Ancient Indian Cultural System & Ideals



    Varina Vyavastha or Varina System


    Vedas prescribe that all human beings should leave ignorance, get educated, select a profession for himself based on his “tatva” (basic traits) and education, take a vow to follow such a profession, and follow such a profession.


    Vedas classifies all profession into three viz. “Knowledge based”, “Justice / state administration based” and “finance / economics based”. Though all professions include some or other aspect of knowledge, administration and economics but the key element in each profession can be acknowledged to anyone of the given three.


    • A follower of a “Knowledge based” profession is called a “Brahmin”;
    • A follower of a “Justice / state administration based” profession is called a “Kshatriya”;
    • and a follower of an “finance / economics based” profession is called a “Vaishya”.
    • Anyone who is not following any profession is called a “Shudra”.


    These four classification of human beings are called the four “VARINAS”.


    However, the above are not strict rules but the core rules of classification. There can be many exceptions / inter changeover / etc in the Varinas of people. For example,


    – A Shudra after he acquires requisite knowledge / experience and devotes himself to any profession acquires the status of a Brahman, Kshatriya or a Vaishya, as the case may be. No shastra prohibts any erson from gaining education or bhakti.


    – One may at the beginning of the career be working as a manager in a commercial company. He is a Vaishya then. After years of experience he started teaching principles of management in colleges, then he becomes a Brahmin.


    – A Brahmin’s son / daughter would normally have more tendencies to indulge in knowledge based profession and hence become a Brahmin but he choose to go otherwise also. Similarily with others also.


    All humans by birth are Shudra. At different stages of life, they complete their basic education, their basic traits identified, etc depending on which they take on some profession for themselves. At such a time, that person is called to taken a re-birth. That is why, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vysyas are called DWIJ (twice born).


    The system of VARINA (VARINA VYAVASTHA) has nothing to do with Caste System, which is not supported by Vedic Literature. It also has nothing to so with the system of using the surinames.


    The Varina of a person is also often called, the Dharma of that person.


    Ashram System:-


    The word Ashrama is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Srama’ which means to exert oneself. Hence, Ashrama stands to mean (i) the place where exertions are performed, (2) the action of performing such exertions is initiated. In the words of P.H. Pradhu, “The word, therefore, signifies a halt, a stoppage on a stage in the journey of life just for the sake of rest in a sense in order to prepare oneself for the further journey. He further says that “The Ashramas then are to be regarded as resting place during one’s journey on the way to final liberation which is the final aim of life.


    Vyasa has remarked in the Mahabharata that the four stages of life form a ladder or a flight of four steps. These lead to Brahmana which means that through them a person can reach the region of Brahma.


    Ashramas are regarded as different stages in the life of an individual which train him for some period and the individual exerts himself in the same order to qualify himself for the next stage of life.

    The Four Ashramas:

    1. Brahamacharya Ashrama:


    The first stage of life is called Brahmacharya Ashrama. A boy enters this Ashrama through the performance of Upanayana ceremony. Through this initiation rite, a person is said to be reborn (Dwija). The age of initiation into the first stage of life differs from Varina to Varina. The initiation ceremony takes place for a Brahmin at the age of 8, for Kshatriya at the age of 10 years and a Vaishya at the age of 12 years. The Sudra child is not allowed to go through the first stage, as he was traditionally not allowed to have education. The initiation ceremony can be postponed upto 12 years for a Brahmin, up to 14 years for Kshatriya and upto 16 years for a Vaishya.After the initiation rites are over, the education begins at the residence of a teacher (Gurukula). The student is required to learn the Vedas which contain the cultural traditions of the Aryans. His speech and thought must be pure and guarded by the studies of the Vedas. The life of the student is regulated in such a manner that there is a balanced development of personality. Strict discipline is required of a student and he has to lead a hard life. He is required to restrain his senses. The control over the senses also means control over sex desires. The student is also observance of complete celibacy. In this manner the life of brahmachari is a life of discipline.The place of this Ashrama is the residence of Guru. This Ashram is completed by the time a man attains the age of 25 years. The duties of studentship include the life of austerity, service to the teacher, reverence and respect.


    1. Grihastha Ashrama:


    With the completion of the life of studentship, the next stage of life begins which is called Grihastha Ashrama or the life of a householder. This stage starts with his marriage ceremony. Marriage is more a social obligation as its main purpose is the performance of Dharma and the perpetuation of family as well as the continuation of the group through progeny.According to the Ashrama system, the Dharma of a householder consists of performing the five Maha Jajnas or the five great sacrifices.These Maha Jajnas are offered to Brahma and is called Brahma Jajna. Pitri Jajna, Deva Jajna, Bhuta Jajna and Nara Jajna. Brahma Jajna is conducted by the recitation of the Vedic Mantras. Pitri Jajna is done by offering Tarpan, that is to say, offering of water and food. This is commonly known as Sradha. Deva Jajna is done by offering burning obligations to the Gods. Bhutas are satisfied by sacrifice. Nara Jajna is performed by receiving and entering guests at home. Of these five Jajnas, the first three refers to Deva Rina, Rishi Rina and Pitri Rina.Apart from this, a householder is also supposed to offer food to animals, saints and anybody who happened to pass through, by chance. People belonging to the other three Ashramas depend upon the Grihastha and it is the duty of householder to satisfy birds, animals and insects and persons belonging to all the social rungs. The Pancha Maha Jajnas include a wider field of social duties including men and bhutas.

    This Ashram is mainly meant for the satisfaction of man’s material and emotional urges, i. e., ‘Artha’ and ‘Kama’. The Hindu as a householder is expected to fulfill his acquisitive and instinctive urges within the frame-work of Dharma. The age at which a person enters into this Ashrama is about 25 years.


