History of India
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The history of India begins with the advent of farming and pastoralism around 7,000 BCE. Its archaeological finds prove the domestication of wheat and barley and the raising animals for food. By 4,500 BCE, the Indus Valley Civilization arose alongside ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and flourished for 600 years. In so doing, it became known for its city planning, mud-brick homes, and its well-designed drainage system and water supply.
Drought devastated the Indus Valley Civilization and its people, who were supplanted by Indo-Aryan tribes from Central Asia. Their Vedic period (1500-500 BCE) was named after the vedas, large collections of hymns. Their varna system, which became the caste system, was a hierarchy of priests, warriors, peasants, and what later became Untouchables. Vedic texts were no longer written once a new culture arose around 600 BCE, which included small states as well as larger states with cities. These included the development of the new ascetic movements of Jainism and Buddhism. They did so largely in opposition to the growing influence of Brahmanism and the old Vedic priesthood and its ritual. But the old Vedic Brahmanism survived and blended itself with other native religions to become Hinduism.
Most of India was conquered by the Maurya Empire during the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE, and innovation flourished. Along with rise of Prakrit and Pali literature in the north rose Tamil Sangam literature of the south. In addition, Wootz steel was made in the south and exported abroad. Following this, the Gupta Empire brought forth the classical or “Golden Age of India”. This included a Hindu religious and intellectual renaissance, enlightened governance, and a vibrant culture. Both Hinduism and Buddhism spread to much of Asia with growing trade. Similarly, Indian influence grew throughout the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Southeast Asia, where Indianized kingdoms were established.
Beginning in the 7th century, the Tripartite War raged for several centuries among the Pala, Rashtrakuta, and Gurjara-Pratihara Empires. In this, Imperial states arose in southern India, and the Chola dynasty conquered southern India and parts of Southeast Asia in the 11th century. In addition, there was a cultural renaissance that added Indian mathematics (including Hindu numerals) to the Islamic development of mathematics and astronomy.
The history of India was changed profoundly with the Islamic conquest that brought the Delhi Sultanate to north India. In this period, the wealthy Bengal Sultanate emerged as a major power, lasting more than 300 years. Other powerful Hindu states emerged, such as the Vijayanagara and Rajput states. Sikhism arose in the 11th century.
Early modern India began with the Mughal Empire conquest of most of India. The Mughal period saw the beginnings of industrialization, and India became the biggest economy and manufacturing power in the world. But the Mughals suffered a gradual decline in the early 18th century, as territorial warring consumed large areas.
In the 17th century, India was gradually annexed by the East India Company, acting on behalf of the British government. The Indian Rebellion of 1857 raged in north and central India. This led to the demise of the East India Company and the assumption of direct rule by Britain, in what came to be know as the Raj. After World War I, an independence movement was launched by the Indian National Congress and led by Mahatma Gandhi. Its strategy was nonviolence. Later, the All-India Muslim League demanded a separate Muslim-majority nation state. As a result, the empire was partitioned in August 1947 into the Dominion of India and Dominion of Pakistan, each becoming independent.
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Ancient India: Society • Environment • South India • Culture • Religion: Buddhism: Siddhartha Gautama • Rise • Spread • Middle Way • Four Noble Truths • Three Precious Jewels | Hinduism: Hindu-Muslim Synthesis • Beliefs • Deities • Writings • Epics • Upanishads | Jainism: Mahavira | Sikhism | Economy: Decline | Indus Valley Civilization: Society • Economy | Early Vedic Age: Society • Religion | Later Vedic Age: Society • Religion | Chola Dynasty | Kushan Empire: Society | Maurya Empire: Power: Progression • Governance • Economy | Gupta Empire: Society • Culture • Classical Age • Literature • Science and Technology • Sculpture • Religion • Power • Economy | Delhi Sultanate: Society • Culture • Power | Mughal Empire: Society • Culture • Power • Ahmad Khan • Babur • Akbar • Aurangzeb • The British • Civil War | The Raj: Society • Power • Origins • Nationalism • Reformers • Gandhi • Struggle • New System • Hindu-Muslim Divide • Partition • Economy | Modern India: Society • Power • Jawaharlal Nehru • Indira Gandhi • Rajiv Gandhi • Governance • Economy | Bangla Desh | Pakistan: Power
Ancient India: Index
Society: South India
Buddhism: Siddhartha Gautama
Buddhism: Middle Way
Buddhism: Four Noble Truths
Buddhism: Three Precious Jewels
Hinduism: Hindu-Muslim Synthesis
Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
Early Vedic Age
Early Vedic Age: Society
Early Vedic Age: Religion
Later Vedic Age
Later Vedic Age: Society
Later Vedic Age: Religion
Culture: Classical Age
Culture: Science and Technology
Mughal Empire: Index
Power: Ahmad Khan
The Raj: Index
Reformers: Mohandas Gandhi
Nationalism: New System
Nationalism: Hindu-Muslim Divide
Power: Jawaharlal Nehru
Power: Indira Gandhi
Power: Rajiv Gandhi
Bangla Desh and Pakistan