These strong and predictable winds have long been ridden across the open sea by sailors, and the large amounts of rainfall that they deposit on parts of India, Southeast Asia, and China allow for the cultivation of several crops a year.
Early Indian sacred ‘knowledge’-the literal meaning of the term-long preserved and communicated orally by Brahmin priests and eventually written down.
The four major social divisions in India’s caste system: the Brahmin priest class, the Kshatriya warrior/administrator class, the Vaishya merchant/farmer class, and the Shudra laborer class.
In Indian tradition, the residue of deeds performed in past and present lives that adheres to a ‘spirit’ and determines what form it will assume in its next life cycle. Used in India to make people happy with their lot in life.
The Hindu concept of the spirit’s ‘liberation’ from the endless cycle of rebirths.
An Indian prince named Siddhartha Gautama, who renounced his wealth and social position. After becoming ‘enlightened’ (the meaning of Buddha) he enunciated the principles of Buddhism.
Great Vehicle’ branch of Buddhism followed in China, Japan, and Central Asia. The focus is on reverence for Buddha and for bodhisattvas, enlightened persons who have postponed nirvana to help others attain enlightenment.
‘Way of the Elders’ branch of Buddhism followed in Sri Lanka and much of Southeast Asia. Remains close to the original principles set forth by the Buddha; it downplays the importance of gods.
Term for a wide variety of beliefs and ritual practices that have developed in the Indian subcontinent since antiquity. Has roots in ancient Vedic, Buddhist, and south Indian religious concepts and practices. Spread along trade routes.
The first state to unify most of the Indian subcontinent. It was founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 324 B.C.E. and survived until 184 B.C.E. From its capital at Pataliputra in the Ganges Valley it grew wealthy from taxes.
Third ruler of the Mauryan Empire in India (r. 270-232 B.C.E.). He converted to Buddhism and broadcast his precepts on inscribed stones and pillars, the earliest surviving Indian writing.
A vast epic chronicling the events leading up to a cataclysmic battle between related kinship groups in early India. It includes the Bhagavad-Gita, the most important work of Indian sacred literature.
The most important work of Indian sacred literature, a dialogue between the great warrior Arjuna and the god Krishna on duty and the fate of the spirit.
The kingdoms of southern India, inhabited primarily by speakers of Dravidian languages, which developed in partial isolation, and somewhat differently, from the Aryan north.
Powerful Indian state based, like its Mauryan predecessor, on a capital at Pataliputra in the Ganges Valley. It controlled most of the Indian subcontinent through a combination of military force and its prestige as a center of sophisticated culture.
Historians’ term for a state that acquires prestige and power by developing attractive cultural forms of staging elaborate public ceremonies (as well as redistributing valuable resources) to attract and bind subjects to the center.
A designation for peoples originating in south China and Southeast Asia who settled the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia, and the Philippines, then spread eastward across the islands of the Pacific Ocean and west to Madagascar.
An early complex society in Southeast Asia between the first and sixth centuries C.E. It was centered in the rich rice-growing region of southern Vietnam, and it controlled the passage of trade across the Malaysian isthmus.
Caravan routes connecting China and the Middle East across Central Asia and Iran.
Iranian ruling dynasty between ca. 250 B.C.E. and 226 C.E.
Iranian empire, established ca. 226, with a capital in Ctesiphon, Mesopotamia. The Sasanid emperors established Zoroastrianism as the state religion. Islamic Arab armies overthrew the empire ca. 640.
Device for securing a horseman’s feet, enabling him to wield weapons more effectively. First evidence of the use of stirrups was among the Kushan people of northern Afghanistan in approximately the first century C.E.
Indian Ocean Maritime System
In premodern times, a network of seaports, trade routes, and maritime culture linking countries on the rim of the Indian Ocean from Africa to Indonesia.
trans-Siberian caravan routes
trading networks linking North Africa with sub-Saharan Africa across the Sahara.
Belt south of the Sahara; literally ‘coastland’ in Arabic.
Portion of the African continent lying south of the Sahara.
Treeless plains, especially the high, flat expanses of northern Eurasia, which usually have little rain and are covered with coarse grass. They are good lands for nomads and their herds. Good for breeding horses: essential to Mongol military.
tropical or subtropical grassland, either treeless or with occasional clumps of trees. Most extensive in sub-Saharan Africa but also present in South America.
tropical rain forests
high-precipitation forest zones of the Americas, Africa, and Asia lying between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
Historians’ term for a literate, well-institutionalized complex of religious and social beliefs and practices adhered to by diverse societies over a broad geographical area.
Historians’ term for a localized, non literate, set of customs and beliefs adhered to by a single society, often in conjunction with a “great tradition”.
collective name of a large group of sub-saharan african languages and of the peoples speaking these languages
One of the Earliest Christian kingdoms, situated in eastern Anatolia and the western Caucasus and occupied by speakers of the Armenian language.
East African highland nation lying east of the Nile River. (See also Menelik II; Selassie, Haile.)