Chapter 2: Indus Valley Civilisation


The Indus Valley Civilisation, also known as the Indus Civilisation, was a Bronze Age civilization in the northern areas of South Asia that lasted from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, and from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE in its full form.

It was one of three early civilizations of the Near East and South Asia, along with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and it was the most widespread of the three, with sites spanning an area stretching from today’s northeast Afghanistan, through much of Pakistan, and into western and northwestern India. 

Indus Valley Civilisation - Wikipedia

Indus Valley Civilisation

  • The advent of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), also known as the Harappan Civilization, marks the beginning of Indian history.
  • The Indus Valley Civilisation was called after the Indus river system, on which alluvial plains the early sites of the civilization were discovered and excavated.
  • The Indus Valley Civilization began approximately 3300 BC.
  • It thrived between 2600 and 1900 BC (Mature Indus Valley Civilization). It began to decline around 1900 BC and vanished around 1400 BC.
  • This is also known as the Harappan Civilization, after the first city unearthed, Harappa (Punjab, Pakistan).
  • The first evidence of cotton production has been discovered in Mehrgarh, Pakistan, dating back to the Pre-Harappan civilization.
  • The Indus Valley was home to the largest of Egypt’s, Mesopotamia’s, India’s, and China’s ancient urban civilizations.
  • The Archaeological Department of India conducted excavations in the Indus valley in the 1920s, unearthing the ruins of two ancient towns, Mohenjodaro and Harappa.
  • In 1924, ASI Director-General John Marshall proclaimed to the world the finding of a new civilization in the Indus Valley.

Origin and Evolution

  • The archaeological discoveries made during the previous eight decades demonstrate the Harappan culture’s progressive growth.
  • Pre-Harappan, early-Harappan, mature-Harappan, and late Harappan are the four major stages or periods of development.
  • Eastern Balochistan is the location of the pre-Harappan stage.
  • Excavations in Mehrgarh, 150 miles northwest of Mohenjodaro, have shown the presence of pre-Harappan civilization. At this point, the nomadic people began to settle down and live a stable agricultural existence.
  • The Early Harappan Phase is associated with the Hakra Phase, which was discovered in the Ghaggar-Hakra River Valley.
  • People lived in huge communities on the plains during the Early Harappan period. The settlements in the Indus valley grew gradually.
  • During this time, there was also a movement from country to urban life. The sites of Amri and Kot Diji continue to provide evidence for the early Harappan period.
  • Great cities arose during the mature-Harappan era.
  • The excavations at Kalibangan, with their intricate town planning and urban elements, demonstrate this stage of progression.
  • The fall of the Indus civilization began in the late-Harappan era. This stage of progression is revealed by the excavations at Lothal.
  • Lothal, with its harbor, was established considerably later. As flood protection, it was enclosed by a large brick wall.
  • Lothal remained a commerce hub for the Harappan civilization and the rest of India, as well as Mesopotamia.

Date of Indus Valley Civilisation

  • Sir John Marshall estimated the length of Mohenjodaro’s settlement between 3250 and 2750 B.C. in 1931.
  • As a result, as additional sites are uncovered, the date of the Harappan civilization is revised.
  • The development of the radiocarbon technique allows for the determination of nearly exact dates.
  • On the basis of radiocarbon dates from his finds, Fairservis reduced the chronology of the Harappan civilization to between 2000 and 1500 B.C. by 1956.
  • D.P. Agarwal concluded in 1964 that the overall period of this civilization should be between 2300 and 1750 B.C.
  • However, these dates are subject to additional change.

Important sites of Indus Valley Civilisation

SiteDiscovered byLocationFeatures

Marshall, Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni and Madho Sarup Vats. 1921

Located in the Montgomery district of Punjab, on the banks of the Ravi River.

  • Granaries, bullock carts, and sandstone human anatomy sculptures


R.D. Banerjee, E. J. H. MacKay and Marshall. 1922

Located in the Punjab district of Larkana on the banks of the Indus River

  • Mound of Dead

  • Great bath

  • Granary Bronze

  • dancing girl

  • Seal of Pashupati Mahadeva statue

  • Steatite of beard man

  • A plethora of seals have been discovered.

  • The most significant employment was agriculture. Cotton cultivation was pioneered by the earliest civilisation.

  • Domesticated animals included sheep, goats, and pigs.


Stein in 1929

Dast river in Pakistan’s southern Balochistan province

  • Harappa’s and Babylon’s trading post


N.G Majumdar in 1931

Sindh is located on the Indus River.

  • Shop with bead makers

  • a dog chasing a cat’s footprint


N.G Majumdar in 1935.

On the banks of the Indus.

  • Evidence of antelope


Ghose in 1953.

Rajasthan, beside the Ghaggar River.

  • Altar of fire

  • Bones from camels.

  • Plough of wood


R.Rao in 1953.

Gujarat on Bhogva river near Gulf of Cambay.

  • The first artificial port.

  • Dockyard.

  • husk of rice

  • Altars of fire.


J.P Joshi in 1964.


  • Horse like skeletons

  • Beads


R.S Bisht in 1974.

Haryana’s Hisar district.

  • Evidence of Beads, Barley

  • Both pre-Harappan and Harappan cultures have been discovered.


R.S Bisht in 1985.

Gujara, Rann of Kachchh.

  • Water collection system

  • reservoir of water

Salient Features of the Indus Valley Civilisation

Town Planning

  • Harappan civilization was characterized by its urban planning system.
  • Each of Harappa and Mohenjodaro had its own citadel or acropolis, which was likely held by ruling class members.
  • Each city has a lower town with brick homes that were occupied by the ordinary people beneath the citadel.
  • The grid method was used to arrange the dwellings in the city, which is exceptional.
  • Granaries were an essential feature of Harappan towns.
  • The usage of burnt bricks in Harappan towns is noteworthy, as dry bricks were often used in Egyptian constructions at the time.
  • Mohenjodaro’s drainage system was rather outstanding.
  • The Great Bath, which is 39 feet long, 23 feet wide, and 8 feet deep, is Mohenjodaro’s most significant public space.
  • At either end, a flight of steps leads to the surface. There are dressing rooms on the side. The Bath’s floor was constructed of burned bricks.
  • Water was drawn from a large well in another room, and a drain was accessible from one corner of the Bath. It was probably used for ceremonial bathing.
  • A granary spanning 150 feet long and 50 feet wide is the biggest structure in Mohenjodaro.
  • However, there are as many as six granaries in Harappa’s fortress.
  • Practically every big or little property in almost every city has its own patio and bathroom.
  • Many residences in Kalibangan had wells.
  • The entire community was fortified at locations like Dholavira and Lothal (Gujarat), and portions of the town were also protected by walls.

Indus Valley Civilisation: Facts, Town Planning, Religion, Language,  Technology, Arts & Crafts, Decline

Economic Life

  • The presence of numerous seals, uniform script, and regulated weights and measures across a large area demonstrates the importance of trade in the lives of the Indus people.
  • Stone, metal, shell, and other materials were traded extensively by the Harappans.
  • Metal money was not utilized, and trade was conducted through barter.
  • They practiced navigation along the Arabian Sea’s shore.
  • They had established a commercial colony in northern Afghanistan, which aided commerce with Central Asia.
  • They also traded with people living around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
  • The Harappans engaged in long-distance lapis lazuli trading, which may have boosted the ruling class’s social standing.

Agriculture in Indus Valley Civilisation

  • Harappan communities, which were generally located in river plains, generated enough foodgrains.
  • Wheat, barley, rai, peas, sesame, lentil, chickpea, and mustard were among the crops grown.
  • Millets have also been discovered in Gujarat. While rice was used infrequently.
  • The Indus people were the first to cultivate cotton.
  • Whole grain findings suggest the presence of agriculture, reconstructing real agricultural operations is more challenging.
  • The bull was recognized, according to representations on seals and terracotta art, and archaeologists conclude that oxen were also utilised for ploughing.
  • The majority of Harappan sites are in semi-arid regions where irrigation was likely necessary for cultivation.
  • Canal traces have been discovered in Afghanistan’s Shortughai Harappan site, but not in Punjab or Sindh.
  • Although the Harappans were farmers, they also raised animals on a massive scale.
  • A shallow level of Mohenjodaro and a dubious ceramic piece from Lothal provide evidence of the horse. In any event, Harappan civilization was not centred on horses.

New archaeological evidence proves Indus farmers grew rice in the Bronze  Age – Seshat: Global History Databank

Social Life

  • To comprehend the Harappan social life, there is a wealth of evidence. Both men and women wore two pieces of fabric, one for the upper body and the other for the lower body.
  • Both men and women wore beads.
  • Women wore bangles, bracelets, fillets, girdles, anklets, ear-rings, and finger rings, among other things.
  • Gold, silver, copper, bronze, and semi-precious stones were used to create these decorations.
  • Cosmetic usage was widespread. At Mohenjodaro, several household items made of pottery, stone, shells, ivory, and metal have been discovered.
  • Copper is used to make spindles, needles, combs, fish hooks, and knives.
  • Fishing was a popular hobby, while bullfighting and hunting were also popular.
  • Axes, spearheads, daggers, bows, and arrows made of copper and bronze were among the many weapons on display.

Social Institutions

  • In the Indus valley, just a few written items have been uncovered, and academics have yet to decode the Indus script.
  • As a result, determining the nature of the Indus Valley Civilization’s state and institutions is challenging.
  • At no Harappan site have temples been discovered. As a result, the prospect of priests dominating Harappa is ruled out.
  • Harappa was most likely dominated by a merchant class.
  • Archaeological documents may not give obvious answers when looking for a power centre or portrayals of powerful people.
  • Some archaeologists believe that Harappan culture had no rulers and that everyone was treated equally.

Art and Crafts

  • The Harappans were well-versed in the production and application of bronze.
  • Copper was acquired from Rajasthan’s Khetri copper mines, while tin was likely imported from Afghanistan.
  • Several artefacts have been discovered with textile imprints.
  • Large brick structures indicate that brick-laying was a valuable skill. This also confirms the existence of a mason class.
  • The Harappans were known for their boat-building, bead-making, and seal-making skills. Terracotta production was also a significant skill.
  • Goldsmiths created silver, gold, and precious stone jewellery.
  • The potter’s wheel was in full swing, and the Harappans were producing their own distinctive glossy and gleaming pottery.

Harappa Jewelry making craft | Story of Indian crafts and craftsmen


  • Several clay figures of women have been discovered at Harappa. A plant is represented sprouting out of a woman’s embryo in one figure.
  • As a result, the Harappans saw the earth as a fertility goddess, worshipping her in the same way that the Egyptians revered the Nile goddess Isis.
  • The masculine god is shown as a seal with three-horned heads seated in the pose of a yogi.
  • This god sits on a throne surrounded by elephants, tigers, rhinoceros, and buffalo.
  • Two deer emerge at his feet. The divinity represented is known as Pushupati Mahadeva.
  • There have been several stone phallus and female sex organ symbols discovered.
  • Trees and animals were highly revered by the Indus people.
  • The one-horned unicorn, which is related to the rhinoceros, is the most significant, while the humped bull is the second most important.
  • Numerous amulets have also been discovered.

Script in Indus Valley Civilisation

  • The Harappan script is currently being deciphered in its entirety.
  • There are between 400 and 600 signs, with 40 or 60 being fundamental and the rest being modifications.
  • The majority of the script was written from right to left.
  • The boustrophedon approach — writing in the opposite way in alternate lines – was used on a few lengthy seals.
  • Dravidian was the language of the Harappans, according to Parpola and his Scandinavian colleagues. This viewpoint is shared by a group of Soviet academics.
  • Other researchers hold a different perspective on the Harappan and Brahmi scripts.
  • The Harappan writing remains a mystery, and deciphering it will undoubtedly provide new information on this civilisation.

Alphabet Gallery

Burial Methods

  • Cemeteries unearthed near towns like Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Kalibangan, Lothal, and Rupar shed information on the Harappans’ burial habits.
  • At Mohenjodaro, both complete burial and post-cremation burial were prevalent.
  • The burial hole at Lothal was lined with charred bricks, indicating that coffins were used. At Harappa, wooden coffins were also discovered.
  • Pot burials have been discovered in Lothal, occasionally with pairs of bones. However, there is no concrete proof that Sati is practised.

Mysteries of Rakhigarhi's Harappan Necropolis: In burials from 4,000 years  ago, women both exalted, condemned | Explained News - The Indian Express

Decline of Indus Valley Civilisation

  • There is no universal agreement on what caused the Harappan civilization to fall. Several hypotheses have been proposed.
  • Natural disasters like repeated floods, river drying up, diminishing soil fertility owing to overexploitation, and periodic earthquakes may have contributed to the downfall of the Harappan towns.
  • The invasion of Aryans, according to some experts, was the ultimate blow. The Rig Veda mentions the demolition of forts.
  • Human bones discovered crowded together at Mohenjodaro further suggest that the city was attacked by strangers.
  • The Aryans possessed stronger weaponry and fast horses, which may have helped them to conquer this region.

Mohenjo-daro Deep Soundings and Flood Damage | Harappa


The Indus civilization, also known as the Indus valley civilization or Harappan civilization, was the Indian subcontinent’s first known urban culture.

The civilisation appears to have existed between 2500 and 1700 BCE, however the southern sites may have continued into the second millennium BCE.

The Indus civilization was the largest of the world’s three early civilizations (the others being Mesopotamia and Egypt).

Chapter 3: Vedic Period


The Vedic civilization started with the advent of the Aryans in around 1500 BC, which coincided with the late Harrapan society (associated with the decline of the Indus valley civilization). Aryans spoke Sanskrit, which is considered the origin of most of the current languages of the Indian subcontinent and is said to be a part of Indo-European languages, which is the origin point of most European languages and Persian.

Early scholars such as Wheeler believed that the Aryan tribes originally came from the steppes and invaded India around 1500 BCE. This was known as the Aryan Invasion Theory. However, we have discussed in the previous article why an Aryan Invasion is an unlikely theory. Therefore, it has been rejected in Favour of a much more plausible Aryan Migration theory.

Basis of Aryan Migration Theory

Linguistic arguments

  • European scholars discovered linguistic similarities between Sanskrit and the major European languages during the colonial era led to the introduction of the Aryan migration theory.
  • The Dravidian language family of south India is distinct from the Indo-European language spoken by ‘Aryans’.
  • Introduction of Horse: People of Steppe-pastoralist ancestry may have introduced horses in India as we don’t find any significant proof of horses in Indus valley civilization.
  • The initial written evidence for an Indo-Aryan language is found in northern Syria, the location of the Mitanni kingdom. The Mitanni kings adopted Old Indic throne names, and Old Indic technical terms were used for horse-riding and chariot-driving. The Old Indic term r’ta, meaning “the cosmic order”, is central to Rigveda and was also used in the Mitanni kingdom. Old Vedic gods, including Indra, were also known in the Mitanni kingdom, whereas it finds no place in Harappan art.

Arguments from the Study of Vedas:

  • Rigveda mentions non-Vedic tribes with people of a different color (Dasyus).
  • The term ‘Varna’, apart from being a reference to occupational categorisation, is also synonymous with color.
  • The early Vedic text mentions the Indus River system numerous times, whereas it mentions River Ganga only once.
  • Boghaz-Koi tablets, a collection of more than 20,000 inscriptions, refer to cultural practices like the Vedic culture in central Asia. It mentions Indra, Varuna and Mitra. These tablets belong to the 2nd Millennia BCE.

Arguments from Genetics: 

  • In a collaborative effort between the Harvard Medical School and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB)David Reich conducted a study. Through this, they were able to recognize two genetic groups in the majority of the Indian population, which they called “Ancestral North Indians” (ANI) and “Ancestral South Indians” (ASI), respectively. 
  • They found that the ANI genes are close to those of Middle Easterners, Central Asians and Europeans. In contrast, the ASI genes are not similar to all other known populations outside India, though the indigenous Andamanese people were determined to be the most closely related to the ASI population of any living group (although distinct from the ASI).

 Vedic Period:

  • The Vedic texts may be divided into two broad chronological strata:
    i) The early Vedic or Regvedic period (1500-1000 B.C.).
    ii) The later Vedic (1000-600B.C.).


Ancient name

Modern rivers associated with




Indus – the most mentioned river












Possibly Ghaggar-Hakra channel


 The early Vedic or Regvedic period (1500-1000 B.C.)

  • The source of information of this period includes the archeological evidences as well as the literary source i.e. Rig Veda. It is an important source of information for this period.
  • The Rig Veda has many things in common with the Avesta, which is the oldest text in the Iranian language.

Geographical extension –

  • The early Aryans settled in eastern Afghanistan, modern Pakistan, Punjab and parts of western U.P.The whole region in which the Aryans first settled in India is called the Land of Seven Rivers or Sapta Sindhava (the Indus and the five tributaries and the Saraswati).

Political Organization –

  • The tribe = Jana and king = Rajan was the leader in battle and protector of the tribe.
  • His office was not hereditary and was selected among the clan’s men.
  • The Rajan was not an absolute monarch government was responsible for councils like Sabhas, Samitis, Gana and Vidhata.
  • Women only can attend the Gana and Vidhata.
  • The basic social unit was the Kula = family and head called kulapa.
  • King was assisted by the Purohit(important) and head of army was called senani (second imp post)
  • No regular army was maintained by king
  • Aryans army was advanced and use chariot driven by horse.
  • No regular revenue system kingdom was maintained by tributes called BALI and assets won in the battle.

Social Life –

  • Family was the basic unit of society and was patriarchal in nature.
  • Women enjoyed equal powers.
  • Marriage was usually monogamous and indissoluble, but there are a few instances of polyandry, levirate (marry to brother’s widow) and widow marriage.
  • No child marriage evidences
  • Both dowry and bride price were recognized during the Early Vedic period.
  • Throughout the Vedic period, education was imparted orally.
  • They enjoyed chariot racing. Both men and women wore ornaments.
  • The Aryans loved music and played the flute, lute and harp.
  • There are references to singing and dancing girls. People also delighted in gambling.


  • Their bronze smiths were highly skilled and produced tools and weapons much superior to those of Harappa culture. There were artisans like carpenters, weavers, cobblers, potters, etc.
  • Aryans followed mixed economy = Agriculture + Pastoral in which pastoral is dominant.
  • Most of their wars were fought for cow (most important form of wealth).
  • Standard unit of exchange was the cow. At the same time coins were also there (gold coins like Nishka, Krishnal and Satmana).
  • Gavyuti= measurement of distance, Gopati = king, Godhuli = time.
  • Lived in fortified mud settlements.
  • The staple crop was ‘yava’or “java” which meant barley.

Religion –

  • From Rig-Veda, we come to know that there were 33 gods that time who were divided into three categories viz., Varuna, Surya, Aditi, and Savitri were heavenly gods. Indra, Rudra, Maruts etc. were Atmospheric gods. Agni, Soma, and Prithvi were earthly gods.
  • The Aryans personified the natural forces and looked upon them as living beings.
  • Didn’t believe in erecting temples or idol worship. Worshipped in open air through yajnas.

Family structure

  • In the Aryan society, kinship was the basis of the social structure. A person was identified by his clan and was loyal to their tribe or Jana.
  • KULA or family formed the basic unit, which then joined together to form Grama or village.
  • Large families were the norm in society. GRAHAPATI, or KULAPA, was the head of the family.
  • GRAMINI was the head of the village. Initially, he was only head of a fighting unit (for Sangram); he later became head of the village. With time, he became identical to VRAJAPATI. In Later Vedic times, Vrajpati enjoyed authority over a large land or pasture.
  • VISHU constituted a group of villages which Vishupati headed.

Later Vedic Period/Painted Grey Ware Phase (1000-600 B.C.) –

Geographical extension –

  • They reveal that the Aryans expanded from Punjab over the whole of western U.P. covered by the Ganga-Yamuna doab.
  • In the beginning, they cleared the land by burning;
    Later with the use of iron tools which became common by 1000-800 B.C.
  • In Later Vedic period, many great cities like Videha, Kaushambhi, Kasi, Ayodhya, Hastinapur and Indraprashtha etc. had sprung up.

Political Organization—

  • Tiny tribal settlements were replaced by strong kingdoms.
  • Powers of the king who was called the Samrat increased.
  • importance of assemblies declined.
  • Women were no longer permitted to attend assemblies and the term ‘Rashtra’ indicating territory first appeared in this period.
  • The Sabha and the Samiti were now not powerful enough to check the power of the kings. The office of the monarch had now become more or less hereditary.
  • A regular army was maintained for the protection of the kingdom.
  • The officials got many new assistants of the king were present. References of Priest (Purohita), Commander in chief (Senapati), Charioteer (Suta),Treasurer (Sangrihita), Tax collector (Bhagdugha),
    Chief Queen (Mahisi) and the Great companion (Aksavapa).

social life-

  • The four-fold division of society became clear initially based on occupation which later became hereditary; Brahmins (priests), Kshatriya (warriors), Vaishyas (agriculturists, cattle-rearers, and traders) and Shudras (servers of the upper three).
  • Women enjoyed freedom and respect, but their status deteriorated compared to earlier time.
  • In this age also Chariot racing was the main sport and gambling the main pastime.
  • Now in place of four main Varna’s many new castes were born, leading to the complexities of the caste system.
  • Life of men divided into four ashrams i.e. Bramhachrya, Grahast, sanyas, vanprast.

Types of marriages –

  • Brahma: Marriage of a duly dowered girl to a man
    of the same class.
  • Daiva: Marriage in which the father gave his
    Daughter to a sacrificial priest as part of his fees.
  • Arsa: Marriage in which a token bride price of a
    cow and a bull were paid to the daughter’s father.
  • Prajapatya: Marriage in which the father gave the
    girl without any dowry and without demanding bride price.
  • Gandharva: Marriage often clandestine, by the consent of the two parties.
  • Asura: Marriage by purchase.
  • Rakshasa: Marriage by capture.
  • Paishacha: Marriage involving the seduction of a
    girl while sleeping, etc.
  • Anuloma marriage: was the marriage of higher varna man with a lower varna woman.
  • Pratiloma marriage was the marriage of a lower varna man with a higher varna woman.

Important Vedic Rituals

  • Asvamedha: A king performed this sacrifice which meant control over the area in which the royal horse ran uninterrupted. The ceremony lasted for three days at the end of which the horse scarified was performed. The Asvamedha sacrifice concluded with the sacrifice of 21 sterile cows.
  • Vajapeva: A chariot race was performed in which the king must win the race (it was fixed). It was meant to re-establish the supremacy of the king over his people.
  • Rajasuya: A sacrifice ceremony which conferred supreme power on the king.
  • Ratnahavimsi: A part of Rajasuya ceremony where different royal officials (ratnins) invoked different gods and goddesses.
  • Upanayana: An initiation ceremony to confer dvija status to boys of the higher varnas in their eighth year.
  • Pumsayam: A ceremony to procure a male child.
  • Garbhadhana: A ceremony to promote conception in women.
  • Culakarma: A ceremony, also known tonsure performed for boys in their third year.
  • Semontannayam: A ceremony to ensure the safety of the child in the womb.
  • Jatkarma: A birth ceremony performed before the cutting of the umbilical cord.


  • The later Vedic people used four types of pottery: black and red ware, black-slipped ware, painted grey ware and red ware.

Economy –

  • The Nishka replaced cow as a unit of value.
  • Rig-Veda mentions only gold and copper or bronze but Later Vedic texts mention tin, lead, silver and iron.

Religion –

  • Rituals and formulae became prominent in the cult of sacrifice.
  • Indra, Varuna, Surya and Agni lost their importance. Prajapati (the creator) became supreme. Vishnu came to be conceived as the preserver and protector of the people.
  • Varna systems became more rigid.

The Vedic Literature –

  • The word ‘veda’ comes from the root ‘vidi’ signifying knowledge.
  • Vedas are also known as ‘Shruti’ (to hear) as they were passed from generation through verbal transmission.
  • They are four in all – Rig-Veda, samaveda, yajurveda and Atharveda.
  • Each Veda is further subdivided into Samhitas.