    1. Vanaprashta Ashrama:


    It is the third Ashrama of life and an individual is expected to enter this stage at the age of 50. In the Vanasprastha Ashrama a person has to leave his family and the village too. He is expected to hand over all the household responsibilities to his grown up children and he must go to the forest.The person must live in the forest to bring under control his senses of enjoyment (Niyatendriyah). He has to eat only fruits and vegetables and he should not touch meat. His clothes must be of deer skin or the bark of tree. He is must practise ‘Tapas’ (penance) to purify his body and soul. In this manner a Vanaprasthi must devote himself to study and meditation.


    A Vanaprasthi must lead a life of self-control and friendliness and charity to others. If a person dies during Vanaprastha Ashrama he will attain Moksha.Although a Vanaprasthi used to live in the forest and his wife was allowed to live with him, it was for the sake of humanity that they lived together. The presence of the wife is permitted to facilitate the performance of social duties. The affiliations and associations of the householder come to an end.


    1. Sanyasa Ashrams:


    It is the last Ashrams of life after passing through the Vanaprastha Ashram the person enters the last Ashrams, i.e. Sanyasa Ashrams at the age of 75 years. In this Ashrams a person breaks off all attachment with the world. In this stage a person is expected to devote his entire time towards meditation to recognize subtle nature of the supreme soul and its presence in all organisms, both the highest and lowest.In different to everything meditation and concentrating his mind on Brahmana. Delighting in what refers to the soul, with himself as his only companion he shall live, waiting for his appointed time to come, desiring the bliss of final liberation.In this manner, the aim of the Ashrams system is to perform the Ashrams Dharma. The Ashrams Dharma is not only social in its implications but it emphasizes renunciation of the world in the Vanaprastha and” Sanyasa Ashrams. Ashrams system is a way of training through which the individual is to attain his end. i.e. Moksha.




    Sanskar Vyavasta


    Sanskara are dispositions, character or behavioral traits, that exist as default from birth or prepared and perfected by a person over one’s lifetime, that exist as imprints on the subconscious according to various schools of Hindu philosophy such as the Yoga school. These perfected or default imprints of karma within a person, influences that person’s nature, response and states of mind.


    • Garbhaadhan Sanskar:-This sanskar is done to bear progeny that brings good name to the dynasty. It’s also done to keep the dynasty running.


    • Pumsavana Sanskar”-This sanskars is geared towards the intellectual and mental development of the baby in the womb.


    • Simantonayan Sanskar:-This sanskar is done during the 4th, 6th and 8th month of pregnancy. The mother starts teaching its child with this.


    • Jaatakarma Sansakar:-This sanskar ensures a lot of bad omens cleared from the infant. Done for the health and age of the child.


    • Naamkaran Sanskar:-As clear from the name itself, this sanskar is done to decide the name of the infant. Usually, it is done on the 11th day of the birth.
  • Nishkraman Sanskar:-It’s done in the 4th month after the birth. It is done to invoke the blessings of five elements of the nature.


  • Annaprashana Sanskar
  • This is done during the teething period of the child. After this, feeding the grains, cereal etc. is started.


  • Mundan Sanskar:-The removal of the hair is done during this sanskar. It is believed to strengthen the head of the child and also increase intellectual power.


  • Vidyaarambha Sanskar:-As clear from the name itself, it is done to start the formal education of the child.


  • Karinavedh Sanskar:- it is a sanskar about piercing the ears. It is believed to have some relationship with the brain and acupuncture.


  • Yagyopaveet Sanskar:-It is done during the study of the child. It is also called Upanayana sanskar which means bringing close to the eye of the guru. Through this, the child gets strength, energy, and splendor.


  • Vedarambha Sanskar:-it is done for the starting of study of the Vedas.


  • Keshant Sanskar:-it is related to removing the hair. This is done after completing the studies.


  • Samavartan Sanskar:-It is done to mark the reentry of the child from the gurukula back to the society. It prepares the child for the further struggle of life.


  • Vivah Sanskar:-It is done for marrying the child, basically oriented to keep the creation going on. It is believed that the pitririna is cleared after this.


  • Antyesti Sanskar:-It is the last sanskar done during the sojourn on earth. After the person dies, according to various techniques mentioned in the Vedas, the body is given to fire.




Doctrine of Purushartha


The hindu attitude to life and daily conduct is oriented towards four noble ends of man.these four nobles ends are exemplified in the hindu dharmashastras as the “purusharthas”.the concept of puruushartha is the fundamental principle of the indian social ethics.the word purushathas implies attainments or life purposes.according to this concept ,the aim of every person is to attain four noble ends or purusharthas.they are arth,dharma,kama and moksha.these purusharthas govern the hindu view of life.they are the guiding principle of life for the hindus at all stages of their life.the entire hindu social organization is built on the foundation of the prusharthas.

  • Dharma(the principle of righteousness):-Dharma is the supreme principle of is the major end in humans life.the word dharma is derived from the sanskrit root dhri meaning to hold together ,to sustain or to holds together the whole is essential for maintaining the stability of dr.radhakrishnan has pointed out “every form of life ,every group of men has its dharma which is the law of its beings.dharma or virtue is conformity with the truth of things,adharma,rice,is opposed to it”.gita ,veda,upanishads equated dharma with rta or truth and treated it as a cosmic principle .
  • From the point of view of mimasa philosophy ‘dharma means moral code of conduct to be observed by all human beings in every sphere of the is activity and it holds good for all times to come.dharmashastras also insists upon on the universal form of was intended to enable man to reach was deemed to be the goal human existence.To mahbharatha “dharma is created for the well being of all creation”.dharma is not a is a living is the guiding principle of life,a complete rule of leads way towards ultimate reality.dharma is often connected with happiness and liberation.scholars have spoken different types of dharma like samanya,raja,stree,varina,ashrama,etc.vedas constitute main source of dharma.


