Post Classical India

India and the Indian Ocean Basin (Chapter 16)

Islamic and Hindu Kingdoms (AR)
Much like the earlier civilizations of the post-classical era, the Gupta Dynasty was pressured by outside societies. In 451 BCE the White Huns disrupted the Gupta kingdom, giving land without a ruler to the conquerors, allies of the Guptas, and independent regional brokers.

The Quest for Centralized Imperial Rule
After the fall of the Gupta Dynasty, Northern India was chaotic with intense war breaking out. Soon the nomadic Turks took advantage of this disorganized time, and became involved in Indian society. It was not too long though, until India was unified once again. This was temporary, however, and was made possible by King Harsha. As a sixteen year old, Harsha came to the throne, and reigned for 42 years (606-648 CE). According to a local pilgrim, Xuanzang, Harsha gave money gift to people in his kingdom periodically. His good personality was not enough to keep Northern India together, and eventually the local rulers became too powerful and the kingdom fell apart. Not to mention, when he was assassinated, he left no heir to his kingdom, causing immediate distress.

The Introduction of Islam to Northern India
Islam was first introduced to Northern India by Arab military forces. These first ventures into Sind were more for expedition, rather than conquest. In 711 CE, however, the Umayyad caliphs conquered Sind and made it a part of the Umayyad Empire. Soon Sind was passed on to the Abbasid caliphs, which officially were in control of the region from the mid seventh century until 1258 CE. Although Islam was the official religion, many of the Sinds continued with their Hindu or Buddhist beliefs. Another way of Islam reaching Northern India is through the works of merchants. These Muslim merchants took their faith to both Northern and Southern coasts of India, forming small communities in major coastal cities. The third way Islam came to Northern India was through the nom464646.jpgadic Turks’ migration and invasions. These Turks became acquainted with the Islam religion in during the 10th century CE, when they came in contact with the Abbasids. Some of these people moved to Afghanistan and established an Islamic state.

The leader of the Turks was Mahmud of Ghazhi, who ruled from 1001 to 1027 CE. He had many raiding expeditions into South India, and also annexed several states in Northwest India and Punjab. But what he focused on most was the wealth found in Hindu and Buddhist temples. He would often destroy these temples and replace them with Islamic shrines. The successor of Mahmud had a more systematic way of ruling. These people were called the sultanates of Delhi and they established their capital at Delhi, which gave them access to both the Ganges River Valley and Punjab. Their power, however did not reach much farther than this, and the stulnates eventually collapsed, but not without making a spot for Islam in Indian society.

The Hindu Kingdoms of Southern India
Southern India had some wars after the fall of the Gupta Dynasty, but not near as horrible as that of Northern India. Southern India was still politically divided despite the fact there was not as much chaos.

The 1st kingdom to rise up in Southern India was the Chola Kingdom. From 850 to 1267 CE, they ruled Coromandel Coast in South India. At the kingdom’s high point, they conquered Ceylon and other parts of Southeast Asia. This most likely was from Chola’s dominant navy that controlled the waters from the South China Sea to the Arabian Sea. The Chola Kingdom also allowed autonomy to villages, but by the 12th century, the kingdom had lost control and it began to decline. The kingdom to take their place was the Vijayahagar Kingdom. This kingdom owes its establishment to the sultanates of Delhi, when they sent 2 brothers, Hariharra and Bukka, to force the Islam religion upon people in their reign. These two rebelled the Islam religion and in 1336 CE set up a kingdom where Hinduism, their native religion, was the primary religion. Trading and the use of merchants continued like in were with the Chola Kingdom, until the collapse of Vijayanagar in 1565 CE. Soon after this Southern India received conflict and chaos much like Northern India.

Production and Trade in the Indian Ocean Basin (AM)

Agriculture in the Monsoon World
Monsoons occurred in India the spring and summer. During the dry months, of fall and winter, irrigation was needed to achieve the agricultural potential.. There was no big river in South India so waterworks included dams, reservoirs, canals, tunnels, and wells. When it did rain, the rainwater was stored in large reservoirs connected to canals. One reservoir, which actually was an artificial lake near Bhopal was constructed in the eleventh century and covered 250 square miles.
As a result of productivity, Indian’s population grew throughout the post classical era. After the fall of the Gupta dynasty in 600 C. E. population was about 53 million. The population arose to 105 million by 1500. Because of h population increase urbanization occurred in large cities including Delhi, the capital.