Rig veda –

  • Oldest religious text in the world.
  • The third Mandala contains the Gayatri Mantra (addressed to the sun/Savitri – goddess associated with Surya).

Samveda –

  • Derived from the root ‘Saman’ i.e. ‘melody’. It is a collection of melodies.
  • Contains ‘Dhrupad Raga’ which is the oldest of the ragas.

Yajurveda –

  • Deals with the procedure for the performance of sacrifices.
  • There are two main text of yajurveda –
  • White yajurveda (shukla yajurveda)= mantras
  • Black yajurveda (Krishna yajurveda)=commentary in prose

Atharvaveda –

  • Entirely different from three other Vedas.
  • Atharvaveda refers to king as protector of Brahmans and eater of people.
  • From the point of view of Vedic rituals, Atharvaveda is the most important.

The Brahamans

  • They explain the hymns of the Vedas in an orthodox
  • Each Veda has several Brahmans attached to it.
  • The most important is ‘Satpatha Brahmana’ attached to Yajurveda which is the most exhaustive and important of all. It recommends ‘One Hundred Sacred Paths’.

The Aranyakas 

  • Also called ‘forest books’, written mainly by the hermits living in the jungles for their pupils.
  • These are the concluding part of the Brahman’s.
  • Deals with mysticism and philosophy. Opposed to sacrifice and emphasized meditation.
  • Form a bridge between ‘Way of Work’ (Karma Marg) which was the sole concern of the Upanishads and the ‘Way of Knowledge’ (Gyan Marg) which the Brahmans advocated.

The Upanishads–

  • The word means ‘to sit down near someone’ and denotes a student sitting near his guru to learn.
  • its also Called Vedanta (the end of the Vedas) firstly because they denote the last phase of the Vedic because they denote the last phase of the Vedic period and secondly because they reveal the final aim of the Vedas.
  • They are the main source of Indian philosophy.
  • There are 108 Upanishads.
  • They also condemn the ceremonies and the sacrifices.
  • They discuss the various theories of creation of the universe and define the doctrine of action (karma).
  • Mandukyu Upanishad is the source of ‘Satya Mevya Jayate’.

Smritis —

  • Explains rules and regulations in the vedic life.
  • Main are Manusmriti,Naradsmriti , Yagyavalkyasmriti and Parasharsmriti.
  • Dharmasutras contain social laws popularly known as ‘Smriti’.
  • Earliest Dharmasutra is the Manusmriti which is also called Manav Darshan.

Vedangas –

  • Six Vedangas are Shiksha which deals with pronunciation, Kalpa which deals with rituals, Vyakarana which deals with grammar, Nirukta which deals with etymology or phonetics, Chhanda which deals with meter and Jyotisha which deals with astronomy.

Epics –

There are two epic – Ramayana written by Valmiki.
Mahabharata written by Vyas.


Chapter 4: Buddhism


Buddhism, founded in the late sixth century BCE by Siddhartha Gautama (the “Buddha”), is a major religion in the majority of Asian countries. Buddhism has taken many various forms, but in each case, there has been an attempt to draw models for religious life from the Buddha’s life experiences, teachings called dhamma or dharma, and the “spirit” or “essence” of his teachings. 

Buddhism's blueprint to conquer suffering - Big Think

Buddhism – Origin

  • Buddhism began approximately 2,600 years ago in India as a way of life with the capacity to transform a person.
  • It is a major religion in South and South-Eastern Asian countries.
  • The religion is founded on the teachings and life experiences of its founder, Siddhartha Gautam, who was born in 563 BCE.
  • He was born into the Sakya clan’s royal line, who ruled from Kapilvastu in Lumbini, near the Indo-Nepal border.
  • Gautama left home at the age of 29 and abandoned his life of luxury in favour of a life of asceticism, or intense self-discipline.
  • Gautama attained Bodhi (enlightenment) under a pipal tree in Bodhgaya, a hamlet in Bihar, after 49 days of meditation.
  • Buddha delivered his first speech in Sarnath, near the city of Benares in Uttar Pradesh.
  • This is referred to as Dharma-Chakra-Pravartana (turning of the wheel of law).
  • He died at the age of 80 in 483 BCE in Kushinagara, a town in Uttar Pradesh. Mahaparinibbana is the name given to this event.
  • The Buddha created the belief system during a period of significant religious and intellectual revolution in India.
  • Buddhism was once just one of many schools of thought that arose in response to what was viewed as traditional Hinduism’s failure to satisfy the needs of the people.
  • It remained a tiny school of thought until the reign of Ashoka the Great (268-232 BCE) of the Mauryan Empire (322-185 BCE), who adopted and propagated the doctrine not only in India, but also throughout Central and Southeast Asia.


Gautama Buddha

Gautama Buddha

Buddhism – Causes of Origin

Domination of the priestly class

  • In the Varna system, the hierarchy was as follows: Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras.
  • The Kshatriyas, who were ranked second, bitterly opposed the Brahmanas’ ritualistic dominance and the other privileges they received.
  • It is also worth noting that Buddha belonged to the Kshatriya varna.
  • It is worth noting that the Buddhist Pali scriptures frequently reject the Brahmanical claim to superiority and elevate themselves (Kshatriyas) above the Brahmanas.

Sanskrit as Language of Vedas

  • The Vedas were “received” and repeated by Hindu priests in Sanskrit, a language that the people did not comprehend.
  • Numerous philosophical thinkers of the time questioned this procedure and the validity of the religious structure.
  • Many other schools of philosophy are supposed to have developed at this time (the most of which did not survive), which either recognised or rejected the Vedic authority.
  • Those who accepted the orthodox Hindu concept and the resulting rituals were referred to as astika (“there exists”), while those who opposed the orthodox view were referred to as nastika (“there does not exist”).
  • Charvaka, Jainism, and Buddhism were three of the nastika systems of philosophy that survived this period.

What are the Upanishads in Hinduism? - Quora

The rise of the new economy

  • The centre of economic and political activity shifted from Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh to eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the sixth century BCE, when the soil was more fruitful due to abundant rainfall.
  • It became easier to use Bihar’s iron reservoir and surrounding lands.
  • People began to use more iron implements, such as ploughshares, for agricultural purposes.
  • The use of iron ploughshares necessitated the use of bullocks, which meant that the age-old Vedic custom of slaughtering animals as sacrifices would have to be abandoned in order for this agricultural economy to stabilise.
  • Furthermore, the development of animal husbandry became imperative in order to raise a prospective animal population to take on the task required to sustain the agricultural sector’s development.
  • Because Buddhism was opposed to any type of sacrifice, the peasantry accepted it.

New Social structure

  • The agricultural boom resulted in greater food production, which aided in the development of trade, craft production, and urban centres.
  • Numismatists’ discovery of hundreds of silver and copper Punch-Marked Coins demonstrates the evolution of trade during this time period.

HOW CITIES DEVELOPED IN ANCIENT INDIA | Second Urbanization and emergence  of Mahajanapada - YouTube

  • This is known as the Second Urbanisation Era. Between 600 and 300 BCE, sixty towns and cities arose, including Rajagriha, Shravasti, Varanasi, Vaishali, and Champa.
  • The Vaishyas and other mercantile groups grew to a better economic position and preferred to support non-Vedic religions such as Buddhism and Jainism with large gifts.
  • Buddhism preached nonviolence and peace, which might put a stop to hostilities between different kingdoms and, as a result, foster more trade and commerce, which was helpful to this economic class.
  • The new religions were accepted by the common people because they preached peace and social equality, as well as simple and ascetic life.
  • People desired escape from the mounting social problems and a tranquil and uncorrupt life.

Mudras of Gautama Buddha

Ancient Buddhist Monastery Found in Jharkhand

Buddhism Texts

Buddhist texts are religious texts that are part of the Buddhist tradition. The oldest Buddhist writings were not written down until centuries after Gautama Buddha’s death. Buddhist texts are literary and religious works that are part of the Buddhist tradition.

How translated texts, paintings and songs brought Buddhism to the western  world

The initial manuscripts were written entirely in Pali, but they were afterwards jotted down and transcribed in other languages. 

  • The original Buddhist scriptures were passed down orally by Buddhist monastics before being written down and created as manuscripts in various Indo-Aryan languages and grouped into distinct Buddhist Canons.
  • As Buddhism expanded outside of India, they were translated into various languages such as Buddhist Chinese and Classical Tibetan.
  • Buddhist writings can be classified in a variety of ways.
  • Western academics apply the words “scripture” and “canonical” to Buddhism in varying ways: for example, one authority refers to “scriptures and other canonical writings,” while another claims that scriptures can be classified as canonical, commentarial, or pseudo-canonical.
  • Buddhist traditions have typically categorised these works into categories and divisions, such as buddhavacana “words of the Buddha,” many of which are known as “sutras,” and other texts, such as “shastras” (treatises) or “Abhidharma.”
  • These religious works were composed in a variety of languages, writing systems, and procedures.
  • Memorizing, reciting, and duplicating the scriptures was regarded as spiritually beneficial.
  • Even when Buddhist organizations developed and adopted printing, Buddhists continued to duplicate them by hand as a spiritual exercise.


  • The Mahasamghika and the Mulasarvastivada considered both the Buddha and his followers’ talks to be buddhavacana.
  • A variety of entities, including Buddhas and students of the Buddha, were thought to be capable of transferring buddhavacana.
  • The content of such a discourse was next to be compiled with the sutras, examined with the Vinaya, and appraised in relation to the essence of the Dharma.

buddhism · GitHub Topics · GitHub

  • A buddha, a sangha, a small group of elders, or one competent elder can then certify these scriptures as real buddhavacana.
  • The Pali Canon, also known as the Tripitaka (“three baskets”) in Theravada Buddhism, is the standard collection of buddhavacana.
  • In general, the Theravada school dismisses the Mahayana sutras as buddhavacana and does not study or regard them as credible sources.
  • The Kangyur is where buddhavacana is gathered in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.
  • In their normal collected editions, the East Asian and Tibetan Buddhist Canons always mixed buddhavacana with other literature.
  • However, East Asian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism share a common understanding of what constitutes buddhavacana.

Early Buddhist texts

  • The oldest Buddhist writings were transmitted orally in Middle Indo-Aryan languages known as Prakrits, which included Gandhari, the early Magadhan language, and Pali, using repetition, community recitation, and memory techniques.
  • These passages were eventually gathered into canons and recorded in manuscripts.
  • The Pali Canon, for example, was maintained in Sri Lanka, where it was initially written down in the first century BCE.
  • Theravada and Sarvastivada schools have the biggest collections of early writings, but there are also whole texts and fragments from the Dharmaguptaka, Mahasanghika, Mahisasaka, Mlasarvastivada, and others.
  • The first four Pali Nikayas, as well as the related Chinese Agamas, are the most well studied early Buddhist texts.
  • The majority of the early sutras that have remained are from the Sthavira nikaya schools; no entire collection from the other early branch of Buddhism, the Mahasamghika, has survived.
  • However, certain particular manuscripts, such as the Salistamba Sutra, have survived. This sutra has several parallel sections to the Pali suttas.
  • In addition to the Sutras and Vinayas, certain schools possessed collections of “minor” or miscellaneous works.
  • The Theravada Khuddaka Nikaya is one example, and there is evidence that the Dharmaguptaka school had a comparable collection known as the Ksudraka gama. In Gandhari, fragments of the Dharmaguptaka minor collection have been discovered.
  • The Sarvastivada school appears to have possessed a Ksudraka collection of writings as well, although they did not consider it a “Agama.”

Buddhism Texts – Pitakas

  • Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka, and Vinaya Pitaka are the three pitakas.
  • It contains around ten thousand sutras relating to Buddha and his close associates.
  • It also deals with the first Buddhist council, convened immediately after Buddha’s death.
  • Sutta Pitaka is an invaluable resource for learning about Gautam Buddha’s lectures and religious beliefs.
  • The Vinaya Pitaka is a collection of 227 rules of behavior and discipline that apply to the monastic life of monks and nuns.
  • It is divided into three sections and, in addition to the regulations, provides explanations of the events surrounding the rule’s promulgation as well as exceptions to the rule.
  • The basic instruction, or Dhamma, is included in the Sutta Pitaka. It is split into five collections or Nikayas.
  • Long teachings (Digha Nikaya), medium-length teachings (Majjhima Nikaya), groups of shorter teachings arranged according to common topics (Samyutta Nikaya), a collection arranged according to subjects discussed (Angutta Nikaya), and a collection of a variety of shorter texts in verse and prose are all included.
  • The Abhidamma Pitaka is made up of seven volumes known as the higher or advanced instruction.
  • This appears to be the monks’ scholastic effort, as it involves a philosophical examination and systematization of the doctrine.
  • The writing was done on strips of dried palm leaves that were chopped into rectangles and incised with a metal stylus before being wiped over with carbon ink.
  • To maintain the pages in order, a thread was threaded through them, and artistically painted wooden coverings were fastened at the ends.

Buddhism Texts – Sanskrit Canon

  • The Buddha urged the monks to teach in the people’s many languages. Oral Sanskrit continued to be taught orally throughout India.
  • The teaching was written down in Sanskrit at the Fourth Council in India in the first century C.E. and became known as the Sanskrit Canon.
  • There were several versions of the Sanskrit Canon, all of which were similar in shape and substance.
  • Both the Pali and Sanskrit Canons may be traced back to the Buddha’s initial teaching.
  • The Sanskrit Tripitaka, or Canon, was divided into three sections, as was the Pali Canon, namely:
  • Vinaya Vaibasha is a set of monastic regulations.
  • Sutra Vaibasha – the Dharma, the five Agamas corresponded to the Pali Canon’s five Nikayas.
  • Abhidharma Vaibasha – the scholarly philosophical analysis that varied from the equivalent part of the Pali Canon.
  • The Sanskrit Canon does not exist in its entirety in India, although it is available in translations in Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan.

Theravada texts

  • Theravada has a large commentarial literature, much of which remains untranslated.
  • These are credited to Sri Lankan intellectuals such as Buddhaghosa and Dhammapala.
  • Buddhaghosa was also the author of the Visuddhimagga, or Path of Purification, a treatise of theory and practise based on Sri Lanka’s Mahavihara tradition.

What are some important texts in Theravada?

  • Buddhaghosa is thought to have drawn inspiration from Buddhist commentaries in the Sri Lankan Sinhala language, which are now lost.
  • Many Buddhist works are found in Sri Lankan vernacular literature, such as ancient Sinhala poetry like the Muvadevavata and the Sasadavata, as well as prose works like the Dhampiyatuva gatapadaya, a commentary on words and phrases in the Pali Dhammapada.
  • Theravada textual tradition moved into Burma and Thailand, where Pali scholarship flourished with works such as Saddaniti’s Aggavamsa and Ratanapanna’s Jinakalamali.

Mahayana texts

  • New Sutras were composed as the Mahayana expanded. The Mahayana teaching incorporates the teaching from the Sanskrit Canon.
  • The new Sutras were based on previous writings, but new content was added to include Mahayana views.
  • Nine new Sutras are regarded particularly noteworthy among the many new Sutras written.
  • Four of the most well-known and significant are:
  • The Prajnaparamita Sutras (Wisdom, Perfection Sutras), which lay forth the Emptiness teachings.
  • The Saddharma Pundarika Sutra (Lotus Sutra) reveals the unity of the teachings and praises the Bodhisattva.
  • This was regarded as the highest instruction by Mahayana, and it is the most significant Sutra in China and Japan.
  • The Vimalakirtinirdesa Sutra describes how a layman might become a Bodhisattva.

Vajrayana Texts

  • With the expansion of Tantric Buddhism, new Tantric literature dealing with new themes arose. They are concerned with:
  • Kriya tantra refers to rituals and rites, whereas Carya tantra refers to practical rites.
  • Yoga tantra refers to yoga practice, whereas Anuttarayoga tantra refers to greater mysticism.
  • Tantric Buddhism, and now Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana school), place an emphasis on personal instruction, and these writings are difficult to read and understand since they must be supplemented by oral teaching.
  • Tantric writings include Hevajra Tantra, Guhya samaja tantra (union of the Buddha’s three bodies), and Kalachakra tantra (Wheel of Time).
  • Buddhist Tantras are foundational writings of Vajrayana Buddhism, the prevalent style of Buddhism in Tibet, Bhutan, and Mongolia.
  • They are present in the Chinese canon, but far more so in the Tibetan Kangyur, which includes translations of almost 500 tantras.

Buddhism Texts – Texts in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese

  • Buddhism arrived in China around the first century C.E.
  • One of the major achievements of human civilization is the growth of Buddhism in China and the recording of the teaching as the Chinese Canon.
  • From 200 C.E. until around 1200 C.E Sanskrit books from various traditions were carried to China and translated into Chinese.
  • The translation was done by non-Chinese monks at first, and then by Chinese monks working singly and in groups.
  • The Chinese Tripitaka, or Canon, was compiled in the same way.
  • The Vinaya, Sutta, and Abhidharma Pitakas were there, as were the original Chinese Sutras.
  • The Chinese pioneered wood block printing about the 8th century to manufacture many copies of the Sutras.
  • The Diamond Sutra, dated 868 C.E., is the world’s oldest printed book.
  • The huge Chinese Canon is currently being translated into English. Around the 10th century C.E, the Chinese Tripitaka was translated into Korean, and the Korean Tripitaka was afterwards printed.
  • The Tripitaka of China was taken to Japan and copied. Sutra copying evolved into a significant religious practice in Japan.
  • It was first printed in the 17th century C.E.
  • The Chinese Tripitaka and the Pali Tripitaka were both translated into Japanese in the twentieth century.

Buddhism Texts – Canon Tibetan and Mongolian

  • The Sanskrit works were translated into Tibetan and published in 333 volumes in the 14th century. The Tibetan literature is divided into two sections:
  • Kanjur (Translation of the Buddha’s Word) comprises the Vinaya, Sutra, and Abhidharma, as well as Tantric works.
  • Tanjur (Commentary) is a collection of commentaries on the primary scriptures, hymns, and writings on medicine, grammar, and other topics.
  • The first version was released in 1410 C.E. in Beijing.
  • The Tibetan Canon has only been translated into English in a tiny number of places.
  • In the 18th century C.E, the Tibetan Tripitaka was translated into Mongolian.

Buddhism Texts – Significance

  • A written text can be a means of communicating meaning, but it is also a tangible item having a physical presence in the world.
  • The physical presence of texts has long been seen as an important component of their character and function in many Buddhist groups.
  • Buddhist writings are regarded to be strong not just because of their message, but also (and perhaps primarily) because of the physical manifestation of that teaching.
  • The texts considered to have the greatest potential potency and ceremonial effectiveness are those that contain the Buddha’s speech (buddhavacana), especially stras or extracts from them.
  • Whereas the profundity of the Buddha’s teachings is one reason for their veneration, their ritual activities may rest more heavily on the concept that they are manifestations of the Buddha himself, remnants of his physical presence endowed with miraculous abilities that he possessed.
  • Text creation is perhaps the most important ritual practice linked with texts since it ensures the preservation and subsequent use of a text.
  • These textual affirmations of the pecuniary gains and tremendous merit to be obtained from text production were definitely taken to heart by Buddhist communities.
  • The development of Buddhist writings has the potential to produce not just virtue but also political authority, as seen by the periodic editing and replication of the Pali canon.

Buddhist texts are religious works from the Buddhist tradition. A written word can be used to convey meaning, but it is also a concrete object with a physical presence in the world.

As Buddhism spread outside India, they were translated into a variety of languages, including Buddhist Chinese and Classical Tibetan. In many Buddhist organizations, the physical presence of texts has traditionally been seen as a significant component of their character and function.


Buddhism is a non-theistic religion (no belief in a creator god), philosophy, and moral discipline that originated in India in the sixth and fifth century BCE. It is a significant religion in countries in South and South-East Asia.

The primary distinction between Buddhism and Brahmanism is the belief in a soul vs no soul/non-self. Siddhartha Gautam, who was born in 563 BCE, developed the religion based on his teachings and life experiences.

Chapter 5: Dcotrine and Teachings of Mahavira

Mahavira was the 24th Tirthankara (supreme preacher) of Jainism, also known as Vardhamana. He was the spiritual heir of Parshvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara. He lived at the same time as Lord Buddha. He preached his doctrine and teachings in order to achieve Kevala Jnana. He was responsible for the current form of Jainism. Mahavira obtained Kevala Jnana after twelve and a half years of intensive meditation and severe austerities. This article will explain to you the Doctrine & Teachings of Mahavira, which will be helpful in Ancient History preparation for the UPSC Civil Service Exam.


  • Lord Mahavir was the Jain religion’s twenty-fourth and last Tirthankara during this time period.
  • According to Jain philosophy, all the Tirthankaras were human beings, but they achieved perfection, or enlightenment, via meditation and self-realization. They are the Jains’ Gods.
  • In Jainism, there is no idea of God as the universe’s creator, defender, or destroyer.
  • In Jainism, the notion of God reincarnating as a human person to kill the demons is also rejected.
  • Mahavir emphasised that every living being (soul) has been enslaved by karmic atoms from eternity because of its ignorance.
  • Then, as a result of our good or bad behaviours, these karmic atoms build over time.
  • The soul is conditioned to seek pleasure in materialistic objects and possessions as a result of karma.
  • Self-centred aggressive thoughts, behaviours, wrath, hatred, greed, and other vices are all founded in this. As a consequence, more karmas are accumulated.
Vardhaman Mahavira

Vardhaman Mahavira


Doctrine & Teachings of Mahavira

  • The Teachings of Lord Mahavir were collected orally in Agam Sutras by his direct pupils.
  • The Agam Sutras were passed down orally from generation to generation. Many of the Agam Sutras have been lost or destroyed over time, and some have been amended.
  • The Agam Sutras were written down on Tadpatras around a thousand years later (leafy paper that was used in those days to preserve records for future references).
  • These Sutras have been acknowledged as legitimate renditions of His teachings by Swetambar Jains, but not by Digambar Jains.
  • The achievement of moksha, or the freedom of the soul from earthly bonds, is the primary goal of Mahavira’s teaching.
  • Man’s personality, according to Jainism, is made up of both material and spiritual natures.
  • The former is transient, but the latter is everlasting and progressive. The soul is enslaved as a result of Karma.


  • Triratna refers to the three essential components, or three jewels, that together comprise the path to liberation, or ‘Moksha Marga.’
  • One of the three cannot exist without the others, and spiritual liberation necessitates the participation of all three.
    • Right Faith (Samyak Darshan)
    • Right Knowledge (Samyakjnana)
    • Right Action (Samyak Charitra)


  • These three gems are arranged in this precise order to form the Ratnatraya, or trinity.
  • Right faith requires recognising reality’s truth, right knowledge entails removing questions, and right conduct entails living in such a way that kevala is achieved.
  • Each of these precious stones is dependent on the other two. They can’t seem to get into the habit of going to kevala on their own.
  • Right Faith or Perception opens a person’s eyes to reality or truth, while Right Knowledge inspires him to act, and Right Conduct leads to freedom.

