History Of India generally commences with the birth of Indus Valley Civilisation aka Harappan Civilisation and coming of Aryans.
Earlier, India was also known as Bharat or Aryavarta. It is a well-known country of cultivated land of an ancient civilisation. One of the main reasons behind this; is India’s geography is fully loaded with cultural, social, political and economic backgrounds. According to historians, modern human beings first arrived in India. Some of the biggest examples are Human Rock Sites. They are founded in many parts of India. One such site is Bhimbetka Rock shelter in Madhya Pradesh. Settled life spread in India around 7000 BC that involves the transition from nomadic to pastoralism. history of India and its culture are widely spread across the world. According to the Puranas, India conquered in various parts of the world including Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar etc.
The Real History Of India begins with the Bronze Age: the Bronze age is the age where the metals (copper, Iron, Bronze) were widely used for making weapons and utensils. The estimated age of the Bronze era began around 3300 B.C. The development of Metallurgy industry begins with Indus Valley Civilisation as people living in Indus Civilisation produced Bronze, Tin, Copper and Iron thus developing new techniques of metallurgy.
Indus Valley Civilisation: The Rise of Urban Civilisation
History of India is incomplete without Indus Valley Civilization. Indus Valley Civilisation is the oldest civilization in the world. The civilization prospered between 2500 BCE and 1900 BCE is what we called today Pakistan and North India ( including Punjab, Haryana, Srinagar). Evidence of religious practices was founded during Indus Civilization. The Indus Valley was home to one of the largest urban civilizations such as Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The first excavation of Indus Civilization was carried out in 1850 wherein two cities have been excavated named Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Evidence has been stated that they had two highly developed cities as the people lived in well-planned houses with the modified drainage systems. Their houses were made of baked bricks. They also had a trading system. Many houses were founded with a lot of furnished bathrooms with a well developed underground drainage system. Therefore these cities exhibit a well-planned urbanization system. Some similarities have been found between Indus Valley Civilization and northeast. and Evidence stated that there might be some level of contact between Indian valley civilization and the North East. Some records of artistic, cultural and religious interrelations also have found in Indus Valley Civilization.
Another major record founded by Historians is; Indus Valley Civilization had a writing system which is still a mystery. Lots of attempts have been made to decipher the scriptures written by them but all of them failed miserably. However, some of the writing examples have been found in the carved stamp steels, amulets and in pottery.
The urbanised Harappans very well knew how to grow fruits and vegetables. Records also showed that they used to wear cotton clothes and ornaments.
The decline of the Indus Valley Civilization:
Around 1800 BCE, a gradual decline of the Indus Valley Civilization took off and by 1700 BCE, most of the cities started to disappear. Their writing skills, standard weights and measures started to vanish completely. The reason for this decline is not very well defined. After a lot of research Sir Mortimer Wheeler, lodged a theory stated that the major reason behind this decline is; the invasion of Aryans and the drying up of Saraswati river. He mentioned a group of skeletons were founded in various parts of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa. The signs of battles were also found. However, the theory was rejected by some of the scholars. While other scholars believe that the main cause of declination is drought and the subsequent reduction of trade with Egypt and Mesopotamia. It also has been observed that the immigration of new people, other natural causes such as floods, earthquakes, battles are some reasons that lead to the fall of the Indus Valley Civilization.
The supremacy of Aryans gave rise to Vedic Civilisation. Aryans gave a new phase to the history of India. It was the time during the Vedas and Sanskrit texts were composed. Hinduism arose in Vedic civilization. Aryans were the true followers of Vedas. The oldest scriptures of Hinduism are Vedas. The Vedic civilization flourished between 15500 BC to 500 BC along the Saraswati River now we called it Haryana And Punjab. During the Vedic Civilization, society was divided into 4 different classes also known as caste systems. Basically, Vedas are the Sanskrit Hymns practised by the yogis of Ancient India. Rigveda is the oldest text of Vedic Civilization. It was the Aryan’s who constituted the Rig Veda. The empire built by the Aryan was firstly based on a tribal structure then castes.
The Aryan’s empire maintained a tribal structure, where a king is ruling over the common people. In the early Rig Veda period, there were only two social classes; Upperclass and the commoners. Later they also added the third one i.e Labour class.
