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Jainism in India

Jainism in India
Jainism in India

Jainism in India

Jainism in India notes/study material for preparation of UPSC, BPSC, UPPSC and other State PSC Examinations.

Table of Contents

Introduction :

The word ‘Jain’ is derived from ‘Jina’ or ‘Jaina’ which means the ‘Conqueror’.

Rise of Jainism in India as a heterodox sect was in response to the existing orthodox and ritualistic nature of religion dominated by rites and rituals. Jainism became a prominent religion in India during the 6th century BC.

You can read more about the causes for the rise of Jainism and Buddhism here : Read Now

Tirthankaras in Jainism

  • There were 24 teachers called Tirthankaras, who worked towards spreading the message of jainism to the common populace. Every Tirthankara is associated with a symbol.
  • The 1st Tirthankara was Rishabnatha. His symbol was Bull.
  • The 23rd Tirthankara was Parshvanatha. His symbol was Snake. He attained Kaivalya on Mount Sammeta (Parasnath) located in Jharkhand.
  • The 24th and last Tirthankara was Vardhaman Mahavira. His symbol was Lion. He was born at Kundagrama near Vaishali. 
  • In the 13th year of his penance, Vardhamana  attained the highest spiritual knowledge also called as ‘Kevala Jnana’ meaning supreme wisdom. Thereafter, he was called Mahavira and Jina. 
  • He preached his doctrines for 30 years and died at the age of 72 at Pavapuri near Rajagriha.

You can read more details about the Tirthankaras of Jainism here : Read Now

Teachings of Mahavira

To attain salvation, Mahavira propounded three principles of Jainism, also known as Triratnas (three gems) which are:

  • Right faith – Belief in the teachings and wisdom of Mahavira
  • Right knowledge – Acceptance of the theory that there is no God and that the world has been existing without a creator and that all objects possess a soul.
  • Right conduct – It refers to the observance of the five great vows : 
    • Satya – Not to lie
    • Ahimsa – Not to injure life
    • Asteya – Not to steal
    • Aparigraha – Not to acquire property
    • Brahmacharya – Not to lead an immoral life

As per Mahavira’s teachings, all objects have souls and various degrees of consciousness.

They possess life and feel pain when they are injured. Even the practice of agriculture was considered sinful as it causes injury to the earth, worms and animals. 

Mahavira rejected the authority of the Vedas and propounded that  the universe and all its substances or entities are eternal. It has no beginning or end with respect to time.

Spread of Jainism

  • Mahavira organized the Sangha to spread his teachings. 
  • He admitted both men and women in the Sangha, which consisted of both monks and lay followers. 
  • The rapid spread of Jainism was due to the dedicated work of the members of the Sangha. It spread rapidly in Western India and Karnataka. 
  • Great kings like Chandragupta Maurya, Kharavela of Kalinga and the royal dynasties of south India such as the Gangas, the Kadambas, the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas adopted and promoted Jainism. They built various monuments for Jains.

Sects of Jainism

By the end of the fourth century B.C., there was a serious famine in the Ganges valley. Many Jain monks led by Bhadrabagu and Chandragupta Maurya came to Shravanabelagola in Karnataka. Those who stayed back in north India were led by a monk named Sthulabahu who changed the code of conduct for the monks. 

This led to the division of Jainism into two sects Svetambaras (white clad) and Digambaras (Sky-clad or Naked).

  • Digambara Jains – Followers of this sect believed in complete nudity. Male monks did not wear clothes while female monks wear unstitched plain white sarees. They followed all five vows (Satya, Ahimsa, Asteya, Aparigraha and Brahmacharya) propounded by Mahavira.
  • Svetambara Jains – Followers of this sect would wear white clothes. They followed only 4 vows (except brahmacharya).

Jain Councils:

  • The first Jain Council was convened at Pataliputra by Sthulabahu, the leader of the Digambaras, in the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. 
  • The second Jain Council was held at Valabhi in the 5th century A.D. The final compilation of Jain literature called Twelve Angas was completed in this council. 

Jain Literature

  • Lord Mahavir’s teachings were compiled by his followers into many texts collectively known as ‘Agams’ which are considered as the sacred books of the Jain religion.

Jain Architecture:

Jain Architecture includes various caves, Sculptures and temples. Some of the worth mentioning examples of Jain architectures are : 


  • Ellora Caves (Cave No. 30-35) – Aurangabad, Maharashtra
  • Udayagiri-Khandagiri Caves –  Bhubaneswar, Odisha
  • Hathi-gumpha Cave – Bhubaneswar, Odisha
  • Sittanavasal Cave – Tamil Nadu


  • Dilwara Temple- Mount Abu, Rajasthan
  • Girnar and Palitana Temple –  Bhavnagar district, Gujarat

Gommateshwara statue – It is a 57-foot (17 m) high monolithic statue in the town of Shravanabelagola in Karnataka. Carved of a single block of granite, it is one of the tallest monolithic statues in the world.

Jain Philosophy

Anekantavada – As per Anekantavada philosophy, reality can be examined from many standpoints. The same thing can be described from several standpoints and all can be equally true. This particular school promotes tolerance of contrary opinions.

Decline of Jainism:

There were several causes for the decline of Jainism in India.

Severity in the code of conduct of Jainism, decline in royal patronage, incomprehensible philosophy for common people, division into sects, rise and spread of Buddhism, bhakti movement and the rise in popularity of Vaishnavism and Shaivism were the primary causes for the decline of Jainism.

You can read about the Decline of Jainism in more details here : Read Now

In the next Chapter, we will study about the Buddhism.

You can study complete ancient history in a chapterwise format here : Ancient History Chapter-wise notes

You can solve ancient history chapterwise MCQs here : Ancient History Chapter-wise MCQs

You can read all the CivilsCracker Explained articles for Ancient History here :  CivilsCracker Explained

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Also Read in Ancient History :

Later Vedic Period

Later Vedic Period UPSC


Later Vedic Period notes/study material for preparation of UPSC, BPSC, UPPSC and other State PSC Examinations.

Table of Contents

Introduction :

In the last article of the ancient history series, we studied the Rig Vedic period. With the help of Vedic texts, we got a fair idea about the polity, society, religion and economic activities of that period.

