and Post-Gupta Periods

4. Mahendra of Pistapura 5. Swamydatta of Kottura 6. Damana of Yarandapalli 7. Vishnugopa of Kanchi 8. Hastivarman of Vengi 9. Neelaraja of Avamukta 10. Ugrasena of Palakkad 11. Kubera of Devarashtra 12. Dhananjaya of Kustalapura The policy used for such states was Karadanajnanukaranapranamagamana. The defeated vassals were supposed to pay taxes to the Gupta kings, pay regular gifts, obey royal orders and had to regularly pay visits to Gupta kings to accept the suzerainty of the Guptas.

Conquests of Border States The boundary states conquered by Samudragupta were Kamarupa in Assam, Samatata in Bengal, Kartripura in Punjab and Rohilkhand. After these conquests, Samudragupta performed ‘Ashwamedha sacrifice’ to commemorate his victory. He took the title ‘Ashwamedha Parakrama.’ He issued gold coins with the figure of horse on them. They were on among the eight types of gold coins issued by him. Among the Gupta kings, Chandragupta II, (the son of Samudragupta) is reputed to have occupied significant place in history. His eventful reign of about four decades from c. 375 to 415 ce had a rather obscure beginning. A play of relatively later date, Devichandra-guptam, describing the events on the death of Samudragupta, mentions Ramagupta as the son who succeeded Samudragupta. According to the play, Ramagupta was defeated in battle by the Shakas, to whom he then agreed to surrender his wife, Dhruvadevi. Incensed by this incident, his younger brother Chandragupta disguised himself as the queen and killed the Shaka king. This action made him popular among the people but developed enmity between him and his brother Rama. He finally killed Rama and married Dhruvadevi. The finding of the coins of Ramagupta, and of inscriptions describing Dhruvadevi as Chandragupta’s wife, lend some validity to the story. With regard to Chandragupta’s conquests, his major campaign was against the Shakas. The campaign resulted into the annexation of western India, which was commemorated by the issuing of special silver coins. This victory remained fruitful in two ways. It not only secured the western frontier of India but also it gave impetus to the western trade since the ports were now in Gupta hands. Besides these, the western Deccan, earlier held by the Satavahanas, was ruled by the Vakataka dynasty which emerged as a dominant power in the Deccan.

Administration The Gupta kings usually took esteemed imperial titles, such as Maharajadhiraja, ‘the greatest king of kings’; Parameshvara, ‘the supreme lord’, yet in later periods these titles were exaggerated since their claimants had relatively meagre political power when compared with the ‘greater kings’ of earlier centuries. These grand titles echo those of the rulers of the north–west and beyond and like them carry the flavour of divinity.

8.7

8.8

Chapter 8

In the Ganges plain, under the direct control of the Guptas, the king was the focus of administration assisted by the princes, ministers and advisers. Princes or yuvaraj also held important positions rather like viceroys of provinces. The province (desha, rashtra or bhukti) was divided into a number of districts (pradesha or vishaya), each district having its own administrative offices. Nevertheless for all practical purposes, local administration was distant from the centre. Decisions with regard to policy or in relation to individual situations, were usually taken locally, unless they had a specific bearing on the policy or orders of central authority. This kind of administration was significantly different from that of the Mauryans. Whereas, Mauryan kings like Ashoka insisted that he be kept intimated of the happenings of the state, the Guptas seemed satisfied with leaving it to the kumaramatyas and ayuktakas. The evidence from inscriptions and seals suggests that the Gupta administration was more decentralized, with officials holding more than one of office unlike the centralized state structure of the Mauryas. Harsha’s efforts such as his tours were similar to those of a royal inspector since he looked into the general working of administration and tax collection, listened to complaints and made charitable donations. There were different categories of villages in the Gupta and post-Gupta period: grama, palli, hamlet; gulma, a military settlement in origin; khetaka, also a hamlet; and others. They were under the control of rural bodies consisting of the headman and the village elders, some of whom held the office of the grama-adhyaksha or the kutumbi. With regard to urban administration, the city usually had a council consisting of the nagarashreshthin, the head person who presided over the city corporation; the sarthavaha, the head of the guild of merchants; the ­prathama-kulika, a representative of the artisans; and the prathama-kayastha, the chief scribe. There is a sharp contrast between this council and the committee described by Megasthenes and Kautilya. During Mauryan times, the government appointed such committees, whereas in the Gupta system, the council consisted of local representatives, among whom commercial interests often predominated. The interests of the state in imparting administration differed in case of the Mauryas and the Guptas. On the one hand, the Mauryan state was primarily interested in collecting revenue from an existing economy, and in expanding agriculture through the intervention of the state, the Gupta state and its contemporaries, on the other hand made initial attempts at restructuring the agrarian economy. The system under the Guptas developed from the notion that granting land as a support to the kingship could be more sustainable than the performance of a sacrifice, and that land was appropriate as a mahadana or ‘great gift’. This investment by the king was also intended to improve the cultivation of fertile, irrigated lands and to encourage the settlement of wasteland. Outlying regions could therefore be brought into the larger agrarian economy, and the initial grants tended not to be in the Ganges heartland but in the areas beyond. There was gradually less emphasis on the state in establishing agricultural settlements, with recipients of land grants being expected to take the initiative. Lands were granted to religious beneficiaries, monasteries or to officers. This did not generate revenue for the state, but it allowed some shuffling of revenue demands at the local level and created small centres of prosperity in rural areas that, if imitated, could lead to wider improvement. If the land granted to Brahmans (whether as ritual beneficiaries or as officers) was wasteland or forest, the grantee took on the role of a pioneer in introducing agriculture. Brahmans became profi-

The Gupta and Post-Gupta Periods

cient in supervising agrarian activities, helped by manuals on agriculture, such as the Krishi-Parashara, which may date to this or the subsequent period. Some normative texts forbid agriculture to the Brahmans, except in dire need, but this did not prevent Brahmanical expertise in agricultural activity. Commercial activities were carried out through donations to guilds, even if the interest was to go to a religious institutions, and by placing commercial entrepreneurs in city councils and in positions with a potential for investment and profit. The range of taxes coming to the state from commerce was expanded, which in turn required an expansion in the hierarchy of officials. Although the system of land grant was at first marginal, by about the eighth century ce, it had expanded, gradually resulting in a political economy that was recognisably different from pre-Gupta times. There was the tendency that kings who annexed neighbouring k ­ ingdoms at times converted the defeated kings into tributary or subordinate rulers, often referred to as feudatories. Agreements were also negotiated with such rulers. The term ‘samanta’, originally meaning neighbour, ­gradually changed its meaning to a tributary ruler. This implied more defined r­ elationships b ­ etween the king and local rulers, relationships that became crucial in l­ater times with a tussle between royal demands and the ­aspirations of the ­samantas. Where the latter were strong, the king’s power weakened. But he needed the acquiescence of the samantas—the samanta-chakra or circle of samantas—to keep his prestige. Samantas were in the ambiguous position of being potential allies or enemies. In addition to the tributary rulers, grants of land had created other categories of intermediaries. Grants to religious beneficiaries included some to temples, monasteries and Brahmans. Such grants to temples empowered the sects that managed the temples. Villages could also be given as a grant to a temple for its maintenance. This added local administration to the role of the temple, in addition to being an area of sacred space. At a time when land grants were tokens of special favour, the grant to the Brahman must have underlined his privileged position. The agrahara grant of rent-free land or a village that could be made to a collectivity of Brahmans, the brahmadeya grant to Brahmans, and grants to temples and monasteries, were exempt from tax. The Brahmans were often those proficient in the Vedas, or with specialized knowledge, particularly of astrology. Gifts to Brahmans were expected to ward off the evils of the present Kali Age, and recourse to astrology appears to have been more common. Grants of land began to supersede monetary donations to religious institutions. Land was more permanent, was heritable and the capital less liable to be tempered with. Such grants were more conducive to landlordism among Brahmans grantees, although the monasteries did not lag too far behind. Another significant feature of this period was that officers were occasionally rewarded by revenue from grants of land, which were an alternative to cash salaries for military or administrative service. This is mentioned in some land-grant inscriptions from this period onwards, and also in the account of Hiuen Tsang. Such grants were fewer in number. Not all grants to Brahmans were intended for religious purposes since there were many literate Brahmans performing official functions. Vassalage, involving a warrior class with ties of obedience and protection, is not commonly met with. These grants distanced the owners from the control of the central authority, thus predisposing administration to be more decentralized. Those with substantial grants of land providing revenue could together accumulate sufficient power and

8.9

8.10

Chapter 8

resources to challenge the ruling dynasty. If in addition they could mobilize support from peer groups and others such as the forest chiefs, or coerce the peasants into fighting for them, they could overthrow the existing authority and establish themselves as kings, at least on the fringes of the kingdom. Brahmans as religious beneficiaries were granted land, ostensibly in ­return for legitimizing and validating the dynasty, or averting a m ­ isfortune through the correct performance of rituals or the king-earning merit. ­Lineage links with heroes of earlier times were sought to enhance status through a presumed descent. If the grant was substantial enough, the grantee could become the progenitor of a dynasty through appropriation of power and resources. The grants were also part of a process of proselytizing where the grantee sought to propagate his religion. Many grants were made to ­Brahmans proficient in the Vedas, but when they settled near forested ­areas, or in villages already observing their own beliefs and rituals, the very ­different observances of the Brahmans may have created tensions requiring a negotiated adjustment on both sides. In this situation, the Puranic sects were useful mediators between Vedic Brahmanism and the religions of the local people. Even if the Brahman took over the ritual of the priest, he would have needed to incorporate local mythology and iconography into the ­flexible and ever-expanding Puranic sects.

Social-Economic Changes The projection of the Gupta and post-Gupta period as continuation of the fourfold division of the Varna-System is however, contested by the fact that the Puranas offer descriptions of Kaliyuga in terms of foreign i­ nvasions, i­ nstability, social tension, struggle and teaching of hedonistic sects. But m ­ odern historians like R. S. Sharma ascribes the origin of ­Kaliyuga to mixing of castes leading to its proliferation (Varna Sankara) and the rise of Shudras on the beginning of the fourth century. Hence, it was a ­period of s­ ocial ­crises. According to Sharma, this was an age of a­ nimosity between ­Brahmans and shudras, Vaishyas refusing to perform yajnas on ­tax-burdened ­subject p ­ opulation. The period also witnessed law and ­order problem, thefts, u ­ nsecured family and property, ­increasing ­materialism and ­decreasing ­religions rituals, sovereignty of Mleccha (­ low-caste) kings. ­Various inscriptions of the Vakatakas of Vidarbha and Pallavas of ­Kanchipuram are quoted to explain that they acted together against K ­ aliyuga. Brahmanization of villages under the Vakatakas and Pallavas is supposed to indicate social disorder. It is believed that the rulers declared the coming of Kaliyuga from the fourth century onwards. The rise of various dynasties such as the ­Vakatakas, Pallavas, Gangas and Kadambas is supposed to indicate B ­ rahmanical r­ eactions against the Shudras as these dynasties originated from ­Brahmana families. From the latter half of the Gupta period, and particularly the V ­ akatakas and Pallavas enforced strict rules according to Varna-order to deal with ­Kaliyuga. The principal mechanism and guiding force of continuing Kaliyuga was landgrants. It is amply clear that the Guptas and their contemporaries b ­ egan to grant land to religious donees, Brahmanas and temple-priests, and later to secular donees, ministers, civil and army officers, and even ­merchants. Thus, began the age of landed-intermediaries intervening between states and ­peasants. Land grants gave rise to a graded rural society, and ranking s­ tatus and ranks which did not fit into Varna-order: Mahamandalika, ­Mandalika, Mandaleshwara, Mahasamanta, etc., as mentioned in Aparajitaprachha (a book of architecture) but a receipt (critique of the

The Gupta and Post-Gupta Periods

above thesis by Hermann ­Kulke, B. D. Chattopadhyay and B. P. Sahu clearly indicates that the concept of Kaliyuga, popularized by Brahmanas has to be viewed in the context of state formation process. Rural society had to be initiated in the norms of state society in regions where local state formation was taking place for the first time. Taxes and resources had to be mobilized for the first time from a rural population which was getting families with state and its administration and military institutions. The fear of Kaliyuga forced communities to conform to social and political order in regions which were going through processes of state formation for the first time. Secondly, a detailed study of epigraphical records reveals that land grants did not introduced a graded society for the first time. B. D. Chattopadhyaya and Nandini Sinha Kapur in their case studies have demonstrated a hierarchical rural society in Bengal, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Gujarat in which Brahmana and non-Brahmana landlords, peasants, artisans and landless labourers constituted rural society before the beginnings of the practice of land grants. One of the most important social developments in this period was proliferation of castes or jatis. A large number of castes originated with incorporation of economic specialists, tribes and immigrants from central Asia into the Brahmanical Varna Society. Categories of slaves were drawn more commonly from the lower castes and untouchables. The Dharmashastras of this time mention details of slaves and indicate a greater use of slave labour. But hired labour seems to have been used on larger scale than before. Prisoners of war, debt bondsmen and slaves born to slave women formed the usual sources of slaves. The largest number of slaves seems to have been employed in domestic work. Bonded labour, hired labour and those required to perform stipulated jobs as a form of Vishti, forced labour or labour tax constituted important part of agricultural labour. Caste regulations prevented the untouchables to be hired as domestic labour and untouchables constituted a permanent landless labour. Fa Hien, a Chinese Buddhist monk who was on pilgrimage to India in the years from 405 to 411 ce, collecting Buddhist manuscripts, describes general happiness of ordinary people. But Fa Hien also mentions practices like untouchables sounding a clapper in the street of the town to warn people of their presence, as an upper-caste person had to perform a ritual ablution. Hiuen Tsang states that butchers, fishermen, theatrical performers, executioners and scavengers were forced to live outside the city and their houses were marked so that they could be avoided. However, Chinese Buddhist marks offer an overall pleasant picture of the Indian society. Another important indicator of social structure is the social construction of gender relations. Idealized form of women in literature and art tend to give the impression that women generally enjoyed a higher social status. But historians like Romila Thapar point out that such idealized women conformed to the male ideals of the perfect women and such ideals placed women in the subordinate position. Limited education was permitted to upper-caste women but certainly not to provide professional expertise. Women’s access to property or inheritance was limited and varied according to caste, custom and region. Although matrilineal systems might have existed among some social groups in the earlier times, normative texts supported p ­ atriarchy. Hence, groups wanting upward social mobility adopted ­patriarchy. C ­ haracteristic of the status of upper-caste women in later centuries was that early marriages were advocated. A widow was expected to live in austerity while a widow of the Kshatriya caste was expected to immolate herself

8.11

8.12

Chapter 8

on the funeral pyre of her husband, especially if he had died a hero’s death; this would make her a Sati. The earliest historical evidence for this practice dates from 510 ce, when it was commemorated in an inscription at Eran. Subsequently, incidents of Sati increased. Small number of women chase to opt out of the ‘normal’ house-holding activities required of woman, and became nuns, or trained to be courtesans or joined troupes of performers.

Economic Changes: Fourth–Seventh Centuries

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ce

The changes in the agrarian economy introduced in the Gupta period have been already noted in the section on administration. The most important innovation in the agricultural sector was the introduction of land grant economy. Initially, religious donees were exempted from payment of revenue (land-tax) and later received administrative judiciary rights over the villages. However, economic advantages of land grant donated to religious specialists like Brahmanas were more important than the royal act of giving away since land to Brahmanas and later officials. The astronomical knowledge of Brahmanas about agricultural seasons, calendar and agricultural manners brought considerable amount of land under cultivation. Thus, ­historians like R. S. Sharma have accepted the phenomenon of agrarian ­expansion for early medieval India. Krishi-Parashara (agricultural ­manual) mentions vivid descriptions of fields and agricultural operations of this ­period. Although revenue-free land grants to religious and secular donees did not bring immediate revenue to state, these grants initiated rural prosperity and bound villages in a wider economic network. If the land donated to Brahmanas was wasteland or forest, the grantee took the initiatives of introducing agriculture. This was especially true of forest and tribal areas. Brahmanas possessed technical and astronomical knowledge of agricultural operations. Brahmanas became proficient in supervising agrarian activities, assisted manual on agriculture, such as the Krishi-Parashara, which may be dated in the Gupta period or the subsequent period. One of the most important socio-economic changes was ‘peasantization’ of tribes in central Indian belt of Orissa, Assam, part of western and southern India. As the Brahmana donees arrived in the forests and hills of tribal India, they began to initiate a section of the tribal society into agricultural activities. The process brought two economic advantages to the state and society. More cultivable land was brought under agriculture generating more revenues for the expanding rural society and meeting increasing revenue demands. The part of the tribal society offered its labour for agriculture, forest, rural law and order, mining operations of public work in villages, etc. State revenue was derived from a variety of taxes from the land and trade. The debasement of the later Gupta coinage has been interpreted as recording a fiscal crisis. Harsha divided the income of the state into four as mention by Hiuen Tsang—quarter for government expenses, another quarter for the salaries of public servants, a third quarter for the reward of intellectual attainments and the last quarter for gifts. It has been argued that there was decay in urban centres at this time, pointing to the Gupta period economy having feudal characteristics. Town not only declined, but many suffered a visible termination of commerce. Excavation levels of the Kushana period show a prosperous condition. The insufficiency of agricultural

The Gupta and Post-Gupta Periods

produce to maintain towns has been attributed to climatic change, with increasing desiccation and aridity of the environment. A decrease in rainfall and the ill-effects of deforestation would also have affected agricultural production. A combination of these changes would have contributed to urban decline. However, the crucial question remains whether this urban decline was sub-continental or restricted to certain regions. It is i­ mportant to note that some town certainly declined, but it was not a sub-continental phenomenon and the reasons for decline varied. Apart from other environmental changes, there may have been other economic changes. The rise of new centres of exchange may have re-routed trade routes. New towns sprang up in the eastern Gangetic plain while Kanyakubja (Kannauj) continues to flourish as town with a prosperous agrarian hinterland. Paunar in the Deccan flourished during the Vakataka period. Vallabhi grew in commercial importance through the trade of the Arabian Sea in which affluent Arab traders were involved. The Indian merchants had become more assertive in central Asia and south-east Asia. In some parts of the sub-continent, the Gupta age was the concluding phase of the economic momentum that began in the proceeding period. In other parts, the sixth century witnessed emergence of new groups of merchants on the west coast. Sources of commercial wealth consisted of the produce from mines, plants and animals converted to items through craftsmanship. Gold was mined in Karnataka but panned in the mountain streams of the far north. The high-quality craftsmanship in gold is evident in the superbly designed and meticulously minted Gupta coins. They tend to be found in hoards and some are in mint conditions. High-value silk and a familiar weight standards facilitated commerce. The mining of copper and iron continued, being used for household items, utensils, implements and weapons. Among the most impressive metal objects of this period is the pillars of iron, now located at Mehrauli in Delhi, reaching a height of just over 23 feet and mode of a remarkably fine metal which has scarcely rusted. It carries an inscription referring to a king called Chandra, identified by some as Chandragupta II. Equally impressive is the life-size, copper statue of the Buddha. Ivory works, pearl fisheries of western India, cutting and polishing of a variety of precious stones—jasper, agate, carnelian, quartz, lapis-lazuli and bead-making of Ujjain and Bhokardan continued to flourish. The manufacture of various textiles had a vast domestic market dominating north–south trade within India, and there was also considerable demand for Indian textiles in Asian markets. Silk, muslin, Calico linen, wool and cotton were produced in quantity, and western India was one of the centres of silk weaving. However, in the latter half of the Gupta period, the production of silk may have declined, since many members of an important guild of ill-weavers in western India migrated inland to follow other occupations. Guilds continued to be vital in manufacture of goods and in commercial enterprise, and had their own laws regarding their internal organization. The guilds provided socio-economic support in some ways parallel to that of jati. The excessively high rates demanded in earlier times on loans for overseas trade were reduced to a reasonable 20 per cent, indicating a confidence in overseas trade. The lowering of the rate of interest also indicates the greater availability of goods and a possible decrease in rate of profit. The campaigns of Samudragupta to the east and the south, and the repeated tours of Harsha, would have required efficient communication and movement of goods. Ox-drawn carts were common on the roads and pack animals were used on rough terrain and elephants in heavily forested areas. The lower reaches of large rivers such, as Ganges, Narmada, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri were the main waterways. The ports of the eastern coast, such as Tamralipti and Ghanta Shala,

8.13

8.14

Chapter 8

handled the northern Indian trade, with the eastern coast and south-east Asia and those of the west coast traded with the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia. The ports and production centres of peninsular India that were involved in this maritime trade appear not to have declined at this time, but these were outside Gupta control. The overland trade with neither central nor west Asia had declined between the fourth and the seventh centuries. There appears to have been appreciable rise in the import of horses, coming from Iran and Bactria centres in northwest India, or from Arabia by sea to the western coast.

Religious Life The conventional historiography refers to the Gupta age as a period of Brahmanical renaissance. A number of Brahmanical religion were flourishing in this period. Buddhism was still prevalent in some parts of the sub-continent and its rivalry with Shaivism had become well-known. But Buddhism was being influenced by ritual of worship of other religions. Buddhism had a following beyond the frontiers of India in central Asia, China and south-east Asia. Religious practices currently in these regions were accommodated in the practices of the newly established Buddhism. Jainism received support from the merchant communities of western India and royal patronage from Karnataka and the south. In the early part of the sixth century, the second Jaina council was held at Vallabhi, and the Jaina canon was defined subsequently as it exists today. The use of Sanskrit was on the increase as it had become the prestigious language of the elite in many areas. But it isolated the religious teachers from a wide following. The Jains had evolved a series of icons such as straight standing figures or the cross-legged seated figures of Mahavira and other Tirthankaras. This long drawn process of societal interactions with tribal societies in parts of the sub-continent brought important changes among the tribal chiefs. The process of ‘peasantization’ invariably introduced forces of acculturation by the Brahmanas and a large number of tribal chiefs hired turned to agricultural entrepreneurship-hired tribal labour, and adopted some form of caste ranking and rituals from the Brahmanical society. Shaivism, Vishnuism, Shaktism and worship of Ganesha and Surya had become established in the form of Puranic religion by the Gupta period. In the post-Gupta period, the worship of the cult of Surya seems to have been confined to Gujarat and gradually disappeared. But the most important religious development in this period was the worship of Devi, all-encompassing female deity. Devi subsumed many substratum female deities associated with notions of fertility. Female deities became the nucleus of a number of rites, imbued with magical properties which in a later form were foundational to Tantrism. Devi was supposed to be the initiator of action, and of the power and energy—Shakti—of Shiva (it was held that the male God could only be activated through union with the female). That these ideas were influential can be seen from the temples dedicated to the Yoginis, females endowed with magical power and sometimes linked to goddesses. These temples of Yoginis have mostly survived in central India. Some of the mythology linked to the worship of the goddess was brought together in the text famously known as the Devi Mahatmya. It is important that assimilation of the cult of goddesses popular among the tribal population also enriched Tantric religion. The Shakti-Shakta cult became not only the fundamental belief in many religious sects, but also gradually attained a dominant status. The consorts of male deities were worshiped in their own right, such as Lakshmi the consort of Vishnu,

The Gupta and Post-Gupta Periods

or Parvati Kali and Durga who were various consorts of Shiva. Buddhism was also influenced by Tantric beliefs and rites. Tantric influence on Buddhism can be seen in the emergence Vajrayana sect of Buddhism (the Thunderbolt Vehicle) with its centre in eastern India. Vajrayana Buddhism gave female counterparts, the cult of Taras, to the existing male figures of the Buddhist pantheon. However, Hiuen Tsang noticed a decline in Buddhism at Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and some other places and mentioned the hostility of some rulers, such as Shashanka of Bengal towards Buddhism. Hence, Buddhism registered a decline on a sub-continental scale by the seventh century. Three important aspects of Vaishnavism and Shaivism that took place in this period were important religious developments in Brahmanical religion. The image emerged as the focus of worship and this form of worship, c­ entral on puja superseded the Vedic sacrifice. An animal to the image—often food or in some cases an animal—remained a requirement of the ritual. The reduction of the emphasis on the priest compared to his role in the sacrificial ritual of Vedic Brahmanism gradually led to devotional worship—­bhakti—becoming the most widespread form of the Puranic religion. Unlike the Vedic religion, the Puranic religion had a far wider appeal. The popular participation in religion including individual performance of rituals, travelling collectively to places of pilgrimage and promoting local mythologies. A few of the Puranas were written at this time, although it is difficult to date these precisely. Some of the Puranas are sectarian literature informing worshipper about the mythology, rituals of worship and observances associated with the particular deity to whom the Purana was dedicated. Some of the early Puranas, such as Vishnu Purana has a section on genealogies and dynasties of the past. It was an attempt at creating a historical tradition. The interaction of northern culture with that of the south, with the circuits of traders and regular routes of armies as well as Brahman settlers, resulted in the assimilation of some of the patterns, ideas and institutions of the north, while others were rejected or modified. The Brahmanas settled in Tamilaham saw themselves as keepers of what they now regarded as sacrosanct Vedic tradition. As keepers of the Vedic traditions, Brahmanas were venerated and gradually found patrons among the kings of the peninsula. The performance of rituals by the king was an avenue to high status. Although orthodox Brahmanas initially dismissed the devotional movement, the latter eventually proved more popular than other religious trends in the south and this was recognized even by royal patrons. The Tamil devotional movement was deeply affected by Vaishnavism and Shaivism in the choice of deity. These sects were among the early expressions of what has been called the Bhakti movement. Tamil devotionalism achieved a great wave of popularity in the hymns and poems of the Alvars and the Nayanars, the Vaishnava and Shaiva poets. The hymns dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu have been preserved Nalayira Divya Prabandham. Appar was one of the most popular Shaiva poets while Nammalvar and Tirumangai Alvar and the much revered woman poet, Andal were important Vaishnava poets. Some philosophers revitalized Vedic philosophy and established mathas and ghatikas (monasteries and centres for Vedic learning). The most effective way to make the Vedic philosophy acceptable and comprehensible to the educated was to reduce its obscurities. This was attempted by Shankaracharya, the profounder of new Vedanta philosophy, who accepted the challenges to Brahmanism from the Buddhists, the Jains and the popular devotional sects. He was born in Kerala, and wrote and taught in the eighth–ninth centuries, although he could be of a later period. Temples evolved as the centre of socio-religious life

8.15

8.16

Chapter 8

in peninsular India in our period of study. From the Pallava period onwards, the more prosperous temples maintained trained dancers, singers and musicians. This gave rise to the system of employing devadasis—the woman who served the deity—in many large temples, virtually all over India. Some among them became composers of devotional poems. Rock-cut temples were introduced in the Pallava period, the famous being monolithic temples at Mahabalipuram. Stone structural temples were built at Aihole in the sixth century (under the challenges of Vatapi), at Mahabalipuram—the famous shore temple—in seventh century, and at Kanchipuram.

Art and Patronage Very few examples of temple architecture have survived from the Gupta period. Architecture of the Gupta period temples was still in its formative period. Rockcut Buddhist caves at Ajanta and Ellora are the best examples of architecture. These were inspiration for the later Vaishnva and Shaiva, rock-cut temples at Ellora, Elephanta and Aurangabad. Buddhist stupas at Lalitagiri Ratnagiri and Udayagiri in Orissa continued to be built with patronage from rules and merchants. The caves at Ajanta were decorated with sculpture, mural paintings depicting the life of Buddha and the Jataka stories literary references to painting are frequent.

Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra

The Gupta and Post-Gupta Periods

The earliest temples were single cell housing the image of an idol, as at Sanchi, Aihole, Tigowa, Bhumara, Nachua Kothara, Lodh Khan and Deogarh among others. Worship in such temples was generally of Puranic deities—Vishnu, Shiva, Parvati, Durga and Varaha. The Dashavatara temple at Deogarh is, as the name implies, among the earliest dedicated to the incarnations of Vishnu. The architecture of the Shaiva and Vaishnava temples was constructed around the sanctum cella, the garbha-griha (literally the womb-house), the room in which the image of the deity was placed. The Buddhists in the Deccan continued to excavate rock-cut chaityas and the Vaishnavas, Shaivas, and Jains imitated these in later centuries, often excavating temples adjacent to the Buddhist caves. Temples that were free-standing and not rock-cut were generally built in stone became the medium for the increasingly monumental style (although there is an early brick temple at Bhitargaon). Classical sculpture reflecting a high aesthetic sensibility is visible, particularly in the Buddha images from Sarnath, Mathura, Kushinagara and Bodh Gaya. These sculptures inspired the portrayal of the more important Vaishnava and Shaiva deities as impressive coins. Vaishnava representations were either of the deity or of an incarnation, which allowed a wider range of images Shiva was most often represented as a lingam. Terracotta images continued to be popular and more accessible to masses. Stone sculptures were patronized by the rich only. A rare example of bronze sculpture of this period is the statue of Buddha found at Sultanganj.

Literature We have already mentioned about the compositions of early Puranas such as Vishnu Purana, Vayu Purana, Bhagvata Purana, Brahmanda Purana and Harivamsa Purana in this period in the section under religion. It has been noted that the Puranas are important sources not only for the study of Brahmanical religious but also for royal genealogy and historical traditions. We have also mentioned the Bhakti hymns composed by the Vaishnava Alvar and Shaiva Nayanar saints of south India for the study of religious developments in this period. It is also important to note that the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, which were first epics to be codified, are important sources for socio-religious-political history. In this section, we shall highlight creative literature which became the source of studies of dramaturgy, poetry and literary theory in the subsequent period. The famous Natya-Shastra of Bharata, foundational treatise on dance, drama and poetry can be possibly be dated to these times. Literary criticism and theory of Rasa emerged as an important feature of creative literature. The ruling elite, the court and the aristocracy, the urban rich patronized ­poetry and prose in Sanskrit. Kalidasa, the poet in the court of Gupta emperor, Chandragupta II, was an extraordinary poet and dramatist whose work enhanced the prestige of the language and inspired later poetic forms. His play ­Abhijnana-Shakuntala and his long lyrical poem Meghaduta (cloud messenger) are considered ­examples in Sanskrit drama and poetics, respectively. Following ­Kalidasa’s works, Bharavi’s Kiratarjuniya, Magha’s Shishupala Vadha and the Bhat. t. ika-vya, and somewhat later Bhavabhuti’s Mâlatîmadhava are important examples of classical work in Sanskrit. The Mrichchhakatika (the little day cast) by Shudraka provides glimpses of urban life. Vishakhadatta chose to dramatize past political events in his Mudrarakshasa, a play on the overthrow of the Nanda king, and in Devi-Chandra-Gupta, on the bid for power by Chandragupta II. The fables of the Panchatantra and Subandhu’s Vasavadatta are acclaimed for social message and literary quality, respectively. Ba-n.abhat. t. a’s Harshacharita is an

8.17

8.18

Chapter 8

excellent example of both biography and Sanskrit phrase and so his narrative Kadamabari. Classical was the language of the court and its pronouncements through inscriptions. The dominance of Sanskrit dates to the Gupta period and continued until about the early second millennium ce, after which the regional languages were widely used. In the times of Delhi Sultanate and Mughals, court language was Persian. But the local language and cultures were not abandoned. They can be glimpsed in the use of Prakrit in various contexts such as in some inscription and in the languages of religious sects. The ­Natya-Shastra lists a number of languages and dialects, including those spoken by the lower castes and Chandalas. In addition to Sanskrit, literature in Prakrit also had its patronage among the Jaina merchants. The Paumacariyam of Vimalasuri, a Jain version of the Rama story is a good example of Prakrit and popular literature. We must note that high-status characters spoke Sanskrit whereas those of low social status and all the women spoke Prakrit in Sanskrit dramas. We shall now turn towards two near-contemporary statuses. The Vakatakas of Vidarbha were an important political power in central India and northern Deccan. We can envisage three tentative phases in the emergence of the state in Vidarbha under the Eastern Vakatakas (the Vakatakas of Nandivardhan while another branch, the Vakatakas of Vatsagulma rule in western Vidarbha). The first phase coincides with the early Vakataka rulers in the pre-Prabhavati Gupta regency period (Vindhyashakti to Rudrasena II) who ruled mostly in the fourth century. The second phase is that of Prabhavatigupta’s regency initiating a rupture in the Vakataka dominance over Vidarbha and increasing Gupta influence in the Vakataka court; and the third phase ran parallel to Pravarsena II’s reign marking intensive territorial and political integrative process in the Vakataka state formation and legitimation of the Vakataka power. A study of Pravarsena II’s 24 land grant charters clearly reveals step-wise territorial integration of Vidarbha and political incorporation of local chiefs into the Vakataka state. The Vakataka age was also remarkable for the evolution of a distinct regional style of architecture and iconography in central India. A probe into the land grant charters of the first 70 years of Maitraka male reveals that Saurashtra witnessed the formation of a regional state for the first time in the sixth century. The inscriptions of this period suggest the difficulties of territorial and political integration and the mechanisms devised by the Maitrakas in their attempts to achieve the political unification of Saurashtra. A probe into the territorial distribution of the land grants of the first 70 years clearly indicates the gradual integration of the areas that constitute the districts of Bhavnagar, Amreli and Kheda. The epigraphic evidence also suggests the integration of important non-Maitraka chiefs into the Maitraka state. Land grants to Brahmanas, Buddhist viharas and occasionally to temples, legitimized the authority of the Maitrakas in Bhavnagar, Amreli and Kheda, and facilitated the mobilization of resources from the countryside. The land grant charters carry the images and demonstrate the prerogatives of kingship and governmental power of the Maitrakas who were emerging as the first regional dynasty of Gujarat. Charters, when repeatedly read out in the countryside, would have not only introduced the Maitrakas as the new ‘sovereigns’ of the region with royal titles and an impressive genealogy, but would also have implied their territorial claims. The political motifs in the charters helped sanction royal status to the Maitrakas in their transition from ‘chiefship’ to ‘kingship’. When the Maitrakas made grants of land for the first time in Saurashtra, they began the pro-

The Gupta and Post-Gupta Periods

cess of extending Maitraka sovereignty into the countryside of the region. As grants were made only in the districts of Bhavnagar, Amreli and Kheda in the first 70 years, their ­location indicates a neat pattern of step-wise territorial integration. The titles of the Maitraka kings suggest the process of the political incorporation of local chiefs, which ran parallel to territorial integration. Lists of officials and taxes that form a part of these charters need not be understood as instruments for the exploitation of rural society; they could be interpreted as a means of familiarizing people with royal norms and the administrative apparatus of the newly emerging government of the Maitraka dynasty. Finally, the grants of Maitrakas were not responsible for the emergence of Brahmana landlord; pre-Maitraka Saurashtra had a highly stratified rural society that already included Brahmana and non-Brahmana landlords.

