Monday, July 1, 2013

The Golden Age of India

The Golden Age of India
Faxian visited India during the rule of Chandragupta II. Historians call this period India's Golden Age. It was a time of peace, growth, and great advances in art and science.

Chandragupta II supported many artists and writers. Perhaps the most famous of these was Kalidasa (kah.lih.DAH.suh), an author known for his poems and plays.

During this time writers collected a series of folktales called the Panchatantra (pahn.chah.TAHN.truh). Over the centuries these popular tales traveled through the world. You may know some of the stories, such as "Sinbad the Sailor" and "Jack the Giant-Killer."

Artists carved beautiful sculptures in stone and made fantastic objects from
metal during the Golden Age. One such object is a pillar of pure iron, made for Chandragupta II about A.D. 400. The pillar stands 23 feet (7 m) tall near the town of Delhi, and shows hardly any signs of rust to this day.

Many important advances were also made in Indian mathematics and medicine. As early as A.D. 595, Indian mathematicians developed the base-ten number system:
1    through 9 and the zero. Now known as Arabic numerals, these numerals were used in India long before they were borrowed by Arab traders.

During the Golden Age, Indian doctors discovered ways to set broken bones and to help women give birth. Like surgeons today, they used skin from other parts of the body to mend ears and noses. Understanding the need for cleanliness in surgery, they sterilized their cutting tools. Indian doctors also used inoculation, giving a person a mild form of a disease so that he or she would not get sick with a more serious form. European and American doctors did not use inoculation until the 1700s.

Many of the ideas of India were carried to other lands by traders. Arab merchants took Indian spices, cloth, carpets, and jewelry west to the Mediterranean. They carried Indian books and ideas to distant places such as Europe and Africa. News of India's innovations reached many parts of the world.

What important advances in learning took place during the time of Gupta rule?

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