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Home > The Tamil Heritage - History & Geography > Rewriting Indian History - Hindu Timeline
Rewriting Indian History - Hindu
Courtesy Hinduism Today
The emphasis on spirituality in India's thought and history is unparalleled in human experience. The king in his court, the sage on his hill and the farmer in one of Bharat's 700,000 villages each pursues his dharma with a common ultimate purpose: spiritual enlightenment. This perspective is the source of Hinduism's resilience in the face of competing faiths and conquering armies. No other nation has faced so many invaders and endured. These invasions have brought the races of the world to a subcontinent one-third the size of the United States. There are many feats of which the ancient Hindus could be proud, such as the invention of the decimal system of numbers, philosophy, linguistics, surgery, city planning and statecraft. And most useful to us in this particular timeline: their skill in astronomy.
Dates in Hindu history after Buddha are subject to little dispute, while dates before Buddha have been decided as much by current opinion and politics as by scientific evidence. An overwhelming tendency of Western scholarship has been to deny the great antiquity of Hinduism.
Indian scholar S.B. Roy points out that the commonly accepted chronology of German linguist Max Muller (1823-1900) is based solely "on the ghost story of Kathasaritasagara." Historian Klaus K. Klostermaier agrees: "The chronology provided by Max Muller and accepted uncritically by most Western scholars is based on very shaky ground indeed." While making crucial historical contributions in bringing India's wisdom to the West, Muller admitted his covert intention to undermine Hinduism. In a letter to his wife in 1886 he wrote: "The translation of the Veda will hereafter tell toa great extent on the fate of India and on the growth of millions of souls in that country. It is the root of their religion, and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last 3,000 years.''
Contemporary researchers, such as Dr. B.G. Siddharth of B.M. Birla Science Centre, Dr. S.B. Roy, Professor Subhash Kak, Dr. N.R. Waradpande, Bhagwan Singh and Dr. David Frawley, Vedacharya, have developed a more accurate picture of ancient India, assembling new chronologies based on a highly reliable method: dating scriptural references by their relationship to the known precession of the equinoxes. Earth's axis of rotation "wobbles," causing constellations, as viewed from Earth, to drift at a constant rate and along a predictable course over a 25,000-year cycle.
For example, a Rig Vedic verse observing winter solstice at Aries can be correlated to around 6500 bce. Frawley states, "Precessional changes are the hallmark of Hindu astronomy. We cannot ignore them in ancient texts just because they give us dates too early for our conventional view of human history." Besides astronomical references from scripture, there is much to support their dates, such as carbon-14 dating, the discovery of Indus-Sarasvati Valley cities and the recent locating of the Sarasvati River, a prominent landmark of Vedic writings.
Much of the dating in this timeline prior to 600 bce derives from the work of Dr. S.B. Roy (Chronological Framework of Indian Protohistory-The Lower Limit, published in The Journal of the Baroda Oriental Institute, March-June 1983) and that of David Frawley Ph.D. (Gods, Sages and Kings). For technical enhancements to the timeline we depended on Prof. Shiva G. Bajpai PhD., Director of Asian Studies at California State University, who co-authored "A Historical Atlas of South Asia" with Prof. Joseph E. Schwartzberg and Dr. Raj B. Mathur.
Max Muller is the primary evangelist of another, more invidious, dogma imposed on Hindu history: the "Aryan invasion" theory. Originally a Vedic term meaning "noble," then applied to the parent-language of Greek, Sanskrit, Latin and German, the term Aryan soon referred to those who spoke it, a supposed race of light-skinned Aryans.
The idea of a parent race caught the imagination of 18th and 19th century European Christian scholars, who hypothesized elaborate Aryan migrations from Central Asia, west to Europe, south to India (ca 1500 bce) and east to China-conquering local primitive peoples and founding the world's great civilizations. This theory states that the Vedas, the heart and core of Sanatana Dharma, were brought to India by these outsiders and not composed in India.
Although lacking supporting scientific evidence, this theory, and the alleged Aryan-Dravidian racial split, was accepted and promulgated as fact for three main reasons. It provided a convenient precedent for Christian British subjugation of India. It reconciled ancient Indian civilization and religious scripture with the 4000 bce Biblical date of Creation. It created division and conflict between the peoples of India, making them vulnerable to conversion by Christian missionaries.
Scholars today of both East and West believe the Rig Veda people who called themselves Aryan were indigenous to India, and there never was an Aryan invasion. The languages of India have been shown to share common ancestry in ancient Sanskrit and Tamil. Even these two apparently unrelated languages, according to current "super-family" research, have a common origin: an ancient language dubbed Nostratic.
