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CHAPTER 6: INDIA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA, 1500 B.C.E.–1025 C.E. INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVES After studying this chapter students should: Be able to discuss the historical forces that led to the complex society of ancient India. Be able to describe the development and distinctive features of Indian religion, as well as the influence of Indian religion on South Asian culture. Understand the process that led to the creation of the Mauryan and Gupta Empires. Understand the importance of location, trade, and Indian cultural influence on the rise and fall of Southeast Asian maritime states. MAPS chapter outline I. Foundations of Indian Civilization, 1500 B.C.E.–300 C.E. A. The Indian Subcontinent 1. India has three topographical zones: (1) the northern mountainous zone; (2) the Indus and Ganges Basins; and (3) the peninsula. The Vindhya Mountains and the Deccan plateau divide the peninsula from the other two zones. 2. The peninsula itself includes further topographical sub-regions including: (1) tropical Kerala coast in the west; (2) Coromandel Coast in the east; (3) flat area of Tamil Nadu in the south; and (4) island of Sri Lanka. 3. Peninsular India and the Ganges Valley have a subtropical climate and plentiful rainfall. The Indus Valley is dry and agriculture there relies on irrigation. The staple crop of the Ganges Delta is rice; elsewhere, the staple crops are wheat, millet, and barley. 4. This geographical diversity has made it very difficult for any political power to unify all of India for any great length of time. B. The Vedic Age
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1. After the demise of the Indus Valley civilization, Indo-European warriors migrated into India. They were organized in patriarchal families and kinship groups, and at first, they herded cattle in the northwest. After 1000 B.C.E. some of them began to push into the Ganges Valley, using new iron tools to fell trees and cultivate the land. The oral tradition of these light-skinned Arya tribes tells of a violent struggle between themselves and the darker-skinned Dravidian-speaking Dasas, whom they evidently pushed into southern India. 2. The struggle between Aryas and Dasas led to the development of the system of varna, meaning “color” but equivalent to “class.” Under this system, people were born into one of four varna: (1) Brahmin (priests/scholars); (2) Kshatriya (warriors); (3) Vaishya (merchants); and (4) Shudra (peasant/laborer). A fifth group, Untouchables, was outside the system and consisted of persons who did demeaning or ritually polluting work such as work that involved contact with the dead bodies of animals or humans. 3. The four varna were subdivided into hereditary occupational groups called jati (also known by the Portuguese word caste). Jati were also arranged in order of hierarchy; complex rules governed the appropriate occupation, duties, and rituals of each jati and laid forth regulations concerning interaction between people of different jati. 4.
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This note was uploaded on 11/04/2011 for the course WORLD 101 taught by Professor Losa during the Spring '11 term at City College of San Francisco.

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