Map

of

Pallavas, Chalukyas

and

Harshavardhana

8.19

8.20

Chapter 8

With the passing of the Guptas and their immediate successors in Northern India, historical interest shifts southwards to the Deccan and to the areas referred to as Tamilaham. The political history of the Deccan and further south focused on the long years of conflict between two geographical regions, the western Deccan and Tamilaham—the vast plateau areas enclosed by mountains along the coasts on the one hand, and the fertile plain south of Chennai on the other. The Vakatakas in the western Deccan gave way to Chalukya power with a base in Vatapi/Badami. A series of kingdoms, south from the eastern Deccan included those ruled by the Shalankayanas and later the eastern Chalukyas; the Ikshvakus in the Krishna–Guntur region, with Nagarjunakonda and Dharanikota as important centres, and with the Vishnukundins ruling close by. Control over Karnataka was divided between the Kadambas, Nolambas and Gangas. Hence, the claim that some were of the brahmana–kshatriya caste—Brahmans performing Kshatriya functions or who could claim mixed Brahman and Kshatriya ancestry. For 300 years after the mid-sixth century, three major kingdoms were in conflict. These were the Chalukyas of Badami, the Pallavas of Kanchipuram and the Pandyas of Madurai, all seeking to control the fertile tracts. The Chalukyas first came into prominence as subordinate rulers of the Kadambas, from whom they broke away. The Chalukya base was in northern Karnataka at Vatapi/Badami and adjacent Aihole, from where they moved northwards to annex the former kingdom of the Vakatas, centred in Upper Godavari. They also annexed some western coastal areas, presumably because these now hosted the traders from across the Arabian Sea. The power from north was contained through the defeat of Harsha at the Narmada, by the Chalukya King Pulakeshin II, an event repeatedly referred to with pride in later Chalukya inceptions. The e­ astern part of the Satavahana kingdom, the deltas of the Krishna and the Godavari, had been conquered by Ikshvaku dynasty in the third century ce. Ikshvaku rule ended with the conquest of this region by the Pallavas. The latter were also responsible for the overthrow of the Kadamba rulers and the annexation of their kingdom, which lay to the south of Chalukya kingdom.

The Gupta Age: The Myth of the Golden Age The period has been debated and a rich historiography is available for the study of this period. A brief outline on the major schools of historical writings would familiarize us with the shifts in the study of India of the Guptas and Harsha. The colonial or imperial historians like Vincent Smith of British India dubbed ancient India as a ‘dark age’, which enabled the British to divide and rule India. The nationalists in their reactions against an unfair portrayal of ancient India borrowed the periodization of Indian history (Ancient India is equivalent to Hindu India, Medieval India is equivalent to Muslim India, and British India is equivalent to British India and advent of Christianity). Nationalist historians like R. C. Majumdar, K. K. Datta and H. C. Raychaudhuri exaggerated the achievements of ancient India and coined the term ‘golden age’ for the Gupta period. To the nationalists, the Gupta period surpassed all other periods in ancient Indian history in its achievements in political unity, economic prosperity, art, architecture and literature. In the post-independence era, the Marxist historians in a critique of the nationalist historiography postulated the theory of ‘Indian Feudalism’ from the Gupta period onwards. The Marxist historians R. S. Gupta, B. N. S. Yadava, D. N. Jha, etc., propounded that the Guptas began with the regular prac-

The Gupta and Post-Gupta Periods

tice of land grants to Brahmanas with fiscal privileges and the post-Gupta rulers gave away administrative and judicial rights along with fiscal rights initially to Brahmana temples and on to officials and even to merchants. Hence, the Guptas and their successors including Harsha perpetuated a feudal political structure in which landed intermediaries ruled rural society .’ The period has been debated and a rich historiography is available for the study of this period. Since Indian civilization had early been characterized as Hindu and Sanskritic, the initial spread of Brahmanical culture as ‘high’ culture on an unprecedented scale was described as golden period. The distant past had an advantage, for it allowed greater recourse to imagination in recreating that past. Now that historians are commenting on all aspects of society, the notion of a uniform Golden Age that encompasses an entire society has been questioned. The description of a Golden Age reflected the life of the wealthy and their activities along characterized such an age. There are at least three epochs when artistic and literary expression achieved impressive standards—the post-Mauryan and Gupta period; the Cholas; and the Mughals. The precursor to the culture of the Gupta period was not restricted to northern India, since the Deccan shows a striking evolution of cultures. The classicism of the Gupta period is not an innovation emanating from Gupta rule, but the culmination of a process that began earlier. New artistic forms were initiated during the pre- Gupta in north India, such as those associated with Buddhism and which also found parallels in other religious sects, with the writing of texts on technical subjects and creative literature of various kinds. Much of the articulation is in Sanskrit, but it is of Sanskritic culture that assumes certain kinds of social and cultural exclusively and demarcates social groups. It attempts a transition towards a uniform, elite culture, but in the process becomes a catalyst for many others. The description of the Gupta period as one of classicism is relatively correct regarding the upper classes, who lived well according to descriptions in their literature and representations in their art. The more accurate, literal evidence that comes from archaeology suggests a less-glowing life-style for the majority. Materially, excavated sites suggest that the average standard of living may have been higher in the preceding period.

8.21

Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach

8.22

Chapter 8

1. Discuss the provincial and district administrative units of the Gupta Empire with the designations and functions of the officers. [2014]

The Right Approach

• Simply discuss the provincial and district administrative units of Gupta Empire. • Name and designations of important officers is significant to mention.

Administration De-centralised

Rural

Provincial

Urban

Types of Villages

Types of provinces

Types of councils

Grama

Palli

Gulma

Headed by

Desha

Rashtra

Bhukti

City Council

Guild of merchants

Chief Scribe

Headed by Headed by

Grama-adhyaksha or Kutumbi

Yuvraj (Prince) Nagarashreshthin

Sarthava

Pratham Kayasth

Chapter

9

Developments in Ancient South India: The Sangam Age and The Megalithic Cultures

9.2

Chapter 9

One of the explanations why historians find the post-Mauryan era so engrossing is the enormous measure of available evidences for research. The domestic literary evidence can be wanned from the royal inscriptions, the shastras, the secular literature, Buddhist religious and secular texts, and the captivating Tamil anthologies from the south. Foreign literary sources, from China, Syria, Greece, Persia and Egypt, give authority to the political and commercial setting of this period. The strong numismatic evidence available to historians also simplifies the construction of relative chronologies. With sufficient archaeological endorsement, we can be confident that, from about 200 bce onwards, the study of Indian history takes on a definitiveness that for earlier periods often eludes us. In terms of sources, this is like a transition from the proto-historical to the historical.

Objectives After reading this chapter, you will be able to: • Learn about the three chief dynasties of ancient south–Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas • Know all about Sangam Age and Sangam literature and culture • Be well-acquainted with the economic and political conditions of ancient southern dynasties • Understand the Megalithic period–its dating and spread, vis-a-vis the Iron age megalithic culture of South India

Rise

of

Tamil Dynasties

Down south were three ancient Tamil dynasties— the Cheras (on the west), the Cholas (on the east) and the Pandyas (in the south)—recurrently involved in warfare to attain regional supremacy. The Greek and the Ashokan sources mention them as lying at the outskirts of the Mauryan Empire. A corpus of ancient Tamil literature, known as Sangam literature, including Tolkappiyam, a manual of Tamil grammar by Tolkappiyar, provides much useful information about their social life from 300 bce to 200 ce. Also, there is a clear evidence of intervention by Aryan traditions from the north into a predominantly indigenous Dravidian culture in transition. Findings of Roman gold coins in numerous sites attest to extensive south Indian links with the outside world. Like Pataliputra in the northeast and Taxila in the northwest, Madurai, in modern Tamil Nadu, was the centre of intellectual and literary activities. A series of poets and bards, assembled there under royal patronage, composed anthologies of poems, of which, a few survived. It is during this period that South Asia was criss-crossed by overland trade routes, which facilitated the travels of many people, including Buddhist and Jain missionaries, and opened the scope of a synthesis of many cultures.

The Sangam Age Academics esteem the Sangam period as the ‘classical age’ and ‘Golden Age’ of the Tamils, and equated the same with that of the Greece and Rome of ancient times. Apart from the corpus of Sangam literature, the archaeological findings from various sites throw light on different aspects of the political, social, economic, religious

Developments in Ancient South India: The Sangam Age and The Megalithic Cultures

Map

and cultural life of the Sangam Age people. Though the literal meaning of ‘Sangam’ is ‘amalgamation’, the transliteral meaning of it in English would be a college or an academy where learned people meet that is held under the benefaction of the Pandyan kings, who were great lovers of literature and arts. The Sangam was, in fact, a voluntary organization of versifiers who produced supreme literary works.

Roman Gold Coins Linking South India

with the

Outside World

of

Sangam Era

9.3

9.4

Chapter 9

Although the precise date of the Sangam literature is contested, the legalization of the literary sources with recent archeo-cultural research qualifies the Sangam Age in the sequential line of 600 years, i.e., from c. 300 bce to 300 ce. The validated and conventional records of Iraiyanar Akapporul remark that there were three Sangams held, which sustained for 9990 years, and the confluence was estimably endorsed by 8598 scholars. Sage Agastyar was the founding father. Around 197 Pandyan kings took upon themselves to finance and uphold these gatherings of scholars. The capital city of the Pandyas upheld all the three Sangams. The capital was under constant shift due to incumbent reasons. Old Madurai became the center of the initial confluence, Sangam; and Kapatapuram became the site for the second gathering. Ancient Southern India faced successive deluges, which washed away the cultural confluence, and for that same reason the third Sangam was sited in modern Madurai. The most enigmatic scholarly gathering was the third Sangam because we do not have archaeological or cultural data or inferences from other sources to locate the chronological development. The era in which Tholkappiar thrived is alleged to be in the second Sangam era, whereas the third Sangam accords with the Indo-Roman trade with the modernization Imperial Rome. Contemporary Greek writers have produced records to validate the data. The same is also attested by the Sangam literature. The third Sangam observed the production of numerous present works. Sage Agastya

The Sangam Literature The Sangam literature explains the early history of Tamilakam (the entire T ­ amil region), which is of immense historical importance. Tolkappiyam, a discourse by Tolkappiyar on Tamil semantics and syntactics, that is ­evidently composed during the second Sangam, is the oldest extant literary work in Tamil. Now, the researchers use the term ‘Sangam Literature’ for only those works in verse (prose is of much later origin), which are controlled in the academic and literary compositions, like the Ettuthogai (Eight collections), Pattupattu (Ten village songs) and Pathinenkilkanakku (The Eighteen Minor Works), which are believed to have been produced during the period 150–250 ce. The recurrently called ‘Five Epics’ (the five great poems) which entailed of Jivaka Chintamani, Silappadikaram, Manimekalai, Valayapathi and Kundalakesi are dispensed on much later dates. Of these, the last two are not extant. So, of the three ‘great poems’ that we now have, Silappadikaram by Ilango Adigal and Manimekalai by Sathnar are called the ‘twin epics’ as they form a continuous series narrating the story of a single f­ amily—Kovalan (the rich merchant of Puhar), Kannagi (Kovalan’s chaste wife), Madhavi (the dancer) with whom Kovalan lived in wedlock, and Manimekalai, the daughter born out of this wedlock. In the epic, Ilango is cited as the brother of the administrating Chera king Senguttuvan. Manimekalai was written mainly to promulgate the Buddhist doctrine among Tamils. Nonetheless, these poetical works describe about the social, religious, economic and p ­ arty-political conditions of Tamilakam with the focus on the cities, like Madurai, Puhar (Poompuhar/Kaveripattinam), Vanji (Karur) and Kanchi. The credible dates of the versifications and academic writings can be cited to the first three centuries of the Christian era. They were probably collected and anthologized in the order in which they are now found, at a much later date. The poems in the ‘Ettuthogai’ run from 3 to 31 lines, whereas in the ‘Pattupattu’, the

Developments in Ancient South India: The Sangam Age and The Megalithic Cultures

shortest poem runs to 103 lines and the longest has 782 lines. The ‘Eighteen Minor Works’ include the principled and moralistic literature. The didactic literature, which includes the world famous Thirukkural of Thiruvalluvar, is mostly in stanzaic form, the stanzas having from two to five lines. The current variable count of the Sangam anthology comes to 2279 poems of changing lengths from 3 lines to about 800 lines. Some of these are ascribed to a single author, while others like the Naladiyar, contain the contributions of many poets. These were composed by 473 poets including 50 women besides 102 being unsigned. The anthologies and their unconventional additions replicate fairly advanced quantifiable philosophy. They also show that by the Sangam Age, Tamil as a language had attained dignity and had become an influential and sophisticated medium of mythical expression. The language is inevitably ancient, though not perchance more difficult to understand for the modern Tamil. The Sangam poems are of two types—one the short ode, and two, a long poem. The short odes are considered to be of greater value than the long lyrics as far as the historical importance is concerned. However, generally the historical importance of these sources are irrespective of their length. The odes are scribed and assimilated by the versification styles in eight anthologies. The anthologies in which these are collected include— 1. Ahananuru, 2. Purananuru, 3. Kuruntogai, 4. Narrinai, 5. Kalittogai, 6. Paripadal, Aingurunuru Patirrupattu: These are collectively called Ettuthogai. The ten long lyrics or descriptive poems (10 idylls) known as Pattupattu is said to be the ninth group. Pattupattu consists of— 1. Tirumurugarruppadai, 2. Sirupanarruppadai, 3. Porunarruppadai, 4. Perumbanarruppadai, 5. Nedunalvadai, 6. Kurinjippattu, 7. Maduraikkanji, 8. Pattinappalai, 9. Mullaippatu 10. Malaipadukadam There are further classifications to the separate and standalone works: 1. Tirumurugarruppadai is a devotional poem on Lord Muruga; 2. Sirupanarruppadai deals with the generous nature of Nalliyakkodan, who ruled over a part of the Chola kingdom; 3. Perumbanarruppadai describes about Thondaiman Ilanthirayan and his capital Kanchipuram; 5. Porunarruppadai; 6. Pattinappalai sings in the praise of Karikala, the great Chola king; 7. Nedunalvadai and Maduraikkanji deal with Talaiyalanganattu Nedunjeliyan, the great Pandyan king;

9.5

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Chapter 9

8. Kurinjippattu portrays the description of the hilly regions and hill life; and Malaipadukadam refers to the Chieftain Nannan and also the battle songs and inspirational compositions for the armies of the kingdom.

Political Conditions The Sangam anthologies, in their totality, counterbalance and present the history of the formation of state-system in Southern India. Sangam literature propounds a historical machinery where how the tribes, though diminishing, established units by the side of the king. The collection infers that the state was administrated and managed by legislative forms, checks and balances aspiring for constancy. The Sangam scripts are quite explicit when it comes to discuss kings and kingship. The scripts specify that of the three muventars (three crowned monarch): 1. the Cholas controlled the fully-irrigated fertile Kaveri basin with their capital at Uraiyur, 2. the Pandyas exercised their authority over the pastoral and coastal parts with the capital at Madurai, 3. and the Cheras had ruled over the hilly country in the west with Vanji (Karur) as the capital. The Sangam scripts do not stop there. They go into the details of the genealogy by selecting the most renowned: 1. The Chola kings Ilanjetchenni, his son Karikala and his two sons, 2. The Pandyan kings, such as Muthukudumi Peruvaludi, ­Ariyapadaikadantha Nedunjeliyan, 3. and Chera kings like Imayararamban Nedumceralatan, Cheran Senguttuvan and Mantaran Cheral Irumporai are worth mentioning. Absolute and totalitarian monarchy was the singular ruling apparatus in the kingdoms. The king, a ‘ventan’, was spearheaded the society and government along with highly acclaimed and worshipped social events, which rendered cultural importance to the festival of Indra, inaugurations of dance routines, etc. The king was associated with divine characteristics. He was equated with gods and assumed important titles at the time of coronation. The ancient Tamils considered the drum, the sceptre and the white umbrella as the three-great insignia of his office. The kingship was overseen by the rule of primogeniture, where it was descended by heredity from father to the son. The king was accountable for upholding the law and order in the state. He also looked after the welfare of his subjects, worked hard for their good and recurrently toured the country to put things in order. The king also had recourse to advisers in the course of his administration. The literature recurrently mentions them as ‘surram,’ which literally means the men who always surrounded the king giving him advice whenever needed. The kings were assisted by their subordinate chieftains. They were divided into two — velir and non-velir.

Administrative Systems Administrative power was vested by a system of checks and balances in the councils through the process of Silappadikaram that denotes two types of assemblies—

Developments in Ancient South India: The Sangam Age and The Megalithic Cultures

Aimperunkulu and Enperayam. The Aimperunkulu was a five-member minister council. The Enperayam was an eight-member minister council, including civil officers. These two distinct bodies worked more as advisors to the state who had the king’s good ears. They also worked in the judiciary. Despite of massive magnificence devoted to the king, the local units of the state always enjoyed a certain degree of sovereignty in south India from the earliest times. The resident unit, however small and in whatever corner it was located, was managed by a local assembly. The Sangam termed them as the ‘avai’ and the ‘manram’. Such assembly is commonly referred to as arankuravaiyam, which were known for its just decision. These can be understood to be the forerunner of our modern panchayat. Conservation of large standing army by the state and the overlords was another key feature of the Sangam Age. Wars were fought to defend and to extend territories or to save neighbouring kingdoms from tyrannous despots. Sometimes the wars occurred for matrimonial alliances. Such was the psychological frame of the people that almost everyone trained himself for war, and besides the army maintained by the kings, budding soldiers were all over the country to join the royal force in times of need. Even kings trained themselves in such activities. The state maintained all the four kinds of armies mentioned in Sangam literature—the chariot, the elephant, the cavalry and the infantry. There are references to the navy of the Chera that guarded the sea port so well that other ships could not enter the region. The Sangam texts also mention about the army camp on the battle field. The king’s camp was well-made, and even in camp he slept under his white umbrella and many soldiers slept around him mostly without their swords. The camps of ordinary soldiers were generally built with the sugarcane leaves on the sides and cut paddy crop on the top with paddy hanging from it. Generals and officers of high rank were accompanied by their wives on the campaign and stayed in the special camps built for the officers. The king recurrently visited the camp of soldiers and officers to enquire about their welfare. He did so even in the night and in pouring rain. Tamil people had a great respect for the warrior and particularly the hero who died in the battle field. Suffering a back-wound was considered as highly disreputable as there are instances of kings who died fasting because they had suffered such a wound in battle. The hero stones (virakals) were erected to commemorate heroes who died in war. There was the provision for the prison which indicate the coercive machinery of the state. Sangam polity was influenced by the north Indian political ideas and institutions in many aspects. Many rulers sought their origin and association with deities like Siva, Vishnu and ancient sages. Many kings are said to have participated in the Mahabharata war, like their north Indian counterparts. The rulers of Sangam Age were also the patrons of art, literature and performed yajnas (sacrifices).

Economic Conditions The surplus production in agriculture, specialized craft production and expansion of trade resulted in the general prosperity of people during the Sangam Age. The text, Maduraikkanji of Maruthanus refers to the agriculture and trade as the main forces of economic development. Agriculture was the prime source of revenue for the state. The importance and keenness people showed in cultivation could also be gauged by the importance and

9.7

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Chapter 9

interest they showed for cattle rearing. The Sangam poems recurrently refer to milk and milk-products, such as curd, butter, ghee and butter milk. Silappadikaram also relates the happiness and prosperity of the people to the agriculture. The paddy and sugarcane were the two important crops cultivated in a large quantity. Besides these chief crops, other varieties of crops and fruits included gram, beans, roots, like Valli (a kind of sweet potato), jack-fruit, mango, plantain, coconut, saffron, pepper, turmeric, etc. In Sangam Age, the kings took plenty of measures for the development of agriculture. The Karikala Chola dug tanks for irrigation, and embankment of river Kaveri proved to be very useful for agriculture is well-known. Tank irrigation helped in feeding agriculture as mentioned in many poems. For example, Maduraikkanji mentions ‘rivers filling the tanks as they run towards the eastern ocean.’ It is evident from the sources that the prosperity of the king depended on the prosperity of the land. The Sangam texts also talks about various kinds of craftsmen, including goldsmith, blacksmith, coppersmith, potter, sculptor, painter and the weaver. Manimekalai has a mention of collaboration of architects from Maharashtra, blacksmiths from Malwa, carpenters from Greece and Rome, and jewellers from Magadha with their Tamil counterparts. The occupation or profession was generally hereditary or handed down from father to the son. Conferring to Silappadikaram, men of different career lived in different streets. This led to progress in various trades and industries, and also resulted in making these men skilled in their art. Construction activities reached a high level during this period. This can be observed in the use of boats with face of the horse, elephant and lion mentioned by Silappadikaram. Moreover, the thriving trading activities with the Middle East and beyond could have been facilitated only with strong maritime activities, including construction of moats, bridges, drainage, lighthouse, etc. The artists received much appreciation for all types of artifices. Paripadal mentions the existence of a art museum in Madura (Madurai) and the sale of pictures is mentioned by Silappadikaram. The walls of houses, roofs, dress, bed-spreads, curtains and many other articles of day-to-day use were decorated and were in great demand. Weaving as an art form was more popular not only among the Tamils but also among the foreigners. Garments with interlaced floral designs are recurrently mentioned in Sangam literature. Dresses were woven not only from cotton, silk and wool but also from rat’s hair, and colouring yarn was known. The Indian silk, for its fineness, was in great demand by the Roman merchants. However, the weaving industry was a domestic industry in which all the members of the family, especially women, took part. The cobblers, potters and other craftsmen were instrumental to the industrial development. But one of the most noteworthy facts in this regard is the introduction of Greek sculpture and other foreign workmanship into south India during this period. Literary works, such Nedunalvadai, Mullaippattu and Padiruppattu refer to the beautiful lamps made by the foreigners, Roman pots and wine jars, etc. The classical Greek and Roman influence in the contemporary period can also be seen in the sculptures of Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh) and Ceylon. The Periplus of Erythrean Sea and other accounts of foreigners, such as those of Pliny, Ptolemy, Strabo and Petronius mention various ports and the articles traded during the period. The archaeological excavations at various sites have also yielded the artefacts confirming to the trading relations between the Tamil regions

Developments in Ancient South India: The Sangam Age and The Megalithic Cultures

Sangam Architecture—Sculptures

at

Brihadeswara Temple

and other countries. The discovery of coin hoards at many places also demonstrates this fact. To support the historical inferences, historians find ample assumptions from the data that the Sangam scripts reveals of the ports: 1. Musiri, Puhar (Kaveripattinam) and Korkai, the three great ports of the three great rulers of the times. 2. Periplus, on the other hand, refers to the ports of Tondi, Musiri and Comari (Cape Comorin/Kanyakumari), Colchi (Korkai), Poduke (Arikamedu) and Sopatma. Conferring to Periplus, there were three types of navigations in use in south India: 1. Small coasting vessels, 2. Large coasting vessels and 3. Ocean-going liners. There is also the mention of large vessels called Colandia sailing from the Tamil Coast to the Ganges.

9.9

9.10

Chapter 9

Export business to Rome made southern India prosper more than any other kingdoms, having the return values mostly in gold and abundance of middle eastern goods. Exotic animals, including tigers, peacocks were exported to Rome. The principal animal products of export included ivory and pearl. Plant products, like aromatics and spices (pepper, ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmegs, etc.), coconut, plantain, jaggery, teak wood, sandal wood, cotton cloth of special variety called argaru (from Uraiyur) constituted the major bulk of the exports. Mineral products like diamonds, beryl, steel, semiprecious stones, etc., were also exported from south India. Roman imports consisted coins, coral, wine, lead, tin and jewellery. This proposes the maritime contacts between the two regions. There were settlements of the foreign traders in many towns. However, it was not only the external trade, which added to the prosperity of the Tamils but also internal trade that flourished in the region with local networks of trade connecting different urban centres. Silappadikaram refers to the bazaar (market) streets of Puhar, while Maduraikkanji describes the market at Madurai, the Pandyan capital. Tamil territories also witnessed the growth of urban centres in the inland regions. The prominent among these were Madurai, Karur, Perur, Kodumanal, Uraiyur, Kanchipuram and others. While Korkai on the east coast was celebrated for pearl fishing, Kodumanal in the central part was known for its beryl. However, the trade was not confined to the cities alone. The farthest villages were also linked with the trading system. The carts were the significant mode of transport for inland trade. These were in use for either carrying goods or people including the traders. The trade was mostly conducted through barter. The geographical diversity of the Tamil region demanded the exchange of goods/products between the different regions. However, the use of coins for trading purpose cannot be ruled out even in the context of internal trade. Royal revenue was largely dependent on trade. To foster economic growth, transit taxes were collected from merchants who moved from one place to another. Spoils of war further added to the royal income. But the income from agriculture provided the real foundation of war and political set-up. However, the share of agricultural harvest claimed and collected by the king is not specified.

Social Conditions According to Tolkappiyam, the society in the Sangam Age was based on the fivefold classification of the land (thinai)— 1. the hill (kurinji), 2. the forest/ pastoral (mullai), 3. the agricultural (marutham), 4. the wasteland (palai) the coastal (neithal) Each of the thinais were named after a flower, which was the characteristic of that landscape. People of various types inhabited these various classified lands, and evolved certain fixed customs and ways of life as a result of their interaction with respective environments. The ecological variations governed their occupations, such as hunting, cultivation, pastoralism, plunder, fishing, diving, sailing, etc. In the beginning, these societies had relatively less population and social classes were unknown.

Developments in Ancient South India: The Sangam Age and The Megalithic Cultures

The resultant homogeneity among the people of each region enabled to move freely among regions and rulers. The only classification Tamil society was aware of at this time was that of the arivar, ulavar, etc., based on their occupation, such as the soldiers, hunters, shepherds, ploughmen, fishermen, etc. The existence of numerous tribes and chieftains was seen in the later half of the Sangam Age. It is interesting to note that though the Varna system was brought in from north by the immigrating brahmanas (100 ce), it did not include Kshatriyas as in the north. Only the Brahmins were the dvijas (twice born) who qualified for the sacred thread. References to the slaves known as adimai (one who lived at feet of another) also find mention in the literature of this period. Possibly, the prisoners of war were reduced to slavery. There also existed slave markets. The women, unlike north, enjoyed certain freedom and had the ­privilege to roam around the town freely, to play on the seashore and river beds, and to join the temple festivals as depicted in Sangam poems, such as K ­ alittogai. However, the status of women was one of subordination to men. This is truly reflected in Kuruntogai, where the wife was expected to love the husband not for his qualities, but because of the fact that he is her husband. There are references of women being educated and some of them being poetesses, however, this cannot be applied for all. They did not enjoy property rights, but were treated with considerations. Maintaining widowhood or performed sati were the norms for women, which was considered almost divine. Marriage was a sacrament/ritual, and not a contract. Tolkappiyam refers to eight forms of marriage of which the most common was the Brahma marriage. However, references to wooing or even elopements, followed by conventional marriage also finds mention in the texts. Prostitution was prevalent in society as a recognized institution, though the prostitutes were taken to be the intruders in peaceful family life. They figure prominently in the poems and enjoy a social standing. There had been distinct sense of dressing for men and women. The higher class used dress of fine muslin and silk. Except for the ruling class, men generally wore just two pieces of cloth—one below the waist and another adorning the head like a turban. Women used cloth only to cover below the waist. The tribal women used leaves and barks to cover themselves. The people in general were largely concerned with the physical beauty and were fond of using aromatic oil, coloured powders and paints. Sandal paste was heavily applied on the chests of men. Silappadikaram gives vivid details of amusements enjoyed by the people. Women had pictures drawn on their bodies in coloured patterns and had their eyelids painted with a black pigment. The jewellery were worn round the neck and on arms and legs by both, the men and women. The overlords and nobles wore heavy armlets and anklets while the ordinary women wore various other kinds of jewels. The financially viable class used ornaments of gold and precious stones for decoration, whereas the poor class used bracelets made of conch-shell and necklaces made of coloured beads. Silappadikaram refers to a ritual which involved hot bath in water - where the water is heated with 5 kinds of seeds, 10 kinds of astringents and 32 kinds of scented plants, it also involved drying of the hair over smoke of akhil and the parting of it into 5 parts for dressing. Men also grew long hair braided into a knot which was sometimes surrounded by a string of beads. Tamils were very much fond of flowers - women used to decorate their hair with flowers, such as water lily as described by Kuruntogai. House were built either with mud or bricks depending on the owner’s affordability. There were category of houses, which were built of suduman, which

9.11

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Chapter 9

literally means burnt mud. The people belonging to lower strata lived in thatched houses, which were covered with grass or leaves of the coconut or palmyra. Windows were ususally small and were constructed in the form of deer’s eye. There is the reference of well-constructed storeyed houses of the rich people, which had gopurams for the entrance and iron gates with red paint to prevent from rusting. According to Silappadikaram, these houses were lighted with beautiful artistic lamps often from Greece and Rome. The fuel for such lamps consisted of oil extracted from fish. With regard to food habits, non-vegetarianism was the main food type, though Brahmin ascetics were abided by the vegetarian food. The food was very plain and consisted of rice, milk, butter, ghee and honey. Otherwise, meat and liquor were freely used. Curd was in popular use. Kuruntogai refers to various kinds of sweets made with curd, jaggery, puffed rice, milk and ghee. Besides these, spicing of curry and rice is also referred to in the Sangam texts. The tradition of feeding guests was a common custom. Learned dignitaries were always considered as honoured guests, and red rice fried in ghee was given to them as a token of love and respect. Plentiful piers and plays as the sources of entertainment included dances, musical programmes, religious commemorations, bull-fights, cock-fight, hunting, dice, wrestling, boxing, acrobatics, etc. Women partook in the religious dances, playing the dice and varippanthu or cloth ball. Playing in swings made of Palmyra fibres was common among girls. Narrinai gives an account of the games played with decorated dolls, whereas Kuruntogai mentions about children playing with toy-cart and with the sand houses made by them on the sea coasts. Sangam scripts discuss various styles of dances. According to Silappadikaram, there were 11 kinds of dances, which were divided into 7 groups. There are references to the different kinds of musical instruments, such as the drums, flute and yal sold in yards at Puhar and Madurai. The performing arts also included the art of drama, which were mostly religious in character, but sometimes these were enacted to commemorate great event or persons. Poets and poetic culture and the system of wandering troubadours going from place to place with their musical instruments singing the glory of either a person or a great event commanded great popularity in the Sangam Age. Initially, the bard (porunar) began as an individual to whip up the martial spirit of the soldiers engaged in war and to sing of their victory when the battle was won. As far as religious beliefs and customs are concerned, the literary sources mention about the co-existence of various faiths like Brahmanism, Jainism and Buddhism in the Tamil region during this period. Buddhism and Jainism entered the region in the first centuries of the Christian era. The sects, such as Saivism and Vaishnavism were also well-known religions during the period. Sangam scripts minutely documents the Vedic intermixing and Vedic acceptance of an advanced culture in Southern India. Silappadikaram and Tolkappiyam refer to the six brahmanic duties. Brahmanical rites and ceremonies were very much in practice. The Pandyan king is described as ‘having various sacrificial halls’ in many Sangam poems. The four important deities as mentioned by Tolkappiyam were— 1. Murugan, 2. Tirumal, 3. Vendan (Indra) 4. Varunan.

