Unit 3: 2500 B.C.256 B.C. Cities of the Indus Valley The Indus Valley is located in the region known as South Asia or the subcontinent of India. A subcontinent is a large landmass that juts out from a continent. The Indian subcontinent is a huge, wedgeshaped peninsula extending into the Indian Ocean. Today it includes 3 of the world’s 10 most populous countries— India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Towering, snow-covered mountain ranges mark the northern border of the subcontinent, including the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas. These mountains limited contacts with other lands and helped India develop a distinct culture. Today, as in the past, a defining feature of Indian life is the monsoon, a seasonal wind. Each year, people welcomed the rains that are desperately needed to water crops. India’s great size and diverse languages made it hard to unite. Many groups of people, with differing languages and traditions, settled in different parts of India. At times, ambitious rulers conquered much of the subcontinent creating empires, yet the diversity of customs and traditions remained. Indus Valley Civilization The earliest Indian civilization is a little bit mysterious. It had two main cities, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. Each was dominated by a massive hilltop structure, probably a fortress or temple. Scholars think that the Indus Valley civilization collapsed when nomadic people arrived in larger numbers and conquered the territory. The newcomers were the Aryans, who had horse drawn chariots and superior weapons. The Aryans overran the Indus region. Aryan Civilization The Aryans were among many groups of IndoEuropean people who migrated across Europe and Asia seeking water and pasture for their horses and cattle. The early Aryans built no cities and left no statues or stone seals. Most of what we known about them comes from the Vedas, a collection of prayers, hymns, and other religions teachings. Aryan priests memorized and recited the Vedas for a thousand years before they were written down. As a result, the period from 1500 B.C. to 500 B.C. is often called the Vedic Age. Pastoralist Society In the Vedas, the Aryans appear as warriors who fought in chariots with bows and arrows. They loved eating, drinking, music, chariot races, and dice games. These nomadic herders valued cattle, which provided them with food and clothing. Later, when they became settled farmers, families continued to measure their wealth in cows and bulls. From the Vedas, we learn that the Aryans divided people by occupation. The three basic groups were the Brahmins, or priests; the Kshatriyas, or warriors; and the Vaisyas or herders, farmers, artisans, and merchants. At first, warriors enjoyed the highest prestige, but priests eventually gained the most respect. Their power grew because Brahmins claimed that they alone could conduct the ceremonies needed to win the favor of the gods. The Aryans separated non-Aryans into a fourth group, the sudras. This group included farmworkers, servants, and other laborers who occupied the lowest level of society. During the Vedic age, class divisions came to reflect social and economic roles more than ethnic differences between Aryans and non-Aryans. As these changes occurred, they gave rise to a more complex system of castes, or social groups into which people are born and which they cannot change. Aryan Religious Beliefs The Vedas show that the Aryans were polytheistic. They worshiped gods and goddesses that embodied natural forces such as sky and sun, storm and fire. Fierce Indra, the god of war, was the chief Aryan deity. Other major gods included Varuna, the god of order and creation and Agni, the god of fire. The Aryans also honored animals, such as monkey gods and snake gods. The Geography of China China was the most isolated of the civilizations you have studied so far. Long distances and barriers separated it from Egypt, the Middle East, and India. To the west and southwest of China, high mountain ranges—the Tien Shan and the Himalayas—and brutal deserts blocked the easy movement of people. The Chinese heartland lay along the east coast and the valleys of the Huang He, or Yellow River, and the Yangzi. In ancient times as today, these fertile farming regions supported the largest populations. Chinese history began in the Huang He valley, where Neolithic people learned to farm. As in other places, the need to control the flow of the river through large water projects, probably led to the rise of a strong central government. China Under the Shang About 1650 B.C., a Chinese people called the Shang gained control of a corner of northern China, along the Huang He. The Shang dynasty dominated this region until 1027 B.C. During the Shang period, Chinese civilization first took shape. Shang society mirrored that in other early civilizations. Alongside the royal family was a class of noble warriors. Shang warriors used leather armor, bronze weapons, and horse drawn chariots. Most people in Shang China were peasants. They clustered together in farming villages. Peasants led grueling lives. All family members worked in the fields, using stone tools to prepare the ground for planting or to harvest grain. When they were not in the fields, peasants had to repair the dikes. If war broke out between noble families, men had to fight alongside their lords. Religious Beliefs By Shang times, the Chinese had developed complex religious beliefs, many of which continued to be practiced for thousands of years. The chief god was Shang Di and a mother goddess who brought plants and animals to Earth. The king was seen as the link between the people and Shang Di. The Chinese