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They cultivated land and grew fruits and corn.

Ancient India
History is a record of the achievements of man.

They also domesticated animals like the ox and

To begin with, these records consist almost

the goat.
They knew the art of producing fire by the

solely of the rude implements which the people

friction of bamboos or pieces of wood, and made

used in their daily lives.

(a)Palaeolithic Men Old Stone

pottery, at first by hand, and then with the potters

These are small pieces of rough undressed


stones, chipped into various forms, which were

They live in caves and decorated their walls by

originally fitted with handles made of sticks or

painting scenes of hunting and dancing. A few

bones. They served as weapons for hunting wild

of these can be seen today both in Northern and

animals, and could also be used as hammers or

Southern India.
They constructed boats and went out to sea. They

for purposes of cutting and boring.

could spin cotton and wool and weave cloth.

They lived in constant dread of wild animals like

tigers, lions, elephants and the rhinoceros. They

They used to bury their dead, and Neolithic

had no idea of agriculture, but lived on the flesh

tombs have been discovered in some parts of

of animals and such fruits and vegetables as grew


wild in jungles. They could not make pottery,

(c) Mesolithic

and probably did not even know how to make a

Scholars also distinguish a culture midway

between Palaeolithic and Neolithic, and call it


Mesolithic (from Greek meso = middle). Its

The Palaeolithic men belonged to the Negrito

race, like the modern people of the Andaman

two chief characteristics were, first, that the

Islands, and was characterized by short stature,

stone implements used were extremely small,

dark skin, woolly hair and flat noses.

only about an inch in length.

Secondly, that instead of quartzite they were

(b)Neolithic Men New Stone

made of chalcedony and other silicate varieties

The significance of this name lies in the fact that

in this age also men had to depend solely on

by a technical process differing from that

stone implements, and were ignorant of any

employed in the Palaeolithic Age.

The Age of Metals -Chalcolithic 1800 BC 1000

metals, except gold.


They used stones other than quartzite, and these

Neolithic men were the ancestors of the people

were not merely chipped, but in most cases

who ushered in the next stage of civilization

ground, grooved and polished.

which is distinguished by the knowledge and use

The civilization of the Neolithic men shows

of metals.

distinct traces of advance.







Culture extended from Chotanagpur plateau to

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nature urban civilization was already in

upper Gangetic basin


Other sites Brahmgiri (Near Mysore) Indus

Some of the most interesting and important


Harappan sotes are A,ro. Cjamji-daro (80 miles


south of Mohenjo-daro on the left plains of the

The earliest remains of a settled culture in the

Indus), kot Diji (25 miles east of Mohenjo-daro),

Indian subcontinent are of little agricultural

Kalibangan (Rajasthan) and Lothal (Gujarat).

villages in central and southern Baluchistan and

But the civilization of the Indus valley is still best

Sind (both areas now in Pakistan. The oldest of

known by the two sites, Mohenjo-daro (City of the

these goes back to about 3500 BC.

Dead) and Harappa on account of their size and of

Around the beginning of the third millennium

the diversity of finds that have come to light. Both

BC, a culture complex named after the type-site

these places are now in Pakistan.

of Amri (100 miles south of Mohenjo-daro and

General Layout

a mile away from the right bank of the Indus) to

To the west of each was a citadel, fortified by

the south-east of Baluchistan appeared.

crencilated walls.

It developed into a distinctive settlement, and

On this were erected the public buildings. The

after a series of evolving stages gave way to what

enclosed citadel area may have been used for

is known as the Indus valley or the Harappan

religious and governmental purposes.

civilization named after Harappa in the

Below the citadel mound, there was the town

Montgomery district (western Punjab), athough

proper extending, at both the sites, no less than

Mohenjo-daro situated in the Larkana district

a square mile.

(Sind) was no less an important centre.

The main street, some as much as 30 feet wide,

Origin of Harappan Civilization

were laid out on a grid plan.

1.It was a colonial offshoot of the Mesopotamia

The streets and buildings were provided with

civilization which was brought to the Indus

drains made of burnt bricks at Mohenjo-daro and

region by the Sumerians, the early inhabitants

Harappa as well as at several other Indus sites.

of south Mesopotamia.

The houses were equipped with rubbish-bins and

2.From the excavations of number of sites in

bathrooms, and occasionally with a privy on the

Baluchistan, Sind and the Punjab, it is clear that

ground or the upper floor. The bathrooms were

the emergence of civilized life in the Indus valley

connected by drains with sewers under the main

were indigenous in origin.


3.It is not unlikely that the situmulus for urban

The drainage system is one of the most

development in the Indus region came from

impressive achievements of the Harappa and

outside most likely from Mesopotamia where






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presupposes the existence of some kind of


Other than Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, several

municipal organization.

sites have been excavated: Kalibangan, Chanhu-

Some buildings are conspicuous by their absence

daro, Lothal, Sutkagen-daro, Sotka Koh, and

in the Harappan sites, and burnt brick of good


quality seems to have been the only building



The recovery of about 2500 Harappan

The houses of varying sizes, often of two or more

inscriptions engraved on seals proves that the

storeys, consisted of rooms constructed round a

Indus people had a script. Several bold attempts

rectangular courtyard.

have been made to decipher it. According to some

The structural remains indicate that the big

scholars the language belonged to the Indo-

houses were meant for the rich. The parallel rows

European or Indo-Iranian family, while

of two room cottages unearthed at Mohenjo-daro

according to others it belonged to the Dravidian

and Harappa were perhaps used by the poorer


sections of society and anticipates the coolie


lines of modern Indian towns. From this may be

Wheat and barley were the main food-crops. Two

inferred class differences in Harappan society.

varieties of wheat, the club wheat and the Indian

Of the few large buildings so far discovered, the

dwarf wheat were known.

Great Bath in the citadel at Mohenjo-daro is the

Barley of a small-seeded six-rowed variety has

most striking. This was a rectangular tank 39 23

been found both at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro.

and 8 deep, constructed of brick; the tank well

Dates and field peas were also grown and formed

was jacketed with bitumen. At the north and

items of Harappan diet.

south ends of the Great Bath brick steps led to

Sesamom and mustard were used for oil.

the bottom of the tank, which could be emptied

At Lothal and Rangpur (near Ahmedabad), rice

by a drain. The Great Bath was meant for some

husks and spikelets embedded in clay and pottery

elaborate ritual of vital importance of the people.

have been discovered.

Wet of the Great Bath, there lay a large granary,

The Harappan cultural zone fell in the low

originally 150 feet from east to west and 75 feed

rainfall area, and it is likely that irrigation was

wide. Also at Harappa, a remarkable group of

necessary for cultivation. But there is no

granaries, each 50 20 feet, has been found ranged

evidence to show that the Harappans practiced

in two rows of six, with a central passage 23

canal irrigation, which was known in as

feet wide. In an age when money was not in use,

Mesopotamia. A likely conjecture is that fields

the granaries must have reflected the solvency

were irrigated by irregular floods.

of the administrative organization.




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Food Habits


A large variety of copper tools such as flat axes,

Harappan Region

(Style Food)

chisels, knives, spear and arrow heads, small

1. Sind

Wheat and Barley

saws, etc. has been found.

2. Punjab

Wheat and Barley

3. Rajasthan

Barley only

4. Gujarat

Rice and Millet

Various techniques of working in copper were

known, namely hammering, lapping, casting, etc.
Brick kilns, associated with copper working,

(Rangpur, Lothal and Surkotada)

have been discovered at various places.

Sesame seeds, Mustard, and Ghee were their

The authors of Harappan culture possessed the

sources of fat and oil; Seeds of Jujube and dates,

knowledge of gold. Beads, pendants, armlets,

discovered in the Harappan sites indicate that

brooches, needles and other personal ornaments

Harappans were consuming these fruits; bones of

of gold seem to have been reasonably common

deer, sheep goat and bear confirm that they ate all

though by no means prolific.

these animals; fish, milk and curd, too, were

Silver seems to have been first used by the Indus

available to them and they might have been aware

people: it was relatively more common than gold.

of bananas, pomegranates, melons, lemons, figs

Arts and Crafts

and mangoes.

Among them seal-cutting occupied a place of

Stock breeding

importance. The Harappan seal-intaglios form a

Three-quarters of the Harappan terracotta

class by themselves and seem to have been linked

represent cattle; the cow was not represented.

with trading activities.

Besides sheep and goats, dogs, humped cattle,

Bead-makers craft Beads were made of gold,

buffalo and elephant were certainly

silver, copper, faience, steatite, semiprecious


stones, shells and pottery they have been found

The camel was still rare.

in abundance.

A number of wild animals was hunted perhaps

Indus stone sculptures are recorded.

for food.

Terracottas have been found in great numbers

Several varieties of deer for example, seem to

indicating their universal popularity either as toys

have been the game of the Harappans.

or cult objects.

From Amri, a single example of the Indian

The potters craft was fairly well developed.

rhinoceros has survived.

Most of the Harappan pottery was wheel-turned.

Bronze Age

Commodity Production

Copper was in plentiful supply during the mature

Gold may have imported from south India,

phase of Harappan civilization.

especially Mysore, where it was in good supply

in antiquity and is still mined.






Silver was imported probably from Afghanistan

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On one of these seals, he is shown as surrounded

and Iran.

by four wild animals, an elephant, a tiger, a

Copper may have been brought from south India

rhinoceros and a buffalo and beneath his stool

ad from Baluchistan and Arabia.

are to deer.

Lapis lazuli is rare in Harappan archaeological


material and came from Badakshan (in north-

The total time span of the Harappan civilization

east Afghanistan); Turquoise from Iran; amethyst

is now fixed between 2300 BC and 1750 BC.

from Maharashtra; agate, chalcedonies and

Mohen-jo-Daro and Harappa were the main

carnelian from Saurashtra and Western India.

centres of this civilization. Mohen-Jo-Daro is

Alabaster may have been brought from a number

situated in the Larkana District of Sind. Mohen-

of places both the east and the west.

jo-Daro literally means the Mound of the Dead.

Jade came from central Asia.

Mohen-jo-Daro is struck by the remarkable skill

Harappan Trade Link

in town-planning. Streets run straight, sometimes

Trade links extended to the cities of

as far as half a mile and they intersect at right

Mesopotamia where two dozen Harappan seals

angles. Nowhere was a building allowed to

have been found.

encroach on a public highway. Secondly, one is

From the Indus region, only three cylinder seals

struck by the remarkable skill of the people of

and a few metal objects of Mesopotamian origin

Mohen-jo-Daro in sanitation. The city had an

have been found.

elaborate drainage system consisting of street and

The archaeological evidence of trade with west

house drains and soak-pits. The great public Bath

Asia is thus scant.

is a significant part of infrastructure.

Mesopotamian literature speaks of merchants of

Harappa lies on the bank of the river Ravi It

Ur (in Mesopotamia) as cayying on trade with

was the capital of the northern region Wells at

foreign countries.

Harappa are rare as compared to Mohen-jo-Daro.

Among these, the most frequently mentioned are

The most remarkable building at Harappa is the

Tilmun or Dilmun, Magan and Meluhha.

Great Granary if Mohen-jo-Daro can boast of the


Great public bath Grid planning row of six

Numerous nude female figurines in terracotta

granaries evidences of coffin burial, evidence of

are believed to represent a Mother Goddess

fractional burial are significant..

connected with fertility.

Kalibangan Situated on the left bank of the now

The most striking divinity was the horned god

depicted on the seals, nude but for many bangles,

drived river Ghaggar in district in Rajasthan

necklaces and a peculiar head-dress consisting

ploughed field with grid of furrows, city

of a pair of horns.

