The History of India: Chronological History of Major Events of Ancient India The History of India: Chronological History of Major Events of Ancient India

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chronological History of Major Events of Ancient India

Date: (Era) - Event
  1. 7000 BC - 2600 BC: (Mehrgarh Era) - Mehrgarh is located near the Bolan Pass in modern day Baluchistan and is one of the most important archeological sites of the Neolithic Era. It is the earliest site of farming and herding in South Asia. The earliest settled portion of Mehrgarh was a small farming and pastoralist village dated between 7000-5500 BC. Early Mehrgarh residents lived in mud brick houses, developed granaries and made copper tools, cultivated six-row barley, wheat, jujubes and dates, and herded sheep, goats and cattle. Residents of the later period (5500 BCE to 2600 BCE) put much effort into crafts, including flint knapping, tanning, bead production, and metal working. The site was occupied continuously until about 2600 BC, when it was abandoned. Mehrgarh is increasingly seen as a precursor to the Indus Valley Civilization.
  2. 3500 BC - 1900 BC: (Indus Valley Civilization) - Indus Valley Civilization Rises and Declines: The Indus Valley was the home of one of the four ancient civilizations of the world, namely Egypt, Mesopotamia, S Asia and China. The civilization extended along the Indus river in parts of Pakistan and Punjab extending into the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley and the Ganges-Yamuna Doab. Covering an area of around 1.2 million sq. km it was the largest civilization of the ancient world.
  3. 1500 BC - 700 BC: (Vedic Period) - The Veds are Written: The migration of the Aryans from the west deeper into the sub-continent triggered the Vedic Age. The period gets its name from the four Vedas that were written during this time - Rig Ved, Yajurved, Samved and Atharvaved. The period is broadly divided into the Early Vedic Period and the Late Vedic Period. In the early Vedic period various Aryan tribes migrated eastwards into the subcontinent. The people of the early Vedic age were semi-nomadic and had on large herds of domesticated cattle and farm animals. The tribes were divided into four varnas (castes) of Brahmins, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. The transition from the early to later Vedic period was marked by the increase in agriculture as the dominant economic activity and decline of cattle hearding. This also led to the settling down of various Aryan tribes and emergence of various empires. The Vedic Period formed a platform for the rise of Hindu principles and indeed, the whole religion. It also contributed to Indian philosophy and literature.
  4. 800 BC: (Late Vedic Period) - Budhayana writes Sulabh Sutra which contains the first statement of the Pythagoras Theorem. The Sulabh Sutra contains a list of Pythagorean triples discovered algebraically, a statement of the Pythagorean theorem, and a geometrical proof of the Pythagorean theorem for an isosceles right triangle.
  5. 700 BC - 300 BC: (Period of the Mahajanapadas) - The Mahajanapadas are Formed: Large, fortified urban centers, known as the 16 Mahajanapadas ("great countries"), arise in Northern India. Vedic texts also talk about several 'Janas' or tribes of the Indo-Aryans living in a semi-nomadic tribal state and fighting among themselves and with other Non-Aryan tribes for cows, sheep and green pastures. These early Vedic Janas later coalesced into the Janapadas. Each of these Janapadas was named after the Kshatriya tribe (or the Kshatriya Jana) who had settled therein. The Buddhist and other texts only incidentally refer to sixteen great nations (Solasa Mahajanapadas) which were in existence before the time of Buddha.
  6. 400 BC: (Period of the Mahajanapadas) - Panini composes Ashtadhyayi which gives formal production rules and definitions to describe Sanskrit grammar. It is the earliest known work on linguistics in human history. Panini's work observes and constructs language in a manner which has no parallel in Greek or Latin traditions. The rules that he defines in Ashtadhyayi are said to be compete and define the Sanskrit morphology fully, ie, without any redundancy.
