- Ancient Indian metallurgists made major contributions to the metallurgical history of the world.
- Archaeological excavations have shown that the Harappans were master craftsmen and had knowledge of copper metallurgy.
- They even manufactured bronze by mixing copper and tin.
- While the Harappans belonged to the Bronze Age, their successors belonged to the Iron Age.
- India produced highly advanced types of iron-forged iron, wrought iron and cast iron.
The iron pillar on pillar
- The iron pillar at Mehrauli, Delhi, is a remarkable example of the skill of Indian crafts persons.
- It is made of iron, 7.2. m high, and weighs over 3 tonnes.
- It was made about 1500 years ago.
- There is an inscription on the pillar mentioning a ruler named Chandra, who probably belonged to the Gupta dynasty .
- The amazing is the fact that the pillar has not rusted in all these years.
Buildings in brick and stone
- The skills of our crafts persons are also apparent in the buildings that have survived, such as stupas.
- The word stupa means a mound.
- There are several kinds of stupas, round and tall, big and small, these have certain common features.
- There is a small box placed at the centre or heart of the stupa.
- This contain bodily remains (such as teeth, bone or ashes) of the Buddha or his followers, or things they used,
as well as precious stones, and coins
- This box, known as a relic casket, was covered with earth. Later, a layer of mud brick or baked brick was
added on top.
- The dome like structure was sometimes covered with carved stone slabs.
- A path, known as the pradakshina patha, was laid around the stupa.
- This was surrounded with railings.
- Entrance to the path was through gateways.
- Devotees walked around the stupa, in a clockwise direction, as a mark of devotion.
- Both railings and gateways were often decorated with sculpture.
- Other buildings were hollowed out of rock to make artificial caves.
- the earliest Hindu temples were also built at this time.
- Deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, and Durga were worshipped in these shrines.
- The most important part of the temple was the room known as the garbhagriha, where the image of the chief deity was placed.
- It was here that priests performed religious rituals, and devotees offered worship to the deity.
- Bhitargaon, a tower, known as the shikhara, was built on top of the garbhagriha, to mark this out as a sacred place.
- Building shikharas required careful planning.
- temples also had a space known as the mandapa.
- It was a hall where people could assemble.
- Mahabalipuram and Aihole on Map 7 (page 105).
- Some of the finest stone temples were built in these towns.
How were stupas and temples built?
- There were several stages in building a stupa or a temple.
- kings or queens decided to build these as it was an expensive affair.
- good quality stone had to be found, quarried, and transported to the place that was often carefully chosen for the new building.
- These rough blocks of stone had to be shaped and carved into pillars, and panels for walls, floors and ceilings.
- And then these had to be placed in precisely the right position.
- Kings and queens probably spent money from their treasury to pay the crafts persons who worked to build these splendid structures.
- when devotees came to visit the temple or the stupa, they often brought gifts, which were used to decorate the buildings.
- Ajanta is a place where several caves were hollowed out of the hills over centuries.
- Most of these were monasteries for Buddhist monks, and some of them were decorated with paintings.
- The caves are dark inside, most of these paintings were done in the light of torches.
- The colours, which are vivid even after 1500 years, were made of plants and minerals.
- The artists who created these splendid works of art remain unknown.
The world of books
- Some of the best–known epics were written during this period.
- Epics are grand, long compositions, about heroic men and women, and include stories about gods.
- A famous Tamil epic, the Silappadikaram, was composed by a poet named Ilango, around 1800 years ago.
- It is the story of a merchant named Kovalan, who lived in Puhar and fell in love with a courtesan named Madhavi, neglecting his wife Kannagi.
- He and Kannagi left Puhar and went to Madurai, where he was wrongly accused of theft by the court jeweller of the Pandya king.
- The king sentenced Kovalan to death. Kannagi, who still loved him, was full of grief and anger at
this injustice, and destroyed the entire city of Madurai.
- Another Tamil epic, the Manimekalai was composed by Sattanar around 1400 years ago.
- This describes the story of the daughter of Kovalan and Madhavi.
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- These beautiful compositions were lost to scholars for many centuries, till their manuscripts were rediscovered, about a hundred years ago.
- Kalidasa wrote in Sanskrit.
Recording and preserving old stories
- A number of Hindu religious stories that were in circulation earlier were written down around the same time.
- These include the Puranas.
- Purana literally mean old.
- The Puranas contain stories about gods and goddesses, such as Vishnu, Shiva, Durga or Parvati.
- They also contain details on how they were to be worshipped.
- There are accounts about the creation of the world, and about kings.
- The Puranas were written in simple Sanskrit verse, and were meant to be heard by everybody, including women and shudras, who were not allowed to study the Vedas.
- They were probably recited in temples by priests, and people came to listen to them.
- Two Sanskrit epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana had been popular for a very long time.
- Some of you may be familiar with these stories.
- The Mahabharata is about a war fought between the Kauravas and Pandavas, who were cousins.
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- This was a war to gain control of the throne of the Kurus, and their capital, Hastinapura.
- The story itself was an old one, but was written down in the form in which we know it today, about 1500 years ago.
- Both the Puranas and the Mahabharata are supposed to have been compiled by Vyasa.
- The nBhagavad Gita, about which you learnt in Chapter 9, was also included in the Mahabharata.
- The Ramayana is about Rama, a prince of Kosala, who was sent into exile.
- His wife Sita was abducted by the king of Lanka, named Ravana, and Rama had to fight a battle to get her back.
- He won and returned to Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala, after his victory.
- The Mahabharata, this was an old story that was now written down.
- Valmiki is recognised as the author of the Sanskrit Ramayana.
Stories told by ordinary people
- Ordinary people also told stories, composed poems and songs, sang, danced, and performed plays.
- Some of these are preserved in collections of stories such as the Jatakas and the Panchatantra, which were written down around this time.
- Stories from the Jatakas were often shown on the railings of stupas and in paintings in places such as Ajanta.
Writing books on science
- This was also the time when Aryabhata, a mathematician and astronomer, wrote a book in Sanskrit known as the Aryabhatiyam.
- He stated that day and night were caused by the rotation of the earth on its axis, even though it seems as if
the sun is rising and setting everyday.
- He developed a scientific explanation for eclipses as well.
- He also found a way of calculating the circumference of a circle, which is nearly as accurate as the formula we use today.
- Varahamihira, Brahmagupta and Bhaskaracharya were some other mathematicians and astronomers
who made several discoveries.
- While numerals had been used earlier, mathematicians in India now invented a special symbol for zero.
- This system of counting was adapted by the Arabs and then spread to Europe.
- It continues to be in use throughout the world.
- Ayurveda is a well-known system of health science that was developed in ancient India.
- The two famous practitioners of Ayurveda in ancient India were Charaka (1st-2nd centuries C.E.) and Sushruta (c. 4th century C.E.) Charak Samhita, written by Charak is a remarkable book on medicine.
- In his treatise, Susruta Samhita, Sushruta speaks about elaborate surgical procedures
- Beginning of stupa building (2300 years ago)
- Amaravati (2000 years ago)
- Kalidasa (1600 years ago)
- Iron pillar, Temple at Bhitargaon, Paintings at Ajanta, Aryabhata (1500 years ago)
- Durga temple (1400 years ago)
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