(rectangular in shape) a citadel with fire altars,







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Lothal Indus rivers site with an artificial brick

mainly upon the meaning of the frame of

dockyard , evidence of paddy cultivation( rice

references, historians have tended to convey. To

husk has been discovered) evidence of joint

be more simple, Aryans appeared on Indian scene

burial of a male and a female, found terra- cotta

as seminomadic people with mixed pastoral and

( model of a horse)

agricultural economy in which pastoralism

dominated the sedentary life, at least in the Rg Vedic

Chanhudaro Discovered of a small pot which

phase. Predomination of cattle-rearing over

was probably an ink-pot.

agriculture was the most basic factor for the social

Banawali is an important major settlement,

organization and economic activities in Rg Vedic

surrounded by massive brick defenses. One of


the most surprising discoveries, far outside the

Harappan Material Culture Vs Rg Vedic

central area of the Indus Civilization

I. The respective material culture of Harappan and

Two important Harappan Sites in Deccan

Vedic culture provides a striking contrast not

(a) At Daimabad, about 50 miles away from

only in the realm of the metals used by them but

Bombay, archeologists have excavated a site which

also in almost complete absence of to3wns in

produced from a level carbon-dated about 1200

the Rg Vedic period. Indra appeared only as

BC, a heavy bronze image of an ithyphallic male

destroyer of puras (towns) not as their builder. In

figure driving an ox-chariot, together with fine

this sense Rg Vedic economy marked a complete

bronze figures of a bull, an elephant, and a rhino.

break with the Harappan economy.

Stylistically, these images show clear influences

II. The most striking thing about Rg Vedic

of the Indus Valley Civilization. The people of

economy is the absence of iron. Although the term

Daimabad decorated with pottery with friezes of

ayas is used in the Rg Veda but only in the sense of

canines, either of wolves or of dogs.

copper or bronze and even these primate metals

(b) At Piklihal, about 300 miles (400 kilometers)

were used only in poor quantity.

away from Bombay in the same time-period

III. Again, so far no cereals have been discovered

comes the evidence of a community of cattle

at Rg Vedic sites, although the existence of many

herdsmen who kept their huge herds in large

potteries in varying shapes and size (and also of

communal pens and who decorated the rocks in

some pestles and querns) would suggest that Rg

the vicinity of the settlement with innumerable

Vedic people were using agricultural commodities.

paintings and scratching of cattle.

Rg Vedic Aryans are known to have familiarity

with yaya, which may be taken either as a generic

Rg Vedic Society and Economy: Pastoral Phase

name for various kinds of grain or for only

Vedic society has often been described as tribal,

barley, its literal meaning.

pastoral, nomadic or semi-pastoral, depending





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IV. Although the root ar, from which the term arya


** Gods in the Rg Vedic text were divided into

has been derived, means to cultivate, the Family

four categories: (i) Divya (heavenly); (ii)

Books (Book II to Book VII) do not present

Parthiva (earthly); (iii) Gojala (cow born)and

agriculture as a dominant economic activity at this

(iv) Apya (watery).

stage and Rg Vedic people seem to be

Note: Guests in this period were known as

predominantly pastoral. As opposed to the wild

Goghana as cattle were slaughtered to feed them

animals (mriga), they domesticated pashu, mainly

VI. In comparison of very substantial linguistic

cattle which were evidently valued for non-

evidence for cattle-rearing in the Rg Veda,

vegetarian food (beef) and dairy products, although

agricultural activities find very few references.

the term also indicates horses and sometimes

Apart from yava (barley), no other grains are

human beings.

mentioned. The term krishi occurs only rarely in

V. Hymns of Rg-Veda yield extensive evidence of

the Family Books. The word Krishi occurs 33 times

the importance of cattle in the Rg Vedic society.

in them but only in the sense of people. The well

Many linguistic expressions in the Rg Veda are

known term hala does not appear, but two other

associated with cow, and cow (gau) in different

terms for plough, langala and Sira occur in the

declensions occurs 176 times in the Family Books.

earliest books; the varatra or a leather strap of

Cattle were considered synonymous with

plough is also mentioned. We hear of phala or

wealth (rayi) in the Rg Vedic phase.

ploughshare and furrows (Sita and Sunu) in Book

IV. In a later portion of Rg Vedia, Pushan is

Terms starting from gau


described as marking furrows. The limited

1. Gomat

Wealthy men

references of agricultural activities signifies the

2.Gavisti, Goshu, Gauyat,

Terms used for

fact that cattle rearing predominates over


agricultural activities.

Measure of

Terms related to
agricultural activities
1. Krishti
2. Hala, Langala, Sira
3. Phala
4. Varatra

Gauyu, Gaveshna

4.Gopa, Gopati

Tribal King




Cow-born gods

7.Gauri Gauala



Measure of time



5. Sita, Sunu
6. Khanitra
7. Datra/Srini
8. Parasu/Kulisha/Tejas/
Swadhiti, Vrikna

* Though not derived from gau but nonetheless

related to it.

9. Vasi

Leather strap of






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VII. The pastoral life of the Rg Vedic people is

across Krinati (buying) but none for purchasing.

also indicated by the use of the term Vraja; Vraja

However, the term vikrita is found in the Rg

means cow-pen, and Vraja is obviously an


extension from it. It is mentioned 45 times in the

The Rigveda is an important source of history

Rg Veda in its different forms.

about the Rigvedic period. Except the rigveda,

Pana in the Rg Veda

all other texts of the vedic literature are important

Pana, which later came to mean coin, and dhana,

sources of the history of the Later Vedic Period.

appear in the earliest portion of the Rg Veda as

The Vedic literature can be classified under the

prizes, wages, or stakes won as a result of either

following heads :-

war or competition.

I The Vedas : The Vedas are the earliest of the

VIII. In Rg Vedic phase, movable property was

Aryan books. Most of the Indians regard them as

synonymous with cows and was far more important

the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the

than immovable property, i.e. land. Even in the


later Books of the Rg Veda, we have no evidence

a. The Rigveda : It is the oldest Veda and the

of the sale, transfer, mortgage or gift of land or its

historians, like Dr. Mookerji, places its period

disposal by an individual in any way. Rayi

of composition as early as 2,500 B.C. It has about

became synonymous with cattle wealth and prayers

1028 mantras or hymns written in praise of

were offered for acquisition of rayi which

various gods and goddesses representing the

included horses, sons, sheeps, chariots, plants and

various aspects of Nature.

possibly food-grains. Gold (hiranya at swarna)

and Copper (ayas) are mentioned in the Rg Veda,

b.The Samaveda : Its hymns are meant for priests

but they do not fall under rayi. However hiranya

who used to Sing them while performing Yajnas.

or desire for gold is expressed in the Rg Veda.

c. The Yajurveda : It contains chiefly hymns that

IX. The whole social fabric was possibly based

describe the rituals to be observed while

on some kind of gift economy. The term bali occurs

performing Yajnas or sacrifices.

several times in the sense of offering or tribute. It

d.Atharvaveda : It has hymns dealing with charms

seems that tribal kinsmen gave voluntary presents

and spells for subduing evil spirits and to control

to the tribal chief who, in turn, led them from


victory to victory and allotted them a

shrare, amsha or bhaga in the spoils of war.

II.The Brahmanas : The Brahmanas are treatises

Distribution seems to have been an important

on the Vedas. They are in prose and explain the

function of vidatha.

hymns of the Vedas to the common people who

The term rina occurs in the early portion of the

could not otherwise understand them. They deal

Rig Veda; but it has no term for interest. We come

with rituals connected with sacrifice.






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Aitereya and Kaushitaki Brahmana, Samaveda :

and not by varna system; even the tribal chief

Tandya and Jaiminiya Brahmana, Yajurveda :

(king), warriors, purohitas and artisans were only

Tattiriya and Satpatha Brahmana, Atharvaveda :

the parts of the clan networks. We hear of a family

opatha BrahmanaUpvedas were appended to these

in which a member says: I am a poet, my father is

four Samhitas.

a physician, and my mother is a grinder. Earning

The Ayurveda to Rig Veda, Gandharva Veda to

livelihood from different means, we live

the Samaveda Dhaturveda to the Yajur Veda and


Shilpa Veda was appended to the Atharvaveda

(ii) Varna, in this period, was a term used for colour

and it seems that the Aryans were fair and the

III.The Aranyakas : The Aranyakas are the

indigenous inhabitants dark in complexion. Colour

concluding parts of the Brahmanas. They were

might have provided some sort of social distinction

specially written for the hermits living in the

but not to the extent the western scholarship has

forests. They deal with mysticism and philosophy

tried to project. The factor which contributed most

rather than elaborate rituals and sacrifices.

in the social differentiation was the conquest of

IV. The Upanishads : The Upanishads deal with

indigenous inhabitants by Aryans who were treated

philosophical questions such as the true nature of

as dasas or dasyus. They were treated as slaves

God and the soul and the exact relation between

and sudras.

the two. They explain in detail the doctrines of

(iii) Gradually, the tribal society was divided into

Karma, Moksha and Maya. They are opposed to

three classes: the warriors, the priests and the

ritualism and sacrifices. According to the

common people. Evidences of the assimilation of

Upanishads, the knowledge of the self and the

non-Aryans into the Aryans fold are available.

practice of virture are the means of salvation.

Vasistha, Agastya, Kanva, Angeras etc. nonaryans priests were assimilated and even some

V. The Puranas : They are the old books of the

conquered chiefs were given higher status in Aryan

Aryans.They are 18 in number and each has five

social structure. Dasa cfhiefs such as Balbhuta

sections.The Bhagwat Purana and the Vishnu

and Turuksha are said to have made generous gifts

Purana are the most important. Though they are

to purohitas and they they earned praise and status

not historical in the strict sense of the term yet

in Aryan society.

they contain the history of various dynasties of

Important terms

kings. They help us to reconstructs the early history

Its meaning

1. Jana


2. Vis

Smaller unit

Social Formation in the Rg Vedic phase

3. Grama


(i) Rg Vedic society has a pastoral society where

4. Kula


social relations were determined by kinship ties

5. Kulapa

Head of the Family

of the Aryans in India.





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(iv) We have evidences of slaves who were given

Satapatha Brahmana states how Videgha

as gifts to the priests. But they were mainly female

Madhav went on burning the forests till he reached

slaves employed for domestic purposes. In any

Sadanira in North Bihar, an event which probably

case, slaves were not used directly in agricultural

took place towards the end of the Rg Vedic phase.

and other productive activities in Rg Vedic society.


(v) Society was patriarchal, and therefore, birth

PGW culture coincided with the area represented

of son was a common desire. The people seem to

in the later Vedic texts. Although, PGW sites have

have been most keen on having brave sons (Suvira)

been noticed in eastern U.P. and even in Bihar, its

which could win the battles. Women, nevertheless,

epicenter seems to be Upper Ganga and Sutlej

enjoyed a respectable position in this patriarchal

basin. So far about 700 PGW sites have been

society. They were educated and had access to the

located in this region; all of them are undoubtedly

assemblies. We have instances where they

representatives of an agrarian economy,

composed hymns. They had Right to choose their

(i) We should always remember in this context that

partners and they married mostly after puberty. She

there is nothing like an exclusive PGW culture zone

could take part in sacrifice with her husband. A

as other wares such as black-and-red ware, black-

childless widow could cohabit with her brother-

slipped ware, red ware and plain grey ware are

in-law until the birth of a son, a practice known as

always associated with them. And also, PGW


shreds are not numerically predominant at any

(vi) Various occupational groups such as those of

place. In other words, the PGW layer represents a

weavers, smiths, carpenters, leather works, chariot-

composite culture.

makes etc. are also mentioned in Rg Veda. The

(ii) Red ware pottery was the most popular in later

Chariot-makers occupied a special social status.