Five Doctrines of Jainism

  • Since the ultimate objective of life is salvation, one must avoid all forms of negative behaviours or karmas.
  • The five main vows taken by Jain monks and nuns are known as Mahavrata.
  • The smaller vows taken by Jain ordinary people are known as anuvrata. These are a more relaxed version of the classic vows.
  • Mahavira established an ethical rule for both householders and monks.
    • Ahimsa: Non-injury to living being
    • Satya: Do not speak a lie
    • Asteya: Do not steal
    • Aparigraha: Do not acquire property
    • Brahmacharya: Observe continence
  • Ahimsa is commonly translated as “nonviolence,” but its meaning is far broader; it is more than just avoiding doing violence, it is more than an attitude, it is a way of life.
  • For modern Jains, the notion also encompasses the good aspects of striving for justice, peace, emancipation, and freedom, as long as this is done without resorting to violence.
  • Mahatma Gandhi was a well-known proponent of Ahimsa, which guided his satyagraha (passive resistance) philosophy.
  • The satya vow necessitates entire honesty, not just in terms of not uttering lies, but also in terms of constantly saying the truth.
  • The Asteya – non-stealing vow requires complete honesty in behaviour; not only must you not steal, but you must also not acquire things through unethical means.
  • Jains believe that the more worldly money a person has, the more miserable he will be and the more likely he would commit sin, both physically and psychologically, according to Aparigraha (non-acquisition).
  • Chaste life is vital to Jains in Brahmacarya (chaste living) because sexual indulgence obstructs the path to freedom.
  • Sexual desire is so strong that it may overpower rational thought and ethically correct behaviour, resulting in two types of terrible karma.

Concept of God

  • The universe and all of its substances or phenomena, according to Jainism, are everlasting.
  • In terms of time, it has no beginning or end. The universe operates according to its own set of cosmic rules.
  • All chemicals alter or modify their forms on a regular basis. Nothing in the cosmos can be destroyed or produced.
  • There is no requirement for someone to originate or govern the universe’s affairs.
  • As a result, Jainism rejects God as the universe’s creator, survivor, and destroyer.
  • Jainism, on the other hand, believes in God, but not as a creator, but as a flawless entity.
  • A freed soul is one who has destroyed all of his karmas. In Moksha, he lives eternally in a perfect joyful condition.
  • Infinite knowledge, boundless vision, endless power, and infinite happiness are all available to the emancipated spirit. The Jain faith considers this living entity to be a God.
  • Every living thing has the ability to become God.
  • As a result, Jains do not worship a single God, but rather a plethora of Jain Gods, whose number continues to grow as more sentient beings achieve emancipation.

Anekantavada doctrine

  • In Jainism, anekantavada is the ontological notion that any entity is both enduring and changing at the same time, and that this change is both continual and inevitable.
  • All beings, according to the anekantavada philosophy, have three aspects: substance (dravya), quality (guna), and mode (paryaya).
  • Dravya serves as a foundation for a variety of gunas, each of which is undergoing ongoing metamorphosis or modification.
  • As a result, each entity has both a permanent nature and traits that are constantly changing.


  • Syadvada is the idea in Jaina metaphysics that all judgements are conditional, valid only under specific situations, circumstances, or senses, as indicated by the term syat (“may be”).
  • There are an unlimited amount of ways to look at something (called naya).
  • The term ‘Syadvada‘ literally means’ method of analysing various probability.’
  • Anekantavada is the knowledge of all different but opposed characteristics, whereas Syadvada is a process of the relative description of a specific attribute of an item or an event.

Rebirth and Realms

  • Mahavira’s main teachings are rebirth and realms of life. Mahavira thought that life existed in a variety of forms, including animals, plants, insects, bodies of water, fire, and wind, according to the Acaranga Sutra.
  • He taught that a monk should never touch or disturb any of them (even plants), and that he should never swim, ignite (or extinguish) a fire, or wave his arms in the air since these activities may harm other creatures dwelling in those forms of matter.
  • Mahavira taught that existence is cyclic, and that the soul is reincarnated in one of the trilok — the heavenly, hellish, or earthy realms of existence and suffering – following death.
  • Humans are reincarnated on earth or in a heavenly realm as a person, animal, element, microorganism, or other form, based on their karma (actions).

Doctrine & Teachings of Mahavira – Significance

  • Mahavir made religion simple and natural, devoid of complicated rituals. His teachings mirrored the soul’s inner beauty and harmony.
  • Mahavir preached the notion of human life’s superiority and emphasised the significance of a positive outlook on life.
  • Mahavir’s nonviolence (Ahimsa), truth (Satya), non-stealing (Achaurya), celibacy (Brahma charya), and non-possession (Aparigraha) teachings are filled with global compassion.
  • A living body is not only an integration of limbs and flesh,” Mahavir explained, “but it is the home of the soul, capable of perfect perception (Anant darshana), perfect knowledge (Anant jnana), perfect strength (Anant virya), and perfect pleasure” (Anant sukha).
  • Mahavir’s teaching portrays the living being’s independence and spiritual bliss.
  • Mahavir stressed that all living beings are equal, regardless of their size, shape, or form, or their spiritual development or lack thereof, and that we should love and respect them.
  • He proclaimed the gospel of global love in this manner.
  • Mahavir rejected the idea of God as the universe’s creator, defender, and destroyer.
  • He also condemned the worship of gods and goddesses for the sake of gaining financial wealth and personal gain.


Mahavira, also known as Vardhamana, was the 24th Tirthankara (supreme preacher) of Jainism. Mahavir emphasized that due to its ignorance, every living being (soul) has been imprisoned by karmic atoms since the beginning of time. Lord Mahavir’s teachings were recorded orally in Agam Sutras by his direct pupils. The major purpose of Mahavira’s teaching is to acquire moksha, or the liberation of the soul from earthly constraints.

Chapter 6: Pre-Mauryan Age

Pre-Mauryan age

  • The major area of political activity changed from west Uttar Pradesh to east Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the sixth century BC because this region was fertile, had abundant rainfall, and was close to iron-producing regions.
  • The advancement of iron technology, as well as the development of the art of maintaining high temperatures and smelting iron, resulted in the widespread usage of iron tools and weapons.
  • This strengthened the monarch, brought about an agricultural revolution, and allowed for the merging of a huge number of rural and urban towns.
  • These villages were known as Mahajanapadas.
  • The surplus could also be distributed to the towns that sprang up in the sixth century B.C. Iron weapons were also used extensively.


  • It was the period when ‘janapadas’ grew in size and became involved in territorial expansion, resulting in the development of ‘Mahajanapadas.’
  • The Suttapitaka’s Anguttura Nikaya cites the presence of 16 Mahajanapadas during the Buddha’s lifetime. Many additional janapadas existed alongside these Mahajanapadas.
  • The Janapadas were Vedic India’s principal kingdoms. Aryans were the most powerful tribes at the time and were known as ‘Janas.’ This gave rise to the phrase Janapada, which means “people” and “foot.”
  • During that time, the political center changed from the west to the east of the Indo-Gangetic plains.
  • This was attributed to increased land fertility as a result of increased rainfall and rivers. This region was also closer to iron producing centres.
  • The names of 16 Mahajanapadas are listed below.
    • Kasi
    • Kosala
    • Anga
    • Magadha
    • Vajji
    • Malla
    • Chedi/Cheti
    • Vatsa
    • Kuru
    • Panchala
    • Matsya
    • Surasena/Shurasena
    • Assaka
    • Avanti
    • Gandhara
    • Kamboja
  • ‘Magadha’ demonstrated the proclivity and capability to become an empire.
  • This time in Indian history was profoundly impacted and pushed by the rise of intellectual systems such as ‘Jainism’ and ‘Buddhism.’
  • Economic expansion resulted in the establishment of urban areas, as well as the first usage of coins, which were known as punch-mark coins.
  • This period is also connected with the widespread use of iron tools, the growth of agriculture, and the production of North Black Polished Pottery.
  • During this time, the ‘Brahmi’ script initially arose.
  • Taxation increased the state’s riches, and prostitutes developed in the cities.
  • Except in Buddhist and Jain groups, women’s status has deteriorated further.
  • A multitude of castes emerged, and the status of the untouchables deteriorated further.

Magadha empire

  • From the sixth to the fourth centuries B.C, Magadha was the most powerful and rich state in north India.
  • Jarasandha and Brihadratha were the founders of Magadha.
  • But the growth of Magadha began with the Haryankas, continued with the Sisunagas and Nandas, and peaked with the Mauryas.


  • Bimbisara, the monarch of Haryanka, was a contemporary of the Buddha.
  • Bimbisara was the first monarch to maintain a permanent army, also known as Seniya or Sreniya.
  • Bimbisara first clashed with Ujjain’s Chandapradyota Mahasena.
  • He then dispatched his own physician to treat him for jaundice. Taxila Pukkusati (Pushkarasarin), the Gandhara emperor, established an embassy at Bimbisara.
  • Magadha became the dominant force in the 6th century B.C. as a result of his conquests and diplomacy, so much so that Magadha is reported to have comprised 80,000 villages.
  • According to Buddhist records, Bimbisara reigned from 544 to 492 B.C.
  • There is no definitive answer as to whether Bimbisara practised Jainism or Buddhism, yet both religions claim him as a supporter.
  • Bimbisara was succeeded to the throne by Ajatashatru (492-460 B.C.). It is stated that Ajatashatru murdered his father in order to take the kingdom.
  • He pursued an ambitious growth strategy.


  • Udayin was replaced by the Shishunaga dynasty, which briefly relocated the capital to Vaishali.
  • They crushed Avanti’s strength, putting an end to the conflict between Magadha and Avanti.
  • Kalasoka (Kakavarin), a Sisunaga monarch, moved the capital from Vaishali to Pataliputra.
  • The Sisunagas were eventually displaced by the Nandas.


  • The Nandas were formidable monarchs. Mahapadmananda, also known as Ekarat, Eka-Chchhatra, or Sarvakshatrantaka, was a great conqueror.
  • Eka — Chchhatra indicated that he united the entire planet under one canopy.
  • Sarvakshatrantaka indicated that he annihilated all of the Kshatriya kingdoms at the period.
  • Koshala is said to have been conquered by Mahapadma Nanda. Through a successful taxing structure, he maintained a massive army.
  • At the time of Alexander’s conquest of northern India, the last Nanda emperor, Dhananada, ruled Magadha.
  • However, Alexander was discouraged from moving on the Nandas by Dhanananda’s massive army.
  • However, Chandragupta Maurya, ably backed by Kautilya, destroyed Dhananda and established the Mauryan empire.

Pre-Mauryan age – Iranian Invasion

  • North-west India was a picture of political disintegration in the sixth century B.C. Several tiny realms, including Gandhara, Kamboja, and Madra, clashed.
  • The north-west lacked a powerful state like Magadha to unite all the warning groups.
  • This area was also prosperous and easily accessible via the Hindukush passes.
  • As a result, it was only natural for Persia’s Achaemenid rulers to take advantage of the political discord on the northwestern boundary.
  • Cyrus of Persia (588-530 BC) was the first foreign conqueror to lead an invasion into India.
  • He demolished Capisa, which was located to the north of Kabul. All Indian tribes west of the Indus, all the way up to the Kabul area, bowed to Cyrus and gave him tribute.
  • Darius-I, Cyrus’ grandson, invaded north-west India in 515 B.C. and seized Punjab, west of the Indus, and Sindh.
  • The north-west frontier was Persia’s 20th satrapy or province, out of a total of 28.
  • It was the empire’s most productive and populated region, and it paid a tribute of 360 talents of gold.
  • The Persian army enlisted Indian soldiers as well.

Pre-Mauryan age – Invasion of Alexander

  • Alexander‘s thirst for world conquest, as well as his interest in geography and natural history, drove him to conquer India.
  • The political situation in north-west India suited his objectives because the region was divided into several sovereign monarchs and tribal republics.
  • In 326 B.C., Alexander marched via the Khyber Pass to India. He travelled for 5 months to reach the Indus.
  • Taxila’s monarch, Ambhi, bowed before him. When Alexander arrived in Jhelum, he encountered Porus, the first and toughest opposition.
  • Alexander’s invasion brought ancient Europe into touch with ancient India for the first time. It yielded some significant outcomes.
  • Politically, Alexander’s Indian war was a triumph, since he added an Indian province considerably bigger than that captured by Iran to his kingdom.
  • Alexander demolished the power of minor kingdoms in the north-west, leaving a political vacuum that was filled by the Mauryan empire’s development in that area under Chandragupta Maurya.

Pre-Mauryan age – Social Conditions

  • The division of society into four classes – brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and sudras – necessitated the establishment of the Indian legal and judicial system during this time period, and the dharmasutras established the duties, rights, obligations, and disabilities of various social groups.
  • The higher the Varna, the purer it was, and the greater the moral order anticipated by civil and criminal law.
  • The Shudras were subjected to different disadvantages, while the brahmanas and Kshatriyas monopolised other benefits.
  • Sudras did not receive upanayana. They received sentences that were disproportionate to the offence committed.
  • Members of higher vamas avoided the presence of Sudras, avoided eating anything touched by them, and refused to marry them.
  • Royal agents administered civil and criminal law, inflicting harsh punishments like lashing, beheading, mutilation, and so on.
  • In many situations, sentencing for criminal offences were guided by the concept of vengeance. It was a case of tooth for tooth and eye for eye.
  • The non-vedic tribal practices were progressively assimilated into the brahmanical social order, and the brahmanical law gives did not disregard them.
  • The brahmanas put restrictions on commerce by stating that some places were dirty and should not be visited.
  • Women were subjected to restrictions. They were denied education and were not allowed to participate in the upanayana ritual. Ganikas (courtesans) played an important role in society.
  • The Dharmasutras, the brahmanical law scriptures, condemned interest-bearing lending. They chastised the Vaishyas who lent money to expand trade and commerce.

Pre-Mauryan age – Economic Conditions

  • The widespread usage of iron resulted in widespread agricultural growth throughout the pre-Mauryan period.
  • Gahapatis possessed enormous areas of land under monarchs, and raja-kulas owned large expanses of land in republics.
  • Dasa-karmakaras (slaves and labourers) worked on gahapati and rajakula fields. The private and public ownership of land coexisted.
  • Agriculture progressed, and irrigation systems improved. Several new crops were planted.
  • Two new rice types were given the names Vrihi and Sali. Land was measured in Karisa, Nivartan, and Kulyavapa units.
  • State lands were referred to as ‘Sitas.’
  • Rice, sugarcane, wheat, barley, lentils, rapeseed, mustard, and cotton were cultivated using correct manuring procedures.
  • The majority of agriculture is currently performed by the Sudras.
  • The agricultural surplus and increasing craft output resulted in an expansion in commerce and the establishment of trade circuits throughout north India.
  • The majority of the routes followed rivers. One road connected Taxila and Rajagriha via several significant cities.
  • Another road ran from Mathura to Ujjain, then from Ujjain to Mahishmati and finally to the seaport of Baruch.
  • Potters were a vital part of civilization. The characteristic pottery of this period, which initially appeared between Varanasi and Pataliputra, was Northern Black Polished ware.
  • In the east, Black and Red Ware is immediately followed by Northern Black Polished Ware, but in the west, Black and Red Ware is immediately followed by Painted Grey Ware, which then gives place to Northern Black Polished Ware.


The history of India is so vivid that it would be unfair to exclude such little but crucial facts regarding the processes that transpired before to the foundation of one of India’s greatest empires, the Mauryan empire. In the sixth century BC, the focus of political activity shifted from west Uttar Pradesh to east Uttar Pradesh and Bihar because this region was fertile, had ample rainfall, and was adjacent to iron-producing regions.


Chapter 7: Mauryan Empire


  • The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Maurya dynasty from 322–185 BCE.
  • Originating from the kingdom of Magadha in the Indo-Gangetic Plain in the eastern side of the Indian subcontinent, the empire had its capital city at Pataliputra(Modern Patna). The Maurya empire was built on the foundations laid by the Nandas.
  • Origin of Mauryas:
    • In Buddhist texts(Digha Nikaya, Mahavamsa, and Divyavadana):
      • The Mauryas are described as belonging to Kshatriya clancalled the Moriyas.
      • The Mahavamshatikaconnects him with the Shakya clan of the Buddha.
    • Parishishtaparvan:
      • describes Chandragupta as the son of thedaughter of a chief of a village of peacock tamers (mayura-poshakas).
    • Mudrarakshasa:
      • refers Chandragupta as being of low social origin.
    • Early medieval historian Kshemendra and Somadeva: called him Purva-Nanda-suta (son of the genuine Nanda).
    • Vishnu Purana’s commentator Dhundiraja states that the Chandragupta son of the Nanda king Sarvarthasiddhi, by Mura(daughter of a hunter).
    • A medieval inscription represents the Maurya clan as belonging to the solar race of Kshatriya.
  • The Empire was founded in 322 BCE byChandragupta Maurya, who had overthrown the Nanda Dynasty and rapidly expanded his power westwards across central and western India, taking advantage of the disruptions of local powers in the wake of the withdrawal westward by Alexander the Great’s Hellenic armies.
    • By 316 BCE the empire had fully occupied Northwestern India, defeating and conquering the satraps left by Alexander.
    • Chandragupta then defeated the invasion led by Seleucus I, a Macedonian general from Alexander’s army, gaining additional territory west of the Indus River.
  • The Maurya Empire was one of the world’s largest empires in its time.
    • At its greatest extent, the empire stretched to the north along the natural boundaries of the Himalayas, to the east into Assam, to the west into Balochistan and the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan.
    • The Empire was expanded into India’s central and southern regions by the emperors Chandraguptaand Bindusara, but it excluded a small portion of unexplored tribal and forested regions near Kalinga (modern Odisha), until it was conquered by Ashoka.
  • It declined for about 50 years after Ashoka’s rule ended, and it dissolved in 185 BCE with the foundation of the Sunga Dynasty in Magadha.
  • The population of the empire has been estimated to be about 50 – 60 million making the Mauryan Empire one of the most populous empires of Antiquity.
  • Archaeologically, the period of Mauryan rule in South Asia falls into the era of Northern Black Polished Ware(NBPW).

Sources of Maurya period:

  • Puranas:
    • The king-lists in the Puranas refer to the Mauryas. But there are inconsistencies in detail:
      • One set of texts speaks of 13 Maurya kings who ruled for a total of 137 years, while another set speaks of only 9 kings.
    • Hemachandra’s Parishishtaparvan(Jaina works):
      • mention to Chandragupta’s connections with Jainism.
    • Vishakhadatta’s mudrarakshasa(a 5th century historical drama):
      • Revolves around the clever machinations of Chanakya, a minister of Chandragupta, against Rakshasa, a minister of the former Nanda king.
      • It is, however, uncertain whether this story has any historical basis.
    • Buddhist versions of the Chanakya-Chandragupta legend are preserved in the Mahavamsa and its 10th century commentary, the Vamsatthapakasini.
      • Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa, Ashokavadana, Divyavadana, vamsatthapaksini cantains information,much of it legendary about Ashoka.
    • Milindapanha and Mahabhashya:
      • Also has Some information on Chandragupta.
    • Tamil poet Mamulanar:
      • There is a possible reference to the southward expansion of the Mauryas in one of his poem.
    • Taranatha (The Tibetan monk, 1575–1634) written “History of Buddhism in India”in 17th century. It has account of Mauryas which is mostly legendary.
    • Among the textual sources Kautilya’s Arthashastra and Megasthenes’ Indica have special importance.
    • Ashokan inscriptions

Archaeological and numismatic sources: 

  • Archaeological investigations are rather inadequate and reliable dates are few and far between.
  • Archaeological remains from Kumrahar and Bulandibagh are associated with Pataliputra, the Maurya capital.
    • Other important sites include TaxilaMathura, and Bhita.
  • Compared to earlier levels, Maurya levels display a greater diversity of artefacts and a heightening of urban features.
  • The material evidence of the Maurya period also exists in the form of Ashoka’s pillars and other sculptural and architectural elements.
  • There are a number of stone sculptures and terracotta images that appear to be part of a popular, urban milieu.
  • The coins as a source became significant during the Mauryan period. The coins of this period not bear the names of the kings. They are called Punch-marked coins(mosty made of silver) as different symbols are punched on them separately.
    • Certain symbols such as the crescent-on-arches, tree-in-railing, and pea-cock-on-arches have been associated with the Maurya kings.
    • These symbols may have been symbol of cultural significance, symbols of royalty (e.g symbol of the sun) and of religious significance. For examples: the tree-in-railing symbol represents the Buddha’s enlightenment, and the symbols consisting of a number of arches represent a stupa.
    • Arthashastra refer to different denominations of silver coins (with some amount of alloying) called panas and copper coins mashakas.
    • Silver punch mark coin of the Maurya empire, with symbols of wheel and elephant. 3rd century BCE.

Expansion of Mauryan State:

Magadha state in the 5th century BCE The Nanda Empire at its greatest extent under Dhana Nanda 323 BC

The Maurya Empire when it was first founded by Chandragupta Maurya 320 BCE, after conquering the Nanda                                                                            Chandragupta extended the borders of the Maurya Empire towards Seleucid Persia after defeating Seleucus 305 BCE                                                  Bindusara extended the borders of the empire southward into the Deccan Plateau 300 BCE Ashoka extended into Kalinga during the Kalinga War 265 BCE, and established superiority over the southern kingdoms.

Chandragupta Maurya: (320 BCE – 298BCE)

His Background:

  • Very little is known about Chandragupta’s ancestry. What is known is gathered from later classical Sanskrit literature, Buddhist Sources as well as classical Greek and Latin sources.
  • Classical Greek and Latin Sources:
    • Classical Greek and Latin sources which refer to Chandragupta by the names “Sandracottos” or “Andracottus.”
    • Plutarchin his book “Parallel Lives“reports that Androcottus (Chandraupta) met with Alexander around Takshasila in the northwest, and that he viewed the ruling Nanda Empire in a negative light.
      • Chandragupta is also said to have met the Nanda king, angered him, and made a narrow escape.
      • According to this text, the encounter would have happened around 326 BCE, suggesting a birth date for Chandragupta around 340 BCE.
    • Justin(a 2nd century AD Latin historian who lived under the Roman Empire) describes the humble origins of Chandragupta, and explains how he later led a popular uprising against the Nanda king.
  • Classical Sanskrit Sources:
    • Puranas, Milindapanha, Mudrarakshasa, Mahavamshatika and Parishishtaparvan refer his conflict with the Nanda.
    • Tradition is that he overthrew the Nandas with the help of Kautilya.
    • Mudrarakshasa (“The Signet of the Minister”) by Visakhadatta,
      • dated at the late 4th century.
      • It is a Sanskrit drama which narrates the ascent of the king Chandragupta Maurya (322BC – 298BC) to power in India.
      • It describes his royal ancestry and even link him with the Nanda family.
        • It calls him a “Nandanvaya” i.e. the descendant of Nanda.
      • Mudrarakshasa uses terms like kula-hinaand Vrishala for Chandragupta’s lineage. This means that Chandragupta had a low  origin.
    • The Mudrarakshasaas well as the Jaina work Parisishtaparvan talk of Chandragupta’s alliance with the Himalayan king Parvatka, sometimes identified with Porus.
  • Buddhist Sources:
    • The Buddhist text the Mahavamsacalls Chandragupta a member of a division of the (Kshatriya) clan called the Moriya.
    • The Mahaparinibbana Sutta states that the Moriyas (Mauryas) belonged to the Kshatriya community.
    • The Mahavamshatikaconnects him with the Shakya clan of the Buddha.
  • The Only definite inscriptional refrence to Chandraguptais in the 2nd century CE Junagarh inscription of Rudradamman, which attributes the beginning of the construction of a water reservoir known as the sudarshana lake to Chandragupta’s reign.
  • Sangam text for Chandragupta Maurya:
    • A  poem in the Akananuru composed by the Sangam poet Mamulanar seems to bereferring to conquest of Chandragupta in south.
    • References in sangam text suggests that the Mauryas interfered in the politics of the south, that they had an alliance with a southern power called the Koshar, and that Deccani troops formed part of the Maurya army.