Still confused? Here's a guide to competing theories of Indian history
New Finds and Intriguing Theories Conspire with Scholars To Rewrite India's History
When you learned Indian history, a startling amount of myth may have inadvertently been mixed in the masala with fact. The "official" history of India and Hinduism was set down by Western scholars more than a hundred years ago, a history based on the now-disputed principle that an outside group of "Aryans," not her indigenous peoples, were responsible for most of India's civilization. Subsequent discoveries, research and analysis have unearthed major flaws in that history. Still, to this day, virtually every textbook and encyclopedia in the world contains the same century-old conjectures.
"Early Indian history is on the brink of a change," says Professor Shiva G. Bajpai, co-author of the monumental work A Historical Atlas of South Asia. He told Hinduism Today that "Archaeological explorations taking place in the recent decade have changed many of the views we used to hold as being very historical. Many do not even know what they have excavated so far."
Revising India's history is practically a cottage industry today. Archaeologists and historians are forming strategic partnerships, even teaming up with astronomers who turn Rig Veda observations of the stars into firm dates for recorded events. Two conferences were held already this year-January in Hyderabad and April in Sringeri. A third, the World Archaeology Congress, is scheduled in New Delhi on December 4-11, where the latest, most significant findings will be revealed.
Author and Vedic scholar, David Frawley, reports,
The "Aryan invasion" of India is taught as fact everywhere, but many modern researchers don't support it. Establishment historians aren't ready to accept any wholesale revision, and are slow to explore discoveries which necessitate such a revision. Nor is Indian history the only one undergoing rethinking. Just a few years ago the Egyptian sphinx was suddenly dated thousands of years earlier by new technology, turning Egyptian history on its head.
Hinduism Today has been following the dramatic events among historians, and our staff has assembled a new Timeline of Hinduism, a chronology that incorporates recent findings and tempers the anti-Hindu bias undergirding previous histories of India. Beginning on page four, we present 600,000 years in 585 entries.
Our seven-page timeline is generous toward Hinduism, listing the earliest possible dates for events and scriptures. Bajpai does not mind, "The Hinduism Today Timeline is extremely important because it highlights the Hindu heritage. This is both its greatest strength and, others might say, its weakness. No timeline can be wholly satisfactory for everyone, as is the case with any encyclopedia."
Hindu Timeline #1 -2.5 m to -1000
How to Read the Timeline
The thick line represents the flow of time from the date on the top to dates on the bottom. The thinner lines to the left indicate the duration of major ruling dynasties. Not all are included, for at times India was divided into dozens of small independent kingdoms. Approximate dates are preceded by the letter "ca," an abbreviation of the word "circa," which denotes "about," "around" or "in approximately." all dates prior to Buddha (624 bce) are considered estimates.
bce: Abbreviation for "before common era," referring to dating prior to the year zero in the Western, or Gregorian calendar, system. ce: Abbreviation for "common era." Equivalent to the abbreviation ad. Following a date, it indicates that the year in question comes after the year zero in the Western, or Gregorian calendar, system.
-2.5 m: Genus Homo originates in Africa, cradle of humanity.
-2 m: Stone artifacts are made and used by hominids in North India, an area rich in animal species, including the elephant.
-500,000: Stone hand axes and other tools are used in N. India.
-470,000: India's hominids are active in Tamil Nadu and Punjab.
-400,000: Soan culture in India is using primitive chopping tools.
-360,000: Fire is first controlled by homo erectus in China.
-300,000: Homo sapiens roams the earth, from Africa to Asia.
-100,000: Homo sapiens sapiens (humans) with 20th-century man's brain size (1,450 cc) live in East Africa. Populations separate. Migrations proceed to Asia via the Isthmus of Suez.
-75,000: Last ice age begins. Human population is 1.7 million.
-45,000: After mastery of marine navigation, migrations from Southeast Asia settle Australia and the Pacific islands.
-40,000: Groups of hunter-gatherers in Central India are living in painted rock shelters. Similar groups in Northern Punjab work at open sites protected by windbreaks.
-35,000: Migrations of separated Asian populations settle Europe.
-30,000: American Indians spread throughout the Americas.
-10,000: Last ice age ends after 65,000 years; earliest signs of agriculture. World population 4 million; India is 100,000. -10,000: Taittiriya Brahmana 3.1.2 refers to Purvabhadrapada nakshatra's rising due east, a phenomenon occurring at this date (Dr. B.G. Siddharth of Birla Science Institute), indicating the earliest known dating of the sacred Veda.