In this article, we will study the same features of the Later Vedic period.

As we already know, The period from 1500 BC to 600 BC is considered as Vedic Period which is divided into two parts :

  • Early Vedic Period or Rig Vedic Period (1500 B.C -1000 B.C) 
  • Later Vedic Period (1000B.C – 600 B.C). 

During the Rig Vedic period the Aryans were mostly confined to the region called ‘Sapta Saindhava’ which included Afghanistan, Swat Valley of Punjab and some parts of the Indo-Gangetic plain.  

In the Later Vedic Period  (1000-600 B.C),  Aryans further moved towards the various sites of upper and middle Gangetic plains.

Painted grey pottery has been extensively found from these sites due to which these sites are also called Painted Grey Ware (PGW) sites and their culture is also known as PGW culture. 

It was succeeded by Northern Black Polished Ware from 600-500 BCE associated with the rise of the great Mahajanapadas. We will study about the Mahajanapadas period in next article.

Political Organization in Later Vedic Period :

Later Vedic period saw the gradual formation of larger kingdoms. Many jana or tribes were amalgamated to form the large janapadas or rashtras.

Royal power also increased along with the size of the kingdoms. Power and prestige of the king increased gradually and he became the master of all subjects.

The kings assumed various titles like Ahilabhuvanapathi (Lord of all earth), Ekrat and Samrat (The Sole ruler) to mark their absolute power.

King(Rajan, Samrat) performed various rituals and sacrifices to strengthen his position eg. Rajasuya (Consecration ceremony), Asvamedha (Horse sacrifice) and Vajpeya (Chariot race).

Administration in Later Vedic Period :

In the later Vedic period, a large number of new officials became involved in the administration in addition to the existing officials like Purohita, Senani and Gramani.

Some of the new officials included the Treasurer (Samagrahitri), Collector of taxes(Bhagadugha), Mediator in Disputes ( Madhyamasi), Accountant (Akshvapa) and royal messenger.

At the lower levels, the administration was carried on by the village assemblies, however the importance of Samiti and the Sabha had diminished during the later Vedic period.

In the Later Vedic Period, power of Gramani increased as he now had both civil and military powers. In fact, Gramani was the medium through which the royal power was exercised in the village.

Social Life in Later Vedic Period :

Many changes of great importance happened during the later Vedic period. 

The most important among them was the evolution of the Varna System(which is still prevalent as a caste system).

The four divisions of society – Brahmins (Priests), Kshatriyas(Rulers), Vaisyas (Agriculturists, traders and artisans) and Sudras were clearly established in the Later Vedic period. 

The two higher classes – Brahmana and Kshatriya enjoyed privileges that were denied to the Vaisyas and Shudras. 

The vaisyas were superior to the sudras however their position was gradually deteriorating.

The condition of the Sudras was very miserable. Their work was to serve the other three castes.

The Ashrama System also became well established during this period.  As per the Ashrama  system, the whole life of 100 years was divided into 4 Ashrams. They were :

  1. Brahamcharya Ashram ( student life ): Upto  25 years of age
  2. Grihastha Ashram ( Family life while discharging the worldly duties such as giving birth to children and raising them ): From 25 to 50 years of Age
  3. Vanaprastha Ashram ( Partial retirement  worldly affairs ): From 50 to 75 years of Age
  4. Sanyas Ashram (Complete retirement from the world): From 75 to 100 years of Age.

In the family, the power of the father increased however there was no improvement in the status of women. Women were considered inferior and subordinate to men. They also lost their political rights of attending assemblies.

However, the women of royal families enjoyed certain privileges. 

Women and the sudras had no right to property. The eldest son would inherit the property of the deceased father.

Child marriages became common in this period. Birth of a daughter became undesirable. 

The institution of Gotra also appeared in the later Vedic age to signify the descent from a common ancestor. 

Gotras were named after legendary sages like Kashyapa, Bharadvaja, Shandilya, Gautama, Bhrigu, Bhargav, Vashista, Vishvamitra etc.

Marriage was prohibited between persons belonging to the same Gotra.

With this, We have completed the study of Indus Valley Civilisation. 

Revision is the key to success in Civil Services exam. We understand this very well. Therefore we have included a list of MCQs with detailed explanation from this chapter. 

In the next Chapter, we will study about the Mahajanpadas.

You can study complete ancient history in a chapterwise format here : Ancient History Chapter-wise notes

You can solve ancient history chapterwise MCQs here : Ancient History Chapter-wise MCQs

You can read all the CivilsCracker Explained articles for Ancient History here :  CivilsCracker Explained

You can read all the UPSC free study materials for all subjects here : Free UPSC study materials for all subjects

You can solve chapterwise MCQs for all subjects here : Chapterwise MCQs for all subjects

Also Read in Ancient History :

Rig Vedic / Early Vedic Period

Vedic Period for UPSC, BPSc, UPPSC
Vedic Period for UPSC, BPSc, UPPSC


Rig Vedic Period notes/study material for preparation of UPSC, BPSC, UPPSC and other State PSC Examinations.

Table of Contents

Introduction :

By now, we already know that the great Harappan civilization was followed by another great era in Indian history known as the Vedic age/culture/civilization. 

The Vedic texts are the primary sources for the reconstruction of the Vedic culture. In the last article, we studied in detail about the Vedic Literature. 

In this article we will study about the various aspects of vedic period like Social and political life, Religion, Economic condition etc.

But first, let’s see the timeline of vedic age. Having a broad overview of the timeline will always help you in linking the historical events to one another and make a better understanding of the chronology.

Timeline :

The period from 1500 BC to 600 BC is considered as Vedic Period which is divided into two parts :

  • Early Vedic Period or Rig Vedic Period (1500 B.C -1000 B.C) 
  • Later Vedic Period (1000B.C – 600 B.C). 

During the Rig Vedic period the Aryans were mostly confined to the region called ‘Sapta Saindhava’ which included Afghanistan, Swat Valley of Punjab and some parts of the Indo-Gangetic plain.  The political, social and cultural life of the Rig Vedic people can be traced from the hymns of the Rig Veda.  

