Ancient India was not the same from what its look now. It was an undisputed vast land and amalgamation of 7-8 countries of today’s Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Srilanka, Bhutan, and Burma (See right the map of Ancient India). And history of this country – India can be outlined from the human activities that existed since 75,000 years ago. It was one of the three early places where human civilization began. The species known as Homo-Sapiens inhabited our sub-continent centuries before humans migrated to other territory known as Europe. Lets us understand all this below by different phases through which Ancient India embarked itself, starting from:
Well, not much-written records are available in relation to prehistoric India but it is considered that period before 10000 B.C. was known as Stone Age or Prehistoric Era. It was a time when Pre-historic people used stones to kill, work and protect. They used stone tools to kill animals, make leather clothes, craft sandstone pottery, artifacts and other metals. The history of art in ancient India begins with prehistoric rock paintings. But as humans, it was a period of immense struggle and facing huge problems from surroundings and Nature. In concise, we can divide Prehistoric phase into 3 stages namely; the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age), Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age), Neolithic (New Stone Age).
Indus Valley Civilization:
Then came the first ever civilization of Ancient India, known as Indus Valley Civilization. It is also acknowledged as Harappa Civilization or Bronze Age civilization. Indus Civilization mainly covered region of South Asia (Pakistan, north India, and small division of Afghanistan). It got its name through eminent river Indus flowing from the Himalayas. It is estimated that Indus Civilization had a population of over five million. Inhabitants of this civilization were known to be skilled with amazing techniques in handicraft such as carnelian products, seal carving and working with metal using copper, tin, bronze, and lead. The Indus cities were also well noted for their urban development e.g. using baked brick in constructing houses for strength and safety, clever water supply and drainage systems. The phase of the Indus civilization lasted from 2600 to 1900 BCE.
Dravidians were actually tribal people who migrated from north India (and still their followers exists in southern part of India known as Gond people and Kannadigaru Dravidians from Karnataka, northern Kerala, southern Maharashtra, and northwest part of Tamil Nadu). It was believed that Dravidian people are actually part of Indus valley civilization. And later Aryans (Indo-Iranian people who migrated from Middle-East and Europe in tribes) pushed out Dravidian with Warfare’s from Northern Province of India to the southern part. But whether, Dravidian Empire is related to Indus Valley Civilization or not is still a big controversy. The most commonly spoken Dravidian languages still in India are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Brahui and Tulu. Dravidians were, in fact, peaceable farmers who have dark complexion, dark black hair and large foreheads. Because of these bodily similarities, another anecdote depicts that Dravidians have an African origin and they migrated from Africa and reached South India passing through the southern route about 50,000 years ago. Because of rivers and fertile soil they stayed in India in large numbers than other parts of the globe. In short, Dravidians were a very trendy and skilled race of community.
The Vedic Period or Civilization refers to that time period when the Vedic Textbook were written in India from 1500 BC to 500 BCE. Following the fall down of the Indus Valley Civilization, groups of Indo-Aryan peoples migrated into north-western India and started to inhabit the northern Indus Valley. Initially, Vedic age people did not have a settled life and were nomads but with growth in agriculture sector these people started to settle down in groups. The early society was mainly tribal and the head of the tribe was believed to be the ‘Raja’ or the King, although the concept of King had not developed yet. Later, as time progressed, Vedic Age turned into civilization and some privileged people initiated a great religion; know as Hinduism and started writing classical literature in a beautiful language know as Sanskrit. Vedic Period got illustrious because of four famous Vedas – the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda, and the Atharvaveda written in God’s own language – Sanskrit. Sanskrit is considered one of the oldest languages in the world. It was also the period when the epic Vedic Sanskrit texts – Ramayana and Mahabharata originated. The Vedic age is considered the very important era in Indian history. As it lays the foundation for what we consider to be modern Hinduism or modern-day India.
