You are on page 1of 21

Ancient History of India From the big bang, the primeval swamp to the Indus Valley Civilization.

There is a tendency to sometimes include the Indus Valley Civilization in prehistory, since technically prehistory includes everything that happened before the Word happened. However, technically again the Indus Valley Civilization did have a script, although it has not been decoded yet. So, it's generally included in Ancient History nowadays. For India, it begins from the Indus Valley Civilization (for which the date is a matter of hot debate, but historians have agreed to disagree on 3000BC) to just after the king Harsha Vardhana, which is around 700-800BC During or after this period came Aryans who composed these evocative hymns to nature and celebrated life exuberantly referred to themselves as Aryas usually anglicized as Aryan meaning 'noble'. The 6th Century B.C. was the period of Magadh Kingdom. Chandragupta Maurya ousted the oppressive ruler of Magadh to find his own dynasty that existed from 322 - 298 B.C.

The most famous Maurya King Ashoka the Great ruled from 273 - 232 B.C over a large kingdom stretching from Kashmir and Peshawar in the North and Northwest to Mysore in the South and Orissa in the East. He after witnessing the carnage at the battle field of Kalinga (269 B.C.) in Orissa, dedicated himself to Dharmma ( righteousness ).

In the subsequent centuries, after the Ashoka empire disintegrated, India suffered a series of invasions, and often fell under the spell of foreign rulers - Indo Bactrians, the Sakas and others. After the next 400 years of instability the Guptas established their kingdom.

Kalidas, the famous Sanskrit poet and dramatist, author of Abhijnana Shankuntalam, Kumarsambhavam and Meghadutam is believed to have adorned the Gupta court. Also the great mathematicians like Aryabhatta and astronomers like Varahmihir lived during this period. The dazzling wall paintings of the Ajanta caves too are traced back to this era.

Cholas, Pandayas and Pallavas ruled over the southern part of India during the medieval period of India’s history. Cholas ruled the territory of Deccan (today the districts of Thanjavur and Tiruchirapally) while the Pandyas reined around present day Tirunelvelli and Madurai.

Pallavas of Kanchi rose to prominence in the 4th Century A.D. and ruled unchallenged for about four hundred years. The Nayanar and Alvar saint poets belong to this period. The gemlike shore temples at

Mahabalipuram date to this period. The Cholas overthrew the Pallavas were in the 9th Century and regained political primacy in south India. The 15th Century saw the decline of the Pandyas.

Now let's look in a little more detail...

Indus Valley Civilization

It is without a doubt that the civilization one of the most important finds in the world of archeology. In one stroke the age of Indian history was pushed back by more than a millennium, deep into 3000BC. This effectively exploded the myth that everything in India before the coming of the Aryans was enveloped in the supreme darkness of one primeval swamp. Here was a civilization that was not only well-developed, but actually far more sophisticated than that of the Aryans.

The Indus Valley Civilization said its last hurray roughly in 2200 BC. The beginning and end of the Indus Valley Civilization are both a matter of debate. Obviously there must have been a lead up to it. Suddenly, out of the blue, a people could not have emerged complete with their perfect town planning, neat houses, lovely jewellery and loads of make-up. So where did they come from? and then having come, just where did they disappear?

Popular theory which is accepted by the man on the street is that the people of the civilization (commonly referred to as the Harappans) were chased out by the Aryans and went down south. The present South Indians are their descendants. Recent research also threw up evidence that the Aryans’ descendants actually still survive as santals (tribals) in various jungle areas in India. The Settlement of Aryans

It took the tall, beautiful, long limbed Aryans surprisingly little time to get used to their new home. Initially, they settled in the area of Sapt-Sindhu, which included Punjab, Kashmir, Sindh, Kabul and Gandhara (Kandhar). The chief sources of this period which have come down to us are The Vedas and the Epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, which through their stories and hymns tell us about the expansion of the Aryans. It took them about a thousand years to bring the entire northern region under their control. Then they turned their attention to the south. The epic Ramayana is a symbolic tale which tells of the Aryan expansion to the south – the good, almost godly, aryaputra (an Aryan's son) king Rama surging forth to finish off the evil Dasyu (that was what the Aryans called the natives) Ravana.

Being of somewhat militant nature.Aryans Political System The political system of the Aryans in their initial days here was amazingly complex. However. with the man in the house expected to keep his flock in control. They hung around together in small village settlements (which later grew to kingdoms) and the basis of their political and social organization was. though quite ingenious. but then through almost all of the ancient period of Indian history women continued to command respect and considerable pull in society. with members that represented the people. The Visyas in turn collected under a Jana. So everything was very proper and democratic. The Samiti was roughly equivalent to our modern Lower House or the Lok Sabha. headed by a Visyapati. the visya and the jana has not been clearly defined anywhere. including the chief queen (Mahishi) who was expected to help in the decision making process. No Rigidity In Caste System . which was ruled by a Rajana or king. He had an elaborate court of many officials. As one Jana swallowed another and kingdoms arose out of their ashes. as is evinced by the episode where Yudhistra gambles away his wife (see Mahabharata). Many villages formed another political unit called a Visya. Two assemblies. the clan or kula. This was obviously speedily amended. which was headed by a Gramina. The King Was The Supreme Power The king was yet to become that the all-powerful monarch that he eventually became. not surprisingly. Groups of kulas together formed a Grama or village. Women seemed to have had it good at this time. Sabha and Samiti further assisted the king. and the Sabha was a permanent body of selected men. this was very much a patriarchal society. the king became increasingly the despot that we are all more familiar with. the precise relationship between the grama. he was supposed to work in tandem with the people's wishes. Although he lived as befitted a king. Although by the time of the Mahabharata their position had fallen enough for them to be treated as a man's property.

