Iron Pillar at QutubMinar, Delhi a fine specimen of ancient Indian Metallurgy skills
  •  Made of Iron, 7.2 m high , weighs 3 tonnes.
  •  It was made about 1500 years ago.
  •  Inscription of ruler chandra of Gupta dynasty on the pillar.
Ancient Buildings 

  • Stupas were the first ever religious structures built in India. 
  • Stupa's architecture actually represented meditating buddha. 
  • The Stupas were huge and sometimes small, with relics of Buddha or his followers, like teeths,bones,ashes etc. kept preserved in a box right in the centre of the stupa. 
  • This box was called relic casket, it was covered with earth. Later a layer of mud brick or baked brick was added on top and then , the dome like structure sometimes covered with stone slabs.

  • Often a path known as the pradakshinapatha was laid around the stupa. This was surrounded with railings called vedika. Entrance to the path was through gateways called Torana.
  • Devotees walked around the stupa in clockwise direction as a mark, of devotion.
  • Both railings and gateways were often decorated with sculptures.
  • Many of the stone carvings on Sanchi Stupa were made 2000 years ago to decorate the stupas. 
  • Eg of Stupas are Amravati Stupa(Andhra pradesh) , Sanchi stupa(MP),  Bharhut stupa(MP).
 Artificial Caves
  • Hollowed out of rocks.
  • Some of these were elaborately decorated with sculptures and painted walls. 
 Ancient Temples 
  • Some ancient temples were also built during this time.
  • Deities such as Vishnu,Shiva and Durga were worshipped in these shrines.
  • There were some important features of these ancient temples.
  • Most important was the room inside the temple called garbhgriha where the idol of chief deity was placed.
  • It was here where the priest used to perform rituals and devotees would offer worship to the deity.
  • Shikhara was the tower that was built over the garbhagriha,it wuld taper toward the top.
  • Mandapa was the space where devotee would assemble.
  •  In Mahabalipuram and Aihole some of the finest stone temples were built. The cutters had to work from top to downwards.
  • Eg. Shore temples made as monoliths in Mahabalipuram, Durga temple at Aihole.
How were stupas and temples built. 
  • There were several stages in building a stupa or a temple.
  • These were usually commissioned by Kings,Queens,Nobles or Ministers of King.
  • First good quality stone had to be found,quarried and transported to the place that was often carefully chosen for the new building.
  • Here these rough stones blocks were shaped and carved into pillars and panels for walls,floors and ceilings. 
  • Then finally they had to be placed precisely in right positions.
  • The King and Queen would perhaps had granted a lot of money to the craftsmen involved in carving beautiful stone structures for temples thats why we saw a huge surge in temples and stupas in ancint India.
  • The inscriptions found at the various stupas and temples also reveals that the local people,mechants,associations also would donate stone sculptures,gateways,panels for walls and railings as a gift to the site. 
  • Ajanta caves found in maharashtra were hollowed for buddhist monks and some of them bears magnificient piece of paintings on their walls.
  • They were painted in lamp's light as caves were dark from inside.
  • Colours which are visible even after 1500 years later were extracted from the plants and minerals.
  • Artists are unknown.
  • Best known epics written during this era.
  • Epics are long compositions about heroic men and women, and include stories about gods.
  • a tamil epic by Ilango around 1800 years ago.
  • Story of a merchant Kovalan who lived in Puhar and fell in love with a courtesan Madhavi , neglecting his wife Knnagi. Later he and Kannagi left Puhar and went to madurai where he was wrongly accused of theft by the court jeweller of the pandya king. The king sentenced Kovalan to death. Kannagi who still loved him was full of grief and anger at this injustice and destroyed the entire city of madurai.
  • AnotherTamil epic Manimekalai was composed by sattanar around 1400 years ago. This describes the story of Kovalan and Madhavi's daughter Manimekalai.
  • These beautiful compositions were lost for many years until they were rediscovered a 100 years ago.
  • A Poem by Kalidasa in which a monsoon cloud is imagined to be a messenger , between lovers who are seperated from one another.
Recording of Old stories 
  • A number of Hindu stories that were in circulation earlier were written down arund the same time.These include the Puranas.
  • The Puaranas contains stories about gods and Goddesses like Shiva,Vishnu,Durga or parvati etc. They also contain details about the details of worshiping these gods.
  • The other information in Puaranas is about the creation of world, Yugas the time stamps, genealogies of Kings that ruled.
  • Puaranas were written in simple sanskrit and were meant to be heard by everybody including women and shudras.  
  • The Puranas were recited by elders in villages to younger ones and many times in temples by priests. 
  • Epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana which were centuries year old were finally written in about 1500 years ago. Both Puranas and Mahabharata were supposed to be composed by Vyasa.
  •  While Valmiki is recognised as author of Ramayana.
Stories told by ordinary people
  • Ordinary people also told stories, composed poems and songs.
  • Some of these are preserved in the form of Jatakas and stories of Panchatantra. 
  • Stories of Jatakas are often found depicted on the railings of stupa,various buddhist panels on walls and ceilings and also in the paintings of Ajanta.
Scientific writings
  • Aryabhatta wrote Aryabhatiyam in sanskrit on Mathematics .
  • He observed that Day and night occur due to Earth rotating on its axis. 
  • He developed a scientific explanation for eclipses as well.
  •  He also devised a formula to calculate the circumference of a circle.
  • Varamihira,Bhaskaracharya and Brahamgupta were some other mathematicians and astronomers who contributed in scintific writings and devising new formulas to explain the things happening in nature.
  • Zero as a symbol was first used in india.
  • Ayurveda was the health science of ancient India. Two very prominent practitioners were Charaka(1st-2nd centuries C.E.) and Sushrut (4rth Century C.E.) .
  • Charak samhita is a remarkable book on medicine.
  • Sushruta samhita speaks about elaborate procedures.

Important dates to remember in Ancient India 
  • The beginning of farming and herding at Mehrgarh dates to c. 6000 BC/ BCE 
  • The Harappan cities flourished between c. 2700 and 1900 BCE 
  • The Rigveda was composed between c. 1500 and 1000 BCE 
  • Mahajanapadas and cities developed in the Ganga valley and new ideas associated with the Upanishads, Jainism and Buddhism emerged c. 500 BCE 
  • Alexander invaded the northwest c. 327-325 BCE 
  • Chandragupta Maurya became king c. 321 BCE 
  • Ashoka ruled between c. 272/268 to 231 BCE 
  • The composition of the Sangam texts, c. 300 BCE-300 CE 
  • The reign of Kanishka, c. 78-100 CE 
  • The establishment of the Gupta empire, c. 320 CE 
  • The compilation of the Jaina texts at the council at Valabhi, c.512/521 CE 
  • The rule of Harshavardhana, 606-647 CE 
  • Xuan Zang comes to India, 630-643 CE 
  • The rule of Pulakeshin II, 609-642 CE.

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