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lowest catse in Indian society; performed tasks that were polluting


great epic tale from classical India; traces adventures of King Rama and his wife Sita


Brahmans who were teachers for the princes of the imperial court of the Guptas


dynasty that succeeded the Mauryas in norhtwestern India; sponsors of Buddhism


seafaring people along southern coast of India; traded cotton and silks, dyes, drugs, gold, and ivory


successive attachment of the soul to some animate form according to merits in previous lives


Buddhist state of enlightenment, as state of tranquility


Indian epic of war, princely honor, love, and social duty; written down in last centuries BCE; previously handed down in oral form


stone shrines built to house pieces of bone or hair and personal possessions said to be relics of the Buddha; preserved Buddhist architectural forms


dynasty established in Indian subcontinent in 4th century BCE following invasion by Alexander the Great


creator of major Indian and Asian religion; born in 6th century BCE as son of local ruler among Aryan tribes located near Himalayas; taught enlightenment could be achieved only by abandoning desires for all earhtly things

Chandragupta Maurya

founder of Maurya dynasty; established first empire in Indian subcontinent; first centralized government since Harappan civilization


grandson of Chandragupta Maurya; completed conquests of Indian subcontinent; converted to Buddhism and sponsored spread of new religion throughout his empire


political advisor to Chandragupta Maurya; one of the authors of Arthashastra; believed in scientific application of warfare


political treatise written during reign of Chandragupta Maurya; advocated use of spies and assassins, bribery, and scientific forms of warfare


dynasty that succeeded the Kushans in the 3rd century BCE; built empire that extended to all but the southern regions of the Indian subcontinent; less centralized than Mauryan empire


the scared and classical Indian language

Skanda Gupta

last of able rulers of the Gupta dynasty; following his reign the empire dissolved under the pressure of nomadic invasions


the caste position and career determined by a person's birth; Hindu culture required that one accept one's social position and perform occupation to the best of one's ability in order to have a better situation in the next life


later books of the Vedas; contained sophisticated and sublime philosophical ideas; utilized by Brahmans to restore religious authority


a religious symbol associated with meditation, usually created with geometric patterns and shapes


written by Varsayana during Gupta era; offered instrustions on all aspects of life for higher caste males, including grooming, hygiene, etiquette, and selection of wives


the sum of merits accumulated by a soul at any given point in time; determined the caste to which the soul would be assigned in the next life

Alexander the Great

invaded India but did not establish a durable empire; allowed important Indian contacts with Hellenistic culture


torrential rains crucial for farming; vary from year to year sometimes bringing too little rain or too late


literary epics developed by Aryans; initially passed down orally; most of what we know about preclassical period in Indian history comes from these sacred books


the first epic of the Vedas; consists of 1028 hymns deticated to the Aryan gods and composed by various priests


hindu god; the preserver


hindu god; the destroyer

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