Indian Civilization

Date: Sep 16, 2019
Category: Art

Introduction

The civilization of India has a long history, going back to as far as more than 75,000 years ago, a time the activities of the mankind were just starting. The major events of the Indian Civilization are believed to have started at the Indus Valley, which covers parts of India and Pakistan. The Indus Valley Civilization is estimated to have existed between 3300 to 1300 BCE. Then, the Mature Harappan era followed and, later, collapsed in the second millennium BCE paving the way for the Vedic Civilization. The process of the establishment of the Indian civilization continued with various changes and events being witnessed. For instance, in the 7th century, the tripartite struggle emerged and persisted for a period exceeding two centuries. With time, the Indian civilization spread to different parts of Asia. Towards the close of the 14th century, Hindu states began to be established. In order to understand the Indian societal advancement process, this paper explores the major events in the history of the Indian civilization.

The Cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa

Indus Valley Civilization is believed to have started as early as in 5,000 BCE. It then extended to other regions through the Ganetic Valley. The Indian cities at the time were unique since compared to other ones at the same period, they were relatively bigger. Houses of this time were constructed using mud bricks, with courtyards on the front side. Just like in Greece, Rome and Egypt, the latter were used for family activities. Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, both currently located in Pakistan, are some of the great cities that stood at the time. Harappa is believed to have been established in 3,000 BCE with Mohenjo-Daro following about 400 years later.

Little is known about Harappa today because most of it has been destroyed by the British. Despite this fact, history indicates that Harappa was a major community during the Bronze Age. Mohenjo-Daro, on the other hand, was well-constructed with streets that had unique drainage systems. Residents of the city worked using metals including copper and bronze. Items such as individual seals created during the period as well as the dancing girl statue are some existing proof of the skills that the Indians who lived at that time had as far as metal work is concerned. The people also worshiped various gods including the god of war Indra. The decline of the Harappan culture is believed to have started around 1,700 to 1,500 BCE mainly because of the climate change. The people were forced to relocate following persistent flooding of the Indus River. The Aryan migration also contributed to the resettlement of the dwellers of Harappan because they invaded the region forcing them to move to other places.

The Vedic Period

The rise of the Vedic Period is mainly linked to the influence of the Aryan between 1,700 and 150 BCE. The people’s religion during the period was mainly based on The Vedas. Pastoralism was the lifestyle of the period because a majority of the Aryans practiced it. Moreover, the caste system dates back to this time. It laid the basis of the division of the society into classes. The ‘Brahmana’, which included priests and recognized scholars, was the highest group. The ‘Kshatriya’ which consisted of warriors, the ‘Vaishya’ made up of merchants and farmers and the ‘Shudra’ which included all the other laborers followed in that order. The caste system was used to define the order that human life was expected to follow. Interestingly, it continues to exist in the current Indian culture. Therefore, the country’s traditions forbid the Indians to marry across the castes.

Additionally, the establishment of defined religious systems in India began in the course of the Vedic Period. At the start, there was the Sanatan Dharma which later became Hinduism after being named after the Indus River. A majority of the religious texts such as The Vedas, Upanishads and The Ramayana were developed at that time. Furthermore,  religious reformers rose to challenge Sanatan Dharma. The wave of religious reforms fueled the emergence of Buddhism and Jainism. Cultural practices and social patterns changed significantly during the Vedic Period. In the face of these changes, kingdoms and city-states emerged. Magadha is among the major kingdoms that were formed during the upheaval that was witnessed during the period. With the creation of kingdoms and city-states industrialization increased and more wealth was created and accumulated.

 

The Rise of Great Empires

Industrialization and wealth captured the attention of the Persian Empire, which invaded and conquered India around 530 BCE. According to Keay, Persia dominated over India, especially the northern part, until 327 BCE when Alexander the Great came around. During the Alexander’s reign and Persia’s ruling, new trends were introduced in the country. Consequently, the dressing patterns, the art and religious practices changed. The end of the Alexander’s emperorship marked the beginning of Maurya Empire domination from 322 BCE to 185 BCE. At the beginning of the Indian occupation by the Mauryan Empire, Chandragupta was the leader of the Mauryan Empire. Bindusara and Ashoka took the reins after him, one after the other. Ashoka’s reign was characterized by strong wave of Buddhism, which was supported by him personally. It is worth stating that after his death, the Mauryan Empire declined.

