Ancient India

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The Ancient Indian history of the 'golden bird' India dates back to 2500 BCE, when the famous Indus or Harappan civilisation settled around the banks of the river Indus and Sanatan Culture indiaSutlaj in the Indian sub-continent. The cities belonging to the Harappan civilisation - Harrapa and Mohenjodaro in Pakistan, Lothal in Gujrat and Ropar in Punjab to name a few, which were excavated in the 19th century CE, came out with surprisingly interesting facts. Alike most of the modern cities, these ancient places were also constructed with well planned architecture, broad streets cutting each other at right angle, houses made of burnt bricks, a properse wage system, the Great Bath meant for holy rituals and great citadels. Almost a perfect town planning and sanatan culture set a part this uniquecivilisation from the other contemporary ones, and suddenly by about 1500 BCE, the civilisation declined perhaps due to a natural calamity or foreign invasion.

But the Harrappan civilisation was not an end to the life in the Indian subcontinent as there were many to develop with the course of time. The people moved further in their life and again started settling themselves along the rivers and plains in the land of India, or rather the entire Indian sub-continent there by forming the Vedic settlement. The Vedas, Rigveda, the earliest one, accompanied by other three Samveda, Yajurvedaand Atharvaveda, which form an integral part of the Indian culture, dates back to this period and even today are the earliest literary sources reflecting the ancient history of India and the Indians.

Soon was to evolve the 16 Mahajanapadas in the 6th century BCE, among whom the kingdom of Magadha established its paramountcy over other kingdoms of the Ganges Buddhism in IndiaValley. It was at this time in the 528 BCE when a young prince denounced His luxurious life, attained enlightenment and preached others the path of Middle way, known as Buddhism. Another school of thought, Jainism also developed as per the teachings of Mahavira during this period. As these two new sects were developing, Chandragupta Maurya established the rule of the Maurayas in Magadha, which was further strengthened by his grandson, Ashoka through out northern, central, western and parts of the southern India. Ashoka, when got perturbed by the miseries created by his imperialistic policies, converted to Buddhism and spread Buddhism in different parts of the world, which soon became a major religion in most of the countries of the world.

After the death of Ashoka in 232 BCE, his successors could not match his potentials and the Mauryan empire started disintegrating to the hands of the foreign invaders Sungas, Greeks and Sakas. It took around 400 years to reorganise the things, which can more or less be credited to Samudragupta and Chandragupta II, the rulers of the Gupta dynasty. They not only strengthened their empire and established internal peace but also encouraged art, literature, culture, science and technology.The Guptas are credited for the construction of rock-cut caves of Ajantaand Ellora, beginning of the Hindu temple architecture and last but not the least, giving protection to Kalidasa, the famous Pallavas Temple in South IndiaSanskrit poet and dramatist, who compiled Abhigyana Shakuntalam, Kumarasambhavam and Meghadutam. After the decline of the Guptas, the rulers like Harshavardhan (604 -647 CE) in Kannauj, the Cholas and Chalukyas in the southern India, accompanied by the Palas in the east and Pallavas in Kanchi further patronised the Indian culture, heritage, art and architecture. But atthe same time, they kept on expanding their boundaries, which further resulted in feud among themselves over their territories. In fact, as are sult of imperialism, the Cholas over threw the Pallavas in the 9th Century CE and regained political primacy in south India. Through out the Indian subcontinent, the small rulers were ruling over small regions, and it was the disunity among themselves which invited the foreigninvaders to invade and rule over the Indian territories in the medieval period.

[Medieval India, Modern India]