The Indus valley was a crucial area for the foundation of India's first civilizations. The Indus river is a river in India which was responsible for the sustenance of farms which spawned large cities. Harrapa was one of the largest cities which bordered the Himalayan mountains. The river was beneficial because it flooded reliably twice a year.
The Harrapans were an early Indus valley civilization circa 2800 B.C.E. They were a very peaceful people who accomplished much, including the worlds first indoor plumbing and a writing system. They had various connections with other civilizations via trade routes, which had influenced their culture.
The Silk road was a trade route to the north of India. The route was connected to the sea lanes by following the Indus river. India traded spices, cottons, and gems to the east, while the east brought wine and gold.
The Harrapan society declined after about a 1000 years. There are many theories on why this occurred. Some of those are, earthquakes, climate change, soil exhaustion and disease. The region was not able to sustain large quantities of people after a while and the population moved elsewhere.
The Aryan migration changed the cultural landscape of India dramatically. The migration took place over about 1250 years. They had invaded many parts of India in which they established numerous kingdoms. They also established a caste system which is still a part of modern India.
The Aryans are responsible for the Vedas which are ancient religious teachings. These Vedas were passed on by word of mouth until 800 B.C.E. when they were subsequently written down. They speak large amounts about the culture of that day. These Vedas eventually led to Hinduism.
The caste system is a class system which is divided into mainly five different positions. At the top were the priests, followed by kings or warriors, After that the landowners and then the commoners. At the bottom of the caste system were the untouchables. The priests were considered to be pure and the untouchables handled the refuse of the society.
The caste system was heavily influenced and fortified by three religious principles. The samsara, dharma, and karma. Each individual was responsible for dutifully carrying out the duties of their caste, this is the dharma. What they did, impacted karma which affected their reincarnation (samsara) in the next life. Essentially, an untouchable who stayed in their place would be reborn into a higher caste. This kept people contently within their caste.
Buddha was a young man by the name of Siddhartha Gautama. He traveled through the land and dedicated his life toward abstaining from desire and seeking enlightenment. He amassed a large following of disciples and taught them about nirvana which is the attainment of infinite tranquility. Buddhism was different than Hinduism because it rejected the caste system and had a more rigid spiritual teaching.
Ashoka was a Mauryan ruler who assumed power in 270 B.C.E.. Even though hie was a violent ruler early on he eventually became a benevolent one. He developed paternalism which was to care for the people of his lands. he built hospitals and roads. He was a different type of ruler than the warlords of the past who were incredibly violent throughout heir reigns. He encouraged peace among his people and preached Buddhism.