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Ancient History
UPSC Pathshala

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UPSC Pathshala
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Ancient History is a subject which the majority of the students find to be
boring, uncertain and taxing. However, it holds a great importance when it
comes to the number of questions asked in the examination and can be the
deciding factor.

This Ancient History book takes all that into account and gives you what is
necessary in a comprehensive yet concise manner. The books teaches you
Ancient history like a story and in a sequential and coherent manner so that
it becomes easy for the students to remember things and comprehend the
subject in the simplest way possible.

Every chapter of this book has been written using simple language and we
have added lots of diagrammatic illustration, tables and maps which would
make it easy for an aspirant to understand the essence of the subject and
provides conceptual clarity to its readers and help you all answer different
kinds and nature of questions in the Examination.

This book shall ensure that instead of fearing Ancient History, the students
shall start liking it and also excelling in it.

1. Human Evolution : The Old Stone Age���������������������������������������������������������1

2. Chalcolithic Cultures����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������14
3. Harappan Culture : Bronze Age Urbanization
in the Indus Valley Civilization ����������������������������������������������������������������������21
4. Jainism and Buddhism�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������40
5. The State of Magadha�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������56
6. Second Urbanization �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 71
What’s Ahead

1. Introduction���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������1
2. From Australopithecus to modern Homo sapien sapien������������������������2
A Comparitive Study ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������3
3. Early man in India����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������3
4. Phases of Palaeolithic Age in India������������������������������������������������������������������5
5. The Palaeolithic Age����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������5
6. The Mesolithic Age������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������8
Adamgarh Rock Shelter Painting��������������������������������������������������������������������������������8
7. Neolithic Age: The New Stone Age����������������������������������������������������������������9
Indian Site of Burzahom and Chirand����������������������������������������������������������������������10
8. Objective Questions���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������11
9. Subjective Questions������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������12
The Old Stone Age

Coverage in UPSC in Prelims : 7 questions

last 10 years Mains : 9 questions

Prelims : In 10 years around 7 questions were directly

related to this topic.
Importance Of The Mains : Question will be directly related to historical sites,
Stone Age Importance of Art and Culture in Ancient History especially
(from the UPSC point of view) in context with the cave and rock shelter painting of
Bhembheta and Adamgarh, Evolution of stone tool


Human Evolution is the most important aspect of Ancient History. It gives us an insight into
how people lived in the past and how we have evolved till the present in the world. It gives us
insights on how the culture and technique evolved with the evolution of humans. From the stone
tool makers to the launchers of rockets in space. This chapter will give us the insight of human
evolution from Australopithecus to Homosapiens. Phases of the stone age in India namely
Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic Stone age. The important sites of the stone age in India:
the cave and rock shelters of Bhimbetka and Adamgarh.

The earth is 4600 million year old,
divided into two ages

Pleistocene Holocene

Ice Age Post Ice Age

(2 million BC to 12,000 BC) (12,000 BC to Present time)
• Pleistocene is made • Holocene is a greek
up of two greek word which means
words Pleistos means entirely recent.
most and kainos
means new or recent


From Australopithecus to modern Homo sapien sapien


Australopithecus Homo Habilis Homo Erectus Homo Sapiens

Pleistocene time 2-1.5 mya 1.8 to 1.6 mya 115,000 year old

Humans appeared First important Homo-erectus was Homosapiens

in Pleistocene time, humans ,found in an upright man. Its which means a
Australopithecus Africa. They were skull was strongly wise man, our own
(also known as the first to use built with a brain species evolved
proto-human) was stone tools and case measuring from homosapiens
the earliest human. bones. With a brain 800-1200 cubic , having a brain
This creature size 500-700 cubic centimeter. They case of 1200-200
was bipedal and centimeter. invented the hand cubic centimeter
pot bellied with a axe and discovered in volume which
small brain case how to make use of enables the modern
measuring 400 fire. They travelled man to function
cubic centimeter. a long distance as effectively.
compared to homo-

Australopithecus Homo Sapiens

Homo Habilis stone Stone making from

tools bones by Homo


• Few fossils have been discovered in India. The earliest skull fossils have been found from
Shivalik Hills. These skulls appeared in the Potwar Plateau, they are called Ramapithecus
and Sivapithicus, they seem to possess some hominid features though they represent apes.
• Shivapithecus/Sivapithecus and Ramapithecus are used interchangeably, and are a genus of

extinct apes.
• Ramapithecus was a female belonging to the same group. Ramapithecus and Sivapithicus
are considered 12.2 million year old.
• In 1982 complete hominid structure was discovered from narmada, This fossils structure is of
• So far no remains of homo sapien is found from India.

Ramapithecus fossil skull Narmada Fossilize

structure of Homo

Sivapithecus Ramapithecus


2 million BC-10,000 BC Palaeolithic

10,000 BC-8,000 BC Mesolithic

8,000 BC-4,000 BC Neolithic

4,000 BC-1,500 BC Chalcolithic

1,500 BC-200 BC Iron Age


• Palaeolithic age is a pre-historic time where stone tools were developed, it is divided into
three phases based on the tool development. First phase or the earliest phase is called lower
Palaeolithic (upto 100,000 B.C), second is Middle Palaeolithic (100,000-40,000 BC) and the
third is Upper Palaeolithic (40,000-10,000 B.C).
• The Deccan Plateau region has the remains of both Middle and Upper Palaeolitic age.

Lower Palaeolithic Middle Palaeolithic Upper Palaeolithic

• The lower Palaeolitic or • Middle Palaeolithic tool • Upper Palaeolitic tool

early stone age is found making was largely based making was based on
in Bori Maharashtra , on the small pieces of Blades, Scrapers and
this site is the earliest site stones known as Flakes, Burin (this tool is a type
where people used hand Lower and Middle of handheld flake). In
axe, clever and chopper. Palaeolitic sites coincide. India we find 566 sites
• Other sites are Belan Artefacts of these ages in total mainly in Andhra
valley in Uttar Pradesh, are found in Narmada, Pradesh, Telangana,
Didwana in Rajasthan Tungabhadra and Maharashtra, Madhya
(it has all the three belan valley. Foothills of Pradesh. Bhimbetka cave
phases), Chirki- vindhyas are rich in stone and rockshelter is also
nevasa in Maharashtra, tools and animal Fossils. used by Upper Palaeolitic
Nagarjunakonda in • Blades, borers, scrapers people.
Andhra Pradesh. The and pointers were used • Here we see the
rock shelter of Bhimbetka as tools; tools were emergence of Homo
also features Lower made smaller, lighter sapiens; tools were more
Paleolithic Age. and thinner to ease the pointed and sharp.
• Hunters and food hunting process. • See the usage of fishing
gatherers; limestone was tools and needles; tools
also used to make tools. were also made of bones
• Bhimbetka is a famous as well.
site of habitation; caves • Paintings of Bhimbetka
and rock shelters were site belong here.
common; was declared
a World Heritage Site in

Upper Palaeolithic stone


Lower Palaeolithic Stone Middle Palaeolithic stone

tools tools

Bhimbetka cave paintings

Palaeolithic sites in india


• Age after the end of Upper Palaeolithic Age, it began in

10,000 BC-80,000 B.C. It is considered as a transitional
phase between the Palaeolitic and the Neolithic Age.
• Its tools are basically known as Microliths or tiny tools.
• Tools used were blades, crescents, triangles, knives,
daggers and arrowheads.
• Climate became warmer and more humid; plantation was
also observed. However, hunting and gathering was also
Microlithic stone tools


• Important sites are Adamgarh in M.P and Bagor in Rajasthan provide evidence of
domestication of animals in this age (goats and sheeps). People of Palaeolitic and Mesolithic
Age practised Painting also.


• It began in 8,000 BC-4,000 B.C., the only

known settlement in Indian subcontinent
is Mehrgarh. This is the largest Neolithic
settlement between Indus and mediterranian.
• Mehrgarh, presently situated in Baluchistan
province, Pakistan. Located on the banks of
river Bolan in Kacchi plain. Mehrgarh people
cultivated Wheat and Barley. They were
comparatively more advanced as they used
to live in mud-brick houses. Neolithic Age Polished stone Tools
• Mehrgarh people domesticated goats, sheeps
and cattle in large numbers. Slowly and gradually cattles outnumbered sheeps and goats.
The probable reason for this increase might have been the growth in agriculture.
• The pottery included mat-impressed ware, black-furnished ware and grey ware.
• People of Neolithic age started leading settled life; agriculture was practiced; crops
produced were Ragi and Kulathi; rice was also grown.
• Graineries made up of mud bricks have been discovered around the Mehrgarh settlement; it
was used to store cereals produced on a large scale.
• After 4500 B.C in the later Neolithic Age from the bank of Hakra river (tributary of Indus river),
a larger number of pots remain have been discovered.
• Tools and implements of polished stones were used by people of the Neolithic Age.

Based on the Axes used Neolithic settlers are divided into three

Name of the Area Axes Types

North Eastern Rectangular with curved cutting Edge.

North Westen Polished with rectangular butt and occasional shoulder hoes.

Southern Oval sides and pointed butt

Northern Western Southern

Stone Axe Stone Axe


• This neolithic site of North-west Kashmir
is distinguished by its dwelling pits, wide
ranges of ceramics and the variety of bone
and stone tools, with the complete absence
of microlithic tools.
• Burzahom people lived in lake side pits
and probably had a fishing economy.
The used coarse grey pottery, it’s an
interesting fact that in Burzahom domestic
dogs were buried with their masters Neolithic site at Piklihal (Karnataka)
in the grave, this practise is not evident in
any other neolithic culture in India.
• Gufkral people practise both agriculture and animal husbandry.
• Neolithic People in Kashmir and Chirand (near Patna in Bihar), made a lot of bone tools which
are very unique.
• Important sites of Neolithic culture in South India are Maski, Brahmagiri, Hallur, Kodekal,

Sanganakallu, Piklihal and Takkalukota (karnataka.), Paiyampalli (Tamil Nadu), Utnur (Andhra
• Piklihal is a very important site of South India, the settlers were basically Cattle herders.
They also domesticated cattle, sheep and goats. We find both mound and habitation sites in


Q.1 Consider the following statements:

1. Homo erectus were bipedal and pot bellied.

2. Homo erectus were the first to use stone tools and fire.
3. Narmada hathnora skull was of homo erectus.

(a). Statement one is true, second and third is false.

(b). Statement one, second is true third is false.
(c). Only three is true.
(d). All of the above are true.

Answer : (c) Only three is true.

Q.2 Which among the following are true ?

1. Ramapithecus and Sivapithecus are homo erectus.

2. They represent apes with no features of Hominid.

(a). Both statements are true.

(b). Both are false .
(c). Statement (i) is false and (ii) is true.
(d). Both the statements are true.

Answer : (d) Both are false.

Q.3 Which site is the cave and rockshelter site ?

(a). Adamgarh.
(b). Bagore.
(c). Bhimbetka.

(d). Bori.

Answer : (c) Bhimbetka


Q.1 Where earliest humans organized in society write your views in context with the
Bhimbetka cave and rock shelter paintings? (150 Words)

Q.2 Evolution in the stone tool technique also implies the evolution of humans culturally.
Comment. (150 Words)

What’s Ahead

1. Introduction������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������14
2. Chalcolithic Culture in India������������������������������������������������������������������������������14
Jorwe Culture, Maharashtra������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������15
Ahar-Banas Culture(3000-1500 B.C.) Rajasthan����������������������������������������������15
Malwa Culture, Madhya Pradesh��������������������������������������������������������������������������������16
3. Chalcolithic Art and Craft���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 17
4. Social Structure���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 17
5. Objective Questions��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������18
6. Subjective Questions������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������19


Coverage in UPSC in Prelims : 2 questions

last 10 years Mains : 3 questions


The end of Neolithic culture saw the use of metals. The first metal used was copper, and the
several cultures were based on the use of stone and copper implements, such cultures are called
Chalcolithic Cultures. Chalco means copper and lithic means stone so it implies copper stone
age. Technologically, the chalcolithic stage is applied to pre-Harappan Phase. However in various
parts of India the chalcolithic culture followed the Bronze Age Harappan culture. The chalcolithic
people mostly use copper and stone objects, but they occasionally use low grade bronze and
even Iron. They were primarily rural communities spread over a wide area with hilly lands and


In India Chalcolithic settlement is found in Rajasthan, M.P, Maharashtra.