Developments in Ancient South India: The Sangam Age and The Megalithic Cultures

Indra was worshipped as the rain god and a festival in his honour was celebrated every year. In Pattinappalai, worship of Muruga is mentioned. Muruga is the son of Siva. Besides these deities, Lakshmi (the goddess of prosperity), Mayon (later Vishnu) as guardian of the forest region, Baladeva, Kaman (the god of love), the moon-god, sea-god and other divinities were also worshipped. The people also had faith in ghosts and spirits. There is the mention of the ‘bhuta’ in Silappadikaram. Many believed in demons residing on trees, battle-fields and burning ghats ‘ingestion blood and scouring their hair with hands soaked in blood.’ Minor deities, like guardian deities of Madura and Puhar are also referred to in the text. The people also believed in the village gods, totemic symbols and bloody sacrifices to mollify ferocious deities. Animism is clearly reflected in their tradition of worshipping the deities believed to be residing in trees, streams and on hill tops. The dead heroes, satis and other martyrs were also defied. The emergence of Buddhism and Jainism in the first centuries of the Christian era influenced the philosophical thoughts of the Tamils in the Sangam Age. Many scholars have expressed their views that the two great epics of the period, Silappadikaram was Jain and Manimekalai had Buddhist influence. Manimekalai refers to the practice of Saivism in Tamil regions. Though Siva as a deity is not mentioned in other texts, he is referred to by his attributes like—‘the ancient first Lord’, ‘the Lord with the blue beautiful throat’ and ‘the god under the banyan tree.’ So, in early times both Saivism and Vaishnavism seem to have existed in the Tamil region only in principle and not by name. Though Tolkappiyam refers to the god Muruga (son of Siva) and Mayon (earlier name of Vishnu), there is no clear reference to Saivism and Vaishnavism. Probably, the transition of these cults to these two different sects was taking place during the Sangam Age. The people of Sangam era believed in dreams and influence of planets on human life. Certain ominous signs were popularly observed. For example, the cawing of crow was considered as an omen of the coming guest, who was eagerly awaited. Kuruntogai mentions that the crow was considered a good harbinger and was fed with rice and ghee. Sneezing was held inauspicious. The sophisticated aspect of the Sangam religion was the worship of gods and goddesses in temples. Temple dedicated to Siva, Muruga, Baladeva, Vishnu, Kaman and moon-god are clearly mentioned in various Sangam texts. Manimekalai refers to a very big brick called Cakravahakottam. However, in many cases, as till today, the deities were often set up under trees. The method of worship generally consisted of dancing and offering flowers, rice and meat to the gods. Silappadikaram mentions about the stone images of gods. The Tamils of Sangam Age believed in the ritual uncleanliness on occasions of birth and death. Dead were disposed either by cremation, burial or by being left in open to vultures or jackals. Burning grounds are mentioned in Manimekalai. Reiterating the gist of the whole discussion about the Sangam Age it appears that the period witnessed the c­ onception of state for the first time in south India, though it was still in the process of crystallization. We also notice social inequalities

Seated Four-armed Vishnu

of

Pandya Dynasty

9.13

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Chapter 9

with the dominance of the Brahmanas. But the acute class distinction, which appeared in later times, was lacking in Sangam Age. Cultivation of various crops was the backbone of Sangam economy. The diversified craft production leading to trading activities, especially trade relations with the Mediterranean World enriched their economy. The foreign elements also influenced the socio-economic and cultural life of people. The Sangam Age truly reflects the complex nature of the various religious beliefs and customs practised during the period including that of animism and idol worship. Many of the traditions of the age survived and continued in the later periods.

The Megalithic Cultures Megaliths, derivative of Greek terms,‘megas’ and ‘lithos’ signifying huge stones, are the testimonials built of large stones. Archaeologists place the megalithic cultures from the Neolithic Age to the early historical period. Recent studies have shown that all monuments constructed of large stones do not come under the category of megaliths. Such archeological terms are used in limited terms denoting only to a particular class of monuments or structures, which are built of large stones and have some commemorative, ritualistic or funeral association unlike the hero stones or memorial stones. In general terms, megaliths refers to the burials made of large stones in graveyards away from the habitation area which are the earliest surviving man-made monuments.

Megalithic Stone-henge Burial

Developments in Ancient South India: The Sangam Age and The Megalithic Cultures

Dating and Spread Subsequently the megalithic culture overlay with the last phases of neolithic-chalcolithic culture, and that the late phase of these cultures amalgamated with the early historical epoch, archeo-historians and anthropologists believe that the time bracket of the megalithic cultures in south India may be placed between 1000 bce and 100 ce. However, conferring to the frequency of archaeological discoveries, the period when megaliths were in their prime fashion between 600 bce and 100 ce. The epicentre of the megalithic cultures in India was the Peninsular India, precisely south of Godavari. Nevertheless, large-stone erections of the usual megalith types have also been found from some places in north India, central India and western India. But since neither the archaeological site nor a reliable preliminary ground-searching of these monuments has so far been carried out, it would be challenging to say if and how far they are associated with the megaliths of the Deccan. Additionally, the wide distribution of such stone-structures in the southern region of India suggests that it was essentially a south Indian feature, resulting in a variety within the underlying megalithic unity of common beginning.

The Iron Age Megalithic Culture of South India The megalithic shrines are the emblem of the Iron Age in south India. It was a widespread Iron Age culture where the doles of the use of iron were fully gathered by the people. The information about the Iron Age in south India comes from the diggings of the megalithic burials. Iron objects have been discovered in all the megalithic sites right from Jonatan near Nagpur in Vidarbha section (central India) down to Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu in the far south. Though usage of Iron brought drastic and developmental change in south India, the most remarkable was the elaborate method of arranging the dead—a characteristic feature of the south Indian regions. Unlike laying the dead with four or five pots in a pit in the house, now the dead were concealed in a separate place—a graveyard away from the house. The remnants of the dead were collected perhaps after exposing the body for some time and then the bones were placed underground in particularly designed stone box called a cistern. These were intricate structures and must have necessitated an amount of planning and cooperation among the community and the existence of masons and other craftsmen capable of manufacturing the required size of stones, large and small. It is probable that like Egyptian cellars, these megaliths must have been planned and kept ready before the death of an individual.

Categories of the Megaliths Archeological records and current dig records in diverse locations of south India, the megaliths can be categorized under different heads derived from their outstanding features. These are: Rock Cut Caves, Hood Stones and Hat Stones/ Cap Stones, Menhirs, Dolmenoid Cists, Cairn Circles, Stone Circles, Pit Burials and Barrows. The Rock cut caves are scooped out on soft laterite, as found in the southern part of the west coast. They occur in the Cochin and Malabar regions of Kerala. On the east coast of south India, they are present in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) near Madras. Connected with the rock cut but of a simpler form are the cover stones or Kudakallu. These consists of a dome-shaped dressed laterite mass which cover the underground circular pit cut into a natural rock and provided with a stairway.

9.15

9.16

Chapter 9

In some cases, the cover stone gives place to a boater stone or toppikkal, which is a slab resting on three or four quadrilateral boulders, forming a square base and a trimmed top on which rests the toppikkal or the hat stone. Usually, it contains a burial urn covered with a convex or cupola shaped pottery lid or a stone slab and contains skeletal remains, small pots and sometimes ashes. Such shrines are usually found in Cochin and Malabar regions up to the Noyil river valley in Tamil Nadu. Menhirs are monolithic columns planted vertically into the ground. These may be small or gigantic in height, though common heights range between 4 and 7 ft. These are fundamentally dedicatory stone columns set up at or near a committal spot. These memoirs are mentioned in ancient Tamil literature as nadukal. In some cases, the memoirs are not planted in ground but rest on the original ground propped up with a mass of rubble as at Maski. These befall in different regions of Kerala and Bellary, Raichur and Gulbarga regions of Karnataka in large numbers. Dolmenoid cists consists of square or rectangular box-like graves built of several orthostats and capstones. They occur at large number at Sanur near Chingleput and many other sites in this region. The cists built of dressed slabs or the slab cists are the normal type of cists, occurring all over south India. The Cairn circles are one the most popular type of megalithic monuments occurring all over south India in association with other types. They consist of a heap of stone debris bounded within a circle of boulders. Colliery burials have been found at many sites in the Chingleput (Tamil Nadu), Chitradurga and Gulbarga (Karnataka) districts. Stone Circles are the most commonly encountered megalithic monuments in India. They reflect the f­ eatures of various forms of megalithic cenotaphs, such as the Kudakallu, Topikkal, different types of pit burials, menhirs, dolmenoid cists of different types, cairns, etc. The barrows or earthen mounds mark off the underground burials. They may be either a circular or a round burrow, oblong or oval on plan, a long barrow. They have or may not have the surrounding stone circles or ditches. Such monuments have been experiential in the Hassan district of Karnataka. All of these entombments have yielded a variety of objects. The grave furniture consisted of a large variety of pottery; weapons and apparatuses mostly of iron but often of stone or copper; ornaments, like beads of terracotta, semi-precious stones, gold or copper, shell, etc., threaded into necklaces or rarely the ear or nose ornaments, armlets or bracelets and tiaras; often food as indicated by the presence of paddy husk and chaff, and some other cereals; skeletal remains of animals, sometimes complete in these crypts.

Subsistence Pattern Archeologists presume that agro-pastoral culture thrived around the megalithic period of south India, with other artistries coming to the fore, and all credibly interspersed in a reciprocal relationship with each other. The megalith makers were accountable for the introduction of the advance systems of irrigation driven agriculture namely the ‘tank-irrigation’ in south India bringing a revolutionary change in the agricultural system. The plinths are unvaryingly interspersed on the slopes of the hills or on elevated ground, which are not suitable for irrigation as they do not encroach upon arable lands. But, it seems unlikely that the megalithic builders were the people who introduced ‘tank-irrigation’ in south India. The cisterns might have been natural ponds that were maintained for sustenance and livelihood.

Developments in Ancient South India: The Sangam Age and The Megalithic Cultures

Paddy husks and rarely paddy grains, reported from numerous excavated graves from all over the region suggest that rice was served as their staple food. Rice, as attested by the Sangam literature, is the staple food of the people of south India since very early periods and remains so till today. The evidence indicates the cultivation of other crops too, such as ragi, wheat, kodo millet, barley, Hyacinth bean, horse gram, black gram, green gram, common pea, Pigeon pea, grass pea, Jobs tears, Indian jujube, goosefoot (fat-hen), lentil, cotton, etc., in the megalithic period of south India. Copious such observances and archeological finding of megalithic locations have produced indication of domestication of animals, like sheep, goat, pig, horse, dog, buffalo, ass, fowl and other diversity of cattle. The cattle (including buffalo) prevails over other domesticated species at these locations. Unvaryingly, in all these locations nearly 60% fauna has been discovered, preserved either naturally or buried by owners. The occurrence of the remains of domesticated pig and fowl suggests pig rearing and poultry farming on a small scale at many of the sites. Hunting has always been predominantly a heavy occupation as it naturally increased the food supply. The equipment for hunting, like arrowheads, spears and javelins have been found in large quantity. The discovery of fossils of wild fauna, like wild boar, hyena, Barking deer, chousingha, sambar, chital, nilgai, Peacock, leopard, tiger, cheetah, sloth bear, wild hog, pea fowl, jungle fowl, water fowl, etc., from different sites indicate that these species were hunted and perceptibly shaped part of their dietary system. There are terracotta evidences net sinkers from Takalghat and fish-hooks from Khapa and Tangal besides the actual fossils of fish from Yeleswaram reflect that fishing was also practiced by the megalithic folk. Fish-hooks found from various sites is suggestive of fishing as another important occupation. The industrial activities, such as smithereens, carpentry, pottery making, lapidary, basketry and stone cutting formed other economic activities of megalithic society. Metal smiths dominated the ancient megalithic locations and metallurgy, especially the production of objects of metals like iron, copper, gold, silver, etc., must have been patronized. The substantiation of cultural development can be proved by the existence of crucibles, smelting-furnaces and incidence of material, like iron ore pieces, iron slag, copper slag and traces of primeval gold mines, copper or the mineral resources at or near these sites is suggestive of miner sand metal smiths. There is ample indication of the utilization of metal tools, such as axes, ploughshares, hoes, sickles, spades, etc. Megalithic Urn

of I ron

Age

9.17

9.18

Chapter 9

Using the hoe (or bladed harrow) for farming has been predominant findings at multiple digs. The use of ploughshare from many sites amply attest to the technological base of megalithic people for carrying out the agronomic processes. Iron ruled above all other smelting because it was the primary metal for weapons, tools and trappings for agricultural and domestic husbandry. The rich variety of iron objects enables us in understanding the aspects of their economy and their way of life to a large extent. These objects reflect that agriculture was their primary occupation as a large number of iron tools necessary for agricultural activities are found at different sites. Copper was used for the production of vessels and ornaments. The ornaments were also made of gold. The use of silver was rather scarce. A competent deployment of metallic means is dependent the availability of fuel and type of fuel capable of generating the smelting temperatures. The most commonly found restudies of fuel in jars indicate that pre-industrial smelters were charcoal, wood dung and paddy husk. Archeological digs have given up woodcraft professionally attempted by megalithic people, evidence of finesse had led to such inferences. The collectables show that the axes, wedges, chisels, anvil, adzes, borers, hammer stones, etc., formed the main tool-kit for working on the wood. The use of wooden plough for cultivation cannot be set aside. The woods were also used for posts in the construction of huts with thatched or reed roofs supported on wooden posts. Bramagiri and Maski have yielded large number of depressions that represent construction holes specifically used for domestic architecture. The pottery institution has been found to go hand-in-hand with metallurgy in the megalithic culture are black and red ware (BRW), gleaming black ware, red ware, grey ware, coffee coated painted ware (RCPW), etc. A wheel-turned BRW pottery, essentially entails of utilitarian shapes and a majority of the forms possibly served as cutlery of megalithic society. The protuberant silhouettes encountered in this ware are varieties of bowls, dishes, lids or covers, vases, basins, legged jars, channel-spouted vessels and cuboids. All these varieties of pottery are characterized by a fine fabric and are produced from well-levitated clay infrequently with sand. The other craft activities included the production of various objects that ranged from single terracotta beads to finely crafted gold ornaments. The availability of a large variety of beads show that agate, carnelian, chalcedony, feldspar, coral, crystal, garnet, jasper, magnesite, faience, paste, serpentine, shell, steatite, amethyst and terracotta were utilized in the preparation of beads of different exquisite shapes. Apart from the use of semi-precious stones, some of the shapes have also been worked on precious metals, like gold, shell, horn, bone and glass. The art of mat-weaving, stone-cutting and painting were known and practiced by the megalithic folks. The discovery of various non-local items among the grave goods reflect exchange activities in terms of trade and commerce at the time of megalithic period. Carnelian beads reported from coastal sites, which were points of exchange in ancient times, direct us to the presence of trade activities. The availability of bronze signifies the arrivals of copper and an alloy, either tin or arsenic, from somewhere. From the Graeco-Roman writings and the Tamil texts, it is clear that at a little later period, maritime exchange was the major source for procuring them. The archaeological remains, like the rouletted ware, amphora and other ceramic materials found at many sites like those at Arikamedu are evidence for this. Inter-regional and intra-regional exchange of goods were fairly well-established in south India by the third century bce.

Developments in Ancient South India: The Sangam Age and The Megalithic Cultures

Regional variation in the production of commodities, and the non-availability of local raw materials and finished goods had set in long-distance transactions under the initiative of the long-distance traders from the Gangetic region as well as the overseas world. The exchange network which was in itsinitial stages during the early Iron Age, expanded over the centuries as a result of internal dynamics and external impetus involving the demand for goods in other parts of the subcontinent as well as the Mediterranean region.

Social Life The society of megalithic people was homogenous, and the internal and external features of burial practices makes it more evident. There is a lack of equability when it comes to burials and the endo-exo-burials that digs have protruded. The huge burial types are suggestive of status differentiation. Differences in the types and contents of the burials suggest that there was some sort of disparity in the attributes of the buried individuals. The diversity, high quality and superiority of ceramic imports in huge burials including the elaborate urn burials, are also reminiscent of the variance in social standing. The megalithic people lived in villages entailing of a generous population. Though they had a partiality for the urban life, they were slow in building huge cities, like their generations in the Gangetic Valley. The size of the population is indicated by the organized mass of manual labour that was available for transporting and housing massive blocks of stone in the construction of cists, dolmens and other types of megaliths, or in founding large debris and mud mounds for harvesting rain waters for irrigational purposes. The large size of population is further confirmed by the fact that wide-ranging burial grounds with plentiful graves, many of them comprising the remains of more than one singular remains, and occasionally of as many as 20 or more individuals, have been found. The houses in which the megalithic people lived perhaps comprised huts with thatched or reed roofs, supported on wooden posts as indicated by the presence of grave-holes in the archeological digs.

Religious Beliefs The grave-sites were actually generous, the grave goods and other metal and stone objects shed light on the religious beliefs of megalithic people, who had great respect for the dead as they constructed these monuments with great effort and devotion. The megalithic people believed in life after death, and therefore, the living beings had to provide them with their necessities. The grave goods signify that they belonged to the dead person when he/she was alive, and since these goods will be required by him/her in the other world too, they were buried along with the mortal remains. Hence, the ‘cult of the dead’ had a strong hold on the people. Their belief in animism is evident by the occurrence of animal bones of domestic animals like cattle, sheep, goats and the wild animals, like wolf in the megaliths. It appears that funerals were followed by predominantly non-vegetarian feasting, and the gaunt remains were buried in the graves in the fashion of the later Aztecs for the afterlife. Animism is also reflected by terracotta models of animals and their miniatures were used in addition to jewelry.

9.19

9.20

Chapter 9

Sangam literature thrived by the end of the megalithic culture, and some historians claim that towards the end the Sangam age was a contemporary in south India. Sangam literature also throws light on the different methods of disposal of the dead prevalent among the megalithic people. Countless earlier principles continued during the Sangam Age. So, we may accept that the religious practices raised during the Sangam literature reflect, to magnitudes, which made the megalithic people develop such a thorough culture. The tradition of associating stone with the dead has survived in south India till late times and the hero stones or the virakal or the mastikal are examples of this. The differences in the size of the monuments and the nature of the grave valuables reflecting differentiation in status and ranking, also suggest the nature of contemporary political power. The construction of a huge monument involving the mobilization of substantial collective labour implies the power of buried individual to command it. Seeing the clannish physiognomies of the megalithic people there is a higher possibility that chiefdom formed the basis of pre-Sangam polity. There was need-oriented and use-value based interaction at the level of clans. But chieftains were competitive, and hence, antagonistic when it came to razing and looting, both inter-clan and intra-clan, led by chiefs for rapaciousness. This led to subjugation of one chief by the other, which in turn, helped the emergence of bigger chiefs and the materializations of bigger tribal leadership. These armed bouts resulted in the death of many chiefs and warriors. Doubtless, the primary reason behind memorial cenotaphs during the megalithic period. This also accounts for the advent of the cult of intrepidness and ancestral worship. Through armed confrontation and destructive overthrow, the cultural and political power of the leaders became more progressed over the years and they emerged as bigger chiefdoms. The Tamil epics represent the phase of bigger warlord-ship. Modern remnants of the ancient megalithic cultures are still prevalent among the following populace: 1. Maria Gonds of Bastar in Madhya Pradesh, 2. Bondos and Gadabas of Odisha, 3. Oraons and Mundas of Jharkhand, 4. Khasis and Nagas of Assam.

Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach

9.21

1. The accurate picture of the complex socio-culture milieu of Peninsular India is presented in the early Sangam literature. Delineate. [2017]

The Right Approach

• Give an account of Peninsular India-Geographical divide, types of inhabitants, God worshipped. • State different classes and their roles in the society. • Now, write about the references of the same found in popular Sangam literature-Silappaitlikamm, Manimekalai, Pattuppattu and the likes.

Diverse Peninsular India Peninsular Regions

Inhabitants

Occupation

God

Kurinji (Hill)

Hunters

Hunting for food

Murugam

Mullai (Forest)

Shepherds

Cattle rearing

Mayon

Marutham (River valley)

Cultivators

Agriculture

India

Neytal (Sea coast)

Fisherman

Fishing

Varuna

Palai (Arid zone)

Robbers

Robbery

Korravai

Different Classes Classes

Their Roles

Arasorr

Ruling Class

Anthemar

Significant role in Polity new relief

Venigar

Traders and farmers

Vellolass

Agriculturists

Tolkāppiyam talks about diversity in Peninsular India. (Refer pgs. 9.4–9.5)

9.22

Chapter 9

2. In what ways can the Megalithic culture be considered be considered as a foundational phase of the historic of peninsular India? [2014]

The Right Approach

• Explain the meaning of the term ‘Megalith’ • Write about megalithic period as the beginning of sedentary life. • Briefly state how megalithic period saw a rise of iron age (manufacturing of iron artefacts, tools, utensils, etc.) and well-developed crafts. • Then state about inter-regional trade and distribution of precious and semi-precious metals. (Refer pgs. 9.14–9.19)

10

Chapter

Education in Ancient India

10.2

Chapter 10

India has a rich tradition of education and learning since ancient times. The system of education passed on from generation to generation either through an oral or through a written medium. The education system of ancient period has unique characteristics. Gurukul was a type of school in ancient India which was residential in nature, with pupils living in proximity to the teacher (guru). In a gurukul or ashram, students would reside together as equals, irrespective of their social standing, and receive education from the guru. At the end of studies, pupil would be ready to offer gurudakshina (one-time fees) to the guru. The gurudakshina is a traditional gesture of acknowledgment, respect and thanks. Sanskrit was the medium of Vedic education system and Pali was the language of Buddhist education system. Subject of the study were Vedas, Vedangas, Upanishads Darshanas, Puranas and Jyotisha in Vedic period and three Pitakas in Buddhist period.

Objectives After reading this chapter, you will be able to: • Get to know about the system of education in Vedic period • Explain the acceleration of urban centres and trade, evolvement of formulations developed during Mauryan and Post-Mauryan Period • Learn about the aim of education, subjects studied and language during Gupta and Post-Gupta Period • Study how science and technology emerged in India • Learn about the contribution of ancient Indian scientists to world science

Vedic Period Learning during Vedic period was imparted by the teachers or gurus to the pupils who gathered around them and came to live with them in their house as members of the family. Such a place was called gurukul. It functioned as a domestic school, an ashrama, where the pupils’ learning was mentored by the gurus who gave personal instruction as well as attention to the students. Education was primarily the privilege of the upper varnas. Learning was a two-way relationship between the teacher and the pupil, called the guru–shishya parampara. The process of learning generally began with religious ceremonies—vidyarambha and upanayana (sacred thread ceremony). Learning was generally imparted orally. It included memorization of texts like Vedas and Dharmashastras, fully or partially. Later subjects like Grammar, Logic and Metaphysics came to be taught and studied. The Maitrayani Upanishad teaches us that the supreme knowledge (gyan) is the result of learning (vidya), reflection (chintan) and austerity (tapas). Through introspection (atma vishleshan) one was to attain goodness (Satva), purity of mind and satisfaction of the soul in stages. During this time, self-education was regarded as the proper method of attaining the highest knowledge. The best example of this can be found in the Taittiriya Upanishad where Bhrigu, son of Varuna, approaches his father and asks him to teach what Brahmana is. The father tells him to find this out through meditation.

Education in Ancient India

10.3

The aim of Vedic education was initially laid down by the Vedas. The Vedic philosophy emphasized that the world is pervaded by divinity and the ultimate objective of every living being is to achieve liberation. Thus, according to the Vedas, the aim of education is liberation. The Vedic philosophy also postulates that liberation is possible only through the control of the mind. The ancient Indian education was even more developed by the Upanishads. While in the field of religion the Upanishads were more introvert and monistic, they continued the tradition of the Veda. As far as education of women is concerned, freedom and right to education were assigned to women during Early Vedic period. Home was the main centre of the education of girls in the domestic science. Women were taking part in every ritual with their husbands. Education of girls was looked after in the same way as that of the boy and many among them gained highest education. These were called brahmavadini. Some of the women were regarded as ‘devis’, women even composed Vedic hymns. Apala, Homasha, Shashpati, Ghoshal Mamata and Lopamudra were notable among Vedic scholars. But, the similar was not the status enjoyed by the women during Later Vedic period. They were debarred of receiving education as according to Gautam Dharmasutra, women were not supposed to either read out or listen to Vedic hymns.

Mauryan and Post-Mauryan Period During the age of state formation from sixth century bce onwards, the Indian society went through a phase of intensive transition. The growth of urban centres and trade in this period enabled the mercantile community who organized themselves in guilds to play an active role in providing education. These guilds became centres of technical education and imparted the knowledge of mining, metallurgy, carpentry, weaving and dyeing. New formulations were evolved in building and architecture. With urbanization, new cities grew up, which in turn, necessitated new architectural forms to evolve. The guilds, with a view to get better ocean navigation knowledge, gave patronage to astronomy, the study of the position of stars, to help them in this regard. During this period, there began a scholarly discussion on ‘time’ (kala) which resulted in the development of a sharp sense of time in comparison to the past. Knowledge of medicine began to be systemized as Ayurveda and the elements of which formed the basis for the Indian medical system. A right combination of these was necessary for a healthy body. Knowledge of the medicinal properties of herbs and their usage reached a very advanced stage. Charaka became famous for medicine and Sushruta for surgery. ‘Charak The Great Scholar, Teacher and Philosopher-Chanakya Samhita’ of Charaka was an authentic and exhaustive work on medicines. Chanakya, a renowned philosopher, scholar and teacher produced his magnum opus—Arthashastra during this period. The curricula of studies mentioned in the Arthashastra refer primarily to the education of princes. After Upanayana

10.4

Chapter 10

samskara, the prince learnt the four Vedas and the Vedic study included a study of sciences. They also learnt logic, economics and politics. Education in those times was primarily life skills based which is different from what education is today. The curricula in the Ramayana for the princes comprised Dhanurveda, Nitishastra, Siksha (lore) of elephants and chariots, Alekhya and Lekhya (Painting and writing), Langhana (jumping) and Tairana (swimming).

Gupta and Post-Gupta Period The Jain and Buddhist systems of education assumed a significant dimension during the Gupta period. The boarding facilities were provided to students where Buddhist monasteries admitted students for 10 years. Learning, which began with the oral method, later shifted to the reading of literary texts. These monasteries had libraries which facilitated students with numerous texts on subjects like logic, astronomy, philosophy, mathematics, astrology, etc. Important manuscripts were copied and stored there. Students from distant countries such as China and Southeast Asia came to the Buddhist monasteries for education. The monasteries were normally maintained by grants from the kings and the rich mercantile class. They ­attracted scholars from far and near. FaHien, the Chinese traveller, who ­visited India during Chandragupta Vikramaditya’s

Ancient Nalanda University

Education in Ancient India

reign, spent several years in the monastery at Pataliputra, studying Buddhist religious books. Besides Pataliputra, there were other centres of learning like Varanasi, Mathura, Ujjain and Nasik. Nalanda University was known all over Asia for its high standards of scholarship. The subjects taught included Vedanta, philosophy, study of the Puranas, epics, grammar, logic, astronomy, philosophy, medicine, etc. Sanskrit, the court language, was the medium of instruction. The Jains used Sanskrit literature such as ‘Adipurana’ and ‘Yashatilaka’ for educational purposes in the earlier phase. But to make education more popular, the medium was changed to Prakrit and other regional languages such as Tamil, Kannada and so on. Books in the Jain and Buddhist libraries were written on palm leaves that were tied together and were known as granthas. Slowly, Jainism and Buddhism lost royal patronage and their monasteries started declining as centres of education and learning. The mathas supported by Brahmanas were institutions parallel to Jain and Buddhist monasteries. These mathas functioned like ashramas for educational purposes. During post-Gupta period, art and education made great strides in the reign of Harsha. He encouraged education at all levels; education was given in temples and monasteries, and higher education in the universities of Taxila, Ujjain, Gaya and Nalanda. In Nalanda, Hiuen Tsang ( renowned Chinese traveler), who visited India during Harsha’s reign spent several years studying Buddhists sculptures. Shilabhadra, a renowned scholar was its head. In the seventh and eighth centuries, ‘ghatikas’, or colleges attached to the temples emerged as new centres of learning. The ‘ghatikas’ provided Brahmanical education. The medium of instruction was Sanskrit. Entry to these temple colleges was open only to the upper castes or ‘dvijas’ (twice born). Use of Sanskrit as the medium of instruction distanced the common people from education. Education became the privilege of only the uppermost sections of society.

Aim of Education • Education was a matter of individual concern. • Development of pupils’ overall personality. Evolution of a process of one’s inner growth and self-fulfilment techniques, rules and methods through education. • Training of an individual’s mind as the instrument of acquiring knowledge which would enhance his/her creative capacity. • Thinking principle ‘manana shakti’ was reckoned higher than the subject of thinking. Thus, the primary subject of education was the mind itself.

Subjects Studied • Applied sciences like metallurgy, baked bricks, glazing, measurement of areas and volumes. • The scientific system of medicine was developed in the post-Vedic period. • Medicine became a subject at centres of learning, like Taxila and Varanasi. • The ‘Charak Samhita’ on medicine and ‘Sushruta Samhita’ on surgery were two important works in this field. Sushruta considered surgery as ‘the highest division of the healing arts and least liable to fallacy.’ • Mathematics or ‘ganita’ included Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra, Astronomy and Astrology. Interest in Arithmetic was due to its use in trade and commerce. ‘Aryabhatiya’, by Aryabhata was a major contribution in the field of mathematics.

10.5

10.6

Chapter 10





• Astronomy was overshadowed by Brahmanical superstitions. ‘Surya Siddhanta’, a work on astronomy consisted of the description of the instruments and the methods of observation which were neither accurate nor impressive. • The bronze and copper remains from the time of Indus Valley Civilization are indicative of the development of chemistry and metallurgy. The processes of leather tanning, dyeing and fermenting were devised during this period.

Language •  Sanskrit enjoyed a position of privilege in ancient India. It served as a medium of Brahmanical education. Sanskrit was the lingua franca of the educated upper castes as well as the Hindu rulers and courtiers. • Prakrit as a language developed with the rise of Buddhism. It became the language of the masses. Ashoka, the Mauryan king used ‘Prakrit’ in his edicts. It is interesting to note that in Sanskrit drama, women and the humble characters were made to speak in formalized Prakrit. • Pali was one of the early variants of Prakrit. Most of the Buddhist canonical writings are in Prakrit and Pali, though some Sanskrit literature was also in circulation. Another language ‘Apabhramsha’ was used by Jain writers in Gujarat and Rajasthan for the composition of poetry. • The Dravidian languages —Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam were in use in the southern parts of India. They found expression in the literature of this period as well. • The best example of ancient India’s advancement was the University of Nalanda. Hiuen Tsang, a famous Chinese traveller, records Nalanda University as a post graduate university for advanced study and research. Nalanda was also famous for its ‘Schools of Discussion’ as noted by the students who had their own hostels. King Balaputradewa constructed a temple for the students of Java who came to study at Nalanda.