wealth. because he was going to teach the Jain Religion. Indra (Rain). sacrifices elaborate and religion increasingly expensive. fasted. Rudra (Thunder). To please his brother. Surya (Sun) and so on. This did not bother Mahavira. but he reformed and refined previous teachings of the Jaina tradition. his parents died. Mahavira essentially became a homeless man. Vardhamma Mahavira became the 24th Tirthankara or "ford-maker" of the Jain or Jaina Religion. Mahavira was born in 599 BC in Kaundinyapura near modern Patna. Mahavira married a princess named Yasoda and had a daughter named Anojja. Prajapati (The Creator). Period of Social Reform By the sixth century BC things had become complicated and rigid enough for socio-religious reformers like the Buddha and Mahavira to want change. and military and administrative sciences. When Mahavira was 28. Rituals became rigid. The priestly class. became increasingly the real masters in the socio-economic-political scheme of affairs. He learned about literature. He left his home and mediated. Birth of Mahavira [550 BC] Vardhamana Mahavira was not the founder of Jainism. a democratic senate and an open social system failed to survive. Scholars debate the birth date and place. Mahavira was born to a high-ranking family and received an education fit for a nobleman. and pleasures. These gods and goddesses were appeased by prayers and sacrifices. As time went this idyllic life among the beautiful wooded country with a benevolent monarch. When Mahavira left his family at the age of 30. which is in present day Bihar. Mahavira decided to stay at his home until the age of 30. After all this. he also gave up all property. philosophy. art. and Mahavira wanted to abandon everything and everyone. and went without water. as happened the world over. Mahavira practiced self-discipline and gave up luxuries by giving charity to beggars. For those two years. and even when it did.The caste system as is known now does not seem to have evolved yet. . it was not the rigid thing it became by the time of the Guptas but was a loose social system where people could move up and down the social scale. Some claim it to be as late as 490 BC in Kundapura near Vaishali or in Vaishali. Power won over all else. Aryan’s worshipped nature gods – they prayed to the Usha (Dawn). Mahavira tore out his hair and wandered naked with a piece of cloth on his shoulder.

(satya) to always tell the truth. The vows were (asteya) to not take anyone's private possessions. understood. learned. Nepal) into the Gautama family of the Shakaya clan. poor and both men and women. and meditating. never to go through the cycle of birth and death. Mahavira attracted all kinds of people. western Bengal. pain. In fact. queens. for himself and others. (ahimsa) to not injure or annoy any living thing. not drinking water for two days. Kevala is the absolute knowledge and is the highest awareness. Nirvana is the attainment of the blissful state of one's self and of total freedom from the cycle of birth. Kapilavastu. This was the very extreme form of the vow. Mahavira is believed to have become Siddha. and acted according to them. Sidhartha's father was the head of the tribe so Sidhartha was a prince and seemed destined to rule. and an end to all misery". Mahavira attained nirvana the 13th year of his new Jain life. deliverance. Vardhamma Mahavira finally died in 527 BC at the age of 72. teaching and preaching. Not only did Mahavira attain nirvana but he also attained kevala. and western Uttar Pradesh. enlightenment. Mahavira vowed to neglect his body and agreed to suffer all things that could happen. The final step for Mahavira and all that follow him was the final removal of the karma or self. He gave up all he had and was celibate. death. rich. including kings. Mahavira was able to rid himself of karma by destroying it and won his soul's salvation by never returning to earth. because it was wrong to kill any living creature.Mahavira traveled naked to various parts of northern India. life. 563 BC. beatitude. Gautama Buddha [563-483 BC] Sidhartha was born (c. and practiced them. In this. studied. Parshva let his followers wear clothing. "Mahavira taught 73 methods for exertion in goodness by which many creatures. (aparigraha) to not own any property. The Shakayas were members of the priestly-warrior caste. He lived a luxurious life and the received . Mahavira was very faithful to his teachings. Four were from the previous teacher Parshva. was to finally reach nirvana or salvation. obtained perfection. These parts included Bihar. who believed in and accepted them. but Mahavira did not want his followers to wear any. and misery. The most noticeable extent of these vows was that Mahavira let vermin inhabit his body. and (brahmacarya) to have complete celibacy. Mahavira's quest. This happened while he was fasting. Mahavira taught that the center of right conduct was the five great vows of which he preached until his death. and the fifth was his own.

