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Pre-Mauryan Age (6th – 4th Century BC)

Pre-Mauryan Age (6th – 4th Century BC)

Punch-marked coins:

  • The rise of the Mahajanapadas in the 6th century BC alongwith agricultural surplus and the rise of arts and crafts which facilitated trade and commerce led to the appearance of coins for the first time in the pre-Mauryan age. They are Punch-marked coins mostly of silver mined from kharag mines in Monghyr. The metals were punched with certain marks as hills, trees, bull, elephant, fish, crescent etc. The coins do not bear any images or inscriptions of Gods or kings. These are not casted coins and were first issued by the traders and bankers and later by the Kings also. Their areas of use were also limited. The use of punch-marked coins was indicative of a more developed economy.

Archaeological remains [Pre-Mauryan Age (6th – 4th Century BC)]

  • Many urban centres such as Indraprastha, Hastinapura, Shravasti, Varanasi, Rajagriha, Champa on the banks of rivers in north India.
  • Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) type of pottery was the characteristic feature of this age.
  • Iron use increased in this period.  Pre-Mauryan Age (6th – 4th Century BC)
  • Mud bricks were used for the construction of cities.
  • Punch — marked coins were used to facilitate trade and commerce.

Brahmanical literature [Pre-Mauryan Age (6th – 4th Century BC)]

  • It consisted of the ‘Vedangas’ or the limbs of the Vedas whose study was necessary to understand the Vedas properly. The Vedangas were written in the form of ‘Sutras’ i.e. condensed prose style intended for memorization there are six vedangas : (a) Shiksha (Phonetics), (b) Kalpa (rituals), (c) Vyakarana (grammar), (d) Nirukta (etymology), (e) Chandas (metrics) (f) Jyotisha (astronomy, not astrology). The Vedangas in contrast to the Vedic literature proper are called ‘Smriti’ or literature handed down by tradition because they are of human origin.
  • The Kalpa sutras are divided into three classes:
    • Srautasutras — concerned with rituals of great scarifies of Agni, soma, animals. The sulvasutras, which are the oldest books on Indian geometry are part of the Srautasutras.
    • Grihyasutras — concerned wit the domestic ceremonies and sacrifices to be peformed by the householder.
    • Dharmasutras — concerned with the legal aspects of life and are foundation for the Dharmasastras such as the laws of Manu.  Pre-Mauryan Age (6th – 4th Century BC)
  • Four minor Vedas called ‘Upavedas’ came to be written on the basis of the Vedic literature. They are:
    • Ayurveda — concerned with medicine
    • Silpa Veda — concerned with sculpture
    • Gandharva Veda — concerned with music
    • Dhanur Veda — concerned with warfare

Buddhist literature: [Pre-Mauryan Age (6th – 4th Century BC)]

  • It consists of the Pali canon in the form of three pitakas — Suttapitaka, Vinayapitaka, Abhidhammapitaka.
  • Suttapitaka — It consists of the speeches and messages of the Buddha. It was composed by Ananda in the first Buddhist council at Rajagriha in 483 BC.
  • Vinayapitaka — It consists of the monastic code with rules of behaviour for the monks and nuns of the Sangha. It was composed by Upali in the Ist Buddhist council at Rajagriha in 483 BC.
  • Abhidhammapitaka — It is a compilation of philosophical sayings. It was composed by Mogaliputta Tissa (Upagupta) in the 3rd Buddhist council at Pataliputra in 250 BC.

Jain Literature:

  • It was written in Prakrit. Earlier Jain literature was a set of 14 books called Purvas. They are now lost. 12 Angas were written, on the basis of 14 Purvas.
  • Foreign Authors
  • Herodotus wrote ‘Historica’. It talks about trade relations of India with Persia.

Aristobolus wrote ‘History of the war’. He came to India along with Alexander.  Pre-Mauryan Age (6th – 4th Century BC).



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