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Ancient India

Published on Nov 24, 2015

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Ancient India


  • India is a country in South Asia whose name comes from Indus River. Some of the oldest human remains in South Asia date back to around 75,000 years ago. Slowly people began to live in permanent places and villages slowly developed and eventually these villages turned into cities and created on of the earliest human civilisations in the world. Ancient India is often called the Harrappan Civilisation because one of the ancient cities was called Harappa. Harappa was just one of the 1500 cities in the Indus River Valley. Another well-known city is called Mohenjo-Daro. Historians estimate Ancient India to be the biggest of all four early civilisations. Historians estimate that each major city could support as many as 80,000 people, so Ancient India was by far the largest early civilisation. The buildings were made from mud-bricks that had been fired in a kiln to make it harder. A kiln is a hot oven or furnish to bake clay pottery. One of the largest structures that has been discovered is called the Great Bath. This is basically a public pool that is over 40 feet long and 20 feet wide.

Religion & Mythology

  • Buddhism was founded in Northern India by a prince name Siddhartha Gautama. This prince left his wife and family to live in a luxurious palace for a life. One day he was meditating under a pipal tree at a Bodh Gaya, from this time on, Siddhartha Gautama is now known as the Buddha or the Enlightened One. Siddhartha died in 480 BC. Buddha was a great spiritual teacher. His followers took his teaching to other parts of India. One of the great Buddhist stupas was built at Amaravati in South India. Hinduism was one of the major religion. Hinduism was first developed during the first thousand years of AD. Hindus believe that at death the soul is reborn in another body. They also worship a large number of gods/deities, including Shira, an all encompassing God, and his elephant-headed son Ganesha and Vishnu. Females deities include Parrati, Shiva's wife, and Burga (a goddess who is famous for killing a demon). Followers of Buddhism & Jainism were dedicated to the use of meditative techniques as it means release from the cycle of death and rebirth. More than 80% of Indians are Hindu, about 13% are Muslim. Other religions include Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, which all began in India.


  • The earliest Indians probably ate mainly wheat, rice, chickpeas, lentils, and occasionally cows, pigs, sheep, goats and chickens. Indian people also are sugar cane, which grew naturally in India. Around 300BC a lot of Hindus felt that animal sacrifices added to your karma and kept you from getting free of the wheel of reincarnation. Animal sacrifices became less popular, and although people didn't give up eating meat entirely, they ate much less of it. A lot of people became vegetarians. In the Gupta period, around 650 AD, Hindus began to worship a Mother Goddess. Cows were sacred to her, and so Hindus stopped eating beef pretty much completely. About the same time, Indian scientists invented a new way to make sugar cane juice into sugar cubes. Around 1100 AD, most people in India stopped eating pork as well, because it is forbidden by the Quran. People could still eat sheep or goats or chickens, but most of the people in India became vegetarians. The vegetarian food that Indians ate was mainly wheat, flatbreads or a kind of flatbread made out of chickpeas, with a spicy vegetarian sauce with lentils, and yogurt.


  • India is part of the continent Asia. Most of India forms a peninsula, which means it is surrounded by water on 3 sides. The southeast is bordered by the Bay of Bengal and the southwest is bordered by the Arabian Sea. The world's highest mountain range, the Himalayas, rise in the north. The major river that runs through India is the Ganges. India is the seventh-largest country in South Asia, the second-most populous country with well over billion people, and the worlds most populous democracy. Mainland India is bounded by the Indian Ocean on the South, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east; Bhutan, the people's Republic of Chin & Nepal to the North; and Bangladesh & Burma to the east. India consists of 28 states. The time periods were the Vedic Age during 1500BC-1000BC, the Epic Age during 1000BC-600BC, Hinduism and Transition during 600BC-322BC, the Mauryan Dynasty during 322BC-185BC, the Invasions during 185BC-320AD, the Deccan and South Indian during 65BC-250AD, the Gupta Era during 320AD-520AD, the Age of Small Kingdoms during 500AD-606AD, Harshavardhana during 606AD-647AD, the Southern Kingdoms during 500AD-750AD, the Chola Empire during the 9th century AD-13th Century AD, and the Northern Kingdoms during 648AD-1000AD.


Death & Burial

  • In ancient India, ceremonies was the usual practice in caring for the dead. The elderly would often choose to have themselves rowed out into the middle of the Ganges a River where they would then fling themselves into the sacred water and be swept away. In ancient times, Indians were known to practice Cannibalism. Cannibalism is the act of practice of human eating the flesh of other human beings. The ancients also buried their dead on burial mounds (barrows) containing the remains and other adornments. As Hinduism become the most prevalent religion the practice of pyres came into fashion. Hindus perfume the corpse and adorn it with flowers. They then burn the flowers and later throw the ashes in the Ganges River. It is believed that the soul of the person who passed away is passed on to the next level of existence. A Hindus death ceremony is the 'Terarih'. This is a period starting from the death day of a person to the 13th day after the funeral. During this Terarih period, there are many rules that family has to follow. For instance, they're not Supposed to attend religious functions. eat certain foods, wear new clothes, or participate in any culture activity or festivity.


  • People in India wore mostly cotton clothing. India was the first place where people grew cotton, even as early as 2500BC in the Harappan period. By the Vedic Period, woman wore one very long piece of cloth called a sari, that they wrapped around themselves in different ways. The word 'sari' comes from a Sanskrit word that just means cloth. Saris are first mentioned in the Vedas about 600BC. Rich women wore saris made of silk from China, while most women wore cotton saris. There are many different ways of dressing a sari such as a dress up, women wore then like skirts with a top part thrown over their shoulders. Working woman often pulled their sari up between their legs to make a sort of pants. Women who fight with the army generally tuck in the top part of the sari in the back to free up space for their arms. Most saris were 5-6 yards long although som saris were nine yards. Younger women usually wore brightly coloured saris but widows and other women in mourning for someone's death wore only white saris. Men also wore long piece of cloth called the dhoti, which was generally white. They wrapped the dhoti around their legs to make a sort of pants. Dhotis though were shorter so they didn't have the part where they cover the chest and shoulders. Poor women who couldn't afford it usually wore a lot of silver/gold jewellery. Sometimes put a red dot on their foreheads called a 'bindi'.



Art & Music

  • Indian women would have used henna paste or mehndi to celebrate weddings, religious events and traditional ceremonies or festivals like Diwali. Henna art is usually placed on the palms or the hands or the feet of self. The art of henna has been practiced for over 5000 years in Pakistan, India, Africa, and the Middle East. Because henna has a natural cooling properties, people of the desert for centuries have been using henna to cool down their bodies. They make a paste of henna and soak their palms and soles of the feet in it to get an air conditioning. Several,uncial instruments like drums and statuettes representing dancing poses were found from the Indus Valley sites.The discovery of Ravanahatha, the seven-holed flute from a Hurappa site suggests that musical instruments and music played an important role in Indus Valley period. There is no harmony in Indian music, only melody. A musician would select a theme or raga of 5 or 6 notes. A raga would indicate a mode such as "dawn", "beauty", or "spring.