Ancient Language Edicts

Science

and

Technology

in I ndia

Astronomy • The movement of planets came to be emphasized and closely observed. • Jyotish Vedanga texts established systematic categories in astronomy but the more basic problem was handled by Aryabhata (499 ce). His Aryabhatiya is a concise text containing 121 verses. It contains separate sections on astronomical definitions, methods of determining the true position of the planets, description of the movement of the Sun and the Moon, and the

Education in Ancient India

calculation of the eclipses. The reason he gave for eclipse was that the Earth was a sphere and rotated on its axis and when the shadow of the Earth fell on the Moon, it caused lunar eclipse, and when the shadow of the Moon fell on the earth, it caused solar eclipse. On the contrary, the orthodox theory explained it as a process where the demon swallowed the planet. • All these observations have been described by Varahamihira in Pancha Siddhantika which gives the summary of five schools of astronomy present in his times. Aryabhata deviated from Vedic astronomy and gave it a scientific outlook which became a guideline for later astronomers. • Astrology and horoscope were studied in ancient India. Aryabhatta’s theories showed a distinct departure from astrology which stressed more on beliefs than scientific explorations.

Mathematics • Mathematics has been called by the general name of Ganita which includes Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra, Astronomy and Astrology. • Arithmetic is called by several names, such as Pati Ganita (calculations on board) and Anka Ganita (calculations with numerals). • Geometry is called Rekha Ganita (line works) and Algebra, Bija ­Ganita (seed analysis), Astronomy and Astrology are included in the term Jyotisa. • The town planning of Harappa shows that the people possessed a good knowledge of measurement and geometry. • By third century ce, mathematics developed as a separate stream of study. Indian mathematics is supposed to have originated from the Sulvasutras. • Apastamba in second century bce, introduced practical geometry involving acute angle, obtuse angle and right angle. This knowledge helped in the construction of fire altars where the kings offered sacrifices. • The three main contributions in the field of mathematics were the notation system, the decimal system and the use of zero. The notations and the numerals were carried to the West by the Arabs. These numerals replaced the Roman numerals. • Zero was discovered in India in the second century bce. Brahmagupta’s Bra-hmasphut. asiddha-nta is the very first book that mentioned ‘zero’ as a number, hence, Brahmagupta is considered as the man who found zero. He gave rules of using zero with other numbers. Aryabhatta discovered algebra and also formulated the area of a triangle, which led to the origin of Trigonometry. • The Surya Siddhanta is a very famous work. • Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita of the sixth century ce is another pioneering work in the field of astronomy. His observation that the moon rotated around the Earth and the Earth rotated around the Sun found recognition, and later discoveries were based on this assertion. • Mathematics and astronomy together ignited interest in time and ­cosmology.

Medicine • Diseases, cure and medicines were mentioned for the first time in the Atharva Veda. Fever, cough, consumption, diarrhoea, dropsy, sores, leprosy and seizure are the diseases mentioned. The diseases are said to be

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Chapter 10









caused by the demons and spirits entering one’s body. The remedies recommended were replete with magical charms and spells. From 600 bce began the period of rational sciences. Taxila and Varanasi emerged as the centres of medicine and learning. The two important texts in this field are Charak Samhita by Charak and ­Sushruta Samhita by Sushruta. How important was their work can be understood from the knowledge that it reached as far as China and Central Asia through translations in various languages. The plants and herbs used for medicinal purposes have been mentioned in Charak Samhita. Surgery came to be mentioned as a separate stream around fourth century ce. Sushruta was a pioneer of this discipline. He considered surgery as ‘the highest division of the healing arts and least liable to fallacy.’ He mentions 121 surgical instruments. Along with this he also mentions the methods of operations, bone setting, cataract and so on. The surgeons in ancient India were familiar with plastic surgery (repair of noses, ears and lips). Sushruta mentions 760 plants. All parts of the plant roots, barks, flowers, leaves, etc., were used. Stress was laid on diet (e.g., salt-free diet for prevention of nephritis (a condition where inflammation of kidneys happens). Both the Charak Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita became the predecessors of the development of Indian medicine in the later centuries. However, surgery suffered in the early medieval time since the act of dissecting with a razor became the work of a barber.

Metallurgy • The glazed potteries, and bronze and copper artefacts found in the Indus Valley excavations point towards highly developed metallurgy. • The Vedic people were aware of fermenting grain and fruits, tanning leather and the process of dyeing. • By the first century ce, mass production of metals, like iron, copper, silver, gold and of alloys like brass and bronze was taking place. • The iron pillar in the Qutub Minar complex is indicative of the high quality of alloying that was being done. • Alkali and acids were produced and utilized for making medicines. This technology was also used for other crafts, like producing dyes and colours. • Textile dyeing was popular. • The Ajanta frescoes reflect on the quality of colour. These paintings have survived till date. • A 2-m-high bronze image of Buddha has been discovered at Sultanganj (near Bhagalpur).

Geography • The constant interaction between man and nature forced people to study geography. • Though the people were clear about their own physical geography, that of China and also the Western countries, they were unaware of their position on the Earth and the distances with other countries.

Education in Ancient India

Dock

at

Lothal

• Indians also contributed to shipbuilding. In the ancient period, voyages and navigation was not a familiar foray for the Indians. • Lothal, a site in Gujarat has the remains of a dockyard proving that trade flourished in those days by sea. • In the early medieval period, with the development of the concept of Tirtha and Tirtha Yatra, a vast mass of geographical information was accumulated. They were finally compiled as parts of Puranas. In many cases, separate Sthala purana was also compiled.

Scientists

of

Ancient India

Baudhayana • Baudhayana was the first one ever to arrive at several concepts in mathematics, which were later rediscovered by the western world. • The value of ‘pi’ was first calculated by him. ‘pi’ is useful in calculating the area and circumference of a circle. What is known as Pythagoras theorem today is already found in Baudhayana’s S ­ ulvasutras, which was written several years before the age of Pythagoras.

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Aryabhata • Aryabhata was a fifth century mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and physicist. • He was a pioneer in the field of mathematics. • At the age of 23, he wrote Aryabhatiya, which is a summary of mathematics of his time. There are four sections in this scholarly work. • In the first section, he describes the method of denoting big decimal numbers by alphabets. • In the second section, we find difficult questions from topics of modern-day mathematics, such as number theory, geometry, trigonometry and algebra (beej ganita). • The remaining two sections are on astronomy. • Aryabhata showed that zero was not only a numeral but also a symbol and a concept. Discovery of zero enabled Aryabhata to find out the exact distance between the Earth and the Moon. The discovery of zero also opened up a new dimension of negative numerals. • In ancient India, the science of astronomy was well-advanced. It was called Khagol Shastra. Khagol was the famous astronomical observatory at Nalanda, where Aryabhata studied. • The aim behind the development of the science of astronomy was the need to have accurate calendars, a better understanding of climate and rainfall patterns for timely sowing and choice of crops, fixing the dates of seasons and festivals, navigation, calculation of time and casting of horoscopes for use in astrology. Knowledge of astronomy, particularly of the tides and the stars, was of great importance in trade, because of the requirement of crossing the oceans and deserts during night time. • Disregarding the popular view that our planet Earth is ‘Achala’ (immovable), Aryabhata stated his theory that ‘earth is round and rotates on its own axis.’ • He explained that the appearance of the Sun moving from east to west is false by giving examples. One such example was: When a person travels in a boat, the trees on the shore appear to move in the opposite direction. • He also correctly stated that the Moon and the planets shined by reflected sunlight. He also gave a scientific explanation for solar and lunar eclipse clarifying that the eclipse were not because of Rahu and/or Ketu or some other rakshasa (demon). • In recognition of his great contribution, the first satellite sent into orbit by India has been named after Aryabhata.

Brahmagupta • In the seventh century, Brahmagupta took mathematics to heights far beyond others. • In his methods of multiplication, he used place value in almost the same way as it is used today. • He introduced negative numbers and operations on zero into mathematics. • He wrote Bra-hmasphut. asiddha-nta through which the Arabs came to know our mathematical system.

Education in Ancient India

Bhaskaracharya • Bhaskaracharya was the leading light of 12th century. • He was born at Bijapur, Karnataka. • He is famous for his book Siddha-nta Shiromani. It is divided into four sections: Lilavati (Arithmetic), Beej ganit (Algebra), Goladhyaya (Sphere) and Graha ganit (mathematics of planets). • Bhaskara introduced Chakrawat Method or the Cyclic Method to solve algebraic equations. • This method was rediscovered six centuries later by European mathematicians, who called it inverse cycle. • In the 19th century, an English man, James Taylor, translated Lilavati and made this great work known to the world.

Mahaviracharya • There is an elaborate description of mathematics in Jain literature (500– 100 bce). • Jain gurus knew how to solve quadratic equations. They have also described fractions, algebraic equations, series, set theory, logarithms and exponents in a very interesting manner. • Jain Guru Mahaviracharya wrote Ganitasnrasanngraha in 850 ce, which is the first textbook on arithmetic in present day form. • The current method of solving Least Common Multiple (LCM) of given numbers was also described by him. Thus, long before John Napier introduced it to the world, it was already known to Indians.

Kanada • He was a sixth century scientist of Vaisheshika School, one of the six systems of Indian philosophy. His original name was Aulukya. • He got the name Kanada, because even as a child, he was interested in very minute particles called ‘kana.’ His atomic theory can be a match to any modern atomic theory. • According to Kanada, material universe is made up of kanas, (anu/atom) which cannot be seen through any human organ. These cannot be further subdivided. Thus, they are indivisible and indestructible. This is, of course, what the modern atomic theory also says.

Varahamihira • Varahamihira made great contributions in the fields of hydrology, geology and ecology. He lived in the Gupta period. • He was one of the first scientists to claim that termites and plants could be the indicators of the presence of underground water. • He gave a list of 6 animals and 30 plants, which could indicate the presence of water. • He gave very important information regarding termites (deemak or insects that destroy wood), that they go very deep to the surface of water level to bring water to keep their houses (bambis) wet.

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• Another theory, which has attracted the world of science is the earthquake cloud theory given by Varahamihira in his Brihat Samhita. The 32nd chapter of this Samhita is devoted to signs of earthquakes. He has tried to relate earthquakes to the influence of planets, undersea activities, underground water, unusual cloud formation and abnormal behaviour of animals. • Varahamihira’s contribution is worth mentioning in Jyotish or ­Astrology. It was presented scientifically in a systematic form by Aryabhata and Varahamihira. • Varahamihira was one of the nine gems, who were scholars, in the court of Vikramaditya. Varahamihira’s predictions were so accurate that king Vikramaditya gave him the title of ‘Varaha’.

Nagarjuna • Nagarjuna was a tenth century scientist. • The main aim of his experiments was to transform base elements into gold, like the alchemists in the western world. • Although he was not successful in his goal, he succeeded in making an element with gold-like shine. • Till date, this technology is used in making imitation jewellery. • In his treatise, Rasaratnakara, he has discussed methods for the extraction of metals like gold, silver, tin and copper.

Sushruta • Sushruta was a pioneer in the field of surgery. • He considered surgery as ‘the highest division of the healing arts and least liable to fallacy.’He studied human anatomy with the help of a dead body. In Sushruta Samhita, over 1100 diseases are mentioned including fevers of 26 kinds, jaundice of 8 kinds and urinary complaints of 20 kinds. • Over 760 plants are described. All parts, roots, bark, juice, resin, flowers, etc., were used. Cinnamon, sesame, peppers, cardamom and ginger are household remedies even today. • In Sushruta Samhita, the method of selecting and preserving a dead body for the purpose of its detailed study has also been described. • The dead body of an old man or a person who died of a severe disease was generally not considered for studies. The body needed to be perfectly cleaned and then preserved in the bark of a tree. It was then kept in a cage and hidden carefully in a spot in the river. There the current of the river softened it. After 7 days, it was removed from the river. It was then cleaned with a brush made of grass roots, hair and bamboo. When this was done, every inner or outer part of the body could be seen clearly. • Sushruta’s greatest contribution was in the fields of rhinoplasty (plastic surgery) and ophthalmic surgery (removal of cataracts). In those days, cutting of nose and/or ears was a common punishment. Restoration of these or limbs lost in wars was a great blessing. • In Sushruta Samhita, there is a very accurate step-by-step description of these operations.

Education in Ancient India

• Surprisingly, the steps followed by Sushruta are strikingly similar to those followed by modern surgeons while doing plastic surgery. • Sushruta Samhita also gives a description of 101 instruments used in surgery. Some serious operations performed included taking foetus out of the womb, repairing the damaged rectum, removing stone from the bladder, etc.

Charak • Charak is considered as the father of ancient Indian science of medicine. • He was the Raj Vaidya (royal doctor) in the court of Kanishka. • His Charak Samhita is a remarkable book on medicine. It has the description of a large number of diseases and gives methods of identifying their causes as well as the method of their treatment. • He was the first to talk about digestion, metabolism and immunity as important for health and so medical science. • In Charak Samhita, more stress has been laid on removing the cause of disease rather than simply treating the illness. • Charak also knew the fundamentals of genetics. It is indeed fascinating to know that thousands of years back, medical science was at such an advanced stage in India.

Yoga and Patanjali • The science of Yoga was developed in ancient India as an allied science of Ayurveda for healing without medicine at the physical and mental levels. • The term Yoga has been derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yoktra.’ Its literal meaning is ‘yoking the mind to the inner self after detaching it from the outer subjects of senses.’Like all other sciences, it has its roots in the Vedas. It defines chitta, i.e., dissolving thoughts, emotions and desires of a person’s consciousness and achieving a state of equilibrium. • It sets in to motion the force that purifies and uplifts the consciousness to divine realization. • Yoga is physical as well as mental. Physical yoga is called Hatha Yoga. Generally, it aims at removing a disease and restoring healthy condition to the body. • Raja Yoga is mental yoga. Its goal is self-realization and liberation from bondage by achieving physical mental, emotional and spiritual balance. • Yoga was passed on by word of mouth from one sage to another. • The credit of systematically presenting this great science goes to Patanjali. • In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, ‘Aum’ is spoken of as the symbol of God. He refers to ‘Aum’ as a cosmic sound, continuously flowing through the ether, fully known only to the illuminated. • Besides Yoga Sutras, Patanjali also wrote a work on medicine and worked on Panini’s grammar known as Maha-bha-s.ya.

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11

Chapter

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

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Chapter 11

Indian society and culture have undergone enormous changes, beginning from the times of Indus Valley Civilization to the present day. It would be interesting to understand how the social institutions which emerged during the earliest historical period were later transformed and became more rigid due to changes in the economy and the political organization of the society. Such changes occurred during the post Vedic period when social codes were more rigidly defined through the composition of the Smriti texts, such as epics, Puranas and Dharmashastras. The great epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which were composed during this period, contain prescriptions about social, cultural and political norms of society.

Objectives After reading this chapter, you will be able to: • Explain how society in ancient India functioned through different social institutions and what are its distinguishing features • Learn about various social institutions and practices existed during Vedic period • Describe a thematic study of ancient Indian religious traditions • Get to know about the origin, growth and features of Brahahmanism, Saivism, Shaktism, Tantrism, Buddhism, Jainism • Know about the importance of Ancient Art and Architecture

Society

in

Ancient India

The orthodox and rigid norms which developed during the Vedic period soon led to protest and reform movements in the society. These developments culminated in the rise of religious movements, such as Buddhism and Jainism which revolted both against the Vedic cultism and the rigid varna hierarchy. They also opposed social and cultural exploitation inherent in these institutions. However, the influence of these movements weakened over time and Brahmanism once again revived. The revival of Brahmanism reinforced the rigid social norms of caste and occupation. It was about this time that Manu is attributed to have authored Manusmriti, the law-code of the Brahmanical social system. A new perspective on how this period of Indian social history underwent new phases of transformation due to regionalization of the Indian polity and disintegration of empires of the Mauryas and that of the Guptas may be discerned from the sources of the said period. Society in ancient India functioned through different social institutions, and had several distinguishing features. The members of the society were grouped in the form of four varnas. The life of individual was divided into four stages or ashramas. There were rules regarding marriage, family, lineage, etc. The objective of life of an individual was to attain four goals called purus.  a¯  rthas.

Purus. ārtha The concept of purus.  a¯  rthas was the fundamental principle of Indian social ethics. The aim of every individual was to attain the four noble ends or p­ urus.  a¯  rtha. These four purus.  a¯  rthas are—dharma, artha, kama and moksha.

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

Four Purușārthas (i) Dharma: Righteous action (ii) Artha: Material means to earn livelihood (iii) Kama: Sensual ­pleasure (iv) Moksha: Liberation from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth

Dharma Dharma or the theory of righteousness is considered to be the supreme of the purus.  a¯  rthas. Its meaning is different from the English rendering of the term, religion. The word ‘religion’ has been derived from the Latin root religare or religio which means ‘to connect’. In this sense, religion is a set of principles which connects human beings with the supernatural being. It is a particular way of worshipping. The term, dharma is derived from the Sanskrit root dhri, which means to sustain, support or uphold. It is the essential foundation of something that signifies ‘truth’; it is that which is established, customary, proper and therefore, means ‘traditional’ or ceremonial; it is one’s duty, responsibility, imperative and thereby ‘moral obligation’. Therefore, dharma in ancient India was a code of conduct for members of the society. We find various forms of dharma in the sense of duty in ancient India like—samanyadharma—some general rules which are universal in nature like truth, non-violence and non-stealing; Rajadharma with a bar above a after the first R—duties of the king; stridharma—duties of a woman; dampatyadharma—duties of husband and wife; varnadharma—duties of varnas; ashramadharma—duties in the different stages of life; apadadharma—­duties during the crisis period.

Artha The second purus.  a¯  rtha, the artha refers to worldly prosperity or wealth or the material means of life to be acquired through right means. Kautilya says that wealth is the basis of human requirements and that social well-being depends ultimately on material prosperity. Other Indian thinkers too had recognized the pursuit of wealth as a legitimate human aspiration.

Kama Kama means worldly or sensual pleasures. It refers to some of the innate desires and urges in human beings. In the wider sense it involves worldly, emotional and aesthetic life all together.

Moksha The ultimate purus.  a¯  rtha, the moksha means salvation or liberation from the cycle of birth and death. It is the final objective of human existence.

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Chapter 11

Social Institutions

and

Practices

Varnashrama System Smriti and Dharmashastra texts refer to varnashramadharma or the dharma of different sections of the society and dharma in the different stages of life. In ancient India, there were different codes of conduct for different classes or varnas called varna-dharma. Similarly, it was desired to follow different dharma at the different stages or ashrama of life called varnashramadharma.

Varnas The first ever reference of the term, varna is found in the Rig Veda. The tenth chapter of Rig Veda called Purusha sukta mentions the theory of the origin of varnas according to which varnas originated from the different body parts of lord Prajapati or the creator. He created brahmanas from his mouth, kshatriyas from his arms, vaishyas from his thighs and shudras from his legs. A much significant feature of this varna system was that the top three varnas—brahmanas, kshatriyas and vaishyas were described as dvija or twice born. Their  first birth was natural birth. But they were considered to be born again at the time of the pious yajnopavı¯ta samskara when they were invested with the sacred thread in a special ceremony.

BHARMAIN Priests, Academics

KSHATRIYA Warriors, Kings VAISHYA Merchants, Landowners SUDRA Commoners, Peasants, Servants

The Four Varnas

Brahmanas • at the top of varna hierarchy believed to possess great spiritual powers. • had a divine existence. In law, they claimed great privileges exempt from execution, torture and corporal punishment main functions prescribed were learning, teaching and priesthood.

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

Kshatriyas • represented heroism, courage and strength • constituted the warrior class • the duty of kshatriyas was protection which had both internal and external aspects • external protection meant to protect the society from external i­ nvasion • internal protection meant governance in peace and protection from anarchy • they had the right to possess arms Vaishyas • represented the trading and commercial class • were entitled to the services of the priesthood and to the ceremony of ­yajnopavita • the main task was to keep and maintain cattle later on, vaishyas became economically a very important class of society • they possessed the expert knowledge of jewels, metals, cloth, threads, spices, perfumes etc. In this sense, vaishyas were the ancient Indian businessmen in Brahmanic literature, vaishyas are given few rights and humble status but Buddhist and Jaina literatures mention many wealthy merchants living a luxurious life. Shudras • placed at the bottom of the social hierarchy pursued the task of serving the other three varnas • they were not twice born. They were deprived of various rights • they were in fact second-class citizens; on the fringes of Aryan society shudras were of two types— ‘not excluded’ or anirvasita and ‘excluded’ or nirvasita. The distinction was made on the basis of the customs of the shudra group and the profession followed by the members of the group. Anirvasita shudras were the part of Indian varna system where as nirvasita shudras were quite outside the pale of Brahmanical society and virtually indistinguishable from the strata of people known as untouchables.

Untouchables There were a large number of people who were deprived of all their basic rights. They were not supposed to be in any contact with the people of any of the established varnas. They were untouchables. Sometimes they are regarded as the excluded shudras whereas sometimes they are called the ‘fifth class’ (pancham varna). Most important of these groups was the Chandals. They were not allowed to live in the Aryan towns or villages. Their chief means of livelihood were the carrying and cremation of corpses and execution of criminals who were awarded the death penalty. According to the law books of ancient India, Chandals should be dressed in the garments of the corpses they cremated, should eat his food from broken vessels and should wear only those ornaments which were made of iron.

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Chapter 11

Evolution of Jatis

Upanayana

In course of time, during the post-Mauryan period, the four varnas were divided into various subcategories called castes. The caste system is governed by two important rules: first, endogamy or marriage within the members of same caste; and second, the observance of certain rules of commensality whereby food was to be received from and consumed in the presence of either members of the same caste or of a higher caste but could not be consumed together with the members of the lower caste. Several irregular or mixed castes are represented in the Dharmashastras as coming into existence because of the anuloma (marriage between male of higher varna and female of lower varna) and pratiloma (reverse of anuloma) connections, especially the latter. The later Vedic literature mentions about eight mixed castes besides the four regular varnas, Vasistha raises their number to ten, Baudhayana to 15, Gautama to 18, Manu to about 60. But the above theory explains the proliferation of castes (jatis) only partly. Instead it seems to be an afterthought to provide place for the numerous tribal populations in the four-fold varna order. Sociologists have clarified that the Nishadas, Ambasthas, Pulkasas, etc., were originally tribal communities and once they were incorporated into the Brahmanical society, ingenious origins within the framework of the system were suggested for them. Henceforth, the notion of ‘mixed caste’ or varnasamkara came in vogue. The List

of

Manu’s Mixed

and

Lowest Castes.

Father

Mother

Castes Formed

Brahmin

Vaishya

Ambastha

Brahmin

Shudra

Nisada

Kshatriya

Shudra

Urga

Kshatriya

Brahmin

Suta

Vaishya

Brahmin

Vaideha

Vaishya

Kshatriya

Magadha

Shudra

Vaishya

Ayogava

Shudra

Kshatriya

Kshattri

Shudra

Brahmin

Chandala

Brahmin

Urga

Avrita

Ashram or the Stages of Life The Ashrama system denotes the ancient Indian Brahmanical scheme of life where different stages in the life of an individual are well-ordered. The average life span of an individual is considered to be 100 years and it is divided into four stages, each stage having a time span of 25 years. These four ashrams are:

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

ASHRAMA: Four Stages of Life 1–20 Years Old The student, who is devoted and obedient to his teacher

The householder, who supports his family and the priests and fulfills duties to the gods and ancestors The hermit, or retiree who withdraws from society to pursure ascetic and yogic practices The guru, who renounces all possessions and wonders from place to place begging for food

Ashrama

or the

Stages

of

Life

Brahmacharyashram or the Stage of Studentship • This is the first stage of life. • It is meant for acquiring knowledge, developing discipline and moulding character. • This stage starts with the ceremony called upanayanama or yajnopavita, i.e., investiture with the sacred thread. Now the person becomes a brahmacharina, leading a celibate and austere life as a student at the home of his teacher. • In this stage, he is supposed to be with his guru for learning the basic education.

Grihasthashram or the Stage of Householder • This stage starts at marriage when the student has completed his studentship and is ready to take up the duties and responsibilities of a household life. • In this stage, the individual gets married, earns money and begets children. • The individual pursues wealth (artha) and pleasure (kama) within the limits of the moral law (dharma).

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Chapter 11

Vanaprasthashram or the Stage of Retirement from Active Life • A resident of the forest, where he castigates the body to purify the soul. • After discharging all the duties and obligations as a householder, the individual enters this stage. • It consists of the third quarter of person’s life. In this phase, after retiring from active life, the individual dedicates himself to a life of spiritual contemplation. • He leaves his home and goes to the forest to become a hermit.

Sanyasashram or the Stage of Renunciation or Wandering Mystic • This is the last stage of life. • Now the individual leaves his hermitage and becomes a homeless wanderer (sannyasin) with all his earthly ties broken. • The sannyasin aspires and acts to attain liberation only. • In the last quarter of his life, a man enters the fourth stage, which offers him a final means of reaching the supreme goal (moksha). This last stage of the yati or sannyasin is meant only for a Brahman. Three stages ending with that of the forest-recluse are ordained for the Kshatriya. The Vaishya ends his life as a householder. The Sudra knows only the householder’s stage of life and none other.

Marriage Marriage or vivaha was a very important samskara in ancient India. Marriage in ancient India had three main purposes: Promotion of religion by performance of household sacrifices; Progeny or the happy after life of father and his ancestors; and Rati or sexual pleasure. The Dharmashastras mention eight forms of marriage, of which the first four are approved forms and the last four unapproved forms. The first four approved forms are brahma, prajapatya, daiva and arsa. Brahma Vivaha • The purest form of marriage. • The father of the bride offers his daughter to a man of character and learning. • The daughter who is decked with ornaments and richly dressed is given as a gift to a man of good character and high learning. Daiva Vivaha • The father offers her daughter as a dakshina (sacrificial fee) to a young priest who officiates the yajña which is arranged by him. Arsa Vivaha • The father of the bride gives his daughter to the bridegroom after receiving a cow and a bull or two pairs of these animals from the bridegroom. Prajapatya Vivaha • The father offers the girl to the bridegroom. But neither does he offer any dowry, nor does he demand bride-price.

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

Asura Vivaha • This is a form of marriage by purchase in which the bridegroom has to give money to the father or kinsman of the bride. Gandharva Vivaha • This was a marriage by consent of the boy and the girl. • Mutual love and consent of the bride and bridegroom was the only condition required to bring about the union. Rakshasa Vivaha • This was marriage by capture in which the girl was forcibly abducted from her home, crying and weeping and her kinsmen have been stained and their houses broken. Paishacha Vivaha • This form of marriage is one in which the man seduces by force a girl who is sleeping or intoxicated or mentally disordered. Out of these eight forms of marriage, the first four have been described as prashasta or approved or desirable marriage whereas the rest of the four forms have been considered to be aprashasta or disapproved or undesirable marriages. Moreover, there were many conditions attached with marriage. One such important condition was that the bride should be a virgin and the importance of this rule lies in the fact that it renders the remarriage of widows difficult. In the Rig Veda, there is some indication that a woman might re-marry if her husband had disappeared and could not be found or heard of. This is called niyoga or levitate. Atharva Veda mentions that a woman married twice may be united in the next world with her second and not with her first husband.

Sixteen Samsakāras –dha –na: Conception of a child in mother’s womb (i) Garbha – (ii) Pumsavana: Wish for a male or female child (iii) Simantonnayana: Wish for the healthy development of the baby and safe delivery of the m ­ other –takarma: Natal rites (iv) Ja –makarana: Naming of the child (v) Na

(vi) Nishkramana: First outing of the child –sana: First feeding with the boiled rice (vii) Annapra –karana: Tonsure ceremony (viii) Chura

(ix) Karnavedha: Piercing the ear lobes –rambha: Learning the alphabets (x) Vidya (xi) Upanayana: The thread ceremony –rambha: First study of the vedas (xii) Veda –nta: Cutting the hair (xiii) Kesa –vartana: Graduation (xiv) Sama –ha: Marriage (xv) Viva

(xvi) Shradha or Antyesti: The funeral or the last rite

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Marriage Practices There was a provision of divorce too. Divorce was more or less unilateral to be affected by the husband on grounds of adultery, barrenness, disobedience, etc. Dissolution of marriage could take place for essentially two reasons: the moment a person loses his caste, his wife abandons him and can take another husband. In the case of absence of the husband for a long time, the wife is permitted a number of options including those of remarriage and levirate. Widow remarriage was probably practiced particularly by the lower varnas all through the ancient period, though in the early stages even higher classes practiced it. In the Vedic and the Epic ages, we do not have any regulation confining niyoga (levirate) to any particular varna. In later times, however, the Smritis restrict the practice to the Sudras only. The number of wives assigned to a person is determined by his varna. While polygamy seems to have been prevalent among members of the upper varnas, monogamy is generally practiced by those of the lower varnas. Polygamy of the upper varnas seems to be in line with their larger share in the social surplus, just as the monogamy of the lower orders is an index of their inability to maintain a large family.

Samskaras The samskaras or sacraments constitute an important segment of the karma kanda, because they are believed to reform and sanctify the person for whom they are performed, marking various occasions of his life from conception in the mother’s womb to the cremation of the body at death. The first systematic attempt at describing the samskaras is found in the Grihyasutras. The number of samskaras in the Grihyasutras fluctuate between 12 and 18. Gautam Dharmasutra speaks of 40 samskaras. In course of time, however, 16 became the classical number comprising the following: garbhadana (conception), pumsavana (engendering a male issue), simantonnayana (parting the hair), jatakarma (natal rites), namakarana (naming), nishkramana (first outing), annaprasana (first feeding with boiled rice), chudakarana (tonsure), karnavedha (piercing the ear lobes), vidyarambha or aksararambha (learning the alphabet), upanayana (holy thread ceremony), vedarambha (first study of the Vedas), ­kesanta (cutting the hair), samavartana (graduation), vivaha (marriage), and according to the prescribed religious ceremonies, antyesti (funeral). The Hindus believed that they were surrounded by superhuman influences, good or evil; and they sought to remove the evil influences by the various means they devised for the purpose, and they invoked the beneficial ones for affording them timely help. Among the means adopted for the removal of evil influences, the first was propitiation. The second means was deception. The third means was to resort to threat and direct attack—when the above two methods failed. The samskaras have a cultural purpose governing the evolution of the society, because they comprehend sacrifices and rites that have for their aim domestic felicity. The performance served the purpose of self-expression. The householder performed the samskaras also for expressing his own joys, felicitations, and even sorrows at the various events of life. They also helped in imparting to life a higher religious sanctity. Impurity associated with the material body is considered to be removed by the performance of the samskaras.

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

Ancient Indian Religions Ancient Indian religion constitutes a wide variety of related religious traditions native to India. Historically, it incorporates the evolution of religious traditions since the prehistoric period. It lookes back to age-old belief of the Indus Civilization followed by the Vedic religion, Buddhism, Jainism, Bhagavatism, Shaivism, Shaktism, Tantricism, etc. The religious traditions developed during the Indus age, the Vedic and post-Vedic ages are described in their respective chapters in the book. In the following pages, a thematic study of ancient Indian religious traditions is dealt with in detail.

