Ancient Civilizations of India and China



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5. 1 Individual Reading Assignment 1. If the writing of the early Indus Valley civilization could be deciphered, what new information could they hope to learn? If the writings of the Indus Valley civilization could be deciphered, I believe we could discover where they came from, whether another civilization taught them how to fire bricks and cultivate cotton. I believe their writings would tell us how they learned to build vast assembly halls and what type of occasions they were used for. Since they were largely an agriculture-based society (114) did they perform sacrifices?

Did they worship the bull that seems to be so prolific in their art? What, if any, is the indirect link between them and the Minoans, who had a similar cult. (114) I would like to know why the bull was so important, what did they call him? Also, it is noted that they seemed to use standard weights and measures. (114) Were there other cultures that used standard weights and measures? If not, how did that come to be? With so much going for them, what weakened them? Why didn’t they expand and spread out over the land, instead of overusing the soil and woodlands? 114) What were the Aryans after when they invaded the Indus Valley? Are there any other ancient cultures whose writing we have but cannot understand? To the north of Rome, a new culture had appeared around 700 BCE called the Etruscan’s. Since ancient Roman times, scholars have debated about who these people were, where did they come from and what language did they speak? (87) Even today with all the archaeological discoveries, we know very little about the origins of the Etruscans. “Their language has yet to be deciphered. (87) 2. Chief features of Buddhism? “The Buddhists believe in a doctrine that is called the Fourfold Noble Path: 1. Existence itself is suffering 2. Suffering comes from craving and attachment. 3. There exists a cessation of suffering, which is called nirvana. 4. There is a path to nirvana, which is eightfold. ” (117) The path is basically a blueprint from living in the correct way. It consists of the right: views, resolve, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration. 117) By following these ideals, one could hope to ‘break the cycle’ and escape the “never-ending cycle of rebirth and find nirvana”. (117) How do they differ from traditional Hindu beliefs and why did they induce many Indians to convert? The Hindu believes in celebrating the elements of eroticism and naturalism, believing that sexual union represents union with their gods. They also have a series of avatars of various animals and humans. (120) In stark contrast, Buddhist believes in a more austere lifestyle.

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They flourish, spiritually at the call to give up worldly goods. (118) Ashoka, after realizing all the suffering and bloodshed he had spread, was appalled and converted to Buddhism to teach and spread the Buddhist believe in a non-violent society. (118) Ashoka made Buddhism the state religion. 3. Both Buddhism and Hinduism have many followers today. What gives the religions their appeal? In particular, why does Buddhism continue to attract increasing numbers in the US and Western countries? Both religions have their own appeal.

Buddhism claimed that human suffering comes from indulgence in superficial pleasures. (129) Hindus’ believe that the spirit has a series of deaths and reincarnations. Buddhists believe the ‘cycle needs to be broken by renouncing worldly ambitions and satisfactions. ’ (129) Buddhism continues to attract people from the US and other Western countries, primarily because of the simpler, non-violent and peaceful way of life, as opposed to the hustle and bustle of the Western culture. 5. Buddhism never acquired the same importance in China that Hinduism has always had in India.

What effect has this had on the history of the two countries both in ancient times and today? I believe Buddhism never acquired the same importance in China that Hinduism has always in India primarily due to two factors. 1) Buddhism promotes tolerance for other religions, and 2) because of the austere life style. On the other hand, Hinduism promoted the sensual desires and encouraged the worldly aspect of life and just was not prepared to defend themselves. They have been dominated by many invaders, including the White Huns (shortly before 500 CE) from Central America.

This caused the country “to fragment into separate local kingdoms” (129) The country was finally united, approximately 1000 years later under Muslim rule. (129) 6. What light do Chinese painting and sculpture of Han and T’ang dynasties cast on daily life in those times? Art was very much a reflection of the people. Hindus paid homage to their gods and avatars and stressed the sensual side to life. They believed and portrayed in their art that sexual union served as a symbol of union with the divine. The Buddhist depicted a more spiritual, less worldly type of art. Culture and Values, Seventh Edition, Volume 1 (Cunningham and Reich)

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