Mahajanapadas or Magadha Era:
With the end of Vedic era, ‘Lord Krishna’ Kingdom – Dwarka is believed to evolve. It is known as world’s most Ancient City. Besides that many other small kingdoms known as the Mahajanapadas also covered our sub-continent and flourished from between 600 BCE to 200 BCE. Basically, the Mahajanapadas were the sixteen most powerful and vast Kingdoms namely; Anga, Assaka, Avanti, Chedi, Gandhara, Kamboja, Kasi, Kosala, Kuru, Magadha, Malla, Matsya, Panchala, Surasena, Vajji and Vatsa located mainly across the fertile Indo-Gangetic plains. There were a number of other smaller kingdoms stretching the length and breadth of Ancient India. But Magadha (among 16 Mahajanapadas or great states) was believed to be the rich source of minerals and also from the agricultural aspect. It was founded by Jarasandha (son of brihadrath). Magadha growth started under Haryanakas and expanded under Shishunags and later into Nanda dynasty and Maurya dynasty. Actually, from 6th century to 4th century BC we see a great power struggle between 4 powerful states (Kosala, Avanti, Vasta and Magadha) to conquer each other and rest of Ancient India region. Apart from this, Magadha era is also alleged to be an origin of Buddhist and Jain religion. And, Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment in this era somewhere in 537 BC.
Upanishads and Puranas Era:
Somewhere about 800 BCE to 400 BCE witnessed the amazing work of the ‘Upanishads and Puranas’. It was the time when many Saints, Deity, Sadhus, Gurus evolved and taught humans about the spiritual path, some in writing and others verbally. Those who wrote their teachings were called Upanishads and Puranas (Holy Hindu Textbook). Upanishads are basically a new form of Sanskrit scripts known as Vedanta which tell us about the concepts of ‘karma’ (action), ‘moksha’ (nirvana), ‘samsara’ (reincarnation), the ‘aatma‘ (soul), and the ‘Brahman’ (Absolute Almighty). Upanishads also teaches us the Vedic doctrines of self-realization, meditation, and yoga. There are major 18 Puranas (holy textbooks) which all in simple terms explains about tough Vedic Teachings in Sanskrit. In Short, this era enlightens more about teachings of the spiritual path and secret knowledge from guru or master.
Great Ancient Empire Era:
As we noted above, Magadha era was the main foundation of Kings and their monarchy settlement in India. Many decades later, out of Magadha, came out the Maurya Empire, which was considered the first major historical Indian realm and absolutely the largest one formed by any Indian Emperor. This dynasty was ruled by Chandragupta Maurya with the help of his intellectual Guru Chanakya. It was said that to turn back Alexander the Great from invading northwest India, Chandragupta Maurya took over Magadha and created the Maurya Empire. And after a treaty with Alexander’s generals (soon after Alexander death), the empire acquired territory till Afghanistan and Iran. Chandragupta grandson, Ashoka the Great is also famous for winning countless battles and conquering almost entire India till south during his terrain. After that, with time came many other important empires such as Kushan Empire, Gupta Empire, Pratihara Empire and Chola Empire. To mention all about these empires is massive work. You can search on Google about these dynasties or just by typing Medieval India History.
Muslim Invading India Era
Muslim conquering Indian subcontinent mainly took place from period 11th to the 16th centuries. When ‘Gupta Empire’ was replaced by the rule of ‘Harshavardhan’ and with the invasion of the ‘Huns’, India fell into anarchy and split into small realms and somehow was lacking to unite themselves to fight against invading forces. Muslim took advantage of this anarchism and tried to capture India through routes of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Muhammad of Ghazni was the first Muslim ruler of Ghazi kingdom (based in Afghanistan) to attack India. He had heard that India was a very wealthy nation and there was no unity among Indian Kings. So he decided to spread Islam in this nation and to take wealth back to his nation. Consequently, he looted India 17 times and killed thousands of innocent Hindu to mark his presence. Soon after Ghazi death, another rulers from Afghanistan came into power known as Muhammad Gori. He conquered Lahore and attached ‘Rajput’ Kingdoms several times. When Gori decided to leave India he handed over all his power and kingdom also known as Delhi Sultanate to one of his close slave Qutub-din-Aibak. He made famous Qutub Minar in Delhi to show his authority. He later conquered Bengal and southern part of India. Aibak gave his kingdom to another slave (and also his son-in-law) known as Shamsuddin Iltutmish, who stopped Genghis Khan (ruler from Mongolia) to invade India. This era was also known as Slave Dynasty era. There after came many famous dynasties such as Khilji Dynasty (Ruler – Alauddin Khilji), Tughlaq Dynasty (Ruler- Muhammad Tughlaq), and lastly Lodhi Dynasty (Pashtuns/Afghans Rulers). In 1526 Mughals Invaded India and put end to Delhi Sultanate Regime.
Till here we mark a period known as primeval or ancient India with its Civilization History (as we sum-up our tour to Ancient India). We have tried our level best to tell our viewers about pre-historic India with ideal facts and information. But still, if you find any mismatch of dates or any information misleading so kindly correct us via commenting below or through email with appropriate proof/example.