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The Old Indian Civilization

                                    Plan:

1. The “unknown land” of Asia – India.
2. Early Indian Civilization.
3. Key Features of Indian Society.
4. Religion and the Indian way of life.
5. Lack of Political Unity.
6. India’s literature represented by Mahabharata and Ramayana.
7. Customs in India – the practice of self-immolation by fire.
8. The role of muslims in India’s life.
9. Taj Mahal.
10.  Art of India.


      The “unknown lands” of Asia and Africa have fascinated Westerners  for
centuries.  The  Orient,  with  her  silks  and  her  unique  cultures,  has
attracted travelers since early days. Despite  the  contacts,  between  Asia
and Africa remained virtually unaffected by  Western  influences  until  the
twentieth century.
      India is a land of great diversity, in its  topography  (the  physical
features of a land), climate, and population, it is a  study  in  contrasts.
This triangular subcontinent extends from  southern  Asia  into  the  Indian
Ocean, forming a giant Pennsylvania. It’s terrain  varies  from  subtropical
rain forest to barren deserts,  from  low  coastal  plains  to  the  highest
mountain range in the world, the  Himalayas.  Between  the  rugged  mountain
regions in the north and the coastal plains and  tropical  plateaus  of  the
south lie fertile valleys watered by two great river systems, the Indus  and
the Ganges. Like  the  Mesopotamian  and  Egyptian  cultures,  the  earliest
Indian civilization began along riverbanks. The first inhabitants  of  India
settled in river valleys along the Indus and Ganges rivers.
      These  people  must  have  felt  secure  from  invaders  and   foreign
influences. They were protected by tall mountain ranges in the north and  by
seas on the east and west. But despite these  natural  barriers,  India  did
not remain an isolated land.
      Throughout her history,  merchants,  foreign  invaders  and  Wandering
tribes crossed the mountains along India’s northwestern border  and  settled
in the fertile river valleys. As a result, India became a  land  of  diverse
elements. Within Indian Society, a unique culture developed.

                          Early Indian Civilization

      India derives its name from the Indus River, along whose fertile banks
the earliest Indian civilization  flourished  (ca  2300  BC).  Much  of  our
limited knowledge of this civilization has come from excavations of  two  of
its leading cities: Mohenjo – Daro  and  Harappa.  These  carefully  planned
cities  had  wide,  straight  streets  lined  with  brick  houses.  Evidence
indicates that, these cities  had  elaborate  drainage  and  sewer  systems,
which were more advanced than those in most, modern Indian Villages.
      Although a great distance separates India and the Near East, the early
inhabitants of India carried on  trade  with  Egypt  and  Mesopotamia.  From
archeological evidence  it  is  known  that  the  Indus  civilization  ended
suddenly – perhaps by flood on by enemy invasion. It was at this  time  that
a warlike people called the Aryans migrated into the Indus Valley.
      The Aryans were a fair-skinned  people  who  came  from  central  Asia
sometime after 1500 BC and subdued the non Aryan people of northwest  India.
Many historians believe that the Aryans were related  to  tribes  that  were
invading the Near East Greece and Rome about the same time. The Aryans  were
herdsmen; they kept large numbers of cows and  horses.  Although  they  left
behind no cities as the Indus civilization did, they  did  establish  a  new
language in India – Sanskrit.
      Our knowledge of  the Aryans and their  influence  on  Indian  society
comes not from archaeology, but from a collection  of  religious  literature
known as the Vedas, meaning “knowledge”. Preserved in the  Vedas  are  early
traditions and religious beliefs of the  Indians,  which  were  passed  down
orally from one generation to the next. From Sanskrit  literature,  we  gain
insights into the Aryan  way of life,  which  became  the  basis  of  Indian
culture and tradition.


                       Key Features of Indian Society

      India has one of the oldest cultures in the modern  world.  The  basic
characteristics of Indian society, described  in  the  Vedas,  have  changed
little from ancient to modern days.