believed the universe reflected a delicate balance between two forces, yin and yang. Yin was linked to Earth, darkness, and female forces, while Yang stood for Heaven, light, and male forces. To the Chinese, the forces were not in opposition. Rather, the well-being of the universe depended on maintaining balance between yin and yang. For example, the king had to make the proper sacrifices to Heaven while at the same time taking practical steps to rule well. Shang Writing Some of the oldest examples of Chinese writing are on oracle bones. On animal bones or turtle shells, Shang priests wrote questions addressed to the gods or the spirit of an ancestor. Priests then heated the bone or shell until it cracked. By interpreting the pattern of cracks, they provided answers or advice from the ancestors. The Zhou Dynasty In 1027 B.C., the battle-hardened Zhou people marched out of their kingdom on the western frontier to overthrow the Shang. They set up the Zhou dynasty, which lasted until 256 B.C. To justify their rebellion against the Shang, the Zhou promoted the idea of the Mandate of Heaven, or the divine right to rule. The cruelty of the last Shang king, they declared, had so outraged the gods that they had sent ruin on him. The Chinese later expanded the idea of the Mandate of Heaven to explain the dynastic cycle, or the rise and fall of dynasties. As long as a dynasty provided good government, it enjoyed the Mandate of Heaven. If the rulers became weak or corrupt, the Chinese belied that Heaven would withdraw its support. Floods, famine, or other catastrophes were taken as signs that a dynasty had lost the favor of Heaven. Chinese Achievements By 1000 B.C., the Chinese had discovered how to make silk thread from the cocoons of silkworms. Soon , the Chinese were cultivating both silkworms and the mulberry trees on which they fed. Women did the laborious work of tending the silkworms and processing the cocoons into thread. Then they wove silk threads into a smooth cloth that was colored with brilliant dyes. Only royalty and nobles could afford robes made from this luxurious silk. Under the Zhou, the Chinese made the first books. They bound thin strips of wood or bamboo together and then carefully drew characters on the flat surface with a brush and ink. Among the greatest Zhou works is the lovely Book of Songs. Many of its poems describe such events in the lives of farming people as planting and harvesting. The Beliefs of Hinduism Unlike most major religions, Hinduism has no single founder and no single sacred text. Instead it grew out of the overlapping beliefs of the diverse groups who settled in India. Hinduism is one of the world’s most complex religions, with countless gods and goddesses and many forms of worship existing side by side. Despite this diversity, all Hindus share certain basic beliefs. Hindu’s believe that all the universe is part of the unchanging, all-powerful spiritual force called Brahman. To Hindu’s, Brahman is too complex a concept for most people to understand, so they worship a variety of gods that give a concrete form to Brahman. The most important Hindu gods are Brahma, the Creator; Vishnu, the Preserver; and Shiva, the Destroyer. Each represents aspects of Brahman. Each of these gods can take many forms, human or animal, and each also has his own family. The ultimate goal of existence, Hindus believe, is achieving moksha, or union with Brahman. To do that, individuals must free themselves from selfish desires that separate them from Brahman. Most people cannot achieve moksha in one lifetime, but Hindus believe in reincarnation, or the rebirth of the soul in another bodily form. Reincarnation allows people to continue working toward moksha through several lifetimes. In each bodily existence, Hindus believe, a person can come closer to achieving moksha by obeying the law of Karma. Karma refers to all the actions of a person’s life that affect his or her fate in the next life. To Hindu’s, all existence is ranked. Humans are closest to Brahman. Then come animals, plants, and objects like rocks or water. People who live virtuously earn good karma and are reborn to a higher level of existence. Those who do evil acquire bad karma and are reborn into suffering. To escape the wheel of fate (being reborn forever), Hinduism stresses the importance of dharma, the religious and moral duties of an individual. These duties vary according to class, occupation, gender, or age. Obeying one’s dharma, a person acquires merit for the next life. The concepts of Karma and Dharma helped ensure the social order by supporting the caste system. Gautama Buddha In the foothills of the Himalayas, Siddartha Gautama founded a new religion, Buddhism. His teachings eventually spread across Asia to become the core beliefs of tone of the world’s most influential religions. Gautama’s early life is buried in legend. We know that he was born about 566 B.C. to a high-caste family. Gautama lived a life of comfort and luxury in his parent’s palace. One day, as Gautama rode beyond the palace gardens, he saw a sick person, an old person, and a dead body. For the first time, he became aware of human suffering. Deeply disturbed, he bade farewell to his wife and child and left the palace never to return. Gautama wandered for years, vainly seeking answers from Hindu scholars and holy men. He fasted and he meditated. One day, he sat under a giant tree, determined to stay there until he understood the mystery of life. For 48 days, evil spirits tempted him to give up his meditations. Then, he suddenly believed that he understood the cause and cure for suffering and sorrow. When he rose, he was Gautama no longer, but the Buddha, the “Enlightened One.” The Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching others what he had learned. In his first sermon after reaching enlightenment, he explained the Four Noble Truths that stand at the heart of Buddhism. The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism 1. All life is full of suffering, pain, and sorrow. 