HISTORY: FROM THE ORIGINS TO THE END OF THE GUPTA EMPIRE
The proto-history of the Indian continent opens in the III-II millennium BC. C. with the Aeneolithic civilization of the Indus or of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappā, which developed into flourishing agricultural and commercial centers, whose end came suddenly, perhaps caused by the Arian invasions. The Aris arrived in India in successive waves starting in ca. 1500 a. C., overwhelming the populations (Dravida, Munda, etc.) in their progressive settling towards the east and then towards the south that have already been established in the subcontinent for millennia. Despite the efforts not to mix in any way with the conquered and submissive peoples (division of society into rigid castes), the Aris ended up by ethnically and culturally amalgamating with them, so as to give life to a new and complex civilization, of which they were an expression maximum i See, pillars of all the philosophical and religious thought of India up to the present day. The social organization based on the village, still so typical of India today, also dates back to this period of settlement and settlement of the Ari. Politically, the country was a mosaic of states, more or less large, some ruled by a non-absolute monarchy, others by an aristocracy. At the end of the VI century a. C. Magadha gained power among them, under the kings Śaiśunāga Bimbisāra (ca. 545-490) and Ajātaśatru (ca. 490-460). Still the Magadha found itself in the foreground when, after the invasions of Alexander the Great (from 327 to 325 BC), which had the merit of opening communications between the West and India, the first great Indian empire was established, that of the Maurya (ca. 320-ca. 295 BC..), originally from Magadha. The Maurya domains reached an almost Pan-Indian extent under the third ruler, Aśoka (274-232 BC), famous for his zeal in practicing and propagating Buddhism; in fact he sent missions of a religious nature to many parts of the then known world. Of his exploits and of his reign, prosperous and essentially peaceful, firmly organized from the bureaucratic point of view, many testimonies remain in rock inscriptions or on pillars. After Aśoka the empire gradually crumbled and India found itself again divided into a congerie of states and small states and underwent new invasions: Indo-Persian kingdoms were formed in the North-West; in Punjab, dynasties of Greek origin, coming from Bactria, prospered for a certain period (to one of them belonged the famous king Menander, the Milinda of the Sanskrit texts); Then came the Śaka, the Parthians and finally i Kushāna. The latter, identified by historians with Yuechi, conquered a vast territory in Central Asia, which also includes much of northwestern India, arranging you a strong and flourishing empire, whose main rulers were Kadfise I and II and Kanishka’s. The history of the Kushāna remains to this day rather obscure in several points, especially as regards the chronology; however, it is known for certain that their empire no longer enjoyed great power at the time when the star of the Gupta rose (4th century AD). It also came to light outside the original Magadha with Candragupta I, the Gupta dynasty extended and consolidated its dominions with wars of conquest and marriage alliances, to include all of West, North, East and parts of South India. Under the Gupta rulers (Candragupta I, Samudragupta, Candragupta II, Kumāragupta I, Skandagupta, Budhagupta) India lived its golden age: the arts flourished, especially literature (with Kālidāsa), architecture and sculpture, trade and relations with other states of the ancient world prospered, progress was made in various scientific fields, bureaucratic systems that were not too oppressive but highly efficient were perfected and implemented. The empire then collapsed under the invasions of the Huns, who imposed the tax in various areas of northern India, which again split into numerous states. See topb2bwebsites for recent history of India.
HISTORY: SOUTH INDIA
It is now necessary to mention a brief overview of the history of southern India, for reasons of a predominantly geographical nature that remained on the sidelines of the great events in the North, if we exclude the conquests, however short-lived, made by the founders of the few Pan-Indian empires. In the Deccan and in the south of the country the Ari had not managed to penetrate as massively as in the North, and in any case they had had to take much longer, so their civilization did not radically influence the habits and customs of the local populations, mostly of Dravidian stock. From the political point of view, the South also saw the flourishing of numerous states, on the whole, however, less fragmented than those of the North. The most ancient dynasties were those of the Pāṇḍyas, of Cera and Cola, already known in the century. III a. C. In the sec. I a. C. the Sātavahāna or Andhra acquired great power, the first to welcome the Northern Aria culture on a large scale, especially in the religious and literary fields. Foreign trade was also important under this dynasty, extending westward to Rome and eastward to Southeast Asia, where Indochina and Indonesia were deeply affected by Indian influence. In the sec. V the Pallava dynasty was established, reaching its apogee in the century. VII with King Narasiṃhavarman I (ca. 630-660), who built the majestic temple complex of Mahabalipuram. Its capital is Kanchipuram it was home to a famous university. Even in the century. VII the Cālukya assumed importance, while in the VIII the Rāṣṭrakūṭa exercised hegemony in the South, whose most famous king was Amoghavarṣa I (814-878), rich and powerful, protector of Jainism. In 973 Taila II (973-997), belonging to another branch of the Cālukya, overthrew the Rāṣṭrakūṭa and pushed his armies to Magadha and Bengal. However, from the end of the century. X to XII the most important southern kingdom was that of the Cola, a great seafaring power, the only one in the history of India, who held the dominion of the entire eastern coast of India, Ceylon, the Laccadives and the Maldives, arriving with the his military expeditions to Sumatra. With the end of the second Cālukya dynasty and the decline of the Cola in the century. XII, Hoysala etc. Later, when the Muslim invasions began, the South still represented, as had happened at the time of the air conquest of India, a major impediment to the penetration of the ideological and political forces of Islam throughout the country. Indeed, it became the custodian and guardian of the Hindu tradition: it is no coincidence that Muslims met the most irreducible resistance to their advance in the kingdom of Vijayanagar. Founded in 1336 after a Hindu revolt against the Tughlaq, Vijayanagar, the “City of Victory”, became the capital of a vast kingdom, with a large and capable army, rich in great public achievements, flourishing in arts and commerce. In 1565, however, a coalition of Muslim states succeeded in taking and destroying the city; the kingdom survived her for a while, but by now deprived of any importance. Other large state formations of this pre-Moghūl period were the reign of the Bahamans and the complex of valiant rājpūt principalities (Chitor, Mewar, Marvar, etc.), both flourishing in the Deccan and famous for their resistance to the advance of imperial power, however, she was victorious at the end of the fight.