-10,000: Vedic culture, the essence of humanity's eternal wisdom, Sanatana Dharma, lives in the Himalayas at end of Ice Age -9000: Old Europe, Anatolia and Minoan Crete display a Goddess-centered culture reflecting a matriarchial order.
-8500: Taittiriya Samhita 6.5.3 places Pleiades asterism at winter solstice, suggesting the antiquity of this Veda.
-7500: Excavations at Neveli Cori in Turkey reveal advanced civilization with meticulous architecture and planning. Dr. Sri B.G. Siddharth believes this was a Vedic culture.
-7000: Proto-Vedic period ends. Early Vedic period begins.
-7000: Time of Manu Vaivasvata, "father of mankind," of Sarasvati-Drishadvati area (also said to be a South Indian Maharaja who sailed to the Himalayas during a great flood).
-7000: Early evidence of horses in the Ganga region (Frawley).
-7000: Indus-Sarasvati area residents of Mehrgarh grow barley, raise sheep and goats. They store grain, entomb their dead and construct buildings of sun-baked mud bricks.
-6776: Start of Hindu lists of kings according to ancient Greek references that give Hindus 150 kings and a history of 6,400 years before 300bce; agrees with next entry.
-6500: Rig Veda verses (e.g., 1.117.22, 1.116.12, 220.127.116.11) say winter solstice begins in Aries (according to Dr. D. Frawley), indicating the antiquity of this section of the Vedas.
-6000: Early sites on the Sarasvati River, then India's largest, flowing west of Delhi into the Rann of Kutch; Rajasthan is a fertile region with much grassland, as described in the Rig Veda. The culture, based upon barley (yava), copper (ayas) and cattle, also reflects that of the Rig Veda.
-5500: Mehrgarh villagers are making baked pottery and thousands of small, clay of female figurines (interpreted to be earliest signs of Shakti worship), and are involved in long-distance trade in precious stones and sea shells.
-5500: Date of astrological observations associated with ancient events later mentioned in the Puranas (Alain Danielou). -5000: World population, 5 million, doubles every 1,000 years.
-5000: Beginnings of Indus-Sarasvati civilizations of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. Date derived by considering archeological sites, reached after excavating 45 feet. Brick fire altars exist in many houses, suggesting Vedic fire rites, yajna. Earliest signs of worship of Lord Siva. This mature culture will last 3,000 years, ending around
-1700. -5000: Rice is harvested in China, with grains found in baked bricks. But its cultivation originated in Eastern India.
Traditional dating for Lord Rama's time.
-4000: Excavations from this period at Sumerian sites of Kish and Susa reveal existence of Indian trade products.
-4000: India's population is 1 million.
-4000: Date of world's creation (Christian genealogies).
-3928: July 25th, the earliest eclipse mentioned in the Rig Veda (according to Indian researcher Dr. Shri P.C. Sengupta).
-3200: Hindu astronomers called nakshatra darshas record in Vedic textstheir observations of full moon and new moon at the winter and summer solstices and spring and fall equinoxes with reference to 27 fixed stars (nakshatras) spaced nearly equally on the moon's ecliptic or apparent path across the sky. The precession of the equinoxes (caused by the wobbling of the Earth's axis of rotation) causes the nakshatras to appear to drift at a constant rate along a predictable course over a 25,000-year cycle. From these observations historians are able to calculate backwards and determine the date when the indicated position of moon, sun and nakshatra occurred.
-3102: Kali Era Hindu calendar starts. Kali Yuga begins.
-3100: Reference to vernal equinox in Rohini (middle of Taurus) from some Brahmanas, as noted by B.G. Tilak, Indian scholar and patriot. Traditional date of the Mahabharata war and lifetime of Lord Krishna.
-3100: Early Vedic period ends, late Vedic period begins.
-3100: India includes Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia.
-3100: Aryan people inhabit Iran, Iraq and Western Indus-Sarasvati Valley frontier. Frawley describes Aryans as "a culture of spiritual knowledge." He and others believe 1) the Land of Seven Rivers (Sapta Sindhu) mentioned in the Rig Veda refers to India only, 2) that the people of Indus-Sarasvati Valleys and those of Rig Veda are the same, and 3) there was no Aryan invasion. This view is now prevailing over the West's historical concept of the Aryans as a separate ethnic or linguistic group. Still others claim the Indus-Sarasvati people were Dravidians who moved out or were displaced by incoming Aryans.