" The turning wheel of Dharma. which included extreme fasting and suspension of breathing. suffering from the frailties of age. Sidhartha decided to meditate until the absolute truth would lie clearly in front of him. but they did not satisfy his search for truth. He studied Yogic meditation with two Brahman hermits and achieved high cognitive states in both trance and meditation. He finally ended his acetic lifestyle and began to eat. Sidhartha placed his body under severe asceticism. He meditated under a Bodhi tree where he sat facing east. and the pain of sickness and death caused suffering that he had never experienced. but his desire for absolute truth was not satisfied. For the next six years. He saw a sick man. At the age of thirty-five. He also saw a dead man. Yashodhara bore a son. He saw an old man. which shocked him greatly. and Sidhartha believed that he was happy." Sidhartha felt a strong call to teach others even though he could never teach the content of enlightenment. but his father also sheltered him from life's hardships. his wife. his son. and he immediately shared it with five ascetics who had practiced near him. and. He married a woman named Yashodhara and they lived in his father's house. He gave up his claim to the succession of his father's throne and left the palace. Sidhartha reached enlightenment and became an "enlightened one"--a Buddha (c. he decided to teach the way to enlightenment to others and went to Deer Garden where he held his first sermon. suffering from disease. the lives of millions. 528 BC) He had at last discovered the truth he had sought. This revelation caused him to begin a search for truth that drastically changed his life. Sidhartha saw three things which opened the harsh realities of life to him. After a few weeks of rest. These practices almost killed him. during one of his few excursions from the protection of his father's palace. only the way of . eventually.the best education his father's wealth could provide. At the age of twenty-nine he left his home. and his father. Then. Sidhartha was still protected from the trials of life. on the night of the full moon. He finally realized that the infirmities of old age.

who was a good friend of the Buddha's cousin Devadutta. and in the end he confessed his crime to the Buddha before converting to Buddhism. there is evidence that his crime weighed on Ajatsatru's mind. While the earlier rulers had brought Magadha out of clear and present danger. Ajatsatru was very much his father's son and continued his imperialist policies. acrimonious and prolonged rivalry went on between him and the Lichchavi dynasty that ruled Vaishali (in Bihar). Bimbisara was a contemporary of the Buddha and met him twice. called Amrapali. There are tales of his passionate affair with the chief courtesan of Vaishali. For the next forty-five years he taught as the Buddha or "Shakyamuni" (sage of the shakaya"). Bimbisara converted to Buddhism. not to be judged by his cousin's credentials. Through some clever marital and martial policies he pushed the frontiers of Magadha over. thanks to his wife Khema's reverence for the teacher. was very much a blot on his family name and talked Ajatsatru into killing his father in the first place. He was an extremely polished diplomat and crafty statesman. This Devadutta. which he eventually managed to conquer. it was Bimbisara who consolidated and increased that power and really gave it the identity of a kingdom. However.enlightenment. in Rajgriha (which is an important Buddhist pilgrimage today). Apart from this. according to a source. Assasination of Bimbisara Apparently Bimbisara was assasinated by his impatient son Ajatsatru. Bimbisara. Ajatsatru was obviously a colorful character and a man of sentiment. One particularly bitter. The Buddha died after forty-five years of teaching at the age of eighty.The Magadhan Ruler of Sisunga Dynasty The first important Magadhan king who emerges into the limelight was Bimbisara (544-491 BC) of the Sisunga dynasty. He also established a community of monks called sanga. eighty thousand villages. We learn that when he met him the second time. because it was in the middle between asceticism and indulgence. Buddha called his teachings "the middle way". Then. when the Buddha attained parinirvana .

"The lord was a kshatriya (the warrior caste of the Varna system). The Nandas could never be popular rulers despite their airs of magnificence and immense wealth (which they amassed by huge taxation). There was an active concern among all except the king Dhanananda himself that Alexander would come all the way to Magadha. Much of this can be discounted – the Nandas were sudras to start with (which queered them with the Aryan Brahmins who were writing one half of these sources) and never bothered to associate with the Buddhists and Jains (who were writing the other half). so am I. They were of lowborn sudra stock and hence had the odds stacked against them right from the start. Chanakya . though very powerful with a huge standing army and a grand court.(nirvana from all births and bonds). called Ambhi. Indeed. The last recorded ruler of the family was Kakavarna who was put to death by Mahapadmananda. what it did manage was to bring Chanakya into political limelight of the day. of the Nanda dynasty which followed the Sisungas. He made many friends in high places. traditional sources give us a very unflattering picture of the kings of this family. Though this attempt. Ajatsatru insisted upon a part of his relics be buried in a stupa (shrine) that he got erected in Rajgriha. the dynasty bowed out. By now the kings had become the more familiar despots and were becoming increasingly unapproachable. turned out to have surprising vision. who unfortunately for Dhanananda." The Fading Glory of Sisunga Dynasty The Sisunga dynasty faded fast after Ajatsatru. were apparently a very vain lot. which set him off on a bigger goal – to overthrow the Nandas. He started his own downfall by insulting a certain unsightly looking Brahmin. Therefore I am worthy of a share of his relics upon which I will erect a stupa. The Nandas. to a large extent failed. The Nanda who unwittingly became the most famous of the entire dynasty was Dhanananda. intellect and Machiavellian cunning. He said. The first thing that Chanakya tried to achieve was to raise a confederacy against the foreign invader.The Man With Master Mind This Brahmin was called Chanakya. having produced two rulers with force enough for twenty. laid out the red carpet for him. This was time (around 326BC) when Alexander came visiting India's northwest borders along Taxila where the king. .

