Aryans

By Jamie Howell

Climate Geography and Human Environment

  • They migrated to the fertile plain of the Ganges and Later to the Deccan Plateau
  • Iron Plows and irrigation made it easier for farmers to clear dense jungle and make the areas along the Ganges River a rich agricultural area.
  • Basic crops were wheat, barely and millet
  • Rice was the most common in the river valleys
  • Grain and vegetable supplemented cotton and spices (Pepper Ginger and Cinnamon) were popular in the south.

Writing and Language

  • Like most nomadic peoples early Aryans had no written language.
  • Around 1000 B.C. they started writing in Sanskrit
  • Sanskrit is an Indo-European Language
  • Having a writing system made it possible for them to keep track of legends religious chants and rituals.
  • Early writings known as Vedas reveal between 1500 and 400 B.C. Rajas ruled many small kingdoms that were often at war with one another.

Religion

  • Brahmins were priests that preformed religious ceremonies important to Indian Society.
  • Hinduism had its origins in the religious beliefs of Aryan people
  • The Hindus developed yoga which goal was to leave behind earthly life and and join Brahman (Their God) in a dreamless sleep.
  • In 6th Century BC Buddhism appeared and became a rival of Hinduism.
  • The Founder of Buddhism was Siddhartha Gautama aka Buddha or Enlightened One
  • When asked if he was a God, Angel or Saint he replied simply "I'm awake"

Social Structures

  • Life centered around family, the most basic unit in society.
  • The ideal family was three generations big all living together
  • Men had superiority as they were the only ones allowed to own property, become priests and be educated.
  • Children were an important part of marriage because they were expected to take care of their aging parents.
  • Women's dominance by men is most noticeable in the Suttee ritual were if the husband was to die the wife was to throw herself onto his burning pyre or be disgraced.

Political Structures

  • Aryans believed society was divided into four varnes or social groups ranking from high to low.
  • Top Brahmins (Priests who preformed religious ceremonies) Kshatriyas (Warriors) Visayans (Commoners, Merchants and Farmers) and the lowest was Sudras ( peasants or servants)
  • Over the centuries a Caste System evolved (Caste determined job, marriage, friends)
  • They called the caste system Jati and it was based on religious purity.
  • Untouchables were the lowest on the Jati system and made up 5% of the population

Accomplishments in Technology and Philosophy

  • The introduction of Iron lead to the use of Iron Plows and irrigation systems
  • Karma is an important part of Hindu beliefs because it is "generated" by a persons good will.
  • By 6th century BC the belief of reincarnation(rebirth in another life) had taken shape
  • In Buddhism it was taught that of people let go of their worldly cares pain could be forgotten
  • Once pain was forgotten came bodhi or wisdom
  • Achieving wisdom was a key step in obtaining Nirvana or ultimate reality.
  • Buddhism was popular with the Lower Class because it taught that everyone could reach nirvana based on behavior in life.

Fall and Decline

  • The decline of Aryans was caused by over-exploitation of the environment, series of floods, water-logging and increased salinity of the irrigated lands.
  • Weakened cities would have become easy victims of the raiders from Central Asia