1. Although distinct in many ways, Indo-Aryan culture absorbed some elements of the Indus valley civilization. Cite examples of this.
  2. Why might the Ganges River be referred to as "Mother Ganges"?
  3. Discuss the consequences of large-scale migration from central and western Asia beginning in the early second millennium B.C.E.
  4. What is the origin of the term "Aryan"?
  5. Describe the changing character of religion during the Vedic age.
  6. What does it mean to describe a religion as "contractual"?
  7. In what respects are the Vedas comparable to the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity? In what ways are they different from those texts?
  8. Explain how the popular belief in transmigration of souls was reinterpreted by philosophers of the Upanishads.
  9. The idealism of the Upanishads, though seemingly negative and pessimistic, is actually optimistic regarding human worth and destiny. Explain how.
  10. How does the Ramayana differ in style and content from the Mahabharata?
  11. Why did the epics replace the Vedas as the "bible for the common people"?
  12. How do you account for the rise of the caste system in India?
  13. What changes in the position of women accompanied the development of the caste system?
  14. What were the negative aspects of the caste system? What were its positive aspects?
  15. Explain the theoretical bases of Gautama Buddha's ethical teachings.
  16. What are the primary differences between Jainism and the teachings of Gautama? What are the primary differences between the teachings of the Upanishads and the teachings of Gautama?
  17. According to Gautama, what is the root of suffering, and how can one escape suffering?
  18. Why has Buddhism been called "the Protestant form of Hinduism"?
  19. Explain the origin of the two main divisions of Buddhism, Hinayana and Mahayana.
  20. Where is each found today?
  21. What significant contributions to science are derived from ancient Hindu civilization?
  22. What were the consequences stemming from Alexander the Great's short-lived invasion of the Indus valley?
  23. Describe the characteristics and the accomplishments of the reign of Chandragupta Maurya.
  24. Why is Ashoka regarded as one of the most remarkable rulers in the annals of civilization?
  1. What have been the effects of geography and climate upon society and culture in India?
  2. Investigate the origin of the theory that the so-called Indo-European languages bear a family relationship to one another. What scholars first advanced this theory, and where did they find evidence to support it? What is the status of this theory today?
  3. Read Aldous Huxley's Ends and Means, or one of his later novels, to find examples of the influence of the philosophy of the Upanishads upon his thinking.
  4. Investigate the special characteristics of Buddhism in Tibet, Burma, or Sri Lanka.
  5. Compare the development of mathematics and astronomy in ancient India with that in ancient Greece.
  6. Investigate the similarities between the pre-Aryan Indus valley civilization and other contemporary civilizations, such as the Babylonian or Egyptian.
  7. Investigate further what archaeological explorations have revealed about ancient Indian civilization. What can our current archaeological knowledge tell us about daily life in the Indus valley civilization?
  8. According to legend, Indra was supposed to have conquered drought and refreshed the earth with plentiful water. Compare this legend with other water-related legends from other ancient civilizations (Hebrew, Egyptian, Chinese, etc.). Analyze the place of water in ancient lore and ancient life.
  9. Explore the connection between religion and statecraft in India. Compare this with the relationship found in other early civilizations.


W.W. Norton
REVIEW: World Civilizations
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