Civilizations in India Part 1

The culture of the Indus river valley

Around 2500 a. n. e., a civilization began to develop around the Indus River in what is now Pakistan and southeastern Afghanistan. The ruins of cities such as Mojensho-Daro or Jarapa show that that ancient town developed drainage systems and for the irrigation of farmland through the construction of ditches and canals. Their houses, made of brick, used to have several floors. Also, this town created its own system of writing and calculation.

Towards the middle of the II millennium BC. n. e., Dravidian India suffered the first of a series of continued invasions by tribes of the Indo-European language group. These tribes, of uncertain origin but generally known as Indo-Aryans, entered the subcontinent through mountain ports along the northwestern frontier and were occupying most of the northern territory of the Vindhya range and west of the Yamuna River. Many Dravidians fled to the south of the Indian peninsula, regions where the Dravidian language group is still large. The rest of the Dravidian people and, according to certain experts, much of their culture was absorbed by the Indo-Aryans.

Vedic period

Darkness surrounds the political history of India for many centuries after the Dravidian conquest, but the Rig-veda, an epic-religious text dating from the 15th century BC. n. and., contains some information on social customs and religious beliefs. As depicted in some Vedic hymns, the civilization that emerged during the first centuries after the Indo-Aryan and Dravidian cultures intermingled on the subcontinent was remarkable in several respects.

The Vedic hymns composed during this and later periods have also represented the emergence and crystallization of key features of the socio-religious system known as Hinduism. Almost all that is known with certainty about the political situation is that in the course of the first millennium BC. n. e., in the region bounded by the Himalayas, the southern reaches of the Ganges River, the Vindhya range and the Indus Valley, 16 autonomous states were established. Of these states, made up of both republics and kingdoms, the most important was Kosala, a kingdom located in the region currently occupied by Oudh. Other important kingdoms were Avanti, Vamsas, and Magadha.

This last kingdom occupied the territory of modern Bihar; in the middle of the 6th century BC. n. and. it became the dominant kingdom in India, a country located in Asia according to MILITARYNOUS. During the reign of their first great king Bimbisara (543-491 BC), Buddha and Majavira, founders of Buddhism and Yainism respectively, preached and taught in Magadha.

In the year 326 a. n. and. Alexander III the Great led an expedition through the Hindu Kush Mountain Range to northern India. He achieved some victories during his march to India, the climax of which was the Battle of Hydaspes which ended with the defeat of King Poros near the River Hydaspes (now Jhelum). However, Alexander did not stay long in India and the political and cultural effects of the invasion were negligible, except for the opportunity they provided for King Mauryan Chandragupta to expand his empire westward by taking advantage of the political vacuum.

Mauryan dynasty

Imperial dynasty that ruled India from approximately 321 to 185 BC. n. e., the first that almost managed to reunify the entire subcontinent under a single authority. The Maurian Dynasty had its nerve center in the kingdom of Magadha, which Chandragupta, founder of the dynasty, occupied around 321 BC. n. and. after sending a motley contingent against the dying Nanda dynasty. It extended its power to almost all of northern and central India, as well as Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush. The success of Chandragupta provoked retaliation on the part of the Seleucid successors of Alexander the Great, but after being defeated in 305 BC. n. e., the Seleucids concluded a marriage alliance with him. The Seleucid presence inspired marked Hellenic influences in Maurian culture. It is believed that Chandragupta later abdicated in favor of his son Bindusara around 298 BC. n. e., who, according to the ascetic beliefs of Yainism, fasted to death, but by then the dynasty was already well established.

Chandragupta’s assistant, Kautilya (or Chanakia), minister of the Brahmin caste, may have been the author of the famous work Artha-sastra (in Sanskrit, ‘treatise on the aims of life’), a book of a political nature that Above all, it appears to be a serious guide to the conditions of the time. The king, absolute monarch, ruled from the capital located in Pataliputra (now Patna), on the cusp of a developed bureaucratic system of central and local government, with a Maurian India divided into four provinces controlled by imperial governors or princes. It was supported by a creed of royal sovereignty based on the protection of a social dharma. The State collected taxes from the lands and their products, as well as from commerce, and from the peasants settled in vast areas. Roads were improved and isolated areas were made accessible. The society was divided into social groups or castes, similar to the present caste system of India, with special administrative groups of councilors and magistrates. Of course, the Maurian dynasty also had a large army.

Civilizations in India 1