-3000: Weaving in Europe, Near East and Indus-Sarasvati Valley is primarily coiled basketry, either spiraled or sewn. -3000: Evidence of horses in South India.
-3000: People of Tehuacan, Mexico, are cultivating corn.
-3000: Saiva Agamas are recorded in the time of the earliest Tamil Sangam. (A traditional date.)
-2700: Seals of Indus-Sarasvati Valley indicate Siva worship, in depictions of Siva as Pashupati, Lord of Animals.
-2600: Indus-Sarasvati civilization reaches a height it sustains until 1700 be. Spreading from Pakistan to Gujarat, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, it is the largest of the world's three oldest civilizations with links to Mesopotamia (possibly Crete), Afghanisthan, Central Asia and Karnataka. Harappa and Mohenjo-daro have populations of 100,000.
-2600: Major portions of the Veda hymns are composed during the reign of Vishvamitra I (Dating by Dr. S.B. Roy).
-2600: Drying up of Drishadvati River of Vedic fame, along with possible shifting of the Yamuna to flow into the Ganga. -2600: First Egyptian pyramid is under construction.
-2500: Main period of Indus-Sarasvati cities. Culture relies heavily on rice and cotton, as mentioned in Atharva Veda, which were first developed in India. Ninety percent of sites are along the Sarasvati, the region's agricultural bread basket. Mohenjo-daro is a large peripheral trading center. Rakhigari and Ganweriwala (not yet excavated in 1994) on the Sarasvati are as big as Mohenjo-daro. So is Dholarvira in Kutch. Indus-Sarasvati sites have been found as far south as Karnataka's Godavari River and north into Afghanistan on the Amu Darya River.
-2500: Reference to vernal equinox in Krittika (Pleiades or early Taurus) from Yajur and Atharva Veda hymns and Brahmanas. This corresponds to Harappan seals that show seven women (the Krittikas) tending a fire.
-2300: Sargon founds Mesopotamian kingdom of Akkad, trades with Indus-Sarasvati Valley cities.
-2300: Indo-Europeans in Russia's Ural steppelands develop efficient spoked-wheel chariot technology, using 1,000-year-old horse husbandry and freight-cart technology.
-2050: Vedic people are living in Persia and Afghanistan.
-2051: Divodasa reigns to -1961, has contact with Babylon's King Indatu (Babylonian chronology). Dating by S.B. Roy.
ca -2040: Prince Rama is born at Ayodhya, site of future Rama temple. (This and next two datings by S.B. Roy.)
-2033: Reign of Dasharatha, father of Lord Rama. King Ravana, villain of the Ramayana, reigns in Sri Lanka.
-2000: Indo-Europeans (Celts, Slavs, Lithuanians, Ukranians) follow cosmology, theology, astronomy, ritual, society and marriage that parallel early Vedic patterns.
-2000: Probable date of first written Saiva Agamas.
-2000: World population: 27 million. India: 5 million or 22%. India has roughly G of human race throughout history.
-1915: All Madurai Tamil Sangam is held at Thiruparankundram (according to traditional Tamil chronology). -1900: Late Vedic period ends, post Vedic period begins.
-1900: Drying up of Sarasvati River, end of Indus-Sarasvati culture, end of the Vedic age. After this, the center of civilization in ancient India relocates from the Sarasvati to the Ganga, along with possible migration of Vedic peoples out of India to the Near East (perhaps giving rise to the Mittani and Kassites, who worship Vedic Gods). The redirection of the Sutlej into the Indus causes the Indus area to flood. Climate changes make the Sarasvati region too dry for habitation. (Thought lost, its river bed is finally photographed from satellite in the 1990s.)
-1500: Egyptians bury their royalty in the Valley of the Kings. -1500: Polynesians migrate throughout Pacific islands.
-1500: Submergence of the stone port city of Dwarka near Gujarat, where early Brahmi script, India's ancient alphabet, is used. Recent excavation by Dr. S.R. Rao. Larger than Mohenjo-daro, many identify it with the Dwarka of Krishna. Possible date of Lord Krishna. Indicates second urbanization phase of India between Indus-Sarasvati sites like Harappa and later cities on the Ganga. -1500: Indigenous iron technology in Dwarka and Kashmir.
-1500: Cinnamon is exported from Kerala to Middle East.
-1472: Reign of Dhritarashtra, father of the Kauravas. Reign of Yudhisthira, king of the Pandavas. Life of Sage Yajnavalkya. Date based on Mahabharata's citation of winter solstice at Dhanishtha, which occurs around this time.