Brahmanism Origins Brahmanism is generally considered as the predecessor of Hinduism. Brahmanism may be understood as the central theme around which revolves the belief of Vedic followers, its thoughts and philosophical concepts. All these gave rise to the primary and socio-religious belief and conduct in Hinduism. The entire corpus of Vedic literature, as we have already come across, speaks in volumes about such beliefs and practices. The post-Vedic period witnessed the emergence of a set of religious beliefs and practices that we popularly recognize as Hinduism today, and bhakti and puja are considered part and parcel to it. The term, bhakti refers to devotion centred on a distinct personal or favourite god (ishtadeva). Its manifestations can be seen in three main theistic cults based on the worship of Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti. Though these deities were not new, the pre-eminence they shot into now, and the elaborate ritual attention paid to them, and complex mythologies built around them, were certainly new and spectacular. The co-existence of the worship of these deities, who were the focus of independent sects but were part of a common pantheon, can be described as monolatry—the belief in a supreme god while acknowledging the existence of other gods. This is an important feature of this religion. For example, the concept of trideva is that Brahma is the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer; Shakti in her various forms (Durga, Kali, Bhadrakali, Lakshmi, etc.) also performs these roles, and figures as the consort to these gods as well. Vishnu Slaying horse demon

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These cults developed in a syncretistic fashion, bringing under their folds a number of other subsidiary cults. For example, the Dashavatara concept associates the worship of Vishnu with that of ten other cults, including some that appear to be of non-Vedic and totemic origin, such as the varah (boar) and matsya (fish). The most popular of the avataras (incarnation) who enjoyed a wide following already by this period is Vasudeva-Krishna. He emerges as the supreme god and author of the Bhagavad Gita, the most important Hindu scripture, the composition of which belongs to Gupta period. The term, puja refers to ceremonial worship with the making of offerings such as flowers, fruits and other objects for the deity. The two natural accompaniments of this new form of ritual were image worship and worship in shrines/temples. They indicate growing institutionalization and permanence of cults. Shiva was most commonly worshipped in his linga (phallic) form. Earliest linga and man-like representations of Shiva are from second century bce, Mathura. Idols of Vishnu and Vasudeva-Krishna and his brother Balarama and sister Ekanamsha, increase in number and variety from the early centuries of Christian Era in central India, but their earliest images occur on coins from Ai-Khanoum (Afghanistan) from second century bce. Earliest remains of stone temples are from those dedicated to Vishnu at Besnagar (Madhya Pradesh) and Nagari (Rajasthan) again from the second century bce. The most striking image of Shakti in this period is that Durga-Mahishasuramardini (the slayer of the demon Mahishasura) on stone plaques from the Mathura area. The cults of Shaivism, Vishnuism, Shaktism and worship of Ganesha and Surya had become established in the form of Puranic religion by the Gupta period. From the sixth century onwards, the worship of the cult of Surya seems to have been confined to Gujarat and gradually disappeared. The most significant religious development in this period was the worship of Devi, all-encompassing female deity. Devi came to be associated with all the female deities which were connected with notions of fertility. Female deities became the nucleus of a number of rites, imbued with magical properties which in a later form were foundational to Tantrism. Devi was supposed to be the initiator of action, and of the power and energy—Shakti—of Shiva (it was held that the male God could only be activated through union with the female). That these ideas were influential can be seen from the temples dedicated to the Yoginis, females endowed with magical power and sometimes linked to goddesses. The temples of Yoginis have mostly survived in central India. Some of the mythology linked to the worship of the goddess was brought together in the text famously known as the Devi Mahatmya. It is interesting to note that such assimilation of the cult of goddesses popular among the tribal population also enriched Tantric religion. The Shakti–Shakta cult became not only the fundamental belief in many religious sects, but also gradually attained a dominant status. The consorts of male deities were worshiped in their own right, such as Lakshmi the consort of Vishnu, or Parvati Kali and Durga who were various consorts of Shiva. Buddhism was also influenced by Tantric beliefs and rites. Tantric influence on Buddhism can be seen in the emergence Vajrayana sect of Buddhism (the Thunderbolt Vehicle) with its centre in eastern India. Vajrayana Buddhism gave female counterparts, the cult of Taras, to the existing male figures of the Buddhist pantheon. However, Hiuen Tsang noticed a decline in Buddhism at Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and some other places and mentioned the hostility of some rulers, such as Shashanka of Bengal towards Buddhism. Hence, Buddhism registered a decline on a sub-continental scale by the seventh century.

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

11.13

Vaishnavism in South India Alvars: These Vaishnava bhakti-saints of South India preached one-souled and loving adoration for Vishnu, and their songs in Tamil were collectively named ‘Prabhandas’. There are totally 12 Alvars, the most famous among them being Nammalvar, Tirumalisai Alvar and Andal (a saintess). Vaishnava Acharyas (Teachers): Ramanuja, one of the early great Acharyas, developed the doctrine of Visishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism) based on some Upanishadic texts in opposition to Sankaracharya’s Advaitavada or non-dualism (Sankara does not belong to either Vaishnavism or Saivism but to the Nirguna school). Two other Vishnava Acharyas of the South were Madhvachary, who founded Dvaitavada (theory of Dualism) and Nimbarkar, who founded Dvaitadvaitavada (theory of dualistic non-dualism) in Vaishnavism. Three important aspects of Vaishnavism and Shaivism that took place in this period were important religions developments in Brahmanical religion. The image emerged as the focus of worship and this form of worship, central on puja superseded the Vedic sacrifice. Food items happened to be the common offerings to images, though animals were also offered. The reduction of the emphasis on the priest compared to his role in the sacrificial ritual of Vedic Brahmanism gradually led to devotional worship—bhakti—becoming the most widespread form of the Puranic religion. Unlike the Vedic religion, the Puranic religion had a far wider appeal. The popular participation in religion including individual performance of rituals, traveling collectively to places of pilgrimage and promoting local mythologies. A few of the Puranas were written at this time, although it is difficult to date these precisely. Some of the Puranas are sectarian literature informing worshipper about the mythology, rituals of worship and observances associated with the particular deity to whom the Purana was dedicated. Some of the early Puranas like Vishnu Purana has a section on genealogies and dynasties of the past. It was an attempt at creating a historical tradition. The worship of Yakshas and Nagas and other folk-deities represents the most important part of primitive religious beliefs. Belonging to the centuries before and after the Christian era, the folk-cults survived in the orthodox Brahmanical fold in the form of worship of Ganesha, whose hybrid figure was an amalgam of the pot-bellied Yaksha and the elephantine Naga. The original importance of the folk-element is also apparent in the fact that the first place was assigned to Ganesha in the list of the five principal Puranic deities which can be seen in the Sanskrit phrase Ganesadi Panchadevata, i.e., Ganesha, Vishnu, Siva, Sakti and Surya.

Highlights of Vaishnavism and Vaishnava Cults • The two cults, Bhagavatas and Pancharatras were initially separate, the Pancharatra worshipping deified sage Narayana, and the Bhagavatas worshipping deified Vrisni hero, Vasudeva. These two were later amalgamated to identify Narayana and Vasudeva. • The Bhagavata cult, revolving around Vasudeva Krishna, originated several centuries before the Christian era. When it reached its peak during the second century ce, it came to be generally known as the Pancharatra Agama. • The Pancharatra beliefs and teachings were first systematized in about 100 ce by Sandilya. A cosmological basis was given to Vasudeva Krishna

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Saivism in South India • Saivism in south India also flourished in the beginning through the activities of Saiva saints, the Nayanars, also known as the Adiyars. Their emotional poetry in Tamil was called Tevaram (also known as Dravida Veda). There were totally 63 Nayanars, the most important among them being Tirujnana Sambandhar and Tirunavukkarasu. • A large number of Saiva acharyas or intellectuals of south India were also associated with different forms of Saiva movements such as Agamanta, Suddhasaiva and Virasaiva. • The Agamantas based their tenets mainly on the 28 agamas which explain the various aspects of Siva. Aghora Sivacharya was one of their ablest exponents. Also known as Tamil Saivism, it was systematized by Meykantar in his work Sivajnanabodham (13th century). • The Suddhasaivas upheld Ramanuja’s teachings, but Srikanta Sivacharya was their great expounder. Also known as Sivadvaita, it has some similarities with Tamil as well as Kashmiri Saivism. • The Virashaivas or Lingayats were led by Basava (a minister of Chalukya king, Bijjala Raya of the 12th century ce). This is both a social and a religious reform movement. Though they were originally opposed to caste discrimination and idol worship, later they became a separate caste in Karnataka and developed their own priests called jangamas. Their dead are buried in a sitting position facing north.

by identifying him and the members of his Vrisni or Satavata family (Samkarshana-Balarama, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, besides Krishna himself) with specific cosmic emanations (uyuha). • Both the ‘emanatory theory’ and the theory of incarnation developed early in the Christian era. Later, their worship declined when the concept of Vishnu’s ten incarnations (Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki Avataras in that order) became popular and dominated Vaishnavism during the Gupta Age. • The Vaikhanasa was a ritualistic cult, founded by the legendary Vikhanas. Vaikhanasa ritual theory is based on the five-fold conception of Vishnu. Performing the five-fold ritual expiates evil and bestows happiness on everyone.

Highlights of Saivism Origins and Growth • Saivism, unlike Vaishnavism, had its origins in the very ancient past. The pre-Vedic religion (i.e., Indus religion) has as one of its important components the worship of ‘Pasupati Mahadeva’, a deity described as proto-Siva and in the Vedic religion, ‘Rudra’ can be considered as the Vedic counterpart of Pasupati Mahadeva. • The grammarians of the post-Vedic period give us an idea about the growth of Saivism as a religious movement. Panini refers to a group of Siva-worshippers in his Ashtadhyayi. Patanjali also describes a group of Siva-worshippers ‘Siva Bhagavatas’ in his Mahabhasya.

Extreme Saiva Sects • Pasupata sect, founded by Lukulisa. was the oldest extreme sect of Saivism. Though it originated in the centuries before the Christian era, it flourished

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

in north India and Orissa between the 6th and 11th centuries. It was the only sect to link liberation with the attainment of supernatural powers. • Kapalikas and Kalamukhas were the offshoots of the Pasupata sect. Originating in the 6th century ce in the Deccan, they flourished in Karnataka between the 10th and 13th centuries ce. • Aghoris were the successors of the Kapalikas who were divided into two groups— the suddha (pure) and the malin (dirty). They led the life of wandering ascetics. Each guru was always accompanied by a dog, as was Siva in his Bhairava form. • Gorakhnathis, also known as Kanphala Yogis because of their split or pierced ears and ear rings, were founded by Gorakhnath in eastern Bengal. Unlike the other sects, these Yogis are allowed to marry. Their dead are buried in the posture of meditation and their tombs are called samadh. ‘Pasupati Mahadeva’, A Deity Described

Moderate Saiva Sects • In Kashmir, two moderate schools were founded in the 9th century ce. Vasugupta founded the Pratyabhijna school, and his pupils, Kallata and Somananda founded the Spandasastra school. All these teachings were systematized by Abhinavagupta who founded a new monistic system, called the Trika (threefold) in the 11th century. • Mattamayuras flourished at the same time in central India and a little later in some parts of the Deccan. Many of the Mattamayura Acharyas were preceptors of the Kalachuri-Chedi kings.

Highlights of Shaktism Origin and Growth • In the pre-Vedic times, the mother aspect was venerated, for example, worship of the Mother Goddess in the Indus Civilization. In the Vedic period, gods undoubtedly played a more important part in contemporary mythology. Exclusive worshippers of the Devi are not to be found until a comparatively late period. • The anonymous author of the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea (1st century ce), in his account of Comari (the southern-most port-town of India), refers to worshippers of the goddess in her virgin aspect as Kanyakumari. • Some Gurjara-Prathihara kings of the early medieval period were also worshippers of the Shakti. • Most of the extent works connected with the Tantric form of Shakti worship were composed in later times. But worship of the Shakti could never attain the same importance as the other two major Brahmanical cults.

as

Proto-Siva

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Features and Nature • Although Shaktism and Tantrism were originally two different cultural forces, they are now closely associated. Both are centered on the worship of the supreme goddess Shakti as the feminization of ‘Ultimate Reality’ (Brahman). Thus, to members of these cults, god is conceived as female. • The roots of the Shakti cult go back to the pre-historic Earth Cult or Fertility Cult, the Earth being conceived as a religious form which developed into the notion of the earth as the ‘Great Mother’. The popular Indian village tutelary goddesses (gramadevatas) are extensions of the concept of the great Mother Goddess. • A number of other archaic elements have been assimilated into the ‘Great Goddess’, some from India’s complex tribal cults and others from the Dravidian and Indus civilizations. The fact that Shakti is known by so many names shows her composite nature, which incorporates the functions of many local and tribal goddesses. • Although Shaktism is closely related with Saivism, it is nonetheless distinguishable from it. By the 7th century, in Bengal, a number of local goddess cults, including those of Manasa, Sitala and Chandi had been assimilated into the worship of Kali, who later became identified with Parvati, Siva’s consort. • Among Shakti’s many names is Durga–Kali. Her cult in Bengal is derived from an ancient tribal cult. When Shakti is portrayed with Siva as his consort, her aspect is beneficent, and she is called Parvati, Devi or Uma, or Mahadevi. The eternal blissful union or samarasya of Siva and Shakti is the basis of the ‘realistic monism’ of the Shakti and Saiva cults.

Highlights of Tantrism Meaning and Origin • This is a form of sacramental ritualism, having a number of esoteric and magical aspects, which employs mantras, yantras and yogic techniques. Tantric elements also feature in Jainism, Mahayana Buddhism, Saivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism. • The name Tantrism is derived from the sacred texts called Tantras. The earliest works of this vast literature were written during the Gupta period. To Tantrists, the Tantras are as authoritative as the Vedas and hence are known as the ‘Fifth Veda’. • Tantrism developed primarily in north-west India along the Afghan border, and then established its stronghold in eastern India, especially in western Bengal and Assam. Since it developed in the newly aryanized areas of the subcontinent, many non-Aryan features were included into it.

Features and Nature • Initiation (deeksha) and the receiving of a specific mantra from a qualified guru is all important in the Tantric cults. The initiate is ‘reborn’ and given the necessary esoteric knowledge to guide him towards liberation. • New forms of asceticism were developed, including the sublimation of sexual union in imitation of the union of Siva and Shakti. Great power

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview





• •

is said to result from the worship of Shakti, but from the philosophical point of view, the emergence of the Goddess is the result of the low level of spirituality. Hence, only ‘sexuality’ can be utilized to attain transcendence. Tantrism has two main divisions: the so-called ‘left-hand’ (vamachara) cult and the ‘right-hand’ (dakshinachara) cult. The practices of the dakshinachara are not as extreme as those of the vamachara, and their rites, although similar to the vamachara, are never performed physically but only symbolically. Neither cult recognizes caste distinctions and all aspirants have to undergo complex initiatory rites. The vamachara adepts deliberately flout all the social rules and prohibitions of Brahmanism and ritual conditions, in an attempt to free themselves from the limitations of mundane existence and so attain greater spiritual power. Yantras, geometric symbolic patterns having great spiritual significance, are also employed. They are equivalent to the concrete personal expression of the unapproachable Divine. Yantras operate in the visible sphere as mantras do in the audible. By means of yantras, devotees are able to participate ritually in the powers of the ­universe. The best known is the sriyantra consisting of a number of interlocking triangles with a central point (bindu) symbolizing the eternal, undifferentiated principle (Brahman). But, the Sahajiya tantrists reject the use of mantras, texts, images, and meditation, since only sunya is one’s true nature.

Six Orthodox Schools of Indian Philosophical Systems • All-inclusive and flexible: The Sanskrit term for philosophy is darsana, derived from drishti, literally meaning a ‘seeing’ or ‘view point’. Although Indian philosophy is inextricably bound up with religious beliefs, it is still possible for an orthodox Indian to be an atheist. Some of the traditional systems are also atheistic insofar as they deny the existence of a creator god. He may also accept the doctrine of rebirth yet not accept that a single deity created the world from nothing. • Free from dogmas: In the periods following the rise of Buddhism and Jainism, six orthodox (astika) philosophical systems developed. Though all of these accepted the authority of the Vedas, their interpretations varied on various points, and include theistic, monistic, atheistic and dualistic views. Hence, these systems, however, never attained the status of a dogmatic orthodoxy. Despite their differences, these systems are regarded as complementary aspects of one truth seen from differing points of view. • Categorization of Astika Systems in pairs: Not much is known of the actual or supposed founders of these schools and their names are probably those of the schools rather than of individuals. Each school has a specific Sutra attributed to the supposed founder. The six systems are usually coupled in pairs. The second system of each pair is more a methodology than a metaphysical school. Samkhya (based on intellectual knowledge) and Yoga (on control of the senses and inner faculties); the Vaisesika (the experimental point of view based on sensory experience) and the Nyaya (logical view based on dialectics); Vedanta (based on metaphysical speculation) and Mimamsa (deistic and ritualistic point of view based on the sacred texts).

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Six Schools of Traditional Indian Philosophical Systems Samkhya is a dualistic school recognizing the two eternal realities of purusha (spirit) and prakriti (nature). It is attributed to sage Kapila. • Founded by Patanjali, the Yoga has many similarities to Samkhya. According to the Svetasvatara Upanishad, ‘Samkhya is knowledge, Yoga is practice’. • Attributed to Kanada, the Vaisesika promulgates an atomistic account of the universe. • Nyaya is a system of logical realism founded by Gautam, also known as Aksapada. • Attributed to Badarayana, the Vedanta is also known as Uttaramimamsa. Its main schools are Advaita, Visishtadvaita and Dvaita. • Founded by Jaimini, the Mimamsa is also known as Purvamimamsa, in order to distinguish it from the more complex Vedanta.

Gateway, Buddhist Stupa, Sanchi

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

Highlights of Buddhism Buddha’s Life • Gautama (his gotra name) or Siddhartha (his childhood name) was born in 563 bce at Lumbini (now in Nepal) in the Shakya Kshatriya clan of Kapilavastu. • Left home at the age of 29 and attained Nirvana (salvation) at the age of 35 at Bodhgaya under a pipal tree. • Delivered his first sermon at Sarnath near Varanasi. • Died (mahaparinirvan) at the age of 80 in 483 bce at Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh.His Relatives and Others: Suddodhana (father), Mahamaya (mother), Yasodhara (wife), Rahula (son), Devadatta (cousin), Alara Kalam (the sage who taught him the techniques of meditation) and Sujata (the farmer’s daughter who gave him rice-milk at Bodhgaya). • Five Events and Their Symbols: ■  Birth—Lotus and Bull ■  Great Renunciation—Horse ■  Nirvana—Bodhi Tree ■  First Sermon—Dharma Chakra or Eight-spoked Wheel ■  Parinirvana or Death—Stupa

Buddha Statute–In Rock Cut Cave

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• His Four Noble Truths (Chaturaarya satya) ■  The world is full of sorrows; ■  The cause of sorrow is desire; ■  If desires are conquered, all sorrows can be removed. The only way this can be done is by following the eight-fold path. • Eight-fold Path (Ashtangik Marga): (1) Proper vision (samyak drishti) (2) Right determination (samyak samkapakka), (3) Right speech (samyak vak), (4) Proper action (samyak kamma), (5) Proper livelihood (samyak ajiva), (6) Right effort (samyak vyayam), (7) correct memory (samyak smriti) and (8) Right Meditation (samyak dhyana). Anyone who follows this path, considered as the ‘Middle Path’, would attain salvation irrespective of his social background. • Three Jewels (triratna) of Buddhism: (1) Buddha (the enlightened), (2) Dhamma (doctrine) and (3) Sangha (order).

Progression History of Buddhism The first phase starts from the time of Buddha’s enlightenment and covers his death and the spread of Buddhism in eastern India. The first two Buddhist councils were held during this phase. The second phase starts with the conversion of Asoka. Third Buddhist council was held, where it was decided to send missionaries to different parts of the world. The third phase covers the Sunga-Kanva period. There was a loss of royal patronage in the eastern India. Adoption of Buddhism by the rulers in the northwestern India, tolerant attitude of the Satavahanas, and the development of Buddhist centres, like Amaravati and Nagarjuna Konda in the south are some of the developments of this phase. The fourth phase covers the Gupta period. Fa-Hien’s testification of its popularity, foundation of the Nalanda University by Kumaragupta I, etc., are some of the features. In the fifth phase, Harsha’s patronage, Hiuen Tsang’s tour and his impression about the ruin of some of the Buddhist centres are some of the developments. In the seventh phase, there was the revival of Buddhism in eastern India due to its patronage by the Palas (8th and 9th centuries). Apart from this, foundation of the Vikramashila University by Dharmapala happened to be a significant development of this period. After the decline of the Palas, Buddhism seems to have disappeared from the main land, and after the Turkish invasions, it mainly remained confined to northernmost region. Buddhist Councils First Council

At Rajgriha, under the chairmanship of Mahakasappa and patronage of Ajatasatru (483 bce); Result—settlement of the Sutta Pitaka (Budha’s sayings) and the Vinaya Pitaka (monastic code).

Second Council

At Vaishali, under the chairmanship of Sabakami and patronage of Kalasoka (383 bce.); Result— division of the Buddhist Sangha into the orthodox ‘Sthaviravadins’ (or Theravadins) and the unorthodox ‘Mahasanghikas’.

Third Council

At Pataliputra, under the patronage of Asoka (around 250 bce) and the chairmanship of Moggaliputta Tissa; Results—establishment of the Sthaviravadins as the true followers; final compilation of the Tripitakas (a third one was added to the earlier two, Abhidhamma Pitaka).

Fourth Council

In Kashmir, under the patronage of Kanishka (1st century ce) and the chairmanship of Vasumitra helped by Asvaghosa, author of Buddha Charitra; Results—division of all the Buddhist into two major sects: Mahayanists and Hinayanists; deliberations of the council in Sanskrit instead of Pali; spread of Buddhism to other countries (Mahayanism in Central Asia and China, and Hinayanism in Ceylon, Burma, Thailand and parts of Southeast Asia).

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

Schism in Buddhism Hinayanism • Its followers believed in the original teachings of the Buddha and sought individual salvation through self-discipline and meditation. • They did not believe in idol-worship, though they did worship the symbols. • Their religious literature consists of the Pali canonical texts, several semi-canonical works and Ceylonese chronicles. The Pali canonical texts are the Tripitakas. The largest and the most important of the three is the Sutta Pitaka which itself is divided into five Nikayas (groups); the last one (Khuddaka) consists of, among other, the Jatakas (i.e., the 500 previous birth stories of the Buddha) and the Dhammapada (i.e., the rules for monks and nuns). • Among the several semi-canonical works, the most important is the Milinda-Panho (questions of Menander), an account of the discussions between Greco-Bactrian King, Menander and the Buddhist monk, Nagasena. • Ceylonese chronicles are the Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa. Mahayanism • Its followers believed in the heavenliness of the Buddhas and sought the salvation of all through the grace and help of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (Bodhisattva is a being destined to become a Buddha). • They worshipped the images of several Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. • Mahayanists developed their own version of the Tripitakas, known as the Vaipulyasutra, in Sanskrit. The earliest among them is the Lalitavistara—a flowery account of the life of the Buddha. • Mahayanism had two chief philosophical schools: the Madhyamika and the Yogacara. The Madhyamika School took a line midway. Saint Nagaijuna (1st century ce) was the founder of this school. Nagarjuna’s teachings are also known as Shunyavada. The Yogacara school, founded by Maitreyana¯  tha, on the other hand, completely rejected the realism of Hinayanism, and maintained absolute idealism. Vajrayanism • Its followers believed that salvation could be best attained by acquiring the magical power, which they called Vajra (thunder-bolt or diamond). The chief divinities of this new sect were the Taras (wives of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas) who should be compelled rather than persuaded to bestow magical power on the worshipper by performing the tantra (rites) and reciting the mantra (religious hymns) within the yantra (geometrical designs).

Highlights of Jainism Mahavira’s Life: Vardhamana (childhood name), who later became Mahavira (Great Hero) or Jina (Conqueror), was born in 540 bce at Kundagram near Vaishali in Jnatrika Kshatriya clan. His immediate family members were Siddhartha (father), Trisala (mother), Yashoda (wife) and Anojja (daughter). Becoming an ascetic at the age of 30, he attained Kaivalya (perfect knowledge) at Jrimbhikagrama in eastern India at the age of 42. He propagated Jainism for 30 years and died at the age of 72 in 468 bce at Pavapuri near Rajagriha. He became the head of sect, called Nirgranthas (free from fetters), who later came to be known as Jinas. According to the tradition, he happened to be the 24th Tirthankara (Great Teacher), Parsva being the 23rd and Rishaba being the first.

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Five Cardinal Principles of Jainism 1. No Violence (Ahimsa) 2. No lies (Asatya) 3. No steeling (Aparigraha) 4. No property (Asteya) 5. Observing continence (Brahmacharya). Only the last principle was supposedly added by Mahavira, the other four being the teachings of his predecessors. Triratnas or three Gems: (1) Right knowledge (2) Right Action and (3) Right Liberation.

Five Knowledge in Jainism 1. Divya jnana (divine knowledge); 2. Mati jnana (knowledge through senses); 3. Shruti jnana (knowledge through listening); 4. Avadhi jnana (periodic knowledge) and 5. Manahparyaya jnana (knowledge to acquire others’ ­wisdom).

Jaina Councils and Schism There was a serious famine in the Ganges valley leading to a great exodus of many Jain monks to the Deccan and South India (Shravanabelagola) along with Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta Maurya. They returned after 12 years. The leader of the group which stayed back at Magadha was Sthulabahu. The Jains came to be divided into Digambaras (skyclad or naked) and Svethambaras (white-clad). First Council: Held at Pataliputra by Sthulabahu in the beginning of the third century bce. It saw the compilation of the 12 Angas (sections) to replace the lost 14 Purvas (former texts). They were accepted only by the Svethambaras. Second Council: Held at Valabhi in the fifth century ce by the Svethambaras under the leadership of Devardhi Kshamasramana, it saw the final compilation of the 12 Angas and 12 Upangas (minor sections).

Philosophy of Jainism • Shows a close affinity with the Samkhya system of traditional Indian philosophy. It was called Syadvada (the theory of may be). According to Syadvada, seven modes of predication (saptabhangi) are there for speculations. • Closely related to the Syadvada is Nayavada (the doctrine of viewpoints), which shows the seven ways of approaching an object of knowledge or study. Hence, the Jaina philosophy focuses upon the possibility of looking at an object from various perspectives. • The above two doctrines of Jainism are often together called the Anekantavada (the doctrine of many-sidedness). • Jainism has a theory of reality also. According to this dualistic philosophy, the world consists of two eternal, uncreated, coexisting but independent categories, namely the conscious (jiva) and the unconscious (ajiva). The ajiva is not just what we call matter. It includes matter, which is given the name pudgala, but it also includes such things as space and time, virtue and vice, and the like.

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

• The jiva corresponds to the soul. It knows and feels. It acts and is acted upon. It suffers by its contact with matter and is born again and again only to suffer. Its highest endeavour is to free itself from this bondage. • All living things are classified into five categories, according to the number of senses they possess. The first group, possessing five senses (touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing) includes men, gods, the higher animals and beings in hell. The second class contains creatures thought to have the first four senses only; this class includes other animals and larger insects. The class of threesensed beings contains small insects, which are believed to be blind because of their unfortunate habit of flying into lighted lamps. Two-sensed creatures, with only the sense of taste and touch, include worms, leeches, shell-fish, etc. It is in the final class of one-sensed beings, which have only the sense of touch, that the Jaina classification shows one of its most original features. This great class is in turn divided into five subclasses: vegetable-bodies, earth-bodies, water-bodies, fire-bodies and wind- bodies. Injury to one of the higher forms in the scale of being involves more serious consequences to the soul than injury to a lower form; but even the maltreatment of Earth and water may be dangerous for the soul’s welfare. For the layman, it is impossible not to harm or destroy lives of the one-sensed type, but wanton and unnecessary injury even to these is reprehensible. The Jaina monk vows that as far as possible he will not destroy even the bodies of Earth, water, fire, or wind. In order to remain alive, he must of course eat and drink, but he will not damage living plants in order to do so, preferring to leave this to the lay supporters who supply him with food. Buddhism demands similar circumspection on the part of its monks, though not taken to such extreme lengths. • According to Jainism, the process of transmigration continues eternally, and the universe passes through an infinite number of phases of progress and decline. Unlike the similar cyclic doctrines of Hinduism and Buddhism, in the Jaina system there is no sharp break at the end of the cycle, but rather an imperceptible process of systole and diastole. Monolithic 17-Meter High Statue Shravanabelagola, Karnataka

of

Bahubali,

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Sacred Places of Jains Shatrunjaya Hills (Siddhagiri) in Gujarat is a major Svetambara site, studded with as many as 3500 temples. Mount Abu in Rajasthan, with one Digambara and five Svetambara temples, is the site of some of India’s greatest architectural marvels, dating from the 11th through 13th centuries ce. In Karnataka, on the hill of Shravanabelagola, stands the monolithic 17-meter-high statue of the naked Bahubali, also known as Gomateshvara. At this site every 12 years, a major concourse of Jain ascetics and laity participates in a purification ceremony in which the statue is anointed from head to toe. Carved in 981, the statue is treated as the holiest Jain shrine. The largest concentrations of Jains are in Maharashtra (more than 9.65 lakh) and Rajasthan (nearly 5.63 lakh), with sizable numbers also in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

Highlights

of

Ancient Art

and

Architecture

Shilpasashtra or Vastuvidya, was one of the technical subjects studied in ancient India. It may be understood as the science of architecture. In the earliest texts, the word vastu occurs in the sense of a building site or the building itself. Later on, other subjects such as temple construction, town planning, public and private buildings and forts were included in this discipline. Atharva Veda refers to the provision of separate parts of the building such as sitting-room, inner apartment, room for sacred fire, cattle shed and reception room. The Sankhayana Grihasutra (c. 500 bce) provides details in three chapters about the ceremonials performed for constructing a building. Kautilya’s Arthashastra deals with town planning, fortifications and other structures of civil nature. The text on architecture, samaranganasutradhara, authored by King Bhoja (1010–55 ce), talks about methods of selection of a site, description of the soil, systems of measurement, qualifications of the sthapati (architect) and other craftsmen, building materials, consecration of the plan followed by construction of foundation, basal moulding and technical details for each part of the plan, design and elevation. The south Indian texts, Mayamata (1000 ce) and Manasara (1300 ce), describe about the architectural plan and design of the South Indian style of construction (Dravidian). The growth of Buddhism and Jainism and the rise of theistic cults gave a great impetus to the growth of architecture. Buddhism was particularly associated the stupa, a domical structure of brick or stone masonry. Shrines (chaityas) and monasteries (viharas) were also essential features of Buddhist religious establishments. The early sanctuaries of the Jainas have perished, but cave dwellings for recluses still survive. The Bhakti doctrine and its offshoot, the cult of the divine image, created a great impulse for the erection of temples enshrining images. An abundance of building activity marks the later centuries of the pre-Christian era. Structural monuments of this early phase, seemingly in perishable materials, have not survived. In course of time, there was an increasing use of non-perishable materials like stone or brick in structural practices, mostly in the construction of temples.

Stupa Construction Initially, the stupa was a usual representation of a funeral mound or relics, evolved out of earthen funerary mounds (smasana), in which the ashes of the dead were buried. According to the Buddhist tradition, immediately after the death of the Buddha, eight stupas were constructed over his corporeal relics and the ninth over the vessel in which such relics were originally deposited. Although differing in

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

detail and elaboration, the stupas were evolved out of a simple dome-shaped hemispherical structure on a circular base. Asoka is said to have pulled down the original stupas and reconstructed them, besides building many new ones. The extant Asokan stupas have undergone successive repairs and extensions. Built in brick by Asoka, the great Sanchi stupa was encased in stone about two centuries later and enlarged to nearly double its original size. It consists of a hemispherical dome (anda), supported on a low circular base (medhi). The whole structure is encircled by a massive rail with four imposing gateways (toranas) on the four sides. This simple design of the stupa went through many improvements in the succeeding centuries. The tendency was towards elongation and increase of the height of the structure as a whole. The whole structure again was raised on a square plinth. The crowning chatra, originally one, gradually increased in number in a tapering row of flat discs, the topmost usually ending in a point. This evolutionary process is corroborated by the graphic description of the Kanishka stupa at Peshawar, left by the Chinese pilgrims who record that it consisted of abasement in five stages and a superstructure of carved wood in 13 storeys surmounted by an iron column with 13–25 gilt copper umbrellas. This stupa signifies a transition from the simple stupa to the pagoda of the Far Eastern countries. Several stupas were originally constructed at Amaravati, Jaggayyapeta, Bhattiprolu, Ghantasala and Nagarjunkonda in the lower course of the K ­ rishna. Though most of them have perished, the surviving sculptured replicas help us to determine the shape and form of these southern stupas which show interesting developments.

The Dhamek Stupa. Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India

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Chaitya Construction In its usual form, the chaitya (the prayer hall) shrine was a long rectangular hall, apsidal at the rear end and divided into three sections by two rows of pillars along the length of the hall meeting at the back end. The few surviving chaitya halls are largely in ruins. Western India has several rock-cut monuments of this class, and from these, it is possible to ascertain other typical features of such shrines. A circular shrine chamber can be seen in the ruins of a shrine at Bairat (Jaipur) belonging to the time of Asoka. Rock-cut counterparts of such circular shrines are also found at Junnar and in a cave at Guntupalli. The next stage in evolution is seen in the two Asokan caves at Barabar Hills (Bihar), the Sudama and the Lomasa Rishi. Each comprises two apartments and they are cut along the face of the rocks and the doorway of the latter has, at the top, a framework of arched shape after the pattern of the curved roof in wood. The entrance is a representation in stone of a hut’s entrance, with mock timber crossbeams protruding from the roof. A carved frieze of elephants is a stone imitation of similar work in wood along with a stone imitation of bamboo trellis. Rock-cut chaitya shrines in Western India may be seen in two groups, each representing a separate phase of development. The shrine at Bhaja near Poona, representing the early group, appears to be the oldest (2nd century bce). Several shrines of this class were excavated at Bedsa, Nasik, Kanheri, Karle and other places in western India. The later groups of cave-shrines, particularly Ajanta and Ellora, register significant change.

