CLASSICAL INDIA FROM THE MAURYANS TO THE GUPTAS

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1 CLASSICAL INDIA FROM THE MAURYANS TO THE GUPTAS

2 RISE OF MAURYAN EMPIRE Ganges Republics Prior to Alexander, kshatriyan republics dominated, vied for power Maghda was one of the most dominant Western Intrusions Intrusions of Persians (520 B.C.E.) and Alexander (327 B.C.E.) Persians established Indus satrapy Alexander s withdrawal left a political vacuum Magadha kingdom filled the vacuum Chandragupta Maurya The founder of the Mauryan empire Overthrew the Magadha kingdom in 321 B.C.E. Conquered the Greek state in Bactria, Selecuid control of Indus Chandragupta's empire embraced all of northern India Chandragupta's government Government procedures devised by Kautalya, the advisor of the empire The political handbook, Arthashastra, outlined administrative methods

3 ASHOKA Ashoka Maurya (reigned B.C.E.) Chandragupta's grandson, The high point of the Mauryan empire Conquered the kingdom of Kalinga, 260 B.C.E. Ruled through tightly organized bureaucracy Established capital at Pataliputra Policies of encouraging agriculture and trade Converted to Buddhism Established a tolerant rule of righteousness Sent out missionaries to Sri Lanka, SE Asia, Central Asia Decline of the Mauryan Empire Ashoka died in 232 B.C.E. Suffered from acute financial and economic difficulties High cost for maintaining army and bureaucrats Debasing the currency, not a effective resolution The empire collapsed by 185 B.C.E.

4 The Gupta Dynasty THE GUPTAS After Mauryans, India was controlled by regional kingdoms The Gupta state rose to power in Magadha Chandra Gupta founded the new dynasty Gupta dynasty was relatively decentralized Officially supported revival of Hinduism as state faith Era seen as the Golden Age of Hinduism Gupta decline Invasion of White Huns weakened the empire After 5th century C.E., Gupta dynasty ruled in name only Large regional kingdoms dominated political life in India

5 ECONOMICS AND SOCIAL Towns and manufacturing Towns dotted the India countryside after 600 B.C.E. Towns provided manufactured products and luxury goods Long-distance trade Invasions by Persian empires helped to build extensive trade networks Trade with China through the silk roads of central Asia Trade in the Indian Ocean basin, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Mediterranean basin Spread Buddhism and Hinduism throughout Indian Ocean basin Social and gender relations Strong patriarchal families; subordination of women to men Child marriage placed women under control of old men Development of caste system New social groups of artisans, craftsmen, and merchants appeared Individuals of same trade or craft formed a guild; guilds were subcastes, jatis Functions of guilds: social security and welfare systems Wealth and social order Trade and industry brought prosperity to many vaishyas and shudras Old beliefs and values of early Aryan society became increasingly irrelevant

6 JAINISM Vardhamana Mahavira Born in north India, 540 B.C.E. Left family, searching for salvation from cycle of incarnation Gained enlightenment, taught an ascetic doctrine His disciples began to lead a monastic life Mahavira became Jina, the "conqueror," and followers, Jains Jainist doctrine and ethics Inspired by the Upanishads Everything in the universe possessed a soul Striving to purify one's selfish behavior to attain a state of bliss The principle of ahimsa, nonviolence toward all living things Believed that almost all occupations entailed violence of some kind Too demanding, not a practical alternative to the cult of the brahmins Appeal of Jainism Social implication: Individual souls equally participated in ultimate reality The Jains did not recognize social hierarchies of caste and jati Became attractive to members of lower castes The ascetic tradition continues to today

7 EARLY BUDDHISM Siddhartha Gautama ( B.C.E.) Born in 563 B.C.E. to the Kshatriya caste Witnessed miseries of the human condition Gave up his comfortable life and began searching for enlightenment Intense meditation and extreme asceticism Received enlightenment under the bo tree and became Buddha The Buddha and his followers "Turning of the Wheel of the Law," 528 B.C.E. Organized followers into a community of monks ( the sangha ) Traveled throughout north India, bringing enlightenment to others Buddhist doctrine: The dharma The Four Noble Truths All life involves suffering Desire is the cause of suffering Elimination of desire brings an end to suffering The Noble Eightfold Path brings the elimination of desire The Noble Eightfold Path ( Setting the wheel in motion ) Right belief, right resolve, right speech, right behavior Right occupation, right effort, right contemplation, and right meditation Religious goal: Nirvana, a state of perfect spiritual independence

8 APPEAL OF BUDDHISM Appealed strongly to members of lower castes Salvation without services of the brahmins Did not recognize social hierarchies of castes and jati Appealed to women as all souls considered equal Less demanding than Jainism, more popular Used vernacular tongues, not Sanskrit Holy sites and pilgrims The monastic organizations Spread the Buddhist message, won converts Could be endowed by others to support the religion Centers of learning, good works, contemplation Ashoka's support Emperor Ashoka became a devout Buddhist, 206 B.C.E. Banned animal sacrifices in honor of ahimsa Granted lands to monasteries Sent missionaries to Bactria and Ceylon

9 VARIANTS OF BUDDHISM Early Buddhism made heavy demands on individuals Giving up personal property Forsaking the search for social standing Detaching oneself from worldly pleasures Development of Buddhism Buddha gradually seen as a god by ex-hindu s, in China The notion of bodhisatva - "an enlightened being" Monasteries began to accept gifts from wealthy individuals Buddhism became more attractive The Schism of Buddhism: Was he a god or man? Mahayana - "the greater vehicle" Spread to Central, East Asia Blended in India with Hinduism, which coopted Buddha as a god Coopted Chinese traditions and Taoist gods in China Hinayana or Theravada Continued to view Buddha as human Practiced in Sri Lanka, parts of India, SE Asia Buddhism died out in India as it merged with Hinduism

10 POPULAR HINDUISM The epics Mahabharata A secular poem revised by brahmin scholars Honored the god Vishnu, the preserver of the world Ramayana Secular story of Rama and Sita was changed into a Hindu story The Bhagavad Gita A short poetic work within the Mahabharata A dialogue between the god Vishnu and Prince Arjuna Illustrated expectations of Hinduism and promise of salvation Hindu ethics Lower demands for achieving salvation Individuals should meet their responsibilities in detached fashion Balance of dharma, artha, karma to attain moksha, end samsara Popularity of Hinduism Became more popular than Buddhism; Buddhism too aesthetic The Guptas helped Hinduism become the dominant religion

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