Lecture for SS2 Asian Studies, prepared by Martin Benedict Perez, PSHS Main Campus
I. Preface: From Harappa to BuddhaII. The First Empires A. The Maurya: The roots of the Indian state B. The Kushans: India at the center of the worldIII. The Golden Age A. The Gupta: Golden Age in the North B. The Cholans: Golden Age in the SouthIV. Islam in India A. The Mughals: The Age of Opulence
History played outdifferently in the Indo-Gangetic Plain to thenorth and in the Deccanplateau to the south.The north was open toforeign intrusion, andthe south would play alarger role later on asmaritime tradeintensified.
Let Michael Woodcatch us up on whatwe’ve touched onabout India so far.
The Maurya and the Kushans
Around 1500BCE, aforeign people – theAryans – migrated intothe Indus River Valley.From 1000 to 500BCE,the Indo-Aryanpopulations movedfurther eastward intothe rest of the Indo-Gangetic Plain.
According to Vedicliterature, sixteen ‘greatrealms’ emerged tocompete for supremacy.The power of theKshatriya increased, andthe rights of thecommon mandiminished.This was the politicalsituation during thetime of the Buddha.
The approximateextent of theMagadha state inthe 5th centuryBCE.
The NandaEmpire at itsgreatest extentunder DhanaNanda circa 323BCE.
The MauryaEmpire when itwas first foundedby ChandraguptaMaurya circa 320BCE, afterconquering theNanda Empirewhen he was onlyabout 20 yearsold.
Chandraguptaextended theborders of theMaurya Empiretowards SeleucidPersia afterdefeating Seleucuscirca 305 BCE.
Chandraguptaextended theborders of theempire southwardinto the DeccanPlateau circa 300BC.
Chanakya, the King Maker. “The Indian Machiavelli”
Chandragupta Maurya was schooled by Chanakya who wrote theArthashastra. “In the happiness of his subjects lies the kings happiness, in their welfare his welfare. He shall not consider as good only that which pleases him but treat as beneficial to him whatever pleases his subjects.”Kautilya also favors an autocratic welfare state, andbelieves that no kingdom can survive without a good and efficienteconomy.
The Arthashastra also talks about the Rajarishi as the ideal leader:1. Has self-control, having conquered the inimical temptations of the senses;2. Cultivates the intellect by association with elders;3. Keeps his eyes open through spies;4. Is ever active in promoting the security & welfare of the people;5. Ensures the observance (by the people) of their dharma by authority & example;6. Improves his own discipline by (continuing his) learning in all branches of knowledge; and7. Endears himself to his people by enriching them & doing good to them.
THE FIRST EMPEROR OF INDIA1. Established government bureaucracy2. Controlled economic activity in mines, forests, pearl fisheries, and salt fields.3. Operated farms, shipyards, and arsenals.4. Maintained a formidable military: 600,000 infantry; 30,000 cavalry; 9,000 elephants.5. Constructed and improved of infrastructure such as roads and irrigation.6. Funded his works through a land tax (1/4 to 1/2 of crops produced).
Ashoka is mostpopularly knownas the patron ofBuddhism
“All people are my children, and just as I desire for my children that they should obtain welfare and happiness, both in this world and the next, so do I desirethe same for all people.”
After the death of Ashoka,the Maurya lost theirterritories and north Indiadissolved into a number ofsmaller states ruled by localdynasties.One kingdom in centralSouth Asia, the Savatahana,established its own empirethat would last for 400 years.
Originating from ChineseCentral Asia, the Kushans (alsoYuezhi), built an empiresupported by the Silk Road.They had diplomatic ties withRome, Persia, and Han China.Their art was a synthesis ofBuddhist and Hellinistic (Greek)styles.The spread of Buddhism alsointensified.
Left: Carving that depicts Kushan robesAbove: Gold coins depicting Kanishka,the greatest king of the Kushans
Silk Routes, over-land and over-sea
The Gupta and the Cholans
Key Cultural Advancements1. Indian culture was crystallized. From architecture to poetry, expressions were very rich and detailed.2. Art forms were plentiful: the Panchatantra, the sanskrit drama, architecture, sculpture, and so on.3. The cults of Vishnu and Shiva became very popular.4. Buddhists patronized education, leading the Gupta to become the center of learning at that time.
The Cholan is just one example ofthe many states and empires thatoccupied South India.Nonetheless, it is perhaps the mostprominent empire of the Tamil.There have been mentions of theCholans as early as 300BCE in theworks of Asoka.But it was during the 9th century thatthey achieved new heights as anempire. A tower of the Thanjavur temple dedicated to Shiva
The Meenakshi Temple inMadurai, the oldest city inSouth India.
The Cholan, atits height, wasa culturalsuperpower inSoutheastAsia.
Built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat is a fusion of Khmer architecture and South Indian style. It is dedicated to Vishnu.
Built in the 14th century, Pura Bekasih is the most prominent Hindu temple in Bali. In mostly Muslim Indonesia, Bali is 93% Hindu.
711: Earliest Muslim raids; 1210 to 1526: Period of the Delhi sultanatestopped by Rajputs 1526: Babur established the Mughal line that would last until 1858.
HINDUISM ISLAM Complete freedom of belief Strictly monotheistic Brahman is the supreme being There is only one God and with many manifestations Muhammad is His prophetDevotion (bhakti) can be personal Worship is congregational God has no face; no idols or imagesDeities are rendered through idols are allowed Duties and social status are Society is egalitarian; duties are in ascribed by caste the five pillars Brahmin and Kshatriya are The state is theocratic (ruled by God) separate
Founded by Guru Nanak in the late 15thcentury, Sikhism was a synthesis ofHinduism and Islam.He preached about --1. The unity of God2. The brotherhood of man3. The rejection of caste4. The futility of idol worshipNeither Hindu nor Muslim, the Sikhs wouldform a powerful resistance against laterabuses of Mughal rule.
Highlights of the reign of Akbar(1556 to 1605)1. Was extremely tolerant of other religions, opened government jobs to Hindus of all castes, and ended the tax on non-Muslims (jizyah).2. Instituted the mansabdari system wherein officials would receive salaries.3. Formed smart alliances (particularly with rajputs) and worked hard to be a man of the people.
In 1613, Jahangir granted the British East IndiaCompany a trading post in Surat Completed in 1648, the Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Aurangzeb’s reign began the decline ofthe Mughal.1. Was fixated on expanding the empire southwards to the rest of the subcontinent.2. Persecuted non-Muslims, destroyed Hindu temples, reinstated jizyah, and alienated allies like the Rajputs.3. His harsh policies led to the rise of resistance movements such as the Maratha and the Sikh.
Several factors sealed the fate ofthe Mughal:• Rise of the powerful state of Hyderabad (1724)• Persian invasion of North India by Nadir Shah (1739)• Invasions of Afghan tribal leader, Ahmad Shah Abdali (1748-1767)• British victories in the Battle of Plassey in Bengal (1757), and the French on the southeastern coast (1740-1763).India was left fractured, unreadyfor what was to come.