Objects As History Week 11
After two weeks of missing class, we were really starting to get eager and desperate for our next History class. When we finally saw our faculty’s face on a Zoom call in Week 11, it was a treat! We began our class by discussing the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization, and moved our way up from there. Following are the topics we discussed in class:
- Decline of the Indus Valley Civilization, the Aryan Invasions, and establishment of the Kuru Empire.
- The Janapadas, meaning foothold of the people.We also discussed the names of the 16 mahajanapadas.
- ALexander’s invasion , and the establishment of an Indo-Greek culture.Also the establishment of the Gandhara school of Art (which is in Afghanistan today, as made very clear by the faculty.)
- The intricacies of Hinduism , and how it led to the establishments of other religions.Emergence of Buddhism, life of Buddha.
- Concept of freedom from worldly attachments, and a religion welcoming all kinds of people.Union of Buddhist and Greek culture as seen in the Gandhara school of Art and the Mathura School of Art.Discussion on the Buddhas of Bamiyan.
- Succession wars after the death of Alexander.Seleucus Nicator establishing the Seleucid Empire.
- Chandragupta Maurya’s life and his rise to power, leading to the first empire spanning over the entire Indian subcontinent.
In all, it was an interesting class, looking into a part of Indian history that I’d actually forgotten. I think the Aryan invasions are a very mind boggling part of our history. I mean, just think about it. These guys came in with their horses and spoked chariots from the Central steppes, saw the Indus River basin, and thought it would be a great idea to settle in this empty fertile land, occupied only in the south by the Dravidians. And because of that, we gave rise to the Vedas, several ancient religious scriptures, and the entire existence of what we today call Hinduism. As a Hindu, it is crazy to imagine that the religion practiced in my community is the result of foreign invaders deciding to stay here, and create one of the most intricate concepts in history. When I was in school, our history teacher told us that the we all should try a hand at learning German. This is because people who know Sanskrit will find it easy to pick up German words. I was awe-struck by this statement, and today I know that it is because of the common root between Indo-Iranian languages and Indo-European languages, all starting because of the Aryans.
The existence of an Indo-Greek culture was also a concept I found interesting. I kept thinking about where I’ve heard of this concept before. And that’s when I realized how I remembered it. A few weeks ago, I’d stumbled across a video on YouTube about a village named Malana,located in the Kullu region of Himachal Pradesh. The video was about how the village made their entire living out of cannabis and hash (yep. only these two things, highest concentration apparently), and how cannabis had become a part of their life and culture. It also talked about the rules of the village, which included not touching the villagers, maintaining distance, and the roles of men in the village versus the roles of women. And in this video, a villager very clearly says,”We are the descendants of the soldiers of Alexander the Great, who decided to stay back in the country.” Thinking about the geographical aspect, it is very much possible that a similar race of people were the ones who established the Gandhara and Mathura schools of Art.