Chapter 4 (T&E): South Asia, 3000 BCE-600 BCE

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Terms and concepts from the reading

Indra

chief god of the Aryans, associated with war and thunder

Aryans

Indo-European migrants into South Asia after 1500 BCE

Indo-Europeans

Migrants throughout Europe and West Asia who brought with them their language(s), horses and warlike culture

Dravidians

Linguistic group who occupied South Asia prior to the Indo-European migrations; the Harappans belonged to this group, as do the residents of the southern regions of the Indian sub-continent

Indus River

location of the earliest civilization in South Asia

Harappa

major city for which the Harappan culture is named

Hindu Kush

mountains which separate the Indus River valley from Central Asia

Himalayas

mountains which separate the Ganges River valley and South Asia from the Tibetan plateau and Central Asia

Harappan crops

wheat, barley, cotton

Harappan domesticated animals

chickens, sheep, goats, cattle

chickens

animals first domesticated in South Asia

cotton

crop first found in South Asia

Mohenjo-Daro

major city of Harappan culture; means "mound of the dead"

horses

signature animal Indo-Europeans brought with them

cattle

the primary wealth of the Aryans

Sanskrit

the holy language of the Aryans and later the Hindus

Prakrit

everyday language of the Aryans which becomes Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, etc.

Vedas

Ancient Sanskrit writings that are the earliest sacred texts of Hinduism.

Rig Veda

The first and most important of the Vedas, it has historic, spiritual and social information about the Aryans

dasas

Aryan name for indigenous people of Indus valley region; regarded as socially inferior to Aryans

raja

Sanskrit term for chief or king

Punjab

region around the upper Indus River

Ganges River

heart of South Asian population and civilization after the Harappans

Deccan

plateau which covers most of the Indian sub-continent south of the Ganges River valley

caste

a relatively rigid class into which you are born; this governed all relationships in India

varna

literally "color," it is the Hindu term for caste

brahmins

highest "second-born" varna; priests and teachers

kshatriyas

second "second-born" varna; warriors and rulers

vaishyas

third "second-born" varna; merchants, craftsmen, and land-owners.

shudras

fourth varna; not "second-born" but laborers

jati

occupational group which provided rules for religion and conduct; there were thousands in each varna

Manu

legendary ancestor of all humans who survived a great flood; he also provided humans with rules for proper conduct

Lawbook of Manu

codification of early Hindu law attributed to Manu

sati

sometimes "suttee," it is the act whereby a devout Hindu widow shows her devotion to her husband by joining him on his funeral pyre

Hinduism

the term which we give to a diverse set of beliefs which originated in South Asia from the blend of Aryan and Dravidian religion and culture

Varuna

Aryan god who judged the behavior of mortals and preserved the cosmic order.

"House of Clay"

the place of misery to which the Aryans believed poorly behaved humans would be condemned

"World of the Fathers"

the heaven to which those judged worthy would pass after death, according to the Aryans

Vedic Age

The period of South Asian history which began with the migrations of the Aryans (singing the Vedas!) and ended app. 600 BCE

soma

hallucinogenic consumed by Aryan priests as they performed ritual sacrifices; it brought the gods into the sacrifice

sacrifice

offering to the gods in exchange for divine support, performed by brahmins; the most important source of power during the Vedic Age

transmigration

the passing of a soul into another body after death

reincarnation

belief that the individual soul is reborn in a different form after death

Upanishads

commentaries on the Vedas that are considered sacred texts in the Hindu religion

Brahman

in Hinduism he was the universal soul, and in the trinity of gods in Hinduism he was the Creator

samsara

the Hindu cycle of death and rebirth; in Buddhism means rebirth

karma

(Hinduism and Buddhism) the effects of a person's actions that determine his destiny in his next incarnation

moksha

The Hindu concept of the spirit's 'liberation' from the endless cycle of rebirths; union with Brahman

yoga

a system of exercises practiced as part of the Hindu discipline to promote control of the body and mind

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