  • Artha(wealth)-purusharthas:-The term ‘artha refers to wordily prosperity such as wealth and is acquiring wealth by honest man.a man is unable to conduct his life so long as the material means of living are not available.without artha no desire(kama)can be satisfied.poverty is no ideal.economic stability is the basis of social stability,individual advancement and spiritual attainment. The pleasure of giving charity comes only when there is something to give.hence artha or wealth helps to sustain and enrich life.

The importance of wealth in this world was fully raised by him wealth is the basis of human requirements and that social well being  depends ultimately on material manu”the whole vedas constitute the first source of artha”.the practice of virtuous men,smritis,the truth are other source of artha.


  • Kama(pleasure or desires):-Kama refers to the desires in man for enjoyment and satisfaction of the life of the refers to some of the innate desires and urges in springs human mind,the moment one is is the essence of life.with the passing of the time desires increased.these desires influence and determine social action in many ways.without it living would appear to be very cruel and meaningless.the theory of purusharthas makes sufficient provision for the enjoyment of life.

Kama involves sexual,emotional and aesthetic life.the healthy development of personality calls for the expression of emotions.kama represents such an emotional is often regarded as one of the six enemies if human beings.but it is equally true that human being cannot continue as a race without the realisation of kama which helps the propagation of species.


  • Moksha(liberation or spiritual freedom):-Moksha is the ultimate aim.when the end of human action is salvation or liberation from the bondage of the world ,it is called is the supreme aspiration of man.all our activities are directed to the realization of this end.the trivargas (arth,darma.kama) are the means for the attainment of this supreme end.moksha is alone called chaturvarga.through meditation,knowledge,devotion and correct action,moksha or salvation can attain.



Doctrine of Rina

The concept of rina, the human indebtedness or the primary obligation, is unique to Indian tradition. It is in fact the source of dharma, because it weans one away from desire-gratification and leads towards duty-fulfillment.


Rina, according to Panini the great grammarian, signifies a want or a deficiency.


Taittiriya Samhita it speaks about three kinds of basic indebtedness every human being carries with him or her. They are the debt one owes – (a) to his ancestors (pitr), (b) to the sages/seers (rishi) and(c) to the Gods (deva).


The Shathapatha Brahmana adds one more .The fourth one is the debt one owes to his fellow beings.


These texts suggest the ways of liquidating the debts or fulfilling the obligations one is born with. These are briefly, as under.


  • Pitr : by bringing up a family, by getting and raising children in a proper manner.


  • Rishi : by study and by understanding the cultural context into which one is born.


  • Deva : by honoring , worshipping the elemental and natural (environmental) forces like sky,air,water,earth,rivers, mountains , plants etc.(Rig Veda refers to these Devas as “luminous ones”.) and


  • Fellow beings : by cultivating compassion, fellow- feeling (saha bhava) and by showing hospitality.


It further says that the fulfillment of these obligations should be the preliminary aim of human beings and it would add value to their life. The Atharva remarks, pursuit of the four purusharthas would be meaningful when one fulfils ones primary obligations or is in the process of doing so.


Chandogya Upanishad (2.23) describes the duties in three stages of life as “off shoots or branches of Dharma” (trayo dharma_skandha). This mentions the obligations and privileges of a householder, hermit and a student. Rina is at the core of this trayo dharma


The Emperor Ashoka (272 to 132 BC) in his edicts highlights a person’s indebtedness (rina) to parents and elders and calls upon the people to live in accordance with the dharma and not interfere with the natural order (rta). In one of the edicts, he points out that practice of dharma is not possible for a person devoid of good conduct. In another edict he proclaims that if a person practices great liberty but does not possess self-control (sayama_bhava), purity of thought (sudhi) gratitude (kitaranta) and firm devotion (dridhabhatita), it is of no avail.


In Indian tradition, the practice of art, be it music, dance, literature or other forms art, is an act of worship. The traditional artist through his creation pays homage to his ancestors (pitrs) and rishis (his teachers). He views the public services he creates (temples, dams, tanks, buildings etc.) as fulfillment of his obligation to his fellow beings. Even poets, philosophers and writers conclude their work with a prayer seeking welfare of all beings.


Doctrine of Rita:-

Rita is the physical order of the universe, the order of the sacrifice, and the moral law of the world. Because of rita, the sun and moon pursue their daily journeys across the sky, and the seasons proceed in regular movement. Vedic religion features the belief that rita was guarded by Varuna, the god-sovereign, who was assisted by Mitra, the god of honour, and that the proper performance of sacrifices to the gods was necessary to guarantee its continuance. Violation (anrita) of the established order by incorrect or improper behaviour, even if unintentional, constituted sin and required careful expiation.



