The Civilization of Ancient India
This chapter provides the growth of the Vedic culture, from about 1000 to about 500 b.c.e., and the Mauryan Empire from 322 b.c.e. to about 250 b.c.e., including the career of Emperor Ashoka. Invasions by Greeks and Kushans followed, and there was also a largely separate development of civilization in south India and Ceylon. Population had multiplied many times since the fall of the Indus civilization, and agriculture had spread from the Indus Valley into the Ganges, a more productive area watered far more plentifully by monsoonal rains and with the advantage of rich alluvial soils and a long growing season. The chapter discusses women in ancient India and Indian achievements in mathematics, science, and medicine. Simplistic views of women’s subordination overlook the major part women played in the basic Asian institution of the family—a private as opposed to public role, but critically important—and overlook also the many women writers and occasional rulers.