Sanchi Stupa

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

Karle Chaitya Temple Architecture

Vihara Construction A monastery was constructed like any private residence, with four ranges of cells or sleeping cubicles on four sides of an open quadrangular courtyard. In due course, the monasteries developed into large establishments and functioned as important educational centres as well. Many of their ruins have been found in both the North and the South. The remains of Nalanda (5th century ce) and Somapura (8th century ce) monasteries in Bihar are the most noteworthy. Hiuen Tsang has provided a detailed description of the Nalanda vihara. He refers to its multi-storeyed and imposing buildings, and tall and stately temples. This literary evidence is amply corroborated by the excavated remains.

Buddha in Gal Vihara, Sri Lanka

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The Somapura monastery at Paharpur was built more or less in the same fashion. However, it comprised a single extensive structure with as many as 177 cells. Built of bricks and storeyed in elevation, these two viharas stand as witness to the technical skill of the builders. Rock-cut monasteries reveal a slight deviation from the above plan. The oldest among them, the Barabar caves (3rd century bce) consisted of a single cell each. Now and then such cells have a pillared verandah in front (Jaina caves at ­Udayagiri and Khandagiri, Orissa, 1st century bce), some were double-storeyed in elevation (Mancapuri cave, Udayagiri). The Ranigumpha at Udayagiri, also double-storeyed, has three ranges of cells on three sides of an open courtyard. The classic plan acquired final shape in the rock-cut monasteries of western India. Like the chaitya shrines, they can also be seen into two groups signifying two phases of development. The early group is represented by the ones at Ajanta, Nasik, Junnar, etc. They belong to the centuries immediately preceding and succeeding the Christian era. The rock-cut method climaxes during the 4th to the 8th centuries ce. The rock-cut monastery becomes larger and more decorated as in the other vihara caves at Ajanta, Ellora and Aurangabad, all in Maharashtra, and Bagh in Madhya Pradesh. The classic plan remains, but with notable innovations.

Brahmanical and Jaina Caves • The earliest Brahmanical shrines are to be seen in group of caves at Udayagiri in Madhya Pradesh (early 5th century ce). Most of them represent small rectangular shrines with a pillared structural portico in front. • At Badami, the design develops into that of a pillared verandah, and a columned hall with the square sanctum cut deeper at the far end (6th century ce). In Tamil Nadu, the cave style was introduced in the 7th century by Mahendravarman I. • The Brahmanical caves at Ellora are notable for the boldness of their design, spaciousness of their dimensions and skilled treatment of the facade and the interior. Among the 16 Brahmanical caves at Ellora, the Dasavatara, the Ravana-ki-khai, the Rameshvara and the Dhumar lena, apart from the renowned Kailasha (an entire temple-complex hewn out of the rock in imitation of a distinctive structural form) are the most important. • The Dhumar Lena (mid-8th century ce) is probably the finest among the Brahmanical excavations, the more famous cave at Elephanta following its pattern generally. • The Badami and the Aihole caves (mid-7th century ce) represent the earliest of the Jaina caves. Each has a pillared quadrangular hall with the sanctum cella dug out at the far end. Among the Jaina caves at Ellora (9th century), the Chota Kailasha, the Indra Sabha and the Jagannatha Sabha are important.

Structural Temple Architecture India is rightly described as a land of temples. The temples belonging to the ancient and medieval ages, are renowned on account of their architectural and sculptural excellence. The north Indian temple architecture has broadly been classified as Nagara or the north Indian style, Dravida or the south Indian style, and Vesara which contains elements of both. Such uniqueness in the regional style of temple architecture is found due to the availability of stone and other materials along with the prevailing climatic conditions of those regions.

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

Khandagiri Caves, Orissa

The origin of Indian temple architecture goes back to Vedic times. Its evolution into a monument of great significance is marked by conscious efforts by several ruling dynasties from the 4th to 17th centuries to make it an institution of enduing importance from the point of view of social, economic and political integration of the subcontinent. The temple, in fact, represents the multiple facets and complex processes of this development through its architecture, sculpture, iconography, rituals and institutional organization. It is believed that the temple form is derived from the Vedic altar, the earliest known sacred structure (vedi), which had the square as its essential form. However, many other origins are assigned to it by others with equal, if not greater, validity. Although from the Vedic altar to the Puranic temple, square remains the essential form, the temple seems to have no direct origin in any single tradition. When the Vedic religion of sacrifice (yajna) gave place to the Puranic cults dominated by bhakti (devotion) and worship of personal deities like Vishnu and Siva, the temple became the focus of every sphere of human activity. The temple, unlike the Vedic altar, does not accomplish its purpose by being built; instead, it must be seen (darsana). Art increases its importance and it becomes a holy site (tirtha). Apart from the square Vedic altar, other non- Vedic and more historical beginnings are assigned to the temple and their shapes are subject to variation from an aboriginal prototype funeral structure to a flat-roofed shrine. This form gave way to the curvilinear sikhara (superstructure) of the north Indian temple, ascending in diminishing units towards a finial, marked by the kalasa, a vase or pitcher.

Early Temple Styles The system of erecting structure for the images of gods goes back to the 2nd century bce. Several sanctuaries (houses of gods) of pre-Christian centuries have been found in dilapidated condition. Seemingly built in perishable materials, these sanctuaries provided little scope for the application of the principles of architecture as an art. The formal beginning of its construction can be traced to the Gupta

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Konark Temple

in

Nagara Style, Orrissa

period which witnessed for the first time the practice of building with lasting materials, especially in dressed stone and brick. Liberated from the limitations innate to wood or bamboo constructions and cave excavations, Indian builders handled their material, especially stone, very dexterously and efficiently. The Gupta period marks the beginning of structural temple architecture. As evidenced from the extant monuments, there was experimentation in a number of forms and designs, out of which two significant temple styles evolved, one in the North and the other in the South. The following five types may be identified: 1. Flat-roofed square temple (examples include temple No. XVII at Sanchi, Kankali Devi temple at Tigawa and Vishnu and Varaha temples at Eran, all in Madhya Pradesh); 2. Flat-roofed square double-storeyed temple; 3. Square temple with a sikhara (tower) above; The second and the third types of Gupta temples, to be called vimana (storeyed) and sikhara types, represent elaborations of the first in respect of both the ground- plan and elevation. In the following centuries, these two types supposedly underwent further improvements and crystallized

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

to form two distinctive temple styles respectively in the South and the North. The first three types are seen as the precursors of later Indian temple styles. 4. Rectangular temple; and 5. Circular temple. Thus, the Gupta period marks the beginning of structural temple architecture in India. But, we have to keep in mind that the full unit of a structural temple does not appear anywhere in India before 550 ce and that the Bhitargaon temple was the earliest such temple and also the most outstanding example.

Emergence of Later Temple Styles

The Nagara Style: Highlights • Initially the temple originated as a flat-roofed square structure in the form of a cell (shrine) with a pillared porch in front. Variants of the flat-roofed structure persisted under the post-Gupta dynasties of north and central India, and the nagara style emerged with the evolution of a sikhara or superstructure over the square shrine. • The subsequent development of the nagara style can be traced through regional schools, of which the major ones were those of Orissa (ancient Kalinga), central India (ancient Je- Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneshwar

a

Major temple styles listed and described in the Vastushastra texts are the nagara, dravida and vesara, of which the prime position is assigned to the nagara of north India as the leading style. Next in importance is the dravida of south India. The vesara is the mixed style of the Deccan and that of the North. Every temple of north India reveals characteristic features in planning and elevation. The north Indian temple is a square one with a number of graduated projections (rathakas) in the middle of each face which gives it a cruciform shape in the exterior. In elevation, it exhibits a tower (sikhara), gradually inclining inwards and capped by a slab. The cruciform ground plan and the curvilinear tower may, hence, be regarded as the salient features of a Nagara temple. A temple of south India has the sanctum cella situated invariably within an ambulatory hall and a pyramidal tower formed by an accumulation of storey after storey in receding dimensions. These are to be regarded as the distinctive characteristics of a Dravida temple.

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• • • •

jakabhukti-Mahoba), Rajasthan (the home of the Rajput dynasties) and Gujarat (ancient Gurjaradesa). These represent significant stylistic and aesthetic developments and variations in the vertical ascent and horizontal elaboration of the temple structure. In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar Bengal and Himachal Pradesh, temples of the northern style were erected without architectural and stylistically significant differences. Kashmir developed a distinct class of temples away from the main nagara style. In the early years, when the temple building had just begun, the shape of their superstructures can distinguish the two styles. The most significant difference between the later northern and southern styles is the gateways. The shikhara in the north Indian temples remained the most prominent component of the temple and the gateway was ordinarily unassuming. The best examples of the north Indian style of temple architecture are the Khajuraho Group of temples, Sun temple, Konark; Surya temple; Modhera, Gujarat and Ossian temple; Ossian, Gujarat.

Dravida Style: Highlights • The nucleus of a Dravida temple is the storeyed form of the ­Gupta temple, and the rock-cut rathas of Mahabalipuram (7th century) supply an interesting stage in the evolution of the Dravida style. Each of the rathas, except the Draupadi, exhibits a storeyed elevation of the roof. In these rathas, one may recognize the origin of the twin fundamental features of the Dravida temple, viz, the vimana (representing the sanctum with its tall pyramidal tower) and the gopuram (the immense pile of the gateway leading to the temple enclosure). • Then the Dravida style passes through a long process of evolution and elaboration under different dynasties of the South. The rock-cut method of the initial phase was replaced by the structural one during the reign of Narasimhavarman II, also known as Rajasimha. The Shore temple at Mahabalipuram, possibly the first structural temple to be built in the South, consists of two shrines, symmetrically joined to each other. • An organic and unified conception of a temple scheme first comes into view in the celebrated Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram, also built by Rajasimha. With all the appurtenances, like the walled court, the gopuram, the pillared mandapa and the vimana, all complete and in their forms and positions, this temple may be described as one of the key monuments of the early Dravida style. • A more developed sense of composition is clearly evident in the Vaikunta Perumal temple at Kanchipuram built by Nandivarman II. Architectural activity in the South continued in the later phase of the Pallava rule. • The rich heritage of the Pallava tradition passed on to the Cholas, under whom the Dravida style enters yet another brilliant and distinctive phase.

Vesara Style: Highlights • The Vesara style is also known as the Chalukyan or Deccan style. Its beginnings may be traced back to the days of the early Chalukyas in the 7th and 8th centuries. At Aihole and Pattadakal and other places, Dravida and Nagara temples were being erected side by side. This coexistence

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview













afforded an opportunity for a certain admixture of the ideas of the two, leading to the emergence under the later Chalukyan rulers of a mixed or hybrid style. In this development it is the Dravida, rather than the Nagara, conception that played a comparatively more important role. The Chalukyan temple, like the Dravida, consists of two main features, the vimana and the mandapa joined by an antarala, with occasionally an additional open mandapa in front. In course of time, there is a marked tendency to compress the heights of the storeyed stages of the vimana. At the same time ornamental niche motifs, repeated one above the other up the ascent of the tower, simulate the vertical bands of the northern spire. Here is an evident inspiration from the Nagara ­shikhara. The Chalukyan temple presents an essential divergence from the Dravida in not having its sanctum cella enclosed within a covered ambulatory. In the treatment of the exterior walls there seems to have been a blending, again, of Nagara and Dravida ideas. Some of the Chalukyan and most of the Hoysala temples are distinguished for their multiple-shrined compositions in which two, three or four shrines are arranged around the common mandapa hall. Apart from architectural treatment, the Chalukyan temple, or its descendant, the Hoysala, is also characterized by an exuberant plastic ornament covering all its external surfaces which seems to have a richly fretted appearance from the base to the top. In the interior, the pillars and doorframes, as well as ceilings, are likewise exuberantly treated. Examples of such temple style include Papanath Temple, Pattadakal (7th Century ce), Virupaksha Temple, Pattadakal (8th Century ce), Ladkhan Temple, Aihole (7th Century ce), etc.

Paintings Pre-historic Paintings • Aesthetic sense of the pre-historic people emerged in the middle and late Palaeolithic periods. • Excavations at Nevasa, Maharashtra fetched two pieces of pottery with painted representations of a dog and a deer with a pair of wavy horns. These are treated as the earliest specimens of creative painting in India. • Drawings and paintings on the rock shelters of primitive people of a relatively later age are also known from other places in India such as Adamgarh, Bhimbhetka, Mirzapur, etc. These are mostly hunting scenes drawn in sharp lines and angles, in isolated units or groups.

Early Historical Period • Though there exist numerous literary records of early historical paintings but their specimens do not exist anymore, for they were invariably done on perishable materials such as textiles, leaves and barks of trees, and wood, or on semi-permanent materials such as plastered walls. • There do exist a few irregular rows of human figures and a band with representation of large aquatic animals, on the ceiling of the Sitabenga or Yogimara caves in the Ramgarh hills (mid-1st century bce) as the earliest extant paintings.

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Ajanta Cave Painting, Aurangabad, Maharashtra

• Mural paintings in Cave numbers IX and X of Ajanta are also of certain significance in the evolution of painting in the early historical phase. Though only small portions of these are preserved, enough remains to suggest that they are mature works.

Textual Basis of Historical Paintings Texts like Ramayana and Mahabharata, Kalidasa’s Abhijnanashakuntalam and Dandin’s Daskumaracharita refer to art galleries or Chitrasalas. The ­Shilpashastra deals with the art of mural and miniature painting and ­paintings executed on wood and cloth. The most comprehensive text is the Visnudharmottara Purana, which deals with the interdependence of dance, music and the visual arts. Chapters 35–43 describe the methods and ideals of painting, dealing not only with its religious aspect but also ‘proclaiming the joy that colours and forms and the representation of things seen and imagined produce.’Vatsayana, author of Kamasutra, (2nd century ce) enumerates the ‘six limbs’ of painting which include rupabheda, (different appearances), pramana, (valid perception about measures and structures), bhava, (expressions of feelings), lavanyayojana, (infusion of grace in artistic representation), sadrisha, (similarities) and varnikabhanga, (selection of colour and hue).

Society, Religion, Art and Architecture: An Overview

Historical age paintings may be broadly categorized as murals and miniatures. Murals are large paintings executed on walls of solid structures. These may be cave walls paintings, as in Ajanta (Maharashtra), or walls of temples, as in the Kailashnatha temple of Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu). It is from second century bce onwards that we start witnessing mural paintings in India. The best examples are Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra, Bagh in Madhya Pradesh and Panamalai and Sittanavasal in Tamil Nadu, all of them either natural caves or rock-cut chambers. The paintings have both religious and other themes. The Ajanta caves consist of 29 rock-cut Buddhist chaityas and viharas which date from the 2nd century bce to the 7th century ce and include paintings and sculptures. They are described as the finest surviving examples of Indian painting, with depictions of the Buddha and the Jataka tales. Cave 9 and 10 belong to Sunga period and rest of all belong to the Gupta period. Scenes of Ajanta caves also include paintings of bodhisattvas, and the Dying Princess (Cave 16). Ajanta was also a centre of learning. The layout of the caves with common exterior pathway shows this. Dinnaga, the celebrated Buddhist logician and philosopher, lived here in the 5th century ce. The Ajanta Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Satvahanas also contributed significantly towards paintings. Caves 9, 10, 12, 13 and 15A happened to be the earliest group of caves built between 100 bce and 100 ce under the patronage of the Satvahanas. Caves 9 and 10 are Chaitya halls with stupas, while caves 12, 13, and 15A are viharas. Caves under the Vakatakas (5th century onwards) are 1–8, 11, 14–29; some may be earlier caves extended or modified. Caves 19, 26 and 29 are Chaitya halls, while the rest are viharas. In such caves, the overwhelming majority of images represent the Buddha alone or scenes of his previous lives as well. The Ajanta murals were painted on a coat of wet plaster (fresco) applied on the wall of the caves and paintings were executed after the plaster dried up. The paintings survive to this day because the painting material holds together the pigment and the plaster. This is known as tempera style. The Ajanta Caves, once abandoned, were rediscovered accidentally in 1819 by a British officer on a hunting party. Beautiful frescoes, like that of Ajanta caves were found at Bagh Caves, 150 km north of Ajanta. These paintings portray some aspects of Buddhist life and rituals besides scenes from ordinary life. The most striking painting depicts a procession of elephants, while another depicts a dancer and women musicians. The influence of Ajanta is very apparent at Bagh. The Pallava period is significant in the realm of art. Mahendravarman I (7th century ce) was known as a Chitrakara puli or ‘tiger among painters’. The Talagirishvara temple at Panamalai in the Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu is one of two shrines that bear testimony to Pallava painting. A small shrine to the north has a small section of a mural painting of an exquisite female figure, her leg bent, standing against a wall and with an umbrella above her. The Kailashnath temple at Kanchipuram contains nearly fifty cells around the inner courtyard, with traces of paintings in red, yellow, green, and black vegetable colours. Sittanavasala in Pudukottai district is important as its walls and ceiling have been painted with mineral colours in the fresco- secco technique. The themes include a beautiful lotus pond and flowers, people collecting lotuses from the pond, dancing figures, lilies, fish, geese, buffaloes and elephants. The ceiling of the ardhamandapa is depicted with murals and sculptures of Jaina Tirthankars.

11.35

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Chapter 11

Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach

1. The concept of Shramanic religions, with particular reference to Buddhism, had their roots in Upanisadic ideas. Discuss.  [2018]

The Right Approach

• Discuss Upanishad as a source text for all religion including Buddhism. • Write about the theories of Karma, Rebirth and Liberation common to both Upanishad and Buddhism. • Also write about discarding of brahminical rituals and focus more in Yoga and meditation. [Refer to pgs. 11.17–11.19]

2. Buddhism and Jainism were social movements under the umbrella of religion. Comment.  [2017]

The Right Approach

• Describe circumstances leading to the rise of the heterodox sects during the sixth century bce and give hints about how the teachings of these sects had mass appeal so much so that they were theorised under the umbrella of religion in due course of time • Discuss Buddhism and Jainism’s rise in the post-vedic period. • Write briefly about how vedic philosophy lost its originality and purity-­Brahmanism, Verna system and caste system. • Relate your points by writing about how people found a recluse in the social movements like Jainism and Buddhism and finally adopting it as their religion.

3. Kailasa temple built at Ellora marks the culmination of rock cut architecture in India. Elucidate. [2015]

The Right Approach

• First explain rock-cut architecture. •  Then write briefly about Ellora's Kailashnath temple­ –its structure consisting shrines, gateway and cloisters–with a special mention of its being carved out of a hiring rock. • Explain briefly how historians consider Kailashnath Temple as a culmination of traditional rock-cut architecture. [Refer to pg. 11.34]

12

Chapter

Early Medieval India (750 ce–1200 ce)

12.2

Chapter 12

There has been a consensus among historians now a days regarding periodization in history in terms of ‘ancient’, ‘medieval’ and ‘modern’, but there has been more than a couple of hypotheses before them as to the upper limit or the beginning of the ‘medieval’ period. The first one suggests dating it from the inroads of the Hunas (group of Central Asian tribes who, came to India at the end of the 5th or early 6th century), the second hypothesis proposes this beginning from the death of Harsavardhana (around 7th Century, between 606 to 647

ce),

the third one suggests the beginning after the doctrine of the

Imperial Pratiharas (between 8th to the 11th century) and the fourth one seeks to date this upper limit in 1200 ce. However, a certain period in history cannot begin and end on or from the particular day or in a particular year or even a decade, howsoever, significant, since causes and effects, and their impact may extend much beyond the time limits of any given period. The concern of the present study is with distinctive forces and factors in operation in the history of India which distinguish the ‘medieval’ period from ‘ancient’ or ‘modern’.

Objectives After reading this chapter, you will be able to: • Explain the political picture of India after the decline of the Gupta Empire • Know why the early medieval period has been viewed as a phase of political decentralization marked by ‘feudal formation’ • Learn about the multi-faceted cultural activities that took place in different parts of India • Study the transformation of the caste society in response to political, economic, and cultural–ideological changes

Understanding Early Medieval India As early as 1967, Niharranjan Ray (in his Presidential address to Indian History Congress) had laid down the major characteristics of early ‘medievalism’ in Indian history, which he traced from seventh century. These included ‘limited territorial vision’; regionalism in art, language, literature and script; supremacy of the scriptures and religious texts; proliferation of religious cults and sects; multiplication of gods and goddesses; accentuation of sectarian rivalries and jealousies; feudalization of land ownership and increasing fragmentation, etc. The Early Medieval Period in Indian history broadly stretches from the eighth to the twelfth century, during which the Palas, the Pratiharas, the Rashtrakutas, the Cholas and the early Rajputs dominated the political, socio-economic and cultural patterns of life. This period saw the emergence of many smaller kingdoms, which were in conflict with each other. This period also saw the movement of a large number of people. The immense wealth and prosperity of the subcontinent attracted not only the traders but also people who wanted to plunder its wealth or carve out a kingdom for themselves. Among such political groups were the early Muslim invaders, like Mahmud of Ghazni and Mohammad Ghori. They were followed by other Turks who founded the Delhi Sultanate in the later period.

Early Medieval India (750

Nature

of

ce –1200 ce )

Polity

Feudal State Formation The early medieval period has been viewed by many historians as a phase of political decentralization marked by KING Maharajadhiraj ‘feudal formation’. D. D. Koshambi envisaged feudal formation in India in two stages: ‘Feudalism from Above’ and ‘Feudalism from Below’. The first stage evolved with direct NOBLES relationship between an overlord and his autonomous vasMahasamantas sals one invested with a fief / land in return for services to an overlord who paid tribute. This phase was marked by VASSALS the absence of an intermediary land-owning class. The secSamantas ond stage was more complex phase, witnessing the rise of rural land-owners as powerful intermediaries between the ruler and the peasantry. The second phase from the 4th to PEASANTS the 17th century saw the rise of the samantas as the feudatories leading to administrative decentralization and the conversion of communal property into feudal property. This Feudal Pyramid of Power set the stage for one of the most interesting and significant on-going debates in Indian historiography. Some of the scholars, while propagating the feudal model propose a threestage formation of Indian feudalism. Its genesis was traced in 300–600 ce, the period of its growth and maturity in 600–1000 ce, and the period from 1000 to 1200 ce marked its simultaneous climax and decline. This scheme emphasized the possibilities of changes in Indian socio-economic and cultural milieu outside and irrespective of dynastic shifts. The conventional image of an unchanging Indian society over millennia, typified in the concepts of village communities, Asiatic mode of production and Oriental despotism as envisaged by Karl Marx was effectively contested by this scheme. The recent studies of Indian feudalism, however, concede that economic situation began to improve after 1000 ce and especially since 1100 ce. R. S. Sharma has pointed out (in his book titled Indian Feudalism) that, from the seventh century onwards, there was a remarkable increase in the landgrants made and it became a popular trend throughout the country. Lands were granted not only to the petty lords but also to Brahmins and religious establishments like temples and monasteries on a large scale by kings, chiefs, members of the royal family and their subordinates. Along with the land, all kinds of rights associated with land such as fiscal, administrative, judicial were transferred to the donees. These landgrants came to be known as the brahmadeyas and the agraharas. Villages, which were donated to and inhabited by the Brahmins alone, were known as the brahmadeyas. Agrahara villages, though occupied predominantly by the Brahmins, had non-Brahaman residents as well. In south India, such villages were also known as the mangalams. As a result, the period saw the emergence of big landlords, who assumed high-sounding titles like samanta, mahasamanta, rana, rauta, etc., in northern India and mandalika, maharajadhiraja, mahamandalesvara, mahamandalikas, mahasamantas and samantas, etc., in western and central India. The most important of the Chaulukya landlords were the Paramaras of Malwa and the Chahamanas of Jalor. These landlords would also, in turn assign land to petty landlords. For instance, a notable portion of the Chahamana state, epecially in Nadol and Jalor, was held by landed intermediaries variously known as thakkuras, ranakas and bhoktas. Their

12.3

12.4

Chapter 12

responsibility was to supply their masters with the military contingents whenever required. The subordinates also had diverse fiscal and military obligations vis-a-vis the overlord. Hence, the polity, in the early medieval period, had been structured in an essentially default manner that was beset with contradictions. The feudatory chiefs were always in search for an opportunity to free themselves from their rulers. For example, Dantidurga, the Rashtrakuta leader, overthrew the reigning Chaluykan king, Kirtivarman, and took over a large portion of the Deccan, which once happened to be under the western Chalukyas. He performed the hiranya-garbha ritual to seek legitimacy from the Brahamanas for acquiring a separate Kshatriya status though he was not a Kshatriya by birth. Similarly, the Guijara-Pratiharas (also known as the Pratiharas) used their military skills and power to carve out a kingdom in western India. Nagabhatta I, a Pratihara, defended western India, from Sindh to Rajasthan, from Arab incursions. He was thus able to carve out a powerful principality comprising Malwa and parts of Rajputana and Gujarat.

Integrative State Formation Historians such as B. D. Chattopadhyay, on the other hand, infer that the emergence of regional states was not because of the decline of centralized empire but was entirely predicated upon the proliferation of local ruling clans and their later transformation into local state and regional structures. It was during this period that agriculture expanded because of clearance of forests for cultivation. This resulted in many tribal communities getting assimilated into the social fold, which further gave rise to the peasantization of these tribes. In the process, many changes took place, which contrary to popular belief, did not affect the tribal communities alone, but, also had a deep and indelible impact upon everyone concerned. Mainstream culture has been deeply influenced by tribal customs and modes of life, which have found rapid assimilation in the social set-up. The worship of the Jagannath cult in Orissa, the origin of which can be located in early medieval tribal culture, is one such example. Local state formation brought about the convergence of local and regional customs and traditions in the Dharmshastric social and Puranic religious traditions. All these features led to the emergence of regional patterns in polity Formation of Local State and culture. The emergence of Bhakti and of regional cults may be understood as a manifestation of integrative state system. B. D. Chattopdhyaya points out that temples became the major institutional nucleus of Bhakti in the Merger and early medieval period. Through the temple, the king Peasantisation of Tribes could seek to approximate the sacred domain through a process of identification with the divinity enshrined in the temple. In the process, the king wished to present himself as god’s appointee on Earth and thereby to seek legitimacy for every political decision he took. The PalLocal Tribal Tribal Local lava and the Chola kings, hence, identified themselves Customs Customs Customs Customs with their temples and the life-size images of the ruler and his queen were also placed in the temple. In other regions, the king used to surrender temporal power to Integrative State Formation

Early Medieval India (750

the divinity and its cult was raised to the status of the central cult. Hermann Kulke has shown as to how Jagannath cult in Orissa acted a mechanism to legitimize the king’s power.

Segmentary State Model A new twist to the theory of state formation could be noticed in the studies of Burton Stein who exposed the contradictions in this construction of a ­centralized state, showing that a strong centre and autonomous local groups do not necessarily go together. In the context of the Chola country, Stein sought to explain evidence from medieval south India in terms of the model of a ‘segmentary state’, which A. Southall had used to explain the situation in the East African society of the Alur. Applying this concept to south India, Stein argues that south Indian society, during the period of the Cholas and their successors had been integrated as a state only ritually. On the other hand, it consisted of a number of independent segments which were well-defined in themselves and in ethnic territories called nadus in Chola inscriptions. The segmentary state had the following characteristics:

ce –1200 ce )

12.5

2 Kinds of Authorities

Areas of Real/Actual Authority

Areas of Ceremonial and Formal Authority

Areas of Real Authority

• the presence of a dual sovereignty consisting of actual poSegmentary State litical sovereignty and what is called ‘ritual/ceremonial he= Areas of Real Authority = Areas of Ceremonial Authority gemony’; • prevalence of a multiplicity of ‘centres’, each of them exercising political control over a part, or segment, of the political system ­encompassed by the state but with one centre exercising primacy over others as a source of ritual hegemony; • system of specialized administrative staff functioning within the segments and not compulsorily being a part of the primary centre alone; • the distinct and unique relationship of the subordinate levels or ‘zones’ of the segmentary state with a pyramidal organization which, in contrast with other typical hierarchical forms of political organization, has a series of relationships between the centre and the periphery of any particular segment. In the segmentary state system, no state control was maintained over the lives of the people within those segments. Accordingly, there did not exist a bureaucracy and state administration in the Chola state. In this way, in south India, in this period, there existed a plethora of centres, a political centre being identified in each of the 550 nadu divisions, a dual sovereignty of the actual political and ritual varieties, a specialized administrative staff in each of the centres and a pyramidal segmentation. However, this model is not quite acceptable to some historians. One of the major objections raised by historians is that it was first constructed to explain a tribal lineage society in Africa and does not really fit in a highly stratified society like that of medieval south India with its widespread literacy and monumental architecture. Further, in this peasant society, which is presented as being cemented on kinship and marriage ties, Stein has identified numerous vertically divided segments. These segments are sought to have been sustained by a balance accruing from the opposition of elements within the segment itself, an example of it can be seen in the presence of the left- and right-hand castes (ilangai and valangai) in south India.

12.6

Chapter 12

To sum up, the process of formation of political institutions in north and south India must be viewed and understood in somewhat different ways. While in the north Indian regions, local rulers emerged as regional kings and were able to integrate local and tribal forces; the south Indian kingdoms emerged as typical early states. But both the north and south Indian imperial kingdoms were not in a position to install a centralized administration beyond the confines of the extended core area. However, within this area, they sometimes achieved a high degree of direct central control as we may see it in case of the Cholas.

Underlying Characteristics of Early Medieval Polity The available historical writings suggest that the regions in Indian history acquire a new significance in the period between c. 750 and 1200 ce. In this period, the organization of political systems varied from region to region and changed over time, but contemporary records suggest certain basic patterns which are mentioned below: • Several dynasties grew in this period and the newly emerged kings started subordinating existing local elites, either through the policy of land grants or by ritually legitimizing their political authority. The kings officially recognized their stature in public ceremonies. Local alliances gave local strength to rising dynasties and aspiring kings, thus, strove to strengthen them by bestowing titles and honors on their leadership. • A number of sovereignties formed ranked layers as a king (raja) became a great king (maharaja) or ‘king of kings’ (maharajadhiraja) by adding the names of more subordinate rulers (samanlas) to the list of those who bowed to him. • These rulers, like their later medieval successors, typically increased their power not by deepening their direct control over local resources but rather by extending their domains to cover more localities and by propagating more exalted titles for themselves in ceremonies in more distant places. • Majority of early medieval dynasties combined elements of imperialism, regionalism and localism. Early dynasties thrived on local support from core constituencies. Tamil Nadu clearly represents the kind of shifting cultural territory they formed. Beginning in the sixth century and running through the 17th, overlapping sovereignties among Pallava, Chola, Pandya, Chera, Vijayanagar and Nayaka dynasties described a broadly shared Tamil language and textual geography of territorial authority that extended into adjacent regions in Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and northern Sri Lanka. • The dynasties that ruled Tamil-speaking people were attached primarily to localities in their own home regions. Inscriptions from Pandya country (around Madurai) treat Chola conquest as imperial domination and Chola inscriptions in Tanjavur treat Pandya conquest the same way. • The most resilient early medieval territory in south India was called a nadu and included a small circle of villages. There were 30 nadus south of Madurai in the Pandya country alone. A medieval nadu was a local domain around which were woven extensive networks of personal loyalty and alliance.

Early Medieval India (750

ce –1200 ce )

12.7

Political History of North India The political picture of India after the decline of the Gupta Empire appears to be fragmented one as northern India was divided into several kingdoms. From the 5th century ce onwards, the regions like Kashmir, Punjab, and northwest India had come under the sovereignty of the white Hunas, whereas from the middle of the sixth century ce, northern and western India were ruled by the feudatories of the Guptas.