However, by the end of the Rigveda period, the classes were divided into four different class also known as Four Varnas. Brahmana was at the top, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra.
Buddhist Period (Mahajanpadas):
Mahajanpadas was a set of 16 great powers or kingdoms existed in the early 7th century to 6th century BCE ancient India. Among all, the Sakyas of Kapilavastu and the Licchavis of Vaishali were the most important republics. Apart from this, there were also some monarchical states among which Kaushambi (Vatsa), Magadha, Kosala and Avanti were the important ones. These states were ruled by one of the robust personalities.
Magadha kingdom was one of the sixteen kingdoms of Mahajanapadas. According to the sources, the Magadha empire rose the prominence of Mahajanapadas. King Bindusara is the founder of the Magadha Empire. He established himself as one of the greatest kings in the history of India. It has been found that Mauryan and Gupta empire also originated in Magadha Dynasty. These dynasties saw some improvement in India’s different subjects such as Mathematics, Science, Astronomy, Religion etc. Additionally, the two main religions Buddhism and Jainism were also found in Magadha Dynasty. Therefore this period of Magadha Dynasty is also considered as a Golden Age.
Magadha Dynasty was also known for the dominant force in terms of the political influence of North India.
Maurya empire was one of the most powerful dynasties counted in the history of India. Maurya empire was ruled by the leaders of the Maurya Dynasty. According to historians, the Maurya empire was considered as the strongest empire in terms of political and military aspects. The estimated duration of the Maurya Empire was between 322 BCE to 185 BCE. The Mauryan empire located on the Indo-Gangetic plain. The region these days we called it Patna and West Bengal.
Bindusara, the successor of Chandragupta Maurya proliferate his state for a long period.
Ashoka took the charge of the Maurya Empire after the sad demise of Bindusara. The real name of King Ashoka was Ashok Vardhan Maurya but we still call it King Ashoka “The Great”. Needless to say, Ashoka is the greatest king not only in the history of India but also in the history of the world. After the war of Kalinga, Ashoka changed his mind and went on the conclusion that he would never wage any war in the future. He then decided to follow the path violence. Instead of that, he started following the path of peace and non-violence and also he converted his religion to Buddhism.
The satavahana is also known as Andhras. They were the Dravidian people who lived between the Godavari and Krishna River. According to the sources, Simuka was the founder of the Satavahana empire. After Simuka, Shatakarni took charge of the Satavahana empire, he was known for his performance of two Ashwamedha sacrifices. It is also said that Satakarni has defeated the yavanas and rebuilt the ancient glory of Satavahana.
Kujula Kadphises (30-80 AD) established the Kushan dynasty in 78 AD. Kujula Kadphises stretched his hands to the north-west part of India which is now we know as Gandhar (Pakistan). His grandson Vima Kadphises spread his empire to North India. Soon he got attracted by the fame of Hinduism and called himself as Maheshwara (a name of Lord Shiva). Scholars also said that it was the Kushan Kings who first introduced gold and copper coins to India some of which has still survived today.
After some years, Kanishka ruled this dynasty between 100-160 A.D. According to historians, Kanishka was the legendary and greatest ruler of the Kushan Dynasty. He and his followers called themselves as Devputra which means the sons of God. He also rose fame with the establishment of the Shaka Era. Shaka Era has an appearance in the Indian calendar.
After the nemesis of the Kushan Empire, many independent states of Kushan arose in Northern India. Lichchahavis of Vaisali was one such state who dominated the parts of North Bengal and Bihar. Sources said that Sri Gupta was the first ruler of this dominion. But the famous king of this dynasty was Chandragupta I. He married Kumaradevi, that marriage was turned out to be the turning point in his life. As he got patliputra in dowry. He then laid the foundation of his empire and started conquering neighbouring states. He ruled there for many years.
Samudragupta, the successor of Chandragupta I. he was also known as a Military genius. He ruled for about 40 plus years.
Decline Of Gupta Dynasty:
The decline of Gupta dynasty started because of small independent kingdoms and foreign invasion. Toramara was the leader of the Huns and became successful in seizing most of the parts of the Gupta empire.
By – Rashmi Deshpande
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