Home General Knowledge GENERAL KNOWLEDGE BOOSTER : Indian History – Part 1 {NCERT EXTRACT}
Saturday, 07 February 2015 07:16





Indian History – Part 1 {NCERT EXTRACT}

The reference material for this post is NCERT History text for Class 6 . Only main points from each chapter is compiled below.

Chapter 1: What, Where, How and When

  • Narmada: earliest people who lived here were skilled gatherers; they knew about the vast wealth of plants in the surrounding forests, and collected roots, fruits for food; also hunted animals.
  • Sulaiman and Kirthar hills: current Sindh; where women and men first began to grow crops such as wheat and barley about 8000 years ago; rearing animals.
  • Garo Hills & Vindhya: where agriculture developed; rice was first grown to the north of the Vindhyas.
  • Indus: 4700 years ago, some of the earliest cities flourished on the banks
  • Son, a Ganga tributary: Magadha rulers were very powerful, and set up a large kingdom.

Chapter 2 : On the trail of the earliest people

  • Factory Sites: places where stone was found and where people made tools are known as factory sites.
  • Habitation-cum-factory: sometimes, people lived here for longer spells of time.
  • Kurnool Site: current A.P; traces of ash have been found here. This suggests that people were familiar with the use of fire.
  • Paleolithic: importance is finding of stone tools; period extends from 2 million years ago to about 12,000 years ago;long stretch of time is divided into the Lower, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic. This long span of time covers 99% of human history.
  • Mesolithic: environmental changes; 12,000 years ago till about 10,000 years ago; stone tools are generally tiny, and are called microliths. Microliths were probably stuck on to handles of bone or wood to make tools such as saws and sickles. At the same time, older varieties of tools continued to be in use.
  • Ostrich in India: palaeolithic period; large quantities shells were found at Patne in Maharashtra; designs engraved on some pieces.

Chapter 3 : From gathering to growing food

  • Climate of the world was changing, and so were plants and animals that people used as food.
  • They look after plants and also grow – farmers.
  • First animal to be tamed was the wild ancestor of the dog; later relatively gentle animals to come near the camps where they lived such as sheep, goat, cattle; protect these animals from wild attacks – herders
  • Domestication was a gradual process, began about 12,000 years ago.

Settled life:

  • In Burzahom (in present-day Kashmir) people built pit-houses, which were dug into the ground, with steps leading into them.
  • These may have provided shelter in cold weather.
  • Stone tools from sites were different  from the earlier Palaeolithic tools and that is why they are called Neolithic.
  • Many kinds of earthen pots have also been found.
  • However, still places got huneters and gatherers.
  • In some cases people tried to combine these activities.

Customs and practices

  • Many farmers and herders live in groups called tribes.
  • Women do most of the agricultural work, including preparing the ground etc.
  • Children often look after plants, driving away animals.
  • Some men are regarded as leaders. They may be old and experienced, or young, brave warriors, or priests.
  • Tribes have rich and unique cultural traditions; have their own gods and goddesses.

Mehrgarh Site

  • Located near Bolan Pass [current Balochistan]; most important routes into Iran.
  • One of the earliest villages that we know about.
  • Women and men learnt to grow barley and wheat, and rear sheep and goats.
  • Earlier excavation found were of wild animals deer and pig suggesting they were hunters. But later level excavation found bones of sheep and goat which make them herders. So first Mehrgarh were hunters later they became herders.
  • Remains of square or rectangular houses.
  • Belief that there is some form of life after death was visible in their burial grounds found.

Daojali Hading

  • This site is on hills near the Brahmaputra Valley.
  • Stone tools, including mortars and pestles, have been found indicating they were agriculturalists.
  • Jadeite, a stone that may have been brought from China
  • Tools made of fossil wood too in usage.