  7. 684 BC - 321 BC: (Period of the Mahajanapadas) - Rise and Fall of Magadh Empire: The Magadh empire formed one of the 16 Mahajanpadas. The core area of the kingdom was today's Bihar and parts of West Bengal. Over a period of 300 years it was ruled by Haryanka, Shishunaga and the Nanda dynastys. The Haryanka rulers Bimbisar (558 BC - 491 BC) and his son Ajatashatru (ruled 491 - 461 BC) expanded the boundries of the kingdom through marriage alliances and wars. In his war against Vaishali, Ajatshatru is said to have employed a kind of armored chariot (scythed chariot with swinging mace and blades on both the sides), which is said to be the first global precursor of modern day tanks.The great religions of Buddhism and Jainism were founded in the Magadh empire. Also the two of India's greatest empires, the Mauryan Empire and the Gupta Empire were founded out of Magadh. The last ruler of Shishunaga Dynasty, Kalasoka was assassinated by Mahapadma Nanda in 424 BC, the first of the so-called Nine Nandas (Mahapadma and his eight sons). The Nanda Dynasty ruled for about 100 years.The Magadha Empire was finally taken over by the Mauryas.
  8. 599 BC - 527 BC: (Period of the Mahajanapadas) - Life and Times of Mahavir: Lord Mahavir was the 24th and the last Tirthankar of the Jain religion. He eas born in 599 BC as a prince in the kingdom of Vaishali, now part of Bihar. He renounced worldly pleasures and became a monk at the age of 30, left his family and royal household and gave up his worldly possessions, including clothing. He spent the next 12 years in meditation understanding the path to Moksha. At the end he realized perfect perception, knowledge, power, and bliss. This realization is known as keval-jnana. After this he spent the rest of his life travelling basre foor across India preaching to the people the truth he had realized. The ultimate objective of his teaching is how one can attain the total freedom from the cycle of birth, life, pain, misery, and death, and achieve the permanent blissful state of one's self. This is also known as liberation, nirvana, absolute freedom, or Moksha.After teaching his message and offering guidance to the public for thirty years, Lord Mahavira attained Nirvan in 527 BC, at the age of seventy-two. 
  9. 563 BC - 483 BC: (Period of the Mahajanapadas) - Life and Times of Buddha: Lord Buddha was born Siddhartha Gautam as a prince of the Sakhya clan in Lumbini, Nepal. At the age of 29, after witnessing the suffering and plight of the human life around him, he left the princely conforts to search for truth and enlightenment. After much wandering, Gautam was famously seated under a pipal tree - now known as the Bodhi tree - in Bodh Gaya, India, when he vowed never to arise until he had found the truth. After a reputed 49 days of meditation, at the age of 35, he is said to have attained Enlightenment and was henceforth known as Buddha (the enlightened one). For the remaining next 45 years of his life, Buddha travelled across the Gangetic plains teaching his message to a wide set of people. Buddhism, based on his teachings, is today one of the largest religions of the world.
  10. 500 BC: (Kingdom of Pratipalapura) - The Kingdom of Pratipalapura in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh appears to be the earliest known kingdom in South India.
  11. 327 BC: (Period of the Mahajanpadas) - Alexander Invades India: After his conquest of Persia Alexander made his way into India. King Ambhi, ruler of Taxila, surrendered the city to Alexander without any resistance. However, Alexander's army was given stiff resistance in the Battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum River) by the armies of king Porus of the Paurava kingdom. This was the first time that the Macedonians saw war elephants and suffered severe losses. After his victory over Porus, Alexander ventured further east conquering lands along the Indus river. However, his spies brought back news of the existance of the powerful Magdha Empire under the Nanda Dynasty eastwards in the Ganges planes. According to Plutarch, the Magdha army numbered 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots, and 6,000 war elephants, which was discouraging for Alexander's men and stayed their further progress into India."As for the Macedonians, however, their struggle with Porus blunted their courage and stayed their further advance into India. For having had all they could do to repulse an enemy who mustered only twenty thousand infantry and two thousand horse, they violently opposed Alexander when he insisted on crossing the river Ganges also, the width of which, as they learned, was thirty-two furlongs, its depth a hundred fathoms, while its banks on the further side were covered with multitudes of men-at‑arms and horsemen and elephants. For they were told that the kings of the Ganderites and Praesii were awaiting them with eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand chariots, and six thousand fighting elephants. And there was no boasting in these reports." - Plutarch, Parallel Lives, Life of Alexander. Facing mutiny Alexander turned back at the Beas river.