2. The cause of suffering is the desire for things that are really illusions, such as riches, power, and long life. 3. The only cure for suffering is to overcome desire. 4. The way to overcome desire is to follow the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path The Buddha described the Eightfold Path as “right views, right aspirations, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right contemplation”. The first two steps involved understanding the Four Noble Truths and committing oneself to the Eightfold Path. Next, a person had to live a moral life, avoiding evil words and actions. Through meditation, a person might at last achieve enlightenment. For the Buddhist, the final goal is nirvana, union with the universe and release from the cycle of rebirth. The Buddha saw the Eightfold Path as a middle way between a life devoted to pleasure and one based on harsh selfdenial. He stressed moral principles such as honesty, charity, and kindness to all living creatures. Buddhism and Hinduism Compared Buddhism grew from the same traditions as Hinduism. Both Hindus and Buddhists stressed nonviolence and believed in karma, dharma, moksha, and a cycle of rebirth. Yet the two religions differed in several ways. The Buddha rejected the priests, formal rituals, and many gods of Hinduism. Instead he urged each person to seek enlightenment through meditation. Buddhists also rejected the caste system, offering the hope of nirvana to all regardless of rebirth. The Buddha attracted many disciples, or followers, who accompanied him as he preached throughout northern India. After the Buddha’s death some of his followers collected his teachings into a sacred text called the Tripitaka, or Three Baskets of Wisdom.” Missionaries and traders spread Buddhism across India to many parts of Asia. Although Buddhism took firm root across Asia, it slowly declined in India. Hinduism eventually absorbed some Buddhist ideas and made room for Buddha as another Hindu god. A few Buddhist centers survived until the 1100s, when they fell to Muslim armies that invaded India. The First Indian Empire In 321 B.C., a young adventurer Chandragupta Maurya forged the first great Indian Empire. Chandragupta first gained power in the Ganges Valley. He then conquered northern India. Chandragupta maintained order through a well organized bureaucracy. The Maurya Empire was effective but harsh. A brutal secret police reported on corruption, crime, and dissent, that is, any differing or opposing ideas. Fearful of his many enemies, Chadnragupta had specially trained women warriors guard his palace. The most honored Maurya emperor was Chandragupta’s grandson, Asoka. A few years after becoming emperor in 268 B.C., Asoka fought a long, bloody war to conquer the Deccan region of Kalinga. Then, horrified at the slaughter—over 100,000 dead—Asoka turned his back on further conquests. He converted to Buddhism, rejected violence, and resolved to rule by moral example. True to the Buddhist principle of respect for all life, Asoka became a vegetarian and limited Hindu animal sacrifices. He sent missionaries, or people sent on a religious mission, to spread Buddhism across India and to Sri Lanka. Asoka had stone pillars set up across India, announcing laws and and promising righteous government. On one, he proclaimed: “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 desire the same for all my people.” After Asoka’s death, Maurya power declined. By 185 B.C., the unity of the Maurya empire was shattered as rival princes battled for power across the northern plain of India. Adding to the turmoil, foreign invaders frequently pushed through the mountain passes into northern India. The divided northern kingdoms could not often resist such conquerors. Golden Age Although many kingdoms flourished in the Deccan plateau, the most powerful Indian states rose in the north. About 500 years after the Mauryas, the Gupta dynasty again united much of India. Gupta emperors organized a strong central government that promoted peace and prosperity. Under the Guptas, who ruled from A.D. 320 to about 550, India enjoyed a golden age, or period of great cultural achievements. Gupta rule was probably looser than that of the Maurays. Much power was left in the hands of individual villages and of city governments. The Gupta’s also made advancements in the fields of science and mathematics. Gutpa mathematicians devised a simple system of writing numbers that is used today. The numerals are now called “Arabic” numerals because it was Arabs who carried them from India to the Middle East and Europe. Indian mathematicians originated the concept of zero and developed the decimal system of numbers based on 10, which we still use today. Gupta India was not a fair place for all as the status of women deteriorated in society. Women gradually lost their right to inherit or own property and were married at a younger age. The custom of sati was practiced in some parts of India. Sati involved the practice of a widow throwing herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. The custom alleged to bestow honor and purity upon the widow. The Gupta empire reached its height just as the Roman empire in the west collapsed. Before long, Gupta India declined under the pressure of weak rulers, civil war, and foreign invaders. From central Asia came the White Huns, a nomadic people who overran the weakened Gupta