Vedic phase and has been found almost everywhere

There are no references to beggards, wage-earners

in western U.P.

or wages in Rg Veda. The Rg Vedic term for potter,

(iii) PGW culture covers the time period from 1000

Kulala has no parallel in other indo-European

B.C to 500 B.C. Keith placed Brahmanas between


800 and 600 B.C. which may be extended to 500

B.C. (Louis Renou).


Excavated sites

C-14 dating

Later Vedic Economy and Society

1. Atranjikhera

940 B.C.

During the later Vedic phase, Aryans extended their

2. Jodhapura

800 B.C.

area of activity to the region from Yamuna to the

3. Noh

725 B.C.

western borders of Bengal. To be more simple, they

4. Jodhpura

720 B.C.

occupied Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Western

(iv)The PGW mud-brick walls have been found at

Bihar and adjoining area of Rajasthan. The

Hastinapur. Seven brick names are mentioned in






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Taittiriya Samhita; nine in Kathak Samhita; and

(iv) Agni and iron played an important role in the

11 in Maitrayani Samhita; the building of

clearing of forests and we have description of

Uttravedi involves five layers of bricks, making

burning of the Khandavavana in the Mahabharata

10,800 bricks in all. Even after that, later Vedic

to build the city of Indraprastha.

phase did not yield fire-baked bricks; though

(v) Iron tipped weapons and horse chariots helped

Bhagwanpura along with few other places,

military activities which have been extensively

presents exception to the rule from where burnt

documented in Mahabharta.

bricks have been reported.

(vi) But iron technology had practically no role in

(v) A potters kiln of the PGW level has been

subsistence related activities in this stage of social

discovered in Atranjikhera (which is known as

Iron in Vedic Texts

apaka in the Vedic texts) but no term for brick-

(a) The term Shyama occurs in the Vajasaneyi

kiln is found in vedic sources.

(vi) In total, picture of PGW settlement does not

Samhita, the youngest of the Yajus collection

present an idea of urbanized settlement as Wheeler

(800 B.C.)
(b) The term Shyamena occurs in Atharva Veda

believe, but, at best, of a proto-urbanized

(1800 B.C.).

settlement. The term nagara occurs in an

(c) The term Shyam ayas is also found in the

Aranayaka and nagarin in two Brahmanas but

Atharva Veda (800 B.C.).

they are the texts of not earlier than 600 B.C.

(d) The term Krishna-ayas occur in Jamini

Technology in the Later Vedic Phase

Upanisad Brahmana around 600 B.C.

(i) Technologically, the later Vedic part of PGW

period is distinguished by the use of iron; the Rg

Economy in Later Vedic Phase

Vedic part of PGW did not have iron as is evident

(i) Pastoralism no longer remained the main

from the excavations of Bhagwanpura in Haryana

subsistence activity; mixed farming, which

and few other sites in Punjab.

included cultivation and herding, became the

(ii) Archeological sites in the Indo-Gangetic divide

occupational norm of this period. Later Vedic texts

and upper Gangetic plain reveal PGW in

reflect continued importance of pastoralism.

association with iron artifacts such as spearheads,

(ii) Animal ritualistic decorational remains from

arrow heads, hooks, etc. Two furnaces for iron

Atranjihera include bones of cattle and other

smelting have been discovered in Suneri village

animals bearing cut-marks and it proves that they

in Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan.

were used for food. Sacrificial altars have not been

(iii) One ploughshare has been reported from

discovered so far, although such a claim is made

Jakhera which probably belongs to the end of this



Purusaamedha. Although remains of horse have





been found at Hastinapur, it is not clear whether






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this animal was used for food. So far the remains

(vi) While rice was a commodity used in rituals,

of horse have not been found from any other

same cannot be claimed about wheat. Various kinds

PGW sites. Horse-goods belonging to 900 B.C.

of lentil were also produced in this age.

have been reported from Gandhara grave.

(vii) According to ancient legend, Janaka, the king

(iii) Although Atharva Veda contains innumerable

of Videha and father of Sita, lent his hand to

prayers for increase of cattle, agriculture became

plough and Balarama, the brother of Krishna, is

more important economic activity. The later Vedic

said to be the wielder of plough (Haladhara). These

texts speak of four, six, eight, twelve and even

instances show increasing significance of

twenty-four oxen being yoked to plough.


Satapatha Brahmana devotes one whole

(viii) They were advanced in the knowledge of

Brahmana to the ploughing rites. Besides barley,

metals. In addition to gold and ayas found in

rice, wheat, bean-pulse, sesamum, millet and

Rigveda, there is mention of tin, lead, silver and

sugarcane were the important crops. Sugarcane


mentioned in Atharva Veda might have been

References to corporation (ganas) and aldermen

valued as wild produce.

(Sresthins) indicate the organization of merchants

Later Vedic Crops

into guilds.

Term used ion Vedic texts

1 Barley


2. Rice

Vrihi, Tandula,. Sali,Shasatika

3. Wheat


4. Bean-pulse


5. Sesamum


6. Millet


Nisk, Satamans and Krisnala were used as

convenient units of value.
Ancient name

(iv) Rice became staple diet of the people as

archeological and literary sources documented.
The twelve sacrifices prescribed in Artharva Veda
for material benefits recommend the gifts of cows,
calves, oxen, gold, cooked rice, thatched houses,
and well cultivated field.
Note: A Multiple hearth with baked brick walls
has been discovered from the Mauryan level in
Purana Qila which can retain four pots at a time.
(v) Remains of rice, ascribable to about 800 B.C.
have been discovered at Hastinapur but it seems
to be of an untransplanted variety.

Metal/Stone Machine






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(a) The Atharva Veda gives an instance of a ritual

(a) Atharva Veda in all twelve sacrifices (sava),

where water from leading rivers was channelised

mentioned peasants as important participants and

to canals; it also speaks of spells to avoid drought

these sacrifices meant mostly for acquiring material

and excess of rains.

benefits and some for obtaining heaven.

(b) The importance of horse and chariot is attested

(b) Cow, horses, property (dhana or gold) and

by Rg Veda and subsequent Vedic texts which

sometimes wives (Atharva Veda) were placed as

prescribe a place for the horse in the asvamedha,

stakes in game of dice.

rajasuya, manavrata, vajapeya ceremonies.

(xi) Land was still not an item of property and the

(c) The importance of cereals (anna) has been

practice of making land gifts to the peasants did

emphasized in the Chhandogya Upanisad where

not prevail on any scale. (In the later Vedic period,

we have been told how the rains contributed to

land could theoretically be granted by king or

the origin of anna and the sun to its ripening.

tribal chief only with the consent of vis of clan.)

(d) The largest deposit of iron weapons discovered

(a) Several texts belonging to this age ban the grant

so far belongs to Atranjikhera, meaning that

of land and human beings as sacrificial fees.

Panchala people enjoyed military edge over other

(b) The idea of land tax found in Panini and the

people. It also signifies that Kuru-Panchala kings

Jatakas, is alien to the Vedic texts.

were militarily superior to the Rg-Vedic kings.

Weaponry in Later Vedic Age

(ix) The PGW/later Vedic people seem to have

1.Most iron artifacts from the PGW levels

practiced field agriculture, but iron did not play

comprise arrow heads and spear heads

any significant role in agricultural production; the

supplemented by nails.

PGW-Iron phase was, therefore, primarily an age

2.Asi is the Vedic reference of an iron knife used

of iron weapons and not of iron tools.

for cutting pieces of animal flesh.

In other words, later Vedic Aryans were no longer

3.Although we have no reference to iron arrow-

nomads, they enjoyed a settled life in their wattle-

heads, bow was the main weapon of Vedic

and-doab houses with agriculture as primary


productive activity and cattle as the most important

4.Asi also signified an iron shield.

form of movable property. Transition from pastoral

5.Lance/spear was the second important Vedic

to agricultural economy led to the differentiation


of economic functions, though this did not bring

(xii) Later Vedic period saw the rise of diverse arts

any fundamental change in economy.

and crafts. Copper objects have been found from

(x) Settled and sedentary life of the later Vedic

PGW sites. Leather work, pottery and carpentry

period led to the beginning of property in land and

work made great progress. Glass hoards and

houses; these were in addition to the Rg Vedic

bangles found in the PGW layer may have been

notion of property in women slaves, animals,

used as prestige objects used by very few persons.

weapons and ornaments.







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Jewel workers are also mentioned in the later Vedic

this four-fold varna division should not be


confused as actual mechanism of caste at this

(xiii) Though later Vedic texts were familiar with

stage as the first three varnas/castes were only a

the term nagara, we can trace only the faint

theoretical division into which they systematically

beginning of towns towards the end of this phase.

arranged various professions. Combinations

The later Vedic towns such as Hastinapur and

permutations within this system was inevitable in

Kaushambi can at best be defined as proto-urban

this stage resulting in inter-mixing.


(i) The four-fold division was given religious


sanction in later Vedic society resulting in the

The rise growth of occupational divisions due to

decline of vis (clan) and ascendancy of the

sedentary life of later Vedic period as a result of

Ksatriyas and Brahminis as in evident from Purusa

the emergence of agrarian economy (though not

Sukta of Rg Veda (from the latest tenth mandala)

very developed or complex) resulted into the

where origin of varnas has been traced from the

beginning of social differentiation. Society in the

body of universal creator, Prajapati.

later Vedic phase tended to become more complex.

(ii) The symbolism which is hidden in Purusa

We no longerhear the references such as a a bard

Sukta is that in social life Brahmins were

am I, my father is a leech and my mother grinds

considered the highest varna because society could

corn. Later Vedic society transcended the limit

communicate with gods only with the help of

of Rg Vedic social division between Aryans and

Brahmins. Sudras, on the other hand, held the

non-Aryans and the varna which previously meant

lowest position in social hierarchy. The hierarchical

only colour now acquired the meansing of caste

order of later Vedic society was as:

(jati), though not in strict sense. In other words,

Brahmanas > Ksatriyas > Vaisyas > Sudras

the transition from pastoralism to settled life, the

(iii) Again, it should be remembered that the above

Ancient Indian society experienced the process of

mentioned four social statuses are only

social differentiation and class division.

occupational and ritualist, and therefore,

Varna and Caste in Later Vedic Period

cannot be regarded as four separate social classes

In later Vedic phase, Aryans became dwija or twice

in the sense that some of them owned land, cattle

born castes (the first being physical birth and the

and pastures and implements and others were

second the initiation into caste status after thread

deprived of these privileges.

ceremony) consisting of the Ksatriyas (warriors

(iv) However, we have clear indication of such

and aristocracy; in Rg Veda they were called

beginning. Supported by the Brahmins, the

Rajanya), the Brahmins (priests) and the vaisyas

Rajanyas claimed the grain taxes from Vaisyas but

(cultivators); the forth caste, Sudras were the

there was still no mechanism for the assessment

Dasas and those of mixed Aryan-Dasa origin. But

and its collection. By evolving adequate rituals,







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Brahmins tended to perpetuate this social

Echoes of conflict over the question of extraction

inequality, resulting in a fitting belief Nobility

of surplus can be found in the later Vedic texts.

is the feeder and the people are the food; When

1.The conflict between Sudas and his priest

there is abundant food for feeder, that realm is

Vaisisthas can be shows as an example.

indeed prosperous and thrives (Satapatha

2.Another example is that of Srinjay Vaitanavyas


and Bhrigus.

