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SOUTH ASIA : HISTORY-ARCHAEOLOGY
Vedic Period/Indo-Gangetic Cultures (ca. 1900-800 BCE);
Mahajanapadas (8th-6th Century BCE); Nanda Dynasty (ca. 6th-4th Century BCE)

Development of Buddhist and Jain philosophical texts, ca. 6th century BCE onward
Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE) invades northern western India, 327-326 BCE

India: A Historical Overview [Asia Society]
Background reading about "the people and characteristics of India's historical eras, from the early Indus River Valley civilization, through the Mughal period to present day."

South Asia, 1,000 B.C.-1 A.D. [Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
"The first millennium B.C. is a dynamic period in the development of South Asian culture and artistic traditions. In North India, imperial power is centered in the Magadha region, later the core of the Mauryan empire, which in the third century B.C. controls all but the southern tip of India. Two heterodox religions, Buddhism and Jainism, arise in critical response to the Sanskrit-based Brahmanic religious tradition." With a period overview, list of key events, and three related artworks.

TimelineThe Story of India: Beginnings [PBS]
Excellent annotated timeline with text, images, and video clips throughout.

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Mauryan Empire (ca. 323-185 BCE);
Shunga Dynasty (ca. 2nd-1st Century BCE); Kushan Empire (ca. 2nd Century BCE-3rd Century CE)

Third Mauryan emperor, Ashoka, r. ca. 273-232 BCE
Mauryan Empire [Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
A short introduction, with a map and image of one related artifact from the museum's collection.

Art of the Silk Road: Cultures: The Mauryan Empire [University of Washington, Simpson Center for the Humanities]
An overview of the Mauryan empire, with a map and images of five related artifacts. Part of an online exhibit "organized as part of Silk Road Seattle, a collaborative public education project exploring cultural interaction across Eurasia from the first century BCE to the sixteenth century CE."

Shunga Dynasty [Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
A short introduction, with a map and images of two related artifacts from the museum's collection.

Kushan Empire [Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
A short introduction, with a map and images of four related artifacts from the museum's collection.

Art of the Silk Road: Cultures: The Kushan Empire [University of Washington, Simpson Center for the Humanities]
An overview of the Kushan empire, with a map and images of four related artifacts. Part of an online exhibit "organized as part of Silk Road Seattle, a collaborative public education project exploring cultural interaction across Eurasia from the first century BCE to the sixteenth century CE."

South Asia, 1-500 A.D. [Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
"Smaller regional centers across the north, under Kushan control in the early centuries of the first millennium A.D., are brought together under the Gupta dynasty in the fourth century." With a period overview, list of key events, and six related artworks.

TimelineThe Story of India: The Power of Ideas [PBS]
Excellent annotated timeline with text, images, and video clips throughout.

TimelineThe Story of India: Spice Routes & Silk Roads [PBS]
Excellent annotated timeline with text, images, and video clips throughout.

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RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, THOUGHT

General Introductions to Religions of South Asia
The Religions of South Asia [Asia Society]
"From the earliest civilizations to modern-day practices, this essay introduces the complex and important role of religion in South Asian history and society."

Hinduism

The foundational texts of Hinduism, the Brahmanas and Upanishads composed, ca. 800 BCE onward
Hindu Beginnings: Assessing the Period 1000 BCE to 300 CE [PDF] [Education About Asia, Association for Asian Studies]

Ancient India: Early Hinduism [The British Museum]
A unit on "the evolution of the gods and goddesses and the development of beliefs which form the basis of the modern Hindu religion, [featuring] stories from one of the early Hindu epics." Select the "Staff Room" link at left for a teacher's guide to this website and its contents.

Lesson Plan The Story of India: Tracking Early Hinduism [PBS]
For middle to high school levels. Objectives: "Understand the foundation of Hinduism; Consider and examine the ancient texts that defined Hinduism; Develop an overarching understand of the complexity of Hinduism and its early development; Review the major deities in Hinduism and their individual roles in the spiritual lives of Hindus." With many images and online video resources.

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Buddhism

Siddhartha, ca. 563 to 483 BCE (according to tradition)
Life of the Buddha [Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
A brief overview of the life of the historical Buddha. With links interspersed throughout the text to 20 artworks from the museum’s collection that illustrate various aspects of the historical Buddha’s life story.

Ancient India: The Buddha [The British Museum]
A unit on "the story of the Buddha's life... focuses on the Great Stupa at Amaravati, a large Buddhist monument built in southeastern India between the second century B.C. and the third century A.D." Select the "Staff Room" link at left for a teacher's guide to this website and its contents.

The Origins of Buddhism [Asia Society]
"A short essay that explores how Buddhism grew out of Hinduism and spread from India to the rest of Asia. How does Buddhism vary from place to place, sect to sect? Learn about how the spread of ideas combine of new beliefs with existing thoughts and practices."

Symposium on Herman Hesse's Siddhartha [Education About Asia, Association for Asian Studies]
From the Spring 1997 issue of Education About Asia magazine, with four articles: "Siddhartha Still Works"; "Teaching Indian Buddhism with Siddhartha — or Not?"; "Siddhartha — A Journey to the East?"; and "Going Beyond Hesse's Siddhartha."

Third Mauryan emperor, Ashoka, r. ca. 273-232 BCE, converts to Buddhism
Lesson PlanThe Story of India: An Edict on Ashoka [PBS]
For middle to high school levels. Objectives: "Review the basic tenets of Buddhism; Examine Ashoka's great victory at Kalinga and his subsequent renunciation of violence; Analyze how Ashoka's conversion to Buddhism influenced his rule of the Mauryan Empire." With many images and online video resources.

Emergence of Mahayana Buddhism, ca. 1st century BCE to 1st century CE
Mahayana Buddhism [Religion & Ethics, BBC]
A brief overview of Mahayana Buddhism.

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Jainism

History of Jainism [Religion & Ethics, BBC]
A short overview of Jainism and its history.

The Emergence of Jainism [Victoria and Albert Museum]
A short overview of Jainism and its origins. Part of a larger unit about Jainism and Jain art.

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ECONOMY, WORK, TRADE, FOREIGN RELATIONS
Global Trade

Lesson PlanThe Story of India: The Winds of Trade (2nd Century BCE) [PBS]
For middle to high school levels. Objectives: "Identify the importance of trade in the classical era and throughout history; understand that people from distant lands have sought Indian goods since ancient times; analyze the importance of the monsoon winds; connect India's history of trade and commerce to its modern emergence as an independent state and economic power." With many images and online video resources.

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LITERATURE
The Mahabharata (containing the Bhagavad Gita) and the Ramayana

The Mahabharata: The Great Epic of India [James L. Fitzgerald, Brown University]
A brief introduction to the Mahabharata, with a short summary of the basic narrative, by James L. Fitzgerald, sanskrit scholar and translator of the Mahabharata and currently St. Purandara Das Distinguished Professor of Classics at Brown University.

Bhagavad Gita [Manas: India and Its Neighbors]
A brief introduction to the Bhagavad Gita by UCLA professor of history Vinay Lal.

Ramayana [Manas: India and Its Neighbors]
A brief introduction to the Ramayana by UCLA professor of history Vinay Lal.

Inside Story: The Ramayana [The British Library]
"The epic Ramayana has been performed throughout India and South East Asia for at least 2000 years. The earliest written text dates back to 400 AD, and was written by the poet Valmiki who brought together stories, songs and prayers connected to Rama and Sita." With illustrated summary of five stories from the Ramayana.

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© 2009 Asia for Educators, Columbia University