• Jorwe Culture (1400-700 B.C) is found in modern parts of Maharashtra except the regions
of Vidarbha and Konkan. Jorwe was a rural settlement but the exception of Diamabad and
Inamgaon, reached the urban stage.
• Jorwe people used many stone tools like stone blades and bladletes with the wood
• Daimabad is one of the largest sites of Jorwe culture which is located in the Godavari river
basin, the largest number of Bronze artifacts have been discovered from this site.
• Inamgoan is the other largest Chalcolithic site of Jorwe culture, In Inamgaon mud houses
with oval and circular pit houses with five rooms have been discovered. Granaries were also
found near these houses.
• Inamgaon had a special feature of cremation where the bodies were cremated in big urns (a
large pot) beneath the floor of the house. Separate crematories were absent. Pots and some
other objects were deposited in the graves for the use of the dead in the other world.

Inamgaon site Stone Knife with a wood handle

Daimabad Bronze ware Inamgaon Burial Pots


• Ahar is located in the Udaipur district of Rajasthan. Ahar’s original name is Tambavati
meaning a place which has copper. For Ahar people, Copper was locally available. These
chalcolithic sites are unique as no stone tools were used. Only copper objects were in use,
although Bronze (bronze is an alloy of copper and tin) sheet was also in use.
• Ahar culture’s famous sites are Ahar and Gilund. Gilund is situated in the district of

Rajsamand in Rajasthan. In Gilund Stone blades are used in large scale, copper is used in a
very small amount, probably due to the non availability copper locally.

• Gilund is the only site in the Chalcolithic Culture where we find the use of Burnt Bricks
around 1500 B.C which is remarkable.

• Gilund people lived in houses made of burnt bricks, Ahar people lived in stone houses. Red
and Black Earthenware pottery have been used. Red and Black earthenware pottery from
Ahar-Banas culture.

Copper objects of Red and Black

Ahar-Banas Culture Pottery


• Malwa culture (1600-1300 B.C.) is related to Malwa Plateau of Madhya Pradesh, important
sites are Eran, Kayatha, Nagda and Navdatoli.
• From Kayatha and Eran, spindle whorls have been discovered which means cloth making on
large was prevalent in this region.
• Navdatoli is situated on the Bank of river Narmada, maximum number of cereals are
found from this site including wheat bed, linseed, cotton, bajra, rai and millets. This is the
distinguishing feature of this site.

Spindle whorl Goblet discovered

from Eran from Navdatoli


• Expert copper smith and also skillful workers in stone. Tools weapons and bangles of copper
have been unearthed.
• Chalcolithic people manufactured beads of semi-precious stone such as carlenion, steatite
and quartz crystal. They also knew the art of spinning and weaving because spindle whorls
have been discovered from Malwa.
• Cotton Flax and silk thread made of cotton silk and of semal (cotton tree) have been found
from Maharashtra indicating an expertise in the manufacture of cloth.
• Inamgaon had potters, smiths’s ivory craver, lime makers and terracotta artisans.


• Terracotta figures of women found in large numbers suggest that chalcolithic people
venerated mother goddesses.
• Settlement pattern and burial pattern suggest the beginning of social inequalities in
chalcolithic society. This is clearly visible in Jorwe settlement of Maharashtra, they had two
tier habitations, the larger settlement dominated the smaller ones. However in both large and
small settlements, the chief and the kinship lived in rectangular houses and dominated others
who lived in round huts.
• In Inamgaon the craftsman lived on the western fringes and the chief probably at the centre.


• In shattered chalcolithic site of Bengal and Bihar Archaeologist have found copper
fish hook.
• Chalcolithic people in India founded the first large village in Peninsular India, They
cultivated far more cereal known to neolithic communities. like Barley, wheat, lentils.


Q.1 Which one of the following pairs is not correctly matched?

(a). Burzahom Kashmir.

(b). Ganeshwar Culture N.E.Rajasthan.
(c). Jorwe culture Maharashtra.
(d). Ahar Madhya Pradesh

Q.2 Which one of the following sites of Malwa Culture has yielded the evidence of Spindle

(a). Dangwada
(b). Nagda
(c). Ujjain
(d). Eran

Q.3 Match List I with list II and select the answer from the codes given below in the list?

List I List II

Chalcolithic Cultures Types of Site

1. Banas Culture (a) Kayatha

2. Jorwe Culture (b) Inamgaon
3. Kashmir Culture (c) Burzahom
4. Malwa Culture (d) Gilund


(a) D B C A
(b) D A C B
(c) A C D B
(d) A B C D


Q.1 Why is the chalcolithic culture considered to be the benchmark in the Agricultural
Revolution in Ancient history? Comment. (150 Words)

Q.2 Why Inamgaon settlement is considered as the Epitome of social Inequality? Comment.
(150 Words)

Q.3 Can we consider Chalcolithic culture the predecessor of harappan civilization?

Elaborate. (150 Words)

Q.4 Discovery of spindle whorl from Malwa is considered as a benchmark in the

Chalcolithic. (150 Words)

What’s Ahead

1. Introduction������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������21
2. Chronology of Harappan Archaeology������������������������������������������������������� 22
3. Town planning structure of Harappa�����������������������������������������������������������23
4. Agriculture������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 24
The Great Bath ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 24
The Drainage System������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 24
Domestication of Animals���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������25
5. Technology and crafts���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������26
6. Trade and Commerce ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������28
7. Social Organization���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������28
8. Polity�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������29
9. Religious Practises���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������29
10. Harappan Script���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������30
11. Harappan Weights and Measures������������������������������������������������������������������31
12. Seals and Sealings ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������31
13. Images���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������32
14. End of the Indus culture �����������������������������������������������������������������������������������32
15. All the Important Harrapan Sites For Quick Revision���������������������������33
16. Chronology for Quick Revision ���������������������������������������������������������������������35
17. Objective Questions�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������36
18. Subjective Questions�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������38

Bronze Age Urbanization
In The Indus Valley Civilization

Coverage in UPSC in Prelims : 10 questions

last 10 years Mains : 8 questions


The Indus or the harappan culture is older than chalcolithic culture. It is called Harrapan
because this civilization was first discovered in 1921 at the modern site of Harappa situated
in the province of Punjab in Pakistan. Discovery of Harappa was a path breaking as the urban
culture of the bronze age was found. In 1853, A. Cunningham, a British engineer, who first
noticed the Harappan seal. The significance of the seal was not understood by him at that time.
The relevance of seal was understood much later in 1921, when Daya Ram Sahani, an Indian
Archaeologist started excavating it. At about the same time, R.D Banerjee, a historian excavated
the site of Mohenjo-Daro in Sindh. Both discovered Pottery and other antiquities indicative
of a developed civilization. Nearly 2800 Harappan sites have so far been identified in the sub-
continent. They relate to the early mature and late phase of Harappan culture.

Indus valley sites


Cunningham s find of a harappan seal

Daya ram sahni excavation at harappa

Marshall Excavated mohenjo daro.

Mackay excavated the same size.

Vats excavated Harappa.

Mortimer Wheeler excavated Harappa.

Post 1947 period

Harappa and associated sites excavated by Suraj Bhan, M.K. Dhavalikar, J.P Joshi, B.B. Lal,
S.R. Rao, B.K thapar, R.S Bisht and others.


• Harrapa and Mohenjo Daro both had citadels,

possibly occupied by the ruling class. Below
the citadel in each city lay out a lower town with
brick houses, that were inhabited by the common
• In Mohenjodaro and Harappa, the citadel was
surrounded by brick walls. Citadel had large
structures functioned as administrative or ritual
centers. However, the lower city contained
residential areas. Citadel at Harappa
• The arrangements of the houses in the cities that
followed a grid system, with roads cutting each other virtually at right angles.
• The monuments in the cities symbolized the ability of the ruling class to mobilize labour and
collect taxes.
• The bigger houses had private wells and toilets. Mohenjodaro showed excellent sanitation.
• The houses were more or less similar in style: rooms around the square courtyard.

• In Mohenjo Daro, the largest building is Granary 45.7 m long and 15.23 m wide. In Harappa
we find as many as six granaries very near to the river, these were used to store wheat and
• The use of burnt bricks in Harappan cities is remarkable because in the contemporary
buildings of Egypt dried bricks were primarily used. We find the use of baked bricks in
Mesopotamia but they were used to a larger extent in the city of Mesopotamia.


• The most important place of Mohenjo
Daro seems to have been “The Great Bath”,
comprising the tank which is situated in the
citadel mound. It is a fine example of beautiful
brickwork. It measures 11.88 x 7.10 m and 2.43
m deep. Flights of steps at either end lead to
the surface. There are side rooms for changing
clothes, the floor of the great bath was made of
burnt bricks. It is suggested that it was used for ritual bathing. In Dholavira, a large
tank like great bath has been discovered, probably used for the same purpose.


• It was very impressive in almost every city, every
house large or small had its own courtyard and
bathroom. In Kalibanga (Rajasthan) almost all
houses had wells. Water flowed from the house to
the streets which had drains. These drains were
covered with bricks or stone slab. The remains of
a street drain is found from Banawali. Altogether
the quality of domestic bathroom and drain is
remarkable. The drainage system of Harappa is unique, perhaps no other Bronze Age
civilization paid so much attention to health and cleanliness as did the Harappans.


• Major sites where Granaries are found: Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Kalibhanga and Lothal.
• The Indus people sowed seeds in the flood plains in november and reap their harvests
of Wheat and Barley in April, before the next flood. No hoe or ploughshare has been
discovered they were probably made of wood. But the furrow discovered in the Harappan

phase indicates that the fields were ploughed in Kalibangan, Rajasthan.
• The Harappan people probably used the wooden plough drawn by oxen and camels may
have been used for his purpose. Garbands or nalas enclosed by dams for storing water
were a feature in parts of Balochistan and Afghanistan, but channel or canal irrigation was
probably not practised. Harappan villages were mostly situated near the flood plains. They
produced sufficient food grains not only for their inhabitants but also for their town people.
• Indus people grew Wheat, Barley, Rai and Peas. They grew two types of wheat and barley.
A substantial quantity of Barley has been discovered from Banawali, Haryana. In addition
sesamum and mustard were grown.
• In all probability cereals were received as taxes from peasants and stored in the granaries for
the payment of wages as well as for use during emergencies. This can be surmised from the
analogy of Mesopotamian cities where wages were paid in Barley. The Indus people were
the earliest people to produce cotton and because of this, the Greek called the area Sindon
which is derived from Sindh.

Agricultural practices in Food grain discovered from

Harappan Civilization Indus valley

• Although the Harappans practised agriculture, animals were raised on a large scale. Oxen
buffaloes, goats, sheep and pigs were domesticated, humped bulls were favoured by the
Harappans. There is evidence of dogs and cats from the outset, and asses and camels were
bred. Asses were obviously used as a beast of burden, and the latter may have been used for
• Evidence of horse comes from the superficial level of Mohenjo Daro and from a doubtful
terracotta figurine from Lothal. The remains of horses are reported from Surkotada, situated
in West Gujarat and related to around 2000 B.C but, the identity is doubtful. In any case
Harappan culture was not horse centric. However they were aware about the existence of
• The contemporary Sumerian cities in Mesopotamia produced virtually the same food grains
and domesticated the same animals as did the Harappans, but the Harappan people in
Gujarat produced rice and domesticated elephants which was not with the Mesopotamians.
• Elephants were well known to Harappans, who were also acquainted with the rhinoceros.

Rearing of animals in Harappan Civilisation


• The rise of towns in the Indus zone was based on agriculture surplus, the making of bronze
tools, various other crafts and wide spread trade and commerce. This is known as the first
urbanization in India, and the Harappan urban culture belongs to the Bronze Age.
• The people of Harappa used many tools and implements of stone, but they were very well
acquainted with the manufacture and use of bronze. Harappan people were so numerous
as to suggest that the bronze smiths constituted an important group of artisan in the society.
They did not only produce images and utensils but also various tools and weapons such as
axes, saws, knives and spears.
• Several other crafts flourished in Harappan towns. A piece of woven cotton has been
discovered from Mohenjo-Daro and textile impressions have been found on several objects.
Spindle whorls were used for spinning. Weavers wove cloth of wool and cotton.
• Huge brick structures suggest that bricklaying was an important craft and attest to the
existence of a class of mason.
• Seal making and terracotta manufacturing were also important crafts.
• Gold smith made the jewelleries of silver, gold and precious stones the first two materials
have been obtained from Afghanistan and the last from south India.
• The harappans were the expert bead makers.

Lapis lazuli Old Carnelian bead from
Bracelet Indus Valley

• The potter’s wheel was extensively used, harappan produced their characteristic glossy,
gleaming pottery.
• Although most of the Harappan pottery is plain, a red slip and black painted decoration were
• The pottery was chiefly wheel made with plain variety being more common.

