Ancient India Notes

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Chandragupta Maurya
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The Aryans
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Who- The Aryans were speakers of Indo-European languages who moved
into the Indus Valley around 1900 BCE. They were skilled horsemen and
Where- The Aryans migrated into the Indus Valley (modern day Pakistan)
from central Asia, possibly pushing out those that had lived in Mohenjo-Daro
and Harappa
Why- The Aryans moved into the Indus Valley in search of pastures for their
cattle to graze. The fertile lands attracted the Aryans. (The Indus River is
the lifeline of India similar to how the Nile was the lifeline of Egypt)
When- It is commonly believed that the Aryans migrated into the Indian
subcontinent around 1900 BCE.
The Caste System
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Brahmins- The Brahmins were the highest social class. They were priests
who performed religious ceremonies for the people.
Kshatriyas- The Kshatriyas were the warrior caste. These men protected
lands and cities and become wealthy, powerful rulers and government
Vaisyas- The Vaisyas were common people who were skilled workers. They
took on roles as farmers, merchants, artisans, and shopkeepers.
Sudras- The Sudra class consisted of unskilled workers who did manual labor
or became servants to those in higher classes. This was the largest social
The Untouchables- Technically, this social class is not part of the caste
system, but below it. The untouchables did the types of work that no one
else wanted to do, like carrying dead bodies, picking up trash, and skinning
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Brahman – considered the god of Hinduism – the universal spirit that can
be found everywhere
The Vedas and Upanishads- are the sacred texts of Hinduism. The Vedas
consist of prayers and hymns and are around 3000 years old. The
Upanishads are lessons, or teaching, told by gurus (spiritual leader)
Brahma- A deity or god of Hinduism. He is called the Creator and is the
most powerful of the three main deities.
Vishnu- Vishnu is another deity and is referred to as the Preserver. Vishnu
is believed to keep balance between good and evil in the world.
Shiva- Shiva is another deity and is commonly referred to as the Destroyer.
Shiva’s destruction is believed to be with purpose – to bring about new and
better things
Reincarnation- Reincarnation is the belief that souls will be reborn into new
bodies or life-forms after death. Hindus believe that the soul will continue to
be reborn until it can achieve ultimate peace and harmony.
Karma- Karma is associated with reincarnation. Karma is the power that
determines the caste or life-form a person’s soul will take when it is reborn.
Good actions will earn the person “good karma”, while bad actions will earn
“bad karma”.
Dharma- Dharma means personal duty. In ancient India, the caste system
was incredibly strict. Each person was expected to follow dharma depending
on the duties and responsibility of their particular caste. Doing so would
affect a person’s placement during the reincarnation process.
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Siddhartha Gautama ( Buddha): Siddhartha Gautama grew up as a prince in
India. As a prince, he was given everything he could ever want. Although his
life seemed perfect, Siddhartha wanted to explore the lands outside the wall
of the palace. In his ventures to the outside world, he has three new
experiences that shaped the rest of his life. 1) He saw an old man and
realized people grew old, 2) he saw a sick man and realized there was
disease, and 3) he saw a dead man and realized death comes for everyone.
Compelled to answer the question, “What is the cause of suffering?”, he
meditated under a Bodhi tree and achieved Enlightenment
grew up in a palace and got everything and anything he wanted.
wanted to explore the land outside the palace
realized everyone grows old, gets sick, and dies.
wanted to answer, “What causes suffering”
meditated until he no longer had desires or suffering
Venture- adventure
Bodhi Tree -------------------------------
Enlightenment: a final spiritual state that marked by the absence of desire
and suffering
Nirvana: Buddhists believe that Nirvana is a state of perfect peace and
happiness that can be attained when a person gives up all worldly desires
and concerns. It is the end of all suffering.
The Four Noble Truths:
1. Human life is full of suffering.
2. Greed is the cause of all suffering in the world.
3. It is possible to find an end to human suffering.
4. To end suffering, a person must follow the
Eightfold path (also called the Middle Path)
Highlight select parts of the Eightfold Path
Empires in India
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Mauryan Empire: The Mauryan Empire began around 321 BCE and lasted
until approximately 320 CE. The first ruler of the Mauryan Empire was
Chandra Gupta Maurya. He established the capital city of Pataliputra and
crated a postal system that revolutionized communication channels
throughout the empire. Although he was a powerful military leader, he was
also quite paranoid! He never slept two nights along in the same bed and
asked his servants to test his food! Chandra Gupta Maurya’s grandson,
Ashoka, led the empire to the height of its power. In his early days, Ashoka
was a ruthless warrior who actions led to the deaths of many people. On
days looking around at a filed of death and destruction, he realized he was
wrong and decided to follow Buddhist teachings. As the first ruler to promote
the religion of Buddhism in his kingdom, Ashoka did many positive things.
He had hospitals for people and animals built along with stupas and areas
to rest along roads. He also encouraged his people to follow the ways of
Buddha in order to achieve enlightenment.
Stupa= a dome-shaped structure erected as a Buddhist shrine
The Gupta Empire: The Gupta Empire lasted from around 320 CE until 550
CE. During this time, Chandra Gupta I, and later has son Samudra Gupta,
expanded the emprire. Under the leadership of Samudra Gupta, India
entered a golden age where literature, arts, science, and math flourished.
While during the Mauryan Empire, people practice Buddhism, however in
the time of the Gupta Empire, Hinduism was prevalent.
EightFold path
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Wisdom Morality Meditation
Body +
RIGHT VIEW: all humans suffer. Once you view the world as everyone
suffers, it is easier to understand others.
RIGHT THOUGHT: to not be so self-centered. Stop being greedy, angry,
RIGHT SPEECH: If you do not have anything nice to say, say nothing.
You should use kind, honest, nice, respectful words.
RIGHT ACTION: If you watch your friend do something stupid, you are
actively participating in stupide.
Actively have to have compassion, give to others, and protect life.
RIGHT LIVELIHOOD: Have a job that helps others in a positive way.
RIGHT EFFORT: Work diligently and to your best ability.
RIGHT MINDFULNESS: You are going to clear your mind/body and soul of
impurities ( candy, soda, friends that influence you negatively)

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