Pre-Harappan Period

  Lower Paleolithic Hand axe & cleaver industriesPahalgam, Belan valley (U.P), 
  (600,000 – 60,000 BC)  Bhimbetka, Adamgarh, 16 R Singi Talav 
  Middle Paleolithic Tools made on flakesBhimbetka, Nevasa, Pushkar, Rohiri 
  (150,000 – 40,000 BC)  hills of upper sind 
  Upper Paleolithic Tools made on flakes & bladesRajasthan, Parts of Belan & Ganga 
  (45,000 – 10,000 BC)  Valley (U.P). 
  Mesolithic/ Microlithic Parallel sided blades of chert,Bagor (Raj), Langhnaj (Guj), Sarai 
  (10,000 – 7000 BC) chalcedony, jasper, agateNahar Rai, Chaopani Mando, Mahdaha, 
       Damdama (U.P), Bhimbetka, Adamgarh. 
  Neolithic Earthern potsMehrgarh (Pak) Gufkral & Burzahom 
  (8000 BC – 2000 BC)  (J&K), Mahgara, Chopani Mando, 
       Kodihwa in Belan Valley (U.P.) Chirand 
  Chalcolithic Distinct painted potteryCultures: Ahar culture (oldest), Kayatha, 
  (3000-900 B.C.) Fire worship widespread.Malwa culture, Salvada culture, , 
       Prabhas culture, Rangpur culture & 
       Jorwe culture (newest). 
  Copper Hoard Culture Harpoons, Antennae swords,Gungeria (M.P-largest) 
  OCP Culture Pottery with bright red slip &All over gangetic plain with same 
  (Ochre coloured pottery) painted in black.regions as that of copper hoard culture. 
  •Ahar people (Aravalli region) – distinctive black & red ware decorated with white designs. 
  •Prabhas & Rangpur wares have a glossy suface due to which they are called lusturous red ware. 
  •Jorwe culture (Maharashtra) – painted black on red but has a matt surface treated with a wash. 






Select Harrapan Cities (Chalcolithic Age)

1. Harappa Great granary, 40 % of total seals found here; Seals usually made of steatite 
   [Dayaram Sahni] depicting elephant, bull, unicorn, rhinoceros; figurines – torso 
2. Mohenjodaro “Mound of the dead”; largest of all cities; Great Bath; granary; city was 
   [R.D Banerjee] flooded occasionally, figurines of yogi, bronze dancing girl, seal bearing 
3. Lothal [S.R. Rao]. Earliest cultivation of rice; Fire altars 
4. Kalibangan [A. Ghosh]. Fire Altars showing cult sacrifice; 
5. Dholavira, [R.S. Bisht]  
6. Banwali [R.S. Bisht] Fire Altars;  
7. Mehrgarh Evidences of cotton;  
















Indus Valley Civilization








































 Indian Religious Books
PuranasDivided into sarga, pratisarga, manvantantar, vamsa (genealogical list of kings) &
 vamsanucharita. 18 main puranas & 18 subsidiary puranas.
VedasMeaning “knowledge”. Rigveda (hymns), Yajurveda (sacrificial formulae), Atharvaveda
 (magical charms & spell), Samveda. Vedas are called aparusheya (not created by man) &
UpanishadsAbout 200 in number. Deal with philosophy. Oldest & most important are Chhandogya &
 Brihadranyaka. Other important are Kathak, Isa, Mundaka, Prasna etc. Do not believe in
 sacrificial ceremonies.
BrahmanasTalks about vedic hymns, their application, stories of their origin. Each Brahmana is
 associated with one of the four VedasAitareya brahmana is associated with Rig Veda &
 Satapatha Brahmana with Yajur veda.
AranyakasMeaning ‘the forest books’. They discuss philosophical meditation  & sacrifice.
VedangasEvolved for proper understanding of the Vedas. Six in all: Siksha (phonetics), Kalpa
 (rituals), Vyakarina, Nirukta (Etymology) Chhanda (metrics) & Jyotisha.
VedantaAdvaita Vedanta of Adi Sankara.





Ancient Books & Authors

1.Mudrakshasha (Chandragupta Maurya defeating the Nandas);Vishakhadatta
2.Malavikagnimitram (Pushyamitra Sunga)Kalidas
3.Gudavaho (Yasovarman of Kannauj)Vakpati
4.Vikramanakadevacharita (Chalukya king Vikramaditya)Bilhana
7.Dvayashraya Mahakavya; Sapta SadhanaHemchandra
11.Meghaduta; Raghuvamsa; Kumarasambhava; VikramorvasiyamKalidas
 Abhijnanashakuntalam (Drama); 
13.Uttarama-Charita; Malati MadhavaBhavbhuti
15.Si-yu-KiHiuen Tsang
16.Brahmasiddhanta; KhandakhadyaBrahmagupta
18.Astanga-Sangraha; Astanga-Hirdaya-SamhitaVagabhatta
19.Panchsiddhantika; Suryasiddhanta; BrihatsamhitaVarahamihira
20.Karpuramanjari; Bala Ramayana; Bala Bharata; Kavyamimamsa;Rajshekhara
 Bhuvana Kosha; Haravilasa 
21.Adinathacharita (Jaina Narrative)Vardhamana
22.Shantinathacharita (Jaina Narrative)Devachandra
23.Parsvanathacharita (Jaina Narrative)Devabhadra
24.Prithviraja VijayJayanka
26.Saraswati KanthabharanaBhoja
28.Harikeli NatakaVisaladeva
30.Siddhanta Shiromani [4 parts – Lilavati, Bijaganita, Grahaganita &Bhaskaracharya
 Gola (on Astronomy)] 
31.Rajmariganka (On Astronomy)King Bhoja
32.Chikitsakalika or YogamalaTisata-Vagbhatta’s Son
34.Nitishastra (On Polity)Mathara
35.Nitisara  (On Polity)Kamandaka
36.Sushruta Samhita (encyclopedia on surgery)Sushruta
37.Charaka Samhita (Teachings of Atreya)Charaka
38.Buddhacharita, Vajrasuchi, SuandaranandaAsvaghosha
40.Harshacharita, KadambariBanabhatta
41.Ravan VadhaBhattin






