Indus Valley Civilization:India's first major civilization flourished for 1000 years from around 2500 B.C, along the Indus river valley, which is now in Pakistan.
It began to decline around 1700 B.C. The major cities were Mohenjadaro and Harappa and lesser ones were like the city of Lothal, which is now near Ahmedabad, Kalibangan in Rajasthan, Ropar in Punjab. Lothal was specially significant, since it was a port town. The people of the Indus valley civilization were multi ethnic. The skeletal remains found in extensive excavations suggest this. They were an urban civilization with remarkable ability and good planning. Priests who dictated social modes then ruled the society. Origin of Hinduism belongs to this civilization. Image worship was also practiced. Worship of the Mother Goddess later called Kali and that of a prehistoric form of Shiva were followed. Animals were considered to be sacred and the most prominent among them was the Bull. Other animals that were domesticated include the buffalo, the camel and the elephant. Besides cotton, several types of cereals were grown and stored in extensive granaries.
Trade was carried on with the Persian Gulf region and Mesopotamia. Ornaments of gold, silver, copper, several alloys and precious stones were used. There were also flourishing art activities and crafts grew well. A well-developed sewage system and that of a good garbage collection system were undertaken according to the excavations that took place in the city of Harappa. They had a script, which is totally undecipherable even now. The demise of this great civilization is unknown till date.
Early invasions:The Aryan invaders swept south from central Asia between 1500 and 2000 B.C.They later controlled the whole of north India and pushed the original inhabitants further south. They were essentially a pastoral people with a flair for poetry, philosophical speculation and elaborate rituals. During this period, the sacred books like the Vedas were written. Caste system came into vogue to establish the status of the priests. Strict taboos were established regarding marriages.
During the same period, Darius, the Persian King (521-486 B.C) annexed the Punjab and Sind, but he couldn't go any further. Alexander, the Great, marched from Greece in 326 B.C, but his troops refused to march beyond the Beas River and he turned back without extending his power in India. Buddhism rose around 500 B.C contemporaneously with Jainism and became a great challenge to Hinduism. The appeal of both these religions was that they opposed the Vedas and condemned casteism.
After 1000 A.D:During A.D 1000 there were a number of competing regional rulers in India. Feudalism continued since the political structure was based on the economic system of production and distribution. During the Gupta period there was a huge cauldron of conflicting races that practiced crude rites like sati and waging wars for the sake of family honor. In later years they came to be called, as Raiputs and they became the banner-bearers of "Hindu" religion and culture. Astrology, a Pseudo-science for predicting the future based on planetary movements gained importance. Women were suppressed and freedom of free movement and behavior were looted from them. But there was a growing class of women called DEVADASIS or servants of God who were dedicated to temple service. They were highly educated and were well versed in art and literature.