The ancient history of IndiaHistory Notes English


  • During the later Vedic period, the Aryan settlements covered virtually the whole of Northern India.
  • In this Vedic period, both Literary Sources and Archaeological sources are available for a comprehensive study.
  • Ahichchhatra & Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Nuh in Haryana and Atranjikhera in Uttar Pradesh are the sites excavated which are related to the Later Vedic Period.


  • The land had now become more valuable than cows.
  • Iron was used for the first time in the Later Vedic period.
  • Iron was called Shyamayas in those days.
  • It was first used as a weapon and not as a tool.
  • Pottery is the most common archaeological finding if there is no evidence of pottery, historians conclude that the area was not inhabited.
  • In this period pottery which was found was classified as PGW(painted grey ware).
  • Rice, barley, beans, sesame, and wheat were cultivated.


  • Gods like Brahma and Vishnu emerged in the late Vedic period apart from Indra, Varun, and Prithvi which were prominent in the Early Vedic Period.
  • In the early days, Shiva was known as Rudra. The number of Samskarans changed to 16 in the later Vedic Period.
  • Upanayana was the most famous sanskara.
  • It was performed when a child joined the school for the and was initially for both male and female but later females were forbidden from Samskare.
  • In the later Vedic period, castes and classes were established which was known as Varna.
  • The people who were strong and were able to control the resources became rulers and warriors.
  • These warriors claimed themselves to be Kshatriyas which became dynastic and hereditary.
  • The priest class began writing the literature in such a way that no one else would be able to become priests.
  • The traders, peasants, and craftsmen were of a class called Vaishyas and labour class or working class were being called Shudras The occupation of a person depended solely upon his entire genealogy the First mention of the four castes was in the Rigveda.
  • Literary sources for this period include – Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda.
    • Atharvaveda is believed to be a Non-Aryan book while all other books are Aryan Books.
    • Moreover, it was written in Lower Gangetic plain, unlike the other three Vedas which were written in the upper Gangetic plain.
    • Atharva Veda deals with charms, spells, and magic and is a good source to study the Kingdom of Magadha.
  • Three other sources of literature are Brahmanas Last part of Brahman known as Aranyakas. It was also known as Forest Book or Jungle Book. The theme of the book is Romitism – the relationship between man and nature
  • The Upanishads are a collection of philosophical texts which form the theoretical basis for the Hindu religion.
  • There are 108 Upanishads. Upanishad deals with the relationship between Man and God.”Satyameva Jayate’ was derived from Mundaka Upanishad.’ ‘Om’ was derived from Rig Veda.
  • It was one of the earliest books which talk about non-violence.

Some Famous Upanishads are:-

  1. Brihadaranyaka
  2. Katha
  3. Kena
  4. Chandogya
  5. Ish
  6. Jabala
  7. Mundaka
  8. Mandukya
  • Four  Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads form the Vedic Literature.
  • Changes in the Vedic Society from Early Vedic to Later Vedic Period
  • The changes noticed between Early Vedic and later Vedic period were that slowly people were shifting towards the agricultural community.
  • Iron, the hardest known substance during that time, was being used agriculture. Also, ploughs and oxen were being used.
  • Other than agriculture, domestication of animals was the primary occupation of the people. As people’s primary occupation moved to agriculture and became more precious than cattle.
  • In the settled life, King became powerful and started collecting taxes known as Bali and also started demanding ‘Bhag’ which was share in production. With the help of these taxes, he maintained an army.
  • To expand his land area, Kings performed Ashvamedha Yajna in which a horse was let loose for a year and the amount of area covered by the horse in that year would then belong to the owner of the horse.