Rise of Chandragupta Maurya and Foundation of Maurya Dynasty:

  • Many historian attribute great importance to the role Chandragupta Maurya played in ruthlessly stemming the tide of foreign interference in the north-west and suppressing indigenous rulers in west and south India.
    • Both Indian and Classical sources agree that Chandragupta overthrew the last of the Nanda kings (Dhana Nanda) probably with the help of Chanakya and occupied his capital Pataliputra and ascended to the throne in around 321 B.C.
  • The political rise of Chandragupta was also linked 4th the invasion of Alexander in the north-west
    • The years 325 B.C. – 323 B.C. were crucial in the sense that many of the governors who were stationed in the north-west after Alexander’s invasion were assassinated or had to retreat.
    • After Alexander’s retreat it resulted in the creation of a vacuum, and, therefore, it was not difficult for Chandragupta to subdue the Greek garrisons left there.
    • The Roman historian Justindescribed how Sandrocottus (Greek version of Chandragupta’s name) conquered the northwest and overran the whole of India with an army of 600,000.
    • Chandragupta may have first established himself in the Punjab and then moved eastwards until he gained control over the Magadha region.
    • These tasks were complete by 321 B.C. and the state was set for further consolidation.Chandragupta had defeated Macedonian satrapies in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent by 317 BCE.

Expansion by Chandragupta Maurya:

  • Megasthenes recorded the size of Chandragupta’s army as 400,000 soldiers.
  • According to Strabo: Megasthenes was in the camp of Sandrocottus (Chandragupta), which consisted of 400,000 men.
  • On the other hand, Pliny, who also drew from Megasthenes’ work, gives even larger numbers of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, and 9,000 war elephants.
  • The Mauryas’ military strength was almost three times that of the Nandas, and this was apparently because of a much larger empire and thus far greater resources.
  • Conquest of Seleucus’ eastern territories:
    • Seleucus I Nicator, a Macedonian satrap of Alexander, reconquered most of Alexander’s former empire and put under his own authority the eastern territories as far as Bactria and the Indus until in 305 BCE he entered into conflict with Chandragupta.
    • One of the first major achievements of Chandragupta Maurya on the military front was his contact with Seleucus Nikatorwho ruled over the area west of the Indus around 305 B.C.
    • In the war that ensued Chandragupta is said to have turned out victoriousand eventually, peace was established.
      • In return for500 elephants Seleucus gave him eastern AfghanistanBaluchistan and the area west of the Indus.
      • marriage alliancewas also concluded.
        • Chandragupta married Seleucus’s daughter to formalize an alliance.
      • Seleucusdispatched an ambassador, Megasthenes, to Chandragupa at the Maurya court at Pataliputra.
        • Later Deimachuswas sent as ambassador to Bindusara at the Maurya court by Antichus (king of Syria).
        • Later Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt and contemporary of Ashoka, is also recorded by Pliny as having sent an ambassador named Dionysius to the Maurya court.
      • This achievement meant that the territorial foundation of the Mauryan empire had been firmly laid with the Indus and Gangetic plainswell under Chandragupta’s control.

Relation between Chandragupta, Jainism and Karnataka:

  • Some Later inscriptions and Jaina texts suggest a connection between Chandragupta, Jainism, and Karnataka.
  • A number of places in the Shravana Belgola hillshave the word ‘Chandra‘as their suffix.
  • Jaina Tradition speaks of the relationship between Chandragupta and the Jaina saint Bhadrabahu.
    • The Maurya king is said to have accompanied Bhadrabahu to Karnataka in the wake of the saint’s prophecy of the impending outbreak of a 12-year famine in Magadha.
  • The king is also described as having committed sallekhana(ritual death by starvation).
    • Brihatkathakosha of Harishena (10th cen. text) narrate this story.
    • The 19th century Rajavali-kathe Inscriptions in the Shravana Belgola hills, dating between the 5th and 15th centuries CE, mention a person named Chandragupta and Bhadrabahu.
  • It is possible, but not certain, that there is a historical basis to the strong Jaina tradition that connects Chandragupta with Karnataka.
  • Chandragupta was first to take title of Devampriya and Priyadarshi.

Bindusara (297 BCE- 272 BCE)

  • He is said to have succeeded Chandragupta Maurya in 297 B.C.
  • Buddhist sources are relatively silent on Bindusara. There is a story of an Ajivika fortune-teller prophesying his son Ashoka’s future greatness, which may suggest that the king favoured the Ajivikas.
    • In a very late source of the sixteenth century, in the work of the Buddhist monk Taranath of Tibet, we are told of Bindusara’s warlike activities.
      • He is said to have destroyed kings and nobles of about sixteen cities and reduced to submission all the territory between the eastern and western seas.
    • The descriptions of early Tamil poets of the Mauryan chariots thundering across the land probably refer to his reign.
      • The famous Tamil poet Mamulanar of the Sangam literature also described how the Deccan Plateau was invaded by the Maurya army.
    • According to the Rajavalikathaa Jain work, the original name of this emperor was Simhasena.
    • Though Bindusara is called “slayer of foes“, his reign is not very well documented.
  • Greek sources refer to his diplomatic relations with western kings.
    • according to Strabo: Antichus (king of Syria), sent an ambassador named Deimachus to his court.
    • Pliny mentions that Ptolemy II Philadelphos (king of Egypt) sent an ambassador named Dionysius.
    • There is a story that Bindusara requested Antiochusto buy and send him some sweet wine, dried figs, and a sophist (a philosopher who specialized in philosophical debate and argumentation).
      • Antiochus is supposed to have replied that while he would certainly send the wine and figs, Greek laws did not permit a sophist to be bought.
    • fragmentary inscription at Sanchi, which perhaps refers to Bindusara, suggests a possible connection between the king and this Buddhist establishment.
  • Kalinga (modern Odisha) didn’t form the part of Bindusara’s empire. It was later conquered by his son Ashoka, who served as the viceroy of Ujjaini during his father’s reign.
  • During his rule, the citizens of Taxila revolted twice. The reason for the first revolt was the maladministration of Suseema, his eldest son. The reason for the second revolt is unknown, but Bindusara could not suppress it in his lifetime. It was crushed by Ashoka after Bindusara’s death.
  • After his death (in 272 B.C.) there was a struggle for succession among his sons for about four years. Ultimately, around 269-268 B.C. Ashoka was crowned Bindusara’s successor.
  • About Indian Society:
    • Megasthenes describes a disciplined multitude of people under Chandragupta, who live simply, honestly, and do not know writing:
    • According to Megasthenes, no one in India could marry outside their genosnor could they follow other’s occupation.
      • So he identified two important aspects of caste system: hereditary occupation and endogamy.
      • However in general there is little that Megasthenes tells us about Indian society that we do not already know from other sources.
    • He found thatslavery system was unknown to the Ancient Indian society.
      • Megasthenes did not travel whole of India and so his observations may not apply to the whole country. Perhaps, since slavery did not exist in North-Western India, had an impact on Megasthenes and he declared that whole of India was free from the custom of slavery.
      • Megasthenes’ observations about the non-existence of slavery in Ancient India are not supported by available evidences. From the Smritis or Hindu Law Books it is clear that slavery was a recognized institution in India in the Vedic Age.
      • Some scholars have tried to interpret and explain Megasthenes as such.
        • Slavery system in India was very mild and most of the slaves were domestic slaves who were treated as members of the family. Slave trade was prohibited in the Shastras.
        • Different injunctions were laid down in the Shastras for the liberation of the slaves.
        • Megasthenes was impressed by the prevailing intellectual mood of the time. The liberal rules of the Arthasastra for slaves testify the liberal attitude of the society towards slavery.
      • He describes that Indians are divided into seven classes. It might be that, being a foreigner, he was not adequately informed about the caste system. Seven clases are:,
        • Philosophers (sophists),
          • which in number is inferior to the other classes, but in dignity preeminent over all.
        • Farmers,
          • who appear to be far more numerous than the others. They devote the whole of their time to tillage;
          • for men of this class, being regarded as public benefactors, are protected from all injury.
        • Shepherds (herdsmen) and hunters
          • who neither settle in towns nor in villages, but live in tents.
          • They pay taxes from their animals,
        • Artisans and traders
          • they too perform public duties, and pay tax on the receipts from their work, except for those who make weapons of war and actually receive a wage from the community.
        • Soldiers:
          • next to the farmers in number; they enjoy the greatest freedom and most agreeable life. They are devoted solely to military activities.The entire force are maintained at the king’s expense.
        • Overseers:
          • They supervise everything that goes on in the country and cities, and report it to the king, where the Indians are governed by kings, or to the authorities, where they are self-governing.
        • Councillors and Assessors, who deliberate on public affairs. It is the smallest class, looking to number, but the most respected, on account of the high character and wisdom of its members.From their ranks the advisers of the king, the treasurers, of the state, arbiters who settle disputes, generals of the army, chief magistrates, usually belong to this class, supervisors of agricultural works are taken.
      • philosophers,farmers, herdsmen and hunters, artisans and traders, soldiers,overseers and the kings’ counsellors.
      • philosophers,farmers, herdsmen and hunters, artisans and traders, soldiers,overseers and the kings’ counsellors.
    • Criticism:
      • Megasthenes stayed at the Mauryan court and noted down his reflections on the then Indian society but his exposure to Indian society must have been socially and geographically restricted.
      • Megasthenes has stated that the then Indian society wasdivided into seven classes namely artisans, farmers, philosophers, soldiers, secret inspectors, traders and councilors.
        • This collection of occupational groups and administrative ranks corresponds neither to the varnasnor the jatis. It seems to have been Megasthenes’ own invention.
      • Idealized India:
        • They stated that farmers were never touched in war.
        • There was no slavery.
        • Theft was rare.
        • Claudius Aelianuscites Megasthenes and asserts that Indians did not borrow or lend money on interest.
      • Other errors:
        • Greek writer, Strabo, while taking reference from Indikastates that Indians were ignorant of the arts of writing and fusing metals and never drank wine except at sacrifices.
      • There were comparisons with Egypt and Europe. For example, the Ganga and Indus were compared with the Nile and Danube.
      • Fantastic stories and strange things: Diodorus left out many these fantastic accounts.
        • One-horned horses with heads like those’ of deer, of huge snakes.
        • River in which nothing would float.
        • Strange customs were recounted.
        • Men with their feet turned backward and That-they had eight toes on each foot.
        • A breed of men with heads like dogs.
        • Gold-digging ants were said to live in the-harth-western mountains.
      • Thus Greek references to Megasthenes’ Indica represent India seen through a double filter— the first is Megasthenes’ interpretation of what he saw or heard; the second is later Graeco-Roman writer’s interpretations of Megasthenes account.
      • The citation from the Indica seem to tell us more about ancient Greek perspectives on Indiathan about the history of the subcontinent in the 4th century BCE.
    • A comparison of the Arthasastra and Megasthenes Indikareveals several differences for instance in their discussion of fortifications, city administration, army administration and taxation.
    • Though there are several exaggerations and Indikahas not survived but fragments are preserved in later Greek and Latin works, it still provides us the valuable information about Mauryan administration and social conditions.

Mauryan Administration

An elaborate administration was required to govern such a vast empire. Arthashastra, Greek accounts and Ashokan inscriptions give an idea about its administration. 

Kautilya presented a Saptanga theory of State in his Book number 6 of the Arthshastra. In the Saptanga theory, the State is organised into seven elements  

  1. Swami (the king)
  2. Amatya (the ministers)
  3. Janapada (the territory and its people, i.e., subjects)
  4. Durga (a fortified capital)
  5. Kosha (the treasury)
  6. Danda (justice or force)
  7. Mitra (ally)

Central Administration

The central administration can be classified under the following categories:

  1. The King: Arthashastra considers the king as the focal point of the administration. The minister (Amatyas) was appointed and removed by him. He defended the treasury and the people, looked after the welfare of the people, punished criminals, and influenced the people (Praja) through his morality. It is a monistic view on sovereignty where the king’s decision could override even shastric injunctions if a difference arises
  2. Mantri Parisad or the council of ministers: The Arthashastra and Ashokan edicts mention a ParishadMajor Rock Edict III mentions the Parishad, which was expected to ensure the new administrative measures. However, the primary role of the council was advisory. The king’s decision was final in all respects.
  3. Army – All accounts indicate that the Mauryas had a large army. The king was the supreme commander of the army.
    • According to Pliny, it consisted of 6 lakh strong infantry, 30,000 cavalries, 9000 elephants and 8000 chariots.
    • The soldiers were paid in cash.
    • Kautilya refers to a standing army with four main divisions –


Commanding officer









  • Megasthenes mentions a unified military with sixSubcommitteesfor coordinating military activities:-
    1. The first Committee looked after the navy,
    2. the second managed transport and provisions.
    3. the third was responsible for foot soldiers,
    4. the fourth for horses,
    5. the fifth for chariots, and
    6. the sixth for elephants.
  • Espionage network: Arthashastra mentions a well-knit espionage system to keep an eye on the ministers, and government officials, collect impressions regarding the citizens’ feelings and know the secrets of foreign kings.
    • Students, householders, and poisonous girls (Vishkanya) were employed as agents.
    • Some of the officials of the network were: –


Head of the department.


 Secret agents.


Stationary secret agents


Touring secret agents.

  • Law and justice A well-organised legal system was in place.
    • The king was the supreme judge and upholder of dharma.
    • Ashoka’s inscriptions lay the judicial responsibilities in Mahamatas. The edicts urge them to be impartial and ensure that people are not imprisoned or punished without sufficient evidence.
    • Punishments ranged from small fines to mutilation of limbs and capital punishment.
    • There were two kinds of courts: –




1. Civil court



2. Criminal



  1. Public welfare:
    • The State took the Welfare initiatives such as irrigation work, road construction, medicine and medical treatment, looking after orphans and older women, and protection against natural calamities like famines and floods.
    • Sohgaura (Gorakhpur) copper plate and Mahasthana (Bogara, Bangladesh) inscription deal with the relief measures adopted during a famine.
    • Junagadh Rudradaman’s inscription (2nd century CE) tells that Sudarshana Lake was constructed during Chandragupta’s time.

Provincial administration

  • The Mauryan empire was divided into five provinces, which provinces were placed under the direct governance of a prince (Kumara) or a royal family member.





Avantipatha (West)


Dakshinapatha (South)


Magadha (Centre)


Kalinga (East)


  • Uttarpatha and Dakshinapatha were also the names given to the northern and southern trade routes, respectively, during the Mauryan empire.
  • Provincial capitals, Taxila and Ujjayini, were situated on crucial long-distance trade routes. Suvarnagiri (literally, the golden mountain) was possibly important for tapping the gold mines of Karnataka. 

District and Village Level Administration

According to the Arthashastra, the smallest unit of administration was the village. At the district level, officials were: –





They were overall in charge of the District. He measured land, collected taxes and maintained law and order.


They were equivalent to a modern-day District Magistrate. Their work included clerical, and accounting works. They also had judicial as well as revenue functions. The 4th pillar Edict mentions that Ashoka granted ‘independent authority to the Rajukas to carry out specific responsibilities related to public welfare.


He was a junior officer giving secretarial assistance to the other two.

Gopa and Sthanika

Acted as intermediaries between the District and village-level administrative units. Their work included demarcating village boundaries, maintaining land records, recording people’s income and expenditure, and recording taxes, revenues and fines.


Despite the presence of such officials, the villages enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy in administering their affairs.

City administration

  • There are several references to city administration about Pataliputra by Megasthenes. 
  • Nagarika – was the head of the urban administration. He was assisted by two subordinate officials – Gopa and Sthanika.
  • Bandhanagaradhyaksha- looked after the jail.
  • Rakshi (the police) – looked after the security of the people.
  • Lohadhyaksha and Sauvarnika – were officials who looked after goods manufactured in the centres.
  • Gramika – were the locals – appointed as officials. They were village heads.
  • A City Council appears to have existed, which was divided into six sub-councils or committees with five members each. These were:
    1. Industry and crafts Committee
    2. Foreign visitors Committee
    3. Registration of births and deaths committee headed by Gopa.
    4. Trade and commerce committee to look after weights and measures, markets etc., headed by Panyadhyaksha.
    5. A committee inspected manufactured goods and their sale.
    6. A committee for Sales Tax collection headed by Sulkahyaksha.

Mauryan Taxation system

  • Kautilya’s Arthshastra mentions various types of taxes:




Land Revenue


Customs duty


Import tax


Road cess




Monopoly tax




A gift of affection

  • The tax(Bhaga) collected from peasants varied from 1/4 to 1/6 of the produce. Samaharta, in Mauryan times, was the official in charge of the revenue collection.
  • The State also provided irrigation facilities (Setubandha) and charged water tax (1/5 to 1/3).
  • Toll was also levied on commodities brought to town for sale and collected at the gate. We also find mention of a tax on Monopoly businesses in the Mauryan times.
  • The taxes could be paid in many modes – cash, kind or labour.


Mode of Payment

Hiranya or Kara

Tax paid in cash


Taxes in kind


Forced labour paid by slaves and Shudras (free labour).

  • The State enjoyed a monopoly in mining, forest, salt, sale of liquor, manufacture of arms etc. Further, the Civil servants sold state goods (Rajapanya) that were either collected in tax or produced by the State.
  • Moreover, the military was allowed to make various taxation demands from the villages. –

Village Type



Exempted from taxation


Villages that supplied soldiers. The soldiers provided to the royal army were known as Senabhakta.


Villages that paid taxes on grain, cattle, gold or raw metal. The tax paid by them was known as Pindikara.



Chapter 8: Post- Mauryan Period

Political History of Northern India

After the death of Asoka, his successors were not able to keep the vast Mauryan Empire intact. The provinces started declaring their independence

  • The northwest India slipped out of the control of the Mauryas, and a series of foreign invasions affected this region. 
  • Kalinga declared its independence, and the Satavahanas established their independent rule further south. 
  • Mauryan Decline: After the reign of Ashoka the Great (c. 268-232 BCE), the Mauryan Empire began to decline. The northwest region of India, including the area of modern-day Pakistan, started to slip out of Mauryan control. This decline was due to various factors, including internal strife and external pressures from various foreign invaders.

The period from 200 BCE onwards is known as Post-Mauryan Age. It did not witness a large empire like the Mauryas but is known for its intimate contact between Central Asia and India.

  • Soon after Ashoka’s death, several small kingdoms declared independence. Then, the empire finally ended with the assassination of the last Mauryan King, Brihadratha, by Pushyamitra Sunga, the Mauryan army chief.
  • Mauryans were succeeded by Shungas, Kanvas and Satvahanas in central and South India.
  • Further, North-western India experienced several Central Asian Invasions by Indo-Greeks of Bactria, Sakas, Parthians and Kushanas.

After the death of Ashoka the Great, the Mauryan Empire did indeed begin to weaken and eventually disintegrate. Here is a brief overview of the post-Ashoka period in the Mauryan Empire:

Ashoka’s Successors: Ashoka was the last of the strong Mauryan emperors. His death led to a succession of relatively weaker rulers who could not maintain the same level of control and administration.

Decline of Central Authority: As a result of weak rulers, the central authority of the Mauryan Empire started to weaken. Provincial governors and local officials began to assert more autonomy.

Foreign Invasions and Revolts: Northern India experienced several foreign invasions and revolts. Regions that were once part of the Mauryan Empire slipped out of its control. This included areas in the northwest, such as parts of modern-day Pakistan.

Partition of the Empire: The disintegration of the Mauryan Empire eventually led to its partition into smaller kingdoms and regions ruled by different dynasties and local rulers. This marked the end of the Mauryan Empire, and the subsequent period witnessed a complex interplay of various regional powers.

One of the most notable consequences of the Mauryan decline was the rise of various regional dynasties and powers across India. The disintegration of the Mauryan Empire paved the way for new political entities to emerge, and the subsequent centuries saw a diverse array of kingdoms and dynasties shaping the political history of Northern India.

Sunga dynasty: (185–73 B.C.)

  • The Sunga Dynasty was an ancient Indian dynasty that ruled Northern India after the fall of the Mauryan Empire. Here are some key points about the Sunga Dynasty:
  • Period of Rule: The Sunga Dynasty is generally dated to have ruled from around 185 BCE to 73 BCE.
  • Founder: The founder of the Sunga Dynasty was Pushyamitra Sunga. He was a Brahmin general in the Mauryan army who is said to have assassinated the last Mauryan ruler, Brihadratha, and seized power.
  • Religious Policies: Pushyamitra Sunga is often associated with the revival of Brahmanism and the decline of Buddhism in Northern India. His rule saw a resurgence of Hindu religious practices and the patronage of Brahmin priests.
  • Territorial Extent: The Sunga Dynasty’s rule was primarily confined to Northern India, and it did not have the vast territorial extent of the earlier Mauryan Empire.
  • Decline: The Sunga Dynasty eventually faced internal and external challenges. There were revolts and conflicts within the dynasty, and external pressures from foreign invaders, including the Indo-Greeks and the Shaka Kshatrapas, further weakened their
  • End of the Dynasty: The last Sunga ruler, Devabhuti, faced significant difficulties in maintaining control over the empire. His reign was marked by internal strife and invasions. Ultimately, the Sunga Dynasty came to an end when it was overthrown by the Kanva Dynasty around 73 BCE.
  • The Sunga Dynasty was an important transitional period in Indian history, bridging the gap between the Mauryan Empire and the subsequent regional powers. While it did not have the same level of centralized control as the Mauryans, it played a role in the political developments of Northern India during its time.

Pushyamitra Shunga and the advent of Regicide in India 185 BC | Chitera

  • The Kanvas (72 BCE–28 BCE)

  • According to Harshcharita, Devbhuti, the last King of the Shunga dynasty, was murdered by his minister Vasudeva, who founded a new dynasty called Kanvas. They ruled over Magadha.
  • In the Deccan, Andhras overthrew them, and the Satvahan dynasty was established.

Chedi Dynasty


Period: 1st century BCE

Capital: Suktimati-Puri 

  • Established in Kalinga around 1st Century BC by King Abhichandra, with Suktimati-Puri as capital on the banks of the river Suktimati.
  • Also known as Cheta or Mahameghavahana, or Chetavamsa.
  • After Ashoka, Kalinga (present-day Orissa) became prominent under the kings of the Chedi dynasty. 
  • No information about the kings of the dynasty except Kharavela. 

King Kharvela

  • Ruled approximately around the first century BCE.
  • His achievements are recorded in the Hathigumpha inscription, situated in the Udayagiri hills near Bhuvaneshvar in Orissa. 
  • A follower of Jainism.
  • Succeeded by his son Kudepasiri, who is mentioned in an inscription found in the Mancapuri Cave. 

Udaigiri caves(Odisha)

  • Made under the Kalinga King Kharavela in 1st-2nd century BC near modern-day Bhubaneswar. 
  • Has both artificial and natural caves (possibly carved out as residence of Jain monks). 
  • Famous for the Hathigumpha inscription, carved out in Brahmi script, which starts out with “Jain Namokar Mantra” and highlights various military campaigns undertaken by King Kharavela. 
  • Ranigumpha cave in Udayagiri is double-storied and has some beautiful sculptures.