Trade and the Economic Development of Southern India
Internal trade was self-sufficient in staple foods, such as rice, wheat, barley, and millet. However, specialized crops grew only in special regions. Some of these including salt, pepper, iron, copper, spices, etc. Some of these products were traded nearby as some long distanced. This increased their economic growth.
Southern Indians used their growing wealth to build hundreds of Hindu temples, which organized agricultural activities, coordinated work or irrigation systems, and maintained surplus production for use in times of need. The temples provided schooling for the young boys in the neighborhood. 456.jpg

Cross-Cultural Trade in the Indian Ocean Basin
Dhows and junks were involved in maritime trade in the Indian Ocean. These ships could carry one thousand tons of cargo. Emporia and other Indian port cities were clearing houses of trade and cosmopolitan centers because India stood in the middle of the Indian Ocean Basin. Some of the trade goods are:
-Silk and Porcelain from China
-Spices from Southeast Asia
-Pepper, Gems, Pearls, and Cotton from India
-Incense and Horses from Arabia and Southwest Asia
-Gold, Ivory, and Slaves from Africa
There was specialized production of high quality cotton and other industries including sugar, leather, stone, carpets, iron, and steel.
The kingdom of Axum well illustrates the potential of trade to support political as well as economic development. Axum was a Christian empire centered in Ethiopia and resisted pressures of Islam. Axum stayed prosperous through trade. The empire was controlled by Adulis, the most prominent port on the Red Sea. Adulis funneled gold, ivory, and slaves from Africa to the eastern Mediterranean and Indian Ocean Basin.

Caste and Society
Caste provided guidance in absence of centralized political authority. It helped maintain order in local communities and provided guidance for individuals and their role in society. Caste helped integrate immigrants of Turks and Muslims merchant into Indian society caste and jatis. The cast system later expanded to Southern India.

Shiva Enlargement
Shiva Enlargement

The Meeting of Hindu and Islamic Traditions (KW)

During the Post Classical Era, Jainism and Buddhism lost most of their popular following in India. Hinduism and Islam would soon dominate the cultural and religious life of India.

The Development of Hinduism
Toward the end of the first millennium CE, Buddhism came under great pressure in India. The invasions of India by the Turkish peoples hastened the decline of Buddhism because the invaders vandalized and destroyed Buddhist stupas and shrines. Buddhist libraries were burned down and thousands of monks were exiled by conquerors.

Hinduism benefited from the decline of Buddhism. Hindu people believe in reincarnation and it involves the worship of a large pantheon of deities. Two of the most important deities in the Hindu pantheon were Vishnu and Shiva. Vishnu was the preserver of the world, while Shiva was both a god of fertility and a destructive deity. Vishnu and Shiva were both important devotional cults.

Islam and Its Appeal
The Islam faith did not attract immediate interest among Indians. Muslim conquerors generally reserved important military and political positions for their Arab, Persian, and Turkish companions. Only rarely did they allow Indians, even the ones who had already converted to Islam. Islam came in as a foreign faith, and many Indians did not favor its adoption. However, Indians gradually converted to Islam. By 1500 CE Indian Muslims numbered around twenty-five million, about a quarter of the subcontinent's population. Some Indians adopted Islam in hope of improving their positions in society; Hindus of lower castes, for example, hoped to escape discrimination by converting to a faith that recognized the equality of all its believers. However, when large masses of people from lower classes adopted Islam, after the conversion they continued to play the same social and economic roles as they had before.

The most effective agents of conversion to Islam were Sufi mystics. Sufis encouraged an emotional, personal, and devotional approach to Islam.

The Bhakti movement
Shiva Sculpture The Bhakti movement ultimately sought to erase the distinction between Hinduism and Islam. It emerged in India during the twelfth century and encourage traditional
devotion to Hindu values.

The Influence of Indian Society in Southeast Asia (EF)

The States of Southeast Asia
Indian Influence in Southeast Asia
India visited the islands of SE Asia around 500 BCE. They traded with the native people; Asia traded spices and exotic goods for the Indians metal goods and objects that were used in rituals. The Asians borrowed some of the Indians political organization and religions and they also adopted kingship. The ruling elites of Asia sponsored the introduction of Hinduism and Buddhism into courts and they embraced Indian literature and treaties (explained Buddhism), but they didn’t like the caste systems of India. They also continued to worship the deities and nature spirits that they had worshipped previously.