-1450: End of Rig Veda Samhita narration.
-1450: Early Upanishads are composed during the next few hundred years, also Vedangas and Sutra literature.
-1424: Bharata battle is fought, as related in the Mahabharata. (Professor Subash Kak places the battle at -2449. Other authors give lower dates, up to 9th century bce)
-1424: Birth of Parikshit, grandson of Arjuna, and next king.
-1350: At Boghaz Koi in Turkey, stone inscription of the Mitanni treaty lists as divine witnesses the Vedic Deities Mitra, Varuna, Indra and the Nasatyas (Ashvins).
-1316: Mahabharata epic poem is composed by Sage Vyasa.
-1300: Panini composes Ashtadhyayi, systematizing Sanskrit grammar in 4,000 terse rules. (Date according to Roy.)
-1300: Changes are made in the Mahabharata and Ramayana through 200 bce. Puranas are edited up until 400 ce. Early smriti literature is composed over next 400 years.
-1255: King Shuchi of Magadha writes Jyotisha Vedanga, including astronomical observations which date this scripture-that summer solstice occurs in Ashlesha Nakshatra.
-1250: Moses leads 600,000 Jews out of Egypt.
-1200: Probable time of the legendary Greek Trojan War celebrated in Homer's epic poems, Iliad and Odyssey (ca -750).
-1124: Elamite Dynasty of Nebuchadnezzar (-1124-1103) moves capital to Babylon, world's largest city, covering 10,000 hectares, slightly larger than present-day San Francisco.
-1000: Late Vedic period ends. Post-Vedic period begins.
Hindu Timeline #2 -1000 to 1000
-1000: World population is 50 million, doubling every 500 years.
-975: King Hiram of Phoenicia, for the sake of King Solomon of Israel, trades with the port of Ophir (Sanskrit: Supara) near modern Bombay, showing the trade between Israel and India. Same trade goes back to Harappan era.
-950: Jewish people arrive in India in King Solomon's merchant fleet. Later Jewish colonies find India a tolerant home. -950: Gradual breakdown of Sanskrit as a spoken language occurs over thenext 200 years.
-925: Jewish King David forms an empire in what is present-day Israel and Lebanon.
-900: Iron Age in India. Early use dates to at least -1500.
ca -900: Earliest records of the holy city of Varanasi (one of the world's oldest living cities) on the sacred river Ganga.
-900: Use of iron supplements bronze in Greece.
-850: The Chinese are using the 28-nakshatra zodiac called Shiu, adapted from the Hindu jyotisha system. ca -800: Later Upanishads are recorded.
-800: Later smriti, secondary Hindu scripture, is composed, elaborated and developed during next 1,000 years.
-776: First Olympic Games are held in Greece.
-750: Prakrits, vernacular or "natural" languages, develop among India's common peoples. Already flourishing in 500 bce , Pali and other Prakrits are chiefly known from Buddhist and Jain works composed at this time.
-750: Priestly Sanskrit is gradually refined over next 500 years, taking on its classical form.
-700: Life of Zoroaster of Persia, founder of Zoroastrianism. His holy book, Zend Avesta, contains many verses from the Rig and Atharva Veda. His strong distinctions between good and evil set the dualistic tone of God and devil which distinguishes all later Western religions.
-700: Early Smartism emerges from the syncretic Vedic brahminical (priestly caste) tradition. It flourishes today as a liberal sect alongside Saiva, Vaishnava and Shakta sects.
-623-543: Life of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, born in Uttar Pradesh in a princely Shakya Saivite family. (Date by Sri Lankan Buddhists. Indian scholars say -563-483. Mahayanists of China and Japan prefer -566-486 or later.)
ca 600: Life of Sushruta, of Varanasi, the father of surgery. His ayurvedic treatises cover pulse diagnosis, hernia, cataract, cosmetic surgery, medical ethics, 121 surgical implements, antiseptics, use of drugs to control bleeding, toxicology, psychiatry, classification of burns, midwifery, surgical anesthesia and therapeutics of garlic.
ca -600: The Ajivika sect, an ascetic, atheistic group of naked sadhus reputated for fierce curses, is at its height, continuing in Mysore until the 14th century. Adversaries of both Buddha and Mahavira, their philosophy is deterministic, holding that everything is inevitable.
ca -600: Lifetime of Lao-tzu, founder of Taoism in China, author of Tao-te Ching. Its esoteric teachings of simplicity and selflessness shape Chinese life for 2,000 years and permeate the religions of Vietnam, Japan and Korea.
