EXAM2GENEDSARAHMCKAY - 1. A Comparison of Ancient Indian...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
1. A Comparison of Ancient Indian Civilization (post Harappan) with the Western Civilizations (Greece and Rome) In order to compare the Ancient Indian Civilization with the Greek and Roman civilizations, I will start by describing the background of the Aryans. The Aryans were an ethnic and cultural group who invaded and settled in India during the Vedic Epoch, which most historians state as falling from 1500 BCE to about 500 BCE. Originally, the Aryans were a tribal and nomadic people who lived in the barren steppes of central Asia. They were fierce and war-like, and their culture was oriented around warfare. They also had fairly advanced technologies for nomadic people such as metal weapons and chariots. Although they were tribal, most bands were ruled over by a chief, or "raja." In approximately 1500 B.C.E., these people began to migrate southward, first into Persia, and later into what is now India, especially along the Ganges. Because of the Aryans superior warfare skills, the natives of these lands were not able to resist or defend against these incursions. Over time, the Aryans became firmly settled, and gradually, their culture "mixed" with the culture of the indigenous people to form a distinct Indian culture. As is often the case when one culture is invaded and by another culture, the invading Aryans regarded themselves as being superior to the indigenous people, and took on titles ("noble") to emphasize their superiority. This is often thought to be the origin of the Caste System in Indian civilization. . Indeed, most academics argue that “the stratification of Indian society begun by Aryan conquest persists to the present day” (Alder and Pouwels 2006: 55).
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
The origins of the caste system are not hard to understand. The conquering Aryans strong- armed the natives into doing work that they thought unfavorable and set them selves up as sort of a “master group” (Alder and Pouwels 2006:55). Over time, the Aryans superior power and belief in their superiority led to the stratification of Indian society into different social groups. The top two levels were reserved for the Aryans and their descendants, who essentially became a form of aristocracy. Originally, the highest level of this aristocracy was occupied by the priests or "Brahmins." The other level of aristocracy was the warrior class, which was referred to as the "Kshatrija." Overtime, this class gradually evolved into the governing class. Beneath these two classes were the "Vaishya", who were composed of freeman, farmers, merchants, and the slave or peasant class, which was called "Shudra." Over time, these main four groups developed into the complex Caste system that still exits in parts of Indian society today. Under this system, persons are born into a social unit or caste that not only defines their status in society, but also usually defines their role or job in society. In other words, one's position was defined by the caste he/she was born into, and could not be changed. The organization of Indian society into castes had a great effect on the
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 04/16/2008 for the course GENED 110 taught by Professor Chan during the Spring '06 term at Washington State University .

Page1 / 10

EXAM2GENEDSARAHMCKAY - 1. A Comparison of Ancient Indian...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online