Political Organization :

During Rig-Vedic era, the basic unit of political organization was Kula or family. The head of the family was a Kulapa

Several families joined together on the basis of their kinship to form a village or grama which was controlled by a village headman Gramini

A group of villages constituted a larger unit called visu(clan) which was headed by Vishayapati. 

Many clans made a community called Jana which was the highest political unit.

The Chief of this tribe Jana was Rajana who was the protector of the tribe and the cattle wealth. He fought wars on behalf of his Jana. These wars were for control of cattle wealth. 

The king was assisted by Purohita and Senani ( commander of the army ) in his administration. There was no special officer for justice however spies were employed to keep an eye on theft or burglary.

There were two important bodies called the Sabha and Samiti. Sabha seems to have been a council of elders and advised the king on administration. Samiti, a general assembly, included common people.

Vidatha which also appears frequently in Rig veda, was the earliest folk assembly of the Aryans, performing all kinds of functions – economic, military, religious and social. 

There were several tribal kingdoms during the Rig Vedic period, such as Bharatas, Matsyas, Yadus and Purus. The concept of land territory was absent in the early Rig-Vedic period and The king did not maintain any regular or standing army.

Society :

The Rig Vedic society was patriarchal. The basic unit of society was family which was called Graham and the head of family was known as Grahapathi

Monogamy was prevalent whereas polygamy was also practiced among the royal and noble families.

Women were provided with equal opportunities as men for their spiritual and intellectual development. We find mention of many women poets like Apala, Viswavara, Ghosa and Lopamudra during the Rig Vedic period. Women could even attend the popular assemblies. The practices of child marriage and sati were absent.

Gurukulas imparted education to the disciples after their sacred thread ceremony. Entire instruction was given orally.

Both men and women wore upper and lower garments made of cotton and wool. A variety of ornaments were used by both men and women. 

Wheat and barley, milk and its products like curd and ghee, vegetables and fruits were the chief articles of food. Alcoholic as well as Non-alcoholic drinks were known and common. Soma and Sura(intoxicating) were the two popular liquors.

Chariot racing, horse racing, dicing, music and dance were the favourite pastimes. 

The social divisions were not rigid during the Rig Vedic period as it was based on occupation


The Rig Vedic Aryans personified the natural forces  like earth, fire, wind, rain and thunder as gods and worshipped them. 

The hymns of the Rig-Veda were mainly sung for the glorification of these gods in order to appease them. Gods were regarded as the protector of men and giver of happiness.

The important Rig Vedic gods were:

Indra –  Most important God and was also known as Purandara (the destroyer of forts) and God of rain.

 Agni (Fire) –  Second in importance. He  was regarded as the intermediary between the Gods and the worshipper.

Varuna (Rain) – He was supposed to be the upholder of the natural order. 

Vayu  – Wind

 Maruts – storm

There were also  few female gods like Aditi and Ushas. 

There were no temples and no idol worship during the early Vedic period. 

Prayers were offered to the gods in the expectation of rewards(not meant for the spiritual uplift). Ghee, milk and grain were given as offerings and elaborate rituals were followed during the worship.

Economic Condition

The Rig Vedic Aryans were primarily pastoral people and their main occupation was cattle rearing. Their wealth was estimated in terms of their cattle as cattle was synonymous with wealth. 

The gifts to the priests were also in terms of number of Cows.

The economy was based upon agriculture. The people were aware of the sowing, harvesting, threshing and various agricultural seasons. 

As they were aware about the use of iron, they used it to clean forests and brought more lands under cultivation.

Carpentry was an important profession. The availability of wood from the forests that were cleared made Carpentry a flourishing profession. Carpenters produced various kinds of chariots and ploughs. 

Workers in metal made a variety of articles with copper (was known as ‘Ayas’), bronze and iron ( was known as Krishna Ayas). Spinning and pottery were another important occupation.

Goldsmiths were active in ornament making. Gold was known as ‘Hiranya’.

Trade was an important economic activity which was conducted through the barter system. In the later times, gold coins known as ‘Nishka’ were also used as a medium of exchange.

This completes our study of Rig Vedic Period.

Revision is the key to success in Civil Services exam. We understand this very well. Therefore we have included a list of MCQs with detailed explanation.

In the next chapter we will study salient features of Later Vedic period(Social and political life, Religion, Economic condition etc.).

Also Read in Ancient History :

Vedic age and literature

Four Vedas for IAS Preparation

The Vedic Period and Literature

Vedic Literature notes/study material for preparation of UPSC, BPSC, UPPSC and other State PSC Examinations.

Table of Contents

What is the Vedic Period ?

The Vedic period is the period in the history of India when the Vedas were composed. This period started around 1500 B.C. with the arrival of Aryans to north-western parts of India. Their initial settlements were in the valleys of the north-west and the Punjab plains. Later, they moved further into Indo-Gangetic plains. 

The Vedas composed during this time are the main source of information about this period.

Who were Aryans ?

Aryans were not a separate race but a linguistic group of semi-nomadic pastoral people who spoke a common Indo-Aryan language – ‘Vedic Sanskrit’.

Original Home of Aryans

The original home of the Aryans has been a controversial question and hence, there are several theories given by different scholars. 

For example :

Central Asiaan theory propounded by Max Muller suggests that the original home of the Aryans was in the Russian steppes lands and the area around the Caspian Sea. From there, they gradually migrated to different parts of Asia and Europe and entered India in about 1500 B.C.

Bala Gangadhara Tilak argued that the original home of the Aryans was the Arctic region.

Swami Dayanand Saraswati in his famous Satyarth Prakash propounded that the original home of the Aryans was Tibet.

However, the theory of southern Russia is widely accepted by historians.

Evidence of Arayn’s Migration

Not much. We have a very limited archaeological evidences which prove the migration of Aryans.

Most important evidence in this regard is the Boghazkoi tablet inscription found in eastern Turkey. The Gods mentioned in this inscription are Indra, Varuna, Nasatya which are also the Rig-Vedic gods mentioned in Rig Veda itself.

There are also few similarities in hymns of Rig-Veda and Avesta (Sacred book of Zorastrians ). 

These similarities make historians think that these people might have originated from the same area but migrated to different places.

Geographical extent of Vedic Civilization ?