      Joint-Family

      The family has always been one of the most important social  units  in
India. The extended or Joint-Family  included  the  children,  grandchildren
wives, and close blood relatives of a common ancestor. The  oldest  male  of
the group was the dominant authority over the  family.  When  married,  sons
did not establish their own homes; instead they remained in  their  father’s
or grandfather’s household. Each  family  member  had  his  own  duties  and
obligations.  The  interests  of  the  family  came  before  those  of   the
individual family members.
      Parents chose the husbands or wives for their  children  in  order  to
maintain the family’s position and honor in society.

      Caste

      Imagine living  in  a  country  in  which  your  status  in  life  was
determined the  moment  you  were  born.  India  was  such  a  country.  Her
population was divided into rigid social groups called castes.  The  Indians
formulated strict rules governing the life of  the  members  of  each  caste
group: where they lived, what they did (profession), what  they  wore,  what
and with whom they could eat, as well as, whom they could marry.
      India  had  between  two  and  three  thousand  different  castes  and
subcastes. Each one fell into one of four broad  “class”  groups.  The  most
important group was the priests, called the Brahmans.
      Next in rank were the rulers, and warriors, followed by the  merchants
and traders. The lowest class group was the sudras –  composed  of  servants
and serfs. Outside the caste system and at the bottom of the  Indian  social
ladder were the outcastes, or “untouchables”, for  mere  contact  with  them
was thought to bring defilement.  While  anyone  could  improve  his  status
within his caste system there was little change in the  village  and  family
life of India.
      This fact explains in part why Indian society remained nearly the same
for thousands of years.


                     Religion and the Indian Way of Life

      Religion has played a dominant role in shaping  Indian  culture.  From
India came two pagan religions  that  have  had  a  major  impact  on  Asian
culture: Hinduism and Buddhism.

      Hinduism

      Hinduism is ingrained in the Indian way of life. It developed from the
early culture and traditions of India:  her  social  structure,  literature,
arts and customs. It has not only  preserved  the  traditional  elements  of
Indian’s past but also served as a unifying  influence  in  India’s  diverse
society.
      Because Hinduism has no formal statement of  doctrine, it was able  to
absorb into its system of belief  a  wide  variety  of  gods  and  religious
concepts found among the many of  the  people  of  India.  The  majority  of
people in India are Hindus.
      The basic tenets of Hinduism are found in the religions literature  of
ancient India, namely the Vedas and the Upanishads. Hindus  believe  that  a
great god called Brahman permeates everything in the  universe.  The  Hindus
acknowledge  many  gods;  all  deities,   however,   are   considered   only
manifestations of the eternal, unchanging Brahman .
      Since Brahman is not a personal being, he is often referred to as  the
great soul or world soul. The ultimate purpose and goal of man according  to
the Vedas, is to reunite his soul with the world  soul.  This  reunification
is accomplished through the process of reincarnation, in which a man’s  soul
passes through many states (or rebirths)  before  it  escapes  the  physical
world and unites with Brahman. This cycle of rebirths is  called  the  wheel
of life.
      The Hindu believes that a person’s deeds in this  life  determine  his
status in the next. If he has lived a good life, then  he  will  move  to  a
higher caste in the next life. The soul of an  evil  person  may  be  reborn
into a lower caste or even into some form of animal life. By  observing  the
religious ritual and ceremonies prescribed  by  the  Hindu  priests  and  by
fulfilling the duties and obligations of his caste a Hindu believes that  he
can ultimately gain release from the “wheel of life” and attain  union  with
the world soul.
      Buddhism.
      India was also the birth of Buddhism. The founder of this new religion
was Siddhartha Gautama later know as Buddha, the Enlightened One”.
      At the age of twenty-nine,  Gautama became troubled over the world. He
became convinced that he should devote all his efforts to find  the  way  of
deliverance from suffering. Therefore, he renounced   his  wife  and  child,
and set out to find peace and true happiness. After six  frustrating  years,
living as a hermit in self-sacrifice and  meditation,  Gautama  was  at  the
point of despair. Sitting down under a tree, he  vowed  that  he  would  not
move until the truth came to him. According to  Gautama,  he  was  pondering
the  questions  of  life  when  he   realized   the   truth   and   attained
enlightenment. Central to Buddha’s teaching are his Four  Noble  Truths:  1)
suffering is part of all existence; 2)  suffering  has  a  cause  –  selfish
desires. As long as man has a craving for pleasure, possessions, and  power,
he will have sorrow and misery; 3) suffering can be overcome  by  destroying
selfish desires. 4) If man follows the Eightfold    Path,  he  will  destroy
selfish desires and end all suffering.  This  pattern  for  living  includes
correct beliefs, intentions, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort,  thoughts,
and meditations.
      Buddhism is a religion built upon works and moral behavior.  Buddhists
believe that man does not need the help of  the  gods  or  membership  in  a
higher caste in order to obtain freedom  from  suffering.  Once  a  man  has
absolutely freed himself from his selfish craving,  he  will  no  longer  be
reborn but will enter into  Nirvana  –  the  state  of  absolute  peace  and
happiness, where he loses himself in the world soul.