The Pauravan king is planning a massive counter attack.One of the main reasons the confederacy against Alexander never got going was that Magadha.000 soldiers. While we. as the most powerful kingdom and the obvious leader for the rest to follow. He has captured the fortresses of Massaga and Aornos. painting and sculpture (a whole school of art called Gandhara School of art come up of the amalgam). thus forming a new stock of people. at a tragically early age of 32). trade and economy. The Greeks established a colony along the border who eventually mingled with the local populace. Conquest of Alexander in India [327 BC] The throne of Macedon in south-east Europe has been occupied by Alexander. It was a good thing that Chanakya's concerns were in vain. Alexander is from a far off land called Greece. The Pauravan king with an army of 30. having crossed the Indus river and secured the help of the Ambhi. 326 BC: Alexander moves through the dense jungles of Ohind. His army has crossed the Hindukush mountains and is strengthening its position near Kabul. Then. Having defeated the last of the Persian rulers and conquered the Acharmenian empire. king of Taxila. in fact. This. Long before that summer set in and his armies started grumbling. art and philosophy. simply refused to fall in. Alexander marches on to the Jhelum. Chanakya was going about with a single-minded focus to find a replacement for Dhananada. astronomy. Alexander has vowed to conquer the Indian satraps. This is reportedly beyond the horizon. horses and elephants provided fierce resistance but was eventually defeated. but also cultural and social exchange with the Greek which influenced Indian warfare. This meant not only political. In these exciting times. . India. The astonishing fact about this he is just 21 years old! It's known from well-placed sources that he is planning to launch a major attack on the Pauravan king across the Jhelum river. while he himself fell ill (this illness would eventually be the end of the great king in 323BC. in turn. influenced their science. but also managed to offend Chanakya so thoroughly by his insolent behavior that the Brahmin went away convinced that the king deserved to be overthrown. he found in young Chandragupta Maurya (324-298BC). So the Greek armies turned around after leaving Seleucus Nikator as Alexander's general in the region. Dhanananda apparently not only flatly refused to spend good cash on a mad project like this. Alexander never did come all the way to Magadha. he didn't even get close.

But the Macedonian had welded the political atoms into one unit and thus paved the way for the permanent union under the Mauryas. This strategy of Alexander is typical of the great Greek rulers. Alexander has received many presents including brocades. Khandahar. "The hold of the great king [Alexander] on the Indian frontier slackened considerably in the fourth century BC. Gandhara and Persia from Seluces. It is said that Chanakya met Chandragupta in the Vindhya forest. "Act like a King". with the help Chanakya (Kautilya). Impressed by the Pauravan king's efforts he has given him back his kingdom. Alexander's invasion prompted Indians to develop a centralised state. The arduous campaigns of Alexander restored the fallen fabric of imperialism and laid the foundation of a closer contact between India and the Hellenic world. he has reached Babylon. not very long after his return to Babylon. the satrapies of Paropanisadai (Kabul). Chandragupta also seized Punjab. Kabul. Along with the the astute advice of Chanakya. Chandragupta declared war and defeated Selucus Nicator. He wanted to move further towards the Ganges valley. Aria (Herat). He has been severally wounded while storming one of the citadels of the powerful tribe of Malavas. gems. The Macedonian empire in the Indus valley no doubt perished within a short time. the latter answered. Alexander has moved further. who is also known as the Indian Machiavelli. He concentrated on capturing the Chenab and Ravi plains upto Beas." The Mauryan Dynasty (The first Indian Empire) Chandragupta Maurya [322-298 BC] Chandragupta. in the opinion of certain writers. etc. after being insulted by the Nanda king. So with a heavy heart. but has been stopped by his tired troops. And in 323 BC . . the Macedonian ruler of the Northwestern territories captured by Alexander the Great. Through the desserts of Baluchistan and with terrible sufferings. Alexander has retraced his steps to the Jhelum. Seluces' daughter was married to Chandragupta. destroyed the Nanda rulers of Magadha and established the Mauryan empire. Alexander dies. Having conquered several tribes and satraps.When Alexander asked the Pauravan king to bow. "Selucus failed and had to conclude a treaty with Chandragupta by which he surrendered a large territory including. tigers.