Pottery from Harappa


• The importance of trade in the life of the Indus people was supported not only by granaries
found at Harappa, Mohenjo Daro and Lothal but also by finds of numerous seals, uniform
script, regulated weights and measures covering a wide area.
• The Harappan conducted considerable trade in stone, metal, shell etc within the Indus culture
zone. However cities do not have the necessary raw material for the commodities they
• Metal currency was not in use and in all probabilities exchanges were through a barter
system. The procured metals from the neighbouring areas by boat (they navigate the coast of
Arabian sea) and bullock cart. They were aware of the use of the wheel, and carts with solid
wheels were used in Harappa. It appeared that the harappans used a form of the Modern
Ekka but not with the spoked wheel.
• The Harappan had commercial links with Rajasthan and also with Afghanistan and Iran. They
set up trading colonies in northern Afghanistan which evidently facilitate trade with central
Asia. Their cities also had commercial links with the people of Tigris and Euphrates basins
as many harappan seals have been discovered in Mesopotamia, and it appears that the
harappans imitated some cosmetics used by the urban people of Mesopotamia.
• The Harappan carried a long distance trade in lapis lazuli; lapis objects may have contributed
to the social prestige of the ruling class.

• The Mesopotamian records from about 2350 B.C onwards refer to the trade
relations with Meluha, which was the ancient name given to the Indus region. The
Mesopotamian texts speak of two intermediate trading station called Dilmun and
Makan, which lay between Mesopotamia and Meluhha. Dilmun is probably identifiable
with Bahrain on the Persian Gulf.


• Excavation indicates a hierarchy in urban habitation.

Although only two localities are attributed to the city of
Harappa, its structure evident three distinct localities and
the latter is true also of Kalibangan and Dholavira.
• The citadel or the first locality was where the ruling class
lived and the lowest tower was where the common people
dwelt. The middle settlement may have been meant for
Dholavira ruins

bureaucrats and middle class merchants. However Hierarchy in settlements corresponded
to occupational divisions or socio-economic differentiation is not clear. There is no doubt that
the same city was inhabited by different housing groups which were not the same size. Social
Differentiation is indicated by different residential structures, with the numbers of rooms
varying from one to twelve. The city of Harappa had two roomed houses, probably meant for
artisans and labourers.


• In the Harappan culture the citadel may have been the seat of sovereign power , the middle
town may have been the area where the bureaucrats lived or the seat of government, and the
great granary at Mohenjo-Daro may have been the treasury. It appears that the taxes were
collected in grain. Also, the entire Harappan area was a well populated territory. Fortification
was a feature of several cities. Dholavira, in particular, had forts within forts.
• There is no clear idea of an army, but a heap of sling stones and the depiction of a soldier
on a potsherd at surkotada may suggest a standing army. In any case, the state was well
established in the mature harappan phase.
• In sharp contrast to Egypt and Mesopotamia, no temples have been found at harappan
site. No religious structures of any kind have been excavated apart from great bath, which
may have been used for ablution. It would therefore, be wrong to think that priests ruled in
Harappa as they did in the cities of Mesopotamia.Harappa was possibly ruled by the class of


• In Harappa numerous terracotta figurines of women have been found. In one figurine plant is
shown growing out of the embryo of a woman. The image probably represents the goddess
of earth and was connected with the origin and growth of plants. Harrapan looked on Earth
as a fertility goddess and worshipped her in the same way as Egypian worshipped river Nile
goddess Isis.
• The male deity is represented on seal. This god has three horned heads, and represented in
the sitting posture of a yogi, with one leg placed above the other. This god is surrounded by
elephant, tiger, rhinoceros and below his throne there is a buffalo and at his feet two deer. The
god so depicted is identified as Pashupati Mahadeva.
• The people of Indus region also worshipped trees. The depiction of a deity is represented on
a seal amidst branches of papal.
• One horned unicorn is considered to be the most important worshipped animal which may
be identified with rhinoceros.
• Harappan people worshipped gods in the form of trees, animals and human beings, but the

gods were not placed in temples.

Terracotta figurines of Pashupati Mahadev

women from Harappa Seal


• The harappan invented the art of writing like the people of Mesopotamia. Although the
earliest script was discovered in 1853 and the complete script in 1923, it has yet to be
deciphered. Nearly 4000 specimens of harappan writing on stone seals and other objects.
Harrapans did not write long inscriptions.
• The harappan script is not alphabetical but largely pictographic. Most inscriptions were
recorded on seals and contained a few words.
• Almost 400 distinct Indus symbols have been found on seals and ceramic pots.
• Even sign boards were also found which must have been used over the gates of the citadels.

Harappan Script Script from indus valley


• Indus inscriptions were typically not more than 4 or 5 characters in length. The longest on a
single surface is 17 signs long. The longest on an object is 26 symbols.


• The Indus valley civilization people had great accuracy

in measuring length, mass and time. They were the first
to develop a system of uniform weights and measures.
• The smallest division which they marked was
approximately 1.704mm, the smallest division ever
recorded on a scale in the Bronze Age.
• The Harappan age engineers followed decimal division
of measurement for all practical purposes.
Weights and Measures
• Weights and measures were used for trade and other
transactions, Numerous articles used as weight have been
found, 16 and multiples were used largely for weighing.


• Above 2000 seals have been found, the majority carry short inscriptions with picture of one
horned animals called unicorns, buffaloes, tigers, rhinoceroses, goats, elephants, antelopes
and crocodiles. Seals were made of steatite or faience and served as a symbol of authority.
They were henced used for stamping. Seals were also used as amulets.
• A unique invention, cutting and polishing of seals with white luster, was done by Harappan
people. Rectangular and square shape seals were the most common.
• Most of the seals were engraved by the animal pictures.

Seal From Harappa Rhinoceros seal of Harappa


• The Harappan artisan made beautiful images of metals. A women

dancer made of bronze is the best specimen. One Steatite statue wears
an ornamented robe passing over her left shoulder.
• There are many figurines made of fire baked Earthen clay commonly
called Terracotta. These were either used as toys or objects or worship.
They represent birds, dogs, sheep, cattle and monkeys.

Women Dancer
made of Bronze


• It is difficult to account for cultural collapse. The environmental factor may have been
important. Both Yamuna and Sutlej moved away from Sarasvati or the hakra around 1700 b.c.
this meant loss in water supply. Similarly rainfall decreased at about that time.
• It appears craft and commerce collapsed because of the end of the long distance land and
sea trade with Mesopotamia. This trade in luxurious articles like lapis lazuli, beads mainly
passed through Elam near Iran. Emergence of Elam as a powerful state around 2000 b.c.
interrupted the supply of harrapan goods to Mesopotamia and the Mesopotamians imports
including tin to harrapan settlements.
• Beads of hard materials, especially stones were made in harrapan zone and sent outside. The
break in their exports to Mesopotamia deprived the craftsmen of their livelihood. Similarly,
the break in their exports to Mesopotamia deprived the craftsmen of their livelihood. Similarly
the break in the supply of tin to the valley dealt a great blow to the artisans employed in
making bronze.
• The exhaustion of the soil may have diminished cereal production and starved the urban
people. Once the aristocracy living in the cities failed to exercise its control over crafts and
cultivation. Harappan culture collapsed.


Important Sites of Indus Valley Civilization

Site Excavated by Location Important Findings

Harappa Daya Ram Sahini in Situated on the • Sandstone

1921 bank of river Ravi in statues of
Montgomery district Human anatomy,
of Punjab (Pakistan). Granaries,
Bullock carts.

Mohenjodaro R.D Banerjee in 1922 Situated on the • Great bath

(Mound of Dead) Bank of river Indus • Granary
in Larkana district of • Bronze dancing
Punjab (Pakistan). girl
• Seal of
• Steatite statue
of beard man
• A piece of
woven cotton

Sutgendor Stein in 1929 In southwestern • A trade point

Balochistan between
province, Pakistan Harappa and
on Dast river Babylon

Chanhudaro N.G Majumdar in Sindh on the Indus • Bead makers

1931 river shop
• Footprint of a
dog chasing a

Amri N.G Majumdar in On the bank of • Antelope

1935 Indus river evidence

Important Sites of Indus Valley Civilization

Site Excavated by Location Important Findings

Kalibangan Ghose in 1953 Rajasthan on the • Fire altar

bank of Ghaggar • Camel bones
river • Wooden plough

Lothal R.Rao in 1953 Gujarat on Bhogva • First manmade

river near Gulf of port
Cambay • Dockyard
• Rice husk
• Fire altars
• Chess playing

Surkotada J.P Joshi in 1964 Gujarat • Bones of horses

• Beads

Banawali R.S Bisht in 1974 Hisar district of • Beads

Haryana • Barley
• Evidence
of both pre-
Harappan and

Dholavira R.S Bisht in 1985 Gujarat in Rann of • Water

Kachchh harnessing
• Water reservoir

*Years are in BC

Earliest Agricultural Settlement in Balochistan

5th Millennium
Existence of granaries and use of Mud Bricks

Pre Harappan Settlement in Cholistan (Pakistan).

Period of Heavy Rain and substantial Flow of water into the Indus and saraswati.

Mature Harappan Phase.

Elam as powerful state, the remains of Horse in Surkotada.

Degenerate phase of Harappan Culture.

Use of Rice in Lothal.


Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding the planning of streets of Harappan

1. The towns were well planned and the streets cut each other on the sixty degree angles.
2. The narrowest lane was one unit in width; the other streets were twice, thrice and so on in
3. The civic sense of people in this civilization was such that during the hey-day of the
civilization, no encroachment on the streets was to be seen.

Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

(a). Only I
(b). I and II
(c). II and III
(d). All of the above

Answer : (c) II and III

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding the drainage system of Indus Valley

1. The drainage system of the Indus Valley Civilisation indicates that people had a no civic sense
of sanitation and care for health and hygiene.
2. Small drains made of burnt bricks were connected with bathing platforms and latrines of
private houses joined the medium sized drains in the side streets.
3. The smaller drains ran into larger sewers in the main streets which were covered with bricks
or dressed stone blocks.

Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

(a). Only I
(b). I and II
(c). II and III
(d). All of the above

Answer : (c) II and III

Q.3 The Harappan Civilisation is referred as a:

(a). Bronze Age civilisation

(b). Silver Age civilisation
(c). Golden Age civilisation
(d). Stone Age civilisation

Answer : (a) Bronze Age civilisation

Q.4 Consider the following statements regarding the tools and vessels used by Harappan

1. The Harappan tools included flat -axes, chisels, arrowhead, spearheads, knives, saws, razors,
and fish-hooks.
2. Apart from tools people also made copper and bronze vessels.
3. Harappan people made small plates and weights of lead, and gold and silver jewellery of
considerable sophistication.

Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

(a). Only I
(b). I and II
(c). II and III
(d). All of the above

Answer : (d) All of the above

Q.5 Which of the following materials was used in the Harappan seals?

(a). Gold
(b). Steatite
(c). Silver
(d). Wood

Answer : (b) Steatite

Q.6 Consider the following statements regarding the activities of trade and commerce
done by the Harappan people:

1. Agricultural produce, industrial raw material, like copper ores, stone, semi precious shells, etc.
were traded.
2. Besides the raw material, finished products of metals (pots and pans, weapon, etc.), precious
and semi precious stones (beads, pendants, amulets etc.) ornaments of gold and silver were

also traded to various areas.
3. Copper may have been procured from Khetri mines of Rajasthan, chert blades from Rohri
hills of Sindh, carnelian beads from Gujarat and Sindh, lead from south India, lapis-lazuli from
Kashmir and Afghanistan.

Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

(a). Only I
(b). I and II
(c). II and III
(d). All of the above

Answer : (d) All of the above


Q.1 Why is Great bath considered as a religious monument for harappans. Comment.
(150 Words)

Q.2 Examine the different aspects and uniqueness of Indus Valley Civilisation in relation to
its religion and social practices, along with suitable examples. (250 words).

What’s Ahead

1. Introduction�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������40
2. The Cause of Origin��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������41
3. Vardhaman Mahavira and Jainism���������������������������������������������������������������44
Vardhman Mahavira ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������44
4. Spread of Jainism�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������45
5. Contribution of Jainism�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������46
6. Gautama Buddha and Buddhism ����������������������������������������������������������������� 47
Gautama Buddha or Siddhartha������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 47
7. Doctrine of Buddhism���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������48
8. Features of Buddhism and the causes of its spread�����������������������������49
9. Cause of the decline of Buddhism���������������������������������������������������������������50
10. Significance and influence of Buddhism���������������������������������������������������� 51
11. Objective Questions�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������53
12. Subjective Questions�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������54


Coverage in UPSC in Prelims : 8 questions

last 10 years Mains : 5 questions


Numerous religious sects arose

in the middle gangetic Plains
in sixth-fifth centuries BC, and
here off as many as 62 of them.
Many of these sects were based
on regional customs and rituals
practiced by different people living
in North East India. Of these sects,
Jainism and Buddhism were the
most important, and they emerged
as the most important religious
Reform movements.

