Ancient India Maria Holsberger

In Northern India two Grand Rivers, the Ganges and the Indus Rivers allow draining of the plain area. The Indus River flowed southwest to the Arabian Sea typically flooding twice a year. Once the waters receded the soil was left deposited by rich silt creating an environment ideal for farming.
By 3000 B.C.E. thriving agriculture led to the growth of villages, advancing the Indus Valley into a complex community including hundreds of towns and cities. Between 2500 and 2000 B.C.E., at the height of Harappan civilization, the plains of Ancient India boasted crops of rice, wheat, barley and cotton also including the herding of cattle, goats and pigs.
Archaeological finding such as pottery, soapstone and baked clay figures within the Tigris and Euphrates valleys indicate connections to distant cultures implying this may of been early trade items. The Harappans also produced and traded gold, silver, tin, bronze and copper.
Historians attribute earthquakes to a climate change within the Indus Valley, thus leading to unfavorable conditions for farming. Lack of rain may have also contributed to arid conditions that eventually led to their decline, reducing once abundant water sources.
By 1500 B.C.E. Aryans began their migration into Northern India. The agriculture of the Indus Valley allowed for the advancement of the society predominantly consisting of cattle breeders and herders. This transition marked a cultural transition from the Harappan culture, into a new Vedic culture.
The Caste system was a division of Indian society by occupation determined by birth. This social stratification created order, or balance that was demonstrated in the Vedic scriptures. The Vedic scriptures were the spiritual literature and hymns of the ancient Indian culture.
The image of Purusa embodied a cosmic man whose sacrifice by the gods created all life. This was another illustration of the division within society that was reinforced through religion beliefs.The mouth represented priests and teachers, his arms for warriors and rulers, the thighs stood for farmers traders and merchants and his feet which symbolized the foundation of society, the working labors such as street sweepers and latrine cleaners.
Those who came into contact with dead bodies,handled the waste of humans and animals, and worked with animal hides (leather makers), were considered the lowest ranking and viewed as impure. These individuals, referred to as Untouchables, were shunned because their spirits were believed to be contaminated. Religious beliefs held the poor to fulfill the role of their class as the Dharma, represents a divine order of the natural and cosmic realms. One's goal was to create the same order within their personal life. Karma was the belief that a person's actions will have consequences. Samsara represents the cycle of life, death, and rebirth in which a person carries his or her own karma. Each life cycle presents an opportunity for balance. Moksha, the ultimate happiness can be achieved by living a life of religious devotion and moral integrity without any interest in worldly things.
Buddhism is a religious practice that began in 600B.C.E. Siddhartha Gautama, a man born into royalty at age 29 renounced a lifestyle of luxury to seek the meaning of life. In his quest he discovered what he called the Four noble truths: existence is suffering, suffering has a cause seen as desires and attachments, there is an end to suffering through a state of nirvana. These beliefs were different in that the focus was on one's self, with no regard to social status.
From 268 to 232 B.C.E. "Ashoka the Great" ruled the Mauryan Empire in India. His initial conquests were brutal and violent. He eventually felt remorsement and abandoned his violent ways. Influence by Buddist beliefs he led his kingdom through social justice. Through his administration, Buddhism spread throughout India. Throughout his territories Stuppahs were built as Buddhist monuments

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