Having been brought up by peacock tamers." He also spoke of the division of society according to occupation and the large number of religious sects and foreigners in the empire.An Advanced History of India by RC Majumdar. the Greek ambassador at the court of Chandragupta Maurya in Pataliputra. Megasthenes. he could be of low caste birth. HC Raychaudhri & Kalinkar Datta The most important result of this treaty was that Chandragupta's fame spread far and wide and his empire was recognised as a great power in the western countries. Bihar. "the Indians. Maurya empire was the first really large and powerful centralised state in India.Bindusara [298 BC] . Chandragupta Maurya was the son of a Nanda prince and a dasi called Mura. they liberally used ornaments and gems. The treaty was probably cemented by a marriage contract. Speaking of the general prosperity. Baluchistan & Afghanistan. and Megasthenes wrote about the prosperity of the Mauryan cities. Mysore. dressed in bright and rich colors. Mauryan Empire . Orissa.Arachosia (Qanadahar) and Gedrosia (Baluchistan). with tempered autocracy at the top and democracy at the city and village levels. Chandragupta Maurya's son Bindusara became the new Mauryan Emperor by inheriting an empire including the Hindukush. Megasthenes wrote. Narmada. According to other sources. in return for 500 elephants. Vindhyas. had expressed his admiration for the efficient administration of the empire. water abundant and mineral wealth was in plenty. He further reported that agriculture was healthy. His book 'Indica' is a collection of comments of other Roman & Greek travelers. The kings of Egypt and Syria sent ambassadors to the Mauryan Court. It was very well governed. Assam. It is also possible that Chandragupta was of the Maurya tribe of Kshatriyas. Chandragupta Maurya's origins were shrouded in mystery. A Greek envoy was accredited to the Court of Pataliputra." . Bengal.

Pandyas and Cheras were very friendly with the Mauryan empire and so the king felt no need to conquer them. He also maintained the friendly relations with the Hellenic West established by his father. He conquered sixteen states and extended the empire from sea to sea. Ashoka was coronated as an emperor. Ambassadors from Syria and Egypt lived at Bindusara's court. was a brave soldier. However. he was the governor of Ujjain and Taxila.Ashoka [273 BC] Ashoka. The empire included the whole of India except the region of Kalinga (modern Orissa) and the Dravidian kingdoms of the south. Baluchistan & Afghanistan. Administration during Bindusara's Reign Bindusara maintained good relations with Selucus Nicator and the emperors regularly exchanged ambassadors and presents. reaching out even into Central Asia. The Kalinga War [261 BC] Ashoka succeeded in conquering Kalinga after a bloody war in which 100. Bengal. Bihar. The war . Bindusara extended his empire further as far as south Mysore. Having sidelined all claims to the throne from his brothers. Vindhyas. He preferred the Ajivika philosophy rather than Jainism. He was called Amitraghata which means "slayer of foes" by Greek writers. This was a turning point in his life. Mysore. The sight of the slaughter involved in his conquest deeply distressed Ashoka and deeply affected his mind. 150. Mauryan Empire . Kalinga was not friendly with the Mauryans and so a war was fought between the people of Kalinga and Mauryans led by Bindusara's son Ashoka. Ashoka extended the Maurya Empire to the whole of India except the deep south and the south-east. Assam.000 injured and thousands were captured and retained as slaves. the most trusted son of Bindusara and the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya. He was the most famous of the Mauryan kings and was one of the greatest rulers of India. During his father's reign. Orissa. He renounced war and sought peace in Buddha's preachings of love and ahimsa (non-violence). Narmada.000 men were killed. Bindusara inherited an empire including the Hindukush. Chandragupta left his throne to his son Bindusara and became a Jain ascetic.After ruling for about twenty five years. The Dravidians kingdoms of the Cholas.

Kanva Dynasty (75BC . There are different opinions about the fall of the kingdom. Burma. To his ideas he gave the name Dharma. So he gave up hunting and slaughtering of animals. Egypt. The Mauryan empire was breaking up. The north-western regions comprising Rajputana. India lost its political unity. Pushyamitra died after ruling for 36 years (187-151 BC). Sungas Dynasty The last ruler of the Mauryan dynasty was Brithadratha. he started inscribing edicts on rocks and pillars at places where people could easily read them. He was killed by his own commander-in-chief Pushyamitra Sunga in 185 BC. The capital of Ashoka pillar at Sarnath is adopted by India as its national emblem. Malwa and Punjab passed into the hands of the foreign rulers. With the fall of Mauryas. He became a strict vegetarian. Seven kings (some say 10) followed Ashoka within a period of 50 years.30BC) . The kingdom of Pushyamitra was extended upto Narmada in the south. modern Besnagar in Eastern Malwa. The "Dharma Chakra" on the Ashoka Pillar adorns our National Flag. During his reign he gave up war and preached peace in the kingdom.also developed in him a hatred for all kinds of violence. Others say after Ashoka there were no strong kings to rule such a vast empire. He died in 232 BC. For propagation of Buddhism. This prince is the hero of a famous drama by India's greatest playwright. Some say that since the later part of Ashoka's reign was devoid of wars. He was succeeded by son Agnimitra. It is said that there were ten Sunga kings. The power of the Sungas gradually weakened. Central Asia. Agnimitra used to hold his court in the city of Vidisa. Macedonia. Fall of Mauryas Emperor Ashoka ruled for 37 years. Ashoka died in 232 BC. the military were inactive and this weakened them. spreading their message of love and peace for the last two thousand years. and controlled Jalandhar and Sialkot in the Punjab in the north-western regions. Pushyamitra Sunga became the ruler of the Magadha and neighbouring territories. Under his reign Buddhism spread to Syria. Kalidasa. These pillars and rocks are still found in India.