(v) The explanatory part of the later Vedic rituals,

3.We have still other examples of such conflict as

especially towards the end of this phase, states that

between Visvantara Saushadmana and

the Brahmins and Rajanyas should cooperate to

Syaparnas or between Janamejaya and

rule over the Vaisyas or peasantry. All the available


evidences makes it clear that only the peasants

(vii) The family tended to become more and

were meant for paying taxes (taxes were

more patriarchal; the birth of a son was more

necessarily not regular), and therefore, kind was

welcome than that of a daughter. Princes could

called Vismatta, the devourer of peasants.

take several wives, though polyandry also existed

That Brahmins were conciliated in this process of

side by side. Women became the commodity of

exploitation from Vaisyas is evident from the term

gift and were presented to the priests by the

of payment as gift to the priests by Rajanya. Atraya


Brahmana of about 6th century BC, on the

Womanhood and Sati L.V.S.

occasion of Rajasuya ceremony, Anga is said to

The position of women, on the whole, was better

have given to his priest Udamaya Atreya 10,000

than post-Maurya and post-Gupta phase, but it is

rich maidservants wearing gold necklaces, millions

curious to note that, unlike the Greeks, the Indo-

of cows and 88,000 white horses. Thus, through

Aryans did not attribute much power to their

the rituals the authority of Brahmins and rajanyas

goddesses. Parallel to this, dowry and bride-price

was strengthened over vaisyas.

were recognized in an Aryan family where a widow

(vi) The Sudras, at this stage, were only a small

was to perform a symbolic self-immolation at

serving class who could be oppressed and beaten

the death of her husband. It is not clear whether

at will by the king but they still were not serfs as

such rites were restricted to the aristocracy alone.

Keith has tried to project.

Sati was merely symbolic during the Vedic period

Brahmins Vs. Rajanyas

seems to be obvious from the fact that later Vedic

There happened to a conflict between Brahmins

literatures refer to the remarriage of widows,

and rajanyas over the extraction of surplus from

generally to the husbands brother.

vaisyas. The vaishyas were considered fit to be

The period c.600 to 322 B.C. constituted an

eaten not only by rajanya but also by Brahmins.

important phase in Ancient Indian history not only

because it experienced the widespread use of iron15






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technology, extensive cultivation of rice, sugar and

by the absence of burnt brick structures and ring

cotton and the production of relatively huge

vests and comparatively lesser use of NBP shreds,

surplus in agrarian economy but also because it

coins, terra cottas and iron-tools, glass and

witnessed the rise and growth of cities, further

sometimes ivory objects are also found in this

diversification of crafts and their organization into


guilds and most importantly brisk inland and

Iron-ploughshare in Archeology

foreign trade. In other words, in this phase of

1.At ropar of Ganga-Sutlej basin, an ironploughshare has been discovered.

historical development, there emerged an urban

2.Another ploughshare belonging to the PGW

economy with a strong and powerful base in

agrarian sector.

phase of period aroud 500 BC has been

Literary texts belonging to c.500-300 B.C.

reported from Jakhera in Itah district of U.P.

3.An iron-share of mid NBP phase has been found

1. Jatakas
2. All Nikayas except Khuddaka Nikaya

at Kaushambi from where two socketed


Suttanipata except Atthakavagga and

iron-axes of early NBP phase have also been


4.It has also been reported in association with the

4. Prose portion of Digha Nikaya.

NBP phase at Raghuasoi in Vaishali



1.Three Suttas from Suttanipata and several others

from Digha, Nikaya and Vinaya Pilaka are

(ii) We have, for the first time, references of iron

quoted in Bhabru Edict. Also the prose portion

in other context that war and weapon.

of Brahmanas.

(iii) The difficulty, however, emerges due to fact

that the literary references of iron tools are not

2.Pali texts mainly describe the state of arrairs in

matched by archeological discoveries.

eastern U.P. and Bihar.

Material Culture/Technology

(iv) The spread of plough-cultivation is indicated

(i) It is significant that the 6th century B.C.

by the term nangala in Pali texts; Suttanipata

experienced the emergence of North Black

mentions a village known as Icchanangal. For this,

Polished Ware (NBPW) which can be roughly

panini uses the term hala and provides us the

divided into two phases:

detailed knowledge of agricultural operations. In

(a) First Phase: c.600 t0 300 B.C.

Grihyasutra, various types of sacrifices for

(b) Second Phase: c. 300 to 100 B.C.

promoting agriculture and animal husbandry have

While the Second Phase is characterized by a

been mentioned.

relatively profused use of NBPW, coins, terra cotta

figures, iron tools, burnt brick structures,
occasional tiles, and ring wells; the first is marked






Important terms

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(b) Iron tools helped in the extension of agriculture


1. Ropana/Ropeti

Plant sapling of paddy

and cereals like rice, barley, wheat and millets were

2. Vrihi

Paddy cultivated in rainy

produced over the wide space of land.


(c) Literary texts of the period show a knowledge

Paddy cultivated in

of irrigation and also the practice of keeping the


land fallow along the familiarity of an agricultural

Land for transplanted

calendar based on six seasons and 27 nakshatras.

paddy crop

(d) This period is also marked by the utilization of

5. Patitthapeti


new plants and fruit trees. Mango groves, sala

6. Mariyad


groves, Jambu, Madhuka, Palasa and others are

7. Bijagara

Paddy seed bed

mentioned in the contemporary texts.

8. Mori/Moriyar

Paddy seeding/seed bed

(e) An attempt to ban the slaughter of cattle wealth

9. Godhuma


helped in agrarian production.

3. Sali
4. Kedara


(f) The beginning of rice-transplantation helped

(v) The extensive details, we have already gone

in the generation of greater surplus.

through, of NBPW clearly that the people of Upper

(vii) A distinctive feature of post-Vedic phase is

Gangetic basin maintained their material

the emergence of second urbanization in Ancient

development of the first half of the first millennium

India history, after a lapse of not less than 1000

B.C. in the second half as well

years. The Pali texts speak of 20 towns, six of them

(vi) The excavation of more than 450 sites in the

being associated with the death of Buddha.

area comprising eastern U.P. and Bihar clearly

Archaeology attests many urban settlements in this

suggests that there existed in this phase relatively

phase. Cities like Champa, Vaishali, Varanasi,

huge agricultural settlements and emerged a good

Kaushambi, Kushinagara, and Sravasti are

many new villages. They also suggest close links

witnessed not only by the Pali texts but also by

between the town and country as the same kinds

Archaeology. The Buddhist literature refers to six

of pottery have been found both at urban sites as

Mahanagaras including Champa, Rajagriha, Kasi,

well as their adjacent countryside.

Sravasti, Kaushambi and Saketa. Chirand,

Factors responsible for Expansion in Agrarian

Sringaverpur, Piprahwa, Tilaurakot and


Lauriyanandangarh were other urban settlements

(a) Clearance of thick vegetation cover of the

of this age.

Gangetic basin with combined use of iron tools

(viii) Pura, Drga, Nigama, Nagar etc. were the

and fire.

terms denoting urban settlement in Ancient Indians

literature. It appears that Pura and Durga are among
the earliest terms used for twon/city in earlier






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literature and both these terms meant fortified


towns. Pura is mentioned even in the early Vedic

The changing features of economic organization

literature, others, such as Nigama or Nagara came

such as extension of agricultural production,

into existence in subsequent phases. While Nigama

growth of towns, emergence of monetary exchange,

was the term for cities in the Pali texts; Nagara

expansion of crafts and rapid development of trade

was the most common word used for cities in other

and commerce were closely related to the transition

literary sources. It should be remembered that Jain

in social relations.

canonical texts mention different kinds of urban

(i) The new forces of production in the Post-Vedic

settlements such as scot-free town, a town with an

age caused the generation of enough surplus for

earthern wall, a town with a small wall, an isolated

the rise of a class-based and state-oriented society

town, a large town, a sea town and a capital. It is

in which ruling class and its beneficiary, i.e. princes

also worth mention that Aristobulus saw the

and warriors and priests and monks, were able to

remains of over a thousand towns.

extract taxes, tributes and tithes.

(ix) Whatever may be the origin of town, it

(ii) Brahmanical ideologues gave it legal

eventually became a market. Groups of merchants

expression and devised an elaborate social

specializing in the procurement and selling of

mechanism for surplus extraction, which was

commodities could be seen in the contemporary

defined by them as Varna-System. For the first

texts. Obviously artisans and traders (setthis)

time in this phase, the functions of all four varnas

accounted for a large proportion of the city

were defined.

population and they were engaged in trade and

(iii) The Ksatriya appears to be the most powerful

industry. There were various kinds of traders: the

and visible section of society; though in

shopkeepers (apanika), retailers (kraya-

brahmanical texts, they were placed below the

vikrayika), and money investors (Setthi-

Brahmins in social hierarchy. In Buddhist


literature, Kshatriyas were characterized as the

supreme social class. In one of the discourses, Lord

(x) Trade was facilitated by the use of punch-

Buddha claimed, even when a kshatriya has fallen

marked coins, ascribed stratigraphically to fifth

into the lowest depths, he is still the best and the

century BC, whose more than 300 hoards are so

Brahmins are lower in status to him.

far known to us. The coin of the highest value at

(iv) In this phase brahmins seem to be a case group.

this stage was Satamana of silver. The copper

A Brahmin was one who was born as Brahmin. He

masas and Kakani were of the lowest

might change his profession but he remained a

denomination. The Karsapana can be evaluated

Brahmin. In brahmanical texts, they were given

in between. In other words, metal money made its

privilege of mediation between man and god. There

advent in 5th century B.C. and with it began the

were seventeen kinds of Brahmins, but the Brahmin

practice of usury.

category among them remained at top.







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Ksatriyas in Ganasamghas

(c) Vanaprastha: Well advanced in middle age, he

Unlike the Brahmanical texts, Kshatriyas in the

entered Vanaprastha and after its completion he

Buddhist texts are described differently. They are

was supposed to leave his home.

mentioned as the ruling class of the Ganasamghas

(d) Samnyasa: It was the last stage of life where

such as those of Vaishali and Kapilvastu, and were

he was expected to lead the life of a homeless

referred to as the Shakyas, Licchavis, Mallas, etc.


they were groups who owned land collectively and

(v) In Vedic times the Vaisya was a poor third in

their communal land was cultivated by Dasas and

social hierarchy, though he was entitled to the

Karmakaras. They do not seem to abide by

services of priesthood and sacred thread of

brahmanical rituals and they did not have

initation. According to the Manu, the duty of Vaisya

compactness and strict rules of marriage

was cattle herding, agriculture and trade. But, in

characteristic f caste system. In these areas, there

the post-Vedic phase, they became richer and,

was only two-fold social division into high and

therefore, socially and politically a significant

low caste which was contrary to the four-fold varna

social class. The power of Ganapati in rural area

division of Brahmanical order. Brahmanical notion

and Setthi and Jetthaka in urban centres increased

of Kshatriya as warrior class was acceptable only


to ruling classes; otherwise they might be a learned

(vi) Land was worked by Sudra cultivators, except

man, a preacher, a thinker, a teacher and even

in the case of privately owned land where hired

traders as well as peasants.

labour was used. But private ownership was not

Asramas in Ancient Indian Society

widespread. The fact that many of the Sudras were

The concept of Asrama succeeded that of varna

landless labourers weakened their social status. The

was therefore, more artificial. While the varna

Pali literature frequently mentions them as dasas,

typified fourfold division of Aryan society, the

Karmakaras and dalidda.

Asramas divided the life of the individual into four

(vii) Dasasuddas are frequently mentioned in the

stages as follows:

contemporary literature. They were slaves who did

(a) Brahmacarya: After investiture with sacred

not have any legal status.

thread, a child became brahmacarin and was

(viii) A category lower than the sudras came to be

expected to lead a celibate and austere life as a

recognized during this period. They were the

student at the home of his guru.


(b) Grhastha: Having completed his education, he

(ix) The position of women experienced a decline.

returned to his parental home and was married to

They were not granted the right to sit in public

become a householder (Grhastha).

meetings. They became permanently subordinate

to men father, husband, brother or son. Even if
they joined samgha, they were treated inferior.