Impact of Shunga and Kanva rule:

  1. Hinduism was revived and with that varna system also got a new lease of life.
  2. Sanskrit gained prominence, and eventually, even Buddhist texts started being composed in Sanskrit.
  3. In ancient Punjab and the adjoining territories, “tribal” or Gana-sangha polities, which had been subsumed under the Mauryan empire, resurfaced
  4. The Audambaras, Arjunayanas, Yaudheyas, Kunindas and Malavas, among others, were some of the important independent principalities that emerged after the fall of the Shunga and Kanva dynasties.
  5. Both of these kingdoms followed the Administrative systems introduced by the Mauryans. 
  • The post-Mauryan period in India was characterized by significant changes in religion and society. Here are some of the key developments during this period:
  • Brahmanical Resurgence: One of the most significant religious and societal changes during this period was the resurgence of Brahmanism (early Hinduism).
  • This was particularly associated with the Sunga Dynasty, which followed the Mauryans.
  • The Sunga rulers, especially Pushyamitra Sunga, are known for their patronage of Brahmanical practices and rituals.
  • This marked a shift away from the Buddhist and Jain influences that were prominent during the Mauryan era.
  • Decline of Buddhism: Buddhism, which had been a dominant religious force during the Mauryan period, saw a decline in its influence in Northern India. The Brahmanical revival played a role in this decline. Buddhist monasteries and institutions faced challenges, and many of them began to wane in significance.
  • Art and Architecture: The post-Mauryan period witnessed the continuation of architectural and artistic achievements. The Sunga period, for example, saw the construction of Stupas and the creation of intricate sculptures.
  • Foreign Invasions: The post-Mauryan period was marked by foreign invasions, including those by the Indo-Greeks and the Shaka Kshatrapas. These invasions had an impact on society and culture, and they introduced new elements into Indian art and religion.
  • Literature: This period saw the composition of several important works of literature. The Sanskrit grammarian Panini, for example, is associated with this time, and his work “Ashtadhyayi” remains influential. Additionally, the “Arthashastra,” attributed to Kautilya (Chanakya), is a treatise on statecraft and economic policy that is thought to belong to this era.
  • Social Structure: The Varna system (the caste system) began to evolve further, with more rigid distinctions between social classes. Society was organized around the four main Varnas: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. Social mobility became increasingly limited.
  • Trade and Urbanization: Trade and commerce continued to flourish, leading to the growth of towns and cities. The emergence of trade guilds and urban centers had an impact on social and economic structures.
  • Regional Dynasties: The post-Mauryan period saw the rise of various regional dynasties, each with its own cultural and religious influences. These dynasties played an important role in shaping the religious and social fabric of their respective regions.
  • The post-Mauryan period was a time of transition and change in Indian history, with shifts in religious practices, societal structures, and the political landscape. It set the stage for the subsequent emergence of powerful regional kingdoms and empires.

Central Asian Contacts

Various Central Asian tribes such as the Shakas, Parthians and Yuezhis migrated towards India 1st Century BCE onwards and eventually established a territory.

Central Asian contact


The Indo-Greeks

  • The Indo-Greeks, also known as the Greco-Indians, were a group of Hellenistic (Greek) kingdoms that existed in the northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent from around the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE. These kingdoms were a result of the interaction between the Greek and Indian cultures, and they left an important mark on the history of the region
  • Arrival of the Indo-Greeks: The Indo-Greek kingdoms were established by the descendants of Alexander the Great’s generals, who had conquered parts of the Persian Empire. They began to expand into the northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent in the 2nd century BCE.
  • Kingdoms and Rulers: The Indo-Greek territories were divided into several kingdoms, each ruled by a Greek king. Some of the notable Indo-Greek rulers include Menander I, Demetrius I, and Eucratides.
  • Culture and Influence: The Indo-Greeks are known for their efforts to blend Greek and Indian culture. This cultural fusion is evident in their art, coinage, and religious practices. Buddhist art and symbolism, such as the depiction of the Wheel of Dharma, are often associated with Indo-Greek art.
  • Buddhism and Conversion: Some Indo-Greek rulers, like Menander I, are said to have converted to Buddhism. Menander’s conversations with the Buddhist monk Nagasena are well-documented in Buddhist texts.
  • Coinage: Indo-Greek coins are important historical artifacts. They often featured bilingual inscriptions in Greek and the local Indian language, which helped scholars decipher the scripts of the Indian subcontinent.
  • Decline: The Indo-Greek kingdoms gradually declined due to a variety of factors, including invasions by the Indo-Scythians and the Kushans, as well as internal conflicts.
  • Legacy: The Indo-Greek presence had a lasting impact on the art, culture, and religious traditions of the Indian subcontinent. It contributed to the transmission of Greek influences into India and the surrounding regions.
  • The Satrapy system: The Indo-Greeks also introduced the practice of military governorship, and the Governors were called strategos/satraps.
  • Spice Trade through central Asia started before the Mauryan times and developed during the Indo-Greeks. Pepper was in such demand that it was known as Yavanapriya(meaning “Adorned by the Greeks”).
  • Hellenistic art: IndoGreeks introduced Hellenistic art in the north-western front of India, a synthesis of Greek, Roman and Indian art; Gandhara art was the best example.

The Sakas

The Sakas, also known as the Scythians, are an ancient nomadic people of Central Asian origin who played a significant role in the history of the Indian subcontinent.

Arrival of the Sakas: The Sakas are believed to have migrated from the Central Asian steppes to the northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent around the 2nd century BCE. They were one of several foreign groups to establish their presence in the region.

Saka Rulers: The Sakas established their rule in various parts of northwestern India, particularly in areas that are now part of modern Pakistan and northwest India. Some of the most well-known Saka rulers include Maues, Azes I, and Azilises.

Sakas and Buddhism: The Sakas played a role in the spread of Buddhism in the northwestern regions of India. They were known for their patronage of Buddhist monastic centers and their contributions to Buddhist art and architecture.

Coins and Inscriptions: The coinage of the Sakas is significant for historical studies. Saka coins often featured bilingual inscriptions in Greek and the local Indian language, providing valuable information for deciphering ancient scripts.

Decline: The Sakas, like other foreign dynasties in the region, faced challenges from neighboring powers. The arrival and expansion of the Kushan Empire had a significant impact on the Saka territories.

Art and Culture: The Sakas left a cultural imprint in the form of art, architecture, and inscriptions. Their artistic style often combined elements of Hellenistic and Indian art.

Saka Script: The Saka script, also known as Kharosthi, is an ancient script used for writing various languages in the northwestern regions of India, particularly during the Saka period. Understanding this script can be useful for deciphering ancient inscriptions.

Legacy: The Sakas were part of a series of foreign dynasties that ruled over parts of the Indian subcontinent. Their presence and contributions to the region’s culture and history are an important aspect of India’s diverse and dynamic heritage.


The Political system of Shakas:

The political system of the Sakas, also known as the Scythians, during their rule in the northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent was characterized by several key features:

Nomadic Origins: The Sakas were originally a nomadic people who migrated from Central Asia to the northwestern Indian subcontinent. Their nomadic lifestyle and warrior traditions influenced their approach to governance.

Multiple Saka Kingdoms: The Sakas established multiple independent kingdoms across different regions, and each kingdom was ruled by a Saka king. Notable Saka kingdoms included the Western Kshatrapas and the Indo-Scythians.

Feudal Structure: The Saka political system was feudal in nature. Local governors and feudal lords held significant power in their respective regions and were often given autonomy in exchange for loyalty and tribute to the central authority.

King’s Authority: The Saka king held the highest authority in the kingdom. The king was responsible for maintaining law and order, protecting the kingdom from external threats, and administering justice. The king often had a council of advisors to assist in decision-making.

Religious Patronage: Many Sakas were known for their patronage of Buddhism. Some Saka rulers, like Maues and Azes I, are said to have supported and contributed to Buddhist monastic centers, which played a key role in the spread of Buddhism in the region.

Coinage: The Sakas issued their own coinage, which is historically significant. Saka coins often featured bilingual inscriptions in Greek and the local Indian language, providing valuable historical and linguistic information.

Interaction with Neighbours: The Sakas interacted with neighbouring powers, including the Indo-Greeks and the Parthians. These interactions influenced their political and cultural dynamics.

Decline: The Sakas faced challenges from neighbouring powers, especially the Kushan Empire. The Kushans expanded into the territories previously ruled by the Sakas, contributing to the decline of Saka influence in the region.

Art and Culture: The Sakas left a cultural imprint in the form of art and architecture. Their artistic style combined elements of Hellenistic and Indian art, leading to the development of unique artistic forms.

The political system of the Sakas was characterized by a mix of nomadic traditions, feudal structures, and interactions with the surrounding Indian subcontinent. While their influence waned with time, they played a notable role in the history of the region, particularly in the areas of art, religion, and coinage.

Rudradaman I (130-150 AD)

 Rudradaman I was a notable ruler who reigned during the 2nd century CE in the northwestern region of India. He is particularly known for his inscription on a famous monument known as the Junagadh Rock Inscription. Here are some key points about Rudradaman I:

Reign: Rudradaman I is believed to have ruled from around 130 to 150 CE. He was a member of the Western Kshatrapa dynasty, which ruled parts of the western and northwestern regions of India during this period.

Achievements: Rudradaman I is celebrated for his military victories and his ability to maintain the integrity of his kingdom. He is known for successfully repelling invasions by rival powers and for his diplomatic and military prowess.

Junagadh Rock Inscription: The most famous aspect of Rudradaman I’s reign is the Junagadh Rock Inscription, which is one of the most important inscriptions in Indian history. This inscription, written in Sanskrit, provides valuable historical information about Rudradaman’s reign, his military campaigns, and his achievements. It also mentions his restoration of the Sudarshana Lake.

Patronage of Buddhism: Like many rulers of his time, Rudradaman I is associated with the patronage of Buddhism. The Junagadh Rock Inscription includes references to his donations to Buddhist monasteries and his efforts to promote the welfare of Buddhist monks.

Cultural and Religious Impact: Rudradaman’s reign had a cultural and religious impact in the region. His inscriptions and patronage activities provide valuable insights into the religious and cultural dynamics of his time.

Diplomatic Relations: Rudradaman I maintained diplomatic relations with other contemporary powers, including the Satavahana dynasty in the Deccan. His inscription mentions interactions with the Satavahanas.

Legacy: Rudradaman I is remembered as a notable ruler who left a historical record of his reign through inscriptions. His reign is an important chapter in the history of the northwestern regions of India during the early centuries of the Common Era.

Rudradaman I’s reign is significant for its contributions to Indian history, especially in terms of the historical record provided by his inscriptions and his patronage of Buddhism. His inscription on the Junagadh Rock remains a valuable source for historians studying this period.

The Parthians

The Parthians were an ancient Iranian people who established a powerful empire in the ancient Near East. They played a significant role in the history of the region, including their interactions with the Roman and Hellenistic worlds. Here are some key points about the Parthians:

Origin and Expansion: The Parthians originated in the region of Parthia, which is located in what is now northeastern Iran. They gradually expanded their influence and established the Parthian Empire, which existed from the 3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE.

Political Structure: The Parthian Empire was ruled by a series of monarchs from the Arsacid dynasty. The Parthians had a semi-feudal political structure, with a central authority and local satraps (governors) who ruled various provinces.

Military Prowess: The Parthians were known for their skilled cavalry and archers. They were formidable opponents in battle and were particularly effective against Roman armies.

Conflict with Rome: The Parthians had several conflicts with the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire. The most famous of these conflicts was the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BCE, where Parthian forces under General Surena defeated a Roman army led by Marcus Licinius Crassus.

Art and Culture: The Parthians developed their own distinctive art and culture, influenced by their Iranian heritage and the neighboring Hellenistic cultures. Parthian art includes distinctive silverware and jewelry.

Religion: The Parthians practiced Zoroastrianism, which was one of the dominant religions in ancient Persia. They also allowed religious diversity in their empire, and other religious traditions, such as Buddhism and Nestorian Christianity, were present.

Trade and Commerce: The Parthian Empire was a key player in the Silk Road trade routes, facilitating the exchange of goods between the East and the West.

Decline and Successors: The Parthian Empire faced challenges from external invaders and internal conflicts. It eventually fell to the Sasanian Empire, another Iranian dynasty, in the 3rd century CE.

The Parthians left a significant historical legacy, known for their military prowess and contributions to trade and culture in the ancient Near East. Their conflicts with the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire are well-documented and have left an indelible mark on history.

The Kushans

The Kushan Empire, also known as the Kushana Empire, was a powerful ancient empire that played a significant role in the history of the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia.

Origin and Expansion: The Kushan Empire was founded by Kujula Kadphises, who is believed to have established the empire in the early 1st century CE. The Kushans originated in the region of Bactria, which is part of present-day Afghanistan.

Territorial Extent: The Kushan Empire expanded its territories to encompass parts of Central Asia, northern India, and the northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent. It was one of the largest empires of its time.

Kushan Rulers: The Kushan Empire had a series of influential rulers, including Kanishka the Great, Huvishka, and Vasudeva I. Kanishka is particularly famous for his role in promoting Buddhism.

Religion and Culture: The Kushan Empire witnessed a cultural and religious exchange between various traditions. Under Kanishka, Buddhism flourished and the Fourth Buddhist Council was held. The Kushans also embraced Zoroastrianism and Hinduism, contributing to religious diversity in their territories.

Trade and the Silk Road: The Kushans were active participants in the Silk Road trade network, facilitating the exchange of goods, culture, and ideas between the East and West. This trade contributed to their wealth and cultural influence.

Art and Architecture: Kushan art and architecture blended elements of Hellenistic, Persian, and Indian styles. The Gandhara School of Art, known for its Buddhist sculptures and reliefs, was prominent during this period.

Decline: The Kushan Empire began to decline in the 3rd century CE due to various factors, including invasions by the Sassanid Persians and the White Huns, as well as internal conflicts.

Legacy: The Kushans left a lasting impact on the history and culture of the Indian subcontinent. Their contributions to the promotion of Buddhism and the development of art and literature are noteworthy.

Kushan Coinage: Kushan coins, with bilingual Greek and Brahmi inscriptions, are important historical artifacts. These coins provide valuable insights into the history and chronology of the Kushan rulers.


Chapter 9: Satavahana Dynasty

Satavahana dynasty: Origin and expansion

The Mauryan Empire, which had collapsed and fallen apart by the early half of the second century BCE, gave rise to the Satavahanas.

  • The Satavahanas and Chedi monarchs of Odisha took over after the Mauryans, who had previously ruled over the Andhra kingdom and the whole Deccan.
  • While the precise date of the establishment of Satavahana authority cannot be pinpointed, Puranic records indicate that Simuka, the first monarch, may have started to rule about 230 BCE.
  • However, evidence points to Satavahana as the dynasty’s true founder, not Simuka, who was simply a direct descendant of him.
  • Inscriptions claim that in the first century BCE, the Satavahanas decimated the Kanva armies to establish their presence in the Deccan.

Satakarni I conquered western Malwa, Anupa (Narmada valley), and Vidarbha, taking advantage of the turmoil caused by Greek invasions of northern India.

  • He performed Vedic sacrifices including Ashvamedha and Rajasuya. Instead of the Buddhists, he patronized Brahmins and donated a substantial amount of wealth to them.
  • The Hathigumpha inscription of the Kalinga king Kharavela mentions a king named “Satakani” or “Satakamini”, who some identify with Satakarni I.

Any empire’s history is frequently defined by its battles with other modern powers, and in the case of the Satavahanas, the Sakas of Seistan proved to be a persistent danger.

  • Before the first century BCE, the East Iranian people known as the Sakas established a foothold in the Indus valley. They are also known as Indo-Scythians.
  • Between 40-80 CE, the Saka’s dominance grew at the cost of the Satavahans, with Nahapana serving as their greatest conquistador.

Gautamiputra Satakarni is often credited with reviving the fortunes of the Satavahanas after acceding to the throne around 106 CE.

  • He is described as the destroyer of the Sakas, Pahlavas, and Yavanas (Saka-yavana-pahlavanisudana).
  • He decisively defeated the powerful Kshaharatha ruler Nahapala and recovered many territories that the Shakas had earlier wrested from the Satavahana

Rulers of Satavahana Dynasty


  • Simuka founded the Satavahana Dynasty and is credited with destroying the Shunga Power. He accomplished this with the help of the Rathikas and Bhojakas.
  • He reigned for approximately 23 years before being beheaded by his brother Kanha, who succeeded him.
  • Kanha was the Satavahana Dynasty’s second ruler. He expanded the empire southward. Satkarni-I, Simuka’s son, succeeded him.

Satakarni I (70-60 BC)

  • Satakarni-I, also known as Sri Satkarni, was a great ruler among the Early Satavahanas and the son of Simuka.
  • His queen’s name was Naganika, and he was known as the Lord of Dakshinpatha. Kanha expanded his empire to the south, to the Malwa and Narmada valleys.
  • He performed the Ashvamedha and Rajsuya Yajnas.


  • Hala, the 17th King of the Satavahana line, was another great Satavahana king. He had compiled the “Gatha saptasati” or Gaha Sattasai, which was primarily a love text.
  • He is also mentioned in the Lilavati text. These rulers were only minor rulers who were subject to Kanvas’ suzerainty.
  • The Satavahanas’ expansion was checked shortly after Satakarni II.
  • The Shakas drove them south, and the western Deccan was taken over by Shaka King Nahapana.

Gautamiputra Satakarni(106 – 130 AD )

  • Gautamiputra Satkarni, known as the Destroyer of Shaka, Pahalava, and Yavana Power, resurrected Satavahana’s lost power. Gautamiputra Satkarni is known to have recovered the Satvahans completely and sharply. His mother Gautami mentioned his accomplishments in the Nasik Inscription.
  • His empire spanned Eastern and Western Malwa, the Narmada Valley, Vidarbha, Western Rajputana, Saurastra, and even Kalinga.
  • Gautamiputra is described in Nasik Prasasti as the ruler of the Aparanta, Anupa, Saurashtra, Kukura,Akara, and Avanti. In the south, his reign extended all the way to Kanchi. He took the titles of Raja-raja and Maharaja.
  • The Puranic inscription names other Satavahanas after Gautamiputra Satkarni, including Pulumayi, Sri Satkarni, Shiva Sri, Shivaskanda Satkarni, Madhariptra Sakasena, and Sri Yajna Satkarni.

Vashishthiputra Pulumayi (c. 130 – 154 CE)

  • Vasishthiputra Pulumavi, the successor of Gautamiputra Satakarni, expanded the Satavahana Empire’s borders. His coins can be found all over south India.
  • Yagnashri Satakarni was another famous ruler who issued coins with a ship motif, indicating the importance of overseas trade during his reign.
  • Vashishti Putra Pulumayi’s inscriptions and coins have been discovered in Andhra Pradesh.
  • According to the inscriptions in Junagadh, he married Rudradaman I’s daughter.
  • Because of eastern engagements, the Shaka-Kshatrapas were able to reclaim a few territories and lands.

Yajna Sri Satakarni (c. 165 – 194 CE)

  • Yajna Sri Satakarni, also known as Gautamiputra Yajna Sri, was a Satavahana dynasty Indian ruler. He was Vashishtiputra Satakarni’s brother.
  • He is regarded as the Satavahana dynasty’s final great king. He reclaimed some of the territory lost to the Shakas (Western Satraps) during the reign of Vashishtiputra Satakarni.
  • He defeated the Western Satraps and took back their southern territories in western and central India.
  • After Yajna Sri Satakarni, the Satavahana began to decline, while the Western Satraps prospered for another two centuries.

Satavahanas Administration

  • The Satavahana Dynasty’s government was based on the Dharmashastras. The Satavahana empire’s districts were referred to as ahara, and its rulers were known as mahamatras and amatyas.
  • The province governor was named as Senapathi. The military unit had 45 cavalry, 9 elephants, 9 chariots, and 25 horses. Gaulmika, who oversaw the rural districts, was the regiment’s commander.
  • The use of words like kataka and skandhavaras indicates that the Satavahana monarchy had a military bent. Three levels of feudatories existed in the kingdom.
  • The King established the first grade, while Mahabhoja established the second. Senapati created the third grade.
  • The towns and farms that were given to the Brahmanas and Buddhist monks were exempt from taxes and later developed into separate islands within the monarchy. Varna system enforcement helped to stabilise the social order.

Satavahanas Economy

  • The Satavahanas contributed to and benefited from economic growth through agricultural intensification, increased production of other commodities, and trade within and beyond the Indian subcontinent.
  • Several large settlements arose in the fertile areas, particularly along the major rivers, during the Satavahana period. As a result of forest clearance and the construction of irrigation reservoirs, the amount of land under agricultural use has also increased significantly.
  • The exploitation of mineral resource sites may have increased during the Satavahana period, resulting in the formation of new settlements in these areas. Such locations aided commerce and crafts (such as ceramic ware).
  • Archaeological discoveries at sites such as Kotalingala, as well as epigraphic references to artisans and guilds, show that craft production increased during the Satavahana period.
  • The Satavahanas dominated the expanding Indian trade with the Roman Empire because they controlled the Indian sea coast. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mentions two important Satavahana trade centres: Pratishthana and Tagara.
  • Kondapur, Banavasi, and Madhavpur were also significant urban centres. Nanaghat was the location of an important pass that connected the Satavahana capital Pratishthana to the sea.

Religious Patronage

The dynasty showed a blend of both Hindu and Buddhist religious inclinations.

Some rulers, like Gautamiputra Satakarni, are known for their patronage of Buddhism, while others supported Brahmanical practices.

The inscriptions suggest that they were influenced by the Vedic practices- the Naneghat inscription records queen Naganika performing Vedic sacrifices with her husband Satakarni I.

It also mentions the names of various sacrifices performed by the rulers: Agnyadheya, Anvarambhaniya, Angarika, Asvamedhas, and Gavamayana, among many others.

Satavahanas Language

  • The majority of Satavahana inscriptions and coin legends are written in a Middle Indo-Aryan language. Some modern scholars refer to this language as “Prakrit,” but this terminology is only correct if the term “Prakrit” is defined broadly to include any Middle Indo-Aryan language that is “not exactly Sanskrit.”
  • The inscriptions’ language is actually closer to Sanskrit than to the literary Prakrit used in the Gaha Sattasai anthology, which is attributed to Satavahana king Hala.
  • Apart from Sanskrit and Prakrit, there is another language known as ‘Desi,’ which may refer to the native language or the language of the common man.
  • Later Satavahana kings such as Gauthamiputra Satakarni, Vastistiputra Pulamovi, and Yajna Satakarni had names in both Prakrit and Desi, a native language.
  • The Satvahanas used Sanskrit in political inscriptions on occasion. A fragmentary inscription discovered near Gautamiputra Satakarni’s Nashik prashasti uses Sanskrit verses in vasanta-tilaka metre to describe a deceased king (probably Gautamiputra).
  • A Sanskrit inscription discovered at Sannati most likely refers to Gautamiputra Shri Satakarni, one of whose coins also bears a Sanskrit legend.
  • The Satavahanas also issued bilingual coins with Middle Indo-Aryan on one side and Tamil on the other.

Satavahanas Architecture

  • The sculptures of the Amaravati Stupa represent the Satavahana periods’ architectural development. They constructed Buddhist stupas in Amravati (95 feet high).
  • They also built many stupas in Goli, Jaggiahpeta, Gantasala, Amravati Bhattiprolu, and Shri Parvatam.
  • Satavahana patronised Caves IX and X, which contain Ajanta paintings, and the painting throughout the caves appears to have begun with them.
  • The earlier bricks and woodwork on Ashokan Stupas were replaced with stonework.
  • The stupas are the most well-known of these monuments, with the Amravati Stupa and the Nagarjunakonda Stupa being the most well-known.
  • Karle Chaitya’s sculpture is another example of Satavahana architecture’s magnificence. The hall is over 124 feet long, 46 feet wide, and 46 feet tall. It was also associated with the construction of the garbhagriha, pradakshinapatha, and mandapa.
  • Along with the doorway, the elegant chaitya window encasing the woodwork of sculptures has survived to this day. Kanehri’s sculpture is also modelled after the style in which other Satavahana sculptures have been carved.

Decline of the Satavahana dynasty

The exact reasons for the decline of the Satavahana dynasty are not definitively known, but, likely, factors like internal conflicts, foreign invasions, and shifts in trade routes contributed to their downfall.

  • By around the 3rd century CE, their prominence waned, and the dynasty gradually lost control over their territories.
  • The Satavahanas were followed by Abhiras in Maharashtra, Kadambas in Mysore, Vakatakas in the Deccan, and Bruhatpalayanas in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Later, the Vishnukundins and Chalukyas emerged and became dominant in the region that had earlier been in the possession of the Satavahanas.

The Satavahana dynasty left a significant impact on Indian history, contributing to regional development, trade, art, and religious practices. They are remembered as an important indigenous dynasty that played a role in the transition from the Mauryan period to the subsequent historical phases of India.