-599-527: Lifetime of Mahavira Vardhamana, 24th Tirthankara and revered renaissance Jain master. His teachings stress strict codes of vegetarianism, asceticism and nonviolence. (Some date his life 40 years later. )
-560: In Greece, Pythagoras teaches math, music, vegetarianism and yoga-drawing from India's wisdom ways.
-551-478: Lifetime of Confucius, founder of Confucianist faith. His teachings on social ethics are the basis of Chinese education, ruling-classideology and religion.
-518: Darius I of Persia (present Iran) invades Indus Valley. This Zoroastrian king shows tolerance for local religions.
ca -500: Lifetime of Kapila, founder of Sankhya Darshana, one of six classical systems of Hindu philosophy.
ca -500: Dams to store water are constructed in India.
-500: World population is 100 million. India population is 25 million (15 million of whom live in the Ganga basin).
ca -500: Over the next 300 years (according to the later dating of Muller) numerous secondary Hindu scriptures (smriti) are composed: Shrauta Sutras, Grihya Sutras, Dharma Sutras, Mahabharata, Ramayana and Puranas, etc.
ca -500: Tamil Sangam age (500 bce-500 ce) begins. Sage Agastya writes Agattiyam, first known Tamil grammar. Tolkappiyar writes Tolkappiyam Purananuru, also on grammar, stating that he is recording thoughts on poetry, rhetoric, etc., of earlier grammarians, pointing to high development of Tamil language prior to his day. He gives rules for absorbing Sanskrit words into Tamil. Other famous works from the Sangam age are the poetical collections Paripadal, Pattuppattu, Ettuthokai Purananuru, Akananuru, Aingurunuru, Padinenkilkanakku. Some refer to worship of Vishnu, Indra, Murugan and Supreme Siva.
ca -486: Ajatashatru (reign -486-458) ascends Magadha throne.
-480: Ajita, a nastika (atheist) who teaches a purely material explanation of life and that death is final, dies.
-478: Prince Vijaya, exiled by his father, King Sinhabahu, sails from Gujarat with 700 followers. Founds Singhalese kingdom in Sri Lanka. (Mahavamsa chronicle, ca 500.)
-450: Athenian philosopher Socrates flourishes (ca -470-400).
-428-348: Lifetime of Plato, Athenian disciple of Socrates. This great philosopher founds Athens Academy in -387.
ca -400: Panini composes his Sanskrit grammar, the Ashtadhyayi. (Date accepted among most Western scholars.) ca -400: Lifetime of Hippocrates, Greek physician and "father of medicine," formulates Hippocratic oath, code of medical ethics still pledged by present-day Western doctors. ca -350: Rainfall is measured by Indian scientists.
-326: Alexander the Great of Greece invades, but fails to conquer, Northern India. His soldiers mutiny. He leaves India the same year. Greeks who remain in India intermarry with Indians. Interchanges of philosophy influence both civilizations. Greek sculpture impacts Hindu styles. Bactria kingdoms later enhance Greek influence.
300: Chandragupta Maurya, founder of first pan-Indian empire (-324-184), defeats Greek garrisons of Seleucus, founder of Seleucan Empire in Persia and Syria. At its height under Emperor Ashoka (reign -273-232), the Mauryan Empire includes all India except the far South.
ca -302: Kautilya (Chanakya), minister to Chandragupta Maurya, writes Arthashastra, a compendium of laws, administrative procedures and political advice for running a kingdom. -
302: In Indica, Megasthenes, envoy to King Seleucus, reveals to Europe in colorful detail the wonders of Mauryan India: an opulent society with abundant agriculture, engineered irrigation and 7 castes: philosophers, farmers, soldiers, herdsmen, artisans, magistrates and counselors.
ca -300: Chinese discover cast iron, known in Europe by 1300 ce.
ca -300: Pancharatra Vaishnava sect is prominent. All later Vaishnava sects are based on the Pancharatra beliefs (formalized by Shandilya around 100 ce).
ca -300: Pandya kingdom (-300-1700 ce) of S. India is founded, constructs magnificent Minakshi temple at its capital, Madurai. Builds temples of Shrirangam and Rameshvaram, with its thousand-pillared hall (ca 1600 ce).
-297: Emperor Chandragupta abdicates to become a Jain monk.