When the Aryans migrated towards in indian subcontinent, they initially settled in the region called ‘Sapta Saindhava’ which included Afghanistan, Swat Valley of Punjab and some parts of the Indo-Gangetic plain. 

‘Sapta Saindhava’ derives its name from seven rivers flowing through that region( Indus and its five tributaries + Saraswati ).

Timeline Vedic Period

The period from 1500 BC to 600 BC is considered as Vedic Period which is divided into two parts :

  • Early Vedic Period or Rig Vedic Period (1500 B.C -1000 B.C) 
  • Later Vedic Period (1000B.C – 600 B.C).

We will study about both of periods in great detail. But first let’s study about the most remarkable feature of this time – The Vedic Literature.

Vedic Literature

The Vedic literature has been broadly classified into two categories –  Shruti and Smriti.


Shruti  literally means ‘that which has been heard’. They are the most-sacred assemblage  of Hindu literature.  They are considered to be the product of divine revelation which have been heard and transmitted by sages since the time immemorial. Hence they are considered divine and eternal.

All four Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads come under Shruti literature .


Smriti literally means ‘that which is remembered’.

They are the post Vedic Classical Sanskrit literature which are considered less authoritative than Shruti. They are supplementary work and might change over time. 

Vedangas, Shad Darshana, Puranas, Upvedas, Agamas, Upangas come under Smriti literature

Lets now study the shruti literature in detail as they are more sacred, canonical(and also important for our exam). 

The Vedas :

The term ‘Veda’ literally means ‘superior knowledge/supreme knowledge/knowledge storehouse’. They are the most sacred and authoritative text among all the Vedic literature. Vedas are also called Apaurasheya ( Not created by man but god gifted) and Nitya ( existing till eternity).

There are four Vedas:

  •  Rig Veda
  • Yajur Veda
  • Sama Veda 
  • Atharva Veda

Let’s know more about them.

Rig Veda :

Oldest among all the four Vedas. It is known as “First testament” of mankind. It was composed around 1600 B.C. to 1200 B.C.

It is a collection of 1028 hymns which were sung in praise of different Rig-Vedic gods.

It is divided into 10 Mandalas(Parts). 2nd to 9th Mandalas are older and were composed first. 1st and 10th Mandalas were composed later hence they are the younger.

Third Mandala of Rig Veda contains the famous Gayatri Mantra which was compiled in the praise of sun god Savitri.

Tenth Mandala contains Purusha Sukta from which is considered to be the source of varna system.


The Yajur Veda mainly contains the details about various rules/rituals that were to be said by a priest at the time of sacrifice/Yajnas. In short, this is a book of sacrificial rules.

This has also been divided into Black(Krishna) Yajurveda and White(Shukla) Yajurveda.

Krishna Yajurveda – Mixture of mantras(verses) and explanatory matter.

Shukla Yajurveda – Clear separation of mantras and explanatory matter ( Explanatory matter has been separated and grouped into Satapatha Brahmana ( Brahmana – Commentaries on the Vedas)).

Sama Veda:

It is called the book of music and chants. 

It sets the hymns of Rigveda into rhythm. The origin of Indian classical music can be  traced to Sama Veda .

It contains a total of 1549 hymns.

Atharva Veda:

Atharvaveda describes the early traditions of magic and cure of diseases. It is also called the Veda of magical formulas.  

It contains around 730 hymns. 

Atharvaveda was mainly composed by two groups of rishis/Vedic scholars known as the ‘Atharvanas’ and the ‘Angiras’. Therefore, previously it was also called ‘Atharvan-girasa’.


The Brahmanas are the prose texts which provide explanation and meaning of the hymns of Vedas. Each Veda has its own Brahmanas. Below table lists the most important Brahmanas which are associated with their respective Vedas.


  • Aitareya Brahmana
  • Kaushitaki Brahmana


  • Satapatha Brahmana
  • Taittiriya Brahmana


  • Panchavimsha / Tandya Brahmana
  • Jaiminiya Brahmana


  • Gopatha Bramana


The Aranyakas are the forest books which were written for the Rishis and students living in the forests. They are the concluding portions of the Brahmanas, however, because of their distinct character, they are categorised as a separate group of literature.

They do not put much emphasis on rites and ritual ( as Brahmanas do) but show the path of meditation, philosophy, mysticism and moral values. They work as a bridge between Karma marga ( advocated by Brahmanas ) and the Jnana marga ( advocated by Upanishads ). 

There are only seven Aranyakas available and there is no Aranyaka attached to the Atharva veda.

Upanishads :

Upanishads are considered the last layer of Vedic literature therefore they are also called Vedanta. Their subject matter is Philosophical and they mainly deal with matters like Atman( soul/Self), Brahman ( Ultimate reality ), rebirth etc. 

They focus on the ultimate goal of the Vedas which is to achieve the Moksha or Supreme Bliss and suggest the path of knowledge to achieve the same.

There are a total 108 Upanishads. Some of the important Upanishads are – Chandogya Upanishads, Brihadaranyaka Upanishads, Katha Upanishads, Mundaka Upanishads etc.

 The latest Upnishad is Muktika Upnishad which was recorded by Dara Shikoh whereas  oldest Upnishad is Vrihadaranyaka Upnishad.

Conversation of Yama and Nachiketa is the subject-matter of Katha Upanishad.

Satyameva Jayate in the National Emblem has been taken from Mundaka Upanishad.

This completes the study of Shruti literatures of Vedics period which are considered most sacred and authoritative. Let us now read about the Smiriti literatures.


The word Purana literally means ‘ancient’ or ‘old’. 

Puranas describe ancient legends and consist of genealogies of kings, history of the universe from creation to destruction and philosophy of Hinduism. Several Puranas are named after major Hindu deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and Shakti.

There are 18 major Puranas. Some of the important ones are :

  • Vishnu Purana
  •  Bhagavata Purana
  •  Garuda Purana
  • Shiva Purana
  • Brahma Purana
  • Agni Purana
Matsya Purana is the oldest Purana.



Ramayana is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Mahabharata.

