Ch. 8 Study Guide

Charlie Shapiro

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Section 1: Origins of Hindu India


The Aryans, an Indo-European group from areas north of the Black and Caspian Seas, spread throughout South Asia. The Aryans were nomadic herders, and in Aryan culture, cows were the basis of their economy and diet. They had no written language but spoke sanskrit. The Aryans ended up developing a written form of Sanskrit known as Vedas, and they were holy rituals written down by priests. Within Vedas, the dharma of each male was outlined, and the epic poem, Mahabharat, shows that one must do their duty no matter what within their culture. The Aryan's worshipped many gods and goddess, and their beliefs eventually turned into the religion known as Hinduism. The three most important gods within Hinduism is Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver, and Siva, the destroyer. The Upanishads, religous writings, told of a universal spirit within all life, and the Upanishads said that all souls are apart of one eternal spirit, or Brahman Nerguna. Other than Brahman Nerguna, the Upanishads entailed reincarnation, the rebirth of the soul. They said that the cycle of rebirth is determined by karma. Once karma was established, ahimsa, the nonviolence towards all living things, arose out of the desire to live a good life. The reincarnation cycle continues until moksha, the release from the pain of rebirth; It was reached by being committed to prayer, religious rituals, strict self denial, and rejection of all worldly things. The evolving religion of Hinduism later developed Jainism, and it was developed by Mahavira, a teacher, who emphasized ahisma. The new religion rejected sacrifices and social divisions and believed in the sacredness of all life. The Jains did not farm and turned to commerce to become wealthy.


Sanskrit - language

Vedas - holy rituals written down by priests

Varnas - four main social classes

Brahmans - study and teach vedas, religious ceremonies, ensure welfare of people

Kshatriyas - study vedas, lead government , head of army

Vaisyas - tend herds, care for land, make and sell products

Sudras - serve other varnas

Pariahs - perform tasks considered unclean, lived outside the cities (untouchables, outcastes)

dharma - duties

Mahabharata - epic poem that outlines one must do their duty no matter what, 100,000 authors, multiple authors

Ramayana - 24,000 verses, struggle between good and evil, Rama (good king) and Sita (wife)

Upanishads - religious writings from 800-400 BC

Brahman Nerguna - everything has a soul (gods, humans, animals) that are apart of the universal spirit

reincarnation - rebirth of the soul

ahisma - nonviolence towards all living things, protect humans, animals and plants

moksha - release from the pain of rebirth, complete oneness with Brahman Nerguna

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Early India's Social System

These are the different social classes of early India.
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Importance of Cattle

Cattle were the basis of the Aryans' diet and economy, and they served as money. Cattle provided meat, fresh milk, and liquid butter for them. The Aryans' wealth was even measured in cattle.
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Moksha is the release from the pain of rebirth, and the complete oneness with Brahman Nerguna. For one to reach Moskha, one has to be committed to prayer, religious rituals, strict self-denial, rejection of all worldly things.

Section 2: Rise of Buddhism


A man named Siddhartha Gautama is the founder of Buddhism. At the age of 29, he left and wandered through India in search of “why does suffering occur and how to end it." For a total of seven years, he was a hermit and fasted and found enlightenment one day and began preaching. He is known as the "Enlightened One." Siddhartha had four noble truths and followed the Eightfold Path. If one followed the path, one would be lead to Nirvana. After the Buddha's death, two divisions were developed, and they were known as Theravada and Mahayana. Theravada developed in south and southeast Asia and regards Buddha as a teacher. Mahayana developed in China, Korea, and Japan, and Mahayana sees Buddha as a divine being and savior.


Siddhartha Gautama - founder of Buddhism

Nirvana - freedom from rebirth (a state of extinction)

stupas - large stone mounds over the bones of holy people

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Above: Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, known as the Buddha is meditating.

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The Buddha's religious philosophy within his Four Noble Truths.

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The Eightfold Path

The Buddha urged followers to do eight things. The eight things he told his followers to carry out are within the Eightfold Path. If one followed the Eightfold Path, then one would be able to obtain Nirvana, freedom from rebirth.

Section 3: Indian Empires


In 321 B.C., a man named Chandragupta Maurya overthrew the Magadhan king in Magadha and proclaimed himself ruler. He became the ruler of the Mauryan Empire that included most of northern and central India and lasted until 184 B.C. Chandragupta's grandson, Asoka, led the Mauryan Empire through its best years and announced that he would follow the teachings of the Buddha and become a man of peace. The Mauryan Empire declined after Asoka's death in 232 B.C. due to his successors levying heavy taxes on the goods sold by merchants and seizing large portions of the crops grown by peasants. Nearly five-hundred years later, in 310 A.D., Chandragupta I built an empire of his own known as the Gupta Empire. Hinduism was made the main religion of the empire, and under Chandragupta II, the Gupta Empire was led through their Golden Age. The Gupta Empire had many achievements in the arts and sciences. The empire invented the concept of zero, and they devised the numbers 1 to 9 that came to be called "Arabic numerals." The Gupta Empire's Golden Age fell once Chandragupta II died. The Gupta's government weakened, and they faced invasions along India's northwestern border.


Magadha - center of India's first empire

Chandragupta Maurya - overthrew the Magadhan king and proclaimed himself ruler

Asoka (Chandragupta's grandson) - Indian civilization blossomed during his reign

Chandragupta I - A.D. 310, built up Gupta Empire

Chandragupta II - ruled from A.D. 375 to A.D. 415 and Gupta Empire reached its height under his rule

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The picture shows the expansion of the Mauryan Empire.

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This is a statue of Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Mauryan Empire.

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The many different achievements during the Golden Age of the Gupta Empire.