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HIST101: Ancient Civilizations of the World

Unit 7: The Classical Age in India   New kingdoms rose to power in Ganges River valley by 500 B.C.E.  Urbanization emerged in the capitals of these kingdoms and near major religious temples.  But by the sixth century B.C.E., religious thinkers were beginning to challenge the rituals on which the Brahman elite—Vedic priests—depended. The most important of these thinkers, the Buddha, created a new religion that would have world-wide significance. Moreover, the rivalry between Buddhism and Vedic religion, later known as Hinduism, shaped the nature of Indian culture for many centuries.  But out of this turmoil India entered a “Golden Age” under the rule of the Gupta dynasty.  During this era, new and sophisticated ideas about literature, art, and science became fixtures of Gupta society.  
In this unit, we will see that classical India during this period was defined by political disunity and religious conflict broken only briefly by unification under the Guptas.

Unit 7 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 6 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 7.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2: 2.5 hours

☐    Unit 7 Assessment: 0.5 hours

Unit7 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Trace the origins, development, world-wide expansion, and legacies of Buddhism. - Describe the fundamental characteristics and beliefs of Buddhist philosophy. - Identify the political, cultural, and religious characteristics of the Gupta Empire.

7.1 The Rise of Buddhism and the Mauryan Age   7.1.1 The Mauryan Age   - Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Department of Asian Art’s “Mauryan Empire (ca. 323-185 B.C.)” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Department of Asian Art’s “Mauryan Empire (ca. 323-185 B.C.)” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this text in its entirety to better understand the causes, main events, and consequences of the rise and fall of the Mauryan Empire in India.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: California State University-Chico: Kevin Wold’s “The Life of Ashoka Mauryan” Link: California State University-Chico: Kevin Wold’s “The Life of Ashoka Mauryan” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire webpage for an overview of the imperial rule of Ashoka.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Livius: Jona Lendering’s “Maurya Dynasty” Link: Livius: Jona Lendering’s “Maurya Dynasty” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire article to get a sense of the Mauryan dynasty—from Alexander the Great’s presence in the Indus Valley to the rise of Ashoka.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource has been reposed with academic permission. It is attributed to Jona Lendering, and the original version can be found here.

7.1.2 Buddha and Buddhism   - Reading: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Charles Goodman’s “Ethics in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism” Link: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Charles Goodman’s “Ethics in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article to learn about Buddhist philosophy.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Kathryn Selig Brown’s “Life of the Buddha” Link: Metropolitan Museum of Art: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Kathryn Selig Brown’s “Life of the Buddha” (HTML)
     
    Instructions:  Please read the article in order to get a sense of the traditional “story of Buddha.”  Then view the slideshow by clicking on the images above the article.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.2 The Gupta Age   7.2.1 Emergence of the Gupta Empire   - Reading: Independence Hall Association’s “Ancient Civilizations:” “The Gupta Period of India” Link: Independence Hall Association’s “Ancient Civilizations: “The Gupta Period of India” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this webpage in order to get an overview of the rise and fall of the Guptas in India.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. It is attributed to Independence Hall Association, and the original version can be found here.

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Gupta Empire: An Indian Golden Age” The Saylor Foundation’s “The Gupta Empire: An Indian Golden Age” (PDF).
     
    Instructions: Please read “The Gupta Empire” to get an overview of the rise and fall of the Guptas in India.

7.2.2 Literature, Science, and Art During the Gupta Age   - Reading: University of Connecticut: Azfar Hussain’s translation of Kalidasa’s “The Recognition of Sakuntala” Link: Universityof Connecticut: Azfar Hussain’s translation of Kalidasa’s “The Recognition of Sakuntala” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the introduction as well as the whole text of The Recognition of Sakuntala, also known as Abhijnanasakuntalam, paying special attention to themes, language, and the intended audience of the play.
 
Note on the text: Most scholars regard Kalidasa as the foremost poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language.  In this play, which translates roughly as “Of Sakuntala Recognized by a Token,” K?lid?sa tells the story of King Dushuntya, who meets and marries Sakuntala, the adopted daughter of a sage.  The tale reflects many of the ideas prevalent in Gupta culture.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Assessment: Pearson Education’s World Civilizations: The Global Experience: “Chapter 6, Multiple Choice Quiz” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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