                           Lack of Political Unity

      While many aspects of  Indian  Society  have  remained  the  same  for
centuries, the political history of India has been one of  constant  change.
Through much of her history India has been little more than a  patchwork  of
small rival kingdoms. Successive waves of  foreign  invaders  have  streamed
into the Indian Subcontinent. The  powerful  empires  established  by  these
invaders have provided brief periods of Unity and stability for  the  Indian
peoples.

      Mauryan Empire

      In 326 B.C. Alexander the Great threatened India. His  armies  crossed
the Indus River and conquered many small kingdoms  in  India’s  northwestern
region. Alexander intended to advance further into India, but when his  army
refused  to  continue,  he  had  to  turn  back.  According  to  traditional
accounts, he met a young man named Chandragupta Maurya while  in  India.  As
Alexander’s empire began  to  disintegrate  after  his  death,  Chandragupta
conquered the disorganized and weak kingdoms in the north  and  created  the
first strong empire of India – The Mauryan Empire.
      The most famous of the  Mauryan  rulers  was  Chandragupta’s  grandson
Asoka. He extended the Mauryan Empire to include all but  the  southern  tip
of India. Sickened by  the  results  of  his  own  bloody  conquests,  Asoka
renounced war and became a convert to Buddhism. He spent much of  his  reign
promoting the Buddhist religion.
      Asoca is created with building thousands of  Buddhist  shrines  called
steepas. He also had Buddhist teaching  inscribed  on  stone  pillars  still
stand, providing valuable information concerning Asoca’s reign.
      One of  his  most  far-reaching  acts  was  the  sending  of  Buddhist
missionaries abroad. Buddhism soon spread across  much  of  Southeast  Asia,
where it became a powerful force in other Asian cultures. It did not gain  a
wide following in India, however.
      Hindu priests viewed Buddhist  teaching  as  dangerous  to  the  caste
system. Fearing that they might lose their prestige  and  rank  in  society,
they worked against the acceptance of Buddhist beliefs.

      Gupta Empire


      The first great period of Indian unity was short-lived. Not long after
Asoka’s death (232 B.C.), the Mauryan Empire collapsed.  The  years  between
the second century B.C. and the third century A.D. Witnessed  new  invasions
and the rise of small competing  kingdoms.  However,  during  this  time  of
turmoil, India did enjoy a profitable trade with Rome and China.

      Even so, it was not until the fourth century A.D. with the rise of the
Gupta Empire, that India entered a new, and perhaps  her  greatest,  era  of
prosperity and achievement.
      One historian has stated that “at  the  time  India  was  perhaps  the
happiest and most civilized region of the world”. The rulers  of  the  Gupta
dynasty reunited northern India under a  strong  and  effective  government.
Trade flourished  and  the  people  prospered  materially.  India’s  culture
spread throughout Southeast Asia. Her universities attracted  students  from
all over the continent,  and  she  made  great  strides  in  the  fields  of
textiles and finest periods of  Indian  art,  architecture,  literature  and
science.
      Gupta literature became renowned for its adventurous  and  imaginative
fables and fairy tales.
      The foremost Indian poet and dramatist of this  period  was  Kalidasa,
whose plays  have  earned  him  the  title  “the  Indian  Shakespeare”.  The
popularity of various Indian Stories soon spread outside India,  where  many
of them found their way into the literature of other lands.
      But Indian literature is represented by Mahabharata and Ramayana.
      Mahabharata is one of the two great Sanscrit epics. It’s the story  of
the Great Bharata War, a fratricidal war of succession between  the  Kaurava
and Pandava cousins (descendants of Bharata) in which nearly all  the  kings
of India joined on one side or the other. The Kauravas  were  destroyed  and
the Pandavas attained sovereign power but in the end the eldest.
      (Yo) Yudhishthira, renounced the throne and  with  his  four  brothers
(heroes of the war) and Daraypadi (the joint  wife  of  all  5)  parted  for
Mount Meru, India’s heaven. Mahabharta is the  longest  poem  in  the  World
(2.20.000 lines).  It  is  perhaps  15  centuries  old  and  is  written  in
classical  Sanscrit.  It  consists  of  18  books  with  a  supplement,  the
Harivamsa –  a  poem  of  16.375  verses  written  by  different  people  in
different times, and of a much later date, which has nothing to do with  the
main theme.

