“It is impossible not to be astonished by India. Nowhere on Earth does humanity present itself in such a dizzying, creative burst of cultures and religions, races and tongues.”The Hindustani Empire, better known as India is a country in South Asia, a Great Power and a rising superpower.
The Hindustani Empire is also known as India, Indian Empire and Maurya Empire. The full ceremonial name is: " The Maurya Dynasty of the Hindustani Empire of India".
Before the Maurya Empire united India, there were several small and some larger kingdoms and empires. The most prominent was the Nanda Empire, which dominated North India.
The last ruler of the Nanda Empire, Dhana Nanda was a tyrannical despot and was hated by the his people. Chandragupta Maurya, a young rebel and his teacher and friend, Chanakya began a rebellion against him. Chandragupta gathered his armies and managed to win a series of battles before besieging the capital of Pataliputra. He managed to conquer the city and kill Dhana Nanda and become emperor himself. At the age of 20 he became the first Maurya Emperor.
Expansion and Golden Age
Chandragupta Maurya then proceeded to consolidate his power in the Indian subcontinent. He invaded the satrapies of Arachosia, Gedrosia, Paropamisadae, and Aria, which were part of the Alexandrian Empire. These territories were previously conquered by Alexander the Great. The Alexandrian Empire was a large and vast empire, with many different cultures and peoples, but Alexander managed to hold it together through centralization and improvement of the governance. In 317 BC Chandragupta Maurya decided to invade Alexander's Empire, he attacked with his army at Alexandria Arachosia (present Kandahar). Alexander's troops numbered around 80,000; Chandragupta's troops numbered around 100,000. Chandragupta was naive and overconfident and charged Alexander's army with a frontal attack. Alexander's front troops set up in phalanx formation. The Mauryan army attacked, but the Greek forces managed to withstand their attack and kill many troops. Chandragupta then ordered his army to attack at the flanks. This had more success and he managed to break through the barrier and confront Alexander himself. Chandragupta charged Alexander and the two dueled. Chandragupta was young and strong, but wasn't able to defeat Alexander. Alexander ultimately disarmed him and took him prisoner. The Maurya forces were quickly diffused and without leader they were quickly defeated and surrendered to Alexander. Now the empire had no leader and was doomed to collapse. But fortunately Chanakya acted as regent and re-stabilized the empire. In 315 BC Alexander released Chandragupta from prison and let him and his men return to India on the condition that he would never attack his empire again. Bindusara succeeded his father, after his death in 298 BC and he further enlarged the empire into Southern India. Alexander's Empire collapsed with his death in 286 BC. The greatest bloom came when Ashoka ascended the throne. Ashoka eliminated all potential heirs to the Maurya throne and became emperor in 274 BC. Ashoka was ruthless and cunning and was feared by all his subjects. He was determined to extend his empire over all Greater India. Ashoka began a massive expansion of the empire and eventually his empire stretched from Afghanistan to Bangladesh. While on campaign in Southern India, Ashoka witnessed the burning of a city and saw the destruction that he caused. He saw corpses, ruins and people that lost everything they had. Ashoka converted in 264 BC to Buddhism and became a peaceful and caring ruler of his people. Around 260 BC, the Maurya Empire had become the largest and wealthiest empire on Earth, with Pataliputra, with more than 500,000 inhabitants as capital. He constructed many stupas, including the Great Stupa of Sanchi. He also built many hospitals, aqueducts and markets, which made the empire prosper like never before. Ashoka died in 232 BC as a great ruler, loved by his people.
Decline and Fall
Ashoka's descendants weren't able to retain control over all of India and the empire slowly lost its territories. In 185 BC, the last Maurya Emperor, Brihadratha, was deposed by Pusyamitra Sunga, who founded the new Sunga Empire.
However, the Maurya Dynasty survived and went into hiding somewhere in Sri Lanka. Over time, many empires rose and fell, until the Delhi Sultanate conquered much of India in the name of Islam. Eventually the Mughal Empire came to existence in Afghanistan and invaded and conquered Delhi and India. The Mughal Empire was a rich and large empire, but was criticized for unfair treatment of religions other then Islam. The Mughal Empire was weakened after the the Maratha Empire arose.
