Prepare Prelims-2017-Day-11-Ancient India History

Prehistoric (2 lakh-2.5k) BC


Prehistoric age: Roughly between 2 Lakh B.C. to 2.5k B.C. when human civilization was first started, however no exact pinpoint year.


The end of prehistoric age is roughly divided into 3 phases of Stone age:

(i) Palaeolithic age (unknown to 8k B.C.): Depended on nature for food by hunting via Stone tools.
      Man called quartzite man here (since tools were made up of quartzite)

  1. Early/Lower: Hand axe, choppers, cleaver
  2. Second/Middle: flaked tools i.e. Blades, points, borers, etc
  3. Third/Upper: Blades, burins, chisels. (Ostrich egg found here) Sites:

Paleolithic sites are found in many hill slopes & river valleys but are absent in alluvial planes of Indus & Ganga


(ii) Mesolithic age (8k-4k):Hunters & Herders

  Tools more pointed (microliths); domestication of animals.

  Eg of rock art: Bhimbetka cave paintings were of Mesolithic time

  Theme: hunting, women taking out mice & dealing with small animals, rituals,
      family, members. (No farming since not started)

  Colour: These are stick paintings with only red & white colour. Red= plant
      juice + animal fat, white= plant juice + animal fat

(iii) Neolithic age (4k-2.5k):

  Food producers (1st time farming)   Invention of Wheel;

  Discovery of fire

  Polished & grinded tools.

  Pottery started to store grains.

Place where all 3 i.e. Paleolithic, Mesoliths & Neoliths are found:
        Belan Valley, Mirzapur, UP; Middle part of Narmada.


Chalcolithic age: (1.8k-1.5k) BC

-Usage of Cu, Bronze began (Stone – Copper age) -Tools of stone, Cu & bronze.

  Barley waas main crop

  Certain references of use of ploughshare


  Rectanular & Circular houses

  Burrying dead in N-S orienatation has been revealed. Pit burial too.

Indus Valley civilization (2.5k-1.5k) BC…….during Bronze Age.

  The transition from 4k B.C marked by individuality to 3k B.C marked by homogenous
      cultures is to be noted and hence Harappa civilization of 5, 00,000 sq. miles.
  Consisting of Punjab, UP, Gujarat, Sindh, Baluchistan and Makran coast.
  This civilization is highly developed than its contemporaries like Mesopotamia (R.
      Tigris & Euphrates), Egypt (Nile) or China (R. Hwang Ho)

(Persia: An empire in southern Asia created by Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC and destroyed by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC)


GoldAf,Persia, Karnataka
SilverAf,Iran (Harappans were 1st to silver. )
LeadAf, Iran, Rajasthan, South India
CopperBaluchistan, Khetri (Rajasthan)
TinAf, Central Asia
IronKnew all metals  except  Iron

  All proto-Harappan cultures are pre-Harappan cultures but vice versa isn’t necessarily true.   Pre-Harappan: Before Harappan civilization &

  Proto-Harappan: Before Harappan civilization but closely related to contemporary Harappan

Town planning & Structure:

  Grid system dividing into rectangular blocks

  Large scale use of bricks & complete absence of stones

  Underground drainage shows sense of health & sanitation.
  Fortified citadels on W side which housed public buildings.


Script & Language:

  Script is pictographic (not alphabetic) representing birds, fish & human forms.

  The writing is boustrophedon (Writing in alternate lines in opposite direction just like the
      ox ploughs.)

  Language still unknown and will remain so until script is deciphered.


  Agriculture was backbone of civilization as soil was fertile due to Indus’ flooding. –
  Sowed seeds during floods in flood plains, harvested when water receded.
  Used wooden ploughs (Kalibangan) & stone sickles. –

  Crops: Wheat, Barley, dates, peas, mustard, millet, rice   Mixed cropping in Kalibangan

  Well irrigation & dams: Agri infra

  First to produce cotton in world.(Sugarcane wasn’t known) Domestication of animals:

  Animal rearing was practiced.