                               Book III Ch.313
                              “The Mahabharata”
The following represents a selection  of  the  questions  and  answers  that
passed between the Spirit and Youdhishthira:
1) “What is greater than Earth? What is  higher  than  heaven?”  “Mother  is
   greater than Earth; father is higher than heaven.”
2)  “In  what  one  thing  is  all  dharma  summed  up?  What  single  thing
   constitutes all fame? What sole means takes one to heaven?” “Skill in the
   discharge of one’s duties sums up all dharma; giving sums  up  all  fame;
   truthfulness is the sole road to heaven and good conduct is the one means
   to happiness”.
3) “What is the foremost wealth?” “Learning”.
4) “What is the best gain?” “Health”.
5) “What is the supreme happiness?” “Contentment”.
6) “What is superior to all other dharmas in the world?” “Benevolence”
7) “Whose control leads to absence of sorrow?” “The control of mind”.
8) “Which friendship ages not?” “That with good souls”.
9) “By abandoning what thing does man become rich?” “Desire”.
10) “By giving up what, does one become happy?” “Avarice”.
11)  “What is penance?” “Penance is the observance  of  one’s  own  obtained
   duty.”
12)  “What is self –control?” “Control of the mind”.
13)  “What is forbearance?” “Putting  up  with  opposites”.   (pleasure  and
   pain, profit and loss)
14)  “What is shame?” “Aversion to do reprehensible act is shame”.
15)  “What is straight forwardness?” “Equanimity”.
16)  “Who is the enemy hard to be won?” “Anger”.
17)  “What is the endless disease?” “Avarice”.
18)  “Who is said to be a good man?” “He who is benevolent to all things”.
19)  “Who is a bad man?” “He who is barren of sympathy”.
20)  “What is the best path?” “To cast away all mental dirt”.
21)  “What is gift?” “Protection of life”.
22)  “What is the wonder of the world?” “Every day  live  beings  enter  the
   abode of death; those who remain  think  that  they  will  survive;  what
   greater wonder is there than this?”
23)  “What is the news of the world?” “With Earth as the pot, the  firmament
   as the covering lid, the sun as the fire, day and nights as  faggots  and
   the seasons and months as the stirring ladle. Time cooks all beings; this
   is the great news”.
Extract from Mahabharata