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human beings with the cycle of birth-death-rebirth,

6th century BC did not mark a breakthrough only

was the Karman which led them to the acts of

in the material basis of Ganga valley culture but it

violence, and, thus ascetics were expected to avoid

also witnessed a rapid advance in the philosophical

even accidental killing, necessary to avoid the evil,

aspect of life. Religiously the Ganga basin became

Karman. These commonalities among the various

a melting pot which gave birth to numerous

sects drive us to search for common origin of these

heterodox sects including Ajivakavadins,

movements (it is not required to deal more on this

Buddhists and Jainas. Historians are of the

matter at the Prelims stage of the examination).

opinion that this philosophical metamorphosis had

Thus, numerous heterodox sects arose in the

its definite roots in the prevailing socio-economic

middle Gangetic plain around sizty century BC,

and political conditions though the exact

numbering not less than 62 religious sects, having

evidence of such relationship is wanting.

regional specificities and philosophical diversities.

Notwithstanding these technicalities (obviously

Buddhism, Jainism, Uchchhedavada, Lokayata,

because our requirement do not demand it), the

Ajivaka were important among them.

relationship between the cultural growth and

(i) Uchchhedavada: The propagator of this sect

appearance of small cities, a fine new type of

was Ajita Keshakambalin who rejected the

pottery with a lustrous black polish NBPW, punch-

immaterial and supernatural altogether, and

marked coins and probably script and languages,

preached thorough going materialism.

can more or less be accepted. That emergence of

From this school, Lokayat or Charvaka School

new heterodox sects was the result of similar socio-

of philosophy is believed to have derived

economic base, is clear from the fact that all of

a great deal.

them had many things similar to one another. All

(ii)Lokayat or Charvaka School: Brihaspati

these movements clearly and completely rejected

Sutra or Lokyatsutra is the text where the

Vedas, the sacrificial cult and the brahmanical

philosophy of Lokayata is believed to be explained,

domination; all however, except the materialists

as we are told by patanjali. The only existing

who followed Ajita Keshakambalin, accepted the

materialist text is Tattvopaplavasimha of

truth of transmigration and advisability of escaping

Jayarashi, complied in the 8th century A D .

from the cyle of rebirth. All of them, however,

Charvaka was the chief exponder of this

rejected the idea of creation, whether by a personal

materialistic philosophy of Lokayata which means

God or by an impersonal absolute; for them, the

ideas derived from common people. This

universe was the product of natural law. All the

philosophy underlined the importance of intimate

new sects aimed at releasing their followers from

contact with the world Loka, and showed lack of

the bonds of birth, death and rebirth by the quickest

belief in the other world (Parloka). Here the

method. For all of them, the greatest evil that tied

existence or reality of only those things, which






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could be sensed by human beings, is accepted. For


5.Its rejection of Varna system made it popular

hi, all the rituals are meant only for Dakshina of

among the lower classes.


6.Emphasis on Ahimsa made them popular among

(iii) Ajivakas: Makkhali Gosala was the founder

the peasants as it served the purpose of protecting

of Ajivaka sect about which both Panini and

animal-power, so necessary to the agrarian

Patanjali were referring in their texts. The

economy in that period.

followers of this sect disciplined themselves as

7.Admission of women to Samgha also contributed

rigorously as those of Jains. They seemed to have

in its popularity among women.

combined with those of other teachers such as

8.Considerable support from Vaishyas, the

Purana Kasyapa (the antinomian) and Pakuda

business community.

Katyayana (the atomists). Though no scriptures

9.Use of pali (or prakrit), the language of the

of this sect have survived, still we are sure that the


sect was certainly atheistic, and its chief feature

10.Patronage from the existing monarchies.

was strict determinism and denial of Karman

Few Informations about Buddha

doctrine. For them, the whole universe was

(i) Birth of Siddhartha or Gautam Buddha 563

conditioned and determined to the minutest detail,


by an impersonal cosmic principle, Niyati, or

(ii) Birth Place Lumbini (a grove of sal trees).

destiny. It was impossible to influence the course

(iii) Lumbini was very near to Shakya capita,

of transmigration in any way. The Dravidian


Ajivikas developed their doctrine following the

(iv) Gotra Gautama.

line dictated by Mahayanism and Goshala acquired

(v) Father Suddoodhana, the Shakya king.

divinity like that of Buddha.

(vi) Mother - Mahamaya.

(iv) Buddhism

(vii) Wife Yashodhara.

(a) Factors that contributed in the rise and growth

(viii) Cousin Davadatta.

of Buddhism (and to some extent Jainism):

(ix) Son Rahul.

1.Rigidityof Varnasarma dharma.

(x) Horse Kanthaka

2.Excessive cost of sacrificial rituals in

(xi) Charioteer Channa.

Brahmanical order.

(xii) Great Going Forth Mahabhinishkramana

3.Theoretical superiority of Kshatriyas over

to become a wandering ascetic (at the age of 29).


(xiii) Teacher of Meditation Alara Kama

4.Emergence of new material culture as the result

(xiv)The daughter of peasant who gave him

of new agricultural economy combined with the

milked rice Sujata.

process of urbanization demanding a

(xv) Place of enlightenment nirvana (at the age

permutation and combination in societal and

of 35) Gaya in Magadha.

religious adjustments.






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(xvi) Tree under which he attained enlightenment

(1) Four Noble Truths


(a)The Noble Truth of Sorrow: Birth is sorrow, age

(xvii) Bodhi Tree Pipal

is sorrow, death is sorrow. In short all

(xviii) Mara the king of spirits and demons.

the five components of Individuality are sorrow.

(xix) Witness of Buddhas goodness and

(b) Desire (thrust or tanha) is the cause of sorrow

benevolence Earth.

which leads to rebirth.

(xx) The famous words Iam his witness by

(c) The suffering could be removed by destroying


the desire. It is complete stopping of that

(xxi) Tree of Wisdom Bodhi Tree.

thirst so that no passion remains.

(xxii) First nun and his foster mother Gautami.

(d) Thirst can be completely controlled through

Dhammachakkaparavattan Deer Park, Sarnath

the Noble Eight Fold Path (Arya Astangika



(xxiii) Died at Pava, after consumption of Pork.

(2) The Noble Eight Fold Path:

(a) Right view

(b) Buddhist Philosophy: The basic propositions

(b) Right Resolve

of Buddhism are not metaphysical but

(c) Right Speech

psychological. Sorrow, suffering, dissatisfaction

(d) Right Conduct

and all manifold unpleasantness which are referred

(e) Right Livelihood

to by the world dukkha are more psychological

(f) Right Effort

than metaphysical.The fundamental teaching of

(g) Right Recollection


(h) Right Meditation






Dhammachakkapavattan Sutta (Sermon of the

This noble eight fold path was the Middle way of

Turning of the Wheel of Law) is centred around

Tathagata (Buddha).

Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight Fold Path

(3) Patichcha Sammupad (The Chain of

to deal effectively with these psychological

Dependent Organistion): This very simple doctrine

problems of humanity.

of Buddhism is in rather pedantil forms most

Symbols in Buddhism

important of which was the patichchasammupada,

(i) Birth Lotus and Bull

a series of twelve terms. It goes as: Out of

(ii)Great Renunciation (Mahabhi-nishkramana)

ignorance arises imagination; from imagination,


Self-consciousness; from self-consciousness Name

(iii) Nirvana (enlightenment) Bodhi tree.

and Form; thence Six senses (the sixth being

(iv)Dhammachakkapavattan (enlightenment)

thought); thence Contact; thence Feeling; thence

Dharma Chakra, or wheet.

Craving; thence attachment; thence Becoming;

(v) Mahaparinirvana (death) Stupa.

thence Rebirth, and finally the manifold ills.






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(4) Dukka Anichcha and Anatta: The


8.Refrain from the use of garlands, perfumes,

mechanisms of this doctrine are indeed obscure

unguents and jewellery.

but at the bottom of human misery is ultimately

9.Refrain from the use of high or broad bed.

ignorance, a cosmic ignorance which lead to the

10. Refrain from receiving gold and silver.

delusion of self-hood. The ignorance primarily

concerns the fundamental nature of universe with

Three Pitakas

three salient characteristics:

(i) Pali canon of Sthavarradins consists of three

(a) Dukkha (Sorrow)

Pitakas or baskets.

(b) Anichcha (Transient)

(a) Vinay Pitaka: Rules and conduct of the order.

(c) Anatta (Soulless).

(b) Sutta Pitaka: Sermons of Buddha.

(5) Nibbana (State of bliss); Buddhism says that

(c) Abhidhamma Pitaka: Metaphysics of

the world is full of sorrows and people suffer due


to desires. If desires are conquered, nibbana will

(ii) The largest and the most important of the three

be attained, that man will be free from the cycle

pitakas is the Sutta Pitaka which was

of birth and earth. Parinibbana in Buddhism is,

divided into five nikayas (groups)

however, the term used for death.

(a) Diggha Nikaya: Collection of long sermons.

(c) Buddha, Dhamma and Samgha have been

(b) Manjjhima Nikaya: Collection of shorter

regarded as the three jewels of Buddhism.


Amongst these three jewels, Samgha means the

Buddhist order, the entry into which was not

(c) Samyukta Nikaya being pronouncement on

restricted for any caste, but slaves, soldiers,

kindred topics.

debtors, and other persons under any obligation

(d) Anguttara Nikaya a collection of over 2,000

or in tutelage except the permission of its superior

brief statements artificially arranged in eleven

could not enter it. The rites of admission were


simple, involving putting on the three yellow robes

(e) Khuddaka Nikaya: Collection of miscellaneous

(it may also be orange) of the order by pronouncing

works including Dhammapada, Theragatha

Three Jewels and Ten Precepts

Terigatha and Jataka.

1.Refrain from harming living beings.

(v) Jainism: Jainism, the religion of Jina (the

2.Refrain from taking what is not given.

conquerors), was founded by first tirthankara,

3.Refrain from evil behaviour in passion.

Vardhamana Mahavira, a contemporary of Lord

4.Refrain from false speech.

Buddha,was twenty fourth tirthankara.

5.Refrain from Sura, meraya, and majja.

6.Refrain from eating at forbidden time.
7.Refrain from dancing, singing, music and drama.






Buddhist Councils at a Glance

1.First Council

3.Third Council

4.Fourth Council


(c) Unlike the cosmology of Buddhists and Hindus,

Rajagriha Under

that of the Jainas involves no cataclysms of

2.Second Council

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universal destruction.


(d) The universe functions through the interaction


of living souls (jives) and five categogies of non-

Patliputra Under

living entities (ajiva), i.e. akasha, dharma, adharma,

Moggaliputra Tissa.

kala, pudgala (matter).

Kashmir Under

(e) Mahavira believed that soul (Jiva) and Matter


(ajiva) are two basic existing elements. According

to him, the soul is in a state of bondage created by

Important informations about the Councils

desire accumulated through previous birth. Bye

(i) First Council (483 BC) resulted in the writing

means of continued efforts, the soul can be made

of Sutta Pitaka and Vinay Pitaka by Ananda and

free of bondage. This is called Moksa, the final

Upali respectively.


(ii) Second Council (383 BC) resulted in the

(f) The annihilation (nirjara) of karma comes about

division of Buddhist order into Sthavarvadins

through penance and the prevention (samvara) of

or Thervadins and Mahasamghika.

the influx (asrava) and fixation9bandha) of karma

(iii) Third Council (250 BC) made Sthavarvadins

can be ensured by carefully disciplined conduct.

as the legitimate Buddhist order and resulted in

(g) Doctrine of Saptabhangi is believed to be the

the final compilation of tripitakas.

cornerstone of the Jainism.

(iv) Fourth Council (1st century AD) was

(h) Full salvation is not possible to layman in

convened for the settlement of disputes among

Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism, however,

18 Buddhist sects.

permitted it in exceptional condition.