Funan dominated the lower parts of the Mekong River from the first to the sixth century CE. Their capital was at the port of OC EO and they were the 1st state known to reflect Indian influence in fashion. Funan was divided into communities each with its' own ruler, that focused on the production of rice. They were a wealthy group of people because they dominated the Isthmus of Kra; which enabled them to dominate trade between China and India. With their money they made water storage and irrigation systems (which were important to agriculture). The ruling classes adopted Indian political, cultural, and religious traditions. They called themselves rajas (king) and claimed themselves divine rulers like the Hindu rulers in India. They had bureaucrats and worshipped Hindu deities. In 6 CE a power struggle weakened Funan internally and it was overwhelmed to people from the north. These two things led to the fall of Funan.

Srivijaya (670-1025 CE) was a political leader after the fall of Funan. Their navy was very powerful and controlled commerce in SE Asian waters. They made port cities recognize their authority and they financed their navy and bureaucracy from tax on passing ships. They maintained an all-sea trade route from China to India. In 11 CE the kingdom of Chola eclipsed Srivijaya and with the decline of the Srivijaya, Ankor (889-1431 CE), Singosari (1222-1292 CE) and Majapahit (1293-1520 CE) dominated affairs in SE Asia.

The Funan (Mekong valley) and Angkor (Cambodia) were both land based and they focused on agriculture. Srivijaya (Palembang), Singosari (Island of Java), and Majapahit (Island of Java) were all island based and they controlled maritime trade. The Funan practiced Hinduism along with the Majapahit. The Angkor and Srivijaya practiced Buddhism. The Singosari practiced a mixture of Hinduism, Buddhism, and indigenous religions.

In 9 CE the kings of Khmers (802-1432 CE) built a capital near Angkor Thom. They designed their capital, with the help of Brahmins from India, like the Hindu world. In 12-13 CE they turned to Buddhism and added Buddhist temples to their capital without removing any of the Hindu temples. The capital was then abandoned in 1431 after it was ruined by Thai invaders.

The Arrival of Islam
Conversion to Islam
Ruling elites started to adopt Islam after trading with Muslims. They didn’t completely adopt Islam because they also continued to worship Buddhism and Hinduism. They also adapted the message of Islam to fit their local needs and interests.

Melaka was founded in 14 CE by Paramesvara (prince from Sumatra). It is located in the Strait of Melaka and is focused on trade. At first Melaka was full of pirates and then they were protectors of the sea lanes when their navy was built. They charged taxes on cargo and controlled maritime trade. At first they practiced Hinduism, and then in the 15 century CE they sponsored Islam.

Time Period
1st-6th century
Kingdom of Funan
606-648 CE
Reign of Harsh
670-1025 CE
Kingdom of Srivijaya
711 CE
Conquest of Sind by Umayyad forces
Early 9th century
Life of Shankara
850-1267 CE
Chola Kingdom
889-1431 CE
Kingdom of Angkor
1001-1027 CE
Raids on India by Mahmud of Ghazni
11th-12th century
Life of Ramanuja
12th century
Beginning of Bhakti movement
1206-1526 CE
Sultanate of Delhi
1336-1565 CE
Kingdom of Vijayanagar
Life of guru Kabir

5 Themes
Economy and Politics
-irrigation in the fall and winter
-trade throughout the Indian Ocean Basin
Technology and Environmental Adaption
Social and Gender Advances
-castes (wasn't accepted in SE Asia)
-male dominat
-slaves being brought over through trade
Cultural and Intellectual Developments
-Hindu temples
-building of resevoirs
-Islam was spread from Muslim states into India by military forces, trade, and invasions
The Effectiveness of the State
-The capital of Delhi in Northern India
-The Umayyad caliphs taking over Sind, then Abbasid caiphs receiving the land
- The Chola Kingdom allowed some power to the local villages
-Funan dominated trade between China and India
-Srivijaya had a very powerful navy and controlled commerce in SE Asian waters.

Sources: AP World History textbook,
Google Images,,

KW- Kenzie Wolfe
AM- Alyssa Meyer
AR- Alexis Reinks
EF- Eliza Fallick