4. Creation of States: South Asia - Harappan, Aryas 

    and Vedic Cultures

 

I. What are the Major Geographical Feature of South

    Asia and How Did They Impact the Development of

    Early Indian Societies?

 

    A. Geography of South Asia?

            - Hindu Kush and Himalayan Mountains

            - Indus and Ganges River Systems

            - Continental Plateau of the Deccan

            - Lush plains of the coastal areas

 

    B. Indus River System and Valleys

            - Agriculture dependent on silt deposited by river

                flooding and the heavy summer monsoon rains

            - Need for irrigation canals and flood control

            - Water route for communication and trade

 

II. What Were the Origins and Organization of

     Harappan Civilization  (2600-1900 B. C. E.)?

    A. Centered on the major cities of Harappa and

            Mohenjo-Daro

 

    B. Organization of Harappan Cities

            - Cities laid out in a square grid pattern

            - Well-furnished with wells, a piped water supply,

                  bathrooms and drains

            - Focus on bathing and cleanliness > ritual purity

 

    C. Social Structure:

            - Priests ?

            - Merchants > long distance trade in copper,

                     precious stones and lumber

            - Artisans > first to weave cotton into cloth

            - Farmers > wheat, rye, cotton, livestock; rice?

 

    D. Religious Belief

            1.  Polytheistic

                 - male deities with horns

                 - female figurines > mother goddesses

 

            2. Focus on water, fertility and the veneration of

                 sacred animals such as cows

 

            3. Early representations of the Hindu god, Shiva >

                 god of the harvest, of the cycle of birth, life,

                     death and rebirth?

   

    E. Writing

            - Found on seals and clay tablets

            - About 400 symbols, yet to be deciphered

 

III. What Led to the Decline of the Harappan Cities and

       Culture after 1900 B.C.E.?

       A. Environmental Factors

             - Changes in the course of rivers, severe flooding

             - Climatic changes due to a change in weather

                  pattern or deforestation > more arid

             - Irrigation problems > build up of salts and alkalis

            

        B. Invaders or Immigrants?

             - very likely the cities were already in decline

                   before the arrival of the Aryas

 

IV. Who were the Aryas?

    A. An Indo-European People

            1. a linguistic group

 

            2. origins of the Indo-European languages

 

    B. Aryas Society

            - Semi-nomadic, tribal, warrior people

            - Expert breeders of livestock

            - Domesticated the horse

            - Employed horse-drawn chariots with

                 spoke wheels in battle

            - Made weapons and tools of copper

                 and bronze

 

V. What is Vedic Society and Culture?

      A. Origins (1500-500 B.C.E.)

            1. derived from Aryas, Harappa and other indigenous traditions

            2. Vedas (“sacred Knowledge”) > sacred texts of the Aryas

 

      B. Political Organization

            - based on clans

            - Raja > clan leader or chief

 

     C. Social Organization

            1. System of Varnas

                 1) Brahmins (Priests)

                 2)Kshatriyas (Warriors)

                 3)Vaishyas (Merchants, Landowning Peasants)       

 

                  > all born twice

 

                4) Shudras > artisans, landless farmers, laborer

                    > not fully Aryan - born only once

 

                5) Untouchables > freed slaves, indigenous

                        people

                        - added later

                                                             

                - Outcastes > those who broke caste rules and

                      were expelled from their caste

 

            2. System of  Jati

                 - Varnas are subdivided into social groups based

                      on occupation and social standing

                 - comprised of a large extended families

                 - self-governing

                 - membership determined by birth

                       

    D. The Status of Women

            - Women under the authority of men

            - Marriages were arranged and sizeable

                 dowries and bride prices were paid

            - Women could not own property

 

    E. Religion

            1. Polytheistic

 

            2. Most important gods warrior gods:

                 Indra > god of war who protected the universe from demons

                 Varuna > the sky god who maintained the cosmic order

                 Agni > god of fire who acted as an intermediary

                    between humans and the gods

 

               - there were also female deities:

                 Usas > goddess of dawn

 

            3. Practice

                  - focused on ritual sacrifice > a reenactment of creation

                  - use of SOMA

                  - the Horse Sacrifice

                                               

            4. The Upanishads (written down about 500 B.C.E.)

                  - late Vedic age concerned with moral conduct and the afterlife

                 - karma

                 - reincarnation (transmigration of the soul)

                 - identification of the individual soul with the soul of the

                      universe > Brahman

                 - focus on meditation

 

 

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