  Bullocks, oxens, asses, goats, pigs.

  Remains of horse & camel bones are found.


  Pottery is dark/red, well baked, glazed or with paintings on it.

  Seals (≠ coins) are greatest artistic creations of this civilization made up of soft stone.

Unicorn is most frequent animal inscribed on seal (NOT circular, but square [animal and inscription] or rectangular [inscription only])

  Education symbols too, swastik too seen


  Complete, Partial (first feed to birds) & post cremation burials.


  Chief male deity was Pashupati Mahadeva (proto-Shiva) sitting in a yogic pose on a low
      throne, having 3 faces & 2 thorns.

  He is surrounded by 4 animals (BERT-2D) Buffalo,Elephant,Rhino,Tiger ); with 2 Deer at
      his feet.

  Chief female deity was Mother Goddess, depicted in various forms.   Worship in forms of: Phallus, trees, animals, fires.
  No signs of temples

  People believed in ghosts, evils spirits and hence amulets (Good Luck Charm) were used.

Trade & Commerce

  Trade on barter system. Coins aren’t evident.

  Inter trade was carried out with Saurashtra, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, South India, UP & Bihar   Foreign trade was with Mesopotamia & Bahrian.

  Bullock & oxen were used for land transport.

  Sumerian texts (of Babylon i.e. Mesopotamian) refer to trade relations with Meluha
      (ancient name of Indus)

  Rice, cotton & wool was produced.


  The civilization slowly declined & faded out eventually.   Reasons prvided for the same are

(i)         Increased salinity due to desert expansion

(ii)        Floods due to depression in land

(iii)       Aryans destroyed it

(iv)       Trade with Sumerian finally lead to decline of civilization.

  No clear cut evidence about Harappan polity.

Major sites & significance in Indus valley civilization


Harappa40% total seals found here, Great granary

(‘Heap of dead’)

Largest of all Indus cities, Great Bath & Granary, Ship on seal,

woven cloth discovered, 9 levels of occupation (300ft above MSL)

Impressive drainage system

Kalibangan Pre-Harappan phase shows land ploughed unlike Harappan,

double cropping

Chanhudaro Only Indus city without citadel, Metal workers, bead makers

found in here.

Surkotada Only Indus site where remains of horses have been found,

coastal city with port town.

BanwaliClay bangles, animal & human figures.
Dholavira Latest and on of largest civilization found in India, signboard, 3

citadel with important inner closure

Lothal Only Indus site with artificial dockyard & hence main sea-port. (coastal

city with port town. ) Earliest rice cultivation here, twin burial

Rangpur Rice husk
Kalibangan Ploughed field, camel bones, circular & square graves, neither

bricks nor drainage system (TP not developed here)


(Early)Vedic Age (1.5k to 1k) BC/ Aryan

  Aryans means of ‘higher breed’

  The general perception is that Aryans originated in steppes (extensive plains without trees in
      Siberia & E.Russia).

  Consensus is that they lived somewhere in East of Alps.

  (Tilak : North Pole, Dayanand Saraswati: Tibet, Max Mueller:C.Asia)

  On their way to India, Aryans first appeared in Iran and a little latter in India (1500 BC).   Rig-Veda has many things common with Avesta (ancient Iranian language).
  According to Rig Veda, Aryans first settled in Sapta-Sindhu
  Meeting of 7 rivers i.e. Eastern Af, Western UP, Punjab etc.

  Ancient Aryans were semi-nomadic with cattles herds; settled after cultivation with plough

  They were ruled by warriors who depended upon priests to perform rituals to protect crops,
      insure crops

  Indian subcontinent got its name ‘Bharat Varsha’ after Bharata tribe, the strongest of the time.   Metals known: GIC (Gold, Iron, and Copper)

  Rig Veda consists of 10 books (Mandalas) with 1 & 10 relatively new.


  Chief was protector of tribe/jana.

  However his powers were finite were not unlimited with tribal assemblies (Sabha,
      Samiti, Vidhata, Gana).

  The first two assemblies are important.
  Women attended Sabha & Vidhata.