  12. 321 BC - 185 BC: (Mauryan Empire) - Mauryan Empire is Established: The Mauryan empire was found by Chandragupta Maurya who overthrew the Nanda dynasty and, taking advantage of the disruptions of local powers in the wake of the withdrawal westward by Alexander's armies, rapidly expanded his kingdom westwards. By the end of 320 BC, Chandragupta Maurya fully conquered Northwestern India. At the peak of its powers, with an area of 5,000,000 sq km, the Mauryan empire was one of the world's largest empires in its time, and the largest ever in the Indian subcontinent. In the north it extended along the natural boundaries of the Himalayas and to Assam in the east. In the west it included Pakistan, Balochistan, south eastern parts of Iran and much of Afghanistan.The Empire was expanded into India's central and southern regions by the emperors Chandragupta and Bindusara, but it excluded a small portion of unexplored tribal and forested regions near Kalinga (modern Orissa), till it was conquered by Ashoka. Its decline began 60 years after Ashoka's rule ended, and it dissolved in 185 BC with the foundation of the Sunga Dynasty in Magadha. Under the Mauryans the Indian sub-continent saw a period of peace and prosperity never seen before and never seen after probably till the times of Akbar. The Mauryan India also saw a period of social and religious reforms and development in science and technology. Chandragupta Maurya's embrace of Jainism increased social and religious renewal and reform across his society, while Ashoka's embrace of Buddhism has been said to have been the foundation of the reign of social and political peace and non-violence across all of India.
  13. 370 BC - 283 BC: (Mauryan Empire) - Chanakya writes Arthashastra the first known treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy. Chanakya, the advisor of Chandragupta Maurya, is known as the father of modern day political science.
  14. 300 BC - 300 AD: (The Sangam Period of South India) - Writing of the Sangam Litrature: The Sangam period extended from roughly 300 BC to 300 AD, when the earliest works of Tamil literature were composed (Sangam literature). The Tamil Sangams were assemblies of Tamil scholars and poets that, according to traditional accounts, occurred in the remote past. Overall three assemblies are described. The legend has it that the first two of which were held in cities since "taken by the sea", and the third of was held during the 5th century BC in the present-day city of Madurai.The works in Sangam literature deal with love, war, governance, trade and bereavement. This collection contains 2381 poems composed by 473 poets, some 102 of whom remain anonymous.
  15. 300 BC - 1279 AD: (The Sangam Period of South India) - Establishment of the Chola Empire: The Chola dynasty was a Tamil dynasty which ruled over varying territory in Southern India upto the 13th century.The heartland of the Cholas was the fertile valley of the Kaveri River. The history of the Cholas falls into four periods: the early Cholas of the Sangam literature, the interregnum between the fall of the Sangam Cholas and the rise of the medieval Cholas under Vijayalaya (848 AD), the dynasty of Vijayalaya, and finally the Later Chola dynasty of Kulothunga Chola I from the third quarter of the 11th century AD.
  16. 230 BC - 220 AD: (The Sangam Period of South India) - Establishment of the Satvahana Dynasty: Satvahanas, with holdings in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, started out as feudatories to the Mauryan dynasty, but declared independence with its decline. A reference to the Sātavāhanas by the Greek traveler Megasthenes indicates that they possessed 100,000 infantry, 1,000 elephants, and had more than 30 well built fortified towns. The Satvahanas were patrons of Buddhism and are known to have developed the Buddhist stupas of  Sanchi and Amravati. The Satavahana empire colonized southeast Asia and spread Indian culture to those parts. Mahayana Buddhism, which may have originated in Andhra (northwestern India being the alternative candidate), was carried to many parts of Asia by the rich maritime culture of the Satvahanas.

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