-273: Ashoka (-273-232 reign), greatest Mauryan Emperor, grandson of Chandragupta, is coronated. Repudiating conquest throgh violence after his brutal invasion of Kalinga, 260 bce, he converts to Buddhism. Excels at public works and sends diplomatic peace missions to Persia, Syria, Egypt, North Africa and Crete, and Buddhist missions to Sri Lanka, China and other Southeast Asian countries. Under his influence, Buddhism becomes a world power. His work and teachings are preserved in Rock and Pillar Edicts (e.g., lion capital of the pillar at Sarnath, present-day India's national emblem).
-251: Emperor Ashoka sends his son Mahendra (-270-204) to spread Buddhism in Sri Lanka, where he is to this day revered as the national faith's founding missionary.
ca -250: Lifetime of Maharishi Nandinatha, first known satguru in the Kailasa Parampara of the Nandinatha Sampradaya. His eight disciples are Sanatkumar, Shanakar, Sanadanar, Sananthanar, Sivayogamuni, Patanjali, Vyaghrapada and Tirumular (Sundaranatha).
ca -221: Great Wall of China is built, ultimately 2,600 miles long, the only man-made object visible from the moon.
ca -200: Lifetime of Patanjali, shishya of Nandinatha and gurubhai (brother monk) of Rishi Tirumular. He writes the Yoga Sutras at Chidambaram, in South India.
ca -200: Lifetime of Bhogar Rishi, one of eighteen Tamil siddhas. This mystic shapes from nine poisons the Palaniswami murti enshrined inpresent-day Palani Hills temple in South India. Bhogar is either from China or visits there.
ca -200: Lifetime of Saint Tiruvalluvar, poet-weaver who lived near present-day Madras, author of Tirukural, "Holy Couplets," the classic Tamil work on ethics and statecraft (sworn on in today's South Indian law courts).
ca -200: Jaimini writes the Mimamsa Sutras.
ca -150: Ajanta Buddhist Caves are begun near present-day Hyderabad. Construction of the 29 monasteries and galleries continues until approximately 650 ce. The famous murals are painted between 600 bce and 650 ce.
-145: Chola Empire (-145-1300 ce) of Tamil Nadu is founded, rising from modest beginnings to a height of government organization and artistic accomplishment, including the development of enormous irrigation works.
-140: Emperor Wu begins three-year reign of China; worship of the Mother Goddess, Earth, attains importance.
-130: Reign ends of Menander (Milinda), Indo-Greek king who converts to Buddhism.
-58: Vikrama Samvat Era Hindu calendar begins.
-50: Kushana Empire begins (-50-220 ce). This Mongolian Buddhist dynasty rules most of the Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia.
ca -10: Ilangovadikal, son of King Cheralathan of the Tamil Sangam age, writes the outstanding epic Silappathikaram, classical Tamil treatise on music and dance. Western Calendar Begins. C.E. - Common Era -4: Jesus of Nazareth (-4-30 ce), founder of Christianity, is born in Bethlehem (current Biblical scholarship).
10: World population is 170 million. India population is 35 million: 20.5% of world.
ca 50: South Indians occupy Funan, Indochina. Kaundinya, an Indian brahmin, is first king. Shaivism is the state religion.
53: Legend records Saint Thomas' death in Madras, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ and founder of the Church of the Syrian Malabar Christians (Syrian Rite) in Goa.
ca 60: Buddhism is introduced in China by Emperor Ming Di (reign: 58-76) after he converts to the faith. Brings two monks from India who erect temple at modern Honan. ca 75: A Gujarat prince named Ajishaka invades Java.
78: Shaka Hindu calendar begins.
ca 80: Jains divide, on points of rules for monks, into the Shvetambara, "white-clad," and the Digambara, "sky-clad."
ca 80-180: Lifetime of Charaka. Court physician of the Kushan king, he formulates a code of conduct for doctors of ayurveda and writes Charaka Samhita, a manual of medicine.
ca 100: Lifetime of Shandilya, first systematic promulgator of the ancient Pancharatra doctrines, whose Bhakti Sutras, devotional aphorisms on Vishnu, inspire a Vaishnava renaissance. The Samhita of Shandilya and his followers, the Pancharatra Agama, embody the chief doctrines of present-day Vaishnavas. By the 10th century the popular sect leaves permanent mark on many Hindu schools.
100: Zhang Qian of China establishes trade routes to India and as far west as Rome, later known as the "Silk Roads."
105: Paper is invented in China.
117: The Roman Empire reaches its greatest extent.
125: Shatakarni (ca 106-130 reign) of Andhra's Satavahana (-70-225) dynasty destroys Shaka kingdom of Gujarat.
ca 175: Greek astronomer Ptolemy, known as Asura Maya in India, explains solar astronomy, Surya Siddhanta, to Indian students of the science of the stars.