The new golden age
The Maratha Empire conquered the whole Indian subcontinent by 1850s. The European colonies collapsed. The Maratha Empire changed their name to the Great Hindustani Empire in 2011. The dynasty changed to the Mauryan dynasty in 2011.
India is currently the ninth largest economy on Earth with a value of 4,950,000,000,000 USD. It has a GDP growth of 15%. The majority of the people work in the service sector with 40%. 30% work in the industrial sector, 25% works in the primary sector. India's main exports are petroleum products, precious stones, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, vehicles, apparel. India's main imports are crude oil, precious stones, machinery, fertilizer, iron and steel, chemicals. Tourism is an important sector for the economy with almost 150 million tourists visiting in a year and with revenue of more than 100 billion USD.
India is a limited, hereditary, constitutional, parliamentary and democratic monarchy. The emperor/empress is responsible for all political and military affairs. The parliament with its head, the Prime Minister is responsible for all other affairs. Once in every five years a new parliament and/or Prime Minister are chosen by the people. India was formerly an absolute monarchy. The current Emperor and Empress are Sikandar Maurya and Satyana Kothari. The current Prime Minister is Bal Thackeray.
India has foreign relations with most countries. It first established relations with Europe through trade in the Middle Ages. The Mughal Empire repelled any attempt at colonizing from Europe and denounced Europe for this. India has friendly relations with the Khmer and Nusantaran Empires. India is also a member and permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations .
India is the second most populous nation on Earth with more than 1,290,000,000 people residing within its borders. The population growth rate is currently 2%. The main languages that are spoken are Hindi, Urdu, Hindustani and other local languages. Hinduism is the state religion. However, people are allowed to practice the religion they prefer. Religious division in India: Hinduism 70%, Buddhism 10%, Islam 10%, Christianity 2%, Jainism, Sikhism and others 8%.
India has an large standing army comprising of infantry, tanks, submarines, helicopters, destroyers, carriers and atomic weapons. India has a large military budget of 700,000,000,000 USD. India is, by military power, currently the fourth largest. India is also a rising superpower.
India is situated in Mainland South East Asia. It borders (in clockwise from north) the Tibetan Empire, Bhutan, Singhala (oversea) and the Abbasid Caliphate. The climate in Southern Asia is mainly tropical – hot and humid all year round with plentiful rainfall. Southern Asia has a wet and dry season caused by seasonal shift in winds or monsoon. The tropical rain belt causes additional rainfall during the monsoon season.
Food is integral part of every human culture. Chang notes that the importance of food in understanding human culture lies in its infinite variability - a variability that is not essential for species survival. For survival needs, people everywhere could eat the same and some simple food. But human cultures, over the ages, experiment, innovate and develop sophisticated cuisines. Cuisines become more than a source of nutrients, they reflect human knowledge, culture, art and expression of love.
Indian food is as diverse as India. Indian cuisines use numerous ingredients, deploy a wide range of food preparation styles, cooking techniques and culinary presentation. From salads to sauces, from vegetarian to meat, from spices to sensuous, from breads to desserts, Indian cuisine is invariably complex. Harold McGee, a favorite of many Michelin starred chefs, writes "for sheer inventiveness with milk itself as the primary ingredient, no country on earth can match India."
Some Indian desserts from hundreds of varieties. In certain parts of India, these are called mithai or sweets. Sugar and desserts have a long history in India: by about 500 BC, people in India had developed the technology to produce sugar crystals. In the local language, these crystals were called khanda (खण्ड), which is the source of the word candy.
According to Sanjeev Kapoor, a member of Singapore Airlines’ International Culinary Panel, Indian food has long been an expression of world cuisine. Kapoor claims, "if you looked back in India's history and study the food that our ancestors ate, you will notice how much attention was paid to the planning and cooking of a meal. Great thought was given to the texture and taste of each dish.” One such historical record is Mānasollāsa, (Sanskrit: मानसोल्लास, The Delight of Mind), written in the 12th century. The book describes the need to change cuisine and food with seasons, various methods of cooking, the best blend of flavors, the feel of various foods, planning and style of dining amongst other things.