Post Vedic society was clearly divided into
four varnas

Brahmins Kshatriya Vaishya Shudra

Each Varna was assigned well defined functions. though Varna was based on birth, the higher
varnas captured power, prestige and privileges at the cost of the lower Varna.

• The Brahmins who were allotted the function of priests

and teachers, claimed the highest status in society. They
demanded several privileges, including those of receiving
gifts and exemption from taxation and punishment.
• Naturally, the varna divided society seems to have
generated tensions. We have no means of asserting
the reactions of the Vaishyas and the Shudras, but the
Kshatriyas, who functioned as rulers, reacted strongly
against the ritualistic domination of the Brahmanas. This
seems to have led a kind of protest movement against the
importance attached to birth in the varna system. Kshatriya
reacted against the domination of the Brahmanas, who Varna System
claimed various privileges, were one of the causes of the
origin of new religion.
• Vardhamana Mahavira , founded Jainism, and Gautam buddha, who founded Buddhism
belonged to the Kshatriya clan, and both disputed the
authority of the Brahmanas.
• The real cause of the rise of these new religions was the
spread of a new agricultural economy in North Eastern
India. The use of iron tools made possible clearance,
agriculture and large settlements. The agricultural economy
based on the iron ploughshare required the use of bullocks,
and could not flourish without animal husbandry. However
the vedic practice of killing cattle indiscriminately in
sacrifices hamper the progress of new agriculture.
• The capital wealth gradually decimated, the biggest off
of the cows and bullocks were killed in the course of
numerous Vedic sacrifices. The non-Vedic tribal people Mahavira

living on the southern and eastern fringes of Magadha also killed cattle for food. However, if
the new agrarian economy was to stabilize the killing had to be halted.
• In 500 BC, we see the rise of a large number of cities in North-Eastern India. We may refer for
example to Kaushambi near Allahabad, Kushinagar ok, Varanasi, Vaishali, chirand, PatliPutra
ok, Rajgir and Champa in Bhagalpur district.
• The earliest coins related to fifth century BC, and they were generally off the punch mark
variety. They circulated for the first time in Eastern UP and Bihar. The use of coins naturally
facilitated trade and Commerce, which are added to the importance of vaishyas. Vaishyas
sought a religion that would improve their position.

Coins of 5th Century

• Beside the kshatriyas, Vaishyas extended generous support to both Mahavira and Gautam
Buddha. The merchants called the setthis made handsome gifts to Gautam Buddha and his
• The reasons behind were:
First, Jainism and Buddhism at the initial state did not attach any importance to the existing
varna system.
Second, they preached non-violence, which would put an end to wars between different
Kingdoms and consequently promote trade and commerce.
Third, the brahmanical law books, called the Dharmasutra, decried lending money at
interest, and condemned those who lived on interest. Therefore, the vaishyas, who lent
money because of the growing trade and commerce, were held in low esteem and looked
for a better social status.
• On the other hand we also notice a strong reaction against various forms of private property.
Old fashion people did not like the use and accumulation of coins made certainly of silver
and copper and possibly of gold. They dislike the new dwellings and clothes, new luxurious
system of transport and dislike war and violence. The new form of property created social
inequalities and caused misery suffering to the masses of ordinary people. Therefore, the
common people yearned to return to a primitive lifestyle, to the ascetic ideal which dispenses
with the new forms of property and the new style of life.
• Both Jainism and Buddhism propounded simple, pure, ascetic living. The Buddhist and Jain
monks were asked to forego the good things of life, and were not permitted to touch gold
and silver. They were allowed to accept only as much from their patrons as was sufficient

to keep body and soul together. Therefore, they rebelled against the material advantages
steaming from the new lifestyle of the gangetic plain. In other words, we find the same kind
of reaction against changes in material life in the mid-gangetic plain in the sixth and fifth
centuries BC as occurred against the changes brought about by the industrial revolution of
modern times. As with the coming of the industrial revolution, many people joined for a return
to a pre-machine life-style. So in ancient times, people learned for a return to the pre-Iron
Age style of life.

Rise of large number of Cities


• Vardhman Mahavira was the 24th Tirthankara.
• Born in 540 BC in a village near Vaishali
• His father Siddhartha was the head of a famous
kshatriya clan, and his mother Trishala was
the sister of Lichchavi chief Chetaka, whose
daughter was married to bimbisara. Thus
Mahavira’s family was connected with the
royal family of Magadha, and such connection
made it easy for him to approach princes and
noble in the course of his mission.

• The earliest important teachings of Jainism are attributed to Parshwanath, the 23rd
tirthankara who held from Banaras, abandoned royal life, and became an ascetic. However,
it was his spiritual successor Vardhaman Mahavira who was the real founder of Jainism.
Mahavira led the life of a householder, but in his quest for truth he abandoned the world
at the age of 30 and became an ascetic. He wandered for 12 years from place to place,
during the course of his long journey of 12 years. It is said he never changed his clothes and
even abandoned them at the age of 42 when he attended Kevalya(omniscience). Kevalya
conquered misery and happiness. Because of this conquest he is known as Mahavira or the
great hero or Jina. That is, the Conqueror and his followers are called Jainas.
• He propagated his religion for 30 years and his mission took him to Kaushala, Magadha,
Mithila and Champa. He passed away at the age of 72 years, in 468 BC at a place called
Pawapuri, near modern Rajgir.

1 Do not commit violence

2 Do not tell a lie

Doctrines of 3 Do not steal
4 Do not hoard

5 Observe continence (brahmacharya)

• It is said that only the fifth Doctrine was added by Mahavira. The others were taken over
by him from previous teachers. Jainism attached the utmost importance to ahimsa or non
injury to living beings. Sometimes it leads to an absurd result, for some Jain King ordered
the execution of persons guilty of killing animals.
• Although Parshwanah, Mahavira as predecessors had asked his followers to cover the upper
and the lower portion of their bodies. However, Mahavira asked them to discard their clothing
all together. This implies that Mahavira asked his followers to lead a more austere life.

In later time
Jainism split into sects

Svetambaras Digambaras
Those who donned white Those who remained
garments naked

• Jainas recognised the existence of the Gods but put them lower than the jina, and did not
condemn the varna system as Buddhism did. According to Mahavira, a person is born in a
high or in a lower caste as a consequence of his sins committed or virtues acquired by him in
his previous birth.
• Mahavira looked for human value even in a Chandala. In his opinion by leading a pure and
meritorious life, members of lower caste can achieve liberation. Jainism principally aims at
attainment of freedom from worldly bonds. No ritual is necessary for such liberation.

1 Right Knowledge
jewels or 2 Right Faith
Triratna of
Jainism 3 Right Action

• Jainism prohibited the practice of war and even agriculture for his followers because both
involved the killing of living beings. Eventually, the Jain principally confined themselves to
trade and mercantile activities.


• In order to spread the teachings of Jainism, Mahavira organised an order of his followers
that admitted both men and women. He preached his teachings in Prakrit, the language of
common people. It is said that his followers number 14000 which is not a large figure.
• Jainism did not very clearly differentiate itself from brahmanical religion; it failed to attract

the masses. Despite this, Jainism gradually spread into south and West India where the
brahmanical religion was weak.
• The spread of Jainism in Karnataka is attributed to Chandragupta Maurya (322-298). The
emperor became a Jaina, gave up his throne and spent the last year of his life in Karnataka as
a Jain ascetic, but this tradition is not corroborated by any other source.
• The second cause of the spread of Jainism in South India is said to have been the great
famine that took place in Magadha 200 years after Mahavira’s death. The famine lasted for
12 years and in order to protect themselves, many jains migrated to the South under the
leadership of Bhadrabahu, the rest of them stayed back in Magadha under the leadership of
Sthalabahu. The immigrant Jainas spread Jainism in South India.
• At the end of the famine, they returned to Magadh, where they developed differences with
the local Jains. Those who returned from the South claim that even during the famine they
had strictly observed the religious rule. They alleged that the Jain ascetic living in Magadha
had violated those rules and had become lax in order to sort out these differences and to
compile the principal teaching of Jainism a Council was convened in Patliputra, modern
Patna but the Jainas who had returned from the South boycotted it and refuse to accept its
decision. From now onwards southern’s begin to be called Digambara and the Magadhan’s
• Jainism spread to Kalinga in Orissa in the 4th century BC, and in the 1st century BC, it enjoyed
the patronage of the Kalinga king Kharavela, who had defeated the prince of Andhra and
Magadha. In the 2nd and 1st century BC, it also seemed to have reached the southern
districts of Tamilnadu. In the latest centuries, Jainism penetrated to Malwa Gujarat and
Rajasthan. Even now these areas have a substantial number of Jaina followers who are
principally engaged in trade and commerce. Jainism did not win as much state patronage
as Buddhism and did not spread very rapidly. In early times, it still retains its hold in the
areas where it spread. On the other hand, Buddhism virtually disappeared from the Indian
• In subsequent centuries, especially after the fifth century numerous Jainas monastic
establishment, called Basadis sprank up in Karnataka and were granted land by the king for
their support.


• Jainism made the first attempt to mitigate the evil of the varna order and the ritualistic Vedic
religion. The early Jaina discarded the Sanskrit language principally patronized by the
Brahmins. They adopted Prakrit instead, the language of the common people to preach their
doctrines. Their religious literature was written in Ardhamagadhi, and the text eventually
compiled in the 6th century A.D in Gujarat at a place called Valabhi, a great centre of
• Composed the earliest important works in Apabhramsha and compiled its first grammar.
• Jaina literature comprises epics, foreigners, novels and drama. A large percentage of their

writing is still in the form of manuscripts that have yet to be published and which are to be
found in the Jainas shrines of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
• In early medieval times, the Jainas have made substantial use of Sanskrit and wrote text in it.
Last but not the least contributed to the growth of Kannada in which they wrote extensively.
Initially like the Buddhist, the Jainas were not image worshippers and later began to worship
Mahavira and also the 23 Tirthankars.
• Beautiful and sometimes massive images in stone were sculpted for this purpose, especially
in Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Jainas in ancient times is not as rich
as its Buddhist counterpart, but Jainism contributed substantially to art and architecture in
medieval times.




• Gautama Buddha or siddhartha was a contemporary
of Mahavira.
• According to tradition he was born in 567 BC
in Shakya kshatriya family in lumbini nepal near
kapilvastu which is identified as Piprahwa in basti
district close to the footHills of Nepal. Gautama’s
father seems to have been the elected ruler of
Kapilvastu and headed the shakya Republican clan.
• His mother was a princess from the koshala dynasty.
Like Mahavira, Gautama to belong to a noble family.
Born in a Republic, he also inherited some egalitarian belief.

From early childhood Gautam showed

meditative bent of mind. He was married early,
but married life did not interest him. He was
moved by the misery suffered by people in the
world, and sought a solution. At the age of 29,
like Mahavira, he left home. He wandered from
place to place for about seven years and then
attained enlightenment at the age of 35 years at
Bodhgaya. Under a peepal tree. From this time
onwards he began to be called Buddha or the Buddha delivered his first
enlightened one. Sermon at Sarnath

Gautam Buddha delivered his first Sermon at Sarnath in Banaras. He undertook long journeys
and carried his message far and wide. Missionary activities did not discriminate between the
rich and the poor, the high and the low, and men and women. Gautama passed away at the age
of 80 years, in 487 BC at a place called Kushinagar. The existence of Gautam Buddha in the
6th century BC is not supported by archaeological evidence. The cities Kaushambi, Shravasti,
Varanasi, Vaishali and Rajgiri which the Buddha visited did not assume any urban character until
the fifth century BC.


• The Buddha proved to be a practical reformer who took note of the realities, he did not
involve himself in fruitless controversies regarding the Soul and Brahma which raged in his
time, but addressed himself to worldly problems. He said that the world was full of sorrow
and that people suffered on account of desire. If desires are conquered, nirvana could be
attended, that is, the man is free from the cycle of birth and death.
• Buddha recommended an Eightfold path or Ashtangika Marga for the elimination of human
misery. This path is attributed to him in a text of about the third century BC.

Right Observation

Right Concern 8 2 Right Determination

Right Awareness 7 3 Right Speech

Right Efforts 6 4 Right Action

Right Livelihood

Eightfold Path or Ashtangika Marga

If a person follows these eight fold paths, he would free himself from the mechanization of the
priest, and would reach his destination.
• Gautam Buddha taught that a person should avoid excess of both luxury and austerity, and
describe the middle path. The Buddha who laid down a code of conduct for his followers on
the same line are those of the Jaina teachers.

1 Do not commit violence

2 Do not covet the property of others

principal 3 Do not use intoxications
tenants are
4 Do not tell a lie

5 Do not indulge in sexual misconduct and adultery

These teachings are common to the social ordained by virtually all religions.