Following the decay, India split into small empires during the Middle Period. The era came at a time when Augustus Caesar conquered the Egyptian territory in 30 BCE. Consequently, India was forced to turn to Rome with whom they had been trading since 130 BCE. During the period, the small kingdoms experienced massive cultural development and, consequently, is usually referred to as the Golden Age because they flourished under Gupta Empire’s reign. The person believed to have established the Gupta Empire is yet to be determined. However, many link the Gupta Empire to Sri Gupta’s rule from 240 CE to 280 CE because he is believed to have laid the structures that created a stable India. Many great achievements were registered in different fields during his reign. Some of the notable ones include the development of the concept of zero as number by mathematician Aryabhatta and Varahamihira’s exploration of astronomy.

The Decline of the Empires

After the death of Sri Gupta, the empires gradually declined because most of the leaders who followed were weak. By 550 CE, the empire had collapsed after which Harshavardhan came to power. His reign is believed to have lasted between 590 and 647 CE during which various achievements were realized. Harshavardhan promoted art and Buddhism, as he was also an author and staunch Buddhist. He also created a powerful military force that saw a lot of success in battles losing only once. The king himself was a tactful soldier who is still credited for his tactics in fights. The northern part of India flourished during Harshavardhan’s reign but collapsed soon after his death. The Huns who had made unsuccessful attempts to invade India during Sri Gupta’s and Harshavardhan’s reign took advantage of the chaos that came after Harshavradhan’s death to take over the country.

This event marked the beginning of the collapse of the once robust Indian Empire. In 712 CE, Muhammed bin Quasim, a Muslim general, invaded northern India. He succeeded in conquering the region establishing an empire that forms the current country of Pakistan. During Muhammed bin Quasim’s reign, the Indian Empires were done away with and replaced by city-states that were headed by governments that are almost similar to modern day ones. Islamic Sultanates began to dominate in the area and even spread towards the north-west direction. Quasim’s rule came at a time when the religious contests were the order of the day. This coupled with language diversity in the region made it difficult to unite it and to restore the order that prevailed during Gupta’s reign. As a result, India became vulnerable because it could hardly resist invasion by other groups. After Quasim’s reign, the Islamic Mughal Empire conquered the state. The trend continued as different powers used the situation and conquered the country.

The Art and the Houses of the Indian Civilization

A comparison between the homes and the art of the Indian Civilization shows that India’s civilization was advanced. As early as during the Indus Valley Civilization, Indians were already constructing storey buildings. The houses were almost identical, with each one of them having a courtyard. By this period, the Indians were digging private wells and constructing private bathrooms with drainage systems. The art of Indian Civilization also speaks volumes of the superiority of this ancient nation. Most of the art work such as pottery and metal works belonging to the Indian civilization that have been found in recent times can serve as proof that they were of high quality. The same applies to the artwork of the period when great empires emerged. Some of the iron objects that have are believed to have been made at the time show minimal rust even presently.

Conclusion

History relating to the Indian Civilization reveals a lot as far as the ancient times. Key events that happened during the period of the Indian Civilization are believed to have started in the Indus Valley around 5,000 BCE. It is during this time that Harappa emerged as a city followed by Mohenjo-Daro. After the Indus Valley Civilization, the Vedic Period came and lasted from 1,700 BCE to 150 BCE. It marked the introduction of the caste system. With time, major kingdoms emerged leading to increased industrialization and accumulation of wealth. These developments attracted the Persian Empire which conquered India until Alexander the Great emerged and took over. After Alexander, the Maurya Empire also conquered India. The Mauryan reign eventually ended, and a strong Gupta empire emerged. However, it also collapsed in the hands of weak leaders. This gave way for a series of foreign invasions that lasted up to and beyond 1500.