(v) Buddhist got divided into three vehicles:

Few Facts about Mahavira and Jainism

(i) Hinyana (lesser vehicle)

(i)Number of Tirthankaras in Jainism 24 (First

(ii) Mahayana (Greater vehicle)

22 not confirmed till date).

(iii) Vajrayana (Vehicle of Thundervolt)

(ii)23rd Tirthankara Parswanath.

Philosophy of Jainism

(iii)24th Tirthankara Mahavira.

(a) Parswanath advocated the four principles: (i)

(iv)Date of birth of Mahavira 540 BC.

Truth, (ii) non-violence, (iii) non-possession and

(v)Place of Birth Kundangrama (Basukunda) in

(iv) brahmacharya.


(b) For Mahavira, the universe is eternal which

(vi)Name of Father Siddhartha, head of Jnatrika

can be divided into infinite number of cycles, each

tribe. Trishala, Lichchhavi Princess and Sister of

consisting of a period of improvement (utsarpini).

Chetaka, Lichchhavi Chief.






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(vii) Marriage at the age of 30.


14. Gandhara (Afghanistan) Capital Taxila

(viii) Nigrantha Those who were free from every

15. Sursena (U.P.) Capital Mathura

16. Kamboja (N.W.Frontier Province) Capital

(ix) Period of asceticism 12 years of Mahavira.


(x) Attainment of Nirvana at 43 years of age.

(xi)Arhant one who attained the Nirvana

Kashi : was famous for its cotton textiles and


marker for horses. Buddhist monks were called

(xii) Died at 72 due to self-starvation.

Kashaya in Sanskrit which was made in Kashi.

(xiii) Place of Death Pava near Rajagriha.

The Buddha calls himself a Kosalan in the

(xiv) Date of his death 468 BC.

Majjhima Nikaya. Champa has been considered

(xv) Digambaras Space-clad, naked.

one of the six great cities in the sixth century B.C.

(xvi) Svetambaras White clad.

The Walls of Rajagriha represent the earliest


evidence of fortification in the history of India.

Sixteen Mahajanapadas.

Vajjis had a different kind of political organisation.

1.Anga (East Bihar) Capital Champa,

The contemporary texts refer to them as a

Ganasamgha, Malla : A Republican State. Mallas

2 Magadha (South Bihar) Capital Rajgriha,

were great admirers of the Buddha. This republic

3 Kasi (Benares) Capital Banaras,

had two parts. Kusinara and Pava were two capitals

of the two parts. The Buddha fell ill at Pava and

4 Kosala (Oudh) Capital Shravasti

died at Kusinara. Mahavira died at Pava. Buddhist

5 Videha (North Bihar) Capital Vaishali,

and Jain books have many references about Mallas

6. Malla (Gorakhpur) Capital Kushinara, Pawa

and these two places. Magadha : Patna and Gaya

areas roughly. Capital city Rajagriha and later

7. Chedi (Bundelkhand) Capital Shuktimati

Pataliputra. Chedi : Chedi territory corresponded

8. Vatsa (Allahabad Region) Capital Kaushambi

to present Bundelkhand.

9. Kuru (Thaneswar, Delhi, Meerut) Capital

Vatsa : Capital at Kausambi, 38 miles from


Allahabad. A very prosperous city of millionaire

merchants. Udayana was its most effective ruler

10. Panchala (Bareilly) Capital Ahichhatra (W.

in 6th B.C. who had to face aggression from

Panchala) Kampilya (Southern . Panchala)

Magadha and Avanti. He saved Kausambi through

11. Matsya (Jaipur) Capital Virat nagari

matrimonial alliances and by fortifications. He

12. Asmaka (Godavari Valley) Capital Pratishthan

embraced Buddhism and made it a state religion.

Kuru : Their area corresponded to Delhi and

13. Avanti (Malwa) Capital Ujjain







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Meerut regions. Kuru country was not a shadow

trade grew rapidly.) A Symbol of Power ( When

of its past glory. Panchala : Roughly identified

Alexander invaded India, Magadha had became so

with modern Rohilkhand but no more prominent.

powerful that the Greeks could not dare to advance

Important cities was Kampilla Matsya : Identified

further. Thus undoubtedly added to the prestige of

with former state areas of Jaipur. Saurasena :

the Magadhan kingdom.)

Capital Mathura; area South of Matsyas.

Bimbisara (547 to 495 B.C.)

Assaka : Area in adjoining Avanti. Its capital was

The first well-known and important king of

Paithan and its settled areas on Godavari.

Magadha was Bimbisara who ruled from 547 B.C.

Avanti : Mostly identical with Malwa. Capital city

to 495 B.C.

Ujjayni ruler in Buddhas time was Pradyota.

Avanti became a know centre of Buddhism.

Ajatassatru (495 to 462 B.C.)

Gandhara : Roughly identified with Kashmir and

After Bimbisaras death, his son Ajatasatru, also

taxila. Taxila, the centre of trade, and the seat of

known as Kunika, became the king of

learning as a University, was its capital. Kamboja

Magadha.Devadatta, lived 6th century bc, Buddhist

: Located in modern NWFP with capital named

monk, cousin and notoriously disloyal follower of


the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha.

Rise and Growth of Magadha

Devadatta joined the sangha (community of

Buddhist monks) 20 years after the Buddha began

The growth of the kingdom of Magadha has got

teaching. About eight years before the Buddha's

an importance of its own in the history of India. It

death, Devadatta suggested that his master should

heralded the foundation of the first great empire

retire and pass leadership of the sangha to him.

in India. Magadhan empire gave strength and unity

Rebuked by the Buddha, who did not want a leader

to the country and saved the people from internal

for the community, Devadatta began plotting with

conflicts and foreign invasions. The growth of the

Ajatasatru, prince of the kingdom of Magadha

Magadhan empire provided comparative freedom

(modern Bihar, India). Ajatasatru arranged three

from orthodoxy and consequent commingling of

unsuccessful attempts on the Buddha's life through

diverse cultures. Some other factor also Ambitious

assassins, a falling boulder, and a runaway

Ruler , Natural Resources , Strategic Situation

elephant. Devadatta then proposed a more rigorous

of its Capital city( Rajgriha the earliest capital of

regime for the sangha. He later led about 500

Magadha was surrounded by five hills. Pataliputra

monks into a new, separate community. His

the new capital was situated on the confluence of

followers soon returned to the Buddha, and

the Ganga.) Military Power , Fertile Area ,

Devadatta fell ill and died.After the death of

Growth in Trade (The road were safe .There

Ajatasatru and a series of ineffectual rulers, isunaga

being no fear of being plundered or robbed the






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founded a new dynasty, which lasted for about half

caste-system became hereditary, Separate laws

a century until ousted by Mahajanapadas Nanda.

were made for these castes. Position of women

The Nandas are universally described as being of

seemed to have deteriorated in religious and social

low origin, perhaps .Despite these rapid dynastic

spheres. They could not take part in politics and

changes, Magadha retained its position of strength.

sit in the meetings of the assembly Evils like dowry,

The Nandas continued the earlier policy of

polygamy and slavery had crept into the society.

expansion. They are proverbially connected with

Their daughters in the open market. The law-

wealth, probably because they realized the

makers had divided life into four Ashramas, i.e.

importance of regular collections of land revenue.

the Brahmacharya, the Grihastha, the Vanaprastha

and the Sanyasa.

The Nanda Dynasty (345 to 322 B.C.)

Economic Life

Mahapadma Nanda was a great conqueror, a strong

and powerful ruler. He extended the boundaries

The arable land was divided among the heads of

of the Magadha Empire. He and his eight sons

the families who managed their own holdings,

ruled in succession. Jointly, they are known as Nav

Large holding were rare.

Nandas or the Nine Nandas. When Alexander


invaded India in 326 B.C. Ghan Nanda was the

Various crafts and industries developed during this

ruler of Magadha.

period and handicraftsmen formed a large part of

Social and Economic Life During the

the population both in rural and urban areas. There

Magadhan Empire Social Life

were about 64 kinds of crafts. The carpenters,

Roads, pathways and waterways along the rivers

ivory-workers , weavers, jewellers, workers in

connected these villages with one another. Each

metals, etc.were considered superior to hunters,

village had a headman or Gramini. He worked for

fishermen, butchers, actors shoe-makers and

the village had a the king. He was appointed by

potters, etc. Eighteen of the more important crafts

the king; so, he served as a link between the

were organished into guilds or Srenis. The heads

villagers and the king. The kings, educational

of the guilds were called Sresthins as also

centres, trade centres, pilgrimage centres, and sea-

Pramukhas and above them stood the Bhandagarika

ports, developed into big cities, Rajagriha,

who was the State Treasurer.

Pataliputra, Champa (in Bihar), Kashi, Ayodhya,

Trade : Trade, both inland and external, had made

Kaushambi, Haridwar, (all in U.P.), Ujjain (in

much progress. Before coins were used, goods were

Malwa), Tamralipti (in the Ganges Delta) were the

bartered or exchanged. The coins of this period

important and the most famous centres of this

were not very beautiful. The merchants carried

period. The caste-system had taken deep roots. The

goods to Burma and countries of South East Asia,





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across the Bay of Bengal. Trade with Arabia and

Rudradamans Junagarh inscription. Prufadarshi

western countries of the Roman Empire was

inscription, Nagarguna Cave etc.In Ashoka Period

carried through the persian Gulf and the Red Sea.

40 inscriptions have being found. Four scripts have

been used Brahmi , Karosthti , Greek & Aramaic


was used in Ashokas inscriptions . Text sources

The Mauryas

includes Kautilyass Arthashastra (Political

After Alexanders retreat, a powerful empire was

information) Indica (Administration, Social

established in India. It was known as the Mauryan

believes information) Cyrne Mudrarakshash by

empire. The rise of the Maurya was a great

Vishakhadutt, Chandragupta Katha by Chanakya.

landmark. It ushered in the most glorious period

Among the religious sources Puranas. Buddishts

of the Indian history. India was united politically

scriptures and Jainism epics are important.

for the first time. During the Mauryan period, India

Parishistparva is the Jain epic that provides

tried to build a new world, based on peace,

information about Chandragupta .

brotherhood and cultural unity. Some scholars date

his accession to 324 B.C. while now it is generally
accepted as 321 B.C.
Chandragupta, the founder of the Maurya

324-300 BC

Chandragupta Maurya

300-273 BC

Bindusara Amitraghata

273-232 BC

Asoka (vardhana)

232-185 BC

later Mauryas

dynasty, succeeded Ghan Nanda to the Nanda

The Society and Economy in Mauryan State

throne about 321 BC at the age of 25, Tradition

We have already seen that in pre-Mauryan

has been said that the brahmana Kautilya, also

phase, the early pastoral economy transformed into

known as Chanakya (According to the traditions)

an agrarian economy with greater surplus-

was the prime minister of Chandragupta .He wrote

generation which became instrumental in the

the Asthashastra or Vishnugupta, about Mauryan

emergence of second urbanization in the post

rulers we have epigraphically sources, literary

Vedic phase. Obviously, relative permanence of

sources, foreign accounts and materials obtained

settlements enhanced social stratification and

from archaeological excavations. The Arthashastra

occupational activities giving rise to urban

gives us detailed information about the

economy and trading activities which finally led

administrative system of the Mauryan empire. The

to the establishment of mercantile community

work was written by Kautilya who is also known

arranged in the system of guilds.

as Chanakya.
The evidences of the Maurya Age : The



inscriptions ; the oldest written evidence about


Superintendent of











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Superintendent of

(iii) The


development of this period was the structure of

Superintendent of

ringwells probably used to supply water for

Weights and Measures



Superintendent of Tolls

breakthrough of this phase was thus the use of burnt


Superintendent of Thread

bricks and ring wells.


