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nomads from Europe and Asia who migrated to India and finally settled; vedas from this time suggest beginning of caste system


India's rigid social system in which all members of that society are assigned by birth to specific ranks and inherit specific roles and privileges


The four major social divisions in India's caste system: the Brahmin priest class, the Kshatriya warrior/administrator class, the Vaishya merchant/farmer class, and the Shudra laborer class.


sub-castes; were groups of people within each caste that worked together for one economic function

The Lawbook of Manu

manual that dealt with the place of proper moral behavior and social relationships, as well as sexual and gender relationships and their place in Vedic Society; reflects the ideals of the time


Early Indian sacred 'knowledge'-the literal meaning of the term-long preserved and communicated orally by Brahmin priests and eventually written down.

Rig Veda

A collection of 1,017 Sanskrit hymns composed about 1500 BC or earlier; Hinduism's oldest sacred text.


are regarded as part of the Vedas and as such form part of the Hindu scriptures. discuss philosophy, meditation, and the nature of God


in Hinduism and Buddhism, the process by which a soul is reborn continuously until it achieves perfect understanding


The eternal self or soul of an individual that is reincarnated from one body to the next


A religion and philosophy developed in ancient India, characterized by a belief in reincarnation and a supreme being who takes many forms

Siddhartha Gautama

founder of Buddhism; born a prince; left his father's wealth to find the cause of human suffering; also know as Buddha


the teaching of Buddha that life is permeated with suffering caused by desire, that suffering ceases when desire ceases, and that enlightenment obtained through right conduct and wisdom and meditation releases one from desire and suffering and rebirth


Third ruler of the Mauryan Empire in India (r. 270-232 B.C.E.). He converted to Buddhism and broadcast his precepts on inscribed stones and pillars, the earliest surviving Indian writing. (p. 184)

Gupta empire

Powerful Indian state based, like its Mauryan predecessor, on a capital at Pataliputra in the Ganges Valley. It controlled most of the Indian subcontinent through a combination of military force and its prestige as a center of sophisticated culture

Mauryan Dynasty

Political vacuum with retreat of Alexander the Great • Founded by Chandragupta Maurya political unity • Ashoka ruled 269-232 BCE 3rd emperor • Founding spirit of Indian unity and nationhood • Spread Buddhism in India encouraged religious tolerance • Period of internal prosperity external peace • First Indian dynasty • First time Indian was united

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