Famous Inscriptions

InscriptionKing  Aspect
Junagarh RockRudradaman (Saka) Sanskrit. Says that a dam on the sudarshana lake
      was constructed by Pushyagupta a governor of
      Chandragupta Maurya
Allahabad PillarSamudragupta Sanskrit. Composed by Harisena
Aihole InscriptionPulakeshin II Mentions Harsha defeat by Pulakeshin II.
      Composed by Ravikriti Vishnuvardan son of King.
Gwalior InscriptionBhoja  Most famous Pratihara king.
Boghaz koiProves Rig Veda to be Indra, Varuna, Mitra, two Nasatyas mentioned
[1400 B.C.]more than 1400 BC old.   
Nanaghat InscriptionSatkarni I  Achievements of the king
  [Satvahana king]   
Nasik InscriptionGautamiputra Satkarni Achievements of the king.
Mehrauli Iron PillarChandragupta II   
Mandsor InscriptionKumaragupta I Composed by Vatsabhatti.
Bhitari Stone pillarSkandagupta    
TiruvalangaduRajendra I (Chola) His conquests (annexed whole of SriLanka)
UttaramerurCholar Period Chola village assemblies
Besnagar InscriptionNear Vidisa (MP). Mentions Heliodorus the ambassador of king Antialcidas
  called himself Bhagvata & erected garudadhvaja in his honour of Vasudev.
    Buddhist Councils
I Buddhist Council 500 BC at Ajatsataru . Record the Buddha’s sayings (sutra) and codify
  Rajgaha Presided by monastic rules (vinaya). Rajgaha is today’s
    Mahakasyapa Rajgir
II Buddhist Council 383 BC at Kalasoka The conservative schools insisted on monastic
  Vaishali    rules (vinaya). The secessionist Mahasangikas
       argued for more relaxed monastic
       rules.Rejection of the Mahasanghikas
III Buddhist Council 250 BC Ashoka.. Purpose was to reconcile the different schools of
  Pataliputra    Buddhism. Presided by Moggaliputta Tissa
IV Buddhist Council 100 AD Kanishka Division into Hinayana & Mahayana. Theravada
  Kashmir Presided by Buddhism does not recognize the authenticity of
    Vasumitra & this council, and it is sometimes called the
    Asvaghosha “council of heretical monks”.
V Buddhist Council 1871 King Mindon recite all the teachings of the Buddha and
  Myanmar    examine them in minute detail to see if any of
       them had been altered
VI Buddhist Council 1954 P.M. U Nu  












      Nastika Shools of Indian System of Philosophy
Charvaka Believes only in materialism. No life beyond death, no soul no god.
Jaina  The names of two tirthankaras, Rishabhanath & Aristhanemia finds mention in Rig Veda.
540 BC Twenty third was Parsva, son of Ishvaku king Asvasena. Said to have flourished 300 yrs
     before Mahavira. Mahavira, the last Tirthankara  born in Kundagrama near Vaisali. His
     father Siddhartha was the head of Jnatrika clan & mother Trisala was the sister of Chetaka,
     a Lichchhavi noble. Chetaka’s dauthter was married to Bimbisara the king of Magadha.
     Mahavira was married to Yasoda. Left home at 30 & attained Kaivalya at 42.  He accepted
     4 doctrines of Parsava & added celibacy to it.  Chandragupta Maurya patronized it. Passed
     away at Pawapuri.
Buddha Gautama (known as Siddhartha as prince) was born in Lumbini near Kapilvastu to
566 B.C. Suddhodhana, the king of Sakya republic & Mayadevi who died seven days after his birth.
     Gautama was married to Yasodhara from whom he had a son Rahul. 6 years of meditation
     led to enlightenment. First sermon in Sarinath known as ‘Set in motion the wheel of law’.
     Eight fold paths. Buddhism denies efficacy of vedic rituals & superiority of brahmanas.
     Followers were upasakas & bhikshus. Died at the age of 80 in Kushinagar.
      Astika Schools of Indian System of Philosophy
 Vaisesika   Five elements – Earth, water, air, fire, Ether. 
 Nyaya   Accepts all categories of Vaisesika & adds one Abhava (negation). 
 Samkhya   Oldest of all. Twenty five basic principles first being ‘Prakriti’. Gives 
        doctrine of 3 qualities – virtue (sattva), passion (rajas) & dullness (tamas) 
 Yoga     Salvation through: Yama (self control), Niyama, Asanas, Pranayama, 
        Pratyahara (restrain), Dharana (steady mind), Dhyana & Samadhi. 
 Mimamsa   Recognises Vedas as final authority. 
 Vedanta   Adi Sankara is protagonist. Ultimate reality ‘Brahma’ is one. Highest 
        level of truth is that the whole world that exists is Maya. Ramanuja 
        (founder of Sri Vaishnavism) differed from Sankara on his commentaries 
        on Upanishads & Gita. 
        Forms of Marriage
 1. Brahma  Duly dowered girl to a man of the same class  
 2. Daiva  Father gives daughter to a sacrificial priest as a part of his fee  
 3. Arsa   A token bride price of a cow & a bull is given in place of the dowry  
 4. Prajapatya  Father gives girl without dowry & without demanding the bride price  
 5. Gandharva  Love Marriage  
 6. Asura  In which bride was bought from her father  
 7. Rakshasa  Marriage by capture, practiced especially by warriors.  
 8. Paishacha  Marriage by seduction  
 Daiva marriage was considered ideal 7 paisacha the worst.  