Superintendent of Mines

(iv) Archaeology provided the evidences of


Superintendent of Iron-

furnaces establishing the fact that iron in this


phase was used diversely and even Arthasastra

Superintendent of

throws light over sophisticated techniques of


making different kinds of iron tools.

Superintendent who

(v) With Mauryan phase, this subcontinent,

distinguished between

entered the second phase of NBP culture.

different objects

Economy in Mauryan Empire

Superintendent of Salt

(A) Agrarian Economy




11.KosthagrahadhayksaSuperintendent of Store-







(i) By the third century B.C. the economy of


northern India was predominantly agrarian, though


Superintendentof Market

economic activities other than agrarian were not


Superintendent of Ships

unknown or discouraged.


Superintendent of

(ii) Mauryans made an important contribution to


the growth of urban economy by founding new

settlements and rehabilitating the decaying ones

Technology in Mauryan Phase

by drafting surplus settlers from populated areas.

(i) Megasthenes gives us an impression about

Not only ordinary peasants but also sudras, who

planned urban settlements in this period which,

were earlier meant for rendering services to three

however, Archaeology has failed to support. But

higher varnas, were also encouraged to take the

we can not deny the fact that Mauryans used burnt

profession of agriculture in these newly

bricks in their buildings for the first time after a

rehabilitated areas and cultivators of these areas

gap of 1500 years.

were encouraged by remission of taxes and

(ii) According to Megasthenes, houses were also

provision of cattle, seeds and money.

built with substantial use of timber and

(iii) Although extent of these new settlements

archeological evidence, especially from

founded as a result of Janapadanivesha or

Kumrahar near modern Patna, supports this point.

Sunyanivesha is not known exactly, it would be







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reasonable to assume that entire Ganga basin was

(ii) Towns were important for Mauryan state not

brought under cultivation.

only because it helped in the maintenance of state

(iv) Though these newly settled agricultural farms

control over crafts and commerce but also because

were generally granted to the Brahmins and retired

they were important source of state revenue. In this

village officials, but such land could not be sold,

context, it may be pointed out that towns (durga)

mortgaged or inherited. State, therefore, maintain

and countryside (rastra) were the two chief sources

control over it.

of state revenue.

(v) Though Megasthenes refers to the absence of

(C) Industry

slavery in Mauryan state; considerable number of

(i) One of the oldest Indian industries is that of

slaves and hired labourers were employed in these

textile manufacture. Rg Veda mentions the term

firms during the reign of Chandragupta.

tantu (warp) and otu (wool) and Yajus Samhita,

(vi) The state-owned farms (Sitaland) working

along with other texts, speak of tasara (shuttle)

under Sitadhaksa (usually of 500 or 1000 karisas

and veman (loom), all related to the textile industry.

unit) constituted a major part of the income of the

The early Buddhist texts have praised Benares


cloth (Kasikuttama or Kasi-Vattha) as well as the

(vii) The classical sources inform us that the

cloth of Sivi country (Siveyyaka). We have a full

cultivators were without arms. Megasthenes also

list in Arthasastra where Madura, Aparantaka,

mentions that the peasants were left untouched

Kasi, Vanga, Vatsa and Mahish are said to produce

during the war.

the best cotton fabrics (Karpasika). In this context,

(viii) The most important reason for success of

it also mentions specifically three varieties of

state-owned agriculture was the facility of


irrigation provided by the state. There were rules

(ii) Another important industry was that of wool.

for the regulation of water supply for the benefits

(iii) Wood-work was also an old Indian industry.

of agriculturists. According to Arthasastras,

Rg Veda mentions carpenters (takshan or tashtri)

peasants had to pay irrigation tax amounting one

and his tools. We find the references of Vaddhaki

fourth to the third of the produce.

who were engaged in all kind of woodwork

(B) Urban Settlements

including ship-building, making of carts and

(i) Kautilyas instructions regarding durganivesa

chariots and house building.

or durgavidhana and archeological evidences

(iv) The use of ivory ear-rings is noted by Arrian

clearly shows that Mauryan state could be credited

as a characteristic of wealthy people of India.

with the erection of walled towns peopled not only

(v) The art of polishing hard stone was carried to

by priests, nobles and soldiers but also by artisans,

such perfection that it is said to become a lost art

merchants, and others.

beyond modern powers. The Mauryan polish is






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seen at its best on the walls of the Barabar caves

metal in varying shapes, sizes and weights which

which are brushed like glass mirrors.

have one or more symbol punched on it. The most

(vi) The literary evidence suggests that gold, silver,

common symbols on these coins were those of

copper, lead, tin, iron and bitumen were worked.

elephants, tree-in-railing symbols and mountains.

(D) Trade


(i) If agrarian economy helped to build a political


empire, the latter, in turn, furthered another form


of economic activity, i.e. trade. Efficiency in

Related Metal




Gold - Silver





administration rendered the organization of trade

4.Niska (Kautilya)



easier, and crafts were gradually converted into

5.Suvarna (Kautilya)



small scale industries. Jataka stories contain many




references to caravan traders carrying large




quantities of goods to different part of the








(ii) The main trade routes in northern India were




along the river Ganges and Himalayan foot-hills.




The northern route going to such sites connected

Rajgriha, Kaushambi, Kapilvastu, Shravasti,


Vaishali, Kalsi, Hazra and Peshawar. Patliputra,

(i) Megasthenes, in his Indika, informs us that

the capital of Mauryas, having strategic location,

Mauryan society was divided into seven castes

was well connected to this route through road and

including philosophers, farmers, soldiers,


herdsmen artisans, magistrates and councilors, with

(iii) In south, this route was connected to Central

an important instruction saying, No one is allowed

India and in South-east to Kalinga. The eastern

to marry outside his own caste or exercise any

route turned southward to finally reach Andhra and

calling or art except his own.

Karnataka. Other part of eastern route continues

(ii) According to him, the philosophers were

down to Tamralipti.

exempt from taxation which is also corroborated

(iv) From Kaushambi moving westwards, there

by other sources.

was another route which led to Ujjain and further

(iii) In those areas where settled agricultural life

south constituting dakshinapatha.

came in existence, social organization was based

(E) Coins (Punch-marked coins)

on varna division which became sufficiently rigid

(i) By the term punch-marked coins we mean

in this phase resulting in frictions in brahmanical

early Indian coins, largely of silver and with a few

order. The first three class known as dvija were

copper coins as well, which were in fact pieces of

more privileged than sudras and outcastes resulting






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in social upheavals. Even among dvijas, the vaisyas

the child was entitled to the legal status of masters

were not adequately platched in social hierarchy

son. Still, technically, there was no large scale

according to their economic power and wealth.

slavery for production.

Conflict between them and socially superior

Asokan inscriptions have been divided into:

classes was inevitable. Asokas emphatic appear

(a) Major Rock Edicts: 14 Edicts and two

for social harmony proves the existence of social

separate Edicts at Kalinga.


(b) Minor rock Edicts: Can be divided into two

(iv) Increasing power of king was accompanied by


a similar increase in the power of purohitas who,

(i) The first group includes Minor Rock Edicts,

by now, begun to assume the function of chief

Queens Edict, Barbar Cave Inscription and


Kandahar Bilingual Inscription.

(v) For the first time during Mauryan phase a

(ii) The second group is entirely concerned with

section of Shudras was provided with land in

the Buddhist community and includes Bhabra

newly settled or rehabilitated areas. Forced labour

Insription, the Rummindei Pillar Inscription,

(visti was imposed on them on a much larger scale

Nigalisagar Pillar Inscription and Schiem Edict.

than the earlier period.)

(c) The Pillar Edicts are seven in number.

(vi) In addition to four varnas, Kautilya also speaks

Major Rock Edicts

of not less than 15 mixed castes as antyavasin.

(i) 1st Major Rock Edict: prohibited animal

Members of such mixed casts such as chandala

sacrifice, especially during festive gatherings, but

and suapaka were treated as untouchables.

at the same time killing of three animals in royal

(vii) Though Megasthenes emphatically claimed

kitchen (i.e. two peacocks and a deer) have been

that there were no slaves in India, Kautilya gives

approved by him.

us detailed laws about slavery and manumission.

(ii) 2nd Major Rock Edict:

They were mostly shudras but in specific cases,

(a) The land of Cholas, Pandyas, Satyaputras and

even the higher varna individuals could also

Keralaputra along with Ceylon is mentioned.

mortgaged himself and Kautilya calls them

(b) Two medical services, one for human beings


and other for animals, were provided by the state.

(viii) Arthasastra states that a man could be a slave

(c) Emphasis on plantation of trees and digging

either by birth or by selling himself voluntarily, or

at road for wells have been recorded.

by capture in a war, or even as a result of

(iii) 3rd Major Rock Edict:

punishment. Slavery in this phase, if we believe

(a) It mentioned about his order to yuktas, rajukas

Kautilya, became a recognized institution with

and pradesikas about their traveling across the

defined legal relationship. If a female slave bore

empire at every five years interval.

her master a son, not only was she legally free but






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(b) Cordial relationship between son and parent,

(ix) 9th Major Rock Edict: Instruction against

friends and relatives and generosity toward

trivial and useless ceremonies and emphasis on

Brahmins and shramanas has been emphasized.

ceremony of dhamma.

(c) Prohibition of killing and spending.

(x) 10th Major Rock Edict:

(iv) 4th Major Rock Edict: His firm convictions

(a) Desirability of Asoka not for worldly fame and

of dhamma and harmonious social relationships

glory but the glory in sphere of dhamma.

have been claimed.

(b) Criticism of evil inclination.

(v) 5th Major Rock Edict: Emphasis of good

(xi) 11th Major Rock Edict: Glorification of the

doing by him and his family; appointment of office

gift of dhamma, the praise of dhamma, sharing and

of Dhamma; welfare of people including Greeks,

fellowship of dhamma.

Kambojas, Gandharas, Risthikas, Pitinikas,

(xii)12th Major Rock Edict:

welfare of prisoners, nobles, old, poor and servants,

(a) Speaks of the similar attitude of Asoka towards

and thus spread of dhamma have been claimed and

different sects.


(b) Contains the famous statement: Whosoever

(vi) 6th Major Rock Edict:

honours his own sect or disparages that of another

(a) Emphasizes on efficient administrative order.

man, wholly out of devotion to his own, with a

(b) Contains famous instruction: At all times,

view to showing it in a favourabled light, harms

whether I am eating, or am in the womens

his own sect even more seriously.

aprartments or in my inner apartments, or at the

(xiii) 13th Major Rock Edict:

cattle-shed, or in my carriage, or in my gardens

(a) Tells about conquest of Kalinga where a

where ever I may be, my informants should keep

hundred and fifty thousand people were deported,

me in touch with public business.

a hundred thousand were killed and therefore

(c) Also contains another famous instruction And

Ashoka felt remorse and felt that conquest by

whatever I may order by word of mouth, whether

dhamma was the foremost victory.

it concerns a donation or a proclamation, or

(b) Was the longest Asokan edict.

whatever urgent matter is entrusted to my officers,

(xiv) 14th Major Rock Edict: Speaks about the

if there is any dispute or deliberation in the council,

texture of other edicts.

it is to be reported to me immediately, at all places,

Few Important Informations about Edicts:

at all times.

(i) The 6th Major edict contains the famous claim

(vii) 7th Major Rock Edict: Co-ordination, self

of Asoka, All men are my children.

control and purity of mind among all sects has been

(ii) Longest pillar edict The Bhabra Edict.