west Rajasthan and Vidharbha. Ikshvakus. Konkan. They were also known as Andhras. Vaijayanti (in North Kanara) and Amravati (in the Guntur district). Some scholars say the there were 19 kings of this dynasty which ruled for 300 years. who was the last great king. the empire began to decline. The Satvahana dynasty began its rule in about 40 or 30 BC. But the man who raised it to eminence was Satakarni I. . Their empire broke up into small states ruled by the Abhiras. (after AD 220). the Satvahana power seemed to have been submerged beneath a wave of Scythian invasion. His son.The last ruler of the Sunga dynasty was overthrown by Vasudeva of the Kanva dynasty in 75 BC. They first rose to power in present Maharashtra on the banks of the Godavari. In 30 BC. After his death. The Satvahana Dynasty After the decline of the Mauryan empire the Satvahanas established their kingdom in the Deccan. and included Maharashtra. Malwa. Pallavas. the southern power swept away both the Kanvas and Sungas and the province of Eastern Malwa was absorbed within the dominions of the conqueror. Yavanas (Greeks) and Pahlavas (Parithans). He defeated the Sakas (Scythians). The founder of the Satvahanas was Simuka. while others say there were 30 kings who ruled for 456 years. Reign of Gautamiputra (AD 80-104) Gautamiputra Satakarni was the famous king during the Satvahana dynasty. ruled at Paithan on the banks of Godavari. The dynasty came to an end about the middle of the third century AD. But the power of Satvahanas revived under Sri Yajna Satakarni. Chutus. Saurashtra. attained eminence during the Satvahana period. Kings succeeding Gautamiputra lost many of their territories. Satakarni I allied with powerful Marathi chieftain and signalled his accession to power by performing ashvamedhas (horse-sacrifice). Vasishtiputra. and continued until the 3rd century AD. Magadha was ruled by four Kanva rulers. The Kanva ruler allowed the kings of the Sunga dynasty to continue to rule in obscurity in a corner of their former dominions. Two other cities. His empire extended upto Banavasi in the south. After him.

The last great king of Kushans was Vasudev I. Khotan and Yarkhand.Kouel Chougang (Kushans) -. Tashkand. He had two capitals at Purushpura (Peshawar now in Pakistan) and at Mathura in west Uttar Pradesh. his empire consisted of Afghanistan. namely. Buddhism during the Kushans Kanishka embraced Buddhism towards the middle of his reign. His empire extended from the north-west and Kashmir. The rule of Kushans ended almost at the same time as that of the Satavahans in the south. He conquered the north-western region of India. Kujala became the first king of the Kushans and was known as Kadphises I. He was the only king who ruled over these territories. Mathura became the centre of Kushans. The Yeuhchi tribe was in conflict with another tribe and so was forced to leave China. Many monuments were erected during Huvishka's reign. Mahayana was the new form of Buddhism that was followed during this period where the Buddha was worshipped as God. Sind.was superior to all. . The Kushans were overthrown by the Sassanians of Persia in the north-west and the Guptas in the north.Establishment of Kushans (AD 50) The Kushans were a branch of the nomadic Yeuhchi tribe of China. He spent his resources in spreading Buddhism. Paritha and Afghanistan. He defeated Saka Satraps in the north-west. The Kushans under Kujala attacked the Parithans. Gradually they were divided into five branches. One of these branches -. Punjab and Sind were his dominions. When Kanishka ascended the throne. He is said to have been Zoroastrian before he became Buddhist. Old monastries were repaired and many new ones were built. They came to Central Asia and then spread to Bactria. Successors of Kanishka Kanishka's immediate successor was Vashiska who was then succeeded by Huvishka. Kanishka proved that he was a great conqueror. Reign of Kanishka (AD 120) Kanishka was the most famous of the Kushan kings. He was a great warrior. over most of the Gangetic valley. He annexed three provinces of the Chinese empire. took possessions of Ki-pin and Kabul and became the complete master of the Indian borderland. He was succeeded by his son Wima Kadphises known as Kadphises II. Punjab and portions of the former Parithan and Bactrian kingdoms. It is not known how he became the king but he ascended the throne in AD 120.

