Ancient India:

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Most Important Topics to Study: Ancient Indian Architecture Notes

Study Ancient India: Six Schools of Philosophy



Book Author
Mudrarakshasa (play) Vishakhadatta
Indika Megasthenes
Milind Panho Buddhist literature of questions of Manender to Nagarjuna
Buddhacharita Ashvaghosha
Saundarananda (Sanskrit kavya) Ashvaghosha
Mahavastu (Buddhist-hybrid Sanskrit)
Divyavandan (Buddhist-hybrid Sanskrit)
Kamsutra Vatsyayana
Charaksamhita Charaka
Gathasaptasatti (Prakrit book) Hala (Satavahana king)
Tolkkappiyam (deals with grammar and poetics)
Silappadikaram and Manimekalai are Tamil epics <Ilango Adigal? (silappadikaram)>
Natural History (Latin) Pliny (Roman writer)
Mrichchhakatika Shudraka
Abhijnanashakuntalam Kalidasa
Amarakosha Amarasimha
Romaka Sidhanta (Astronomy)
Harshacharita Banabhatta
Priyadarshika; Ratnavali; and Nagananda (plays) Harshavardhana
Astadhyayi Panini
Mahabhashika Patanjali
Suryasiddhanta A treatise on astronomy. Authorship disputed.
Brihatsamhita Varahmira (5th CE)
Sushrutsamhita Sushrut (2nd CE)
Charaksamhita Charak (2nd CE)


North-West India during Ancient India

Menander (Milinda) was the most famous Indo-Greek ruler.

  • His capital at Sakala (Sialkot)
  • Converted to Buddhism by Nagasena (Nagarjuna)


  • Succeeded the Greeks in North West
  • Rudradaman I : most famous ruler
    • He issued first ever long inscription in chaste Sanskrit


  • Followed Shakas
  • Famous king: Gondophernes
    • Thomas came during his reign


  • Aka Yuechis or Tocharians
  • Kadphises was the first king
  • Kanishka is the most famous ruler
    • Started the Shaka era in 78 AD
    • Held the Buddhist council in Kashmir where the doctrines of Mahayana form were finalized
    • Patronized Ashvaghosa
  • Kushan inscriptions and coins found at Toprak Kala in Khorezm
  • Kushanas were the first rulers to issue gold coins on a large scale
  • Introduced the Satrap system of government
  • They controlled the Silk Route
  • Worshipped both Shiva and Buddha. Some worshipped Vishnu too.
  • Kanishka built a large number of Stupas


Greek ambassador Heliodorus set up a piller in honor of Vasudeva near Vidisa.

Appointed governors called strategos




  • Succeeded Mauryas in Deccan
  • Brahmana rulers
  • Gautamiputra Satkarni (AD 106-130)
  • Vashishthiputra Pulimayi: Capital at Paithan
  • Started the practice of granting tax-free villages to Brahmanas and Buddhist Monks
  • Yajna Sri Satakarni
  • Chaityas (Buddhist temples) and Viharas (monastaries) were constructed during their times
    • Most famous Chaitya at Karle in Deccan
  • Show trace of matrilineal social structure
  • Administration
    • Ahara – district
    • Officials – amatyas or mahamatras
    • Gaulmika – head of a small military regiment and look after administration in rural areas
    • Three grades of feudatories: raja, mahabhoja, senapati
    • Language: Prakrit

South India during Ancient India


  • Sent embassies to the Roman emperor Augustus


  • Elara conquered Sri Lanka
  • Karikala founded Puhar aka Kaveripatnam which was their capital


  • Kerala and parts of TN
  • Senguttavan is the greatest king
  • Roman influence: Muziris. Also built a temple of Augustus

Vellalas – rich peasants

Arasar – ruling class

Pariyars – agricultural labourers

Shrent – artisan guilds


  • Badami (Bijapur)
  • Pulakesin II was the important ruler
  • Court poet Ravikirti wrote his eulogy in the Aihole inscription


