Several developments in different parts of the subcontinent (India) the long span of 1500 years following the end of Harappan Civilization:
- Rigveda was composed along the Indus and its tributaries.
- Agricultural Settlements emerged in several parts of the subcontinent.
- New mode of disposal of the dead like making Megaliths.
- By C 600 BCE growth of new cities and kingdoms.
- 600 BCE major turning point in early Indian history.
- Growth of 16 Mahajanapadas. Many were ruled by kings.
- Some known as ganas or sanghas were oligarchies
- Between the 600 BCE and 400 BCE Magadha became the most powerful Mahajanapada.
- Emergence of Mauryan Empire Chandragupta Maurya (C 321 BCE) founder of the empire extended control upto Afghanistan and Baluchistan.
- His grandson Ashoka, the most famous ruler conquered Kalinga.
- Variety of sources to reconstruct the history of the Mauryan Empire – archaeological finds especially sculpture, Ashoka’s Inscriptions, Literary sources like Indica account of megasthenes, Arthashastra of Kautilya and Buddhist, Jaina and puranic literature.
- Five major political centres – Pataliputra, Taxila, Ujjayani, Tosali and Suvarnagiri to administer the empire.
- Ashoka’s Dhamma to hold his empire together.
New Notions of Kingship
- By C 200 BCE emergence of new chiefdoms and kingdoms in several parts of the subcontinent.
- Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas in Tamilakam, known from Sangam text.
- Most of these states including Satavahanas and Shakas had control over long distance trade networks.
- Kushanas (C First century BCE to first century CE) ruled over a vast kingdom extending from central Asia to north West India.
- Their history has been reconstructed from Inscriptions, Coins and sculptures which convey a sense of the notions of kingship.
- History of the Guptas (4th century CE ) has been reconstructed from literatures, coins and inscriptions including Prashastis.
- What did subjects think about their rulers? Historians have tried to know this by examining stories contained in the Jatakas and Panchatantra.
- Strategies for increasing agricultural production – use of plough with iron plough share, introduction of transplantation and use of irrigation through wells, tanks, less commonly canals.
- Land grants to religious institutions or Brahmanas, to extend agriculture to new areas or to win allies by making grants of land.
- Emergence of urban centres such as Pataliputra, Ujjayani, Puhar, Mathura etc.
- In the towns different types of people used to live such as washing folk, weavers, scribes, carpenters, potters, religious teachers, merchants, kings.
- Artisans and traders organized themselves in guild or shrenis.
- Trade both in the subcontinent and with east and north Africa, West Asia, South East Asia , China.
- India used to export spices, fine pearls, ivory, silk cloth, medicinal plants.
- Exchanges were facilitated by the introduction of the coinage. Punch marked coins made of silver and copper were amongst the earliest to be minted and used. The first gold coins were issued in (first century CE) by the Kushanas.
- James Prinsep an officer in the mint of the East India Company was able to decipher Ashokan Brahmi in 1838.
- Limitations of Inscriptional evidence- letters are very faintly engraved, damaged or letter missing, not sure about the exact meaning of the words.
Questions and answers carrying two marks
1. What are megaliths? 2
Ans. a- Megaliths were elaborate stone structures in central and south India in first millennium BCE.
b- These were kept on the burials. Dead were buried with a wide range of iron tools and weapons.
2. Why six century BCE often considered as a major turning point in Indian history? 2
Ans. a – It is an era associated with early states and cities, growing use of iron, the development of coin.
B - It also witnessed the growth of diverse system of thoughts including Buddhism and Jainism.
3. Define Dhamma Mahamatta?
Ans. a- Special officers appointed by Ashoka.
b- Appointed to spread the message of Dhamma.
4. Write any two sources of Mauryan history?
Ans. a- Arthashastra of Kautilya.
b- Ashoka’s inscriptions.
5. Who were Kushanas?
Ans. a- Kushanas were a clan of nomadic people living in China.
b- Kushanas ruled over a vast kingdom extending from Central Asia to North-West India.
c- First to issue gold coins in India.