      Romayana (adventures of  Rama)  is  the  earliest  of  the  two  great
Sanscrit epics, the incidents of which precede   the  Mahabharata  by  about
150 years. Rama was a king before he became  translated  into  a  deity.  In
course of time, his story and epic  became  sacred  and  the  belief  became
established that spiritual and other blessings would  be  conferred  on  its
knowers ramayana became popular in India in every Hindy home. The  story  is
told in 7 books (96 000 lines).
      At instigation of his second queen Dasaratha sends  Rama,  his  eldest
son, into exile for 14 years. He is accompanied by Sita, his young Wife  and
Lakshmana, his younger brother, when they are living happily in the  forest,
Sita is abduced by Ravana (King of Lanka)  Rama  and  Lakshmana  go  through
many adventures, battles, etc in their pursuit of Ravana, in  which  they’re
assisted by Sugriva, the monkey king and his general,  Hanuman.  Eventually,
Lanka is stormed and set fire to by  Hanuman;  Ravana  is  killed;  Sita  is
rescued and victorious party returns to Ayodhya, their capital  city.  Later
because her chastity is suspected (because she stayed  in  Ravana’s  house),
Sita proves her innocence voluntarily undergoing an  ordeal by fire.
      Rama accepts her but for the same reason banishes her (again) the next
time. She goes away to Valmiki’s ashram, where her twin sons  are  born  and
brought up. She prays to the earth goddess  to  take  her  away  if  she  is
innocent who seated on her throne appears out of the earth and seating  Sita
on her lap takes her away for good.
      The epics Ramayana and Mahabharrata arose to supplement and  reinforce
the teaching of the Vedas, particularly in respect of the  moral,  religious
and spiritual ideas of men and women. Since  remote  times,  the  two  epics
have been the two eyes of the nation guiding it and  holding  up  before  it
the ideas of the truth and righteousness of Rama  and  Yudhishthira  and  of
chastity and wifely devotion of Sita, as also of  the  negative  example  of
Ravana and other characters  who  came  to  grief  because  of  their  lust,
avarice and wickedness.
      These epics were expected to fulfil the mission of placing before  the
people examples of how virtue triumphed and vicefell.
      This was also an age of advance in mathematics, science, and medicine.
Our   so  called  Arabic  numerals  originally  came  from   India.   Indian
mathematicians were among the first to use negative  numbers,  the  decimal,
and the zero. Centuries before  Isaac  Newton,  Indian  Scientist  developed
their own theories of gravity. Indian astronomers knew that  the  earth  was
round and that it rotated on its axis. If in need of medical attention,  the
people of  the  Gupta  Empire  could  go  to  free  hospitals  where  Indian
physicians were able to perform many surgical  procedures  and  mention  300
different operations and 20 instruments.

                              Customs in India
      India has many customs. The practice of self-information by fire has a
strange and terrible place in the lore of India, and it brings to  mind  the
practice of  suttee,  widow  burning.  This  barbaric  survival  of  ancient
customs lasted in India to a late day.
      In 1817 there were 706 cases of suttee in Bengal alone. This was at  a
time when the British authorities were making efforts to stop the  practice.
They were afraid  to  prohibit  window  burning  entirely  in  the  face  of
fanatical.
      Hindu addiction to tradition, and resorted to intensive persuasion. No
suttee was permitted until the prospective, victim had been  examined  by  a
magistrate, who made sure that she was proceeding of her own free  will  and
urged her to give up her ghastly intention.
      The great source of information in that period  is  a  massive  volume
“Hindu Manners, Customs  and  ceremonies”  by  the  Abbe  Dubois,  a  French
missionary who spent years in India at the end  of  the  eighteenth  century
and the beginning of the nineteenth. He writes:
      The last king of Tanjore, who died  in  1801,  left  behind  him  four
lawful wives. The Brahmins decided that two of these should  be  burnt  with
the body of their husband, and selected the  couple  that  should  have  the
preference. It would have  been  the  everlasting  shame  to  them  and  the
grossest insult to the memory of the deceased had they hesitated  to  accept
this singular, honor, so  they  seemed  perfectly  ready  to  yield  to  the
terrible  lot  which  awaited  them.  The  necessary  preparations  for  the
obsequies were completed in a single day.
      Three or four leagues from the royal residence  a  square  pit  of  no
great depth, and about twelve to fifteen feet square, was excavated
      Within it was erected a pyramid of sandalwood, resting on  a  kind  of
scaffolding of the same wood. The posts which supported it were so  arranged
that they could  easily  be  removed  and  would  thereby  cause  the  whole
structure to collapse suddenly. At the four courners of the pit were  placed
huge brass jars filled with ghee, to be thrown  on  the  wood  in  order  to
hasten combustion .
      The following was the order of the procession as it wended its way  to
the pyre. It was headed by a large force of armed soldiers. Then followed  a
crowd of musicians chiefly trumpeters,  who  made  the  air  ring  with  the
dismal sound of their instruments. Next came the  king’s  body  borne  in  a
splendid open palanquin, accompanied by his guru,  his  principal  officers,
and his nearest relatives, who were all on  foot  and  wore  no  turbans  in
token of mourning.
      Then came two victims, each borne on  a  richly  decorated  palanquin.
They were loaded rather than decked, with jewels. Several ranks of  soldiers
surrounded them to preserve order and to keep back  the  great  crowds  that
flocked in from every side.
      The two queens were accompanied by some of their favorite women,  with
whom they occasionally conversed.
      Then followed relatives of both sexes, to whom the  victims  had  made
valuable presents before leaving the palace.  An  innumerable  multitude  of
Brahmins and persons of all castes followed in the rear.
      On reaching the spot where their fate awaited them, the  victims  were
required to perform the  ablutions  and  other  ceremonies  proper  on  such
occasions and they went through the whole of  them  without  hesitation  and
without the least sign of fear. When, however, it came to walking round  the
pyre, it was observed that their features underwent a sudden change.
      During this interval the body of the king had been placed on  the  top
of the pyramid of sandalwood.  The  two  queen,  still  wearing  their  rich
attire and ornaments, were next compelled to ascend  the  pyre.  Lying  down
beside the body of the deceased prince, one on the right and  other  on  the
left, they joined hands across the corpse.
       The officiating Brahmins then sprinkled the pile with holy water, and
emptied the jars of ghee over the wood, setting  fire  on  it  at  the  same
moment. The flames quickly spread and the props  being  removed,  the  whole
structure collapsed and in its fall must  have  crushed  to  death  the  two
unfortunate victims. Thereupon all the spectators shouted aloud for joy.