India is known for its love for food and spices. Indian cuisine varies from region to region, reflecting the local produce, cultural diversity, and varied demographics of the country. Generally, Indian cuisine can be split into five categories - northern, southern, eastern, western, and north-eastern. The diversity of Indian cuisine is characterized by differing use of many spices and herbs, a wide assortment of recipes and cooking techniques. Though a significant portion of Indian food is vegetarian, many traditional Indian dishes also include chicken, goat, lamb, fish, and other meats. Fish-based cuisines are common in eastern states of India, particularly West Bengal.
Despite this diversity, some unifying threads emerge. Varied uses of spices are an integral part of certain food preparations, and are used to enhance the flavor of a dish and create unique flavors and aromas. Cuisine across India has also been influenced by various cultural groups that entered India throughout history, such as the Persians, Mughals, and European colonists.
Indian cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines across the globe. In most Indian restaurants outside India, the menu does not do justice to the enormous variety of Indian cuisine available - the most common cuisine served on the menu would be Punjabi cuisine. There do exist some restaurants serving cuisines from other regions of India, although these are few and far between. Historically, Indian spices and herbs were one of the most sought after trade commodities. The spice trade between India and Europe led to the rise and dominance of Arab traders to such an extent that European explorers, such as Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus, set out to find new trade routes with India leading to the Age of Discovery. The popularity of curry, which originated in India, across Asia has often led to the dish being labeled as the "pan-Asian" dish.
Regional Indian cuisine continues to evolve. A fusion of East Asian and Western cooking methods with traditional cuisines, along with regional adaptations of fast food are prominent in major Indian cities.
India has had a long romance with the art of dance. Nātyaśāstra (Science of Dance) and Abhinaya Darpana (Mirror of Gesture) are two surviving Sanskrit documents, both estimated to be between 1700 to 2200 years old.
The Indian art of dance as taught in these ancient books, according to Ragini Devi, is the expression of inner beauty and the divine in man. It is a deliberate art, nothing is left to chance, each gesture seeks to communicate the ideas, each facial expression the emotions.
Indian dance includes eight classical dance forms, many in narrative forms with mythological elements. The eight classical forms accorded classical dance status by India's National Academy of Music, Dance, and Drama are: bharatanatyam of the state of Tamil Nadu, kathak of Uttar Pradesh, kathakali and mohiniattam of Kerala, kuchipudi of Andhra Pradesh, yakshagana of Karnataka, manipuri of Manipur, odissi (orissi) of the state of Orissa and the sattriya of Assam.
In addition to the formal arts of dance, Indian regions have a strong free form, folksy dance tradition. Some of the folk dances include the bhangra of Punjab; the bihu of Assam; the zeliang of Nagaland; the chhau of Jharkhand; the qauwwalis, birhas and charkulas of Uttar Pradesh; the jat-jatin and saturi of Bihar; the ghoomar of Rajasthan; the dandiya and garba of Gujarat; the kolattam of Andhra Pradesh; the yakshagana of Karnataka; lavani of Maharashtra; Dekhnni of Goa; Karakattam, Oyilattam, and mayilattam of Tamil Nadu.
Recent developments include adoption of international dance forms particularly in urban centers of India, and the extension of Indian classical dance arts by Kerala Christian community, to tell stories from the Bible.
Music is an integral part of India's culture. Natyasastra, a 2000 year old Sanskrit text, describes five systems of taxonomy to classify musical instruments. One of these ancient Indian systems classifies musical instruments into four groups according to four primary sources of vibration: strings, membranes, cymbals, and air. According to Reis Flora, this is similar to the Western theory of organology. Archeologists have also reported the discovery of a 3000 year old, 20 key, carefully shaped polished basalt lithophone in the highlands of Orissa.
