The Indus Civilization
Lost civilization
2500 B.C.—region of Indus River
Built cities
Created a pictographic writing system
Lost written records
1500 B.C. Indus civilization was destroyed by Aryanspeaking tribes who invaded northern India
Used mounted warriors (horses)
Hereditary castes
Indian Literature
No knowledge of the Indus survived
Begins with the Aryan-speaking nomads—Sanskrit
Vedas: oldest literary works; sacred literature:
“knowledge” or “lore”
Rig Veda –oldest and most sacred of the Vedic literature
Rig Veda—Aryan-speaking traditional hymns and prayers
Mahabharata “War of the Descendants of Bharata”
Ramayana “Story of Rama”
Two important contributions: Aryan speech (Sanskrit) and
traditional religious poetry
The Rig Veda
Earliest literature to survive
Hymns that the Aryans praised to their gods for help and
offered them sacrifice (2000 B.C.—800 B.C.)
“Hymn lore”
Differences in style or quality
Simple, matter-of-fact requests to gods—protection (crops,
sickness, relief)
Sympathy with nature (imagery, descriptions, concrete
Divided into 10 books; 1st English translation: 1785
The Mahabharata
Earlier of the two epics (500-300 B.C.)
Struggle between two branches of a ruling family over the
succession to a kingdom
Myth, legend, folklore, and philosophy
100,000 couplets
The longest in world literature
The most revered of Hindu sacred writings is a section
called the Bhagavad Gita (“Song of the Lord”
The Bhagavad Gita
“Song of the Lord”
Philosophical dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna that
takes place as the two forces prepare to fight
Struggle between two families—royal cousins for control
of kingdom in northern India
Reconciliation of work and necessary activity in this world
The world is a mere illusion to be ignored—central idea of
One of Hinduism’s most sacred texts.
Indian Drama
Tragedy—not permitted
Hindus believed that defeat and death had no meaning
Shakuntala—masterpiece of Sanskrit drama; a romantic
play about lovers meeting in a wood
Kalidasa wrote Shakuntala
Plot of Shakuntala taken from Mahabharata
It tells the love of King Dushyanti for the beautiful, halfdivine, Shakuntala
Buddha and Asoka
Hinduism—traditional religion of India
Includes the Vedas and the myths of local gods
Gautama preached a renunciation of desire as the key to
human salvation
Called the Buddha (“Enlightened One”) and eventually
deified by his followers
Gautama—founder of one of the world’s greatest religionsBuddhism
Asoka—Buddhism’s most notable convert
Asoka’s government embody Buddhist ideal of dharma
The Guptas and the Moghuls
Greatest Gupta king, Chandragupta II (375-415), a patron
of the arts; Revived the Mahabharata
Northern India united for 200 years by the Gupta kings,
fell apart in the sixth century
Small feudal kingdoms developed with a revival of
Hinduism as it was translated from Sanskrit into the
regional languages of India
Influence of Buddhism declined
Islam came to dominate in the 8th century
Babur, the Moslem invader, left an impact on India
Founder of the Moghul (“Mongol”) dynasty in India that
would last for over 300 years
Descended from Genghis Khan and Tamerlane
Conquered northern India, Hindustan, in 1526
Left a vivid account of his life, the Babur-nama (“Book of
Babur”), a masterpiece of an autobiography
Called the greatest autobiography in literature

India - Lower Dauphin School District