India is one of the oldest civilizations. The history and the Ancient Indian Culture begins with the Indus Valley Civilization. Chandragupta Maurya was established the Mauryan Empire in India and then his son, Bindusara developed it. Chandragupta Maurya brought together the small fragmented kingdoms of the country and combed them into a single large empire However, India reached its glory and large parts of India were united under Ashoka, the son of Bindusara. For more than 130 years, the Empire was flourishing and that is why it is still known as the best time of India. Ashoka was a successful and powerful king that ruled over the country from 273 BC to 232 BC.
After the great Mauryas India became weak and disunited. Foreigners always attacked but stability was restored by the Guptas. The Gupta age was the period of peace and prosperity. That time art, literature and the sciences got developed. This period also saw the beginning of Hindu temple architecture.
Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization was an ancient civilization which is now in Pakistan, along with the northwestern parts of India, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. This is also known as Harappan Civilization which lasted from 3300 BC to 1700 BC. Ancient Indus Civilization was discovered where the first city of Indus Valley, the Harappan city, was excavated.
When the Vedic Sanskrit texts were composed in India, the time of the Vedic Period started. The Vedic Civilization flourished between the 1500 BC and 500 BC on the Indo-Gangetic Plains of the Indian subcontinent.
It’s worth mentioning that every era in India has its unique culture. Indian art forms have developed through time and these forms have included various paintings, sculptures and architecture. The history of art in ancient India begins with prehistoric rock paintings.
Four Major Castes
There were four castes in ancient India which were known as varnas. These four castes were as follows: the Brahmin, the Kshatriya, the Vaishya, and the Sudra. The highest caste was Brahmin. They were priests who were charged with making sure that the devotions to the gods were made. The Kshatriya were the warriors and kings, charged with protecting the Brahmins. Then comes the caste of Vaisyas which included merchants and other semi-educated individuals. These people could be rich but they couldn’t have the power of the Kshatriya or Brahmins. The last fourth caste was formed by Sudras. They were farmers as well as unskilled workers who depended on higher castes.
These groups were also subdivided into hundreds of sub-castes according to the type of work they do. These sub-castes played much role in a person’s life because every person chose his/her friend and spouse from their caste. Through time these castes have lost their importance due to the rapidly changing economy of India. However, most of Indians still count on this subdivision and this philosophy is still in many Indians’ minds.
The culture and climate of India is very similar to its surrounding countries. That is why this region is usually called the Indian sub-continent. The geography of India was, however, different in ancient times. In the northern part of India stand the Himalayan Mountains and the Hindu Kush stand in the North West.
Ancient India Religion
Ancient India Religion was Hinduism. It began in the Vedic Age in the form of a religion known as Brahmanism. Hinduism is believed to be the Oldest Religion in India and it was originated in northern India. When Hinduism was formulated, priests used their newly developed Sanskrit writing. They created a 4 part Vedic Text set which were collections of hymns, formulas, spells, incantations, stories, predictions and charms. The interaction with non-Aryan cultures resulted in today’s Classical Hinduism.
Facts about Ancient India
Greek philosophers state that there was no slavery in ancient India. Aryabhatta, who was also an Indian astronomer and scientist discovered zero. The number system was also invented in ancient India. During the ancient times, India had many learning centers. Taxila and Nalanda were popular ones where thousands of students from different parts of the world studied various subject.
During the Vedic Age, Ancient Indian Culture began to develop and the especially the Indian art developed a lot. Various symbols were drawn including like bulls, cows, animals, and goats. Sacred hymns were also written in Sanskrit and they were sung in prayer. So it can be said that these hymns were the start of Indian music. During this era, Indians also developed a collection of religious poems. Leaders wrote them to help guide the beliefs and values of the people. These Four Vedas were composed in about 1500 BC. The word Veda means knowledge. The Vedas include writings known as the Rig, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva Vedas. They were really important and tht is why the history of 1500 BC to 1000 BC is called the Vedic Period.
Traditional clothing in India varies. Popular styles of dress in India are sari, dhoti, as well as stitched clothes for women like churidar or salwar kameez. Indian women have always had a perfect sense of charm and fashion and like wearing makeup and ornaments. Indians always liked wearing colorful clothing and especially on special occasions. It is worth mentioning that he make up and clothing styles differ regionally between the Hindu groups, and also by climate or religion,
Music and Dance
The Aryans wrote two epics which are known as Ramayana and the Mahabharata. These writings tell us much about the daily life of ancient India. Due to them, we have learned a lot about Aryans, Vedic life, wars, and developments. In ancient times Indians also invented a number of musical instruments. So music and dance developed significantly. Dancers started to wear costumes, exotic make up and jewelry. They started to perform in royal courts as well as temples.
Theatre is as old as music in India. Moreover, India has a rich tradition of puppet theatre, prevalent forms being puppets, rod puppets, glove puppets and leather puppets (shadow theatre). Today, you can find several semi-professional and amateur theatre groups in India performing in English and Indian languages.