Civilizations in India Part 3

The Mughal Empire

The Mughal Empire ruled much of India in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Mughal rulers developed a centralized and stable form of government that served as a model for later Indian rulers.

The Mughal Empire reached its cultural peak under Sha Jahan, Akbar’s grandson. Sha Jahan’s reign 1628-1658 coincided with the golden age of Indian Saracenic architecture, the best example of which is the Taj Mahal.

In 1658 he was expelled from the throne by his son, Aurangzeb, who took the title of Alamgir (‘Conqueror of the world’). Treacherous and aggressive, Aurangzeb murdered his three brothers and waged a series of wars against the autonomous kingdoms of India, undermining the morale and material strength of the empire. During their campaigns in the Deccan, the Marathas, a Scythian-Dravidian people, inflicted numerous defeats on the Imperial armies. The stability of the Aurangzeb regime was undermined as a result of popular antagonism to the religious fanaticism it favored. During his reign, which ended in 1707 with his death in exile, the Sikh religion obtained an important means of entering India.

In the half century that followed Aurangzeb’s death, the Mughal Empire ceased to exist as an effective state. The political chaos of the period was marked by the rapid decline of centralized authority. Muslim and Hindu adventurers created numerous small kingdoms and principalities, and the governors of the imperial provinces formed large independent states. Among the first great states to emerge was Hyderābād, established in 1712. The ruinous Mughal regime suffered a final blow in 1739 when the Persian King Nadir Shah led an army into India and sacked Delhi. Among the loot sought by the invaders, the sixth Muslim force that plundered India, was the gigantic Koh-i-noor diamond and the fabulous Peacock Throne., made of pure gold and inlaid with precious stones. The Persian king was soon expelled from India, but in 1756 Delhi was captured again, this time by Ahmad Sha, Emir of Afghanistan, who had already seized the Punjab before. In 1760 the Mahrattas and Sikhs joined forces against Ahmad Sha’s armies. The battle that followed, fought at Panipat on January 7 By 1761, it resulted in a complete victory for the invaders. In 1764, following the withdrawal of the invaders from India, the Mughal emperor regained his throne. However, his authority, like that of his successors, was purely nominal. With the defeat of the Mahrattas and Sikhs, the possibility of India’s reunification into a single strong state had vanished and the country, which had long been the scene of fierce colonial rivalry between Europe’s maritime powers, it came increasingly under British rule.

Castes in India

The term is applied to each of the five hereditary social classes established among the residents of India, a country located in Asia according to NEOVIDEOGAMES. In the Sanskrit language it is said jati and group of jatis or caste system is varna.

The traditional caste system in India developed more than 3,000 years ago, when Aryan nomadic groups arrived from the north around 1500 BC ; the Aryan priests, following the precepts of the sacred books of India, divided the society into a very basic caste system. Between 200 a. n. and. and in 100 AD the Manu Smriti or Code of Manu was writtenand the four great hereditary divisions of Indian society were created, still in force today: the priests were at the head of the system as “earthly gods” or Brahmins; in second place they placed the warriors, the kshatriyas; next to the farmers and merchants, the vaisyas, and lastly to the sudras, employees born to serve the other three castes, especially the Brahmins. Far below the sudras (really outside the social order and destined for the lowest tasks) were the casteless, harijans or untouchables, represented by the Dravidians, original residents of India, a group to which the outcasts were being added. This caste system, created by the priestly class, became part of Hindu religious law and was considered a divine revelation.

The characteristics of this caste system include: strict and hereditary membership of the caste of birth; possibility of marrying only people of the same caste; limitation in the choice of work and in personal contact with members of other castes, and acceptance by each individual of the social position assigned in society. This system has been perpetuated by the validity of beliefs such as samsara (the ‘ reincarnation ‘), and karma (reactions to activities). According to these religious beliefs, all people reincarnate several times and have the possibility of being born into a higher caste, as long as in their previous life they have obeyed the rules of the caste to which they belonged. In this way, the concept of karma has dissuaded people from attempting in life to ascend to a higher caste or transgress this system in social relationships of any kind. Karma can also be understood as a ‘path’ or ‘obligation’, indicating the path along which the life of beings belonging to one caste runs in relation to those of another.

The four original castes have been subdivided throughout history and it is currently impossible to determine their exact number. There are an estimated 2,000 different castes established by Brahmanic law in India, and each region has its own groups stipulated by customary laws.

The complex characteristics of this system have been a serious obstacle in the development of the rule of law in India. However, its rigidity faltered during the period of British rule. Furthermore, the caste system has been periodically shaken by great internal ecclesiastical schisms and especially by the rise of Buddhism as a reaction and protest against its intolerable rigidity.

In recent times, educational reforms and some movements in favor of social rights, whose main leader has been Mahatma Gandhi, have helped to eradicate the most unjust social and economic aspects of this system. Today there is no longer the obligation of the son to follow the profession of the father, some men of lower castes have reached high positions of rank and power, and the excommunication or loss of caste is not as serious as it was in ancient times. The draft of the Constitution of India, published days after Gandhi’s assassination, included a special clause under the heading Human Rights that read: “Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form prohibited.”

Civilizations in India 3