• Buddhism does not recognise the existence of God and soul. This can be seen as a kind
of revolution in the history of Indian religions. As early Buddhism was not and enmeshed in
the claptrap of philosophical discussion, it appeals to the common man and particularly won
the support of the lower orders because it attacked the varna system. People were accepted
by the Buddhist order without any consideration of caste, and women were admitted to the
Sangha. It bought women at par with men. In comparison with brahmanism, Buddhism
was liberal and democratic.
• The personality of the Buddha and the method adopted by him to preach his religion helped
the spread of Buddhism. In short, to fight evil by goodness and hatred by love one has to
refuse to be provoked by slander and abuse. He maintained his poise and calm under difficult
circumstances and took his opponent with wit and presence of mind.

• It is said that on one occasion, ignoring a person’s abuse. The Buddha listened silently,
and when the person had ended his abuse. The Buddha asked my friend if a person
does not accept a present what will happen to it? His adversary replied it remains
with the person who offered it , the Buddha then said my friend I do not accept your

• The use of Pali, a form of prakrit which began around 500 BC contributed to the spread of
Buddhism. It also facilitated the spread of Buddhist doctrine among the common people.
• Gautama Buddha also organised the sanga for the religious order, whose doors were
open to all, irrespective of caste, creed and sex. Only slaves, soldiers and debtors were not
• The monks were required to follow the rules and regulations of sanga when enrolled as
members of the Buddhist Church, they had to take the vow of continence, poverty and faith.

• There are, thus, three principal elements in Buddhism

Three principal elements in


Buddha Dharma Sangha

As a result of organised preaching under the auspicious of Sangha, Buddhism made rapid
strides even during the Buddha’s lifetime.

• The monarchies of Magadha, Kaushal and Kaushambi, and several republics in states and
their people adopted this religion.
• 200 years after the death of Buddha, Ashoka the famous Maurya King, embraced
Buddhism. This was an epoch- making event. Through his missionary’s Ashoka spread
Buddhism into Central Asia, West Asia and Sri Lanka, and transformed it into a world religion.
Even today Sri Lanka, Burma, and parts of China and Japan professor Buddhism. Although
Buddhism disappeared from the land of its birth, it continues to hold ground in the countries
of South Asia, South East Asia and East Asia.



By the 12th century, Buddhism became virtually extinct in India. It had continued to exist in an
altered form in Bengal and Bihar till the 11th century, but after the 11th century Buddhism almost
completely vanished from India.

What caused this?

• We find that at the outset every religion is inspired by the spirit of reform, but eventually its
succumbs to rituals and ceremonies it originally denounces. Buddhism underwent a similar
metamorphosis it became a victim to the evils of brahmanism against which it had initially
fought. To meet the Buddhist challenge, the Brahmin reformed their religion. They stressed
the need to preserve the cattle, wealth and assured women and shudra admission to heaven.
Buddhism on the other hand, changed for the worse. Gradually the Buddhist monks work cut
off from the mainstream of people’s lives. They gave up Pali, the language of the people, and
took to Sanskrit, the language of the intellectuals.
• From the 1st century onwards, they practiced idol worship on a large scale and received
numerous offerings from devotees. The rich offering supplemented by generous royal grants
to the Buddhist monasteries. This made the life of the monk easy. Some of the monasteries
such as Nalanda, collected revenue from as many as 200 villages. By the seventh century, the
Buddhist monasteries had come to be dominated by ease-loving people. These had become
centres of corrupt practices which had been prohibited by Gautam Buddha.

• The new form of Buddhism was known as Vajrayana. The enormous wealth of the
monasteries with increasing sexual activity lead to further degeneration. Buddhist begin
looking upon women as objects of lust. The Buddha was reported to have said to his
favourite disciple Ananda “if women were not admitted into the monasteries Buddhism
would have continued for 1000 years but because this admission has been granted it
will last only 500 years.”
• The Brahmin ruler Pashyamitra Sunga is said to have persecuted the Buddhist. Several
instances of persecution occur in the sixth seventh century. The king Mihirakul, who was the
worshiper of Shiva, killed hundreds of Buddhists. The shaivite Shashanka of Gauda felled
the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya where Buddha attained enlightenment.
• For their riches the monasteries came to be coveted by the Turkish invaders, becoming
special targets of the invader’s greed. The Turks killed a large number of Buddhist monks in
Bihar, although some of the monks managed to escape to Nepal and Tibet. In any event by
the 12th century Buddhism had virtually disappeared from the land of its birth.


• Despite its disappearance as an organised religion Buddhism left its impact on Indian society
and economy. The Buddhist showed a keen awareness of the problems that were faced by
the people of north east India from 500 BC.
• The iron plough share based agriculture, trade and the use of coins enable the traders and
the nobles to accumulate wealth. Buddhism, therefore, advised people not to accumulate
wealth. According to Buddhism, poverty breeds hatred, cruelty and violence. To eradicate
this evil, the Buddha thought that farmers should be provided with grains and other
facilities, traders with wealth, and the unemployed with employment. These measures were
recommended to eradicate poverty in the world. Buddhism also taught that if the poor give
alms to the monk, they would be born wealthy in the next world.
• Code of conduct prescribed for the monk represented reaction against the material
condition of North East India, in the 4th century BC. It imposed restriction on the food,
clothing and sexual behaviour of the monks. They could not accept gold and silver, could
not resort to sale and purchase. These rules were relaxed after the death of the Buddha,
but the early rule suggested a return to a kind of primitive life. These rules had reflected the
characteristics of the tribal society in which people did not practice trade and advanced
• The code of conduct prescribed for monks partially reflected a revolt against the use of
money, private property and luxurious living, that was prevalent in the 5th century BC in North
East India at a time when property and money was considered luxurious.
• Although Buddhism tried to mitigate the evils resulting from the new material life in the 5th
century BC. It also seemed to consolidate the changes in the social and economic life of
the people. The rules that debtors were not permitted to be members of sanga helped the
money lenders and rich section of the society from whose clutches the debtor could not be

saved. Similarly, the rule that slaves could not join the Sangha helped slave owners. Thus, the
rules and teachings of Gautam Buddha took account of the new changes in the material life
of the time and strengthened them ideologically.
• Although the Buddhist monks had renounced the world and repeatedly criticized the greedy
Brahmins, in several ways they resembled the Brahmins. Both of them did not participate
directly in production and live on the alms or gifts given by society. They emphasized the
virtues of carrying out family obligation, protecting private property and respecting political
authority. Both supported the social order based on classes, for the monks, however the
varna was based on action and attributes but for the Brahmin it was based on birth.
• Undoubtedly the objective of Buddha’s teaching was to secure the salvation of the individual
or Nirvana. Buddhism provided a way of escape from the exploitative nature and the
egalitarian breakup of society based on the birth of an individual (varna system). This benefit
reamined majorly to Buddhist monks. No escape was provided for the lay followers, who
were taught to come to terms with the existing situation.
• Buddhism made an important impact on society by keeping its doors open to women and
shudras. As both women and shudras were placed in the same category by Brahmins, they
were never given the sacred thread not allowed to read the Vedas. Their conversion to
Buddhism freed them from such marks of inferiority. Buddhism did not deprecate manual
labour. In the 2nd century sculpture from Bodhgaya, the Buddha is depicted ploughing with
• With its emphasis on non violence and sanity of animal life, Buddhism boosted the cattle
wealth of the country.
• Buddhism created and developed a new awareness in the field of intellect and culture. It
taught the people not to take things for granted but, to argue and judge them on merits. To
a certain degree, the place of superstition was taken by logic. Promoting rationalism among
• In order to preach the doctrines of new religion compile a new type of literature, enormously
enriching Pali by the writings.

Early Pali literature can be divided

into three categories

First Second Third

contains the saying deals with the rules present

and teaching of to be observed by philosophical
Buddha, members of the exposition of the
sanga former dhamma

• In the first three centuries of the Christian Era by blending Pali and Sanskrit, the Buddhist
created a new language which is called hybrid Sanskrit. The literary activities of the Buddhist
monk continued even in the middle ages, and some famous apabhramsa writings in East

India were composed by them. The Buddhist monasteries developed as a great centre
of learning, and can be called residential universities. Mentions may be made of Nalanda
University and Vikramshila University in Bihar and Vallabh in Gujarat respectively.
• Buddhism left its mark on the art of ancient India. The first human statues worship in India
were probably those of Buddha. Faithful devotee of the religion portrait the various events
in the life of Buddha in stone. The panels at Bodh Gaya in Bihar and at Sanchi and bharut
in Madhya Pradesh.are illuminating examples of artistic
activity. From the first century onwards, panel images of
Gautam Buddha began to be made. The Greek and the
Indians work together to create a new form of art on the
Northwest frontiers of India known as Gandhaar Arts. The
images made in this region portray India as well as foreign
influence full staff for the residence of monks, rooms were
hewn out of rocks, and thus began the cave architecture in
the Barabar Hills in Gaya and also in western India around
Nashik full stops Buddhist art flourished in the Krishna
delta in south and Mathura in the north. Gandhara Art


Q.1 In the post-Vedic times, numerous religious sects arose in the middle Gangetic basin
in the sixth century B, C. Jainism and Buddhism were the most important. Consider the
following statements regarding the causes of the origin of Jainism and Buddhism:

1. The Brahmanas demanded several privileges in the society, including those of receiving gifts
and exemption from taxation and punishments.
2. The Vaisyas were engaged in agriculture, cattle-rearing and trade and also the principal
taxpayers in the society.

Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

(a). Only I
(b). I and II
(c). II and III
(d). All of the above

Answer : (c) II and III

Q.2 Which of the following languages were patronised by the Jainas to preach their

(a). Prakrit
(b). Sanskrit
(c). Dravidian
(d). Pali

Answer : (a) Prakrit

Q.3 In the post-Vedic period which of the following varnas strongly reacted against the
domination of Brahmanas?

(a). Shudra
(b). Kshatriya
(c). Rulers of that time
(d). Vaisyas

Answer : (b) Kshatriya

Q.4 Which of the following statements is correct regarding Vardhamana Mahavira?

(a). Vardhamana Mahavira was born in 540 B.C in a village near Vaishali, which is identical with
Basarh in the district of Vaishali m north Bihar.
(b). His father was the head of a famous kshatriya clan, and his mother a Lichchhavi princess.
(c). He propagated his religion for 80 years, and his mission took him to Kosala, Magadha,
Mithila, Champa, Nepal etc
(d). He passed away at the age of 72 in 468 B C at a place called Pavapun near modern Rajgir.

Answer : (c) He propagated his religion for 80 years, and his mission took him to Kosala,
Magadha, Mithila, Champa, Nepal etc


Q.1 Discuss the reasons for the rise of Jainism and Buddhism in India and their Impact?
(250 words)

Q.2 Why Buddhism Decline in India? (150 words)

What’s Ahead

1. Territorial states and the rise of Magadha�������������������������������������������������56

Conditions for the rise of the large state���������������������������������������������������������������58
The Mahajanapadas���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������58
The Rise and the growth of the Magadha Empire������������������������������������������59
Panini ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������59
2. Causes of Magadha Success�������������������������������������������������������������������������62
Magadha enjoyed certain other advantages�����������������������������������������������������63
Magadha enjoyed special advantage in military organisation�����������������64
3. Iranian and Macedonian Invasions���������������������������������������������������������������64
Iranian Invasion �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������64
Results of the Contact�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������65
4. Alexander Invasion���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������65
Effects of Alexander invasion������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 67
5. Objective Questions�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������68
6. Subjective Questions�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������69


Coverage in UPSC in Prelims : 7 questions

last 10 years Mains : 5 questions



• Magadha embraced the former districts of Patna,

Gaya and parts of Shahabad. Magadha grew to be
the leading state of the time. Its earlier capital was
Rajgir and later capital was Patliputra. Both were
fortified and showed signs of habitation around
the 5th century BC. North of the Ganges in Tirhut
division lay the state of the Vajjis which included
eight Clans. However, the most powerful dynasty
was that of the Lichchhavis with their capital at
Vaishali which is coterminous with the villages of
Basarh in Vaishali district. The Purana pushed the
antiquity of Vaishali to a much earlier period, but archaeologically Basarh was not settled until
the 6th century BC.
• Further west, we find the kingdom of Kashi with its capital at Varanasi. Excavation at Rajghat
showed that the earliest habitation started around 500 BC. The City was enclosed by an
embankment at about the same time. Initially Kashi appears to have been the most powerful
of the states, but eventually it succumbed to the power of Koshala.
• Koshala embraced the area occupied by the Eastern UP and its capital at Shravasti which

is coterminous with Sahet-Mahet on the borders of Gonda and Bahraich district of UP.
Diggings indicate that Sahet-Mahet was barely settled in the 6th century BC but we saw the
beginning of a mud fort. Koshala had an important city called Ayodhya which is associated
with the story in the Ramayana. Excavation, however, showed that it was not settled on any
scale before the 5th century BC. Koshala also included the tribal republic in the territory
of the Sakyas of Kapilvastu. The capital of Kapilvastu was identified within Basti district.
Habitation at Piprahwa did not occur earlier than 500 BC. Lumbini which is situated at the
distance of 500 kilometres from Piprahwa in Nepal served as another capital of the Sakhyas,
in an Ashokan inscription it is called the birthplace of Gautam Buddha.