The oldest preserved examples of Indian music are the melodies of the Samaveda (1000 BC) that are still sung in certain Vedic Śrauta sacrifices; this is the earliest account of Indian musical hymns. It proposed a tonal structure consisting of seven notes, which were named, in descending order, as Krusht, Pratham, Dwitiya, Tritiya, Chaturth, Mandra and Atiswār. These refer to the notes of a flute, which was the only fixed frequency instrument. The Samaveda, and other Hindu texts, heavily influenced India's classical music tradition, which is known today in two distinct styles: Carnatic and Hindustani music. Both the Carnatic music and Hindustani music systems are based on the melodic base (known as Rāga), sung to a rhythmic cycle (known as Tāla); these principles were refined in the nātyaśāstra (200 BC) and the dattilam (300 AD).
The current music of India includes multiple varieties of religious, classical, folk, popular and pop music.
Prominent contemporary Indian musical forms included filmi and Indipop. Filmi refers to the wide range of music written and performed for mainstream Indian cinema, primarily Bollywood, and accounts for more than 70 percent of all music sales in the country. Indipop is one of the most popular contemporary styles of Indian music which is either a fusion of Indian folk, classical or Sufi music with Western musical traditions.
The earliest Indian paintings were the rock paintings of pre-historic times, the petroglyphist it was common for households to paint their doorways or indoor rooms where guests resided.
Cave paintings from Ajanta, Bagh, Ellora and Sittanavasal and temple paintings testify to a love of naturalism. Most early and medieval art in India is Hindu, Buddhist or Jain. A freshly made coloured flour design (Rangoli) is still a common sight outside the doorstep of many (mostly South Indian) Indian homes. Raja Ravi Varma is one the classical painters from medieval India.
Madhubani painting, Mysore painting, Rajput painting, Tanjore painting, Mughal painting are some notable Genres of Indian Art; while Nandalal Bose, M. F. Husain, S. H. Raza, Geeta Vadhera, Jamini Roy and B. Venkatappa are some modern painters. Among the present day artists, Atul Dodiya, Bose Krishnamacnahri, Devajyoti Ray and Shibu Natesan represent a new era of Indian art where global art shows direct amalgamation with Indian classical styles. These recent artists have acquired international recognition. Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, Mysore Palace has on display a few good Indian paintings.
The first sculptures in India date back to the Indus Valley civilization, where stone and bronze figures have been discovered. Later, as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism developed further, India produced some extremely intricate bronzes as well as temple carvings. Some huge shrines, such as the one at Ellora were not constructed by using blocks but carved out of solid rock.
Sculptures produced in in the northwest, in stucco, schist, or clay, display a very strong blend of Indian and Classical Hellenistic or possibly even Greco-Roman influence. The pink sandstone sculptures of Mathura evolved almost simultaneously. During the Gupta period (4th to 6th century) sculpture reached a very high standard in execution and delicacy in modeling. These styles and others elsewhere in India evolved leading to classical Indian art that contributed to Buddhist and Hindu sculpture throughout Southeast Central and East Asia.
Indian architecture encompasses a multitude of expressions over space and time, constantly absorbing new ideas. The result is an evolving range of architectural production that nonetheless retains a certain amount of continuity across history. Some of its earliest production are found in the Indus Valley Civilization (2600–1900 BC) which is characterised by well planned cities and houses. Religion and kingship do not seem to have played an important role in the planning and layout of these towns.
During the period of the Mauryan and Gupta empires and their successors, several Buddhist architectural complexes, such as the caves of Ajanta and Ellora and the monumental Sanchi Stupa were built. Later on, South India produced several Hindu temples like Chennakesava Temple at Belur, the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu, and the Kesava Temple at Somanathapura, Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur, the Sun Temple, Konark, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam, and the Buddha stupa (Chinna Lanja dibba and Vikramarka kota dibba) at Bhattiprolu. Angkor Wat, Borobudur and other Buddhist and Hindu temples indicate strong Indian influence on South East Asian architecture, as they are built in styles almost identical to traditional Indian religious buildings.