Chapter 10:Gupta Empire

Gupta Empire – Features

The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian dynasty that is often considered a “Golden Age” in Indian history. It thrived during the classical period and left a lasting impact on art, culture, and society. Here are some key features of the Gupta Empire:

  • Golden Age of India: The Gupta Empire is often referred to as the “Golden Age” of India due to its significant cultural, scientific, and economic achievements.
  • Territorial Extent: The Gupta Empire covered a substantial portion of the Indian subcontinent. Its core territory included parts of northern and central India, with its capital at Pataliputra (modern-day Patna).
  • Gupta Rulers: Some of the most notable Gupta rulers include Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, and Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya). These rulers played a crucial role in the empire’s expansion and cultural development.
  • Administrative Efficiency: The Guptas were known for their efficient administrative system. They employed a decentralized administrative structure with a focus on local governance and taxation.
  • Economic Prosperity: The Gupta Empire experienced economic prosperity, with a well-organized system of agriculture and trade. It was a period of significant economic growth and wealth creation.
  • Cultural Flourishing: The Gupta period saw significant advancements in literature, art, and architecture. Classical Sanskrit literature, including works like Kalidasa’s poetry and the “Arthashastra” by Kautilya, reached its zenith during this time.
  • Mathematics and Astronomy: The Gupta era is famous for contributions to mathematics and astronomy. Aryabhata, a renowned mathematician and astronomer, made significant advancements in these fields.
  • Religious Tolerance: The Guptas were known for their religious tolerance. Although they primarily adhered to Hinduism, they were inclusive and allowed the practice of various religions, including Buddhism and Jainism.
  • Art and Architecture: The Gupta period witnessed the development of iconic art and architecture. The Ajanta and Ellora Caves, with their beautiful frescoes and sculptures, are prime examples. The Gupta style of art is characterized by elegance and grace.
  • Decline: The Gupta Empire eventually declined due to a combination of external invasions, such as those by the White Huns, and internal factors. By the 6th century CE, the empire had fragmented into smaller kingdoms and states.

Gupta Empire – Origin

The Gupta Empire, one of the most influential dynasties in ancient India, had its origin in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. Here is a brief overview of the origin and rise of the Gupta Empire:

  1. 1. Early Origins: The Gupta dynasty’s origin can be traced to the northern region of India, specifically in the present-day state of Uttar Pradesh. The dynasty is believed to have originated in the region of Magadha, which was a significant center of political power during the earlier Mauryan Empire.
  2. Rise to Power: The Gupta dynasty rose to prominence in the 4th century CE. Its founder, Sri Gupta, is traditionally considered the first ruler of the Gupta dynasty. However, it was Chandragupta I, Sri Gupta’s son, who is often credited with establishing the Gupta Empire as a major political force.
  3. Alliance with the Licchavis: Chandragupta I’s marriage to a Licchavi princess, Kumaradevi, is considered a strategic alliance that helped the Guptas expand their influence. The Licchavis were a powerful clan in the region of Vaishali, which is in present-day Bihar.
  4. Expansion and Consolidation: Under the leadership of Chandragupta I, the Gupta Empire expanded its territories through a combination of military campaigns and strategic alliances. He and his successors continued to consolidate and expand the empire.
  5. 5. Dynasty of Great Rulers: The Gupta Empire saw a succession of capable rulers. Chandragupta I was succeeded by his son Samudragupta, who is often referred to as “Napoleon of India” due to his military conquests. Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya) is another renowned Gupta ruler known for his patronage of arts and literature.
  6. Territorial Extent: At its zenith, the Gupta Empire covered a vast territory in northern and central India. It extended from the eastern Gangetic plains to the western regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  7. Decline and Fragmentation: The Gupta Empire faced internal and external challenges, including invasions by the White Huns and other factors that contributed to its eventual decline. By the 6th century CE, the empire had fragmented into smaller kingdoms and states.

The Gupta Empire’s origin is rooted in the northern region of India, and it emerged as a significant political and cultural force during its heyday. Its rulers left a lasting impact on Indian history, contributing to the development of classical arts, literature, and culture during their rule.

Sri Gupta (240-280 AD)

Sri Gupta is considered the founder of the Gupta dynasty, an ancient Indian dynasty that played a pivotal role in Indian history. He is traditionally regarded as the first ruler of the Gupta dynasty. Here are some key points about Sri Gupta:

  1. Founder of the Gupta Dynasty: Sri Gupta is credited with establishing the Gupta dynasty in the 3rd century CE. The dynasty was one of the most influential and long-lasting dynasties in ancient India.
  2. Region of Influence: Sri Gupta’s early influence was primarily in the region of Magadha, which is located in present-day Bihar. Magadha was historically a significant center of political power in northern India, having been ruled by various dynasties, including the Mauryas.
  3. 3. Rise to Power: Sri Gupta’s rise to power marked the beginning of the Gupta dynasty’s rule. While specific details about his reign and achievements are less documented compared to those of his successors, it is widely accepted that he played a foundational role in establishing the Gupta dynasty.
  4. Expansion of Influence: Sri Gupta’s successors, particularly his son Chandragupta I, continued to expand and consolidate the Gupta Empire’s influence in northern and central India.
  5. 5. Historical Significance: Although less is known about Sri Gupta himself, the Gupta dynasty’s rule is highly significant in Indian history. The dynasty’s contributions to art, culture, literature, and science during its heyday have earned it the reputation of being a “Golden Age” in Indian history.

Sri Gupta’s role as the founder of the Gupta dynasty is a crucial aspect of his historical significance. His establishment of the dynasty laid the foundation for a period of remarkable cultural and political achievements in ancient India under the leadership of his descendants.


  • Ghatotkacha was the second ruler of Gupta Dynasty. He was the successor of his father Sri Gupta. He ruled between 280 AD to 319 AD.
  • Pre-imperial Gupta Kings included Ghatotkacha and his father, Sri Gupta. His son Chandragupta I became his successor.
  • Ghatotkacha was the son of Gupta, the Gupta dynasty’s founder.
  • Ghatotkacha, like his father, is not documented by his own inscriptions.
  • His grandson Samudragupta’s Allahabad Pillar inscription contains the earliest description of him, which is repeated verbatim in several later records of the dynasty.
  • Previously, a gold coin and a clay seal were attributed to him, but these are now unanimously assigned to Ghatotkacha-gupta, who was a son or younger brother of the 5th century Gupta ruler Kumaragupta I.


The administration of the Gupta Dynasty, which is often considered a “Golden Age” of ancient India, was characterized by an efficient and decentralized system. Here are some key features of the administration of the Gupta Dynasty:

  1. Decentralized Administration: The Gupta administration was characterized by a decentralized system of governance. Local self-government played a significant role, and power was often devolved to local rulers and leaders.
  2. Rulers and Provincial Governors: The Gupta Empire was divided into several provinces, each ruled by a governor appointed by the central authority. These provincial governors had considerable autonomy and were responsible for local administration, taxation, and maintaining law and order.
  3. Central Authority: The central authority, represented by the Gupta monarch, played a critical role in maintaining overall control and unity. The emperor was responsible for making important decisions, enforcing justice, and overseeing the empire’s well-being.
  4. Judicial System: The Guptas had an organized and efficient judicial system. Local disputes were often resolved at the regional level by appointed judges and administrators. The central government also had a role in settling disputes, particularly those of regional or inter-provincial significance.
  5. Taxation: Taxation was a fundamental aspect of Gupta administration. Various types of taxes were levied, including land revenue, trade taxes, and customs duties. The revenue generated from taxation was used to support the administration and finance public works.
  6. Infrastructure and Public Works: The Gupta rulers were known for their patronage of infrastructure and public works. They funded the construction of roads, irrigation systems, and various public amenities. This contributed to economic prosperity and facilitated trade and communication.
  7. Military: The Gupta Empire maintained a standing army to safeguard its territories and maintain peace and security. The military was well-organized and played a crucial role in defending the empire from external threats.
  8. Trade and Commerce: The Guptas encouraged trade and commerce. The empire’s location on key trade routes, including the Silk Road, contributed to economic prosperity. Trade was regulated and taxed to benefit the state.
  9. Religious Tolerance: The Gupta rulers promoted religious tolerance and allowed for the practice of various faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. They were known for their patronage of Buddhism and supported the construction of Buddhist monasteries and stupas.
  10. Cultural Patronage: The Gupta period is renowned for its cultural achievements. Rulers like Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya) were great patrons of art, literature, and learning. This era witnessed significant advancements in classical Sanskrit literature, including the works of Kalidasa.

The Gupta Dynasty’s administration is celebrated for its blend of centralized and decentralized governance, fostering economic prosperity, promoting culture and learning, and maintaining religious tolerance. This period is often remembered as a time of remarkable achievements and flourishing civilization in ancient India.


  1. The society during the Gupta Dynasty, often considered a “Golden Age” in Indian history, was marked by a rich and diverse social structure. Here are some key aspects of society during the Gupta Dynasty:
  2. Varna System: The Gupta period saw the continuation of the Varna system, a hierarchical social structure that divided people into four main groups or varnas: Brahmins (priests and scholars), Kshatriyas (warriors and rulers), Vaishyas (merchants and artisans), and Shudras (laborers and service providers). Each varna had specific roles and responsibilities.
  3. Jatis: Within each varna, there were numerous subgroups known as jatis, often based on profession, region, or social roles. Jatis were an essential part of society, and people often identified strongly with their jatis.
  4. Caste System: The caste system was an integral part of society, with individuals belonging to specific castes based on their birth. The caste system had a significant influence on social interactions, occupation, and marriage.
  5. Women’s Roles: The status and roles of women in Gupta society varied. While some women had access to education and played significant roles in intellectual and religious activities, many others had restricted roles, especially in terms of public life and political participation.
  6. Education and Learning: The Gupta period was a time of significant advancements in learning and scholarship. Education was highly valued, and centers of learning, including universities like Nalanda, flourished. Subjects like philosophy, mathematics, medicine, and astronomy were pursued with great enthusiasm.
  7. Religious Diversity: The Gupta Empire promoted religious tolerance and witnessed the coexistence of various religious traditions. Hinduism was the predominant religion, but Buddhism and Jainism continued to have followers. The Guptas were known for their patronage of Buddhism and the construction of Buddhist monasteries.
  8. Art and Culture: The Gupta period is renowned for its contributions to art and culture. This era produced remarkable sculptures, paintings, and architectural marvels, as seen in the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. The classical arts, including classical Sanskrit literature and poetry, reached their zenith during this time.
  9. Economic Structure: The economy of Gupta society was primarily agrarian, with agriculture serving as the backbone. Trade and commerce, both domestic and international, were significant. The Gupta Empire’s control over key trade routes contributed to economic prosperity.
  10. Urbanization: Gupta society witnessed the growth of urban centers and cities. These urban areas were hubs of economic activity, culture, and learning.
  11. Role of Guilds: Guilds, or associations of merchants and artisans, played an essential role in the economic and social life of the period. They regulated trade, provided support to members, and played a role in maintaining standards of production.
  12. Social Values: Social values such as dharma (duty), karma (action and its consequences), and ahimsa (non-violence) held significant importance in Gupta society.

The Gupta Dynasty’s society was characterized by a rich blend of traditions, intellectual pursuits, and cultural achievements. It was a period of significant contributions to Indian civilization and the continuation of ancient societal structures and norms.


The economy during the Gupta Dynasty, often considered a “Golden Age” in Indian history, was marked by significant prosperity and economic growth. Here are key features of the Gupta Dynasty’s economy:

  1. Agrarian Economy: Agriculture was the backbone of the Gupta economy. The majority of the population was engaged in agriculture, and crops such as rice, wheat, barley, sugarcane, and cotton were cultivated. Advanced irrigation systems were developed to enhance agricultural productivity.
  2. Land Revenue System: The Gupta administration collected land revenue from the agricultural landholders. The land revenue was typically assessed as a portion of the agricultural produce, and it played a crucial role in financing the government.
  3. Trade and Commerce: The Gupta Empire was strategically located along important trade routes, including the Silk Road. This facilitated trade with both neighbouring regions and distant lands. The Gupta rulers encouraged trade and imposed taxes and customs duties on goods transported through their territories.
  4. Crafts and Industry: The Gupta period witnessed the growth of artisanal and craft industries. Skilled artisans and craftsmen produced a wide range of goods, including textiles, metalwork, jewellery, pottery, and sculptures. Cities like Mathura and Ujjain were known for their craftsmanship.
  5. Guild System: Guilds, or associations of merchants and artisans, played a vital role in the Gupta economy. These guilds regulated trade, set standards for production, and ensured the fair treatment of members. They provided a support system for those involved in various trades.
  6. Coinage: The Guptas issued a standardized gold coin known as the “dinar” and silver coins called “rupiah.” These coins were widely used for trade and served as a symbol of the dynasty’s economic stability.
  7. Banking and Finance: The Gupta period saw the emergence of banking and financial services. Merchants and moneylenders provided banking facilities, including money exchange, loans, and credit services.
  8. Urban Centres: Urbanization was on the rise during the Gupta era, with cities serving as hubs of economic activity and trade. Urban centres such as Pataliputra and Ujjain were known for their commercial significance.
  9. Infrastructure Development: The Guptas invested in the construction of infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and irrigation systems. This development facilitated transportation and trade.
  10. Internal and International Trade: The Gupta Empire engaged in both internal and international trade. Internal trade routes connected different regions within the empire, while international trade routes linked India to Central Asia, the Middle East, and China via the Silk Road.
  11. Textile Industry: India was renowned for its textile industry, producing high-quality fabrics like silk and cotton. The production of fine silk textiles was particularly noteworthy.
  12. Influence on the Silk Road: The Gupta Dynasty’s location along the Silk Road contributed to its economic prosperity. It played a crucial role in the exchange of goods, culture, and ideas between the East and the West.

The Gupta Dynasty’s economy was characterized by a harmonious blend of agriculture, trade, craftsmanship, and economic sophistication. It provided the foundation for the remarkable cultural and intellectual achievements of the period. This economic stability and growth are often cited as one of the defining features of the Gupta “Golden Age.”


The culture of the Gupta Dynasty, often referred to as a “Golden Age” in Indian history, was marked by a flourishing of art, literature, science, and philosophy. Here are key aspects of Gupta Dynasty culture:

  1. Classical Sanskrit Literature: The Gupta period is renowned for its significant contributions to classical Sanskrit literature. Notable literary works from this era include Kalidasa’s plays and poetry, such as the “Shakuntala” and “Meghaduta.” Other renowned poets and scholars, like Vishakhadatta and Bhasa, also made significant contributions.
  2. Performing Arts: The Gupta period witnessed the growth of various performing arts. Classical dance forms, such as Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, and Odissi, began to evolve during this time. Music and drama were also popular forms of entertainment and cultural expression.
  3. Art and Architecture: The Gupta Dynasty is known for its remarkable contributions to art and architecture. Iconic rock-cut cave temples at sites like Ajanta and Ellora are adorned with exquisite paintings, sculptures, and carvings. These artworks depict scenes from the life of the Buddha, various Hindu deities, and everyday life.
  4. Religious Patronage: The Guptas were patrons of both Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions. They supported the construction of numerous temples, including the Vishnu temple at Deogarh and the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya. These temples are fine examples of Gupta architecture.
  5. Mathematics and Astronomy: The Gupta period made significant advancements in mathematics and astronomy. The mathematician Aryabhata wrote the “Aryabhatiya,” a foundational text in Indian mathematics. The Gupta era also contributed to the understanding of celestial bodies and the concept of zero.
  6. Medicine and Science: The Gupta Dynasty was a period of growth in medical knowledge. The “Charaka Samhita” and “Sushruta Samhita” are important texts on Ayurveda, the traditional system of Indian medicine. Gupta scholars also made contributions to the fields of metallurgy, chemistry, and engineering.
  7. Religious Tolerance: The Guptas practiced religious tolerance and allowed the coexistence of various faiths. While Hinduism was the predominant religion, Buddhism and Jainism continued to thrive, and the Guptas supported the construction of Buddhist stupas and monasteries.
  8. Influence on Art: Gupta art had a significant influence on later Indian art and culture. The distinctive Gupta style, characterized by elegant sculptures and detailed carvings, continued to influence subsequent dynasties and regions.
  9. Philosophy and Learning: Scholars like Vasubandhu, Dignaga, and Dharmapala made contributions to Indian philosophy and logic during the Gupta period. Centres of learning, including the universities at Nalanda and Taxila, attracted students and scholars from across the subcontinent.
  10. Coinage and Script: The Guptas issued standardized gold and silver coins. The Gupta script, a predecessor of Devanagari, was developed during this time and remains the script used for Sanskrit and many modern Indian languages.
  11. Cultural Exchanges: The Gupta Dynasty’s strategic location along trade routes, including the Silk Road, facilitated cultural exchanges with other regions and influenced the spread of Indian culture beyond its borders.

The Gupta Dynasty’s culture is celebrated for its intellectual and artistic achievements, contributing to a rich and enduring legacy in Indian civilization. The period is often remembered as a time of great cultural and intellectual vitality.


  • Some of the old religious books (viz. Vayu Purana, Vishnu Purana, Matsya Puran: Ramayan and Mahabharata, Manu Smriti were re-written.
  • Narada Smriti, Parashara Smriti, Bhrihaspati Smriti and Katyayana Smriti were written in this period.
  • The six philosophies of Hinduism were compiled during this period. These philosophies and their founders are as:
  • Buddhist texts Abhidharma Kosha by Dignaga and Vishudhimagga by Buddhghosa were written during this period.
  • The other important literary works which belong to this period are:

 The Golden Age

The concept of the “Golden Age” associated with the Gupta Dynasty is a term often used by historians to describe the period of Gupta rule in ancient India. While the term “Golden Age” may not represent a myth in the traditional sense, it is important to note that historical periods are often romanticized and idealized in cultural and historical narratives. Here’s an overview of the concept of the Gupta Dynasty’s “Golden Age”:

Cultural and Intellectual Flourishing: The Gupta period, which is commonly considered to have lasted from the 4th to the 6th century CE, was marked by significant cultural and intellectual achievements. This era saw remarkable advancements in classical Sanskrit literature, arts, science, mathematics, and philosophy. The works of scholars like Kalidasa, Aryabhata, and Charaka are celebrated as some of the finest achievements in their respective fields.

Artistic and Architectural Marvels: The Gupta Dynasty is renowned for its contributions to art and architecture. Iconic rock-cut cave temples at sites like Ajanta and Ellora showcase exquisite paintings, sculptures, and carvings. These artworks depict scenes from Hindu and Buddhist mythology and provide insights into everyday life during that time.

Religious Tolerance and Patronage: The Guptas were known for their religious tolerance. While Hinduism was the dominant religion, Buddhism and Jainism continued to thrive, and the Guptas provided patronage to these faiths. The construction of Buddhist stupas and Hindu temples reflects this religious diversity.

Scientific and Mathematical Advancements: Gupta scholars made significant contributions to fields such as mathematics and astronomy. Aryabhata’s “Aryabhatiya” and the development of zero as a mathematical concept are noteworthy achievements that continue to influence mathematics today.

Economic Prosperity: The Gupta Dynasty’s economy was marked by prosperity, driven by agriculture, trade, and craftsmanship. The period’s prosperity is often cited as a reason for its classification as a “Golden Age.”

Cultural Legacy: The cultural and intellectual achievements of the Gupta period have left a lasting legacy in Indian civilization. The period is seen as a high point in Indian culture and a time when many of India’s enduring cultural traditions were established.

It’s essential to recognize that the term “Golden Age” is a historiographical construct used by scholars to capture the essence of a period of remarkable achievements. While the Gupta Dynasty was indeed a period of significant cultural and intellectual advancements, it was not without its challenges and complexities. The term “Golden Age” highlights the flourishing of knowledge, culture, and art during the Gupta era and has contributed to the rich tapestry of India’s historical narrative.


Following the fall of the Gupta empire, numerous ruling dynasties emerged in various parts of northern India, including the Pushyabhutis of Thanesar, the Maukharies of Kannauj, and the Maitrakas of Valabhi. The Chalukyas and Pallavas emerged as strong powers in peninsular India, respectively in the Deccan and northern Tamil Nadu.


Chapter 11: Harshavardhan Empire

Harshavardhana – Background

Pushayabhuti dynasty


The Pushyabhuti dynasty, also known as the Vardhana dynasty, was a ruling family in northern India during the 6th and 7th centuries CE. The dynasty is most notably associated with the reign of Harshavardhana, one of its prominent rulers. Here is an overview of the Pushyabhuti dynasty:

Origins: The Pushyabhuti dynasty had its origins in Thanesar, a region in modern-day Haryana, India. The dynasty is believed to have been of Vaishya (merchant) origin. Its early rulers held sway over a relatively limited territory.

Prominence under Prabhakaravardhana: The dynasty gained prominence under Prabhakaravardhana, the father of Harshavardhana. Prabhakaravardhana expanded the dynasty’s influence and rule over a larger portion of northern India, including regions in present-day Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh.

Harshavardhana: The most famous ruler of the Pushyabhuti dynasty was Harshavardhana. He ascended to the throne after the death of his father Prabhakaravardhana. Harsha is known for his military campaigns, territorial conquests, patronage of Buddhism, and contributions to culture and learning.

Conquests and Expansion: Under Harshavardhana’s rule, the Pushyabhuti dynasty expanded its territory significantly. Harsha’s conquests extended his rule to regions such as Malwa, Kannauj, and parts of central and northern India.

Patronage of Buddhism: Harshavardhana was a devout Buddhist, and his reign witnessed the promotion and patronage of Buddhism. He organized the famous Buddhist assembly at Kannauj, which attracted scholars and monks from various parts of India and abroad.

Cultural Contributions: The Pushyabhuti dynasty, especially during Harsha’s rule, was a center of culture and learning. Harsha himself was a scholar and poet, and his court attracted poets, scholars, and artists. The cultural and intellectual achievements of this period left a lasting impact on Indian civilization.

Religious Tolerance: While Harshavardhana was a Buddhist, he was known for his religious tolerance. He extended his patronage to other religious traditions, including Hinduism, and allowed for the coexistence of multiple faiths within his empire.

Decline: The decline of the Pushyabhuti dynasty was marked by internal and external factors, including succession issues, invasions by the Chalukyas, economic pressures, and the fragmentation of the empire. After Harshavardhana’s death, the dynasty’s power waned, and the Gupta Empire in northern India came to an end.

The Pushyabhuti dynasty, particularly under the rule of Harshavardhana, is remembered as a significant chapter in Indian history. Its contributions to culture, learning, and religious patronage have left a lasting legacy in the historical and cultural narrative of India. Harshavardhana, in particular, remains a celebrated figure for his role in promoting Buddhism and his contributions to the cultural and intellectual life of ancient India.

Harsha, also known as Harshavardhana, was a prominent Indian ruler who reigned during the 7th century CE. He is one of the most celebrated figures in Indian history and is known for his contributions to politics, culture, and religion. Here is some background information about Harsha:

  1.  Family Background: Harsha was born in 590 CE into the Pushyabhuti dynasty, which ruled the region of Thanesar in northern India. His father, Prabhakaravardhana, was the ruler of Thanesar, and his mother was Queen Yasomati.
  2.  Early Life: Harsha ascended to the throne after the death of his father. He faced many challenges early in his life, including political turmoil and threats to his kingdom. Despite these challenges, he displayed remarkable leadership qualities and determination.
  3. Expansion of Territory: Harsha is known for his military campaigns and his efforts to expand his empire. He conquered several neighboring kingdoms and gradually expanded his rule to cover a significant portion of northern and central India. His kingdom included regions that are now part of modern-day North India, including parts of present-day Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.
  4. Patronage of Buddhism: Harsha was a devout Buddhist and is remembered for his patronage of Buddhism. He organized the massive Buddhist assembly in the city of Kanauj, which was attended by monks and scholars from different parts of Asia. He also contributed to the construction of Buddhist monasteries and supported Buddhist learning.
  5. 5. Cultural Contributions: Harsha’s court was a center of culture and learning. He was a renowned scholar and poet himself, and his court attracted scholars, poets, and artists. The Chinese traveler Xuanzang visited his court and left valuable accounts of the culture and administration during Harsha’s rule.
  6. 6. Administrative Reforms: Harsha’s administration was known for its efficiency and justice. He implemented various administrative reforms to ensure the welfare of his subjects. He was known for his accessibility to the common people and for holding public audiences to hear their grievances.
  7. Dynastic Legacy: Harsha did not establish a long-lasting dynasty, as his empire began to fragment after his death. Nevertheless, his reign is considered one of the most remarkable periods in Indian history due to his contributions to culture, religion, and the welfare of his people.