• In the neighbourhood of Koshala lay republican clan of the Malls whose territory touch the
northern border of Vajji state. One of the capitals of the Mallas was at Kushinagar where
Gautam Buddha passed away. Kushinagar is coterminous with Kasia in Deoria district.

• Further west was the kingdom of the Vatsas along the bank of the Yamuna,with its capital at
Kaushambi near Allahabad. The vatsas were a Kuru clan who had shifted from Hastinapur
and settled at Kaushambi. Kaushambi was chosen because of its location near the
confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna. In the 5th century BC, it had a mud fortification, as
excavation revealed.
• We also heard of the oldest dates of the Kurus and the Panchals which were situated in the
Western UP, but they no longer enjoyed the political significance they had attained in the later
Vedic period.
• In Central Malwa and the adjoining parts of MP lay the state of Avanti. It was divided into two
parts, the northern part with its capital at Ujjain, and the southern part at Mahishmati. Both
towns became fairly important from the 5th century BC onwards, eventually Ujjain surpassed
Mahishmati. It developed large-scale working in iron in erected strong fortifications.
• Political history of India from the 6th century BC onwards was one of struggles among these
states for supremacy. Eventually the kingdom of Magadha emerged as the most powerful
Empire. In the Northwest, Gandhar and Kamboja were important Mahajanapadas. Kamboj is
called a Janapada in Panini and a Mahajanapada in the Pali text. It was located in Central
Asia in the Pamir area which largely covered modern Tajikistan. In Kazakhstan the remains
of a horse, Cherai and spoke wheels, cremation and swastika, which are associated with the
Indo-Aryan speakers dating to between 1500 and 1000 BC, have been found. Around 500
BC both Sanskrit and Pali was spoken in Kamboj, which was connected with Patliputra by the


• From the 6th century BC onwards, the increasing use of iron in Eastern UP and western Bihar
created conditions for the formation of large territorial states. Armed with iron weapons, the
warrior class now played an important role.
• The new agricultural tools and implements enabled the peasants to produce more food
grains then, they required for consumption. The extra produce could be collected by the
princes as tax to meet their military and administrative needs.
• The surplus could also be made available to the towns that had sprang up in the 5th century
BC. These material advantages naturally enabled people to remain on their land, and also
to expand at the cost of the neighbouring areas. The rise of large states with towns at the
base of operation strengthened the territorial idea. People owned strong allegiance to the
janapadas or the territory to which they belonged rather than to their jana or tribe.

• We may recall that a few Mahajanapadas arose towards the end of the vedic period.
However, with progress in agriculture and settlement by 500 BC, they became a common
feature. Around 450 BC, over 40 Janapadas covering even Afghanistan and South Eastern
Central Asia are mentioned by Panini.

• However, the major part of Southern India was excluded. The Pali text shows that the
Janapadas grew into Mahajanapadas that were a large state or countries. These texts
were sixteen in number: Nine of them also occur in Panini not as Mahajanapadas but as
Janapadas. In the age of the Buddha, we find 16 States called Mahajanapadas.

• Panini a sanskrit scholar of fifth-sixth century BC,
was an ancient Sanskrit philologist, grammarian,
and a revered scholar in Ancient India, considered
as “The Father of Linguistics”. Panini likely lived in the
Mahajanpada era, his book Ashtadhyayi give a decent
account of the social and political life of Mahajanpada

• Mid-gangetic plains, including the area covered

by the Ganges-Yamuna and their tributaries.
They were mostly situated north of the Vindhyas
and extended from the North West frontier
to Bihar. Of these, Magadha, Koshala, Vatsa
and Avanti seemed to have been powerful.
Beginning from the east, the kingdom of Anga
which covered the modern districts of Monghyr
and Bhagalpur. It had its capital at Champa,
which shows signs of habitation in the 5th
century BC, and there is a mud fort dating to that
century. The kingdom of Anga was swallowed
by its powerful neighbour.


• Magdha came into prominence under the leadership of the Bimbisara of the Haryanka
dynasty and a contemporary of the Buddha. He began a policy of conquest and aggression
which ended with the Kalinga War of Ashoka. Bimbisara acquired Anga and placed it
under the viceroyalty of his son Ajatshatru at Champa. He also strengthened his position by
marriage alliances.


First Wife Second Wife Third Wife

• Was the daughter of the • Chellana, was a • Was the daughter of the
king of Kosala, Prasenajit Lichchhavi princess from chief of the Madra clan of
the son and successor of Vaishali who gave birth to Punjab. These marriage
Koshalan king. Koshalan Ajatsatru alliances brought
bride brought Bimbisara enormous diplomatic
as dowry, the Kashi prestige and power to
village yielding a revenue Bimbisara. This not only
of 1,00,000 which paved the way for the
suggest that revenues expansion of the empire
was collected in terms to west and north but also
of coins. The marriage for acquiring regional
alliance with Koshala’s hegemony.
brought off the hostility
and gave Bimbisara a
freehand in dealing with
the other state.

• Magadha, the most serious rival, was Avanti with

its capital at Ujjain. Its king Chanda Pradyota
Mahasena fought Bimbisara and in the end
decided to become an ally of Bimbisara. Later
when Pradyota was affected by jaundice, at
Avanti King’s request, Bimbisara sent the royal
physician Jivaka to Ujjain. Bimbisara is also said
to have received an embassy and a letter from
the ruler of Gandhara with which Pradyota
Bimbisara with Buddha
had fought unsuccessfully. Therefore, through
his conquest and diplomacy, Bimbisara made
Magadha a dominant state in the 6th century BC. His Kingdom is said to have consisted of
80,000 villages.a number which sound
• Capital of Magadha was at Rajgir which
was called Girivraja and was surrounded
by five hills, the openings in which were
closed by stone walls on all sides, which
made it impregnable.
• According to the Buddhist Chronicles,
Bimbisara ruled for 52 years roughly from
544 to 492 BC. He was succeeded by his Rajgir

son Ajatsatru(492-60BC). Ajatshatru captured his father and killed him; and throned himself
as king. His reign saw the highest water mark of the Bimbisara dynasty. He fought two wars
and made preparations for the third. Throughout his reign he pursued an aggressive policy of
expansion. This provoked an alliance of Kashi and Koshala to be formed against him. Hence,
a prolonged conflict between Koshala and Magadha began. Eventually, Ajatshatru got the
best of the war, and Koshalan king was compelled to purchase peace by giving his daughter
in marriage to Ajatshatru and leaving him in sole
possession of Kashi.
• Ajatshatru didn’t respect his relations. Although his
mother was a Lichchhavi princess, this could not
be able to prevent him from making war against
Vaishali. The excuse was that the Lichchhavis
were allies of Koshala. He sowed dissension
within the rank of Lichchhavis. Eventually, their
independence by invading their territory and by
defeating them in battle. This took him 16years. He
was eventually successful in doing so because of a Ajatshatru
war engine like a catapult which was used to hurl
stones. Along with Catapult, he possessed a chariot with mace attached, which facilitated
mass killings.

Catapult for throwing Stones Chariot with mace

• The territorial extent of Magadha Empire was, thus, enlarged with the addition of Kashi and
Vaishali. Satru faced a stronger rivalry with the ruler of Avanti. Avanti had defeated Vatsas and
Kaushabhi and was now threatening Magadha for invasion. To meet this thread, Ajatshatru
began the fortification of Rajgir, the remains of the walls of which can still be seen. However,
the invasion did not materialize during his lifetime.
• Ajatashatru was succeeded by Udayin (460-44). His reign is important because he was
said to have built a fort at the confluence of Ganges and river Son at Patna. This was done
because Patna lay at the centre of Magadha kingdom, which extended from the Himalaya
in the north to the hills of Chota Nagpur in the south. Later Patna’s position could be seen as
strategically crucial.

• Udayin, seated by the dynasty of Shaishunaga, who temporarily moved the capital to Vaishali.
Their greatest achievement was the destruction of the power of Avanti with its capital at
Ujjain. This brought to an end the hundred years old rivalry between Magadha and Avanti.
From then onwards Avanti became a part of the Mauryan empire and continued to be so till
the end of Maurya rule.
• Shaishunagas were succeeded by the Nandas, who proved to be the most powerful
rulers of Magadha. So great was the power that Alexander, who invaded Punjab at that
time, was not able to move towards the East. The Nanda extended the Magadhan power
by conquering Kalinga from where they bought an image of Jina as a victory trophy. All this
took place during the reign of Mahapadma Nanda. This ruler claimed to be Ekarat, the sole
sovereign who had destroyed all the other ruling princes. It seems that he captured not only
Kalinga but also Koshala which had probably rebelled against him.
• Nandas were fabulously rich and enormously powerful. It is said that they maintained 2
lakh in infantry, 60000 cavalry and 3000 to 6000 war elephants. This huge army would
be maintained only through an effective taxation system. Obviously, these considerations
prevented Alexander from advancing against the Nandas.
• The later Nandas proved weak and unpopular, their rule in Magadha was supplanted by that
of the Maurya dynasty which the Maurya Empire reached the apex of Glory.


• Preceding the rise of Maurayan empire, the march of the Magadhan empire during the two
centuries was like the march of the Iranian empire during the same period. The formation
of the largest state in India during this period was the work of several enterprising and
ambitious rulers such as Bimbisara, Ajatshatru and Mahapadma Nanda. They employed all
the means in their power, fair and foul, to enlarge their kingdom and to strengthen their state.
This, however, was not the only reason for the expansion of Magadha.
• Some other important reasons were :
First, magadha enjoyed a position of geographical advantage in the age of iron. This was
because the richest iron deposits were situated not far away from Rajgir, the earliest capital
of Magadha. The ready availability of the rich iron ore in the neighbourhood, enabled the
magadha prince to equip themselves with effective weapons. This was not easily available to
their rivals. Iron mines were also located in Eastern MP, and were not far from the kingdom of
the Avanti with their capital at Ujjain. Around 500 BC, iron was smelted in Ujjain, and probably
the Smiths manufactured weapons of good quality. On account of this, Avanti proved to be
Magadh’s the most serious competitor for supremacy in North India, and Magadh took about
a hundred years to subjugate Ujjain.

• The two Capitals of Magadh, the first at Rajgir and the second at Patliputra were situated
at very strategic points. Rajgir was surrounded by a group of five hills. And hence was
impregnable by the cannons.
• In the 5th century BC, the princess shifted the capital from Rajgir to Patliputra, which
occupied a pivotal position commanding communications on all sides. Patliputra was
situated at the confluence of the river Ganges, Gandak and Son and the fourth river
was Ghaghra. The Ganges was not far from Patliputra. In pre-industrial days, when
communications were difficult, the army could move North, West, South and East by
following the courses of the rivers. Patliputra was therefore a true water Fort (Jaladurga).
• Magadha laid at the centre of mid-Gangetic Plains, the Ganges provided a means of
both transport in agricultural facilities. As most of the Mahajanapadas were located in the
Gangetic plains, they could be reached by navigating the rivers. Abundance of timber can be
seen in the Palisades of the 6th century BC found
South of Patna.
• Megasthenes speaks of the wooden walls and
houses in Patliputra. Thus, boats could be easily
manufactured and they played an important part
in promoting the advances of Magadha towards
the East and West.
• Similarly environmental factors conducive to
agriculture helped Magadha the aluminium
once cleared of jungles proved immensely
fertile. Given the heavy rainfall, the area could be
made productive even without irrigation. The
countryside produced varieties of paddy, which
are mentioned in the early Buddhist text. This area
was far more productive then the area to the west
of Allahabad. This naturally enabled the peasant
to produce a constant considerable surplus,
which could be mopped up by the rulers in the form
of taxes.
• The princes of Magadha also benefited from the rise of town and use of metal money, a Pali
text speaks of twenty towns in the age of Buddha. Most of them were located in the mid-
Gangetic Plains. They contributed to trade and commerce in north-east India. This enabled
the princes to levy tolls on the sale of commodities and accumulate wealth to pay and
maintain their army.