  Aryans drank addicted & intoxicating drinks: Soma (sanctified by religion) & Sura
      (secular & more potent)

  Early Vedic age was naturalistic & their were neither temples nor idols.    Gods: Indra, Varuna, Agni, Yama & Soma (plant God)


  Based on kinship, the society was tribal & egalitarian.   People showed loyalty towards tribe called Jana.
  Family was patriarchal.

  Kingdom had not come into existence.

  Women had respectable position in society & attended tribal assemblies.   No examples of child marriage.

  Levirate (Niyoga) was practiced.

  Monogamy was established practice however polygamy & polyandry were also known.

Marriage types: (8 types)

  Brahma: Marriage with dowry

  Daiva: Daughter sacrificed to priest as fee.this was considered ideal   Arsa : Cow& bull as token instead of dowry

  Prajapatya: Without dowry or bride-price

  Gandharva :Love marriage…Swayamwar is special form of Gandharva marriage.   Asura: Daughter bought from father…Arthashatra allows it without criticism   Rakshasa: Marriage by capture

  Paisacha :Marriage by seduction

  Cow was of economic importance & important form of wealth.

  Wars were fought for cows & not territories underline the importance of cows.   Economy was pastoral.

  Important rituals: Rajasuya, Ashwamedha (royal horse run), Vajapeya (chariot race

  (Ashwamedha shows horse was significant animal)

Social divisions:

  When Aryans first came to India there was no consciousness of caste, not even of
      professional hereditary.

  The term ‘varna’ referred in Rig Veda with reference to Aryan (fair) & Dasa (dark) having
            fair & dark complexions only BUT never w.r.t. to Brahman or Ksatriya.

  Quadruple divisions of society made its formal appearance only at one place in 10th
      Mandala of Rig Veda.

  Even mention of Shudras is there in 10th Mandala. Administrative officer:

  Purohita (priest), Senani (army), Vrajapati (pasture).

  There was no officer for tax-collection or administering justice.


 Early vedicLater vedic
PolityTribal society. Equal.King present
SocietyNo division in societyDivision in society in form of varnas
Religion Simple: Worshiped nature:

sun, wind, rain & via mantras


Complex: Priest dominated & ritual


Tax Bali (voluntary offering) & not


Tax compulsory to be given to king
FightsTribes fighting for cattleKings fighting for lands.
Women Strong position & societal


Forced to stay indoors.


  Anulobh: (Allowed): Marriage of high caste man with low caste woman

  Pratylobh: (Prohibited): Marriage of high caste woman with low caste man   Varna mixing unallowed.

  Chandals: kids of male brahmin & female shudra

Later Vedic Age (1000 BC – 600 BC)

  In this phase, Aryans subdued the fertile plains watered by Yamuna, Ganges & settled in
      Deccan…north of Godavari.


  Chiefdoms were replaced by kingdoms. Kings became powerful.

  Assemblies lost their power & weren’t the true representation of majority.

  Women were no longer admitted into assemblies, which was dominated by Brahmins &

  Term ‘rashtra’ indicating ‘territory’ first appeared in this period.

  Gotra signified descent from a common ancestor & hence marriage b/w persons of same
      gotra wasn’t allowed.


  Eastern King: Samarat;
  Western King: Savrat;
  Northern: Viral;
  Southern: Bhoja;
  Central: Raja

  Aryanakas: Forest texts taught by Brahmins. Social divisions:

  Brahmins: Growing cult of sacrifice & rituals for clients empowered them.   Kshtriyas: Warrior class.

  Vaishyas: Agriculturalists, cattle-rears, traders.   Shudras: Lowest in hierarchy.

Vedic literature:

(a) Vedas

  Vedas, derived from ‘vid’ which means to know, signifying knowledge par excellence.   Vedas are collection of hymns, prayers, charms & sacrificial formulae.
  Vedas are called Apurusheya (Not made by man) & Nitya (eternal).
  Apart from its literary significance, Vedas throw light on political, philosophical,
      Religious, social & economic aspect of life.