Harsha’s life and reign are significant not only for the political and military events of his time but also for his contributions to the cultural and religious landscape of India. He is remembered as a ruler who combined military prowess with a deep commitment to Buddhism and a keen interest in scholarship and culture.

Harshavardhana – Administration

Harsha, also known as Harshavardhana, was a notable Indian ruler who reigned during the 7th century CE. His administration was characterized by certain key features:

  1. Decentralized Administration: Harsha’s administration was relatively decentralized, with considerable autonomy granted to regional rulers and local officials. This decentralized approach allowed local rulers to manage their territories efficiently and maintain law and order. The regional rulers were known as Samantas.
  2. Central Authority: While regional rulers had significant autonomy, Harsha retained a central authority as the emperor. He made important decisions on matters of state, foreign policy, and administration. The central authority was responsible for maintaining the overall unity of the empire.
  3. Taxation: Taxation was a critical component of Harsha’s administration. Land revenue was a primary source of income for the state, and various taxes were levied on agricultural produce. Taxes were collected to fund the administration and infrastructure development.
  4. Judicial System: The Gupta Empire had an organized and efficient judicial system. Disputes were often resolved at the regional level by appointed judges and administrators. The central government also played a role in settling disputes, particularly those with regional or inter-provincial significance.
  5. Cultural and Scholarly Patronage: Harsha was known for his patronage of scholars, poets, and artists. His court was a centre of culture and learning, attracting scholars and artists from different parts of India and even foreign travellers. He was a scholar and poet himself and composed Sanskrit poetry.
  6. Religious Tolerance: Harsha practiced religious tolerance and supported multiple faiths. He was a devout Buddhist, and his reign witnessed the promotion of Buddhism. He organized the grand assembly at Kanauj, which attracted Buddhist monks and scholars from various regions. However, he also extended his patronage to other religious traditions, including Hinduism.
  7. Public Audiences and Accessibility: Harsha held public audiences to listen to the grievances and concerns of his subjects. This accessibility to the common people was an essential aspect of his administration, ensuring that the concerns of the populace were heard and addressed.
  8. Military: Harsha maintained a standing army to safeguard his territories and maintain peace and security. His military campaigns and alliances were crucial in expanding his empire and maintaining control over his extensive domain.
  9. Construction and Infrastructure: Harsha invested in the construction of roads, bridges, and irrigation systems. These public works projects facilitated transportation and trade and contributed to the economic prosperity of his empire.
  10. Dynastic Legacy: Harsha’s dynasty did not have a long-lasting impact, as his empire began to fragment after his death. However, his contributions to administration, culture, and religion left a lasting legacy in Indian history.

Harsha’s administration was notable for its balance between central authority and regional autonomy, its emphasis on culture and learning, and its patronage of various religious traditions. His reign is remembered as a time of significant contributions to the cultural and intellectual landscape of India.

Harshavardhana – Military Conquests

Harsha, also known as Harshavardhana, was a prominent Indian ruler who is known for his military campaigns and territorial conquests. His military conquests played a significant role in the expansion of his empire and the consolidation of his rule. Here are some key aspects of Harsha’s military campaigns and conquests:

  • Northern India: Harsha initially ruled over a smaller territory centered around Thanesar, a region in modern-day Haryana. He gradually expanded his rule northwards, conquering regions in present-day Punjab and parts of Uttar Pradesh. This expansion allowed him to control important trade routes and increase his power and resources.
  • Central India: One of Harsha’s major military conquests was the subjugation of the Malwa region in central India. He defeated the ruler of Malwa, which allowed him to extend his empire further south. The conquest of Malwa was an important step in his efforts to create a larger and more cohesive empire.
  • Kannauj: Harsha’s most significant conquest was the capture of Kannauj, a prominent city in northern India. This conquest is often considered the turning point in his career. Kannauj was a strategically vital city, and its capture significantly expanded Harsha’s territory and influence. It became the capital of his empire.
  • Alliances: Harsha was skilled at forming strategic alliances with neighboring rulers, including those in the Deccan and the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent. These alliances helped him in his military campaigns and in maintaining the stability of his empire.
  • Control over Trade Routes: One of Harsha’s primary objectives was to control key trade routes that passed through his empire. This allowed him to benefit from the economic prosperity of the region, as trade played a crucial role in the development of his empire.
  • Maintenance of Order: Harsha’s military campaigns were not solely about conquest. He also sought to maintain law and order within his territories. His administration and military were responsible for ensuring the peace and security of his subjects.
  • Foreign Campaigns: While much of Harsha’s expansion was within the Indian subcontinent, he also embarked on foreign campaigns. He sent a military expedition to Tibet, where he established friendly relations with the Tibetan king and supported the spread of Buddhism in the region.

Harsha’s military campaigns were essential in expanding his empire and consolidating his rule. His control over trade routes, alliances with neighbouring rulers, and efforts to maintain order contributed to the stability and prosperity of his empire. Harsha’s reign is remembered as a period of significant political and territorial expansion in northern India. 

Harshavardhana – Religion

Religion played a prominent role in the life and rule of Harsha, also known as Harshavardhana. He was a devout Buddhist, and his reign witnessed the patronage and promotion of Buddhism. Here are the key aspects of Harsha’s relationship with religion:

  • Buddhism: Harsha was a committed Buddhist, and his devotion to Buddhism is a defining feature of his reign. He played a significant role in the promotion and spread of Buddhism in northern India during the 7th century CE. He is known to have held Buddhist assemblies and sponsored Buddhist monks and scholars.
  • Buddhist Assemblies: One of the most notable events during Harsha’s rule was the massive Buddhist assembly held in Kannauj. The assembly, known as the “Kannauj Assembly,” attracted a large gathering of Buddhist monks and scholars from different parts of India and even from abroad. This assembly provided a platform for the exchange of Buddhist teachings, discussions, and the dissemination of Buddhist knowledge.
  • Patronage of Buddhism: Harsha actively supported Buddhism by providing patronage to Buddhist monasteries and institutions. He made donations and grants to these establishments, contributing to their growth and sustenance.
  • Religious Tolerance: While Harsha was a devoted Buddhist, he was known for his religious tolerance. He extended his patronage to other religious traditions as well, including Hinduism. His administration did not discriminate against followers of other faiths, and he allowed for the coexistence of multiple religious traditions within his empire.
  • Cultural Impact: Harsha’s support for Buddhism and his promotion of cultural and religious activities had a significant impact on the spread of Buddhism in India. The Kannauj Assembly, in particular, is seen as a milestone in the history of Buddhism, as it facilitated interactions between Buddhist scholars from different regions.
  • Contributions to Buddhist Art and Architecture: Harsha’s reign saw the construction of Buddhist monasteries and stupas. He made contributions to Buddhist art and architecture, and some of the art from this period is still considered a significant part of India’s cultural heritage.
  • Buddhist Monastic Orders: Harsha supported Buddhist monastic orders and was associated with the Mulasarvastivada tradition of Buddhism. He contributed to the growth of Buddhist monastic communities.

Harsha’s reign, with its emphasis on Buddhism and religious tolerance, is an important chapter in the history of Indian Buddhism. His patronage and contributions to Buddhist assemblies and institutions helped maintain the vitality of Buddhism in India during his rule. While Buddhism was a primary focus, his acceptance of multiple religious traditions exemplifies a spirit of religious harmony and inclusivity during the Gupta Dynasty.

Decline of Harshavardhana

The decline of Harshavardhana, also known as Harsha, marked the end of the Vardhana dynasty and the Gupta Empire in northern India. Several factors contributed to the decline of his rule and the subsequent fragmentation of his empire:

  • Succession Issues: Harshavardhana did not have a clear and strong hereditary succession plan in place. His death created a power vacuum, and there was no direct heir to the throne. The absence of a stable succession mechanism led to internal conflicts and rival claims to the throne.
  • Invasions by the Chalukyas: One of the most critical factors in the decline of Harsha’s empire was the invasion by Pulakeshin II, the Chalukya ruler of the Deccan. Pulakeshin II led a successful campaign against Harsha’s territories, defeating his forces and capturing Kannauj. This invasion resulted in a significant loss of territory for Harsha.
  • Economic Pressures: The Gupta Empire, to which Harsha’s rule was often compared, had been known for its economic prosperity. However, by the time of Harsha, economic pressures had taken a toll on the empire. The costs of maintaining a standing army, funding cultural and religious activities, and other expenditures strained the economy.
  • Loss of Trade Routes: Harsha’s empire lost control over key trade routes, which had been vital for the flow of resources and wealth. The loss of these trade routes impacted the economic stability of the empire.
  • Regional Fragmentation: As the central authority weakened, regional and local rulers began to assert their independence and control over their respective territories. The fragmentation of power further eroded the unity of the empire.
  • Foreign Invasions and Tribal Incursions: The Gupta Empire, during its later stages and into Harsha’s rule, faced foreign invasions and incursions by various tribal and foreign groups. These invasions strained the empire’s resources and defenses.
  • Cultural and Religious Shifts: The decline of the Gupta Empire and Harsha’s rule also coincided with changes in cultural and religious trends. While Harsha had been a prominent patron of Buddhism, subsequent rulers may not have shared the same enthusiasm for Buddhist patronage. This shift in religious and cultural patronage contributed to the changing landscape of the empire.

The decline of Harsha’s rule marked the end of the Gupta Dynasty and the transition to a period of regional and local kingdoms in India. The impact of the Gupta Dynasty’s cultural and intellectual contributions continued to shape India’s history and civilization, even as the Gupta era came to a close. Harsha remains a celebrated figure in Indian history, remembered for his role in promoting Buddhism and for his efforts to maintain the unity of a diverse empire.


Important events

  • Vardhan dynasty was established around late fifth or early sixth century A.D. by Naravardhana.
  • Harshavardhan took throne in 606 A.D at the age of sixteen after the death of his elder brother Rajyavardhana.
  • Harsha rescued his sister Rajyasri who was made prisoner by Sasanka after killing her husband Grahavarman.
  • Hiuen-Tsang visited Harsha’s court in 631 A.D.
  • Harsha was defeated by Pulakesin II in 637 A.D.
  • Grand assembly held at Kannauj for Hiuen-Tsang in 643 A.D.
  • Harsha died in 647 A.D.



Chapter 12: Southern Dynasties

South Indian Dynasties

South India has a rich history of various dynasties and empires that have left their mark on the region. Some of the prominent South Indian dynasties and empires include:

  1. Cholas: The Chola dynasty was one of the most powerful and influential dynasties in South India. They ruled a vast empire that included parts of present-day Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh. The Cholas are known for their contributions to art, culture, and temple architecture.
  2. Pallavas: The Pallava dynasty, which preceded the Cholas, was known for its distinctive style of temple architecture, especially in Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram). The Pallavas ruled parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
  3. Cheras: The Chera dynasty was another ancient South Indian dynasty that ruled over Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu. They were known for their maritime trade and seafaring activities.
  4. Satavahanas: The Satavahana dynasty had a significant presence in South India, particularly in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. They are known for their contributions to Buddhist art and played a crucial role in trade along the western coast.
  5. Kakatiyas: The Kakatiya dynasty ruled over the Telangana region of present-day Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. They were known for their fortifications, including the famous Warangal Fort.
  6. Vijayanagara Empire: The Vijayanagara Empire was one of the most powerful empires in South India. It spanned the Deccan plateau and parts of South India. The empire is known for its architectural marvels, including the famous Hampi ruins.
  7. Nayakas of Madurai: The Nayakas were a dynasty that ruled over Madurai in Tamil Nadu. They were patrons of art and culture, and their rule saw the construction of numerous temples and palaces.
  8. Marathas: The Marathas, although predominantly known for their rule in western India, also had a significant presence in the Deccan region of South India, particularly in areas like Thanjavur and Gingee.
  9. Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan: Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan ruled the Kingdom of Mysore. They played a prominent role in resisting British expansion in South India.
  10. Wodeyar Dynasty: The Wodeyar dynasty, also known as the Mysore dynasty, ruled the Kingdom of Mysore for several centuries. They were patrons of art and culture and contributed to the development of Mysore as a princely state.

These are just a few of the many dynasties and empires that have shaped the history of South India. Each of these dynasties left behind a rich cultural and historical legacy that continues to be celebrated in the region today.

Chola Dynasty

The Chola Dynasty, one of the most significant dynasties in the history of South India, played a crucial role in shaping the culture, art, and political landscape of the region. Here is an overview of the Chola Dynasty:

  1. Origins and Early History:

The Chola Dynasty is believed to have had its origins in the 3rd century BCE, but it rose to prominence around the 9th century CE.

The early Chola rulers are often referred to as the “Imperial Cholas,” with the first significant king being Vijayalaya Chola, who established the Chola Kingdom in the region of Thanjavur.

  1. Expansion and Conquests:

The Cholas are known for their extensive territorial conquests. Under rulers like Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the dynasty reached its zenith.

Rajaraja Chola I, who reigned from 985 to 1014 CE, is credited with building the famous Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Chola Navy was one of the most powerful maritime forces of the time, enabling trade and conquests as far as Southeast Asia.

  1. Administration and Government:

The Cholas had a well-organized and efficient administrative system. The kingdom was divided into various administrative units, and officials were appointed to oversee different aspects of governance.

Land revenue collection and local self-governance were key features of Chola administration.

The Chola dynasty introduced a system of local self-government through the institution of the “sabha” or assembly.

  1. Religion and Culture:

The Chola period witnessed a flourishing of art and culture. Temple architecture, sculpture, and literature thrived during their rule.

The Cholas were patrons of various art forms, including Bharatanatyam (a classical dance form) and Tamil literature.

The dynasty played a significant role in the spread of Hinduism and the construction of numerous temples.

  1. Decline:

The Chola Dynasty saw a period of decline from the 13th century onwards, with various invasions and conflicts weakening their control over the region.

The Cholas continued to rule certain parts of South India, but they never regained the level of power and influence they had during their zenith.

The Chola Dynasty left an indelible mark on the cultural and architectural heritage of South India. Their temple architecture, military achievements, and contributions to literature continue to be celebrated and studied to this day. The legacy of the Cholas is a testament to their influence and impact on the history of South India.

Important rulers of chola dynasty

The Chola dynasty was one of the most powerful and influential dynasties in South Indian history. It had a long and illustrious history with several notable rulers. Here are some of the important rulers of the Chola dynasty:

  1. Karikala Chola (c. 190–220 CE): Karikala Chola is often regarded as one of the earliest and most famous Chola kings. He is known for his military conquests and irrigation projects, including the construction of the Grand Anicut, an ancient dam across the Kaveri River.

  2. Raja Raja Chola I (reigned 985–1014 CE): Raja Raja Chola I is considered one of the greatest Chola kings. He is known for his extensive military campaigns and for commissioning the construction of the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  3. Rajendra Chola I (reigned 1014–1044 CE): Rajendra Chola I, the son of Raja Raja Chola, continued his father’s military campaigns and extended Chola influence across Southeast Asia. His reign marked the zenith of Chola power.

  4. Kulottunga Chola I (reigned 1070–1125 CE): Kulottunga Chola I was a notable Chola monarch who promoted Saivism and the arts. His reign saw the flourishing of literature and culture.

  5. Rajaraja Chola II (reigned 1146–1173 CE): Rajaraja Chola II was a Chola king known for his administrative and military skills. His reign marked a period of recovery and stability for the Chola dynasty.

  6. Kulottunga Chola III (reigned 1178–1218 CE): Kulottunga Chola III was a patron of arts and literature and played a key role in the revival of the Chola dynasty.

  7. Rajendra Chola II (reigned 1052–1063 CE): Rajendra Chola II was known for his patronage of literature and the arts.

These rulers played a significant role in shaping the history, culture, and power of the Chola dynasty. Their reigns were marked by achievements in various fields, including art, architecture, trade, and conquests in South India and beyond.

Chera Dynasty

The Chera Dynasty was one of the ancient South Indian dynasties that ruled over parts of present-day Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It was one of the three major dynasties of ancient South India, along with the Cholas and the Pandyas. Here’s an overview of the Chera Dynasty:

  1. Geographic Extent:

The Chera Dynasty had its heartland in the region of modern-day Kerala and the western coastal areas of Tamil Nadu.

The Cheras were known for their control over a major part of the Western Ghats and the Malabar Coast.

  1. Early History:

The origins of the Chera Dynasty are shrouded in legend and folklore. The early Chera rulers are said to have had a significant presence in the ancient Tamil Sangam literature.

The dynasty is believed to have been established around the 3rd century BCE.

  1. Trade and Commerce:

The Cheras were known for their maritime trade and seafaring activities. They established trade links with regions in the Middle East, the Roman Empire, and Southeast Asia.

Muziris (modern-day Pattanam) was one of the key ports through which the Cheras conducted trade with foreign regions.

  1. Three Principal Chera Kingdoms:

The Chera Dynasty was often divided into three major branches or principalities: the Chera Perumals of Makotai (Kodungallur), the Chera Perumals of Vanchi (Karur), and the Chera Perumals of Venad (Travancore).

  1. Culture and Society:

The Cheras were patrons of the Tamil language and culture. They contributed to the development of Tamil literature.

Sangam poetry, an important literary tradition of ancient Tamil poetry, includes references to the Chera rulers and their patronage.

  1. Decline:

Over time, the Chera Dynasty faced invasions and conflicts with other dynasties in South India, including the Cholas and Pandyas.

The Chera Dynasty gradually declined, and by the 12th century, they had lost much of their territory and power.

The Chera Dynasty, with its focus on maritime trade and contributions to Tamil literature and culture, played a significant role in the history of South India. While the dynasty saw periods of growth and decline, its legacy is still remembered and celebrated in the southern regions of India.

Important rulers of Chera dynasty

  1. Perumcheral Irumporai: Perumcheral Irumporai is considered one of the early Chera rulers, and his reign is associated with the Sangam era, a period of classical Tamil literature. He is mentioned in Sangam poetry.

  2. Uthiyan Cheralathan: Uthiyan Cheralathan was another early Chera king mentioned in Sangam literature. He is known for his patronage of Tamil poets and poets who sang about his achievements.

  3. Kulashekhara Varman: Kulashekhara Varman is a notable Chera king who ruled during the 9th century. He is known for his contributions to Saivism and for writing the “Ramacharitam,” a Sanskrit literary work.

  4. Rama Rajadhiraja: Rama Rajadhiraja was a Chera king who ruled during the 10th century. He is known for his military campaigns and his conflicts with other regional powers, such as the Cholas.

  5. Bhaskara Ravi Varman I: Bhaskara Ravi Varman I, who ruled in the 10th century, was a patron of art and culture. He contributed to the revival of the Chera dynasty after periods of decline.

  6. Ravi Varma Kulashekhara: Ravi Varma Kulashekhara was a Chera king who ruled during the 14th century. He played a role in the political and cultural history of Kerala.

It’s important to note that the Chera dynasty had multiple branches, and different Chera rulers might have ruled over various regions and at different times. The dynasty’s history is also intertwined with that of other South Indian dynasties, such as the Cholas and the Pandyas. While historical records about the early Chera rulers are limited, they left their mark on the cultural and literary heritage of South India.

Other Important Dynasties

Pallava Dynasty

The Pallava Dynasty was an ancient South Indian dynasty that ruled over parts of present-day Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The dynasty is known for its distinctive style of temple architecture, particularly in Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram). Here’s an overview of the Pallava Dynasty:

  1. Geographic Extent:

The Pallava Dynasty had its heartland in the southern regions of the Indian subcontinent, with its capital at Kanchipuram in present-day Tamil Nadu.

The Pallavas extended their rule to parts of Andhra Pradesh.

  1. Early History:

The origins of the Pallava Dynasty are believed to date back to the 3rd century CE.

The early Pallava rulers are associated with the reign of Simhavarman I.

  1. Temple Architecture:

The Pallava Dynasty is renowned for its contributions to temple architecture. The famous rock-cut temples and monolithic rathas (chariot-shaped temples) at Mahabalipuram are prime examples of Pallava architecture and are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Kailasanathar Temple in Kanchipuram is another notable Pallava architectural masterpiece.

  1. Religion and Culture:

The Pallavas were patrons of both Saivism and Buddhism. They constructed numerous temples and monasteries dedicated to these religions.

The dynasty played a crucial role in the development of art, culture, and literature in South India.

  1. Decline:

The Pallava Dynasty faced challenges from rival dynasties, including the Cholas and the Cheras.

By the late 9th century, the Chola Dynasty had established dominance in the region, leading to the decline of the Pallava Dynasty.

The Pallava Dynasty’s contributions to temple architecture, sculpture, and South Indian culture have left a lasting legacy. The rock-cut temples and monuments of Mahabalipuram, in particular, showcase the artistic and architectural achievements of the Pallavas and continue to attract visitors and scholars from around the world.

Important rulers of Pallava dynasty

The Pallava dynasty was one of the most influential South Indian dynasties, known for its contributions to art, architecture, literature, and culture. The dynasty had several notable rulers who left a significant impact on the history of South India. Here are some important rulers of the Pallava dynasty:

  1. Simhavishnu (c. 550-580 CE): Simhavishnu is considered one of the earliest Pallava rulers. He expanded the Pallava kingdom and promoted Shaivism. He is credited with constructing rock-cut temples, such as the Mandagapattu cave temple.

  2. Mahendravarman I (c. 600-630 CE): Mahendravarman I was a prolific builder and a patron of art and literature. He was responsible for the construction of the magnificent rock-cut temple at Mamallapuram (also known as Mahabalipuram), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He was also known for his Sanskrit play, “Mattavilasa Prahasana.”

  3. Narasimhavarman I (c. 630-668 CE): Narasimhavarman I, also known as Mamalla (Great Wrestler), was a powerful ruler. He expanded the Pallava empire and defeated the Chalukyas and the Cholas. He continued the construction of rock-cut temples at Mamallapuram.

  4. Narasimhavarman II (c. 700-728 CE): Narasimhavarman II, also known as Rajasimha, was a patron of the arts and a promoter of Hinduism and Jainism. He is known for his patronage of Tamil literature and his contributions to the Mamandur inscriptions.

  5. Nandivarman II (c. 731-796 CE): Nandivarman II was a prominent Pallava king known for his support of Shaivism. He continued to build rock-cut temples and inscriptions.

  6. Nandivarman III (c. 820-850 CE): Nandivarman III was a patron of Tamil literature and continued the Pallava tradition of temple construction. He is known for his patronage of the famous Kailasanatha Temple in Kanchipuram.

These Pallava rulers played a significant role in the development of South Indian culture, art, and architecture. Their patronage of the arts and their contributions to literature and religion left a lasting legacy in the region.

Pandya Dynasty

 The Pandya Dynasty was another ancient South Indian dynasty that ruled over parts of present-day Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It was one of the prominent dynasties of South India, along with the Cholas and Cheras. Here’s an overview of the Pandya Dynasty:

1. Geographic Extent:

The Pandya Dynasty had its heartland in the southern regions of the Indian subcontinent, with its core territory covering parts of modern Tamil Nadu and the southernmost part of Kerala.

2. Early History:

The origins of the Pandya Dynasty are believed to date back to the 3rd century BCE. The early Pandya rulers are mentioned in ancient Tamil Sangam literature.

The earliest Pandya capital was Madurai, which remained a center of power for the dynasty.