      During the sixth century the Gupta Empire collapsed under the repeated
attacks of the White Huns (perhaps related  to  the  Huns  who  plagued  the
Roman Empire during the fifth century)  India  again  entered  a  period  of
political disorder; the country became divided into small warring  kingdoms.
Waves of foreign invaders again entered  the  land;  but  as  in  the  past,
Hinduism absorbed these foreign elements into Indian society.  However,  the
history of India took a dramatic turn when northern  India  fell  under  the
domination of Muslims who brought  with  them  a  religion  and  culture  as
strong as Hinduism.
      After years of constant  raids,  Muslim  warriors  conquered  much  of
northern India, where they established a Muslim kingdom  in  1206  near  the
city of Delhi. Almost immediately a conflict arose between  the  Muslim  and
Hindu elements within Indian society. This was a struggle not  only  between
two religions, but between two distinct ways of line.  The  Hindus  believed
in many gods, but the Muslims acknowledged only one.
      The Hindus followed the rigid caste system while the Muslims  believed
in the equality of all men before their god, Allah.
      Although Muslim control of northern India ended at the  close  of  the
fourteenth century, the hostilities between Hindus  and  Muslims  in  Indian
society have continued to the present.
      Muslims contributed to the development of Indian  culture.  They  left
the valuable monument of art, the great masterpiece – Taj Mahal.

