Chapter 8 Review

Hinduism in India


Ancient India was a fascinating era filled with new religions and beliefs from the Roman Empire Era, vast culture and political beliefs. Ancient Indians believed that everyone must perform duties no matter what. They believed that all life is precious and did not harm any living things. There were many social classes varying from slaves or "untouchables," and Priests believed to be almost like deities.
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Sanskrit - language

Vedas - holy rituals

Varnas - classes

Brahmans - priests

Kshatriyas - Warriors / rulers

Vaisyas - common people

Sudras - unskilled laborers

Pariahs - slaves (untouchables)

Dharma - duties

Mahabharata - epic poem that outlines that one must do their duty no matter what

  • Mahabharata - 100,00 verses / multiple authors
  • Ramayana - 24,000 verses / struggle between good and evil / Rama (good king) and wife, Sita

Upanishads - religious writings from 800-400 BC

Brahman Nerguna - universal spirt

Reincarnation - rebirth of the soul

Ahisma - nonviolence toward all living things

Moksha - complete oneness with the Brahman Nerguna


The Aryans, from Black and Caspian Sea area, invaded in 1500 BC. They then spread throughout South Asia. They were nomadic herders who were often at war. They had a male led society. Women could remarry if widowed. They also had no written language. Instead, the recited epics and held verdas, or holy rituals. Eventually their language was written down by priests. Their social structure had four main social classes (varnas). Believed in concept of duty, everyone performed duties (Dharmas). India had two epics, first, Mahabharata - 100,000 verses, multiple authors. The Ramayana - 24,000 verses, struggle between good and evil. Believed in Universal Spirit and reincarnation.

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stupas: large stone mounds over the bones of holy people

Theravada: S/SE Asia, regards Buddha as a teacher

Mahayana: China, Korea, Japan; Buddha as a divine being and savior

The Buddha, or Siddhartha Gautama was the founder of Buddhism. He was the prince of Kshatriya, born 566 BC. At age of 29 he left and wandered through India in search of “why does suffering occur and how to tend it.” For 7 years he lived as a hermit, fasting, self-denial. Found enlightenment one day and began preaching Believed in Four Noble Truths - 1. All people suffer and know sorrow. 2. People suffer because their desires bind them to reincarnation. 3. End suffering by eliminating desires. 4. Eliminate desires by following the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path consists of:

  1. know truth

  2. resist evil

  3. say nothing to hurt others

  4. respect life

  5. work for the good of others

  6. free thier minds of evil

  7. control their thoughts

  8. practice meditation

    Leads to Nirvana: freedom from rebirth (a state of extinction). Budhism began to spread.

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Panchatantra - moral stories through animals

Rock Edicts: laws written on stones throughout empire in local languages

The Mauryan Empire started in 321 BC; Chandragupta Maurya overthrew the king. Chandragupta Maurya was a skilled administrator, created a postal system, created a strong army and spy network, his empire included Northern and Central India, lasted until 184 BC. Asoka's Enlightened Rule started in 274 BC. Chandragupta's grandson: Asoka. Asoka had a, fierce army, he took over ⅔ of Indian sub continent, became buddhist after seeing a bloodied battlefield, passed laws stressing concern for others

  • Rock Edicts: laws written on stones throughout empire in local languages

  • Public projects:

    • free hospitals and vet clinics

    • roads

    • rest house

  • **Hindu caste system continued

    He died in 232 BC: successors were harsh, heavy taxes → murdered & empire split in 2. The Gupta Empire came into existence 500 years later. In 310 AD: Chandragupta I rules. This period was later called the golden age. Gupta religion's religion was Hinduism. Gupta life reached its height under Chandragupta II, from 375 AD - 415 AD. He eased taxes, wrote rules for grammar and politics, Sanskrit became major language, although, women’s rights declined. Gupta's Achievements consisted of writers became welcomed - mostly focused on religion and folk tales, introduced Panchatantra - moral stories through animals, and Dramas: Kalidasa wrote Shauntala. For math the Gupta Empire studied algebra, zero and infinity, and arabic numerals (1-9). The Gupta Empire also had achievements in Astronomy, - gravity, earth is round, and medicine, - set bones, medical instruments. The Golden Age ended in 415 AD when Chandragupta II died. The empire then faced invasion from the north. By 600 AD; dissolved into small states.

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