(iii) Seven major pillar edicts Appendix to rock

(viii) 8th Major Rock Edict: Talks about








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(iv) Four Minor pillar edicts: Signs of Ashokas

improvement or deterioration. It is also worth

feneticism to Dhamma.

questioning, especially after the recent work of

(v) The minor rock edict of Yerragudi is written

Romila Thapar, whether the notion of a well

in boustrophedon style.

centralized and bureaucratic Mauryan state is still

(vi) Nigalisagar Inscription confirms the existence

an acceptable position or it has been

of Buddha Konakamma.

misrepresented in our history text books? We have

(vii) Bhabra rock edict informs us about Asokas

also to consider the possibility of almost a linear

conversion to Buddhism.

historical development from Indus valley

(viii) Asokan pillar of Nandangarh bears the

civilization to Gupta period and afterwards

figure of a peacock, pointing to the association

especially in the context of recent works and

of Mauryan kings with it.

projected correctiveness on Indus valley

(ix) Barabar cave inscription talks about grant of

civilization to Gupta period and afterwards

Banyan cave to Ajivkas by Asoka.

especially in the context of recent works and

(x) Kandhar Rock inscription exists in bilingual

projected correctives on Indus Valley Civilization,

form, one in Greek and another in Aramaic

Vedic period, post-Vedic period, Mauryan period,


post-Mauryan period, Gupta period and post-Gupta

period. But here, only accepted facts about socio-


economic change have been outlined.

The period between c. 200 BC and 300 AD has

Economy in Post-Mauryan Phase

often been described as dark age in the Ancient

(i) On the economic front, we witness a gradual

Indian history, especially in the background of

development and increase in the generation of

Gupta phase which is characterized by the same

agrarian surplus which provided relatively a

group of historians as golden age. Both these

wider base for urbanization and trading activities

meanings and interpretations of Indian society are

along with industrial and handicraft production. It

clearly the product of over emphasis on the

was not accidental that proto-urbanized phase

political aspects of those existing societies at the

which we have witnessed in the post-Vedic

cost of existing pattern of societal and economic

developed considerably under so-called Mauryan

behaviour which are clearly elite-oriented and

centralized and over-bureaucratized state and

feudalized. It is, however, an altogether a

became mature enough in this phase, a fact that is

different question whether the transition from

clearly borne out from archeological excavations.

egalitarian and pastoral society to more complex

Archaeology clearly establishes the fact that the

stratified society with a sense of work-

pace of urbanization took an accelerated path

differentiation (though in a rigid Varna system) of

during this phase and the number of urban

post-Mauryan phase was a case of socio-economic

settlements increased considerably. We have







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evidence of greater uses of burnt bricks, both for

(iv)Again, though, state-owned big farms like

residential and fortification purposes, wider use

those of Mauryans did not exist in this period, it

of money as exchange material, larger trading

however does not mean that the idea of state-

networks, bigger production engagements, more

ownership was completely absent. The Milind

frequent international communication and

Panho clearly recognizes state-ownership over all

therefore better socio-economic stability, resulting

the towns, seaports, mines, etc., which existed on

in more producers and larger consumers making

this earth. But it, in all its probability, symbolized

the system dynamic and self-perpetuating.

general territorial sovereignty only.

(a) Agrarian Sector

(v) In India, earliest inscriptional evidence of land

(ii) With the decline of a centralized and strong

grants belongs to the first century B.C. whereby a

Mauryan state, the tradition of state-controlled

village was granted by Satavahanas in

huge farms also vanished, agriculture became

Maharashtra to the priests on the occasion of

small household activity and, therefore, big farms

asvamedha sacrifice. This land was supposed to

were replaced by small, run by individual farmers,

be immune from governmental interference,

who became the real owners of land. Milind

government officials and troops and also supposed

Panho and Manu Smriti testify this

to be free from all taxes. Land grants made in this

transformation. According to Manu, sages

phase were qualitatively different from Mauryan

declared that land belongs to him who cleared

phase as it was to serve religious purposes but

away the timber and a deer to him wounded it.

grants for extension of agrarian economy were also

Divyavadan refers to individual farmers in large


numbers who were engaged in cultivation and

(vi)It seems that land grant on the aksayanivi

worked hard.

system of land-tenure (which implied perpetual

(iii)According to Manu, the acceptance of

endowment of land-revenues) were first made

uncultivated land by a Brahmin is less blamable

during Kusanas which became very popular in

than those of cultivated one and thus makes it

Gupta and post-Gupta phase.

perfectly clear that landgrants were meant for

(vii) As far as size of land is concerned, some

agrarian extension, an idea that had its root in the

inscriptions refer to the field to two to twenty six

Mauryan phase. Existence of Bhogagamas in

nivartanas; one nivartana was roughly equal to 1

South and references of land donation to the

acre. We have. However, an evidence of land

Buddhist monks by Satavahana rulers suggest that

grant of 100 nivartanas which signifies that the land

the tradition of land grant was in vogue but it is

was still not very much fragmented.

doubtful whether it was sold in the market for

secular purposes as we do not have such evidences.





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Scientific and Technological Development in

(iii)The evidence of ivory, working from Rajghat

this Phase

in Varanasi, clay seals and sealings from Vaishali,

(i) In Indian astronomy and astrology found a great

a mudrampart in Chandraketgarh and

encouragement as a result of Greek contacts.

fortification from Ujjain should be remembered

From the Greek term horoscope, the Sanskrit term

in this context.

horasastra came into existence and another

(iv)In Kushana phase, we notice an improvement

term dramma was derived from another Greek

in building technology.

term drachma. Even Greek rulers were influenced

The use of Surkhi (bricks concrete mixed with

by the Brahmi script and some Indian motifs and

lime) and that of baked tile for roofing were the

represented these on their coins.

most distinguished traits of this period.

(ii) The technology of coinage was transformed

(c) Trade: Internal and External

in this phase due to Greek interaction whose coins

(i) Evidences

were properly shaped and stamped than the punch-

(a) Literary sources such as Milind Panho and

marked coins. Gold coins were struck by Kusanas

Jatakas speak about trading organization in

in this phase.

this phase.

(iii) Charaka and Susruta were famous chemists

(b) Periplus tell us about imports and exports in

and medicine experts of this phase and gave

this phase.

these disciplines a clear direction.

(c) The Ayodhya-shred of rouletted ware (typical

(iv) The technology of leather shoe production was

Roman pottery) gives a substantial focus on

probably the contribution of this phase.


(v) Working in glass became more sophisticated

(d) A couple of shreds of red polished ware (typical

due to foreign influenced and emerged as a

of western India and Kusana territory) with

profitable craft.

Kharosthi inscription incised on it have been

(b) Urban Centres

witnessed in archeological excavation around

(i) Archeaology clearly shows that though the city

Satanikot in Kurnool district and it clearly

of Taxila came into existence earlier, it acquired a

proves the trading relationship between Andhra

planned form of development only under the

and northern India.

post-Mauryan phase. We also witness here, burnt

(e) The Mathura image of a goddess which is made

bricks along with wedge-shaped bricks for circular

up of blue schist of Gandhara establishes a


close connection between Mathura and

(ii) Purana





Ahichhatra, Vaishali, Tamluk, Chandraketugarh,

(f) Arikmedu was known to Periplus as Padouke,

Ujjain etc. were other urban settlements as is

Barbaricum and Barygaza (modern Broach)

evidenced by archeological excavations.

were other trading centres of this phase.







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(ii) (a) Commodities of export: Spices, turguoise,

(c) Milind Panho enumerates as many as 75

lapislazuli, muslin, silk-yarn, indigo, copper, teak,

occupations, existy of them associated with

abody spikehard, malabathrum (used in preparing

various kinds of crafts and eight with working of

ointments), diamonds, sapphires and precious

mineral products including gold, silver, lead,

stones. Also exported were the commodities such

copper, tin, brass, iron and precious stones and

as rice, wheat, textiles, female slaves, etc.


(b) Commodities of Import: Tortoise shell,

(d) Indian iron and steel are mentioned by

pearls, purple dye, textiles, wine, dates, gold,


slaves, linen, topaz, coral, storax frankincense,

(e) A brick-built dying vat has been unearthed

glass, silver, goldplate, copper, tin, lead, gauze,

from Uraiyur and another from Arikamedu.

sweet clover, realgar, antimony, medicinal

(f) The Tailikachakra wheel is mentioned in

ointments and gold and silver coins.


(iii)Important trade routes

(g) We are told that Gautami, the aunt of Buddha

(a) Bacteria (in Oxus valley) - Kapisa and Kabul

used five processes of cloth manufacture.

core region of the Kusana empire.

(h) Mathura, in this period, was known for Sataka,

(b) Uttarapatha: Pushkalvati (origin) - Taxila -

a special kind of cloth.

Mathura - Kaushambi - Varanasi - Pataliputra -

(iii)We have epigraphic evidences of guilds of

Champa - Chndraketugarh.

artisans in the post-Mauryan phase who were

(c) Mathura to Sindh (horse-route).

organized under their headmen (gamasamika).

(d) Mathura - Ujjain - Bharuch

(a) Literary evidence informs us about increase in

(e) Dakshinapatha

the number of guilds. Besides traditional 18 guilds,

(f) Sea-route dealt by Periplus of the Eruthraean

Mahavastu informs us about eleven more kinds


of artisans working under their respective heads.

Note: From the excavation of Arikamedu, a

(e) Coinage in Post-Mauryan Phase

sizeable Roman settlement with trading station and

(i) The coinage system in the post-Mauryan phase

a port is witnessed.

experienced a qualitative transformation. While in

(d) Industry and Craft

the Mauryan state, silver punch-marked coins along

(i) Unlike Mauryans, the state hardly exercised

with uninscribed copper coins were in circulation;

any control over arts and crafts.

in the post-mauryan phase, the variety, number and

(ii) Evidences of industry and craft in this phase.

types of coins being minted increased rapidly.

(a) Digha Nikaya mentions two dozen existing arts

(ii) Inscriptions were introduced on coins and

and crafts

techniques of minting coins showed a great

(b) From Mahavastu, we obtain a list of 36 kinds

improvement. Several thousand moulds for casting

of workers living in the town of Rajagriha.

coins of this phase have been discovered from







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Khokrakot in Rohtak, Sunet in Ludhiana, Taxila

(vi)The economic distinction between Shudras and

and Sanchi.

Vaisyas tended to be blurred.

(iii)Thew Indo-Greek kings of North-West


introduced a splendid series of portrait coinage

deteriorated. Patanjali informs us that dasi and

in both silver and copper in which they inscribed

vrishali (shudra women) were meant for satisfying

bilingual inscriptions.

the pleasures of the people of upper classes.

(iv)In addition to those of copper, the Kusanas


minted a large number of goild coins having a

became more complex and more differentiated.

The overall conditions of women

In short, the social conditions in this phase

variety of Indiann, Greek, and Iranian deities.

(v) In this phase, a large variety of coins were in
vogue: these were nishka, suvarna and pala (gold

Refer : Ancient India ( NCERT ) Or

Medeival India ( NCERT) Old Ncert

coins), Satamana (silver coins), Kakani (copper

coin) and that of lead. The most commonly used
coins was the Karsapana in all four metals.
Note: The credit for discovery of monsoon goes
to Hippalus, who discovered it in 46 A.D.
Societal Changes in this Phase
(iii)Emergence of strangers in India in a big way
in this phase created a problem for their
assimilation in Varna-based, caste-oriented Indian
society. The status of fallen Ksatriya was confereed
on Greek and Saka rulers and others were treated
as sub-case of Sudras.
(iv)Expansion in crafts and producing activities
meant an increase in guilds of artisans through
which they improved their caste status with
specific local variations.
(v) Education in this phase was treated as
prerogative of upper castes; the Brahmins had the
monopoly of knowledge and kshatriyas and
Vaisyas were expected to reconcile themselves
with limited knowledge. The possibility of
education for the Shudras exited, but references
to it are extremely infrequent.