                                  Taj Mahal
      Of the seven Wonders of the  Ancient  World,  two  were  dedicated  to
sentiment in marriage: the Mausoleum, monument of a wife’s devotion  to  the
memory of her husband; the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, erected by a  husband
for the happiness of a favourite wife.  Among  the  wonders  of  the  modern
world, one of the most famous commemorates a husband’s devotion to a wife.
      It is, of course, the incomparable Taj Mahal, the tomb that Shah Jehan
created for the beauteous Mumtaz Mahal, at the city of Agra, in  India.  The
French traveler Francois Bernier, who toured the East three  centuries  ago,
was in Agra during the 1660s, saw the building when it had been up for  less
than twenty years, and wrote in his journal: “Possibly I  have  acquired  an
Indian taste, but I am of the opinion  that  this  monument  has  much  more
right to be included among the wonders of the world  than  the  pyramids  of
Egypt”. Some critics have gone beyond him, declaring the  Taj  Mahal  to  be
the most beautiful edifice ever erected by man. Shah Jehan was  one  of  the
Mogul emperors who reigned over India in  golden  splendour.  A  Moslem,  he
practiced the polygamy ordained in the Koran, which permitted four wife  not
counting the concubines whom it was customary for an  Islamic  potentate  to
have in his harem. Mumtaz  Mahal,  young  dainty,  and  beautiful,  was  the
favourite wife. Taj Mahal, therefore, is a monument  to  romantic  sentiment
in the harem, a husband’s devotion in polygamous family life.
      The Taj Mahal is the masterpieces of Mohammedan Art. That it arose  on
Indian soil is  explained  by  history.  The  Moglus  came  originally  from
Central Asia, their name being a variant of the world  “Mongol”.  They  were
Moslems, and they conquered India.
      The founder of the Mogul Empire was one of the remarkable men  of  all
time. In martial ardor and  ability  to  command,  Baber  may  have  been  a
typical princeling of Iartary, but he was also a man of culture, the  author
of perhaps best political memoirs ever written by  a  reigning  monarch.  In
December of 1525 he led his army into India. The battle took place on  April
12, 1526, and proved to be one of the decisive conflicts  of  world  history
for Baber won the victory, that gave him a permanent foothold  in  the  land
that was to be ruled by this descendants.
      Baber did not finish the work of integrating an imperial  domain.  But
the Moguls were lucky in the next representative  of  their  dynasty  Akbar,
known to history  as  Akbar  The  Great.  He  introduced  a  new  system  of
government, bringing ale the land under his direct authority naming his  own
viceroys, setting up  a  comprehensive  tax  levy,  keeping  the  provincial
military forces in  the  pay  of  the  central  treasury  to  prevent  local
rebellious before they could get started.
      At his death (1605) he left behind  an  empire  so  closely  knit  and
organized that it could continue in much the same form for another  century.
By  patronizing artists and  architects  he  forwarded  the  development  of
style and skill to the point where under his grand son, the miracle  of  the
Taj Mahal became possible. Akbar was succeeded  by  his  son  Sahangir,  the
potentate to whom the title of “The Great  Mogul”  was  first  applied.  The
imagination of the west was inflamed,  by  stories  of  the  beauty,  power,
luxury and oriental splendour of the Mogul  Empire.  Merchants,  travellers,
ambassadors, missionaries – all helped to fill in the picture of  the  Great
Mogul and his kingdom.
      Iahangir died in 1627 and the throne passed to his  son,  Shah  Jehan.
Under his popular rule the Mogul Empire reached its height.  His  reign  was
remembered for its order, security and  justice.  In  1612  he  had  married
Argumand Banu a cousin, and their wedded  bliss  until  her  death  in  1631
constitutes one of the great love stories of the world. It  was  not  dimmed
by the fact that Shah Jehan, in Moslem fashion, had a harem of other  wives.
She was his favourite, the one he called Mumtaz Mahal, or  Ornament  of  the
Palace”. A powerful influence with him, she was largely responsible for  his
orthodox Mohammedanism, for she held strictly to the tenets of Islam  Mumtaz
Mahal bore her husband fourteen children,  the  last  of  which  caused  her
death on June 17, 1631.
       Shah Ielah reacted to the tragedy  as  did  Artemisia  on  the  death
Mausolus. He was so inconsolable that it was feared he would die  of  grief.
In fact he never recovered from the shock, although  he  did  rouse  himself
because he wanted to venerate the  memory  of  his  wife,  with  a  suitable
monument. The greatest thing he did during the rest  of  his  reign  was  to
build the Taj Mahal. As a site he chose a high bank of the Yumna River,  one
of the holy rives of Hundustan, where it bends around at Agra.  He  summoned
the finest architects and craftsmen from all over his empire  and  had  them
submit plans for the proposed buildings. The  Portuquese  Iesuists  in  Agra
reported that the man who won was a Venetian  Geronimo  Verroneo,  and  that
this Westerner actually erected the Taj. But that story  has  been  rejected
by some later scholars on the grounds that the building  shows  no  European
influence. Other accounts name a Turk or a Persian.