  Dynasties of Ancient Northern India
DynastyKing Description
HaryankaBimbisara* Founded after overthrowing the Brihadrathas. He also annexed
 Ajatasatru Conquered Lichhavis of Vaisali. Also defeated Prasenajit of
   Kosala. Succeded by Udayani who founded Pataliputra.
SisungaSisunga People elected Sisunga as Udayani & his 3 successors were
NandaMahapadma Barber but a great military genius. Defeated many dynasties.
Alexander’sAlexander Defeated Persian King Darius III & marched to India through
Campaign  Khyber pass. King of Taxila offered help.
MauryasChandragupta Educated by Chanakya at Taxila. ‘Parisistha Parvam’ a jain text
 Maurya* describes that he defeated the Nanda king & became ruler of
 [324-300 BC] Magadha empire. Defeated Greek, Selecus who had succeded
   Alexander in the eastern part. Selecus sent Megasthenes to his
 Bindusara He appointed his two sons, Sumana at Taxila & Ashoka at Ujjain.
 [300-273 BC] Ptolemy Philadelphous of Egypt sent Dionysius to his court.
 Ashoka Known as devanampiya & piyadasi. Edicts were in Greek &
   Aramaic in Afghanistan, Prakrit language & Kharosthi script in
   Pakistan. Prakrit language & Brahmi script in other areas. Rock
   Edict XIII (Kalinga war) Bhabru Edict (Buddhism as his religion)
   VII (all sects desire self control & purity) XII (equal respect to all
   religion) II (Dhamma – Common code of conduct). Succeded by 6
   Mauryan kings from Dasaratha to Brihadratha.
SungaPushyamitra Army chief of Maurya king Brihadratha killed him while he was
 Sunga reviewing the army. Succeded by Agnimitra, Jethmitra &
   Vasumitra. Last king was Devabhuiti.
MeghavahanasKharavela Hathigumpha inscription on Udaigiri hills near Bhubneshwar
   refers his achievement till 13th year. Ruled Kalinga.
Satvahanas ofSimuka* Satvahanas also known as Andhras. Succeeded by Krishna,
Deccan[235-213 BC] Satkarni I, Satakarni II, Gautamiputra Satakarni, Pulmavi II, Sri
   Yajna Satakarni.
Indo GreeksMenander Ruled in Pakistan region. Converted to Buddhism by Nagasena.
   Milindapanho is related to their conversation.
SakasNahapana Sakas also known as Scythians were driven out of their original
   home land by Yueh Chi who later came to be known as Kushanas.
   Nahapana ruled in western India.
 Rudradaman Junagarh Rock Inscription talks about him. He undertook the
 130-150 AD repairs of the Sudarsan dam built by Pushyagupta, governor of
   Chandra Gupta Maurya. Ujjaynii was capital. Dynasty came to an
   end with the last king being defeated by Chandragupta II in 390
KushanasKadphises I Also called Kujula Kadphises.  Kadphises I was succeded by his
   son Wema Kadphises or Kadphises II – devotee of Shiva.
 Kanishka Succeded Kadphises II. Capital of his vast empire was Purushapur
 73 – 101 AD or modern Peshawar.


  The Guptas & Later Period
GuptasChandragupta ISri Gupta was the first Gupta king followed by Ghatotkacha.
 AD 320 ADChadragupta I was Ghatotkacha’s son.
 SamudraguptaSon of Chandragupta I. Undertook south India campaign.
  Meghavarina, King of Srilanka sent an embassy to his court to
  build a monastery at Bodh Gaya.
 Chandragupta IISon of Samudtragupta & Duttadevi. Married his daughter
 380-413 ADPrabhavatigupta to Rudrasena II of Vataka dynasty. Defeated
  Sakas & took the title of Vikramaditya.
 Later GuptasKumaragupta I, Skandagupta (Inflicted a crushing defeat on the
  Hunas; repair of the dam on Sudarsana lake built by chandragupta
  maurya & earlier repared by Rudradaman I.
Post GuptaFrom the decline of Gupta & the rise of Harsha there flourished four major kingdoms
Peiodin north India: Guptas of Magadha, Maukharis (around Kanauj), Maitrakas
 (Saurashtra – Vallabhi as capital), Pushyabhutis of Thaneshwar (Uttaranchal).
PushyabhutiHarshavardhanaSon of Prabhakarvardhana of Pushyabhuti of Thaneshwar. Brother
 606 – 647 ADof Rajyavardhana & Rajyasri (sister married to Maukhari king,
  Grahavarman of Kanauj, later killed by Sasanka of Gauda). Also
  known as Siladitya. Gauda was later divided between him &
  Bhaskarvarman, the king of Kamarupa.
Deccan &Vatakas (Deccan) – Vindhyasakti*, *Pravarasena*. Replaced by Chalukyas.
South IndiaRashtrakutas – Dantidurga I*. They succeded Chalukyas of Badami.
 Western Gangas (Mysore) – Konkanivarman Dharmamahadhiraja*
 Kadamba Dynasty of Banavasi – Mayursarman*, *Kakusthavarman*
 Pallavas of Kanchipuram – Simhavishnu, Mahendravarman , *Narsimhavarman*
 Later Kanauj was ruled by Yashovarman (discussed in Vakpati’s Gaudavaho)
GurjaraNagabhatta I*After Nagabhatta I came Vatsaraja who defeated Dharmapala but
Pratiharas was in turn defeated by Rashtrakuta king Dhruva. Dhramapala
  taking advantage installed his nominee chakrayudha at Kanauj
 Nagabhatta IIDefeated Chakrayudha & captured Kanuaj & defeated
  Dharmapala. Ramabhadra succeded him
 BhojaSucceded his father Ramabhadra. Defeated Rashtrakuta king
  Krishna II. He was devotee of Vishnu & took the title of
  Adivaraha.  He was followed by great ruler Mahendrapala I
PalasGopala*Elected by people to end Matsyanyaya (interinal disorder). Next
  was Dharmapala who installed Chakrayudha at Kanauj but was
  defeated by Dhruva.
 DevapalaMost mighty pala king.
RashtrakutasDantidurga*Dantidurga was succeded by his uncle Krishna I (built Kailasha)
 DhruvaDefeated both the Pratihara king Vatsaraja &Pala  Dharampala.
  Was succeded by Govinda III & later Amoghavarsha I. Later
  came Indra III (defeated pratihara Mahipala I) & Krishna III
KamarupaBhaskarvaramaRuled by single dynasty from the time of Mahabharata upto middle
  7th century till Bhaskaravarma (ally of Harsha). Dynasty came to
  an end after his death.