Created by Maharishi Valmiki, Ramayana narrates the life of Rama, prince of the legendary kingdom of Kosala. The story follows his fourteen-year exile to the forest urged by his father King Dasharatha, on the request of Rama’s stepmother Kaikeyi, his travels across forests with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, the kidnapping of Sita by Ravana (the king of Lanka ), which resulted in a war and finally Rama’s eventual return to Ayodhya to be crowned as a great king. 

Ramayana Consists of 24,000 verses in seven books (Kandas).


The Mahabharata is attributed to Maharishi Vyas.

It narrates the struggle between two groups of cousins in the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kauravas and the Pāṇḍavas.

The Mahabharata is the longest epic known and contains 1 Lakh verses and 1.8 million words which makes it 4 times of Ramayana.


There are Six Vedangas which are associated with the study and understanding of the Vedas. 

They are :

  1. Shiksha (deals with Correct Pronunciation).
  2. Kalpa ( deals with Rituals).
  3. Vyakaran ( deals with Grammar).
  4. Nirukta (deals with etymology – explains the reason why a particular word has been used).
  5. Chhanda( deals with Vedic meter – Each Mantra of the Veda has a special Chandas. The Chandas is designed for the purpose of securing the proper reading and reciting of Vedic texts).
  6. Jyotisha ( deals with Astrology).


Upaveda or ‘Applied knowledge’ are the traditional literatures which deal with subjects which are technical in nature such as Economics, Military Science, Music and Dance and Medical Sciences . 

They are as follows:

Āyurveda: Deals in Medicine and associated with the Rigveda

Dhanurveda: Deals in Archery and associated with the Yajurveda

Gāndharvaveda: Deals with Music and Dance and associated with the Samaveda

Arthveda :  Deals with Economics and associated with the Atharvaveda

Shad Darshana (Six schools of Hindu philosophy):

Shat-Darshana are the six traditional philosophies or schools of thought that originated in the Indian subcontinent with contributions made by various individual thinkers over many generations.

  1. Samkhya – It represents a dualistic system in which the two distinct principles of purusha (self, spirit) and prakriti (matter) dominate. 
    Founded by sage Kapila, Samkhya is the most ancient of six schools. This school denies the “existence of God” and advocates that there are two realities Purusha and Prakriti.
  2. Yoga – Founder of this school of Philosophy was Patanjali. This school emphasizes on meditation, contemplation and liberation.
  3. Nyaya –  Founder of this school of Philosophy was Gautama .
    The objective of the Nyaya School focuses on methods of discriminating valid knowledge from invalid. It is based on texts known as the Nyaya Sutras which say that there are four means of attaining valid knowledge: perception, inference, comparison, and verbal testimony.
  4. Vaisheshika – Founder of this school of Philosophy was Maharishi Kanad.
    It propounded that all objects of whole universe are reducible to a finite number of atoms. This school deals in detail with Matter and metaphysics.
  5. Mimāṃsā – Founder of this school of philosophy was Jamini.
    According to Mimamsa/Purva Mimamsa  philosophy, Vedas are eternal and possess all knowledge. This philosophy also provided justification of vedic rituals & attainment of salvation.
  6. Vedanta Vedanta means end/purpose/goal of Vedas. It was given by Maharishi Vyasa.
    The Vedanta (Also known as Uttara Mimamsa) school concentrates on the philosophical teachings of the Upanishads rather than the rituals and sacrifices given in Brahmanas.

Vedanta school further separated into six sub-schools, with each school producing its own series of commentaries. You can read more about sub-schools of Vedanta philosophy here.

This completes our study of vedic literature.

Revision is the key to success in Civil Services exam. We understand this very well. Therefore we have included a list of MCQs with detailed explanation.

In the next chapter we will study salient features of Rig-Vedic/Early-Vedic culture(Social and political life, Religion, Economic condition etc.).

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Indus Valley Civilization

Indus Valley Civilazation
Indus Valley Civilazation

Indus Valley Civilization

Indus Valley Civilization notes/study material for preparation of UPSC, BPSC, UPPSC and other State PSC Examinations.

Table of Contents

What is Indus Valley Civilization ?

Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age Civilization that flourished between 2500-1750 BC in the north western parts of India and present-day Pakistan.

It is also called the ‘Harappan Civilization’ after the name of its first discovered site.

The term “Indus Valley Civilization” was  first used by John Marshall.

Origin and Evolution of Indus Valley Civilization:

There are four important stages or phases of evolution:

  1. Pre-Harappan stage :
    Located in eastern Balochistan at Mehrgarh. In this stage, people began to lead a settled agricultural life.

  2. Early-Harappan stage :
    The transition from rural to urban life happened during this period which led to gradual growth of towns. 
    Example – Sites of Amri and Kot Diji(Sindh).

  3. Mature-Harappan stage :
    Great cities emerged with elaborate town planning and urban features.
    Ex. – Sites of Mohenjodaro in Sindh, Kalibangan in Rajasthan.

  4. Late-Harappan stage : 
    Decline of the Indus culture started.
    Ex. –  Lothal (Gujrat).

Geographical Extent of Indus Valley Civilization :

Its westernmost point was Suktagendor in South Baluchistan while easternmost point was Alamgirpur in Meerut district of UP.

In North, it extended upto Manda in J&K while in South it extended upto Daimabad in Maharashtra.

Salient Features of the Harappan Culture :

Important features of Harappan Civilization are as follows :

Town Planning in Harappan Civilization:

This is most unique feature of this civilization.

Whole settlement was divided into two sections:

  1. Citadel – Smaller but built on higher platform
  2. Lower Town – Much larger but lower 

Citadel :

This was constructed on mud brick platform. Therefore it was higher than rest of the town.

There are evidence of structures which were probably used for special public purposes.
Ex. – Warehouse, The granary,  The Great Bath(The most important public place of Mohenjodaro – must have served as a ritual bathing site).

Lower Town :

Town planning was on the lines of the grid system with streets and lanes cutting across one another almost at right angles.

Houses were made of burnt bricks which were inhabited by the common people. There is large-scale use of burnt bricks and absence of any stone buildings.

Every house had its own bathroom paved with bricks. There was underground drainage system that connected all houses to the street drains. Drains were covered by stone slabs or bricks.

Economic life in Indus Valley Civilization :

A great progress was made in all spheres of economic activity such as agriculture, industry and art and crafts and trade.

