South Asia & East Asia (Unit 3)

Politics South Asia

Aryan-style political structure rules India

1500 bc - 500 bc

Vedic texts & Upanishads (more philosophical and includes critique of rituals in the Vedic texts)

Mauryan Empire Rules India

321 bc - 185 bc

Chandragupta Maurya begins rule

321 bc - 320 bc

Chandragupta rules w/ efficient bureaucracy
bld. roads & harbors
+ trade
govt owned factories + shipyards
law enforced thru royal courts, secret police
women served as palace guards

Asoka becomes emperor

269 bc - 232 bc

converts to Buddhism
rule by example (ahimsa)
bld hospitals, shrines, travelers' homes
pillars for edicts

Gupta Empire rules India

320 - 550

rule based in Hindu philosophy
tolerates other faiths

economy = farming + trade
wheat rice sugar cane
trade (w/E. AFrica, Middle East, SE Asia):
cotton cloth pottery metalware

Education in Hindu + Buddhist centers/ universities:
math, medicine, physics, language, lit +
ex: Buddhist University @ Nalanda
created "arabic numerals"/ zero/ decimal system
smallpox vaccinations

+Architecture (Hindu temples + Buddhist stupas)

+Literature (ex: Kalidasa)

Chandra Gupta rules


Golden Age- under Chandra Gupta II- begins


Culture South Asia

Vedic Age

1500 bc - 500 bc

Aryan society divided into varnas related to occupation.
Vedas= texts

Upanishads develop

900 bce - 300 bce

Hinduism develops

600 bc - Present

Hinduism needs to be understood as a set of parallel practices.
It incorporates :
ritual practices + Vedas + Upanishads + devotional practice
Hindus choose 2 include / exclude bits & pieces dep on context

The exact date for the foundation of Hinduism is unknown. There is no single person who started the faith. As the texts began as oral history, dating of written scripture does not indicate an origin.

Siddhartha Gautama lives

566 bc - 483 bc

Buddhism founded

530 bc - Present

Four Noble Truths
1. Suffering exists
2. Suffering is caused by desires
3. The way to end suffering is to give up all desires
4. The way to give up desires is to live according to the Eightfold Path

8-fold path
Right: Understanding, Purpose, Speech, Action, Occupation, Effort, Mindfulness, Concentration


500 bce - 300 ce

Jainism Founded

500 bc - Present


400 bce - 400 ce

Laws of Manu written

250 bce

Part of the Dharmashastra
outlines caste rules & rituals (2 forgive mistakes)
rules for Brahmins

Laws 4 women = more strict

critiqued even @ the time it came out
may or may not have been used by governments

Buddhism spreads to China


Kalidasa (famous Gupta poet)

350 - 400

Historians do not know when Kalidasa lived. They guess it is sometime in the 4th or 5th century. His poetry and plays are in sanskrit and often deal with themes related to Hinduism.

"Look to this day:
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!"

Politics East Asia

Xia Dynasty ?

2200 bce

Yu the Great = ?founder
legends > public works
For more, see:

Shang Dynasty rules

1700 bce - 1027 bce

Zhou Dynasty rules

1045 bce - 256 bce

King Wu
Mandate of Heaven
feudalism = wealth/power in LAND
king owns all the land (distributes to loyal nobles)
capital @ Chang'an

Warring States Period

403 bce - 221 bce

constant battle btween powerful states
time of the "Hundred Schools of Thought"
Zhou tenuous hold on power
strong feudal lords vie 4 power

  • Historians do not agree on when to date this period -

Qin Dynasty rules

256 bce - 206 bce

Qin Shihuangdi emerges as victor o' Warring States
Legalism sets tone o' empire

Etching praising Qin's rule:

Book Burning & Executions

213 bce

Qin + Lisi -> burn books
C. scholars protest -> Qin + Lisi execute ~460 scholars

Han Dynasty rules in east

206 bce - 220 ce

Emperor Wu Di rules (Han d)

141 bce - 87 bce

Wu Di = "the Martial Emperor"
Silk Road flourishes under his rule
Focus on defense (esp vs. the Xiongnu people o' the north & west)
Sends Zheng Qian to form alliances w/nomadic groups

For more, see:

Zhang Qian travels west

138 bce - 125 bce

aka Chang Chien, Chang Chi'en

Emperor Wu sends Zhang Qian 2 Yuezhi ppl for an alliance against Xiongnu people.

ZQ kidnapped by Xiongnu... adventures ensue

Han battle the Xiongnu

133 bce - 89 ce

Culture East Asia

1st section of the Great Wall built

600 bce

Laozi (Lao-Tzu) + Daoism

551 bce - 479 bce


551 bce - 479 bce

Confucianism develops >
scholar admired
5 Basic Relationships
Filial Piety key
Book= the Analects

Hanfeizi + Legalism

280 bce - 233 bce

+influence on Qin
Law based on harsh punishment and just reward

Ban Zhao

45 ce - 116 ce

sister to Ban Gu (32 - 92 ce)
court historian in Han

Ban Zhao completes "Han Annals"
advisor 2 Empress Deng (regent 4 son)

writes the Nu Jie aka "Lessons for Women"
For summary and text see:

Buddhism travels to China


Faxian travels to India

337 - 422