6. In which languages and script, Ashokan script were written?
Ans. a- Language- Prakrit, Aramaic and Greek.
b- Script- Prakrit in Brahmi, Greek , Aramaic and Kharosthi.
7. Who was a Gahapati?
Ans. 1. Gahapati was the owner, master or head of a household.
2. He was the owner of the resources- land, animals and other things that belonged to the household.
Short Questions (5 Marks each)
8. Discuss factors responsible for the rise of Magadha -
- Powerful rulers- Bimbisara and Ajatasattu
- Availability of iron.
- Fertile soil
- Availability of elephants in forest.
- Strong capital – Rajgir and Pataliputra
9. Describe five features of Mahajanapadas?
- Maximum Mahajanapadas ruled by kings but some ruled by Ganas or Sanghas.
- Each had its own capital often fortified.
- Permanent army recruited from the peasantry regular bureaucracies.
- Dharmasutras laid down norms for kings and other people.
- Function of king to collect taxes and tributes from people.
10. Explain main features of Ashoka’s Dhamma?
- Respect to elders, love for young and kindness to servants.
- Religious tolerance to other religions.
- Liberal policies towards Brahmanas, Shramanas.
- Appointment of Dhamma mahamattas.
11. Important changes in agriculture during the period between 600 BCE to 600 CE .
- For increase of agricultural production use of plough with iron tipped ploughshare.
- Introduction of transplantation of crop (paddy).
- Irrigation by wells, ponds and canals.
- Hoe agriculture in semi-arid parts of Punjab, Rajasthan and hilly tracks in North-Eastern and Central Parts.
- Land lords and heads of village were more powerful and had control over farmers.
- Land grants by kings to extend agriculture to new areas.
12. How do inscription help in reconstruction of history?
- Knowledge about the rulers and their achievements.
- Scripts and language of that time.
- Land grant and economic condition.
- Extent of the empire.
- Social and religious condition of kingdom.
13. Main features of Mauryan administration? 10
- Central administration- King had control over legislative, executive, judiciary, army and finance.
- Provincial administration- The Empire was divided in to many provinces.
- Local Government- There was a committee of 30 members to maintain rules and regulations in Pataliputra.
- King used to run the administration with the help of high officials.
- Five major political centres in the empire
- Law and order system setup.
- Organised army- a committee with six subcommittee for coordinating military activity.
- To spread Dhamma , appointment of Dhamma Mahamattra.
- Officers were oppointed to manage the land revenue, irrigation and roads
- Institution of spies was very strong and working effectively.
14. Source based questions:-
Read the following passage and answer the questions given below:
What the king’s officials did?
Here is an excerpt from the account of Megasthenes:
Of the great officers of state, some … superintend the rivers, measure the land, as is done in Egypt, and inspect the sluices by which water is let out from the main canals into their branches, so that every one may have an equal supply of it. The same persons have charge also of the huntsmen, and are entrusted with the power of rewarding or punishing them according to their deserts. They collect the taxes, and superintend the occupations connected with land; as those of the woodcutters, the carpenters, the blacksmiths, and the miners.
Q.1- Explain the duties of the officers of state. 3
Ans- 1. Some superintended the rivers, measured lands and inspected the sluices by which water was let out from the main canals into their branches, so that everyone would
have an equal supply of it.
2. They had also charge of huntsmen, entrusted with the power of rewarding or punishing them according to their deserts.
3. They collected the taxes, and superintended the occupations connected with land; as those of the woodcutters, the carpenters, the blacksmiths, and the miners.
Q2.- Explain the role of the sub-committees for coordinating military activities. 3
Ans- 1. Megasthenes mentioned a the committee with six subcommittees for coordinating military activity.
2. They looked after navy, transport and provisions, foot soldiers, horses, chariots and elephants.
3. The second committee had to arrange bullock carts to carry equipments procure food for soldiers and fodder for animals and recruit servants and artisans to look after the
Q3- What did Ashoka do to hold his empire together? 2
Ans- 1. Ashoka tried to hold his empire together by propagating dhamma.
2. Special officers called dhamma mahamattas were appointed to spread the message of dhamma.