Pushyabhuti Dynasty The only major power to gain prominence after the fall of the Guptas was the Pushyabhutis, who established their capital at Thanesar (near Kurukshetra,

Chinese

Map

of

Pallavas, Chalukyas

and

Harshavardhana

pilgrim ,

Xuanzang

12.8

Chapter 12

­ ­aryana). Harshacharita, a biography of Harsha written by his court poet Banabhatta, H and travelogues of the Chinese pilgrim Hsuan Tsang (Xuanzang) are the two major sources for the reconstruction of the history of the Pushyabhuti dynasty. The other sources may include Kadambari and Parvatiparinaya of Banabhatta and inscriptions such as Madhuban and Banskhera of Harsha. The Pushyabhutis were originally the feudatories of the Guptas. Though the initial history of this dynasty is obscure, it seems that the dynasty came into limelight with the accession of Prabhakar Vardhana, the fourth king of the dynasty, who was able to defeat the Hunas and strengthen his position in the regions of Punjab and Haryana. He was a great general with many military victories. He established important matrimonial alliances with the Maukharis of Kanyakubja or Kannauj by marrying his daughter Rajyashri to the Maukhari ruler, Grahavarman. After his death, his elder son Rajyavardhana came to the throne, but he was treacherously killed by Shashanka, the king of Gauda of Bengal. Harshavardhana (c. 606–647 ce), who succeeded his brother is known as the last great Hindu king of India, who was originally a Shaiva but also supported Buddhism to a great extent and made generous endowments to Buddhists and is described as ‘the lord of the north’ (uttarapathaswami). Harsha succeeded his brother, when Rajya Vardhana left the reigns of governance in his hands as the former had to undertake a campaign against the ruler of Malwa, Devagupta and Shashanka, the ruler of Gauda, who had imprisoned their sister Rajyashri and killed her husband Grahavarman. He defeated and killed Devagupta, but was unfortunately murdered by Shashanka, who also cut the Bodhi tree and occupied Kannauj. It was under these circumstances that Harsha, at the age of 16 ascended the throne. He proved himself to be a great warrior and an able administrator. He immediately marched towards Kannauj and rescued his sister Rajyashri, who was believed to be on the verge of committing Sati. Kannauj subsequently came under the sovereignty of Pushyabhutis. Later, he also defeated Shashank and extended his control over the parts of Orissa. Harsha brought most of north India under his control as he brought the five regions—Punjab, Kannauj, Bengal, Orissa and Mithila and assumed the title of Siladitya as mentioned in travel records of Hsuan Tsang. He was victorious against the rulers of Sind in the north west and also defeated the Vallabhi king, Dhruvasena II, as mentioned in the Navsari Copper Plate inscription. However, he was defeated by Pulkesin II (western Chalukyan king of Badami) on the banks of Narmada. Pulkesin II bestowed the title of shakalauttarapathanatha meaning ‘Lord of the entire north’, upon him. His empire probably included Thaneswar, Kannauj, Ahichhatra, Shravasti and Prayag, and he extended his empire into Magadha and Orissa. Thaneswar, the erstwhile capital of the dynasty was shifted to Kannauj by Harsha. The Narmada formed the southern boundary of his empire. The king of Kamrupa, Bhaskarvarman and Dhruvabhata accepted his overlordship in the east, while in the west the king of Vallabhi also did the same. The forest tribes in Vindhyas regularly paid tribute to Harsha and also helped him with military support. Many subordinate rulers had titles such as samanta and raja in the Harsha era of 606 ce, which was the year of accession of Harsha Vardhana. Hsuan Tsang, who is also known as the ‘Prince of Travelers’ and author of SiYu-Ki visited India during 629–644 ce. He earned Harsha’s friendship and left a vivid account of the beauty, grandeur and prosperity of Harsha’s reign. He also furnishes detailed account of a grand assembly organized by Harsha at Kannauj in 643 ce, which was attended by many subordinate kings. It was attended by the saints of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, in which Hsuan Tsang also spoke on the

Early Medieval India (750

ce –1200 ce )

­ ahayana doctrine. On this occasion, Harsha erected a golden statue of the Buddha M at Kannauj. It is said that Harsha also used to worship the statue in a later period. A solemn festival at Prayag was started by Harsha and made it a convention that this festival would be celebrated at the end of every five years. A mahamokshaparishad was also held at Prayag under his auspices where the images of Buddha, the Sun and Shiva were worshipped along with the distribution of gifts and articles on the occasion. As a great patron of arts and learning, Harsha not only constructed a large monastery at Nalanda but also gave patronage to Banabhatta, Mayura, the author of Mayurashatak, grammarian Bhartrihari, the author of Vakapadiya, and Matang Diwakar who adorned his court. He himself is said to have composed three dramas—Nagananda, Ratnawali and Priyadarshika in Sanskrit and also composed the text of his two inscriptions.

The Palas and Senas of Bengal The Pala dynasty, the most important in eastern India, was founded by ­Gopala in 750 ce with his capital at Pataliputra. Sulaiman, the Arab merchant who visited India in the ninth century, has termed the Pala kingdom as ­Rhumi. Gopala was not of a royal lineage and is said to have been elected by the people. Some of the highlights of Pala kingdom may be understood as the following: • The founder Gopala was a devout Buddhist and is supposed to have built the monastery at Odantapuri (Bihar Sharif district of B ­ ihar). • Gopala’s son, Dharmapala (790–821) who took the Pala kingdom to glory, was involved in a struggle for ascendancy with the two main rivals—the Pratiharas and the Rashtrakutas. The Pala Empire under him reached its zenith as it comprised the whole of Bengal and Bihar. Besides Kanauj, there were a large number of vassal states in Punjab, Rajputana, Malwa and Berar, the rulers of which acknowledged Dharmapala as their suzerain. • His son, Devapala (821–61 ce) is regarded as the most powerful Pala ruler who extended his control over Pragjyotishpur (Assam), parts of Orissa and parts of modern Nepal. As a staunch Buddhist, he founded the famous Mahavihara of Vikramashila near Bhagalpur and was also credited with the construction of a Vihara at Somapura (Paharpur). He also patronized Haribhadra, a great Buddhist writer. He is said to have defeated the Gurjaras and the Hunas and having conquered Utkala and Kamarupa. Balaputradeva, king of the Sailendra empire of Java, sent an ambassador to Devapala, and sought for a grant of five villages in order to set up a monastery at Nalanda. Devapala granted the request. He appointed Viradeva, as the head of the Nalanda monastery. After Devapala’s death, the Pala Empire began to disintegrate. • The fortunes of the Palas were somewhat restored by Mahipala I, who ascended the throne in 980. The most important event in Mahipala’s reign was the invasion of Bengal by Rajendra Chola. Rajendra’s Tirumalai Inscription records the details of his conquests in the North. • The Palas played a crucial role in the religious and cultural revival of eastern India. They supported Buddhism, which was in a major state of decline in other parts of India. Mahayana Buddhism, influenced by the cult of the mother goddess, attained its specific Tantric form in Bengal. The age-old Buddhist Nalanda University regained its reputation under

The Cult of Mother Goddess in Terracotta (Third Century bc)

12.9

12.10

Chapter 12

Pala patronage and thus, it became the Mecca of Buddhist scholars of Southeast Asia. Dharmapal even founded the Vikramshila University for Buddhist learning. The Sena family ruled Bengal after the Palas. Samanasena, its founder, was described as Brahmakshatriya. The term ‘Brahmakshatriya’ suggests that Samantasena was a brahmana, though his successors called themselves Kshatriyas. Samantasena’s son, Hemantasena, took advantage of the political instability in Bengal and carved out an independent principality. Vijayasena was considered as the most powerful ruler of this dynasty who conquered the whole of Bengal. He was succeeded by his son, Ballalasena who wrote famous texts on astronomy, Adbhutsagar and Danasagar. He is also credited with the revival of orthodox Hindu practices in Bengal which was known as kulinism amongst Brahmanas and Kshatrias. The coming of Lakshmanasena to the throne (1179) encouraged developments in literature, art and culture. He was a devout Vaishnava. Jayadeva, the famous Vaishnava poet of Bengal and author of the Gita Govinda, lived at his court. However, his reign was marked by the invasion of Bakhtiyar Khalji.

The Pratiharas The Pratiharas were at first local officials, but gradually carved out a principality in Gurjarat or central and eastern Rajasthan. It is believed that they were originally a branch of Gurjaras, a Central Asian nomadic tribe that came to India along with the Hunas after the disintegration of the Gupta Empire. The strength of the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty was based to a large extent on the integration of various Rajput tribes and clans into the imperial system. The Arab traveller, al-Masudi, who visited India in the year 915–16 ce refers to this kingdom. Some of the highlights of this kingdom are the following: • The kingdom came into prominence in the middle of the eighth century under Nagabhatta I, who brought under his sway powerful principality comprising Malwa and parts of Rajputana and Gujarat. His successor, Vatsaraja emerged as a capable ruler and defeated Dharmapala, the Pala king of Bengal, and laid the foundation of a powerful empire. He, however, was defeated by Dhruva, the Rashtrakuta king. • Vatsaraja was succeeded by his son Nagabhatta II, who overran Kanauj and made it the capital of the Pratihara kingdom. He then advanced into Monghyr and defeated Dharmapala again, the second time over. The Gwalior inscription also informs us of his conquest of Anartta, in northern Kathiawar, Malwa or cental India, the Matsyas or eastern Rajputana, the Kiratas of the Himalaysa regions, Turushkas, who were the Arab settlers of western India and the Vatsas in the territory of Kausambi or Kosam. However, the Pratihara power declined owing to the aggressive policies of the Pala king, Devapala. • The Pratiharas could regain their lost glory only after Mihirbhoja (835–85 ce), popularly known as Bhoja, ascended the throne. His eventful career drew the attention of the Arab traveller, Sulaiman. He re-confirmed Pratihara supremacy in Bundelkhand and subjugated Jodhpur. Bhoja’s Daulatpura Copper Plate reveals that the Pratihara king had succeeded in re-asserting his authority over central and eastern Rajputana. After the death of Devapala, Mihirbhoja defeated the Palas and brought a consid-

Early Medieval India (750

erable part of the Pala’s western dominions under his sway. He also defeated Krishna II (the Rashtrakuta king) on the banks of the Narmada and occupied Malwa. Thus, the territory of the Pratiharas extended up to Sutlej in the north-west, the foot of the Himalayas in the north, Bengal in the east, Bundelkhand and Vatsa territories in the south and south-east, and Narmada and Saurashtra on the south-west including a major portion of Rajputana on the west. • His son, Mahendrapala I, patronized a large number of scholars in his court including the most famous scholar, Rajasekhara, who authored Karpuramanjari, Bala Ramayana and Kavyamimamsa. The process of decline of the Pratihara Empire began with Devapala and was further accelerated during the reign of Vijayapala. In 916, the Rashtrakuta king, Indra III, attacked Kanauj and devastated it.

The Rashtrakutas The Rashtrakutas were initially the petty officials of territorial divisions called rashtras. They originally belonged to Latur in Maharashtra and were feudatories under the Chalukyas of Badami. The founder of the Rashtrakuta kingdom was a chieftain named Dantidurga (735–56) who, after defeating the Chalukya king Kirtivarman (in early eighth century), established his supremacy in Chalukyan region and the greater portion of the Deccan as well. The Rashtrakutas were the followers of Jainism. They overthrew the Chalukyas and ruled up to 973 ce. Some of the dynasty’s highlights are: • The successor of Dantidurga was Krishna I (756–74 ce) who gave the final blow to the Chalukyas of Badami, attacked the Gangas of Mysore and left the Chalukyas of Vengi with no choice but to acknowledge his supremacy. Krishna I is credited with having built the Kailasa temple at Ellora. • The next famous king was Dhruva (ruled from c. 779 to 793–94 ce), who defeated the Chalukyas of Vengi, the Gangas of Mysore and launched a pitched battle against the Pallavas, who, after being defeated, sued for peace. He was the first Rashtrakuta ruler to decisively intervene in the struggle for supremacy in north India arid defeated both the Pratihara king, Vatsaraja, and the Pala king, Dharmapala. These victories made the Rashtrakutas emerge as the greatest ruling power of the period in North as well as in South India. • Dhruva was succeeded by Govinda III (793–814 ce), who made a series of advances into north India and fought successfully against the Pala king, Dharmapala and his protege, Chakrayudha, the ruler of Kanauj. He took away Malwa from the Pratihara king, Nagabhata II and assigned its rule to his official, Uperdra of the Paramara dynasty. When Govinda III was engaged somewhere in north India, the Ganga, Chera, Pandya and Pallava rulers formed a ­confederacy together to fight against Govinda III. However, the confederacy failed in its attempts to defeat the mighty Govind III.The next ruler, Amoghvarsha I or Sarva (814–78 ce), was one of the most outstanding Rashtrakuta rulers. The Arab traveller, Sulaiman, who visited his court in 851 wrote that Amoghavarsa’s kingdom was among the four greatest empires of the world, the other three being—the Roman empire, the Chinese empire and the empire of the Caliph of Baghdad. He fought a long battle with the eastern Chalukyas and the Gangas. After Amoghvarsha’s victory against the eastern Chalukyas, the Rashtrakuta

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armies remained in occupation of Vengi for about 12 long years. Besides being influenced by the teachings of Jainism, he was also a great patron of literature and authored Kavirajamarga, which is the earliest Kannada work on poetics. He also wrote Ratnamalika in Kannada. • He was succeeded by Indra III (915–27 ce) and Krishna III (939–65 ce). The Arab traveller Al-Masudi, who visited India during this period, called Indra III the greatest king of India. He defeated the Pratihara king, Mahipala I, plundered the capital city of Kanauj, and challenged the eastern Chalukyas. • Krishna III invaded the Chola kingdom and his armies reached upto Rameswaram, where he built a pillar of victory and a temple. In about 963, he led an expedition to north India and brought Vengi under his control. His successors lacked strength and political vision of their predecessors. Taking advantage of this situation, the Paramaras of Malwa, who were the feudatories of the Rashtrakutas, declared their independence. In 974–75 ce, the other feudatories like Chalukya Taila overthrew the last Rashtrakuta ruler, Karka II, and founded the Chalukya kingdom of Kalyani. Thus, by the end of tenth century ce, the rule of the Rashtrakutas came to an end. • The Rashtrakutas were very progressive in terms of literature, art and religion. They patronized Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhransa and Kannada literature. They also patronized art and architecture. In fact, the Indian rock-cut architecture reached its zenith under them. The Kailash temple, built by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna I, is an outstanding and stunning piece of art. The rock-cut cave temples at Ellora, which include Brahman, Buddhist and Jain temples, are indicative of their spirit of religious tolerance. They were also supportive of Saivism, Vaishnavism and Jainism. Their secular spirit of religious tolerance was extended to relatively lesser known religions like Islam and Muslim merchants were permitted to settle, build their mosques and spread the message of the faith in the Rashtrakuta territory. Several west Asian travellers who visited the kingdom were probably encouraged by such gestures of the Rashtrakuta rulers.

Tripartite Struggle for Acquisition of Kanauj The three major ruling dynasties of the early medieval period had kept striving for greater territorial acquisition and more wealth. One such lucrative and much-coveted area was Kanauj in the Ganges valley, over which the ‘tripartite struggle’ between the three was waged for centuries. The Palas, the Gurjara-Pratiharas and the Rashtrakutas were engaged in long, bitter and acrimonious disputes over political ascendancy. It is said that the main cause of this struggle was the desire to possess the city of Kanauj, which was then a symbol of sovereignty. This warfare was also aimed at intermediate fertile regions. Some of the highlights of this tripartite struggle are as under: • The chief cause behind this struggle was the desire of the three powers to acquire supremacy over Kanauj, which was apart from being the symbol of political prestige, a centre from which control over the rich resources of the Gangetic plains could be established. Control over Gujarat and Malwa was also there in the minds of these rulers. • The struggle started during the reign of the Pala ruler, Dharamapala and subsequently the rulers of the Pratihara and the Rashtrakuta dynasties participated in the same.

Early Medieval India (750

• The struggle necessitated to have huge army by these rulers as there was the lust for war booty. • These rulers needed greater resources to enhance their military prowess. They also tried to demonstrate their power and resources by building large temples. That is why temples became a primary target area. Looting the temples served two purposes—one, it laid siege to what was understood as a symbol of power and opulence; and secondly, it provided access to the immense resources and wealth of these temple.

Origin of Rajputs The early medieval period also witnessed the origin of Rajputs as ruling authorities. There is a debate among historians as they hold different views on the origins of the Rajputs who made their entry into politics during the early medieval period. Cunningham wrote that the Rajputs descended from the Gurjaras and Kushanas. Colonel Todd in his Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan calls them as the offshoots of the foreign invaders like Hunas, Sakas and Kushanas on the basis of their complexion, physical stature, non-vegetarian food habits, and so on. They later on assimilated into the Hindu-fold over centuries. Most authorities accept the view that Rajput clans were either descendants of the Hunas settled in northern and westem India or of those tribes and peoples who had entered India with the Huna invaders. The Rajputs were divided into a number of clans of which four claimed a special status. Prithviraj Raso of Chandvardai describes them as descendants of Agnikula family, the Fire family. They claimed descent from a mystical figure who arose out of vast sacrificial fire pit near Mt. Abu. Consequently, they were described as the Agnikula or Fire family. The four Agnikula clans were: the Pariharas who based themselves in southern Rajasthan; the Chauhans who ruled an area in eastern Rajasthan; the Solankins (or Chaulukyas of Gujarat, hence different from Deccan Chalukyas) who concentrated in the region of Kathiawar; and the Pawars (or Paramaras) who established their control in Malwa with their capital at Dhar near Indore. Other Rajput clans were the Chandellas who were prominent in the region of Khajuraho, the ­Gahadwalas who ruled from Kanauj, the Tomars who ruled in the Haryana region and the Kalachuris of Chedi who ruled from Tripuri (near Jabalpur). Amidst the divergent views of scholars on the question of their origin, it may be asserted that the emergence of the Rajputs during this period can be attributed to the assimilation of various tribal groups into the ruling groups by legitimizing their social status. They belonged to different lineages like the Hunas, Chandelas, and the Chalukyas, etc., and managed to acquire greater power by the 11th and 12th centuries. They gradually replaced the erstwhile rulers, especially in ­agricultural areas, and came to be regarded as the Rajputras or the sons of the King. Further, with the advancement of economy and changes in the societal needs, people with newer skills were required. It has been suggested that, in the early medieval period, the Vaishyas suffered a major setback, on account of a rapidly diminishing trade and commerce. Earlier, it was the Shudras who had served as slave labourers, but, in the early medieval period, the Shudra varna became a somewhat more indeterminate, an all-encompassing term which rapidly drew aboriginal tribes and foreign ethnic identities to its fold. Likewise, tribal groups, which were into cultivation, metamorphosed into revenue-paying Shudra peasants. Smaller castes, or jatis as they are called, soon emerged in society. For example, new stratification appeared within the established varnas. On the other hand,

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many tribes and itinerant groups found assimilation in a caste-based society and were given the status of jatis. Specialized artisans—smiths, carpenters and masons—were also recognized as separate jatis. Similarly, many traditional singers and story-tellers, like the bhants, were recognized as castes. It is also suggested that the early medieval period was a phase marked by the formation of ruling lineages or families. Scholars such as B. D. Chattopadhyaya look at the emergence of Rajput lineage groups like the Guhilas (belonged to Nagda– Ahar clan in the state of Mewar in 12th–13th centuries) and the Chalukyas, which were spread out in parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Central India and Uttar Pradesh. Similar is the case with Gurjars and tribes of Orissa where state formation was characterized by the proliferation of lineages. The most important amongst these were the Chodagangas who emerged as a powerful clan in the 11th century in Orissa. However, it is pertinent to note that the emergence of the ruling families took place in regions which provided the scope for resource mobilization, evidence for which can be found in the landgrants of the period. The expansion of agrarian economies, development of irrigation techniques and landgrants indicate a distinct growth in the number of agricultural settlements. In early medieval Rajasthan, betterment in the field of irrigation, to a certain extent generated greater economic and social power. Thus, the peasantization of tribal groups happened in a phase when historical changes led to the emergence of regions which had very distinctive political, social, economic and cultural attributes. Polities faced much political and social turbulence in the form of a series of battles that took place in this period, and which often resulted in the formation of new power blocks and networks in which the original identity of a lineage was completely obliterated and wiped out and a new identity—the Rajput was assigned to them. In the ninth century, separate clans of Rajput Chahamanas (Chauhans), Paramaras (Pawars), Guhilas (Sisodias) and Chaulukyas (Solankis) were branching off from sprawling Gurjara-Pratihara clans. In later centuries, separate Rajput lineages spread out across the plains and adjacent mountains, settling in fortresses, and ruling over peasants. They made themselves ideal Kshatriyas, and their cultural influence spread widely. The genealogies that constituted the valorous record of a Rajput ancestry became coveted assets amongst aspiring rulers who multiplied east of Rajasthan until, in the 18th century, a cultural Rajputization of tribal kingdoms occurred across the mountains of central and eastern India.

The Chola Empire The resurgence of the Cholas could be seen after tenth century onwards who ruled over Tamil Nadu and parts of Kamataka with Tanjore as its capital. Asoka’s inscriptions (Rock Edicts II and XIII) are the earliest historical documents in which the Cholas find mention. The Karikala Cholas, who ruled in the second century ce, were amongst the earliest Chola rulers. After them, the Chola dynasty remained in a state of political dormancy for centuries before re-emerging in its full splendour around 850 ce under Vijayalaya. He remained successful in capturing Tanjore, and exploited the strife-ridden Pandya–Pallava relationship to the fullest. He built the Vijayalaya Choleswara temple at Tanjore to commemorate his accession. The successors of Vijayalaya were engaged in defeating their rivals for creating more space for themselves. Aditya I (871–907 ce) was responsible for overthrowing the Pallavas and occupying their territory completely. Parantaka I (907– 55 ce) struggled a lot but his reign ended in disaster and gloom brought about the

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hostility of the Rashtrakutas. After Parantaka I, there was confusion and disorder for about 30 years. His successors were Gandaradiya (955–56 ce), Arinjaya (956–57 ce), Parantaka-II (957–73 ce) and Uttamachola (973–85 ce). Rajaraja I (985–1014 ce), who was considered the real founder of the newly carved out Chola kingdom, usurped the territories the Cholas had earlier lost to the Rashtrakutas to become the most powerful of the Chola rulers. Rajaraja I was known by a variety of titles, such as—Mummadi Choladeva, Jayangonda. C ­ hola-martanda, Arumolivarman, etc., and under him began the most glorious epoch of the Cholas. With his ability and military prowess, he soon re-built up the Chola Empire and raised himself to a position of supremacy in the South. After subjugating the Cheras, whose fleet he destroyed in Kandalur, he captured Madurai and defeated the Pandya king, Amarabhujanga. He invaded Sri Lanka and annexed its northern part which became a Chola province and was henceforth known as Mummadi Chola-mandalam. He also overran the eastern Chalukya of Vengi. Rajaraja I was a great builder too. His fame rests on the beautiful Siva temple which he constructed at Thanjavur. It is called Brihadeswara or Rajarajesvara temple after his name and is specially noted for its huge proportions, simple design, elegant sculputures and fine decorative motifs. Beautiful engravings on the walls

Tamil Script

from

Chola Dynasty

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Brihadesvara Temple

built by

Rajaraja I

of the temples speak at length about Rajaraja’s exploits. The temple was the hub of social and cultural affairs and it was here that art and literature flourished. The giant statue of Gomateswara at Shravanabelagola was built during this period. Rajendra Chola, the son of Rajaraja I (1012–44 ce) carried on with his father’s aggressive, expansionist policies. Because of his conquest of Orissa, Bengal, Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Chola dynasty reached its zenith during his reign. He was known for his military valour and administrative acumen. He raised the Chola Empire to the pinnacle of glory by annexing the whole of Sri Lanka. Soon, he reasserted Chola supremacy over the kings of Kerala and the Pandyan country. Rajendra I also marched towards the North, and invaded the dominions of the Pala king, Mahipala. To commemorate this decisive triumph, he adopted the title of gangaikondachola and built the famous Chola lake out of the holy water of the Ganges which he brought from Bengal. Rajendra’s achievements were not limited to land acquisitions alone as he possessed a powerful fleet which gained success across the Bay of Bengal. Because of his naval superiority, the Bay of Bengal was said to have turned into a Chola lake. Rajendra I founded a new capital, called Gangaikonda-Cholapuram, in the Tiruchirapalli district of Tamil Nadu. It consists of a magnificent palace and a temple adorned with exquisite granite sculpture. Rajendra I was succeeded by his son, Rajadhiraja I, in 1044 ce. Rajadhiraja I had to face many troubles immediately after he assumed the throne, but soon, he brought the situation under control. He defeated the combined forces of Pandyan

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Chola Administration: Salient Features • Division of the empire (Cholamandalam) into principalities (under vassal chiefs). • Mandalams or division of empire into eight provinces under viceroys who were mostly royal princes). • Further division of the provinces into Valanadus (divisions), Nadus (districts) and Kurmas (villages). Town and Village Administrations • Traces of autonomous administration for towns and townships known as Tankurmas. • Town autonomy was quite similar to village autonomy and both were alike administered by assemblies. Existence of Three Types of Villages • Villages with an inter-caste population, paying taxes to the king. Brahmadeya or agrahara villages granted to Brahmans and inhabited entirely by them. Devadana villages granted to God which functioned more or less in the same manner as the first type except that the revenues from these villages were donated to a temple. Provision of Three Types of General Assemblies • Ur consisted of the tax-paying residents of an ordinary village. Sabha, the membership of which was restricted to the brahmins of the village, or it was found exclusively in villages gifted to brahmins. Nagaram was found more commonly in trade centres such as cities and towns. Constitution and Functioning of Assemblies • Their functioning differed from place to place.The Ur was open to all the tax-paying male adults of the village, but in effect the older members played a more prominent role. The Sabha had the same system.Both usually constituted smaller committees of different sizes from among their members for specialized work. • Election to the executive body and other committees of the Ur or Sabha appears to have been by lot from among those who are eligible. • The Uttaramerur Inscription, belonging to the 10th century, gives details about the functioning and constitution of the local Sabha. • The assembly generally met in the precincts of the temple. • Functions of Assemblies: Collection of the assessed land revenue for the government or temple. Additional tax for a particular purpose such as the construction of a water tank. Settlement of agrarian disputes. Maintenance of records. The larger assemblies kept a small staff of paid officials, but most of the work was done on a voluntary basis in the smaller assemblies. and Kerala kings, who were in league with the rulers of Sri Lanka. To celebrate his victories over these adversaries, Rajadhiraja I performed the Asvamedha sacrifice. The other rulers who ruled this dynasty were: Rajendra II (1052–64); Veera Rajendra (1064–69); Kulottunga I (1069–1120); Vikramachola (1118–35); Kullottunga II (1133–50); Raja raja II (1146–73); Rajadhiraja II (1173–78); Kulottunga III (1178– 1216) and Raja raja III (1216–46). The last ruler of the Chola dynasty, Rajendra III (1246–79) was a weak ruler who surrendered to the Pandyas. Later, Malik Kafur invaded this Tamil state in 1310 and extinguished whatever was left of the Chola Empire’s claim to glory. Thus, by the beginning of the 14th century, the Chola power declined and their place was taken by the Hoysalas of Dwarsamudra and the Pandyas of Madurai.

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The reason for the success of the Cholas was their control over the Malacca and Sunda straits which were the major centres of the Eastern trade. The enhancement of their maritime strength is attested by their control over all the strategically located important coastines. They captured the south-west coast of India and almost the entire east coast upto the mouth of the Ganges. They also seized the Maldives, Sri Lanka and the Andamans. The Cholas were also known for undertaking vast irrigational projects. Apart from sinking wells and excavating tanks, they constructed mighty stone dams across the Kaveri and various other rivers, and created newer channels to distribtute water over large tracts of land. Rajendra I dug an artificial lake near his new capital—Gangaikonda Cholapuram—the water for which came from the Kierun and the Vellar rivers with the embankments which were of 16 miles in length. The Cholas also constructed grand trunk roads which served as the channels of commerce and communication. The Cholas left an indelible imprint with regard to administration. The most striking feuture of the administrative system of the Cholas was their autonomous village and town administration. The king, aided by a council of ministers, was the central head of the state. Land revenue and trade tax were the main sources of income. Society was divided into Brahmans and non-Brahmins. Emperor at the apex of administration; worship of the deceased rulers, and construction of temples as tributes to dead kings (a special feature of the Chola period).

Social Change The social changes which have been identified in the transition to early medieval period should be studied with respect to the composition, character and scope of the caste system, and the status of women within it. The early medieval period witnessed disruption of the established varna system which led to proliferation of castes and subcastes. The stratification within and outside the four-fold varna order became a feature during this period. To understand such, there is a need to have a look on the system of jati and caste which happens to be a characteristic feature of Indian society even today.

Jati and Caste: Peasantization of Tribes To begin with, Jati happens to be the basic unit in the caste system. People are grouped in endogamous Jatis, where members of a Jati enter into matrimonial alliance within and not outside their Jati. It is generally seen that a number of Jatis in an area, similar to each other in status and occupation make up a Jati cluster; and these Jatis and Jati clusters form part of one of the four Varnas—Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. At the lowest strata of this Jati-based Varna hierarchy, are the Untouchables, who are placed outside and in an inferior relation to the four-fold Varna order, although they are also termed as ‘impure Shudras’. The society of early medieval period, as distinct from the non-state, casteless societies of hunter-gatherers and tribes was expanding significantly. In the process, a considerable number of immigrants from outside the subcontinent, such as the Hunas, the Gurjaras, etc., settled down in the beginning. A gradual transformation of the original structure of Gurjara society was well under way during the period (mid-8th to the 11th century) as we see not only the emergence of a small section of them as rulers in the form of the Gurjara-Pratiharas but also the rest as humble peasantry. The legitimization of the authority of Hunas as one of the traditional

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36 Kshatriya clans took a longer time. Mention may be made of the Kalachuris, who figure as an important political entity and had even founded an era called Kalachuri-Chedi Era, are believed to have been as such immigrants, and the term ‘Kalachuri’ is interpreted as a derivative of the Turkish title ‘kulchur’. During this period because of the expansion of agriculture, more and more forest land was brought under cultivation. This brought about the assimilation of many tribal communities into the social fold and led to the peasantization of tribes living in the forest area. The entire process not only influenced the tribal culture, but the tribal culture and customs too, got assimilated and absorbed into the mainstream social set up. The rise of the Jagannath cult in Orissa is one such example, the origin of which could well be traced to the early medieval tribal culture. The origin of the Rajputs during this period is attributed to the emergence of various tribal groups. They belonged to different lineages, like those of the Hunas, the Chandelas and the Chalukyas who emerged immensely powerful towards the 11th and the 12th centuries. These clans gradually replaced the older rulers, especially in agricultural areas and came to be regarded as the Rajputs. Some of the aboriginal groups were in regular touch with the members of caste society, and vivid descriptions of their lives are recorded, though not without bias, in contemporary works of literature, such as the Dashakumaracharita of Dandin and the Kadambari of Banabhatta. Texts and traditions do speak of a number of the aboriginal peoples who were being assimilated in the caste society, wholly or partially. The name ‘Shabara’ continued to stand for a tribe or a number of tribes till later period. The reference to a Shabara king with a Sanskritic name, Udayana, in our sources suggests the integration of a section of Shabara people into caste society. In general, the majority of the members of a tribe were converted into a Jati belonging to the Shudra Varna or untouchables, while a tribal chief, if he was sufficiently resourceful, could claim a Kshatriya status for himself and his close kinsmen.