Wheat and barley were the main crops grown besides sesame, mustard and cotton.  Evidence of rice cultivation has also been found from  few sites.

Animals like sheep, goats and buffalo were domesticated. However, The use of horse is not firmly established. Fishing was also a regular occupation

Bronze and copper vessels are the outstanding examples of the Harappan metal craft. People of this civilization did not know about Iron. Copper was the most widely used metal. It was obtained from the Khetri copper mines of Rajasthan. Tin was possibly brought from Afghanistan.

Internal trade was extensive with other parts of India and had a guild system. Trade was based on barter system. The measurements were standardized with precise system of weights. Weights were usually made of a stone called chert and were usually cubical in shape.

Foreign trade was mainly conducted with Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, Iran and Oman. Many seals of Indus valley have been found in Mesopotamia which suggest close trade link between both the civilizations.

Gold, copper, tin and  semi-precious stones were major imports. Main exports were several agricultural products and  cotton goods, pottery, beads, terracotta figures and ivory products.

Art and Crafts of Indus Valley Civilization :

The Harappans had a great sense of arts and crafts which is proved by the evidences of stone/metal statues, toys, figurines, beads, seals etc.

The Harappan sculpture reveals the high degree of proficiency. A remarkable example of this is a bronze figure of dancing girl found from Mohenjodaro.

They were experts in bead-making. Beads were extensively made and worn by men and women. Steatite, a very soft stone was extensively used for bead making. Use of ornaments made of gold, silver, copper, bronze and semi precious stones was also common.

The pottery of Indus valley civilization is another specimen of the fine arts of the Indus people. It is distributed throughout settlements. Pottery was generally plain however in some places red and black painted pottery is found.

Their notable artistic achievement was also in seal making. There are engravings on both sides of the seals ( especially those of animals ).

Thousands of seals have been discovered by archaeologists from various Indus valley sites. Most famous among them is the Pashupati Seal from Mohenjo Daro

Religion in Indus Valley Civilization :

The chief male deity was Pasupati (proto-Siva). He is represented in various seals as sitting in a yogic posture with three faces and two horns( See Image Above). He is surrounded by four animals (elephant, rhino, tiger and buffalo ). Two deer can be seen on his feet. 

The chief female deity was the Mother Goddess who is represented in numerous terracotta figurines. 

Linga worship and yoni worship( female sex organ ) was prevalent. Trees( Peepal tree ) and animals (Unicorn, Humped Bull etc.) were also worshipped by the Harappans. However,  No temples or religious monuments have been found in the whole Civilization. This shows their architecture was completely utilitarian.

They believed in ghosts and used amulets as protection against them.

Script of Harappan Civilization :

The Harappan script is still not fully deciphered. This is one of the reasons that we don’t know much about this civilisation. 

The script was mostly written from right to left. In few seals the boustrophedon method ( written from right to left in first line and from left to right in second line ) was also adopted. Script was pictographic and was engraved on various seals.

Social Life of Harappan Civilization:

The people at Indus Valley Civilization had a very organised way of living.

The dress of both men and women was divided into two pieces, one upper garment and the other lower garment. A figure of a bearded man which has been found in Mohenjo-Daro indicate that they used sewn clothing.

Use of Beads, ornaments and cosmetics was common. Various household articles made of pottery, stone, shells, ivory and metal have been found.

The large number of terracotta figurines and Children’s toys such as cart, bull, elephant, monkeys, chariots have been found. Favorite pastimes for elders were hunting and bull fighting.

Various burial practices have been noticed at different sites. For example, evidence of complete burial and post-cremation burial were have been found at Mohenjodaro. At Lothal and  Harappa, evidence of use of coffins has been found. Practice of pot burials is also found at Lothal

Political Authority of Harappan Civilization:

The extraordinary uniformity of Harappan artefacts such as seals, weights and bricks across the various sites indicate that the civilization was very well organised and administered. Despite this, there is no evidence of any ruler or any governing system for the Harappan civilisation.

Some archaeologists believe that Harappan society had no rulers, and that everybody enjoyed equal status. While some feel there was no single ruler but several.

Some other suggest that Harappa was possibly ruled by a class of merchants.

Although some weapons like axes, spears, daggers,and arrow-heads have been excavated from various sites, there is no evidence of warfare

Important Indus Valley Sites :

Harappa is the first discovered site of this civilization.

Excavators –  Daya Ram Sahni
Year – 1921 
Location – Montgomery district of Punjab (Now in Pak) on the left bank of Ravi

Important Features:

  1. A major urban center.
  2. City followed grid pattern
  3. A citadel on elevated platform
  4. Row of six granaries

Important Findings:

  1. Evidences of coffin burial.
  2. Painted Pottery

Mohenjo-Daro (mound of dead) is the largest urban centre of the civilization.

Excavators – R.D.Banarjee
Year – 1922
Location – Larkana district in Sind on the right bank of Indus(Now in Pak).

Important Features:

  1. City followed grid pattern
  2. A large granary
  3. The Great Bath
    • Most famous building found at Mohenjo-Daro
    • A specimen of beautiful brick work
    • The water for the bath was provided from a well in an adjacent room.
    • The floor was made up of bricks.
    • Floor and outer walls were bituminized so that there is no leakage of water.
    • No use of stone.

Important Findings:

  1. The famous bronze dancing girl.
  2. Seal of  Pashupati
  3. Steatite statue of bearded priest
  4. Numerous terracotta figurines 
  5. Human skeletons showing invasion and massacre.

City without Citadel.

Excavators – N. Gopal Majumdar, Mackey
Year – 1931
Location – Situated in Sindh on the bank of river Indus.

Important Features:

  1. The city had no Citadal.
  2. Famous for bead makers shop
  3. A a settlement with lots of artisans and was an industrial town.

Important Findings:

  1. Evidence of factories of various figurines, seals, toys, bone implements.

Kalibangan means ‘Black Bangles’.

Excavators – A. Ghosh
Year – 1953
Location – Situated in  Hanumangarh district of  Rajasthan on the Bank of River Ghaggar.

Important Features:

  1. Shows signs of both Pre-Harappan and Early-Harappan phases of the civilization.
  2. Kalibangan bricks were earthen ones where as bricks in other sites were baked ones.
  3. There was no drainage system in Kalibangan.
  4. Many houses had their own well.