• Although the Indian states were well acquainted with the use of horses and chariots,
Magadha was the first to use elephants on a large scale in wars against its neighbours. The
Eastern part of the country supplied elephants to the princess of Magadha, and we learned
from Greek sources that the Nandas maintain 6000 elephants. Elephants could be used to
strom fortresses and to march across marshy and other areas lacking roads and other means
of transportation.
• Finally, the unorthodox character of Magadha Society. It was inhabited by the Kiratas and
Magadhas, who were held in low esteem by the orthodox brahmins. It, however, underwent
a happy ethnic admixture with the coming of Vedic people. As it had been recently vedicized,
it demonstrated a greater enthusiasm for expansion then the kingdoms that have been
brought under the vedic influence earlier.
All these reasons made Magadha succeed in defeating the other Kingdoms and in founding the
first empire in India.



• East India, smaller principalities and republic gradually
emerged with the Magadha Empire. Northwest India,
however presented a different picture in the 6th century
BC. Several small principalities, such as those of the
Kambojas, Gandharas and Madras from one another.
This area did not have any powerful kingdom like that
of Magadha to weld the Warring communities into
one organised kingdom. As the area was fertile and
rich in natural resources, it attracted the attention of its
neighbours. In addition, it would be easily penetrated
through the pass in the Hindu Kush.
• The Achaemenian ruler of Iran, who expanded their Iranian ruler Dairus
empire at the same time as Magadha princess, took
advantage of the political disunity on the North West frontier. The Iranian ruler Dairus
penetrated Northwest India in 516 BC and annexed the Punjab, west of the Indus, and Sindh.
• This area was converted into the 20th province or Satrapy of Iran, which had a total
number of 28 satrapies. The Indian satrapy include Sindh, the North West frontier, and the
part of Punjab that lead to the end of the Indus. It was the most fertile and populous part of
the empire. A tribute was paid of 360 talents of gold, which accounted for one third of the

total revenue received from its Asian provinces. The Indian subjects were also enrolled in
the Iranian army. Xerxes, Darius’ successor, employed Indians in the long war against the
Greeks. It appeared that India continued to be a part of the Iranian Empire till it was invaded
by Alexander.


• The Indo-Iranian contact lasted for about 200 years. It gave an impetus to Indo-Iranian trade
and commerce. The cultural results were more significant. Iranian scribes brought into India
a form of writing that came to be known as the Kharosthi Script. It was written from right
to left like the Arabic. Some Ashokan inscriptions in Northwest India were written in the 3rd
Century BC in this script, which continued to be used in India till the 3rd Century A.D.
• Iranian coins are also found in the North West frontier region which points to the exchange of
goods with Iran. Iranian influence on Maurya culture is clearly perceptible. The monuments
of Ashoka’s time, especially the bell shaped capitals, owed something to the Iranian models.
Iranian influence may also be traced in the preamble to Ashoka’s edit as well as in certain
terms used in them. For instance, the Irani term Dipi, the Ashokan scribes used the term Lipi.
Also it appeared that through the Iranian, the Greek learnt about the great wealth of India,
which whetted their greed and led to Alexander invasion of India.


• Greeks and Iranian fought, in the 4th century BC, for the
supremacy of the world. Iranian Empire was destroyed
by the Greeks, under the leadership of Alexander of
Macedonia. Not only Asia Minor and Iraq but Iran also
were conquered by Alexander. Alexander’s march to
India from Iran was an obvious result of the attraction
of Alexander to its wealth. Alexander also had a strong
passion for geographical enquiry and natural history.
Herodotus, who is called the father of history and other
Greek writers had painted India as a fabulous land, which
tempted Alexander to invade it.
• His plans were muted by the political conditions of North-
West India at that time. The area was parcelled out into
many Independent monarchies and tribal republics. These Herodotus
tribal republics and independent monarchies were strongly
wedded to the soil and had a fierce dedication to the principality in which they live. Alexander
found it easy to conquer these principalities one by one. Among the rulers of these territories
two principalities were very well known, first Aambhi, the prince of Taxila and Porus whose
Kingdom lay between Jhelum and chenab. Khyber pass reamined unguarded, even after the

joint efforts of Porus and Aambhi, to resist Alexander’s advance.

Map of Alexander Empire

• In 326 BC, Alexander advanced to India through Kabul after conquering Iran. It took him five
months to reach the Indus. The ruler of Taxila, readily submitted to the invader, augmenting
Alexander’s army and replenishing his treasure. Alexander encountered his first and strong
resistance from Porus after reaching Jhelum. This resistance is still remembered as the
Battle of Hydaspes. Though Porus was defeated by Alexander, Alexander was impressed by
the bravery and courage of the Indian Prince. He restored his Kingdom to him and made him
his ally.
• As far as Beas river. Alexander wanted to advance further Eastward, but his army refused.
As the Greek soldiers had grown war-weary and diseased. Not only this but the hot climate
of India and ten years of long and continuous campaigning made them home sick also. They
had also so had a taste of Indian fighting qualities on the bank of the Indus, which made them
desist from advancing further.
• To out number Alexander’s army, the kingdom of Magadha (ruled by the Nanda dynasty at
that time) maintained an army. The king who had never known defeat at the hands of his
enemies had to accept defeat from his own men. After repeated appeals from Alexander, the
soldiers refused to march forward to the East. Here, Alexander lamented “I’m trying to rouse
the hearts that are disloyal and crash with craven fears ”.
• Alexander had to retreat and his dream of an eastern Empire remained unfulfilled. On his
retreat Alexander vanquished many small republics until he reached the end of the Indian
frontiers. He remained in India for 19 months of continual battle, leaving him barely any time to
organise his conquest. Till he made some arrangement. Most of the conquered states were
restored to their rulers who submitted to his authority. His own territorial possessions were

divided into three parts and placed under three Greek governors. He also founded a number
of cities to maintain his power in this area.


• Ancient Europe and Ancient South Asia came in close
contact with each other the very first time with the invasion
of Alexander. Alexander’s Indian campaign was a success.
He added to his empire an Indian province which was
much larger than that conquered by Iran. However the
Greek possession in India was soon lost to the Maurya
• The direct contact between India and Greece was the
most important outcome of Alexander’s invasion in various
fields. Alexander’s campaign opened up a distance route
by land and sea, paving the way for Greek merchants and
craftsmen, and increasing the existing facilities for trade.
• Greek settlements were multiplied in the Northwest area Nearchus
after Alexander’s invasion. The entire Area was conquered
by the Mauryas, the Greeks continue to live under both Chandragupt Maurya and Ashoka.
• Alexander was deeply interested in the geography of The Mysterious ocean which he saw
for the first time at the mouth of the Indus. He therefore dispatched his new fleet under his
friend Nearchus to explore the coast and search for harbours from the mouth of the Indus to
that of Euphrates. As a result Alexander’s historian left valuable geographical accounts and
also clear dated records of Alexander campaign, which enable us to definitively establish
Indian chronology for subsequent events.
• The information about social and economic conditions of that time were also accounted by
the historians of Alexander. Tell us about the Sati system, the sale of girls in Marketplace by
poor parents, and the fine breed of oxen in North West India. Alexander sent from there two
lakh oxen to Macedonia in Greece. The art of carpentry was the most promising Craft in India,
and carpenters build chariots boat and ship.
• By destroying the power of Pity states in North West India, Alexander invasion paved the way
for the expansion of the Mauryan Empire in that area. According to tradition, Chandragupta
Maurya who founded the Maurya Empire, something of the working of Alexander’s military
machine and acquired some knowledge that helped him to destroy the power of the Nandas.


Q.1 Which of the following dynasty was the first to rule over Magadha?

(a). Haryankas
(b). Shishunagas
(c). Nandas
(d). Mauryas

Answer : (a) Haryankas

Q.2 Who was the founder of Haryanka Dynasty?

(a). Bindusara
(b). Bimbisara
(c). Mahapadma Nand
(d). Kalashoka

Answer : (b) Bimbisara

Q.3 Who among the following ruler patronised the First Buddhist Council?

(a). Ajatashatru
(b). Bimbisara
(c). Shishunagas
(d). None of the above

Answer : (a) Ajatashatru

Q.3 Who was the first Indian King started the matrimonial alliances to strengthen his

(a). Ajatashatru
(b). Bimbisara
(c). Shishunagas
(d). Dhananada

Answer : (b) Bimbisara


Q.1 How Alexander invasion helped the Mauryan Empire formation? Comment. (150 words)

Q.2 Bimbisara was the real founder of Magadha? Comment (150 words)

What’s Ahead

1. Introduction������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 71
2. Northern Black Polished Ware sites ����������������������������������������������������������� 72
3. Trade was facilitated by the use of money ������������������������������������������������74
Effects of Alexander Invasion��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������74
4. Technological advancement in paddy production��������������������������������� 76
5. Administrative System ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 76
6. Army and Taxation����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 78
7. The Republican Experiment��������������������������������������������������������������������������� 79
8. Social Orders and Legislation�������������������������������������������������������������������������80
9. Conclusion�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������80
10. Objective Questions��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������81
11. Subjective Questions������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������81


Coverage in UPSC in Prelims : 4 questions

last 10 years Mains : 3 questions


• After 500 BC, the new urban settlements arose at Ganges plains, were called Second
Urbanisation. These settlements came up especially at the Central Ganges plain. The
foundation was laid in the “Painted Grey Ware” culture. The painted grey ware (PGW) sites
were small farming villages in earlier, later they emerged as relatively large settlements that
can be characterised as towns.


• In North India, especially in eastern UP and Bihar, we can see a picture of material life. It is
evident from the very combination of archaeological material found and the instances drawn
from the Pali texts and Sanskrit Sutra literature. Archaeologically, 5th century BC marks the
beginning of the northern black polished ware phase in the gangetic plains, and this was a
very glossy, shiny type of pottery.
• This pottery was made of very fine material and apparently served as tableware for the rich.
In association with this pottery, we also found iron implements, especially those meant for
crafts and agriculture. This phase also saw the beginning of metal money. The use of burnt

bricks and ring wells began in the middle of the NBPW phase that is the 3rd century BC.

Northern Black Polished Ware

• The NBPW phase marked the beginning of the second urbanization in India. The
Harappan towns disappeared in 1900 BC. Following that, for about 1500 years, no towns
were established in India. However, from about 1200 BC, we notice settlements in Doab
neighbouring areas. We find two types of settlement in the lower Doab 1000-600 BC, based
on size and location.arose in the mid gangetic basin in the fifth century BC, and second
urbanization began in India.
• Towns such as Kaushambi, Shravasti, Shringaverapur, Ayodhya, Kapilvastu, Varanasi, Vaishali
, Rajgir, Patliputra, and Champa have been excavated. Also NBPW phase has been found.
• Many a times, it was seats of government, but whatever be the cause of their origin, they
eventually became markets. And became the habitations of artisans and merchants. The city
of Champa near Bhagalpur is called Vaniyagama in Prakrit text, which means a settlement of
merchants. Similarly some places were centres of artisans: Saddalputta at Vaishali, especially
had 500 potters shops. Both artisans and merchants were organised into guilds under their
respective headmen.
• There were 18 guilds of artisans but only the guild of smith, carpenter, leather workers, and
painters are specified. Both artisans and merchants lived in fixed localities in towns. Vessas
or merchants streets in Varanasi, and of the streets of ivory workers. Specialisation in craft
developed on the strength of the guild system as well as localisation. Generally guilds were
hereditary, and the son learned his family trade from the father.
• The products of crafts were transported by merchants over long distances. We repeatedly
hear of 500 cartloads of goods. This contains fine textiles, heavy object pots etc.
• All the important cities of the period were connected
with one another through various trade routes. These
cities were situated on river banks. Shravasti was
linked with both Kaushambi and Varanasi. The latter
was considered to be a great centre of trade in the
age of Buddha. The route from shravasti passed
eastwards and South wards through Kapilvastu
and Kushinagar (Kasia) and were linked to Vaishali.
Traders crossed the Ganges near Patna and traveled
to Rajgir and Champa also. If we are to believe the Shravasti trade route Map

Jataka tales, the traders of Koshala and Magadha reached as far North as Takshila through
Mathura. Similarly from Mathura, they travelled southwards and West wards to Ujjain and the
Gujarat coast as well.



