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EI+04+S+C+Asia+1453-1914 - HISTORY 1020(Rowley WORLD...

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H ISTORY 1020 (Rowley) W ORLD C IVILIZATION II E SSENTIAL I NFORMATION Week 4: South and Central Asia, 1453-1914 INDIA Ancient India By at least 3000 BCE .farmers in the Indus River valley were growing wheat and barley. By 2500 BCE , about one thousand years later than in Mesopotamia civilization first appeared. Indian civilization has been continuous since its beginning—Hinduism is still the religion of India However, there has been little continuity in India’s political tradition. India has very rarely been unified under a single ruler and in one state. Throughout the history of India, small local princedoms and larger regional kingdoms rose and fell. The only generalization is that the unity of all India under one leader was rare. Traditional Indian Society The basic units of Indian society have been the family and the autonomous village. The traditional family is the patriarchal extended family with all sons, and their wives and children, living with their father and under his authority until his death. Villages in rural India were generally self-governing under the leadership of village elders according to custom. These villages were usually subordinated (i.e. taxed) by a local prince. Hinduism What preserved the unity of Indian civilization and culture was not a ruling family or a unified state, but a common set of rituals and beliefs that goes under the name of “Hinduism.” However, Hinduism has no single authoritative dogma or creed, and it has no church organization or hierarchy or system of ordaining ministers or priests. There are hundreds of different names of gods in the Indian subcontinent, and whether they are all different or are the same few gods under different names, is a question for interpretation. Among the beliefs that seem to be common among all Hindus are: Brahman : Everything in the universe is only an aspect of the Brahman or world soul. The apparent diversity of things and beings in the world is an illusion. All things and beings are part of the one-ness of God, and those who attain enlightenment lose themselves in that one-ness. Reincarnation or the transmigration of souls . Souls are immortal, and when a human dies his or her soul is reborn in a new body. Caste . People are born into a specific social status. At first there were four castes: priests (Brahmins–but not to be confused with Brahman, the world-soul), warriors, merchants, and workers, and a fifth category “the untouchables” who did “unclean” work such as butchering animals. Over time, caste has been transformed from a religious category to a social category based principally on occupation. One is tied to one's caste for life. A son takes his father's occupation, a daughter marries someone who has the same occupation as her father. One socializes only with members of ones own caste.
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