  • They succeeded the Ikshvakus
  • Kanchipuram was their capital
  • Came in conflict with kadambas
    • Mayurasharman started the Kadamba kingdom (Capital named as Vijayanti/Banavasi)
  • Nasrimhavarman occupied the Chalukya capital Vatapi in 642 AD
    • Assumed the title of Vatapikonda
  • Constructed a number of temples
  • Ratha temples at Mahabs built by Narsimhavarman who founded Mahabs
  • Pattadakal: Papanatha temple and Virupaksha temple
  • Kailashnath temple at Kanchi

Major revolt in the south was the Kalabhras revolt. It was so widespread that it could be put down only through the joint  efforts of the Pandyas, the Pallavas and the Chalukyas

Three types of villages: Ur (commoners), Sabha (Brahmans), Nagaram (traders etc)

Mauryan officers

Rajukas – a class of officers appointed by Ashoka for administration of justice

Dhammamahamatras – officers of Ashoka for propagating dharma among various social groups

Tirthas – important functionaries

Samaharta – highest officer for tax assessment

Sannidhata – chief custodian of the state treasury

Sangam literature

  • Sangam was an assembly of Tamil poets held under royal patronage in Madurai
  • Compiled around 300-600 AD
  • Can be divided into two groups: narrative and didactic
  • Narrative: Melkanakku (or Eighteen Major Works)
  • Didactic: Kilkanakku (Eighteen minor works)
  • Silappadikaram and Manimekalai are Tamil epics



  • Shataka was a special type of cloth made at Mathura
  • Artisan guilds were called shrents
  • Uttarapatha was a sea route most frequently in use
  • Gomat – wealthy person


  • After the fall of Kushans and Satvahanas in mid 3rd century AD
  • Perhaps of Vaishya origin
  • Chandragupta 1- Samudragupta – Chandragupta II – Kumargupta – Skandagupta
  • Capital: Patliputra
  • Chandragupta I
    • Started the Gupta era in AD 319-20
  • Samudragupta (aka Napoleon of India)
    • Delighted in violence and conquest
    • Court poet: Harishena
  • Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya) [375-415 AD]
    • Exercised indirect influence over the Central Indian kingdom of Prabhavati through his daughter
    • Ujjain was his second capital
    • Navratnas
    • Kalidasa, Varahmira and Amarsimha were at his court
    • Fa-hsien visited India
  • Royal seal: Garuda
  • Decline in long distance trade
  • Emergence of priestly landlords
  • Position of shudras improved
  • Subordination of women
  • Buddhism did not receive royal patronage
  • Golden age of ancient India
    • Ajanta Paintings <not by Guptas but mostly during their period>
    • Nalanda university flourished
    • 13 plays written by Bhasa
    • Mrichchhakatika – Shudraka
    • Kalidasa
    • Plays were mostly comic
    • Ramayana and Mahabharata compiled
    • Development of Sanskrit Grammar
    • Aryabhatiya – Aryabhatta
    • Romaka Sidhanta – book on astronomy
  • Was poor in architecture
  • Huna invasion made the empire weak

Vishti – forced labour by peasants for the army officials


  • After the fall of Guptas
  • Capital: Kanauj
  • Banabhatta: court poet (wrote Harshacharita)
  • Ran the administration on similar lines as Guptas
  • Law and order: not well maintained
  • Nalanda flourished as a centre of Buddhist learning
  • Became a great parton of Buddhism (was a Shaiva earlier)
  • Convened a grand assembly as Kanauj to widely publicise the doctrines of Mahayana
  • Authored three dramas: Priyadarshika, Ratnavali and Nagananda


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You must read these article for medieval India history from here-


Various dynasties during 10th century.Delhi Sultanate

India in 18th Century

India with Decline of mughals

Sikhs and Marathas after Mughals

Deccan, Sufism and Mughal art & architecture

Literature and art during medieval times