    • This era is known in History as second urbanization.
    • The first period was during the Harappan period.
    • There were 16 Mahajanapadas most of which were in the Gangetic Plain(Gangetic plain was very fertile region and agriculture was the main occupation.)
    • Among the 16 Mahajanapadas, 5 were more powerful than others.
      • Magadha (Capital – Rajgriha)
      • Avanti (Capital – Ujjaini)
      • Kashi (Capital – Varanasi)
      • Kosala (Capital – Shravasti)
      • Vajji (Capital – Vaishali)

Haryanka Dynasty

Bimbisara Dynasty:

  • This dynasty ruled from 6th century B.C. to 5 century B.C.Bimbisara and Ajatashatru were famous kings.
  • Ajatashatru was the son of Bimbisara.
  • They were contemporaries of Buddha and Mahavira. Ajatashatru killed Bimbisara and was later killed by his son Udayan

 Shishunaga Dynasty:

  • Shishunaga and Kalashoka were the famous kings of this dynasty.
  • Shishunaga was succeeded by Kalashoka.
  • His reign is important because he convened the second Buddhist council in Vaishali.


  • Mahapadma Nanda was the famous king of this dynasty.
  • First to annex Kalinga (modern-day Orissa).
  • Dhana Nanda was the ruler during which Alexander the Great invaded India.


  • Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings.
  • Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul toward divine consciousness and liberation.
  • Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state of Supreme Being is called a Jina.
  • According to Jain belief, there were 24 Tirthankars (Spiritual Gurus) in Jainism.
  • The first Tirthankara was Rishabdev, the second was Arishtanemi, twenty-third was Parshvanath, and Twenty fourth was Vardhaman.
  • Parshvanath was from Varanasi and his followers were known as Nirgranths which means free from all bonds. Vardhaman’s parents were also Nirgranths thus Vardham was also a Nirgranth.

Vardhaman Mahavira’s life:

  • He is believed to be born in 540 B.C. in Kundalagrama in Vaishali (Bihar).
  • His father’s name was Siddharth and mother’s name was Trishala.
  • He belonged to the Jnatrika clan.
  • His wife’s name was Yashoda and daughter’s name was Priyadarshika.
  • He left home at the age of 30 years and at the age of 42 he attained supreme knowledge at Jambhakagram.
  • He gave his first sermon in a place called Vipulchal in Nalanda.
  • He died in 468 B.C. at the age of 72 at a place called Pawapuri in Nalanda in Bihar.
  • Sudharma only one of 11 Gandharas who survived after the death of Mahavira.
  • The main reason for the fewer number of Jain followers was extreme non-violence practice.
  • Two famous sects in Jainism are –
    • Svetambar – To wear white clothes
    • Digambar – Followers of this do not wear clothes
  • Svetambaras compiled the teachings of Mahavira in a book form called Purvas.
  • It was in Prakrit 5 and 6 century AD.
  • Jain munis assembled at Vallabhi and compiled the teachings known as Angas and were written in Prakrit.
  • Digambaras rejected the teachings of Purvas and Angas


  • Siddharth (Buddha) was born in the year 566 B.C. in the city of Kapilavasta which is in Lumbini in Nepal Siddhartha was born in a royal Hindu family.
  • His father was Suddhodanand’s mother was Mahamaya.
  • He was brought up by Gautami. He belonged to the Shakya clan and was also a Kshatriya. He was also known as Shakyamuni.
  • He was married at the age of 16 to Yashodhara and had a son called Rahul Four sights of Buddha were – An old man, a sick man, a dead corpse and a monk.
  • He left the house at the age of 29 on his horse chariot. At the age of 35, he sat under a Pipal tree near the river Niranjana (Phalgu River) at Bodhgaya.
  • It is believed that Buddha meditated at this place for 7 weeks (49 days) end by 49th day he attained supreme knowledge and was called “the enlightened one”.
  • Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath in Varanasi which was known as Dharma Chakra Pravartan.
  • He preached in all seasons except monsoon.
  • He returned back home after attaining knowledge and all his family members became his followers.
  • He passed away at the age of 80 at a place called Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh.


Ancient history of India Source 


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