World History: Journey Across Time

Chapter 6: Early India

Chapter Overviews

The subcontinent of India is home to five nations: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. Climate and geography influenced the rise of India's first civilization, which arose in the Indus River valley. The monsoon seasons dominate the climate.

The Harappans—India's first civilization—were farmers. Their ruins suggest that they were both peaceful and prosperous. Around 1500 B.C., the Aryans—a nomadic people—invaded and destroyed the Harappan civilization. The Aryans settled in India. They became excellent farmers, and they invented new farm tools using their ironworking skills. The Aryans also developed a written language called Sanskrit. Their presence in India brought other changes as well. The Aryans implemented a caste system, creating rigid social classes that could not be altered.

Hinduism grew out of the ancient beliefs of the Aryans, and it changed over time as they adopted certain beliefs of the people they conquered. Siddhartha Gautama's lessons about the nature of suffering became known as Buddhism.

An Indian prince named Chandragupta Maurya founded the Mauryan dynasty and India's first empire. Chandragupta established a centralized government and created a postal system. A Buddhist king, Asoka's efforts included the building of hospitals, stupas, and roads. After his death, the Mauryan dynasty fell apart. For 500 years, India was without a strong leader. When the Gupta empire was created, it reunited most of northern India. India experienced a golden age of art and learning during the Gupta empire.

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