180: Mexican city of Teotihuacan has 100,000 population and covers 11 square miles. Grows to 250,000 by 500 ce.
ca 200: Lifetime of Lakulisha, famed guru who leads a reformist movement within Pashupata Saivism. ca 200: Hindu kingdoms established in Cambodia and Malaysia.
205-270: Lifetime of Plotinus, Egyptian-born monistic Greek philosopher and religious genius who transforms a revival of Platonism in the Roman Empire into what present-day scholars call Neoplatonism, which greatly influences Islamic and European thought. He teaches ahimsa, vegetarianism, karma, reincarnation and belief in a Supreme Being, both immanent and transcendent.
ca 250: Pallava dynasty (ca 250-885) is established in Tamil Nadu, responsible for building Kailasa Kamakshi Temple complex at their capital of Kanchi and the great 7th-century stone monuments at Mahabalipuram.
ca 275: Buddhist moastery Mahavihara is founded in Anuradhapura, capital of Sri Lanka.
350: Imperial Gupta dynasty (320-540) flourishes. During this "Classical Age" norms of literature, art, architecture and philosophy are established. This North Indian empire promotes Vaishnavism and Saivism and,at its height, rules or receives tribute from nearly all India. Buddhism also thrives under tolerant Gupta rule.
ca 350: Lifetime of Kalidasa, the great Sanskrit poet and dramatist, author of Shakuntala and Meghaduta. (The traditional date, offered by Prof. Subash Kak, is 50 bce.)
ca 350: Licchavi dynasty (ca 350-900) establishes Hindu rule in Nepal. Small kingdom becomes the major intellectual and commercial center between South and Central Asia
358: Huns, excellent archers and horsemen possibly of Turkish origin, invade Europe from the East.
375: Maharaja Chandragupta II Vikramaditya, greatest Hindu monarch, reigns to 413, expanding the prosperous Gupta empire northward beyond the Indus River.
391: Roman Emperor Theodosius destroys Greek Hellenistic temples in favor of Christianity.
ca 400: Laws of Manu (Manu Dharma Shastras) written. Its 2,685 verses codify cosmogony, four ashramas, government, domestic affairs, caste and morality (others date at -600).
ca 400: Polynesians sailing in open outrigger canoes reach as far as Hawaii and Easter Island.
ca 400: Shaturanga, Indian forerunner of chess, has evolved from Ashtapada, a board-based race game, into a four-handed war game played with a die. Later, in deference to the Laws of Manu, which forbid gambling, players discard the die and create Shatranj, a two-sided strategy game.
ca 400: Vatsyayana writes Kamasutra, famous text on erotics.
419: Moche people of Peru build a Sun temple 150 feet high using 50 million bricks.
438-45: Council of Ferrara-Florence, Italy, strengthens Roman Catholic stance against doctrine of reincarnation.
ca 440: Ajanta cave frescoes (long before Islam) depict Buddha as Prince Siddhartha, wearing "chudidara pyjama" and a prototype of the present-day "Nehru shirt."
450-535: Life of Bodhidharma of South India, 28th patriarch of India's Dhyana Buddhist sect, founder of Ch'an Buddhism in China (520), known as Zen in Japan.
ca 450: Hephtalite invasions (ca 450-565) take a great toll in North India. These "white Huns" (or Hunas) from China are probably not related to Europe's Hun invaders.
ca 450: As the Gupta Empire declines, Indian sculptural style evolves and continues until the 16th century. The trend is away from the swelling modeled forms of the Gupta period toward increasing flatness and linearity.
453: Attila the Hun dies after lifetime of plundering Europe.
499: Aryabhata I (476-ca 550), Indian astronomer and mathematician, using Hindu (aka Arabic) numerals accurately calculates pi () to 3.1416, and the solar year to 365.3586805 days. A thousand years before Copernicus, Aryabhata propounds a heliocentric universe with elliptically orbiting planets and a spherical Earth spinning on its axis, explaining the apparent rotation of the heavens. Writes Aryabhatiya, history's first exposition on plane and spherical trigonometry, algebra and arithmetic.
ca 500: Mahavamsa, chronicling Sri Lankan history from -500 is written in Pali, probably by Buddhist monk Mahanama. A sequel, Chulavamsha, continues the history to 1500.
ca 500: Sectarian folk traditions are revised, elaborated and reduced to writing as the Puranas, Hinduism's encyclopedic compendium of culture and mythology.
500: World population is 190 million. India population is 50 million: 26.3% of world.