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The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Second Edition
Richard W. Bulliet, Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daniel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, David Northrup
History WIRED

Chapter 7: India and Southeast Asia, 1500 B.C.E.-1100 C.E.


South Asia: A View from Above

Physical Map of Asia

Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean: Monsoon Patterns

The Mauryan Empire, 250 B.C.E.

The Gupta Empire, 400 C.E.

Southeast Asia: A View from Above

Hyperhistory: Barbarian Invasions


Metropolitan Museum of Art: Asian Art
Within this collection, which also includes examples of Japanese and Chinese art, are several examples of Indian art from the periods covered in this chapter.  Be sure to pay attention to the dates associated with each image.

Los Angeles County Museum: South and Southeast Asian Art Masterpieces
This site provides several images relating to the periods covered in this chapter. Use the dates to determine which images are applicable to this chapter.

Templenet: Indian Temple Architecture
This comprehensive site includes many images of Hindu temples built during the periods covered in this chapter. Use the dates to determine which images are applicable to this chapter.

American Institute of Indian Studies: Vanasari Slide Collection
This site offers numerous images of Hindu and Buddhist temples built in India and Southeast Asia between 1500 B.C.E. and 1100 C.E.

History of India
This site offers several images from the periods covered in this chapter.  Click on the period desired in top frame. Each section also contains relevant Maps.

Images from World History: Mauryan Empire, 326-184 B.C.E.

This site contains superb images and descriptions of this Buddhist stupa in modern Indonesia.

A History of the Malay Peninsula: Buddhist Empires
Included at this site are several images from the Srivijaya and Funan kingdoms in Southeast Asia between the sixth and twelfth centuries.

Activity One:

Thesubcontinent of India, like the area where Chinese civilization developed, (see Chapter 3 "The Late Bronze Age in the Eastern Hemisphere, 2200-500 B.C.E. , Activity One) was relatively isolated from developments in the Middle East and the Mediterranean regions during early stages of development.  Go to South Asia: A View from Above and Physical Map of Asia.  List several physical features that caused this isolation such as mountains and deserts.  For specific names, see Map 7.1 on page 176 of The Earth and Its Peoples (Second Edition).  Unlike China, there was more chance for contact between the Indian subcontinent and other cultures and civilizations during this time period.  Review Indian Ocean: Monsoon Patterns and "The Indian Subcontinent" on page 174 of your textbook.  How did the particular weather patterns of the Indian Ocean encourage cultural exchanges between India and other areas? Finally, review the chronologies at India and Southern Asia Chronology (be sure to click on the hyperlinks for more detail) and Exploring Ancient World Cultures: Indian Chronology.  Make a list of periods where Indian culture showed strong tendencies to influence other cultures or vice versa.

Activity Two:

As Activity One demonstrates, India developed in relative isolation between 1500 B.C.E. and 1100 C.E. (although it did develop more sustained contact with surrounding areas throughout this time period).  This geographical phenomenon allowed for a very unique and enduring style of civilization to evolve on the subcontinent. As your textbook emphasizes, much of the cultural continuity in India revolves around religion.  Hinduism, the dominant religion in India today, evolved during this time.  Go to Hinduism, the World's Oldest Religion (be sure to click on the next page). As you read, keep a list of the reasons that this author suggests to explain why Hinduism has survived and flourished to this day.  For example, is Hinduism an exclusive religion like Christianity or Islam?  In other words, does it demand that its followers reject outright other religions?  When you finish, choose what you believe are the two or three most important reasons why Hinduism survived for so long.  Write a paragraph that explains why you chose these factors. One source of Hinduism's survival is its ability to accept and even incorporate aspects of other belief systems.  Go to Fundamentals of Jainism and read the information in the first eight links - Lord Mahavir and Jain Religion through Meaning of Astra Prakari Puja. Now go to Introduction of Buddhism and read the information at links 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8. After reviewing these sites, make a chart that lists aspects of each religion that are similar to Hinduism and aspects that are different.  Why were all three religions able to coexist on the Indian subcontinent? How do they all reflect a common philosophy or cosmology?

Activity Three:

Despite religious and cultural bonds, the peoples of the Indian subcontinent have rarely shown a tendency towards political unity.  The contemporary nation state of India is an exception to this pattern.  The Mauryan Empire which dominated much of the subcontinent from 324 to 184 B.C.E. (see the map at The Mauryan Empire, 250 B.C.E.) was another example.  This large kingdom was a rough contemporary of the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty in China (Chapter 6).  Its greatest emperor was Ashoka, who reigned from 269-232 B.C.E.)  Your task is to compare Ashoka to Emperor Antonius Pious of Rome and Emperor Wu-ti of the Han Dynasty whom you studied in Activity Three, Chapter 6 "An Age of Empires: Rome and Han China, 753 B.C.E.-330 C.E."  Begin by reviewing The Emperor Antoninus Pius 138-161 and The Emperor Wu-ti 140-87 BC.  Next read the essay at The Edicts of King Asoka (read the introductory essay and "The Fourteen Rock Edicts" only).  Finally, read Book I: Chapter 9, "The Duties of a King" from The Arthashastra.  How did the Mauryan Dynasty view the role of the king?  Was this similar or different from the role of a Roman or Chinese emperor?  What task did Ashoka undertake to promote order and stability in his realm? How did he promote his authority?  Were these methods similar or different from Antonius Pius or Wu-ti?  What do you think accounts for the similarities in the strategies these three rulers pursued?  After exploring these questions, you should be able to identify broad similarities between the roles of these three leaders and how they pursued these tasks.  Analyze what you believe were the sources of these similarities.  Were they result of extensive contact among the three empires or because each faced similar circumstances?  Use these web links and your textbook for sources to justify your conclusions.

Activity Four:

Much of what we know about India during the time period studied in this chapter comes from written records of visitors to India.  Herodotus, the Greek historian, makes mention of India in his History of the Persian Wars, written around 430 B.C.E.  Herodotus did not visit India, but obviously talked to people who had some knowledge of the region.  For excerpts of his account, see Ancient History Sourcebook: Greek Reports of India & Aryavarta.  Two Chinese Buddhist pilgrims also left accounts of their travels to India. Faxian visited India during the fifth century.  He was followed by Xuanzang in the seventh century.  For further information, see Travels of Fa-Hsien -- Buddhist Pilgrim of Fifth Century and Travels of Hsuan-Tsang -- Buddhist Pilgrim of the Seventh Century (note that the authors of these web sites use different spellings of their names than your textbook).  For Faxian's  observations, see Chinese Cultural Studies: Faxian Fa-Hsien:  A Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms (394-414 CE), and for further information on Xuanzang, see The Story of Xuanzang and A Buddhist Monks Pilgrimage to India.  Why did these two Chinese monks visit India? How did they get there and back? How did they describe the subcontinent to their fellow Chinese when they returned to China?  How do their reflections differ from Herodotus' analysis?  How did their pilgrimages further the spread of Indian cultural influence throughout Asia?  How do Faxian and Xuanzang's pilgrimages to India reflect the evolution of Indian civilization since the time of Herodotus?  How do they symbolize India's growing influence on the history of Eurasia?  You might need to consult your textbook for greater historical context.