Proliferation of Castes Several irregular or mixed castes mentioned in the Dharmasastras came into existence as a result of the anuloma and pratlioma connections, especially the latter. Some of the latter type of castes are branded as the antyaja or the lowest castes. The Brahmavaivartya Purana, a text of the early medieval period, raises the number of existent mixed castes to over 100. However, the above theory explains the proliferation of castes (jatis) only partially. Instead, it seems to be an afterthought to provide place for the numerous tribals in the four-fold. The Nisadas, the Ambasthas, and the Pulkasas, were originally tribal communities, but once they gained admittance into the Brahaminical fold, ingenious caste and group configurations within the varna system were suggested for them, and they came to acquire an extremely hybridized or varnasamkara identity. The Vamasamkara theory was meant mainly to accommodate foreign and indigenous tribes in the caste hierarchy. There has been a transformation of the caste society from within in response to political, economic, and cultural–ideological changes. Mention may be made of the crystallization of the professionals called kayastha as a Jati. Kayasthas come into prominence as important officials from the Gupta period onwards, and during early medieval period are seen as a caste. Sources suggest that they came from a number of communities, including tribes (especially Karanas) as well as Brahmans. The titles of a considerable number of Brahmans in Bengal in the Gupta and post-Gupta inscriptions appear such as Vasu, Ghosha, Datta, Dama, etc., which are today the surnames not of Bengali Brahmans but of Bengali Kayasthas. Hence,

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it was a clear-cut case not of people of lower Varnas incorporating the surnames of their superiors in a bid for upward mobility, but one of the formation of a caste through fission of Brahman and non-Brahman Kayastha families from their parent bodies and fusion into a caste of Kayastha. From now on the Kayastha caste began to form as the families belonging to this profession began marrying among themselves and stopped marrying within their own original Jatis or tribes. Another transformation, noticeable in this period is the changes in the status of Vaishyas and Shudras. Agriculture, which was generally the work of the Vaishyas, now comes increasingly to be seen as the occupation of the Shudras. We may have various explanations to such a change. First of all, this has been understood as amounting to a marked upgradation in the status of the Shudras. From a position of slaves, servants and agricultural labourers, they now become landholding peasants like the Vaishyas. Second, this may be interpreted as the decline in the status of Vaishyas or peasantry as a result of extensive land grants and that they were so downgraded to be equated with the Shudras. This could refer to the phenomenon of the absorption of tribal people in caste society as Shudra peasantry. This period also witnessed a number of developments which took place in the history of untouchability. Although the practice had been known earlier, the term ‘untouchable’ or asprishya for them is used for the first time now. The number of untouchable castes increases through the period, largely through the absorption of aboriginal groups in the caste society. However, the Chandalas and the Shvapachas (literally, ‘dog-cookers’) remained the most conspicuous of them. The miserable conditions of these people seldom failed to attract the attention of shocked foreign observers. Early in the Gupta period, Fa Xian noticed it, and in the seventh century Xuan Zang observed: ‘Butchers, fishermen, public performers, executioners, and scavengers have their habitation marked by a distinguishing sign. They are forced to live outside the city and sneak along on the left when going about in the hamlets.’ The institution of slavery seems to have continued without much remarkable change. In the legal digests called shastras, the topic is treated in more or less the same manner in a Gupta-period work as in a 12th-century one, the Mitakshara of Vijnaneshwara which is otherwise very particular about recording change. Slaves seem to have mainly been used as domestic labour. The status of women also underwent significant change during the transition period. The changes mainly occurred among the womenfolk of the upper classes of society. A tendency to club them together with either property or Shudras could be gleaned from the sources of this period. It was almost akin to the way the Chandalas were coming to be bracketed with dogs and donkeys. Post-puberty marriages were deprecated, with one authority prescribing the age of the bride as one-third of the bridegroom’s. Wives would considerably outlive husbands in such cases, and detailed provisions were accordingly made for regulating the lives of widows. An extreme provision was that she should become a sati, i.e., to lay down with her husband’s dead body on the funeral pyre. The practice of sati gained ground steadily in early medieval times as instances of it begin to multiply. However, such provision lacked universal approval even in Brahmanism. Banabhatta and Shudraka criticized it vehemently, and the strongest protest against it developed in tantrism, which declared it as a most sinful act. Such depreciation in the social status of upper caste women would mean the deliberate erasure of their pre-marital identity after marriage. As up till the Gupta period, a woman was not supposed to lose her gotra identity and affiliation after marriage.

Early Medieval India (750

However, a significant ‘improvement’ in the status of women in early medieval period is perceived in the fact that they were allowed, like the Shudras, to listen to certain religious texts and worship deities. There is a possibility that the idea could have been to make them religious-minded, mainly to strengthen the brahmanical religions and enhance the income of the officiating priests rather than to improve the quality of women’s lives. No significant improvement is attested to the status of women with regard to the increase in the scope of stridhana, i.e., the wealth that a women could receive as a gift, for this did little to empower them in relation to men; their dependence and helplessness remained unaffected. While some authorities tried to get inheritance rights for the widow or daughter of a man dying sonless, actual practice more or less remained the same.

Changes in Economy The understanding of the economic aspects of the transition is primarily based on the evidence of land-grant inscriptions, coins and settlement ­archaeology, with some help from literary sources such as the account of the Chinese traveller Xuan Zang. These may be studied by considering continuous and unprecedented agrarian expansion; growth of a new class of landlords in the countryside along with corresponding changes in the status of peasantry; and decline in craft production, trade and urbaniation up to the tenth century and their revival afterwards. These changes are explained by a group of historians such as R. S. Sharma in terms of the gradual crystallization of Indian Feudalism. They have traced its origin to the system of land grants. The economic impact of these changes showed an increasing trend towards the ruralization of the economy. As a result, self-sufficient village economy came into being. Such explanation is based on two major presumptions. Firstly, since everything from production to consumption was confined to the village, trade suffered a decline; and secondly, there was a marked resultant decline in urbanization. The increasing number of land grants made to the religious beneficiaries implies a strong ruralisation of the economy from the late seventh century onwards. The period between 600 and 1000 ce witnessed decline in India’s flourishing commerce with the Roman Empire and it had an extremely adverse impact upon India’s commercial economy. It has been argued that the last known epigraphic reference to Tamralipti is found in an eighth-century inscription from north India. The port of Barbaricum, on river Indus, did not enjoy much economic prominence in the early medieval times. Also, the premier ports in Gujarat, Barygaza or Broach had lost their erstwhile glory and the port of Daibul, in the same region, began to come into the limelight as an international port after the tenth century onwards. These references are taken to suggest a gradual decline in trade in the economic life of early medieval north India. These evidences are corroborated by the paucity of coins of precious metals in this period. References to kapardaka or cowries or kapardaka-purana in many copper plate grants do not point to a particular type of coin, but refer to apurana or silver coins in terms of their equivalence to cowry-shells. The wide use of such terms in early medieval inscriptions, unknown before the eighth century, suggests that cowry-shells were the principal medium of exchange. It has been argued that cowries could only have become popular as a poor substitute for metallic money. The widespread prevalence of cowry-shells as currency is, therefore, taken to indicate a further decline in long-distance trade.

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The revival of India’s long-distance trade could be witnessed only after tenth century mainly because of an expanding trade with the Arab commercial network. During 11th–13th centuries in western India, there developed rapid growth of trading activities largely due to the development of foreign trade. Consequent to these new developments, after 1000 ce, sources suggest that waste and virgin land were brought under cultivation. As a result, there was sharp increase in agricultural production of food grains and commercial crops such as sugarcane, cotton and indigo. This, in turn, gave rise to the growth of commercial contact between town and countryside. However, in recent years several historians have provided evidences in support of the presence of coins, urban centres and network of trade that flourished in several regions of India even prior to 1000 ce. They argue that metals like gold, silver or copper were not the only forms of money in medieval societies and cowries functioned well as medium of exchange in the backdrop of an acute silver crisis in the Arab world. They say that in India, procuring cowries actually involved long-distance trade, for cowry-shells were obtained from the far-off Maldives and this serves to highlight its significance.

Prevalence of Guilds From tenth century onwards, merchant guilds flourished as an important element of the economic life of the period. The guild with different names such as the Nigama, the Shreni, the Samuha, the Sartha, the Samgha, etc., acted as voluntary associations of merchants dealing in grains, textiles, betel leaves, horses, perfumes and other items. The guilds consisted of both local groups as well as groups located in distant regions, but they always functioned as a unit right from the manufacturing the good till their distribution all around. The guilds enjoyed monopoly in terms of setting up their own rules and regulations regarding membership and the code of conduct. They fixed the prices of their goods and could even decide which specific commodity would be sold on what day. Guilds also acted as the custodians of religious interests. These guilds functioned in accordance with the rules framed by its members. Guilds were required to deal directly with the king and settle the market tolls and taxes on behalf of fellow merchants. In south India, such guilds were known as nanadesis who used to visit distant regions for trade purposes. Apart from these guilds, there emerged in early medieval India several communities whose major task was to enhance and speed up the economic activities. Sources speak of such communities as Oswal, Paliwal, Agravanija, etc.

Urbanization During early medieval period, particularly from the tenth century onwards, important urban centres developed in the region between the upper Ganga basin and the Malwa plateau. Tattanandapura, identified with Ahar near Bulandshahar, was a fully developed township of the upper Ganga basin. Other centres of such kind were Siyadoni in Jhansi and Gopagiri in Gwalior, where the guilds like sresthis and the sarthavahas lived. This period is often described as the ‘third urbanization’. Inscriptions and literary sources refer to the presence of various market places, some of them were unknown prior to 600 ce. The term hatta or hattika (a small rural centre of exchange) frequently occurs in the inscriptions of north India in this period.

Early Medieval India (750

In such rural markets, transactions do not take place there on an everyday basis, but only once or twice a week on fixed days. These hattikas find mention in copper plates as important landmarks in rural areas. Different kinds of merchants were in existence in the period in question. Besides, vanik, sarthavaha and sresthi, there appeared new types of merchants such as sresthi-sartha, who possibly represented a group of money merchants which used to have minted silver coins. Inscriptions from Gujarat and Rajasthan frequently refer to donations made by rich merchants to religious and cultural centres such as Dhusara, Dharkata, Uesavala/Oisavala (later day Oswals), Srimali and Pragvata. Last but not the least, there was unprecedented agrarian expansion in India in the early medieval period. This resulted in an agrarian surplus, a major pre-requisite for the city’s formation in early India. Agrarian expansion also paved the way for a greater concentration of the population in some villages which consequently underwent a change in character leading to emergence of smaller towns. Thus, the revisionists feel that the old towns did show signs of decline, but there emerged many new urban centres instead.

Cultural Developments The early medieval period also witnessed the multi-faceted cultural activities taking place in different parts of India which is vividly portrayed in literary texts and monumental representations. The ideological basis of period saw the transformation of Brahminism into a new kind of popular Hinduism called Monism, which took place under the tutelage of philosophers like Sankaracharya. Another popular movement that took root outside the confines of orthodoxy and in fact challenged the conventional order of things was the Bhakti movement. Simultaneously, regional literature and art found a context that was conducive to its growth and development.

Rise and Growth of Regional Literature To begin with, there were a number of significant linguistic developments. First and foremost, the period witnessed the growth of Apabhramsa (from old Prakrit) which is considered by the linguists as the third stage of Middle Indo-Aryan languages from about 600 ce. From Apabhramsa, there grew the New or Modern Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi and Marathi which began to evolve from the tenth century. Secondly, Sanskrit which not only remained the dominant language but also it continued to grow as the official language of the states. In fact, Sanskrit was used for trans-provincial communication throughout the cultural regions of south and Southeast Asia, apart from as a language of literature and religion. Even the Jainas were beginning to give up their Ardha-Magadhi Prakrit in its favour in the later periods. Also, with regard to the composition of Sanskrit legal texts, this period saw the composition of the last of the Smritis, the Katyayana Smriti, and Sanskrit commentaries on the Smriti texts. Last but not the least, there was continuing acceleration of Tamil along with the foundations of Kannada and Telugu as a literary language. The Tamil received a great momentum from the Bhakti movement. Durvinita, who is mentioned as a celebrated Kannada literary figure, was probably the sixth-century Ganga king Durvinita of southern Karnataka. Amoghvarsha, the Rashtrakuta king was another celebrated figure who wrote Kavirajmarga, which dealt with earliest poetics in Kannada.

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Languages like Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, Assamese and Oriya attained their specific regional identity. Such developments took place because of the emergence of various sects and religious movements in this period. Some of the founders of these sects did not know Sanskrit at all and therefore expressed themselves in their regional languages. Moreover, many of the saintly poets who inspired these movements created great works of literature and thus enriched the regional languages. During the Chola period, education was imparted through temple discourses. There were colleges and other institutions for higher education, based on the epics and the Puranas traditions. The period was marked by the growth of Tamil classics like the Sibakasindamani, Kamban’s Ramayana, and others. Not too many works were composed in Sanskrit. Rajaraja I was the subject of two works: Rajarajesvara Natakam, a play and Rajaraja Vijayam, a poem. The Chalukyas also registered a spectacular growth in literature, both in Sanskrit and in Kannada. Bihana, the court poet of Vikramadiya VI, composed Vikramankacharita which is a mahakavya. Bilhana authored a number of other works as well. The great jurist Vijnanesvara, wrote Mitaksara, a commentary on the Yajnavalkya Smriti; Somesvara III was the author of an encyclopaedic work entitled, Manasollasa or the Abhilashitarha-chintamam. Kannada literature reached its zenith under the Chalukyas. Pampa, Ponna and Ranna, commonly acclaimed as three jewels of Kannada literature were the most noteworthy writers of the tenth century. Nagavarma I authored Chandombudhi, the earliest prosodic work of its kind in Kannada. He also wrote the Karnataka-Kandambari which is based on Bana’s celebrated romance in Sanskrit. Dugasimha, a minister under Jayasimha II was the author of Anchatantra. The Virasaiva saints, especially Basava, contributed to the development of Kannada prose literature. They brought into existence the Vachana literature to make certain philosophical ideas understandable to the common man. The Senas of Bengal also contributed to the development of Sanskrit literature. Bhaskaracharya and his father, Mahesvara (also known as Kavisvara), the famous astronomers and mathematicians, belonged to this period. The latter wrote two works on astrology—Sekhara and Laghutika. Siddhanta Siromani, a treatise on algebra, composed in Sanskrit in 1150 ce and Karanakuthuhala are among Bhaskaracharya’s best known works. Bhaskaracharya’s grand- nephew Anantadeva, was a master of the three branches of astronomy and wrote a commentary on Varahamihira’s Brihat Jataka on one chapter of Brahmagupta’s Brahmasphutasiddhanta. The Kakatiya rulers extended liberal patronage to Sanskrit. Achintendra was commissioned by the king Rudradeva to compose the Prasasti embodies in the Anumakonda inscription. Telugu literature also flourished under the Kakatiya kingdom. Several inscriptions were composed either partly or wholly in Telugu verse, like the inscriptions at Gudur (Beta II), Karimnagar (Gangadhara) and Upparapalle (Kata). New religious movements like Vaishnavism and Virasaivism gave an added impetus to Telugu literature. Several works on the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were produced during this period. The earliest and the most popular Telugu work on the Ramayana is Tikkan’s Nirvachanoltatra-Ramayanam. The Andhra Mahabharata, begun by Nannayuabhatta in the 11th century ce, was completed by Tikkana, the minister and poet laureate of the Chola king in the 13th century.

Rise of Bhakti Tradition In the field of religion, a major development of great importance was Bhakti movement in the Tamil south. The idea of bhakti or devotion to a deity was basic to most sects of the period, but especially in the south, it denoted emotional intensity and

Early Medieval India (750

became the focus of a powerful religious movement. It was embraced by both Shaiva saints or Nayanars and Vaishnava ones or Alvars. They toured extensively in propagation of their faith and debated, sang, danced and composed beautiful lyrics in praise of their deities. The Bhakti cult then spread to other parts of India and finally also to northern India, giving an entirely new perspective to Hinduism. The idea of bhakti also served as icebreaker to tone down the inequalities by bringing in its fold people of every castes and sects. The Bhakti cult advocated a complete rejection of Brahmanical orthododxy and suggested that salvation was a personal matter, which did not require the intervention of priests and clerics. It could be attained by means of pure devotion to God. Many came from the lower castes and took women into the fold. The saint-poets preached Bhakti and promoted religious egalitarianism. The philosophy of Shankara of ninth century, with all his emphasis on unqualified monism (Advaita) and the Upanishadic idea of salvation through knowledge influenced the Bhakti doctrine. He himself was a devotee of Shiva and authored some fine devotional poems, including the Anandalahari written in praise of Parvati. Later, Ramanuja (1017–1137 ce), a Vaishnava Tamil Brahmana propounded the theory of qualified monism (Vishishtadvaita), which emphasized on Bhakti as a means to achieve salvation. The cult of devotion was thus the most popular ideology during the early medieval period. The Bhakti doctrine endorsed the theory of incarnation. Although the concept of incarnation was originally a feature of Vaishnavism, it now influenced other religions as well. Most of the 28 avataras of Siva are said to have been Vishnu incarnations. However, it is only the last of these, Lakulisa, who became popular. In Jainism, the worship of tirthankaras became popular. In Vaishnavism itself, the boar (varaha) form of Vishnu, seems to have become very common, though the ten avataras of Vishnu came to be standardized and are mentioned in a late seventh century inscription in Mahabalipuram. Rama, as an incarnation of Vishnu, was known as a cult deity, but could not achieve the stature of Krishna. Scenes and episodes from the life of Krishna were etched upon several temple walls and Jayadeva and Nimbarka popularized his worship in the 12th century. The royal patronage remained instrumental in intensification of the Bhakti movement. Mahendravarman Pallava is said to have destroyed a Jaina monastery and build a Hindu temple in its place. The temple-building spree spread from the Pallava–Chola territory to the Pala and the Chera territories during this period. A plethora of inscriptions from the seventh to the tenth centuries refer to the construction of temples, which could not have been possible without the active patronage of kings. The kings and chieftains, who supported Brahminical groups, became more powerful than those who opposed them. In fact, the kings and the Brahmins helped and supported each other. The more powerful a king became, the greater sense of support and protection a Brahamana had. The Bhakti movement may, in effect, have helped rulers to consolidate the power of monarchy as an institution. In its essence, a devotee could offer his own self in the spirit of true devotion and service. This meant that devotion was offered in return for immunity from death, poverty and disease. In the full intoxication of Bhakti, the ideal devotee was not really looking for either wealth, or longevity, or power and security. He believed in and offered pure, unconditional love and devotion to a higher cause. Puja was the most common manifestation of Bhakti. It meant offering land and property and other services to the lord in return for land, fiscal rights and protection. This practice prompted kings and landed magnates to construct temples on a large scale. The idea

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of the holy abode of god in the form of temples gripped the masses with a sense of religious fervour and the practice of making frequent visits to a tirthasthan (pilgrimage centre) gained unprecedented popularity. This is why we witness a large number of the nearly 2000 tirthas in India which was laid in this period.

Tantrism The practices of Bhakti, puja, and tirthayatra gained momentum in early medieval times. Being open to members of all varnas they achieved universal appeal and became an inextricable part of all medieval religions. Tantrism was well on way to becoming a salient feature of religious life all over the subcontinent. It emerged as a force to reckon with in early medieval society. The Tantras served an important social purpose by prescribing numerous rituals and remedies not only for day-today common ailments and diseases but also for snake-bites, bites by poisonous insects and mice, and assaults by a ghost-turned assailant. Remedial measures, to protect cereals and food grains from mice and snakes, find ample mention in the records of the period. Rites and occult practices were supposed to avert the adverse impact of poison, planetary movements and diseases. Medication was supposed to be administered along with religious chants and incantations. The medieval tantrika also acted as physician and astrologer jyotishi. The practice continues even now in Nepal and Mithila where the tantrika foretells the future and the dates of eclipses and festivals. Tantrism laid down numerous magical rituals to achieve liberation (mukti) and happiness (bhukti), and in fact to find fulfillment for all kinds of material desires. D. N. Jha says that Tantrism originaled in backward tribal areas, where Brahmin settlements took place after they were donated land. The Brahmin beneficiaries interacted with the local people and, in the process, appropriated their deities, especially the female ones. In Tantrism, the cult of female divinities, who were in general known as Tara in Buddhism and Shakti or Devi in Brahmanism, was combined with a set of esoteric beliefs and magical practices. A graphic portrayal of Tantric religion is seen in the Harshacharita of Banabhatta. It emerged as a force to reckon with in early medieval society. It is said that tantrism was the ultimate proof of the Brahminical colonization of tribal areas through the process of land grants. While the efforts of the priests to invent gainful rituals cannot be discounted, the close connection of Tantrism with aboriginal areas, tribes and goddesses cannot be ignored. The mystic diagrams (yantras), and the sacred chakras or circles invented by the Saktas, and the different rituals observed by the Tantric worshipers, possibly continued the tradition of the veneration of stone tools and weapons as cult symbols, which were often also associated with fertility rites. The confrontation between the Brahmins and the tribal people resulted in major social and economic problems which were partly resolved through Tantrism. On the one hand, the new religion allowed admittance to women, Shudras and aborigines; on the other hand, it implicitly endorsed the existing social and feudal hierarchy. Therefore, it was acceptable to all sections of people. It was a religious attempt at social reconciliation and integration rather than at the accentuation of the social conflict. Even Buddhism had closed its doors to slaves and debtors, but the Tantric chakra opened its doors to all sections of people, irrespective of varna, caste, gender and other considerations. In Bengal, Manasa found her way into the Brahminical religious system during the early phase of the Pala rule. In Orissa, Maninageshvari was elevated to a

Early Medieval India (750

place of importance in the fifth and sixth centuries through royal donations. The practice of making human sacrifices to placate her are still existent. In the same region, Stambheshvari, a goddess associated with the ancient Shaulika tribe, was absorbed into the Brahminical fold through the patronage of the Sulki rulers. In Tamil Nadu, the fish-eyed goddess, Minaksi, was similarly brought into the Brahminical cult through the patronage of the Pandya rulers. At Urupati, in Andhra Pradesh, the goddess Padmavati, who has Tantric powers, had a temple built in her name in the eighth century. Almost all the temples of 64 yoginis (mother goddess in 64 forms) were built in the tribal belt of eastern Madhya Pradesh and Orissa during early medieval times. Several other tribal deities with strange-sounding names like—Ghasmari, Shavari, Chandali and Dombini were integrated into the Tantric Brahminical tradition through interaction with the tribal people. Several extant Tantric texts have unquestionable tribal leanings like in the Yoginitantra, the Matangaparameshvaratantra and the Vajrayogini-sadhana. Popular Tantrism emphasized orgiastic rites involving addiction to the five features of—makaras-matsya (fish), mamsa (meat), madya (intoxicating drink), maithuna (sex) and mudra (physical gesture). It introduced a strong element of eroticism in the arts. Erotic depictions abound in the temples of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan (e.g., Bavka, Motap, Sunak, Galteshvara, Dabhoi, Eklingaji, Nagda, etc.), Orissa (Bhuvaneshvara), Karnataka (Halebid, Begali, and Belur) and Tamil Nadu (Madura and Kanchipuram). But these portrayals are most prominent in Konarak and Khajuraho. The widespread influence of Tantric cults and their erotic elements on the artistic idiom and motifs is thus unquestionable. It must be emphasized that patronage of high spiritualism symbolized by grand temple structures and of the extreme sensuality seen in the sculpture of the period came from the feudal landed aristocracy headed by the rulers themselves, whose ideology was a curious amalgam of the sacred and the profane.

Other Religious Trends There is a perceptible decline in some areas of Buddhism, which had gradually been falling out of royal favour since the Gupta period. In many others, however, it continued to retain a substantial presence. There was a century of lavish royal patronage by the Maitraka state of Saurashtra in the west, and in the east the importance of Nalanda reached its peak during this time as the most outstanding of all the centres of Buddhist learning, to which some more like Vikramashila, Oddantapuri, and Somapura were added. In Gujarat and Rajasthan regions, Jainism too seems to have done reasonably well among the people despite the dwindling royal support. It is in the South that the two religions lost out to Brahmanism in a major way, although the Kannada territory remained a Jaina stronghold. There was never any love lost between them and the Brahmanical religions, and religious rivalry and persecution have long been identified as distinct features of our age, despite a certain general reluctance to accept it and a rather desperate bid by some scholars to see nothing but religious tolerance and harmony. There were no doubt kings during these centuries who were ­evenhanded in their attitudes to the various religions, but so were those with partisan views bordering on bigotry. For instance, the following quote from one of the earliest studies on south Indian Jainism represents a standard view of the downfall of the faith in the region, about which students of history tend to be unfamiliar these days.

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Hindu Temple–9th

century

‘The vast remains in South India of mutilated statues, deserted caves, and ruined temples at once recall to our mind the greatness of the religion in days gone by and the theological rancour of the Brahmins who wiped it out of all active existence. The Jains have been forgotten, their traditions have been ignored; but, the memory of that bitter struggle between Jainism and Hinduism, characterised by bloody episodes in the South, is constantly kept alive in the series of frescoes on the wall of the mantapam of the Golden Lily Tank of the famous Minakshi Temple of Madura.’ Among the other features in this period of transition, one was the coming of Islam on the west coast and in Sindh, and the other was the expansion of Christian communities from Malabar and some other places on the west coast in early sixth century to the east coast of the peninsula by the eighth. A group of warriors that propelled the medieval transition in India consisted of huge clans of Turkish, Afghan, and Mongol horse-riding nomads, who dominated warrior society in their highlands. They became dominant military force in the lowlands after the tenth century. Mahmud of Ghazni’s father, Sabuktigin, fought Hindu Shahis in Punjab to acquire tribute to support his wars in Afghanistan and Persia. Mahmud succeeded his father in 997 ce and extended his patrimonial ambition in all directions. He conquered Afghanistan and Persia, obtained the title Yamin al-Daula (Right Hand of the State) from the Caliph, and took tribute from local rulers in seventeen raids across India. I Mahmud also used some of his wealth to support Al-Biruni, the master geographer. Al-Biruni had travelled trade roots documented for centuries by Arab geographers whose knowledge had guided Mahmud’s expansion to the west and his raids to the east and south. Al-Biruni’s geography locates places all across Indo-Ganga basin and Indian Ocean coast, most importantly, Gujarat and Sind. Rich Indian merchants in Ghazni would have been able to provide Mahmud with intelligence on the most lucrative sites for military assault. By Mahmud’s time, Indus and Ganga river basins were, like Rajasthan and Gujarat, part of the trading world of Central Asia; and Mahmud brought them into Central Asian politics as well.

Previous Years’ Questions: How to Approach

Early Medieval India (750

ce –1200 ce )

12.29

1. How did the temples of South India, as financial institutions, have deeply impacted social institutions of early medieval period? Critically examine.  [2016]

The Right Approach

• Discuss emergence of temple architecture in south India based on Dravidian style which got state patronage. It emerged as a source of legitimisation of political, social and religious authority. • Briefly write about emergence of bhakti sects • Also state how Temples became a major institution • The Kings like Cholas and Pallavas considered themselves as Gods and made their people to worship their idols built inside the temples • Mention about the huge offerings made to the temples by the kings and then funding of social institutions through them (Refer pgs. 12.17–12.18) 2. How could the local-self government under the Cholas adjust with their centralized administrative structure? [2015]

The Right Approach

• Mention about Chola dynasty having absolute monarchy and centralized military system. Their local self government functioned autonomously • Then specify that the Central government deputed officers to supervise and intervene on the villages in the case of emergencies • Discuss the functions of the election of members of local assemblies including their autonomous rights on the basis of Uttaramerur inscription • Also mention that the local self government followed the policies designed by the central government • Further write about Brahma Sabhas and Chola courts being interlinked and monitored closely (Refer pgs. 12.17-12.18) 3. What were the privileges granted to the donees in land-grant charters of early India? How far were these charters responsible for integration of disintegration of socio-political milieu?  [2014]

The Right Approach

• Briefly describe the land-grant charter of Ancient India •  Refer to the Pali texts and Pre-Maurya period, conveying the meaning of ’Brahamdeyya‘ • Mention about land beneficiaries and the powers • T  hen write how it further led to decentralization

Photo Credits CHAPTER 1 Page 1.6—INTERFOTO / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 1.6—Universal Images Group North America LLC / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 1.23—Science History Images / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 1.31—Jawwad Ali.Shutterstock.com

CHAPTER 2 Page 2.1— ephotocorp / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 2.3—designua. 123rf.com; Page 2.6—Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 2.7—Redmond Durrell / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 2.10—Jens Stolt. 123rf.com; Page 2.11—The Natural History Museum / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 2.12—Maps of India. Compare Infobase Limited; Page 2.12—Pradip Kumar Bhowal. Pearson India Education Services Pvt. Ltd; Page 2.16—Maps of India. Compare Infobase Limited; Page 2.17—‚‘www.BibleLandPictures. com / Alamy Stock Photo Artokoloro Quint Lox Limited / Alamy Stock Photo’; Page 2.20— Granger Historical Picture Archive / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 2.23—FlickreviewR

CHAPTER 3 Page 3.1—Art Directors & TRIP / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.3—Jawwad Ali.Shutterstock. com; Page 3.5—SRS Global. Pearson India Education Services Pvt. Ltd; Page 3.5—Madame Catherine Jarrige,The National Centre for Scientific Research, France (Images first published in Research Paper: Mehrgarh Neolithic), used with permission; Page 3.8—SRS Global. Pearson India Education Services Pvt. Ltd; Page 3.10—Travel India / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.11—Heritage Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.11—CRS PHOTO. Shutterstock.com; Page 3.12—Jawwad Ali.Shutterstock.com; Page 3.15—Dinodia Photos / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.17—robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.17—Photo Credits: Ismoon, MrABlair23, CC 1.0 Public Domain Dedication, Wikimedia Commons; Page 3.18—robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.18—Art Directors & TRIP / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.19—Ismoon, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain Dedication CC1.0; Page 3.19—Angelo Hornak / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.20—World History Archive / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.20—Science History Images / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.21—Heritage

Photo Credits

Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.21—Angelo Hornak / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.22—Copyright Dinesh Shukla/Harappa.com; Page 3.23—Angelo Hornak / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.23—robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.24—Angelo Hornak / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.24—Madame Catherine Jarrige,The National Centre for Scientific Research, France (Images first published in Research Paper: Mehrgarh Neolithic), used with permission; Page 3.29—Angelo Hornak / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.29—Art Directors & TRIP / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 3.29—Copyright J.M. Kenoyer/Harappa.com, Courtesy Dept. of Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Pakistan

CHAPTER 4 Page 4.1—Universal Images Group North America LLC / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 4.5— INTERFOTO / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 4.9—Maps of India. Compare Infobase Limited Page 4.14—World History Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

CHAPTER 5 Page 5.1—Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 5.8—Biswarup Ganguly; Page 5.9—Shri B.D. Dwivedi/Biswarup Ganguly; Page 5.16—Maps of India. Compare Infobase Limited; Page 5.19—Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Page 5.25—Peter Horree / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 5.29—robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 5.30—ephotocorp / Alamy Stock Photo

CHAPTER 6 Page 6.1—Dinodia Photos / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 6.4—Casper1774 Studio.Shutterstock. com; Page 6.7—Maps of India. Compare Infobase Limited; Page 6.11—Maps of India. Compare Infobase Limited; Page 6.16—fayska.Shutterstock.com; Page 6.17—Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia; Page 6.37—Dinodia Photos  / Alamy  Stock Photo; Page 6.39— Gaurav Singh. 123rf.com; Page 6.39—(c)Ajay Singh, used with permission

CHAPTER 7 Page 7.1—(c)Ajay Singh, used with permission; Page 7.13—The Print Collector / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 7.15—Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand; Page 7.16—Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand ; Page 7.16—ephotocorp / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 7.16— Dinodia Photos / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 7.17—veice. Shutterstock; Page 7.17—Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand; Page 7.17—Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand P.2

Photo Credits

CHAPTER 8 Page 8.1—saiko3p.Shutterstock.com; Page 8.3—Heritage Image Partnership Ltd  / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 8.4—Maps of India. Compare Infobase Limited; Page 8.6—Maps of India. Compare Infobase Limited; Page 8.16—saiko3p.Shutterstock.com; Page 8.19—Maps of India. Compare Infobase Limite

CHAPTER 9 Page 9.1—Dmitry Rukhlenko-Travel Photos / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 9.4—Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand; Page 9.13—Tomas Abad / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 9.14—Martin Newman / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 9.17—Kanatonian

CHAPTER 10 Page 10.1—Dinodia Photos / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 10.3—Amitava Sengupta, Pearson India Education Services Pvt. Limited; Page 10.4—Dinodia Photos / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 10.6—Amitava Sengupta. Pearson India Education Services Pvt. Ltd; Page 10.9— Copyright Dinesh Shukla/Harappa.com

CHAPTER 11 Page 11.1—(c)Ajay Singh, used with permission; Page 11.11—Peter Horree / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 11.18—robertharding  / Alamy  Stock Photo; Page 11.19—Dinodia Photos  / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 11.23—Courtesy: Siddharth Jain; Page 11.25—ephotocorp / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 11.26—veice. Shutterstock; Page 11.27—Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand; Page 11.27—Asia Alan King / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 11.29—(c)Ajay Singh, used with permission; Page 11.30—(c)Ajay Singh, used with permission; Page 11.31—(c) Ajay Singh, used with permission; Page 11.34—ephotocorp / Alamy Stock Photo

CHAPTER 12 Page 12.1—Westend61 GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 12.7—Maps of India. Compare Infobase Limited; Page 12.7—Lebrecht Music & Arts / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 12.9— Josse Christophel / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 12.16—ephotocorp / Alamy Stock Photo; Page 12.28—robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

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