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Unformatted text preview: sher. nied the rituals is the desire for prosperity, health, and victory. Fire sacrifices were particularly important.
The late Vedic texts emphasize magical and cosmic aspects of ritual and sacrifice. Indeed, some of the Brahmanas
maintain that only exacting performance of the sacrifice can
preserve the world order.
The word Brahman, originally used to designate the ritual utterance or word of power, came to refer also to the
generalized divine power present in the sacrifice. In the
Upanishads, some of the latest Vedic texts and the ones
most concerned with speculation about the universe,
Brahman was extended to refer to the Absolute, the CRAIMC01_001-039hr.qxp 30 8/12/10 3:57 PM Page 30 Part 1 Human Origins and Early Civilizations to 500 B.C.E. transcendent principle of reality. As the guardian of ritual
and the master of the sacred word, the priest was known
throughout the Vedic Aryan period by a related word,
Brahmana, for which the English is Brahman. Echoes of
these associations were to lend force in later Hindu tradition to the special status of the Brahman caste groups as the
highest social class (see Chapter 4). Early Chinese Civilization
Neolithic Origins in the Yellow River Valley
Agriculture began in China about 4000 B.C.E. in the basin
of the southern bend of the Yellow River. This is the northernmost of East Asia’s four great river systems. The others
are the Yangtze in central China, the West River in southern 0
400 China, and the Red River in what is today northern Vietnam
(see Map 1–6). All drain eastward into the Pacific Ocean.
In recent millennia, the Yellow River has flowed through a
deforested plain, cold in winter and subject to periodic
droughts. But in 4000 B.C.E., its climate was warmer, with
forested highlands in the west and swampy marshes to the
east. The bamboo rat that today can be found only in semitropical Southeast Asia lived along the Yellow River.
The chief crop of China’s agricultural revolution was
millet. A second agricultural development focusing on rice
may have occurred on the Huai River between the Yellow
River and the Yangtze near the coast. In time, wheat entered
China from the west. The early Chinese cleared land and
burned its cover to plant millet and cabSee the Map
bage and, later, rice and soybeans. When
the soil became exhausted, fields were 600 MILES 600 KILOMETERS MANCHURIA Sea of
ow R. JAPAN
Sea • Wei R. •Luoyang • (Sian) a Hu i R. R. Ha n R . zi
Ya East China
R. R. Re
d South China
Map 1–6. Bronze Age China during the Shang Dynasty, 1766–1050 B.C.E. Anyang was a late Shang dynasty capital.
Sian and Luoyang were the capitals of the Western and Eastern Zhou. CRAIMC01_001-039hr.qxp 8/12/10 3:57 PM Page 31 Chapter 1 abandoned, and sometimes early villages were abandoned,
too. Tools were of stone: axes, hoes, spades, and sickleshaped knives. The early Chinese domesticated pigs, sheep,
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