Important Findings:

  1. Evidence of seven Fire-Altars
  2. Evidence of ploughed field
  3. Evidence of earliest recorded Earthquake
  4. Evidence of wooden furrow

A relatively new discovery, excavated in 1990s.

Excavators – R.S. Bisht
Year – Around 1990
Location – Situated in Gujarat.

Important Features:

  1. Three parts of the city – Unlike the Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro where there are two settlements( Citadel and Lower Town ), in Dholavira, 3 divisions have been found which have been protected by fortifications.
  2. Unique water management system.

Important Findings:

  1. Several large reservoirs
  2. Signboard with Indus Script.

It was a coastal town with a dockyard.

Excavators – S.R. Rao
Year – 1953
Location – Situated in Gujarat on Bhogava river.

Important Features:

  1. City was divided into six sections.
  2. Entry to the houses were on main street whereas houses on the other sites have lateral entry.

Important Findings:

  1. Artificial dockyard
  2. Remains of rice husk (Rice husk has also been found only at Rangpur, Gujrat)
  3. Evidence of horse from a terracotta figurine
  4. Iranian seal

Located near Ahmadabad in Gujarat.

Important Findings:

  1. Rice husk

Located in the Bhuj area of Gujarat.

Important Findings:

  1. Evidence of the first actual remains of the horse bones.

Pre-harappan site and located on the left bank of River Indus.

Important Features:

  1. City is seems to be destructed by some fire.

Located in Hissar district of Haryana.

Important Features:

  1. One of the largest sites of Indus Valley.
  2. Largest Indus Valley site in India

Located in Hissar district of Haryana.

Located in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.

Important Features:

  1. Easternmost boundary of Indus Valley Civilization

Located in Punjab.

Located near the Pak-Iran Border.

Important Features:

  1. Important coastal town along with Lothal, Balakot.
  2. Western border of Indus Valley Civilization

Decline of Indus Valley Civilization

Decline started around 1900 BC and by 1750 BC, very little remained of this civilization.

Historians are not unanimous about the causes for the decline of Harappan civilization.

Some scholars believe that a combination of natural factors were responsible for the decline of the Civilization. 

Natural calamities like recurring floods, drying up of rivers, dramatic shifts in the river courses,  changes in patterns of rainfall, decreasing fertility of the soil due to excessive exploitation and occasional earthquakes might have caused the decline of the Harappan cities.

Some other scholars believe that invasion of Aryans was the major cause of decline. ( Aryan invasion theory – Sir Mortimer Wheeler).

This theory is based on two findings :

  1. There is a reference in the Rig-Veda, that Indra destroyed the forts of Hariyuppa (Probably Harappa). People of  Hariyuppa has been called ‘Dasyus’ and forts have been called ‘Pur’ ( Indra has been called Purandhar, destroyer of Pur).
  2. The discovery of human skeletons huddled together at Mohenjodaro indicates that the city was invaded. The Aryans had superior weapons as well as fast horses which might have enabled them to conquer this region.

However, many scholars dismiss the Wheeler’s theory based on the argument that a ‘Pur’ of Rigveda was not a fort of Indus Valley. Rig-Veda has not mentioned anything about the recognizable features of the Indus valley sites such as streets, houses, granaries, wells, drains,  etc.

With this, We have completed the study of Indus Valley Civilisation

Revision is the key to success in Civil Services exam. We understand this very well. Therefore we have included a list of MCQs with detailed explanation.

In the next post, we will study about the Vedic Civilization..

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Pre Historic Period | Ancient History Notes

Stone Age

Ancient History Chapter 1 - Pre-Historic Period

Pre-Historic Period notes/study material for preparation of UPSC, BPSC, UPPSC and other State level Examinations.

Table of Contents

What is the Prehistoric period ?

We the humans have a long past of evolution. The earliest traces of human existence in India go back to the period between 300000 and 200000 BC.

We have evolved a lot since then slowly and gradually.

However, Most of this process of evolution is not recorded or written anywhere as the humans of that time did not know how to write. 

It is only after the humans learnt the skill of writing, they started recording thing in written format for the reference of future generations.

So broadly we can divide the history of human evolution into two parts :

  1. Time period before the humans learnt the skill of writing . This period is called Pre-historic period.
  2. Time period after the humans learnt the skill of writing. This period is called Historic period.

So, to conclude, the history of human past before the emergence of writing is called prehistoric period. 

As there are no written records are available for this period, Our study of this period is mainly based on the archaeological remains ( Ex.- Stone tools, Pottery, Artifacts)  that have been excavated by the archaeologist. Such archaeological remains are found in different parts of India which help us in reconstructing the history of this time.

Classification of Prehistoric period

Prehistoric period has been divided into various stages/ages on the basis of nature and types of stone implements used by the primitive men.

Initially, the stone implements used by primitive men were large and rough. With the passage of time, there was a remarkable improvement in the stone tools. We will learn about this transformation in detail. 

In India, the prehistoric period/Stone Age is divided into :

  • Paleolithic (Old Stone Age)
  • Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age)
  • Neolithic (New Stone Age). 

Metal Age in India was a transitional phase from Pre-historic period to historic period.

These periods were not uniform throughout the Indian subcontinent.

Let’s study them one by one in detail. 

Paleolithic or Old Stone Age

The word Paleolithic comes from two Greek words, ‘Palaeo’, meaning old, and ‘Lithos’, meaning stone. Hence the name Old Stone Age. The name itself points to the importance of stone tools that were found during this period.

The Paleolithic period extends from 2 million years ago to about 12,000 years ago. It has been further divided into the Lower Paleolithic, Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic ages which indicate slow and gradual increase in fineness of the stone tools. 

Lower Paleolithic Age

  • Timeline: 30,00,000 BC to 1,00,000 BC
  • Most part of the Ice Age
  • Tools – Chopper, Handaxe and Cleavers

Middle Paleolithic Age​

  • Timeline: 1,00,000 BC to 40000 BC
  • Tools became smaller, lighter and sharper
  • Tools – Flake ( Hence also know as Flake Culture )

Upper Paleolithic Age​

  • Timeline: 40,000 BC to 12,000 BC
  • Climate started  to become warmer 
  • Tools – Flake and Blade ( Hence also known as Flake-Blade Culture )

Stone implements were generally made of a hard rock known as Quartzite. Therefore Paleolithic man in India is also called Quartzite Man.