empire, destroying its cities. Once again, India split into many kingdoms. It would see no great empire like those of the Maurays or Guptas for almost 1,000 years. The Wisdom of Confucius The great philosopher Confucius lived in the late Zhou times of classical china. War and chaos caused thinkers like Confucius to put forward ideas on how to restore social order. Unlike the Buddha, Confucius took little interest in religious matters such as salvation. Instead, he developed a philosophy, or system of ideas, that was concerned with worldly goals, especially how to ensure social order and good government. His followers collected many of Confucius’ ideas and sayings in what is called the Analects. Running through the teachings of Confucius is this theme: A man should lead an upright life, educate himself, and contribute to the betterment of society. The superior man, he says, respects elders, cultivates the friendship of good people, presides over his subordinates with a fair and even hand, continually educates himself, overflows with love for fellow human beings, and in general sets a good example for others to follow. Confucius taught that harmony resulted when people accepted their place in society. He stressed five key relationships: 1. Father to son 2. Elder brother to younger brother 3. Husband to wife 4. Ruler to subject 5. Friend to Friend. Confucius believed that, except for friendship, none of these relationships was equal. For example, older people were superior to younger ones and men were superior to women. According to Confucius, everyone had duties and responsibilities. Superiors should care for their inferiors and set a good example, while inferiors owed loyalty and obedience to their superiors. A woman’s duty was to ensure the stability of the family and promote harmony in the home. Correct behavior, Confucius believed, would bring order and stability. Confucius put filial piety, or respect for parents, above all other duties. Other Confucian values included honesty, hard work, and concern for others. “Do not do to others,” he declared, “what you do not wish for yourself.” According to Confucius, a ruler had the responsibility to provide good government. In return, the people would be respectful and loyal subjects. Confucius said the best ruler was a virtuous one who led people by good example. In the centuries after Confucius died, his ideas influenced every area of Chinese life. Chinese rulers relied on Confucian ideas and chose Confucian scholars as officials. As Chinese civilization spread, hundreds of millions of people in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, accepted Confucian beliefs. Close to a third of the world came under the influence of these ideas. A very Legalism different philosophy grew out of the teachings of Hanfeizi, who died in 233 B.C. According to Hanfeizi, “the nature of man is evil. His goodness is acquired. Greed was the motive for most actions and the cause of most conflicts. Hanfeizi insisted that the only way to achieve order was to pass strict laws and impose harsh punishments. Because of this emphasis on law, Hanfeizi’s teachings became known as Legalism. Daoism The founder of Daoism was known as Laozi, or “Old Master.” He is said to have lived at the time of Confucius. Although we know little about him, he is credited with writing The Way of Virtue, a book that had enormous influence on Chinese life. Unlike Confucianism and Legalism, Daoism was not concerned with bringing order to human affairs. Instead, Daoists sought to live in harmony with nature. Enter the Qin Towards the end of the Zhou dynasty, rival factions broke out into civil war fighting for control of the country. Shi Huangdi was determined to end the divisions that had splintered Zhou China. He spent 20 years conquering most of the warring states, then, he centralized power with the help of his advisers. Using legalism as government policy, He started what would become the Qin Dynasty in China. Shi Huangdi was harsh against his rivals and used brutal tactics to control his empire. He broke the empire up into 36 military districts and appointed loyal officials to administer them. Shi Huangid’s most remarkable and costly achievement was the Great Wall. Hundreds of thousands of laborers worked for years to build a wall around his empire. Many workers died in the harsh weather conditions to construct this great achievement. Over the centuries, the wall was extended and rebuilt many times. Eventually, it snaked for thousands of miles across northern China. Shi Huangdi thought his empire would last forever. But when he died in 210 B.C., anger over heavy taxes, forced labor, and cruel policies exploded into revolts. As Qin power collapsed, Liu Bang, an illiterate peasant leader, defeated rival armies and founded the new Han dynasty. Like earlier Chinese rulers, Liu Bang claimed that his power was based on the Mandate of Heaven. The Han The Han dynasty used Confucian thought to govern their people. They believed that government leaders should set a good example, and the people would follow their lead. The Han lowered taxes and eased the Qin emperor’s harsh Legalist policies. The most famous Han emperor, Wudi, took China to new heights. During his long reign from 141 B.C. to 87 B.C., he strengthened the government and economy. Wudi furthered economic growth by improving canals and roads. Han emperors adopted the idea that government officials should win positions by merit rather than through family background. To find the most qualified officials, they set up a system of exams. In time, these civil service exams were given at the local, provincial, and national levels. To pass, candidates studied the Confucian classics.