Chapter 4: In the earliest cities


  • These cities developed about 4700 years ago.
  • Many of these cities were divided into two or more parts.
  • The part to the west was smaller but higher: citadels
  • The part to the east was larger but lower: lower town
  • The bricks were laid in an interlocking pattern and that made the walls strong.
  • Special buildings were constructed on the citadel. For example, in Mohenjodaro, a tank: Great Bath.
  • Kalibangan and Lothal had fire altars, where sacrifices may have been performed.
  • Mohenjodaro, Harappa and Lothal had elaborate store houses.
  • Houses were either one or two storeys high, with rooms built around a courtyard.
  • Most houses had a separate bathing area, and some had wells to supply water.
  • Many of these cities had covered drains.
  • All three — houses, drains and streets — were probably planned and built at the same time.
  • Most of the things are made of stone, shell and metal, including copper, bronze, gold and silver.
  • Copper and bronze were used to make tools, weapons, ornaments and vessels.
  • Gold and silver were used to make ornaments and vessels.
  • Harappans also made seals out of stone which are rectangular and had an animal carved on them.
  • Made pots with beautiful black designs.
  • Cotton was probably grown at Mehrgarh from about 7000 years ago.
  • Perhaps some women and men may have been specialists to perform crafts.
  • The Harappans probably got copper from present-day Rajasthan, and even from Oman.
  • Tin may have bought from present-day Afghanistan and Iran.
  • Gold could have come all the way from present-day Karnataka.
  • A new tool, the plough, was used to dig the earth for turning the soil and planting seeds but wooden plough not found while excavation.
  • As this region does not receive heavy rainfall, some form of irrigation may have been used.
  • Dholavira was located on Khadir Beyt in the Rann of Kutch, where there was fresh water and fertile soil.
  • Dholavira was divided into three parts but other Harappan cities 2 parts.
  • Large letters of the Harappan script that were carved out of white stone and perhaps inlaid in wood. Normally seals found on small objects so the above discovery was an unique one.
  • Lothal stood beside a tributary of the Sabarmati.
  • Here raw materials such as semi-precious stones were easily available.
  • A dockyard at Lothal, where boats and ships came in from the sea and through the river channel.

Chapter 5: Early Republic


  • The rajas who perform big ritual sacrifices.
  • The word janapada literally means the land where the jana[people] set its foot, and settled down.
  • Excavations of janapadas, settlements, were found at Purana Qila in Delhi, Hastinapur near Meerut, and Atranjikhera, near Etah (the last two are in Uttar Pradesh).
  • The people lived in huts, and kept cattle as well as other animals.
  • They also grew a variety of crops — rice, wheat, barley, pulses, sugarcane, sesame and mustard.
  • Special type of pottery found at these sites is known as Painted Grey Ware of simple lines and geometric patterns.


  • 2500 years ago, some janapadas became more important than others: mahajanapadas.
  • Most had a capital city, many of these were fortified
  • The new rajas now began maintaining armies.
  • Soldiers were paid regular salaries.
  • Changes in agriculture around this time were seen.
  • One was growing use of iron ploughshares. Here more grain could be produced than with wooden plough.
  • Second, people began transplanting paddy. This meant that instead of scattering seed on the ground, saplings were grown and then planted in the fields.


  • Rivers such as Ganga, Son made the transport easier. Water supplies for both drinking and agriculture.
  • There were iron ore mines in the region which was able to make strong tools and weapon.
  • Bimbisara and Ajatasatru, the two powerful rulers who used all means to conquer other janapadas.
  • Mahapadma Nanda, extended his control up to the north-west part of subcontinent.
  • Magadha’s capital was shifted from Rajagriha (present Rajgir) to Pataliputra (present Patna)
  • Alexander of Macedonia reached upto the banks of river Beas in light of conquering Magadha, but his soldiers refused due to fear of Magadha’s elephant and chariot armies.


  • It was having distinct govt from Mahajanapadas.
  • Govt was known as gana or sangha.
  • Vaishali(Bihar) was its capital.
  • This institution had many rulers (1000s)not one.
  • They were called Raja. These rajas performed rituals together. They also met in assemblies for future course of action if needed.
  • Women, dasas and kammakaras [landless agri labourers] could not participate in these assemblies.
  • Both the Buddha and Mahavira belonged to ganas.
  • These institution lasted for 1500 years, powerful Rajas tried to conquer sanghas.
  • But the Gupta era started when last Sangha ruler was defeated.
  • Chapter 6: New Questions and Ideas
  • Due to Mahajanapadas, cities were flourishing and lifestyles were changing in villages.
  • Now here, many thinkers were trying to understand these changes in society. They want to know true meaning of life