           South India 
  CholasKarikala Defeated joint forces of Chera & Pandyas. Also conquered Sri 
         Lanka. Capital was at Puhar (Kaveripattanam) 
  PandyasNedunjeliyan Capital at Madurai & port at Korkai. Defeated Cholas & Cheras 
  CherasNedunjeral Cheras are also known as Keralaputras. Nedunjeral Adan & 
      Adan Sengutturan were the greatest king. 
          Kings & their Court Jewels 
  1. Pushyamitra Sunga Patanjali  
  2. Mahendrapala I (Pratihara) Rajshekhara  
  3. Kanishka    Parsva, Vasumitra, Ashvaghosha, Charaka, Sushruta, Nagarjuna  
  4. Chandragupta II Kalidas, Fa-Hien, Varahamihira  
          Monuments of Ancient Period 
 1. Udaygiri Caves  During Chandragupta’s reign at Vidisha, M.P. 
 2. Angorwatt Temples  Suryavarman Ii 
 3. Vikramashila University  Pala King Dharampala 
 4. Kailash Temple (Ellora)  Rashtrakuta king Krishna I 
 5. Dilwara Temple  Tejapala 
 6. Rathas of Mamallapuram  Mahendravarman I (Pallava King) 
 7. Khajuraho temples  Chandelas 
 8. Martanda temple (Kashmir)  Lalitaditya Muktapida 
 9. Gommateswara  (Son of Rishabnath)Chamundaraya, Minister of the Ganga King, Rajamalla 
           (Sravanbelagola, Karinataka) 
 10.Hoysalesvara Temple (at Halebid)Ketamalla, a minister of KingVishnuvardhana (Karinataka) 
       Kasi   Varanasi  
       Kosala   Sravasti  
       Kuru   Indraprashta  
       Kamboja   Rajput  
       Anga   Champa  
       Avanti   Ujjayini & Mahishmati  
       Ashmaka   Potana  
       Malla   Kusinagar & Pawa  
       Magadha   Rajgriha or Giriraj  
       Matsya   Virat Nagari  
       Vajji   Vaisali  
       Vatsa   Kausambhi  
       Surasena   Mathura  
       Panchala   Aichhatra  
       Chhedi   Shuktimati  
       Gandhara Taxila & Pushkalavati  











































Administrative Units & Their Ancient Names

SAdministrative PartNorth IndiaSouth India
2.DivisionsVishaya or BhogaKottams or Vallandadu


Jargon of Ancient Period

Lohit AyasCopperPradeshikaHead of district Administration
Syam AyasIronNagarkaCity administration
VanikTradersJesthakaChief of a Guild
GraminiVillage HeadPrathamakulikaChief of artisans
BhagadughaTax collectorUparikaGovernor of Bhukti
SthapatiChief JudgeDidishuRemarried woman
TakshanCarpenterAmatyaHigh official
NiskaUnit of currencyDvijaInitiation into education
SatamanaUnit of currencyYuktaRevenue officer in the Mauryan period.
PanaTerm used for coinRajjukasLand measurement & fixing land revenue
ShresthiGuildsSabhaAssembly of few select ones
ViharaBuddhist MonasterySamitiLarger Assembly
ChaityaSacred EnclosureDharamamahamatyaMost important post created by Asoka.





Miscellaneous Facts:


  1. The Sangama literature [0-400AD] consists of 30,000 lines of poetry divided into two main groups, Patinenkilkanakku (older) & Pattupattu (newer). Established by Pandyan kings of Tamil region.


  1. The credit to complete the chart of Ashokan alphabets goes to James Prinsep.


  1. Most of the modern scripts of India including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Nagari, Gujarati, Bangla have developed from Brahmi script. Ashokan inscription of Shahbazgari & Manashera are written in Kharoshthi.


  1. The earliest coins were punch marked silver & copper coins. They bear only symbol & no inscription or legend. Kushanas (Vima Kadphises – figure of Siva standing beside a bull) issued mostly gold coins.


  1. Buddha did not visit Taxila in his life.


  1. Some of the important rock painting sites are Murhana Pahar (U.P), Bhimbetka, Adamgarh, Lakha Juar (M.P.) & Kapagallu (Karinatka).


  1. The extent of Indus valley civilization was Sutkagendor (Baluchistan), Alamgirpur (Meerut), Daimabad (N. Maharashtra) & Manda (J & K). Harrapan civilization is often referred to as Bronze Age civilization. No unambiguous depiction of horse found on any seal. The largest number of seals depict unicorn.


  1. Inscription was from right to left but if more than one line than alterinated to left to right & vice versa.


  1. Yoga was in vogue in Indus civilization. Shiva, Mother goddess, trees, linga, yoni were worshiped. Chanhudaro is the only city without a citadel & Surkotada is the only site where the actual remains of a horse have been found.