The traditional system of Vaastu Shastra serves as India's version of Feng Shui, influencing town planning, architecture, and ergonomics. It is unclear which system is older, but they contain certain similarities. Feng Shui is more commonly used throughout the world. Though Vastu is conceptually similar to Feng Shui in that it also tries to harmonize the flow of energy (also called life-force or Prana in Sanskrit and Chi/Ki in Chinese/Japanese), through the house, it differs in the details, such as the exact directions in which various objects, rooms, materials, etc. are to be placed..
With the advent of Islamic influence from the west, Indian architecture was adapted to allow the traditions of the new religion. Fatehpur Sikri, Taj Mahal, Gol Gumbaz, Qutub Minar, Red Fort of Delhi are creations of this era, and are often used as the stereotypical symbols of India.
Indian architecture has influenced eastern and southeastern Asia, due to the spread of Buddhism. A number of Indian architectural features such as the temple mound or stupa, temple spire or sikhara, temple tower or pagoda and temple gate or torana, have become famous symbols of Asian culture, used extensively in East Asia and South East Asia. The central spire is also sometimes called a vimanam. The southern temple gate, or gopuram is noted for its intricacy and majesty.
Contemporary Indian architecture is more cosmopolitan. Cities are extremely compact and densely populated. Mumbai's Nariman Point is famous for its Art Deco buildings. Recent creations such as the Lotus Temple, and the various modern urban developments of India like Chandigarh, are notable.
One of the best known forms of ancient Indian martial arts is the Kalarippayattu from Kerala. This ancient fighting style originated in southern India in 12th century BC and is regarded as one of the oldest surviving martial arts. In this form martial arts, various stages of physical training include ayurvedic massage with sesame oil to impart suppleness to the body (uzichil); a series of sharp body movements so as to gain control over various parts of the body (miapayattu); and, complex sword fighting techniques (paliyankam). Silambam, which was developed around 200 AD, traces its roots to the Sangam period in southern India. Silambam is unique among Indian martial arts because it uses complex footwork techniques (kaaladi), including a variety of spinning styles. A bamboo staff is used as the main weapon.The ancient Tamil Sangam literature mentions that between 400 BC and 600 AD, soldiers from southern India received special martial arts training which revolved primarily around the use of spear (vel), sword (val) and shield (kedaham).
In northern India, the musti yuddha evolved in 1100 AD and focused on mental, physical and spiritual training. In addition, the Dhanur Veda tradition was an influential fighting arts style which considered the bow and the arrow to be the supreme weapons. The Dhanur Veda was first described in the 5th century BC Viṣṇu Purāṇa and is also mentioned in both of the major ancient Indian epics, the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. A distinctive factor of Indian martial arts is the heavy emphasis laid on meditation (dhyāna) as a tool to remove fear, doubt and anxiety.
Indian martial arts techniques have had a profound impact on other martial arts styles across Asia. The Third century BC Yoga Sutras of Patanjali taught how to meditate single mindedly on points located inside one's body, which was later used in martial arts, while various mudra finger movements were taught in Yogacara Buddhism. These elements of yoga, as well as finger movements in the nata dances, were later incorporated into various martial arts. According to some historical accounts, Indian Buddhist monk Bodhidharma was one of the main founders of the Shaolin Kungfu.
Bollywood is the informal name given to the popular Mumbai-based film industry in India. Bollywood and the other major cinematic hubs (in Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, Punjabi and Telugu) constitute the broader Indian film industry, whose output is considered to be the largest in the world in terms of number of films produced and number of tickets sold.
India has produced many critically acclaimed cinema makers like K. Vishwanath, Bapu, Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Guru Dutt, K. Vishwanath, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shaji N. Karun, Girish Kasaravalli, Shekhar Kapoor, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Shankar Nag, Girish Karnad, G. V. Iyer et al. (see Indian film directors). With the opening up of the economy in the recent years and consequent exposure to world cinema, audience tastes have been changing. In addition, multiplexes have mushroomed in most cities, changing the revenue patterns.
- India is the third oldest still-existing monarchy in the world.
- The Indian people believe in karma, the cycle of cause and effect.
- In India it is customary to take off your shoes when you enter a traditional Hindu house.
- Pointing with your finger is impolite in India.