  • Buddha belonged to a small gana known as the Sakya gana, and was a kshatriya.
  • He finally decided to find his own path to realisation, and meditated for days under a peepal tree at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, where he attained enlightenment. After that, he was known as the Buddha or the Wise One.
  • Sarnath, near Varanasi, where he taught for the first time.
  • He passed away at Kusinara.
  • The Buddha taught that life is full of suffering and unhappiness. This is caused because we have cravings and desires.
  • The Buddha described this as thirst or tanha. He taught that this constant craving could be removed by following moderation in everything.
  • He also taught people to be kind, and to respect the lives of others, including animals.
  • He believed that the results of our actions (called karma), whether good or bad, affect us both in this life and the next.
  • Taught in the language of the ordinary people, Prakrit.
  • He also encouraged people to think for themselves.


  • Same time or perhaps earlier than Buddha, other thinkers also tried to find answers to difficult questions like “life after death”, performing of “ritual sacrifices ” etc.
  • There were something permanent that last even after death. They named it atman or the individual soul and the brahman or universal soul.
  • They believed that ultimately, both the atman and the brahman were one.
  • Many of their ideas were recorded in the Upanishads. These were part of the later Vedic texts.
  • Recorded texts contain conversation between teachers and students, through simple dialogues.


  • Most famous thinker of the Jainas, Vardhamana Mahavira was a contemporary of Buddha.
  • He was a kshatriya prince of the Lichchhavis, a group that was part of the Vajji sangha.
  • He taught a simple doctrine: men and women who wished to know the truth must leave their homes.
  • They must follow very strictly the rules of ahimsa, which means not hurting or killing living beings.
  • It was very difficult for most men and women to follow these strict rules like remain nude or maitaining celibacy eg: farmers find it difficult to follow because they cant weed out insects.
  • Ordinary people could understand the teachings because in Prakrit language.
  • Jainism was supported mainly by traders.

The sangha

  • Both the Mahavira and the Buddha felt that only those who left their homes could gain true knowledge. They arranged for them to stay together in the sangha, an association of those who left their homes.
  • The rules made for the Buddhist sangha were written down in a book called the Vinaya Pitaka.
  • Men and women who joined the sangha led simple lives.
  • Those who joined the sangha included brahmins, kshatriyas, merchants, labourers, barbers, courtesans, children and slaves.


  • The only time both Buddhists and Jainists stayed in one place was during the rainy season, when it was very difficult to travel.
  • These shelters were called viharas.
  • The earliest viharas were made of wood, and then of brick. Some were even in caves that were dug out in hills, especially in western India.

System of ashramas

  • Same time of Buddha and Jain, brahmins developed this ashramas.
  • It is used as for a stage of life instead of people live and meditate.
  • Four ashramas were recognised: brahmacharya, grihastha, vanaprastha and samnyasa.
  • Generally, women were not allowed to study the Vedas, and they had to follow the ashramas chosen by their husbands.

Chapter 7: Asoka, The Emperor

  • The Mauryas were a dynasty, more than 2300 years ago, with three important rulers — Chandragupta[founder], his son Bindusara, and Bindusara’s son, Ashoka.
  • Chandragupta was supported by a wise man named Chanakya or Kautilya. Many of Chanakya’s ideas were written down in a book titled Arthashastra.
  • Megasthenes was an ambassador who was sent to the court of Chandragupta by the Greek ruler of West Asia named Seleucus Nicator.
  • Ashoka was one of the greatest rulers known to history and on his instructions inscriptions were carved on pillars, as well as on rock surfaces.
  • Most of Ashoka’s inscriptions were in Prakrit and were written in the Brahmi script.
  • People in different parts of the empire spoke different languages.

Ruling the empire

  • As the empire was so large, different parts were ruled differently.
  • The area around Pataliputra was under the direct control of the emperor. This meant that officials were appointed to collect taxes.
  • Spies were kept a watch on the officials.
  • Other areas or provinces was ruled from a provincial capital such as Taxila or Ujjain.
  • Here Royal Princes were often send as governors, local customs and rules were followed.
  • Ashoka’s dhamma

Edicts Of Ashoka




Last Updated on Saturday, 07 February 2015 07:27