The life of Paleolithic people was primitive. For their food requirements, they were totally dependent on hunting and gathering of edible things provided by nature(fruits, vegetables, roots, seeds, leaves  etc.). They moved from place to place in search of such plant and animal resources. Therefore, these people were also called hunter-gatherers.

They lived in rock shelters and caves. Many of the caves in which these early people lived have beautiful paintings on the walls.

Some of the best examples of Paleolithic paintings are from Bhimbetka located in Madhya Pradesh. Paintings in Bhimbetka show wild animals and hunting scenes drawn with great accuracy and skill.

Important Palaeolithic sites in India

  1. Lingsugur in Raichur district, Karnataka
  2. The Soan valley and Potwar Plateau on the northwest India.
  3. Siwalik hills.
  4. Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh.
  5. Adamgarh hill in Narmada valley.
  6. Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh
  7. Attirampakkam near Chennai.
  8. Hunsgi region of Karnataka
  9. Lidder river Pahalgam , Kashmir

Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age

It was the transitional phase between the Paleolithic Age and Neolithic Age which falls roughly from 12000 B.C. to 6000 B.C.

Change in way of life

During Mesolithic period, favorable changes happened in the climate.

The climate became warmer and humid which was favorable for growth of vegetation. This led to the natural growth of several grain bearing grasses such as wheat and barley in different parts of the India. Human beings collected these grains as food, and with time also learnt where they grew, and when they ripened and became edible.

Therefore we can safely conclude that primitive cultivation started during this period and with that started the tendency to settle for longer periods in an area.

Domestication of animals

Domestication of animals also started during this period. 

Earliest evidence of domestication of animals is found from Adamgarh in Madhya Pradesh and Bagor of Rajasthan

Evidence found at these places suggest that dog, cattle, sheep and goat were some of the first animals to be domesticated.

Stone Tools

Stone tools of the Mesolithic period were smaller in size and finer than the Paleolithic period.

These stone tools were often not more than five centimetres in size. They are also called Microliths by the historians.

Burial of dead bodies

People of Mesolithic period were aware of burial process of dead bodies.

Mesolithic human burials have been found at Langhnaj in Gujarat, Bagor in Rajasthan, Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh, SaraiNahar Rai and Mahdaha of Pratapgarh district of UP.

Mesolithic Paintings

The paintings and engravings found at the rock shelters give an idea about the social life of Mesolithic people.

The subject matter of the paintings are mostly wild animals and hunting scenes, though there are some related to human social and religious life such as sex and child birth.

Important Mesolithic Sites

  1. Rajasthan, → Baghore →  largest Mesolithic site in India.
  2. Uttar Pradesh –   Sarai Nahar Rai(Burials), Mahadaha(Dwelling Place, Burial Pit), Damdama, Choponi-mando(Handmade earthen-ware), Morhana Pahar etc.
  3. Madhya Pradesh → Bhimbetka, Adamgarh
  4. Jharkhand → Chhotanagpur plateau
  5. Gujrat → Langhnaj etc.

Neolithic Age or New Stone age

Neolithic Age began around 6000 B.C . A remarkable progress was noticed in human civilization in the Neolithic Age.

Change in way of life

The chief characteristic features of Neolithic culture is the beginning of agriculture. Cultivation of plants and domestication of animals led to the emergence of village communities based on sedentary life.

Oldest evidence of Agriculture is found in Mehrgarh in Baluchistan.

Oldest evidence of Paddy Cultivation is found in Koldihawa in Allahabad District of UP.

Domestication of animals

Domestication  and rearing of sheep, goats and cattle was widely prevalent. Cattle were used for cultivation and for transport

Stone tools

Stone tools of the Neolithic period were polished to give a fine cutting edge. They were found to be more effective for hunting and cutting trees.

Manufacture of pottery

Invention of the Potter’s Wheel was one of the most important technological advancements of this time. Pottery was used for cooking as well as storage of food grains. These were also decorated sometimes.  

Large urns were used as coffins for the burial of the dead.

Domestication of cotton

People of Neolithic period started growing Cotton.

Earliest evidence of Cotton cultivation has been found at Mehrgarh, Pakistan.

The people of Neolithic Age used clothes made of cotton and wool.


People of Neolithic period made mud brick houses instead of grass huts.

At some places, people built pit-houses which were dug into the ground (For example in Burzahom , Kashmir) with steps leading into them.

Important Neolithic Sites

  1. Balochistan – Mehrgarh
  2. Kashmir – Burzahom and Gufkrall
  3. UP – Koldihwa(Remains of rice husk)
  4. Bihar – Chirand
  5. Karnataka – Maski, Hallur, Brahmgiri
  6. Tamilnadu – Paiyampalli 

Chalcolithic/Metal age

The Neolithic period was followed by the Chalcolithic/Metal age.  It was the time when humans began using metals along with stones. First metal used by humans was Copper. Hence this age was also called the ‘Copper-Stone’ age. Bronze was also used along with copper to make tools and weapons.

In this period, Humans learnt the technology of smelting metal ore and crafting metal artifacts. People began to travel for a long distance to obtain metal ores. This led to a network of Chalcolithic cultures throughout the Indian subcontinent. 

Generally, Chalcolithic cultures had grown along the river valleys. Some important Chalcolithic cultures are :

  • Ahara Culture: Found at Aahar (Rajasthan)
  • Malwa Culture: Along Narmada & its tributaries in Gujarat.
  • Kayatha Culture: Along Chambal and its tributaries
  • Svalda Culture : Found in Dhulia district of Maharashtra

Harappan culture is also considered as a part of Chalcolithic culture. However, there are many Chalcolithic sites which belong to the Pre-Harappan and Post-Harappan period.

With this, We have completed the study of Pre-Historic period. 

Revision is the key to success in Civil Services exam. We understand this very well. Therefore we have included a list of MCQs with detailed explanation.

Mock Test

In the next post, we will study about the Indus valley civilization.

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