a biography of the Buddha. it seems he must have ascended the throne after the death of his father Chandragupta I in AD 335. Charak was a great physician and he wrote a book Charak Samhita. His kingdom extended from the river Ganges to Allahabad. with graceful bodies and curly hair. Harishena's Inscription Samudragupta was the son of Chandragupta I and though the exact date of his birth is not known. Vasumitra. Gupta Dynasty After the Kushans. From Patliputra. Nagarjuna and Charaka. The information about his reign is on an inscription engraved on a pillar at Allahabad. An important act of Chandragupta I was the holding of an assembly of councillors and members of the royal family at which Prince Samudragupta was formally nominated as the successor of the Gupta empire. which is based on the Ayurvedic system of medicine. A new form of art Gandhara Art was developed. These images were carved in a realistic way. He ruled over Magadha (Bihar). This marriage was a turning point to Chandragupta I. He got Patliputra in dowry from the Lichhavis. He wrote Buddhacharita. He married Kumaradevi. The information about Guptas is known from the archaeological remains. the Guptas were the most important dynasty. They were mostly minor rulers in east Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Ashvaghosha was a great poet and a master of music. the daughter of the chief of the Lichhavis. Kanishka's court was adorned by many scholars like Ashvaghosha. Science and Literature Kanishka was a great patron of art and literature.Art. a chief called Sri Gupta ruled a small kingdom in Magadha. he laid the foundation of his empire and started conquering many neighbouring states with the help of the Lichhavis. He was then succeeded by his son Ghatokacha. inscriptions and coins. Chandragupta I also got the title of Maharajadhiraja (King of Kings) and ruled for about fifteen years. The text of this . Reign of Chandragupta I (AD 320-335) The first famous king of the Gupta dynasty was Ghatokacha's son Chandragupta I. Early in the beginning of the fourth century. Prayaga and Saketa (east Uttar Pradesh). Beautiful images of Buddha were developed in a Greek-Roman style.

Samudragupta subdued Palaghat. He is also compared to Alexander or Napoleon as a conqueror. The descendants of Kushanas. Samudragupta's Reign Samudragupta is considered as one of the greatest rulers in Indian history. Damana of Erandapalla. the court poet of Samudragupta. Samudragupta's territories extended from the Himalayas in the north to the river Narbada in the south and from the Brahamaputra river in the east to the Yamuna river in the west. Devaka. Samudragupta did not go beyond the river Krishna. Mahendragiri of Pithapuram. Nepal. Kartipura. the Arjunayanas.the Pallava king of Kanchi. . Maharashtra and Khandesh. Then there were other kingdoms like Assam. the Maduras and the Abhiras. Vishnugupta . Svamidatta of Kottura. He did not annex any part of the Deccan to his empire as he knew that it would be difficult to control those territories situated so far from Patliputra. He performed Ashwamedha Yajna (horse sacrifice) after defeating nine kings in the north and twelve kings in the south to underline the importance of his conquest of almost the whole of India. Mantaraja of Kurala. He defeated Mahendra of Khosla. Samudragupta's daring adventure was his military expedition to the south along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. He also assumed the title of Maharajadhiraja (King of Kings) and Chakravartin (Universal Monarch). He also waged wars against tribal states like those of Malvas. the Yaudheyas. Then he incorporated in the Gupta empire the kingdom of Kota kings by defeating him. Part of the inscription was lost in the course of time. the Ceylonese hastened to propitiate the great Gupta by offering homage and tribute or presents.inscription was recorded by Harishena. Samudragupta's Conquest Samudragupta was a great warrior. then ruled by Achyuta and Nagasena. It seems Samudragupta first waged wars against the neighbouring kingdoms of Shichchhatra (Rohilkhand) and Padmavati (in Central India). Harishena's inscription tells us about Samudragupta's various conquests and small kingdoms existing at that time. Towards the west. Samudragupta also left an extensive coinage which supports the information of the inscription. Kubera of Devarashtrain the Vizagapatam district and Dhananjaya of Kushthalapur possible in North Arcot. His passion of conquest was so great that he did not rest till he captured almost whole of India. many chieftains of Sakas.

.Samudragupta was not a only a great warrior but also a great patron of art and literature. Administrations and Coins The account of administration of Chandragupta's reign is known from the Chinese pilgrim Fa Hein who came to India during that period.a combination of words valour and sun. Gujarat and Saurashtra. He also captured Bactria and concluded marital alliances with the Nagas. Samudragupta was a staunch believer of Hinduism and was a worshiper of Lord Vishnu. He also respected other religions like Buddhism and also allowed the Buddhist king of Ceylon to build a monastery at Bodh-Gaya. Like his grandfather. Vasubandhu and Asanga. Vakatakas and Kadamba dynasties. Empire of Chandragupta II [AD 380-413] Chandragupta succeeded his father Samudragupta. a Saka king of West India. so he is also known as Chandragupta Vikramaditya. He got the title of Vikramaditya (son of power). He annexed all the three kingdoms of Satraps under Gupta empire and made Ujjain a second capital. The administration was very well organised with very light taxes. the most prominent ones being Harishena. he is shown playing the Veena. it is learnt that he waged successful wars against several chiefs of Vanga (Bengal). However Chandragupta II's greatest achievement was the victory over the Saka Satraps of Malwa. The empire was divided into many provinces which were ruled by independent governors. Chandragupta married the Lichhavi princess Kumaradevi. Rudrasena had helped him in his campaign against the Saka Satraps. and called himself Vikramaditya -. From the inscription of the Mehrauli Iron Pillar of Chandragupta II situated in Delhi. he killed the Sakas chieftains. the Venkata king of Central India. Chandragupta's Biggest Achievement Chandragupta marched against the Saka Satraps about AD 389. Land revenue was the main source of income of the state and was normally one-sixth of the produce of the land. Chandragupta II proved to be of the same military mettle of his father and brought large amounts of territory in Western India under the Gupta empire. In one of his coins. He killed Rudrasena III. The provinces were further divided into districts. He gave his daughter Prabhavati in marriage to Rudrasena II. Chandragupta's empire had both the Arabian Sea coast and that of the Bay of Bengal under its control. He gathered around himself a galaxy of poets and scholars. He himself was a great poet and musician. After six years of courageous fighting.