3. Three Pandya Kingdoms:

Similar to the Chera Dynasty, the Pandya Dynasty was often divided into three major branches or principalities: the Pandya Kingdom of Madurai, the Pandya Kingdom of Korkai, and the Pandya Kingdom of Tenkasi.

The Pandya rulers of Madurai, in particular, were among the most well-known.

4. Trade and Commerce:

The Pandyas were known for their engagement in maritime trade, particularly with regions in Southeast Asia and the Roman Empire.

The city of Korkai was a significant port and trading center during the rule of the Pandyas.

5. Culture and Society:

The Pandyas played a role in the development of Tamil literature and culture. Sangam poetry includes references to Pandya rulers and their patronage of poets and scholars.

The Pandya kings were also known for their support of Saivism and the construction of Shiva temples.

6. Decline:

The Pandya Dynasty, like other South Indian dynasties, faced conflicts with rival dynasties, including the Cholas and Cheras.

Over time, the Pandya Dynasty weakened, and by the 14th century, it had lost much of its territory and power.

The Pandya Dynasty’s contributions to Tamil culture, trade, and literature is an integral part of the history of South India. While the dynasty faced periods of decline, its legacy continues to be celebrated in the southern regions of India.

Important rulers of Pandya dynasty

The Pandya dynasty was one of the three major dynasties of ancient Tamilakam (Tamil country) in South India, along with the Cholas and Cheras. The Pandyas had several notable rulers who played a significant role in shaping the history, culture, and politics of the region. Here are some important rulers of the Pandya dynasty:

  1. Kulasekara Pandya I (c. 1190-1216 CE): Kulasekara Pandya I is considered one of the earliest important rulers of the Pandya dynasty. He was known for his patronage of literature and the arts. His reign saw a revival of Tamil literature and culture.

  2. Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan I (c. 1251-1268 CE): Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan I was a powerful Pandya ruler who expanded the kingdom’s territory. He is known for his contributions to temple architecture, and the famous Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai was developed during his reign.

  3. Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan III (c. 1309-1335 CE): Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan III was a Pandya king who ruled during the early 14th century. His reign saw the Pandya kingdom facing external invasions and conflicts with other South Indian powers.

  4. Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan II (c. 1380-1410 CE): Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan II was a Pandya ruler who is known for his military campaigns. His reign marked a period of revival for the Pandya dynasty, and he expanded the kingdom’s territories.

  5. Maravarman Sundara Pandyan (c. 1550-1569 CE): Maravarman Sundara Pandyan was a later Pandya king who ruled during the 16th century. His reign is associated with the defense of the Pandya kingdom against external threats.

  6. Veerapandiya Kattabomman (c. 1760-1799 CE): Veerapandiya Kattabomman is a legendary Pandya ruler who fought against the British East India Company during the late 18th century. He is celebrated as a heroic figure in the struggle against colonialism.

These are some of the important rulers of the Pandya dynasty, which had a long and complex history that spanned several centuries. The Pandyas were known for their patronage of literature, temple construction, and their contributions to the cultural heritage of South India.

Kadamba Dynasty

The Kadamba Dynasty was an ancient South Indian dynasty that ruled over parts of present-day Karnataka and Goa. The dynasty is known for its contributions to the early history of the region and its role in shaping the cultural and political landscape. Here’s an overview of the Kadamba Dynasty:

  1. Geographic Extent:

The Kadamba Dynasty had its heartland in the Western Ghats region, encompassing parts of present-day Karnataka and Goa.

The dynasty’s capital was originally located at Banavasi in Karnataka.

  1. Early History:

The origins of the Kadamba Dynasty are believed to date back to the 4th century CE, with Mayurasharma being the founder of the dynasty.

Mayurasharma is often credited with breaking free from the Pallava Dynasty’s control and establishing the Kadamba Dynasty’s rule.

  1. Contributions:

The Kadambas made significant contributions to the development of the Kannada language and literature. They were patrons of Kannada poets and scholars.

They promoted Jainism and built Jain temples in their territory. Jainism had a significant influence on their culture.

  1. Temple Architecture:

The Kadambas are known for their involvement in the construction of temples. The Kadamba architecture style is distinct and has influenced later temple construction in the region.

  1. Decline:

Over time, the Kadamba Dynasty faced invasions and conflicts with other dynasties, including the Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas.

The Kadamba Dynasty eventually declined, and its power and territory were absorbed by other ruling dynasties.

The Kadamba Dynasty played a pivotal role in the early history of Karnataka and Goa. Their contributions to language, literature, and temple architecture have left a lasting legacy in the region. While the dynasty’s rule declined, it remains an important part of the cultural and historical heritage of South India.

Kadamba Dynasty important rulers

The Kadamba dynasty was an ancient dynasty that ruled parts of South India, primarily in the Karnataka region. The dynasty had several notable rulers who played a significant role in the history and culture of the region. Here are some important rulers of the Kadamba dynasty:

  1. Mayurasharma (c. 345-365 CE): Mayurasharma is considered the founder of the Kadamba dynasty. He is credited with establishing the Kadamba rule in the Karnataka region. He is known for his patronage of Shaivism and Jainism.

  2. Kakusthavarma (c. 365-385 CE): Kakusthavarma succeeded Mayurasharma and continued the dynasty’s rule. He is mentioned in inscriptions for his contributions to various religious establishments.

  3. Ravivarma (c. 425-450 CE): Ravivarma is known for his military achievements and expansion of the Kadamba kingdom. He continued to support Shaivism and Jainism.

  4. Harivarman (c. 450-480 CE): Harivarman was a notable Kadamba king known for his patronage of art and culture. He continued to promote Shaivism and Jainism during his rule.

  5. Krishnavarma (c. 500-525 CE): Krishnavarma was a Kadamba ruler who is mentioned in inscriptions. His reign saw the construction of various temples.

  6. Mrigeshavarma (c. 535-555 CE): Mrigeshavarma was known for his contributions to the Kadamba dynasty and the region. He is mentioned in inscriptions, and his reign marked a period of regional growth.

The Kadamba dynasty had a significant impact on the culture and history of Karnataka and the surrounding regions. Their patronage of religion, temple construction, and literature contributed to the rich heritage of South India. While historical records from this era are limited, the Kadamba rulers are remembered for their contributions to the region’s development.

Ganga’s Dynasty

The Ganga Dynasty, not to be confused with the Ganges River, was an ancient South Indian dynasty that ruled over parts of present-day Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The dynasty is known for its contributions to the culture and history of the region. Here’s an overview of the Ganga Dynasty:

  1. Geographic Extent:

The Ganga Dynasty had its heartland in the southern Deccan region, including parts of present-day Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Their capital was originally located at Kolar, and later, it shifted to Talakadu.

  1. Early History:

The Ganga Dynasty’s origins can be traced back to the 4th century CE.

The early Ganga rulers are associated with the reign of Prithivishena I, who established the dynasty.

  1. Contributions:

The Gangas made significant contributions to the development of Kannada language and literature. They were patrons of Kannada poets and scholars.

They are credited with the construction of cave temples and the creation of inscriptions that provide valuable historical and cultural insights.

  1. Religion and Culture:

The Gangas were patrons of both Jainism and Shaivism. They constructed temples dedicated to these faiths.

Jainism had a significant influence on their culture, and they built Jain temples and monasteries.

  1. Decline:

Over time, the Ganga Dynasty faced conflicts and invasions from other dynasties, including the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas.

The Ganga Dynasty gradually declined, and its territory and power were absorbed by other ruling dynasties.

The Ganga Dynasty played a significant role in the cultural and linguistic development of the region. Their contributions to the Kannada language, literature, and temple architecture have left a lasting legacy in South India. While the dynasty’s rule waned over time, its historical and cultural significance is still celebrated in the region.

Ganga’s Dynasty important rulers

Anantavarman Chodaganga (1078-1147 CE): Anantavarman Chodaganga is considered one of the most important rulers of the Ganga dynasty. He is credited with consolidating the Ganga rule over Kalinga and for his patronage of Hinduism, particularly the Jagannath Temple in Puri. He is also known for his inscriptions.

  1. Anangabhima Deva III (1211-1238 CE): Anangabhima Deva III was a powerful ruler of the Ganga dynasty. His reign marked a period of cultural and architectural growth. He is known for constructing the famous Sun Temple at Konark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  2. Narasimhadeva I (1238-1264 CE): Narasimhadeva I was a prominent Ganga king known for his military campaigns and the expansion of the Ganga dynasty’s territory. He continued the construction of the Sun Temple at Konark.

  3. Bhanudeva IV (1278-1306 CE): Bhanudeva IV was a Ganga king who ruled during the late 13th and early 14th centuries. He is known for his inscriptions and contributions to temple construction.

  4. Narasimhadeva II (1279-1306 CE): Narasimhadeva II was a Ganga king who ruled during the same period as Bhanudeva IV. His reign saw conflicts with other regional powers and the decline of the Ganga dynasty.

  5. Narasimhadeva III (c. 1375-1414 CE): Narasimhadeva III was one of the later Ganga rulers. His reign marked a period of decline for the dynasty, as the Gajapati dynasty of Odisha began to rise in prominence.

The Ganga dynasty was known for its patronage of art, culture, and architecture. The Sun Temple at Konark is one of the most iconic structures built during their rule. Over time, the dynasty’s power declined, and the region saw changes in its ruling powers.


Chalukya Dynasty

The Chalukya Dynasty was an ancient Indian dynasty that played a significant role in the history of South India. There were multiple branches of the Chalukya Dynasty, including the Western Chalukyas and the Eastern Chalukyas, which ruled over different regions. Here’s an overview of the Chalukya Dynasty:

  1. Western Chalukyas:

The Western Chalukyas, also known as the Chalukyas of Badami, had their heartland in the Deccan region of peninsular India.

The dynasty was founded by Pulakeshin I in the 6th century CE. Pulakeshin II, one of the most famous rulers of the Western Chalukyas, expanded their territory significantly.

The Western Chalukyas made significant contributions to temple architecture, with Aihole, Badami, and Pattadakal being notable centers of their architectural activity.

Pulakeshin II’s reign witnessed conflicts with the Pallavas to the south and the Rashtrakutas to the north. His defeat by the Rashtrakutas marked a significant turning point in the dynasty’s history.

  1. Eastern Chalukyas:

The Eastern Chalukyas, also known as the Chalukyas of Vengi, ruled over the coastal Andhra region, with their capital at Vengi (modern-day Pedavegi near Eluru).

They were contemporaries of the Western Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas.

The Eastern Chalukyas were known for their contributions to Telugu literature and their patronage of scholars.

They faced invasions and conflicts with the Cholas to the south.

  1. Decline:

Over time, both branches of the Chalukya Dynasty faced invasions and conflicts with other regional powers. The Western Chalukyas were eventually absorbed by the Cholas and the Cholas and the Hoysalas, while the Eastern Chalukyas succumbed to the Kakatiyas.

The Chalukya Dynasty gradually declined, but their contributions to art, culture, and literature continue to be celebrated in the region.

The Chalukya Dynasty’s architectural achievements, particularly in temple construction, left a significant mark on the cultural heritage of South India. Their patronage of literature and their role in shaping regional history make them an important part of Indian history and culture.

Chalukya dynasty important rulers

The Chalukya dynasty was a prominent Indian dynasty that ruled various parts of South India between the 6th and 12th centuries CE. They had several notable rulers who played significant roles in shaping the history and culture of the region. Here are some important rulers of the Chalukya dynasty:

  1. Pulakeshin I (c. 543-566 CE): Pulakeshin I was one of the earliest known rulers of the Chalukya dynasty. He is celebrated for his victory over the powerful Harsha dynasty ruler, Harsha, at the Battle of Vatapi. This victory marked the zenith of Chalukya power in the Deccan region.

  2. Vikramaditya I (c. 655-680 CE): Vikramaditya I is considered one of the most illustrious Chalukya kings. He extended the Chalukya rule into the Tamil country and is credited with building the Virupaksha Temple in Pattadakal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  3. Pulakeshin II (c. 610-642 CE): Pulakeshin II was another prominent Chalukya ruler. He is well-known for his reign, which saw the famous Battle of Badami against the Pallavas. Unfortunately, he was defeated and killed in this battle, leading to the decline of the Chalukya dynasty.

  4. Vikramaditya II (c. 733-746 CE): Vikramaditya II was a Chalukya ruler who expanded the dynasty’s territory and power. His reign marked a period of resurgence for the Chalukya dynasty.

  5. Kirtivarman II (c. 743-757 CE): Kirtivarman II succeeded Vikramaditya II and continued to rule over a significant portion of South India. He is known for his inscriptions and contributions to temple architecture.

  6. Tailapa II (c. 973-997 CE): Tailapa II was a Chalukya king of the later Chalukya dynasty. He played a crucial role in the resurgence of the Chalukya dynasty during a period of regional instability.

These are some of the important rulers of the Chalukya dynasty. The Chalukyas left a lasting legacy in the Deccan region through their contributions to art, culture, and architecture. They built remarkable temples and played a significant role in the history of South India.

Rashtra Kuta Dynasty

The Rashtrakuta Dynasty was an ancient Indian dynasty that ruled over a significant portion of the Indian subcontinent, primarily in the Deccan region. The dynasty made notable contributions to art, culture, and history during its reign. Here’s an overview of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty:

  1. Geographic Extent:

The Rashtrakuta Dynasty had its heartland in the Deccan plateau, covering regions in present-day Karnataka and parts of Maharashtra.

  1. Early History:

The Rashtrakutas emerged as a regional power in the 8th century CE. Dantidurga, a military chieftain, is often credited with founding the dynasty.

The Rashtrakutas expanded their influence and became a prominent ruling dynasty in South India.

  1. Contributions:

The Rashtrakutas are known for their patronage of art and culture. They made significant contributions to temple architecture and sculpture.

Ellora, a UNESCO World Heritage site, features several rock-cut cave temples and monasteries constructed during the Rashtrakuta period.

  1. Cultural and Religious Influence:

The Rashtrakutas were patrons of both Hinduism and Jainism. They sponsored the construction of Hindu temples and Jain monuments.

The dynasty was also known for its support of the Kannada language and literature.

  1. Conflicts:

The Rashtrakutas were engaged in conflicts with various neighboring dynasties, including the Cholas and the Chalukyas.

The dynasty faced invasions from Arab forces, which marked the beginning of Islamic influence in India.

  1. Decline:

Over time, the Rashtrakuta Dynasty began to decline. By the 10th century, their power had waned, and they lost control of many regions.

Despite their eventual decline, the Rashtrakutas left a lasting legacy in the Deccan region. Their architectural and cultural contributions continue to be celebrated, and their presence in Indian history is significant, particularly in the context of South Indian art and culture.

Rashtra Kuta Dynasty important rulers

The Rashtrakuta dynasty was a prominent Indian dynasty that ruled large parts of the Indian subcontinent from the 8th to the 10th centuries CE. The dynasty had several important rulers who made significant contributions to the history and culture of the region. Here are some of the important rulers of the Rashtrakuta dynasty:

  1. Dantidurga (c. 735-757 CE): Dantidurga is considered the founder of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. He established the Rashtrakuta rule by overthrowing the Chalukya dynasty. He is known for his successful military campaigns and consolidation of power in the Deccan.

  2. Govinda III (c. 793-814 CE): Govinda III was a powerful Rashtrakuta king known for his military conquests. He expanded the Rashtrakuta territory and patronized the arts. He is also known for the construction of the rock-cut Kailasanatha Temple at Ellora.

  3. Amoghavarsha I (c. 814-878 CE): Amoghavarsha I was one of the most celebrated Rashtrakuta rulers. He was a great patron of literature, art, and culture. He authored the famous Sanskrit work “Kavirajamarga,” which is a significant literary text.

  4. Krishna I (c. 756-773 CE): Krishna I was a prominent Rashtrakuta king who played a role in expanding the dynasty’s power. He is known for his inscriptions and military achievements.

  5. Indra III (c. 914-929 CE): Indra III was a notable Rashtrakuta king who contributed to the dynasty’s resurgence. His reign saw territorial expansion and successful campaigns against rival powers.

  6. Krishna II (c. 878-914 CE): Krishna II was known for his reign during a time of regional conflicts. He is mentioned in inscriptions and historical records.

The Rashtrakuta dynasty made significant contributions to art, culture, and architecture, particularly in the form of cave temples, rock-cut architecture, and literature. The Kailasanatha Temple at Ellora, among other monuments, stands as a testament to their architectural achievements. The dynasty had a profound impact on the history of the Deccan region.

Hoysala Dynasty

The Hoysala Dynasty was an Indian dynasty that ruled over the Deccan region, particularly in parts of present-day Karnataka, during the medieval period. The dynasty is renowned for its contributions to temple architecture and sculpture. Here’s an overview of the Hoysala Dynasty:

  1. Geographic Extent:

The Hoysala Dynasty had its heartland in the Deccan plateau, primarily in the regions of modern-day Karnataka, India.

  1. Early History:

The Hoysala Dynasty emerged as a regional power in the 10th century CE. The early Hoysala rulers expanded their territory in the Deccan region.

Nripa Kama II is often credited with founding the dynasty.

  1. Temple Architecture:

The Hoysalas are particularly famous for their temple architecture, and they left behind a rich legacy of intricately carved stone temples.

The Chennakesava Temple at Belur, the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu, and the Keshava Temple at Somanathapura are some of the remarkable examples of Hoysala architecture.

The temples are known for their exquisite sculptures, intricate carvings, and detailed friezes that depict various mythological and historical scenes.

  1. Patronage of Art:

The Hoysalas were great patrons of art and culture, particularly in the form of temple construction and sculpture.

They sponsored the construction of numerous temples dedicated to deities of Hinduism and Jainism.

  1. Conflicts:

The Hoysalas were involved in conflicts with neighboring dynasties, including the Chalukyas and the Cholas.

  1. Decline:

Over time, the power of the Hoysala Dynasty began to decline. They faced invasions and conflicts with other regional powers.

The dynasty eventually lost many of its territories to the Delhi Sultanate, marking the end of their rule.

The Hoysala Dynasty’s architectural and artistic contributions continue to be celebrated, and their temples are considered masterpieces of Indian art and culture. Their legacy in the Deccan region is an integral part of India’s rich historical and architectural heritage.

Hoysala dynasty important rulers

The Hoysala dynasty was a prominent Indian dynasty that ruled large parts of southern India, primarily the Deccan region, from the 10th to the 14th centuries CE. The dynasty was known for its patronage of art, culture, and architecture, particularly temple construction. Here are some of the important rulers of the Hoysala dynasty:

  1. Nripa Kama II (c. 974-999 CE): Nripa Kama II is considered one of the early Hoysala rulers. He is known for his contributions to the dynasty’s early history.

  2. Vinayaditya (c. 999-1009 CE): Vinayaditya succeeded Nripa Kama II and continued the Hoysala rule. He is known for his inscriptions and early contributions to the dynasty’s legacy.

  3. Ereyanga (c. 1047-1068 CE): Ereyanga was a notable Hoysala ruler who expanded the dynasty’s territory. His reign saw significant territorial gains.

  4. Vishnuvardhana (c. 1108-1152 CE): Vishnuvardhana was a renowned Hoysala king who played a pivotal role in the dynasty’s history. He is known for his patronage of art and culture, particularly the construction of the Chennakesava Temple in Belur, a masterpiece of Hoysala architecture.

  5. Ballala II (c. 1173-1220 CE): Ballala II was another influential Hoysala ruler who continued the dynasty’s patronage of art and architecture. He constructed the Hoysaleswara Temple in Halebidu, known for its intricate sculptures.

  6. Vira Narasimha II (c. 1220-1235 CE): Vira Narasimha II ruled during a significant period of Hoysala history. He is known for his inscriptions and contributions to the dynasty’s legacy.

  7. Someshwara (c. 1235-1254 CE): Someshwara was one of the last prominent Hoysala rulers. His reign marked the later phase of Hoysala rule.

The Hoysala dynasty is particularly renowned for its exquisite temple architecture and intricate sculptures. The temples they built, such as those in Belur, Halebidu, and Somanathapura, are celebrated for their detailed carvings and artistic grandeur. The dynasty’s contributions to art, culture, and architecture remain a significant part of India’s heritage.


Kakatiya Dynasty

The Kakatiya Dynasty was an ancient South Indian dynasty that ruled over the Telugu-speaking regions of India, primarily in the Deccan plateau. The dynasty is known for its significant contributions to art, culture, and architecture. Here’s an overview of the Kakatiya Dynasty:

  1. Geographic Extent:

The Kakatiya Dynasty had its heartland in the Deccan region, which includes parts of present-day Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

The dynasty’s capital was initially at Hanamakonda and later at Warangal.

  1. Early History:

The origins of the Kakatiya Dynasty are believed to date back to the 12th century CE.

Prola I, a local chieftain, is credited with establishing the dynasty. His successor, Rudra Deva, expanded the dynasty’s power and territory.

  1. Contributions:

The Kakatiyas made significant contributions to temple architecture and sculpture. They are known for their patronage of art and culture.

The Thousand Pillar Temple in Hanamakonda and the Ramappa Temple near Warangal are prominent examples of Kakatiya architectural masterpieces.

  1. Culture and Literature:

The Kakatiya Dynasty played a crucial role in the promotion of Telugu language and literature.

They sponsored the Telugu poet Nannaya Bhatta, who translated the Mahabharata into Telugu, making it one of the earliest known Telugu literary works.

  1. Decline:

The Kakatiya Dynasty faced conflicts and invasions from various neighboring dynasties, including the Cholas, Chalukyas, and the Delhi Sultanate.

The dynasty gradually declined, and in the early 14th century, they lost their sovereignty to the Delhi Sultanate, marking the end of their rule.

The Kakatiya Dynasty is remembered for its cultural and architectural contributions, particularly in the field of temple construction and literature. Their legacy continues to be celebrated in the Deccan region, and their temples and inscriptions provide valuable insights into the history and culture of medieval South India.

Kakatiya Dynasty Important Rulers

The Kakatiya dynasty was a medieval Indian dynasty that ruled the Deccan region, primarily the Telugu-speaking areas of present-day Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, from the 12th to the 14th centuries CE. The dynasty had several important rulers who played a significant role in the history of the region. Here are some of the important rulers of the Kakatiya dynasty:

  1. Brahma Rudra (c. 1158-1195 CE): Brahma Rudra was one of the early Kakatiya rulers. His reign marked the foundation of the Kakatiya dynasty. He is known for consolidating power in the region.

  2. Ganapati (c. 1199-1262 CE): Ganapati, also known as Ganapati Deva, was one of the most celebrated Kakatiya kings. His reign was marked by significant territorial expansion, military achievements, and cultural patronage. He played a crucial role in strengthening the Kakatiya kingdom.

  3. Rudrama Devi (c. 1262-1289 CE): Rudrama Devi, also known as Rudramadevi, was one of the few prominent female rulers of the Kakatiya dynasty. She is known for her strong leadership and the inscription of her rule on coins. She was instrumental in continuing the dynasty’s legacy.

  4. Prataparudra (c. 1289-1323 CE): Prataparudra was one of the last rulers of the Kakatiya dynasty. His reign faced challenges from external forces, including the Delhi Sultanate. His efforts to protect the Kakatiya kingdom during a period of invasions marked a significant phase in the dynasty’s history.

The Kakatiya dynasty is well-known for its contributions to art, culture, and architecture, particularly temple construction. The Warangal Fort, the Thousand Pillar Temple in Hanamkonda, and the Ramappa Temple are some of the notable architectural wonders associated with the dynasty.

It’s important to note that the Kakatiya dynasty’s rule in the Deccan region made a lasting impact on the cultural and historical heritage of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.


South India’s history spans more than 4000 years, with several dynasties rising and falling. The Sangam Age, which lasted from the sixth century BC to the third century CE, is known as South India’s Ancient History. The term “South Indian Dynasties” refers to the various dynasties and kingdoms that ruled the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, primarily the region south of the Vindhyas, though several of them also gained territory in the northern part during their reign.