Deccan and South India
Age of small kingdoms
this time, Hinduism
had become much more than a religion; it was a way of life. Caste was
the social manifestation of the underlying Hindu concept of
reincarnation, causality and duty. The four original castes split up
over the ages into myriads of sub castes. There was an elaborate system
of precedence by which each group had a place above and below other
groups. This was accepted due to the belief in reincarnation by which
one was born into a particular group as a result of the reward or
punishment for one's action in a previous life. Brahmins dominated over
other the castes. The way of life of individuals was based on their
birth and there was increase in ritualism and sacrifice.
there were rebels against ritual, sacrifice and above all, against
caste. Hinduism saw it's first rebel in Mahavira who founded Jainism
and Gautama Buddha who founded Buddhism.
Buddhism disappeared from India by the 12th century AD. Perhaps the
Buddha's ideas were taken over by the great Hindu philosopher
Shankaracharya in the ninth century AD, and were readapted to Hinduism,
so as to make Buddhism no longer necessary. Whatever the reason, the
Buddha who had preached the absence of God became a Hindu god!
The dominant philosophical outlook, which the acharya created, has
persisted in Hinduism till today. During the next seven centuries,
Ramanujacharya, Madhwacharya and Valabacharya preached Hinduism in the
light of their own individual philosophical conception. They carried the
torch of Hinduism through those centuries and made it continual vital
force of this day. As iron implements helped clear the dense forests of
the Gangetic plains, civilization expanded eastwards. The new
agricultural tools and implements improved the knowledge of cultivation.
Gradually, 16 larger territorial states (Mahajanapadas) were formed. Of
these, Magadha, Kosala, Vatsa and Avanti were powerful. They fought
amongst themselves for political pre-eminence for about a hundred years.
Magadha, under the leadership of Bimbisara (542 BC - 493 BC) and
Ajatshatru (493 BC - 461 BC) emerged victorious. The victory of Magadha
was a victory for the monarchical system, which was now firmly
established in the Ganges plain. Udayin succeeded (460 BC - 444 BC) Ajat
Shatru , whose reign saw the raising of a new capital at Pataliputra
(modern day Patna). The architecture of the Magadha empire is the first
of which we have any contemporary record.
The Shishunaga dynasty, which followed in 413 BC, lasted barely half a
century and gave way to the Nanda dynasty. The Nandas, who had a vast
standing army, are sometimes described as the first empire builders of
In 516 BC, the Persian emperor Darius annexed Punjab and for many years,
the Indian satrap continued to pay a huge tribute to the Achaemenian
king. Alexander the Great, the king of Macedonia, crossed the Hindu Kush
after subduing the Achaemenians, pursuing his dreams of a world
discussion of this period
Hinduism: Religion or
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