Ancient India Free UPSC Notes Download
The word history is derived from the ancient Greek word ‘Historia’, which translates into ‘an inquiry. Thus the knowledge acquired by the investigation of the events of the past is history. In simple terms, it is the enquiry of the ‘human past’.
The Stone age refers to the prehistoric period during which stone tools were the most prevalent form of articles used by early man. The use of stone tools started about 2.5 million years ago with the arrival of the early humans (‘Homo Habilis’ and Australopithecus). They were one of the earliest bipedal primates and used tools to hunt primarily.
Chalcolithic is made from two Greek words, khalkos and lithos, meaning copper and stone, respectively. It dates from 6,500 years ago to around 2500 years ago. This marks the beginning of the use of metalwork technology. For the first time, people started using metals along with stone tools.
Harappan civilisation was the first urban culture in the Indian subcontinent. It was a bronze age culture that flourished in the Northwestern Indian subcontinent. It was earlier known as the Indus valley civilisation as most sites discovered were near the Indus valley river system.
Around 1900BCE, cities like Harappa, Mohenjodaro and Kalibangan experienced a gradual decline. This era is referred to as the Late Harappan period and is divided into two phases – a Transitional Phase(1900-1700BCE) and a Cemetary H phase (1700-1300BCE).
The Vedic civilisation started with the advent of the Aryans in around 1500 BC, which coincided with the Late Harappan period (associated with the decline of the Indus valley civilisation). Aryans spoke Sanskrit, which is considered the origin of most of the current languages of the Indian subcontinent and is said to be a part of Indo-European languages, which is the origin point of most European languages and Persian.
The later Vedic period extended roughly from 1000 B.C. to 600 B.C., during which some Vedic tribes had migrated from the 'Sapta Sindhu' region to the upper Ganga Valley and other adjacent areas. The history of the later Vedic phase is based primarily on Vedic texts, which were compiled after the age of Rigveda.
In the 6th century BCE, India's northwest was a site of conflict between various principalities. Kambojas, Gandharas and Madras fought with each other. Since there was an absence of a powerful overarching kingdom, the principalities of the northwest could not be organised into one kingdom. This area was also wealthy and easily entered through passes in the Hindukush. Due to these reasons, foreign rulers invaded India.
Ancient India is an important part of the history of the Indian subcontinent, and understanding its history and culture is crucial for UPSC CSE preparation. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Ancient India is an important part of the syllabus for the UPSC CSE exam, and a good understanding of ancient India can help you score well in the exam.
2. Ancient India played a significant role in the development of the cultural and intellectual traditions of modern India, and understanding ancient India can help you understand the present-day context of India.
3. Ancient India made significant contributions to the world in the fields of art, literature, science, and philosophy, and understanding these contributions can help you understand India’s place in the world.
4. Ancient India’s history is closely linked to the history of the Indian subcontinent as a whole, and understanding ancient India can provide a deeper understanding of the region’s past and present.
Ancient India refers to the history of the Indian subcontinent from the earliest civilizations to the end of the Mughal Empire in the early modern period. The ancient history of India is divided into several periods, including the Indus Valley Civilization (3300 BCE – 1300 BCE), the Vedic Period (1500 BCE – 500 BCE), the Maurya Empire (321 BCE – 185 BCE), and the Gupta Empire (320 CE – 550 CE).
The Indus Valley Civilization was one of the earliest and most advanced civilizations in the world, with major cities such as Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. The Indus Valley Civilization was characterized by its sophisticated urban planning, advanced technology, and diverse cultural practices.
The Vedic Period saw the emergence of the Vedas, the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism, and the development of Hinduism as a religion. The Maurya Empire, under the rule of Emperor Ashoka, was a period of great political and cultural achievements. Ashoka is known for his policies of non-violence and religious tolerance, and his contributions to the spread of Buddhism.
The Gupta Empire, which followed the Maurya Empire, was a period of great cultural and scientific achievements. The Gupta Empire is known for its advances in mathematics, science, and literature, and for its achievements in art and architecture.
Foreign invasions also played a significant role in ancient India’s history. Alexander the Great invaded India in the 4th century BCE, and the Mughal Empire, which was founded by the Central Asian ruler Babar in the early 16th century, ruled much of India for over three centuries.
Overall, ancient India made significant contributions to the world in the fields of art, literature, science, and philosophy. Its legacy can still be seen in the cultural and intellectual traditions of modern India.
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