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Overview History of India Outline
Free to Print - Outline of the History of India for World History - Scroll Down for PDF - Ancient India
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a. Historically, India’s geographic boundaries were bigger than they are today
i. Bangladesh + India + Pakistan = India
b. Bangladesh and Pakistan did not exist as separate countries until after India gained independence from Great Britain in 1947
c. “Northwest India” generally means Pakistan
d. Ancient Indian cities, such as Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, were located in what is now Pakistan

II. India’s geography
a. As large as Europe, minus Russia
b. Population: 1.15 billion (2010 estimate)
i. Second only to China
c. Himalayan Mountains (northeast)
i. Separate India from Tibet and western China
d. Northwest
i. Historic route of land invasions
1. Alexander the Great
2. Mughals (or Moguls)
e. Indian Ocean
i. Route of British conquest
f. Climate
i. Hot (except in highlands)
ii. Land – very fertile to semi-desert

III. Ganges and Indus river valleys
a. Northern India
b. Early 1900s
i. Archaeologists uncovered ruins of Mohenjo-Daro (circa 2600 BCE) and Harappa (circa 2600 BCE)
c. Bronze and copper
d. Fired brick
e. Picture writing (undeciphered)
f. Farming, jewelry-making, and woven cloth
g. Engineering – drainage systems
h. Civilization ended circa 1900 BCE

IV. Aryan invasion (circa 1700-1300 BCE)
a. Invaders came from Europe
i. Traced through Indo-European language roots
b. Ruled India for hundreds of years
c. Set up small kingdoms ruled by rajahs
d. Conquered native Dravidians
e. Created modern Hinduism from Dravidian religious traditions and their own ideas
f. Established India’s caste system

V. Vedic Age (circa 1500-500 BCE)
a. Vedas written in Sanskrit (India’s literary language)
b. Mahabharata
c. Ramayana

VI. Alexander the Great (ruled India circa 327-326 BCE)
a. Macedonian (Greek) who led conquering forces across northern India
b. Ruled briefly
c. Greeks expelled from most of India after Alexander’s death
d. Continued contact with Alexandrian successor state, the Seleucid empire, with the west

VII. Maurya Empire (322-185 BCE)
a. Dynasty begun by Chandragupta Maurya
b. Asoka (grandson), 273-232 BCE
i. Ruled all of India
ii. Converted to Buddhism
iii. Religious tolerance, generosity, wisdom, and kindness
iv. Spread Buddhism – Burma, Ceylon, Siam, Tibet
v. War and disunity after his death

VIII. Gupta dynasty (320-467 CE)
a. Northern India reunited
b. Trade
i. With west
ii. Burma, Indochina, Java, Sumatra
iii. Buddhism and Hinduism spread out
1. Cultural diffusion

IX. Mughal empire (1526-1858)
a. 12th century – Muslim invasion
b. 1500 – Central Asians, led by Mughals (Moguls), established a kingdom in northern India
c. Akbar (1556-1605)
i. Conquest of central India
ii. Efficient and strong government
iii. Religious tolerance
iv. Business and commerce encouraged
d. Architecture
i. Forts, mosques, palaces, tombs
1. Taj Mahal – Agra, India – tomb for a Mughal emperor’s favorite wife

X. End of the Mughal empire
a. 17th century – empire crumbled
i. Fighting between smaller kingdoms
ii. English, French, and Portuguese traders gained influence
b. 1763 – Seven Years’ War
i. Fight in North America known as the French and Indian War
ii. English (British East India Company) won control of India from the French
iii. Taken over by the British government under Queen Victoria (British Raj, 1858-1947)
1. Independent after World War II (1947)

XI. Hinduism
a. Escape sins of life by attaining purity and perfection of the soul
b. Caste system
i. Process starts in lowest caste (Untouchables)
ii. Soul reincarnated in person of higher caste
iii. Must carry out duties of the caste
iv. Repeated rebirths
v. Soul ultimately becomes perfect and merges with the soul of Brahma (principal god)

XII. Castes
a. Original castes
i. Brahmin (priests)
ii. Warriors
iii. Farmers and traders
iv. Sudra (servants)
b. Eventually divided by occupation into thousands of castes
i. Lowest – the Untouchables
1. Strict purification rituals if others contact them
2. Today – legal protections under Indian law, but prejudice still exists

XIII. Hinduism (continued)
a. All life is sacred
i. Animals respected
ii. Cow is sacred
iii. Most Hindus are vegetarians
b. Basic beliefs
i. World is evil
ii. Reincarnation after death (animal or human)
iii. Soul purified by completion of caste duties
iv. Reverence for animals
v. Escape world’s evils through prayer

XIV. Buddhism
a. Founded by Gautama (563-483 BCE)
i. Age 30 – gave up position and wealth to study the right way to live
ii. Called Buddha (“the enlightened one”)
b. Life is evil and suffering
i. Can be avoided by good desires
c. Eightfold Path
i. Do not gossip, have impure thoughts, hate, lie, or steal
d. Rare in India today, but spread through eastern Asia

XV. Culture
a. Kalidasa (6th century CE)
i. Playwright and poet
ii. Fairy stories and animal fables
b. Art and architecture
i. Temples covered with designs and figures

XVI. Science and math
a. Mathematics
i. Zero
ii. Decimal point
iii. Minus sign
iv. “Arabic” numerals (Europe got them from Arab traders, who got them from India)
b. Gupta period (320-467 CE)
i. Leaders in dyeing, tanning leather, soap and glass making
c. Textiles
i. Cotton, cashmere, calico, chintz – all originally Indian terms

XVII. Review questions
a. After 1947, India split into what three separate countries?
b. What two ancient Indus River Valley civilizations were discovered by archaeologists in the early 1900s?
c. The Vedas were written in what language?
d. What religion was practiced by the Mughal emperors?
e. Describe India’s caste system.
f. What is the origin of the term “Arabic numerals”?

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