Like his father. Chandragupta II was succeeded by his son Kumargupta who was also a great ruler. Harsha Vardhana -. among others. the invasions of the Huns became more frequent. they had merely became petty chiefs. However. Kumaragupta was also a very great and able ruler. Skandagupta becomes the King Kumaragupta died in AD 455 and was succeeded by his son Skandagupta. The Gupta empire was threatened by the invasions of Pushyamitras. the Gupta empire began to decline. Kumaragupta was successful in defeating the invaders and performed Ashvamedha Yajna (horse sacrifice) to celebrate his victory. The Pushyamitras were a tribe of foreigners who were settled in Central India. Vainyagupta in AD 508 and Bhanugupta in AD 510-511. as well as images of himself killing a lion. Skandagupta died in AD 467. and in North Bengal till AD 543-544. Decline of the Gupta Empire Inscriptions prove that the Gupta sovereignty was acknowledged in the Jabbalpur region in the Nebudda valley as late as AD 528. Skandagupta repelled their early invasions and recovered most of the imperial provinces. He issued new coins with images of Lord Kartikeya. But the continuous attack of the Huns weakened the Gupta empire. intact. He was able to keep the vast empire. His coins featured Vishnu and his garuda. After his death. Experts say that Chandragupta II's coin are of a finer quality than had been seen thus far. Kumaragupta is known to have been ruling in AD 473-474. silver and copper coins to celebrate his reign.The emperor also issued a host of gold. which extended from North Bengal to Kathiawar and from the Himalayas to the Nerbudda. Reign of Kumaragupta [AD 415-455] Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya) was succeeded by his son Kumaragupta. However. The Gupta empire became to disintegrate and till the middle of the sixth century AD. Buddhagupta from AD 476-495. During his reign. He ruled efficiently for nearly forty years. the last days of his reign were not good.The Ruler of Vardhana Dynasty .

His capital Vatapi was completely destroyed. He is said to have performed Ashwamedha Yagna (horse sacrifice). He founded Vatapi (modern Badami in Bijapur district) and made it his capital. However the last days of the king were not happy. who had this terrific battle of supremacy going constantly. who ruled not from Magadha but Thanesar (in modern Haryana area) of the Vardhana dynasty. The kingdom was further extended by his sons Kirtivarman and Mangalesa by waging many successful wars against the neighbours including Mauryans of the Konkans. Huien Tsang. In 641. Pulakesan II (610-642AD) was the ablest of the Chalukyan kings and for a time managed to keep the Chalukyan flag flying above the others. the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang. he consolidated his authority in Maharashtra and conquered large parts of the Deccan from the banks of the Nerbudda to the reign beyond the Kaveri. Travancore and Tinnevelly). However. Pulakesin was defeated and killed by the Pallav king Narasimhavarman in 642. But strictly for a time being. The second Chinese traveller to come to India. End of Chalukya Dynasty . He was a Buddhist and convened many Buddhist assemblies. Reign of Pulakesin II Pulakesin II was the son of Kirtivarman. He ruled for almost 34 years. and the confusion which is generally associated with the absence of a strong central dynasty was rife. The Chalukyas gained Importance The Chalukyas rose to power in the Deccan from the fifth to eighth century and again from the tenth to twelfth century. They ruled over the area between the Vindhyan mountain and the river Krishna. visited the kingdom and said that the king was served by his nobles with perfect loyalty. arrived during his reign. lots of petty dynasties like the Maukharis and the Vakatakas had started springing up all over the place. There were the Pandyas (in regions of Mudurai. He was the the greatest ruler of the Chalukya dynasty.The final important ruler of Ancient Indian history was Harsha Vardhana (606-646AD). the Chalukyas (in present Maharashtra region) and Pallavas (in modern Tamil Nadu region). By all accounts Harsha was all the usual things that one associates with a good king. His greatest achievement was his victory in the defensive war against Harshvardhan in 620. In this long reign. The south presented a medley of dynasties around the time of Harsha Vardhana. The Chalukyas were sworn enemies of the Pallavas and rose to power in Karnataka. The first great ruler of the Chalukya dynasty was Pulakesin I.

In 753. He recovered the former glory of the Chalukyas to a great extent.Pulakestin was succeeded by his son Vikramaditya who was also as great a ruler as his father. He actually entered the Pallava capital. Vikramaditya and his son were overthrown by a chief named Dantidurga who laid the foundation of the next great empire of Karnataka and Maharashtra. that of Rashtrakutas. He renewed the struggle against his southern enemies. . Even his great grandson Vikramaditya II was also a great warrior.