  1. Decline of Harrapa: Wheeler (Barbarian Aryans attack), John Marshall (environment degradation).


  1. The Nadisukta hymn of Rig Veda mentions 21 rivers which include Ganga in the east & the Kubha (Kabul) in the west. Saraswati is considered to be the most important. Zero was known in rig vedic times


  1. In the vedic age the varinas were not rigid but they became so in the later vedic period & became birth based rather than profession based. Untouchability had not yet reared its ugly head. Jati had not become a rigid system. Bali which was a voluntary gift to chief earlier became a regular tax in the later vedic age.


  1. Moksha can be acquired by Gyan, Bhakti & Karma. Four dynasties stand out prominently in the sixth century B.C are Haryankas of Magadha, Ishvakus of Kosala, the Pauravas of Vatsa & the Pradyotas of Avanti.


  1. During the time of Ashoka, Pataliputra was administered by a city council of 30 members divided into a board of 5 members each. Sales tax on goods was 10 %. The Ashokan Pilar with Lion Capital is located at Lauriya Nandangarh, Pillar capital from Rampurva & Capital from Sarinath. Seven rock cut chaitya




caves in the Barabar & Nagarjuni hill show that the tradition of rock cut caves in India began with the




  1. The indo-Greeks were the first whose coins carried the portraits of kings & their names. Also they were the first rulers to issue gold coins.


  1. In the south the old phase is known as the megalithic phase with the burials being marked by abundance of iron tools & a Black & red pottery. It appears there was an abrupt change from Neolithic to iron age, without any significant Chalcolithic or Bronze age.


  1. Anuloma (marriage between male of higher varina& female of lower varina) was considered better than Pratiloma (vv). Grihasta ashram had the duties of yajna, adhyayana &dana.


  1. Hinayana was the old order. Mahayana introduced concept of Bodhisttavas, worship of Buddha as god (Hinayanists considered him just a great teacher), salvation of all beings, Sanskrit as new language. The development of Mahayana philosophy is ascribed to Nagarjuna who propounded Madhyamika school of Buddhist philosophy popularly known as Sunyavada.


  1. The Mathura & Gandhara schools of art flourished during Kushana period. Mathura school had the distinction of producing the first image of Buddha & Gandhara school was a hybrid of Indo-Greek form.


  1. The Stupas as Sanchi, Sarinatha, Amaravati, Bharhut are the best examples. I-tsing came to India in 7th century after spending several years in Sumatra & Sri Vijaya learning Buddhism.


  1. In south India, among the Nayannar saints, Tirumular’s Tirmurais are prominent. Saiva saints (Nayannars) were 63 in number. Lingayat (founded by Basava – Kalachuri) was other important sect of Saivism in south India influenced by both Sankara & Ramanuja. Vaishnave saints known as Alvars are traditionally 12 in number. Collection of their work is known as Nalayiraprabandham.


  1. The first Jaina council was held at Pataliputra by Sthulabahu in the beginning of third century BC & resulted in compilation of 12 Angas to replace the lost 14 Purvas. In the sixth century A.D. the second Jaina council was held at Valabhi under Devaradhi Kshamasramana & Jain canon was defined.


  1. The avatars of Vishnu are matsya, kurma (tortoise), varah (boar), narasimha, vaman (dwarf), parasurama, rama, Krishna, Buddha (the enlightened one) & kalki (to appear).


  1. West Bengal was known as Gauda & East Bengal as Vanga. Utkala (Orissa), Pragjotishpur (Assam).


  1. The king of Suvarinadwipa (modern Malaya), Balaputradeva erected a monastery at Nalanda & requested Devapala to donate five villages for the maintenance.


  1. The philosophy of Sankaracharya (Adi Sankara) is known as Advaita meaning ‘non dual’. He believed that absolute reality called ‘Brahma’ is non dual. Jyotirmatha at Badrinath, Sharadapitha at Dwakra,






Govardhanamatha at Puri & Shringerimatha in south. He organized Ascetics in ten orders – Giri, Puri (city), Bharati (learning), Vana (wood), Aranya (forest), Parvata, Sagara, Tirtha, Ashrama& Saraswati.


  1. Angkorvat temple dedicated to Vishnu & the famous Borobudur stupa in Java. The Sailendra dynasty ruled over SE Asia & followed Mahayana Buddhism.


  1. Eastern King (Samrat), Western King (Suvrat), Northern king (Virat), Southern King (Bhoja). After partition of India the largest number of Harappan settlements have been found in Gujarat.


  1. The utensils of the Harappan people were made of clay. Lead was not known to the Indus valley people. The Aryans came from Central Asia is widely accepted. The Vedic Aryans first settled in the region of Sapta Sindhu.


  1. The Gayatri Mantra is addressed to Savitri (associated with sun god). Two highest gods in the Vedic religion were Indra (war god) & Varuna (ocean god). Division of vedic society The oldest mention of varina system (four classes) is in the Purusha sukta of Rigveda. The dasas & dasyus mentioned in the Rig Veda refer to non-Aryans.


  1. The Hindu social sacraments such as marriage are performed on the basis of ritual described in the Grihyasutras. The symbols associated with the five great events of the Buddha are birth (lotus & lion), great renunciation (horse), attainment of knowledge (banyan tree), first sermon (wheel), death (stupa & foot prints). According to Buddha the cause of all sorrows is Trishna (attachment).


  1. Vinayak Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka contain teachings of the Buddha. Jatakas are stories of Buddhas previous life. Outside India, Buddhism was first accepted in Sri Lanka.


  1. The Mauryan sculptors had gained highest perfection in the carving of Pillars & the most striking feature is their polish. Two great Buddhist stupas rebuilt during the Sunga (were Brahmanas) Period were Dhammekh stupa at Sarinath & the stupa at Sanghot.
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