(1)Rig Veda:

  Consists of 1028 hymns divided in 10 mandalas (books)

  In IIIrd Mandala, Gayatri mantra is addresses to solar deity Savitri.   IX Mandala to Vedic Soma.

  X Mandala to Purusha Sukta

(2) Sama Veda:

  Sets tunes for singing hymns of Rig Veda. (Udgatri priests)

(3) Yajur Veda:

  Prescribes rituals for performing various sacrifices.(Adhvaryu priest)

  Contains prose (Krishna Yajur Veda-Black) & hymns (Sukla Yajur Veda-White)

(4) Atharva Veda:

  Contains charms & spells to ward off diseases.   Preserves cults. (HTRC)

(b) The Brahmanas:

  Containing prayer & sacrificial ceremony.

(c) The Aranyakas:

  Forest books dealing with mysticism & priestly philosophy.

  Transitional material b/w mythology & ritual of Samhitas & Brahmanas on one hand and

philosophical speculations of Upanishads on other hand.

(d) Upanishads:

  literally meaning ‘Be seated at feet of Guru to receive teachings’.   The Upanishads imparts Philosophical & Spiritual learning.
  Also called Vedanta or end of Vedas.

  They are anti-ritualistic and define doctrine of karma (action), atma (soul) & God

(e) Vedangas:

  To understand Vedic literature, it is necessary to learn Vedangas-limbs of vedas.   Literature handed by tradition.

There are 6 Vedangas:

(a) Siksha (Phonetics) (b) Kalpa (Sacrificial ritual)  (c) Vyakrana (Grammar)

(d) Nirukta (Eytmology)(e) Chandas (Metrics)       (f) Jyotisha (Astronomy)

  Vedangas are required for Reading, understanding & implementation of Vedas.

(f) Upavedas:

  Ayurveda (dealing with medicine..relates with Atharvaveda Dhanurveda (warfare).   Related to Rig Veda Gandharvaveda (music)

  Related to SamaVeda and Shilpaveda (Arts & Literature)   Related to YajurVeda


  Contents are of diverse material like tales, anecdotes & ballads.

  Topics include cosmology, mythology, folklores, worship, and society. Diverse.

(h) Epics:

  Mahabharata, written by Ved Vyas is older than Ramayana.

  Final compilation of 1 lakh verses reflecting state of affairs from 10th Century BC to 4th
      Century AD.

  Ramayana, written by Valmiki reflects from 5th Century AD to 12th Century AD.

  The later Vedic religion laid stress on Right belief & Right knowledge criticising cult of
      rituals & beliefs.

  The deeds of one life affects next.
  This gave life to theory of Karma.


Samkhya (means count)




Doesn’t believe in God but

deeds-World’s creation = nature

+ divine spiritual elements

(Duality) -Salvation via pure


Deeds believer

i.e.Karma, so-

Proponent of dualism

(Puru-Samkhya &

Vaisheshik belie


Yoga(compliment ary to





Yoga = Samakhya + Divinity-

Salvation through meditation &

physical application. (Control

over pleasure) -Pranayam is basic

to yoga-Not unislamic as

followed by Sufis too.


Secular (Even Nyaya

is secu



means particularly)




Atomist approach of universe-

Everything is based on concept

that everything in this universe

(except time, space,

consciousness, mind, soul) is

composed of atoms.


Marked beginning of







Akshpada /


School of analysis & logic

Salvation via true valid


Four forms of true Knowledge

i.Perception, ii.Inference,

iii.Analogy, iv.Credible



Purva Mimansa/





Condensed explanation of vedic


Salvation via perfection of vedic

sacrifies via priesta (Karma


Mantra & Rituals

means Good Karma

Also called Karma

mimansa (Right Action)

(Later Mimamsa

(Uttar): Right







Maharshi Vyas


True desire to know God. True

liberation will be achieved after

surrendering to him-tat tvam asi

World is illusion &

Brahma are ignorant so

don’t know this-Via

True knowledge, we

real realize knowledge

of Brahma

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