      The basic material used was wite marble, with the wall  and  gates  of
red sandstone, a colour scheme, that has the remarkable  effect  of  showing
different tints at different times of the day. The building stands on a 186-
foot square with the angles cut to form on octagon. Beneath it is  a  raised
marble platform, extending all around and marked  by  delicate  minarets  at
each corner. Above swells the great dome, about  two  thirds  of  a  sphere,
surmounted by a crescent and flanked by smaller domes, each of the walls  is
cut by arches of a similar but not at all mono fonous pattern, rather,  they
contribute to the unity of the whole, Light enters through marble screens.
      There is an old saying that “The Moguls built like titans and finished
like jewelers”. The Taj Mahal proves the truth of the remark. Looked from  a
distance, its appearance is indeed dreamlike, with a grare and balance  that
make us wonder how human beings ever achieved so miraculous  a  result  from
marble and sandstone.
      After Shah Jehan the Mogul Empire had no place to go except  downward.
This great ruler lived to see the first bitter fruits of  failure,  for  his
sons rebelled against him, and the one  who  came  out  on  top,  Aurangzeb,
deposed him and threw him into prison.
      Then Aurangzeb moved the capital of the  Mogul  Empire  from  Agra  to
Delhi. For seven years Shah Jehan remained in a cell in the  fort  at  Agra,
protesting against the unfilial behaviour of the new emperor,  and  spending
much of his time gazing across at the Taj Mahal  where  the  symbol  of  his
best days lay Buried. Shah Iahan died in 1658 and  finally  left  prison  to
lie by the side of Mumtaz Mahal in her glorious tomb.  Aurangzeb  maintained
his throne for fifty years, the last Mogul of any consequence. On his  death
in 1767 fierce fighting among his sons broke out. Final ruin  came  in  1739
when the powerful king of Persia, Nadir Shah, invaded Hundustan.  From  then
on the Mogul Empire of Akbar, Yahangir, and Shah Jehan, was  but  a  memory,
but it had left behind a colorful page of history climaxed by  the  enduring
monument that attracts and charms visitors  to  this  day  that  wonder  the
modern world, the Taj Mahal.
      But India is famous not only for this monument of art – It  has  other
wonderful masterpieces of architecture.
                                Art of India
      Indian civilization was one of the oldest and  most  original  in  the
East. Her contribution to world culture was great.  In  the  ancient  times,
India was famed for her  wonderful  miracles,  vast  natural  resources  and
craft works.
      In the 3rd century b.c. almost the whole Hindostan peninsula and  some
neighbouring countries, were united  into  one  gigantic  empire  under  the
powerful king, Ashoch (273).
      Only stone edifies in that period have survived till nowadays: temples
and cells, stone-shrines. Shrines were erected of brick  and  stone  in  the
form of hemisphere, surrounding by the fence with 4 gates in it.
      Stone statues served as adornments of architecture and more often were
created in the form of scenic relief. Motions, gestures  and  poses  of  the
people on the relief are extremely expressive and graceful. That  was  under
the influence of the dance art, widely spread and popular in India.
      Religious architecture of the Ashoch period  is  represented  by  cave
complexes and temples. Such temples were usually carved in  the  picturesque
and secluded places out of the solid rock massif. Excavations in  the  North
– West  India brought the discovery of the wonderful statues created in  the
1st century a.d.. These were  mainly the statues  of  Buddha.  Influence  of
the Greco-Roman art was great here.
      Figures of Buddha resemble much statues of the Roman emperors and some
of the Greek gods. They were made by Greek masters who lived in  Indian  and
adopted Indian religions. Later on the Indian apprentices of  Greek  masters
started sculpting Buddha according to  the  notion  of  the  Indian  people:
sitting with his legs crossed.  Period  of  the  blossoming  Indian  culture
dates back to the  4th  –6th  centuries  a.d.  Remarkable  specimen  of  the
ancient Indian painting have survived in Buddhist  temples  and  monasteries
in Adjanta. Walls, ceilings, pillars in these temples are painted  with  the
scenes from Buddhist legends and are decorated  with  statues  and  carving.
Murals in Adjanta are the  visual  encyclopaedia  of  life  of  the  ancient
Indian people.
      Conclusion
      The Indian civilization was one of the oldest and most original in the
last. Its contribution to the culture of human kind is immense.  At  a  very
early stage, ancient India maintained  close  cultural  contacts  with  many
countries of the ancient Orient and with the Greco-Roman World.
      Ancient traditions are highly viable in India and it is therefore  not
surprising that many achievements of the ancient  Indian  civilization  long
outlived the epoch of antiquity  becoming  an  important  component  of  the
country’s modern culture and of world civilizations.
                                Bibliography


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     6. “Lands and Peoples” by Bulliet Richard W.
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    19. English – Romanian, Romanian – English Dictionary by Andre Bantash


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