• In 7th Century BC, coins or metal money bearing the stamp of an authority was invented in
the Lydia in Asia minor. It is not clear how it was first introduced in India.
• The term Nishka and Satamana in the vedic texts are taken to be names of coins, but
they seemed to have been prestige objects made of metal. It appears that in vedic times,
exchange was conducted through barter, and the mutual gifts system served as a mode of
exchange in pre-Buddhist times. Sometimes, cattle serve the purpose of currency. Coins
made of metal appear first in the age of Gautam Buddha.
• Though the earlier coins were made largely of silver, a few copper coins also existed. They
were called Punched Mark because pieces of silver and copper were punched with certain
marks, such as hills, trees, fish, bull, elephant and crescent.
• In Maurya and later times, cast coins and die struck coins of different metals were also used.
The earliest hoards of coins have been found in eastern UP and magadha, although some
early coins have been found in Taxila. Pali text indicated plentiful use of money and showed
that coins were used to pay wages and buy goods. The use of money had become so
universal that even the price of a dead mouse was estimated in it.
• By 300 BC, we noticed full-fledged urbanisation that led to a great increase in population. It
is estimated that 2,70,000 people lived in Pataliputra, 60,000 in Mathura, 48,000 in Vidisha
in modern Besnagar and Vaishali, 40,000 in Kaushambi and old Rajgir and 38,000 in Ujjain.
Such sizable populations cannot be suggested for earlier times.
• Urbanisation strengthened the state, increased trade and promoted reading and writing.
After the end of the Harappan culture, writing probably began a couple of centuries before
Ashoka. The earliest records must have been destroyed, probably because they were written
on wood and similar perishable material. Writing led to the compilation not only of laws
and rituals but also facilitated book-keeping which was so essential to trade, tax collection
and the maintenance of a large professional army. The period produced text dealing with
sophisticated measurements (Sulva Sutras), which presupposed writing and which may have
helped in the demarcation of fields and houses.


• Although rural settlements of the NBPW phase have not been excavated, shreds of this ware
have been found at over 400 sides in the plains of Bihar and those of eastern and Central
UP. However the NBPW also extended over MP and Maharashtra. We cannot think of the
beginning of crafts, commerce and urbanization in the mid gangetic basin without a strong

rural base. Princes, please, artisans, traders, administrators, military personnel and numerous
other functionaries could not live in town unless taxes and attributes were available in
sufficient measures to support them.
• The Barter System could be seen in villages. As non-agriculturists living in towns had to be
fed by agriculturists living in villages. In return, artisans and traders living in towns, made
tools, clothes and the like available to ruler folk. Village traders depositing 500 ploughs with a
town merchant, these were evidently iron ploughshares. From the NBPW phase Kaushambi,
iron tools consisting of axes, adzes, knives, razors, nail, sickle etc have been discovered. A
substantial number of them were related to the layer of about the fifth-fourth century BC, and
were probably meant for the use of peasants who bought them with cash or kind.
• Villages were mentioned in the Pali text and towns seemed to have been situated amidst a
cluster of villages. It seems that the nucleated rural settlements in which all the people settled
at one place with their agricultural land mostly outside the settlement was first established in
the mid gangetic plain during the age of Gautam Buddha.

The Pali text spoke of three types of villages

First Category Second Category Third category

• Included the typical • Included sub-urban • consisted of border

village inhabited by villages that were in the villages situated at
various castes and nature of craft village the outer limits of the
communities. These for instance a carpenter countryside which
villages seemed to village or a Chariot maker merged with the
have been the largest in village was situated in surrounding forests.
number and each village the vicinity of Varanasi. People living in these
was headed by a village Obviously such villages villages were principally
headman called Bhojaka. served more as a market formulas and hunters
for other villages and who largely lived on food
linked the town with the gathering.

• The village land was divided into cultivable plots which were allotted to each family. The
peasants had to pay one sixth of the produce as tax. Taxes were collected directly by the
Royal agency, and generally, no intermediary landlords existed between the peasants on the
one hand and the state on the other. Some villages were however granted to brahmans and
big merchants.
• There were large plots of land worked with the help of slaves and agricultural labourers.
Rich peasants were called Gahapati who were of almost the same status as a section of the


• The use of the term Shali for transplantation was found in the Pali, Prakrit and Sanskrit
texts of the period. It appears that large scale paddy transplantation began in the age of
the Buddha. Until 500 BC, paddy seeds were sown and grown exclusively in watery areas
subsequently. However, the paddy seedlings were removed from their original fields and
planted elsewhere on a good scale. This method revolutionized Rice production. Paddy
transplantation for wet paddy production added enormously to the yield.
• In addition, the peasants also produced barley, pulses, millets, cotton and sugarcane.
Agriculture made great strides through the use of the iron ploughshare, and with the
immense fertility of the Alluvial soil in the area between Allahabad and Raj Mahal, production
increased more than doubled. The surplus grain comprising rice and other serials form the
basis of the very existence of those not directly engaged in agricultural production.
• Technology became Central to the progress of the rural and urban economy. Iron played
a crucial role in opening the rainfed, forested, hard soil areas of the mid gangetic basin to
clearance, cultivation and settlement. The production of low carbon steel began from about
600 BC. The Smiths, now, had to harden iron tools, and some tools from Rajghat show that
they were made out of the iron ore obtained from the singhbhum and Mayurbhanj. Thus, it
appears that people became acquainted with the richest iron mines in India which ensure the
supply of tools for crafts and Agriculture.
• The picture of the economy that emerged from study was for the first time an advanced
food production economy spread over the alluvial soil of the mid gangetic plains. It led to
the beginning of an urban economy in this area. It was an economy that provided substance
not only to direct producers but also to many others who were neither farmers nor artisans.
This made the collection of taxes and the maintenance of the army possible on a long-term
basis. It also created conditions in which large scale territorial states could be formed and


• Of many states in this period only Koshala and Magadha emerged as powerful. The king
enjoyed the highest official status. The king was primarily a warlord who led his Kingdom
from victory to victory. This is well illustrated by the careers of Bimbisara and
• The king ruled with the aid of officials, both high and low. Higher officials were called
Mahamatra, and performed a variety of functions such as those of ministers, commander
sena-nayak, judge, chief accountant, and the head of the royal haram. Probably a class of
officer Ayukta also perform similar functions in some States.

Bimbisara Ajatashatru
(544 BC - 492 BC)


• Varsakara of Magadha and Dirgh-acharayana of Koshala to be effective and

influential ministers. The first succeeded in Sewing seeds of dissension in the rank of
the Litmus of Vaishali, enabling Ajatsatru to conquer the Republic of Lichchhavis. The
second assisted the king of Koshala.

• It seems that high officers and ministers were largely recruited from the Brahmana priestly
class. They do not in general seem to have belonged to the clan of the King. This substantially
undermined the kin based polity of Vedic times.
• Unlike Vedic times, brahmins and setthis were paid by the Grand of the revenue of a cluster of
villages. In doing so, the king did not have to obtain the consent of the clan.
• The rural administration was in the hands of the village headman. Initially the headman
functioned as leaders of the tribal regiments, and therefore were called Gramini means the
leader of the grama or a tribal military unit.
• Village headmen enjoyed considerable importance and had direct links with the king. The
village headman assessed and collected tax from the villages and also maintained law and
order in their locality. Sometimes oppressive headmen were taken to task by the villagers.


• The real increase in the State Power was

indicated by the formation of a large professional
Army. At the time of Alexander’s invasion, the
number of army personnel maintained by the
Nanda rulers of Magadha was 2,00,000 and
about 6,000 elephants.
• The large army had to be fed by the state
exchequer. We are told that the Nanda
possessed enormous wealth which must have
enabled them to maintain the army. There must
have been a well established fiscal system but,
we have no idea about the special measures they
adapted to raise taxes. Warriors and priests were
exempted from payment of taxes and the burden
fell on the peasants who were mainly Vasihyas or
• Bali, a voluntary payment made by the tribesmen
to the chief in vedic times, became a compulsory
payment to be made by the peasants in the age Alexander
of Buddha, an officer called Balisadhakas was
appointed to collect it.
• The discovery of many hoards of punch
marked coins suggest that payment was
made in both cash and kind. In North-
eastern India, payment was made in paddy.
In addition to these taxes, the peasants
were subjected to forced labour for Royal
work. The jatakas state that sometimes
peasants left the country of the king in
order to escape the oppressive burden of
• Artisans and traders too have to pay taxes.
Artisans were made to work for a day in a
Punch marked coins
month for the king and the traders had to pay
customs on the sale of their commodities. The
tolls were collected by the officer known as Shaulkika or Shulkadhyaksha.
• With the emergence of the large States of Koshala and Magadha, it was not possible to hold
large assemblies attended by people belonging to the different social classes and different
parts of the Empire, and the very difficulty of communications made regular meetings

impossible. Also, being tribal the old assembly was unable to find a place for the many non-
Vedic tribes which lived in the new kingdoms. The changed circumstances, therefore were
also congenial for the control and continuous of the old assemblies. They were replaced
by a small body called Parishad consisting exclusively of the brahmanas. Even during this
period, assemblies existed but this was not the case in the monarchies. They flourished in
the smaller republic in the states of Shakvas. Lichchhavis and the like.


• Panini and the Pali text, spoke about the non-monarchical States. According to Panini, the
Janapadas or the territorial state was generally headed by Ek raja or one king. Specifies
19 one King janapadas but he also spoke of the some Sanga or multi ruler janapadas which
were republics.
• In the republics, real power lay in the hands of tribal oligarchies. In the republics of Sakya and
Lichchhavis of Vaishali,7707 rajas set in the Assembly held in the motehall, the brahmanas
were not mentioned in this context. In post the Mauryan times, in the republics of the Malvas
and Kshudrakas, the kahatriyas and the brahmanas were given citizenship but slaves and
hired labourers were excluded from it. In a state situated on the Beas river in the Punjab,
membership was restricted to those who could supply the state with at least one elephant,
and it was characteristic of the oligarchy of the Indus basin.
• The administrative machinery of the Sakyas and Lichchhavis was simple. It consisted of raja,
uparaja (vice king), senapati (commander) and bhandagarika (treasurer).

The administrative machinery of the Sakyas and

Lichchhavis was simple, it consisted of

Raja Uparaja Senapati Bhandagarika

(King) (Vice king) (Commander) (Treasurer)

• The republics differed from the monarchy in the several ways. In the monarchy the king
claimed to be the sole recipient of revenue from the presence. But in the republic, this
claim was advanced by every tribal oligarchy who was known as Raja. Each one of the
7707 Lichchhavi rajas maintained his own store house and apparatus of administration.
Again, every monarchy maintained its regular standing army and did not permit any group
or groups of people to carry arms within its boundaries. However in a tribal oligarchy, each
raja was treated in his own little army under his Senapati, each of them to compete with the
other. The brahmanas exercised great influence in a monarchy, but they had no place in the
early republics, nor did they recognise these states in their law books. Finally, the principal

difference between a monarchy and a republic was the same as that between 1 man rule and
many men rule. The republic functioned under the leadership of an oligarchic assembly but
the monarchy under the leadership of an individual. Republic in tradition became feeble from
the Maurya period.



• The Indian legal and judicial system originated in this

period. Formerly people were governed by the tribal law,
which did not recognise any class distinction. However
by now the tribal community had been clearly divided
into four orders: Brahmanas, Kshatriya, vaishyas and
• The Dharma sutras, therefore, set out the duties of each
of the four varnas, and the civil and criminal law came
to be based on the varna division. The higher the varna
the pure it was. The higher the varna the higher the level
of moral conduct was expected of the upper Varna by civil
and criminal law. Varna System
• All forms of disabilities were imposed on the shudras. They
were deprived of religious and legal rights and relegated to
the lowest position in the society. The sacred thread could not be conferred on lower varna
people, crime committed by them against the brahmins and others varnas were severely
punished. However, crimes committed against the shudras were treated lightly.
• The law giver spread the fiction that the shudras were born from the feet of the creator.
Therefore, members of the higher varna specially Brahman avoided shudras, and avoided
the food touched by him and even refused to enter into marriage relations with him. A Shudra
could not be appointed to high post and more importantly he was specifically asked to serve
as a slave, artisans and agriculture labour.
• Buddhism itself did not materially change the position of shudras. Although they tried to
be admitted to Buddhism. As Buddhism was trying to be the new religious order, however
the general position of Shudras continued to be low. Royal agents inflicted rough and ready
punishments to the shudras.


• This period is important because ancient Indian polity, economy and society really took
shape in its course. Agriculture based on the use of iron tools and paddy transplantation
give rise to an advanced food producing economy, particularly in Eastern UP and Bihar. This

created the conditions for the rise of towns, based on trade and industry and the use of
metal money. Also, high levels of cereal production made it possible to collect taxes from the
peasants. Therefore on the bases of regular taxes and tributes, states could be founded. In
order to continue this polity, the varna order was devised and the function of each one was
clearly demarcated.


Q.1 What was the trasplanaion of rice called in Pali text?

(a). Senapati
(b). Sali
(c). Mahamatiya
(d). Lavanya

Answer : (b) Sali


Q.1 Why did it take three centuries for Second urbanization to occur after the decline of
Harappan civilization? (150 wrods)


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