India from 1200-present

Key Features:

  • Seljuq Turks converted to Islam, migrated to Afghanistan under leader Mahmud of Ghazni → Led raiding expeditions into India to establish Delhi Sultanate

  • Destroyed Buddhist & Hindu temples in North India

  • Failed to convert majority of North Indians to Islam

  • Largely decentralized political structure as it relied on alliances with local Hindu rulers

  • Could not conquer South India


Delhi Sultanate: 1206 - 1526

Chola Empire: 3rd Century BCE - 1279 CE

Key Features:

  • Unified through common belief in Hinduism

  • Decentralized political structure, allied with local villages and taxed them

  • Profited by controlling and taxing trade through Indian Ocean Basin

  • Fell easily by Sinhalese forces of Sri Lanka due to political decentralization


Vijayanagar Empire: 1336 - 1646

Key Features:

  • Founded by brothers Harihara and Bukka, who sought to spread Islam in South India under the Delhi Sultanate but later renounced it & founded Vijayanagar

    • Vijayanagar is "city of victory"​

  • Similar to Chola, loose & decentralized administration, unified through Hinduism

  • Taxed trade through Indian Ocean Basin

  • Fell in 1646 by an alliance of Muslim kingdoms

Features of Indian Ocean Trade

New Ships: Dhows and Junks

Dhows were Indian ships that were really small and had lateen sails, providing maneuverability with monsoon winds. Junks were Chinese ships developed in Song Dynasty that were really large and could hold lots of cargo. 


Indian port cities were used as storages or warehouses (known as emporia) for goods as merchants would store their goods and sell them here. 

Maritime Technology

New maritime technology helped Indian Ocean mariners travel easily. The magnetic compass told direction, astrolabe told latitude, lateen sail could catch winds on both sides, and sternpost rudder helped with maneuverability. 

Monsoon Winds

The monsoon winds were key features of the Indian Ocean as they would blow with a regular seasonal pattern. Mariners deciphered this pattern, which allowed them to travel efficiently using the winds to their advantage. 

Spread of Religions

The Indian Ocean trade network facilitated the spread of many religions as people came to and openly practiced their religions in cosmopolitan trade cities. Such religions include Sufism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. 

Specialized Goods

Indian Ocean trade facilitated spread of many specialized and luxury goods, including cotton from India, silk and porcelain from China, spices from Indonesia, gold and ivory from East Africa, and perfumes from Arabia. 

Expanded Caste System

The Caste system provided Hindus with a place of belonging in a loosely-unified society. Now, new ideologies were made to give foreigners a place in the caste system, detailing how they should interact with people of each caste. 

Importance of Hinduism

  • Temples were center of society

    • Provided food, banking, education, and invested in commercial ventures to earn money

  • More devotional cults were made

    • People portrayed Shiva and Vishnu as certain objects and worshipped them

  • Guru Kabir failed to harmonize Hinduism and Islam in the bhakti movement


Mughal Empire: 1526 - 1857

  • Founded by Zahur al-Din Muhammad (Babur) in 1526

    • Sieged Delhi, replaced the Delhi Sultanate

  • 3rd emperor, Akbar, expanded Mughal landholdings & tolerated many religions

    • Abolished the jizya, a special tax that non-Muslims must pay

    • Expanded his territory to include most of India

    • Employed Hindu tax farmers called zamindars to collect taxes

      • Tax farming was when ordinary people would collect taxes & give it to the government

    • Instituted his own religion called "divine faith," harmonizing Hinduism & Islam

  • Had multiple capitals, including Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Shahjahanabad

  • Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal for his wife

  • Limited trade with Europeans, regarded them as harmless

    • Allowed Portuguese Jesuit missionaries to settle in Goa

    • British controlled Bombay in 1661, founded trading post of Calcutta in 1691

  • 6th Emperor, Aurangzeb, reinstated Islam as the state religion

    • Reinstated the jizya, the tax that non-Musilms pay

    •  The last of the great Mughal emperors

    • He died in 1707, causing the empire to weaken significantly

  • Eventually fell in 1867 when the British deported the last Mughal emperor to Burma


British Imperialism in India

British East India Company Dominance & Sepoy Rebellion

Mughal Empire was weakened after Aurangzeb's death in 1707

British East India Company took advantage of power vacuum & took over some land. Imposed "doctrine of lapse": if local king dies without a son to heir the throne, East India Company takes over 

British hired Indian warriors (sepoys) to help them take over India

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By 1858, British easily crushed the rebellion. Queen Victoria established direct imperial rule in India in 1858 (as opposed to British East India Company rule)

In 1857, sepoys revolted because oral contact with animal fat violates Hindu & Muslim laws. 

British gave bullets to sepoys in cartridges greased with pig & cow fat. Sepoys had to bite these cartridges to open them & reload their guns with bullets

British Direct Governance of India

  • British government:
    • ​Local viceroy & bureaucracy staffed by British
    • Some Indians held lower ranking positions
  • British rule transformed & partly destroyed India
    • Built railroads, irrigation, telegraph lines, canals
    • Cleared forests, restructured land holdings
    • Promoted cultivation of export crops like tea & opium

Indian National Congress & Independence Attempts

  • Indian National Congress was created in 1885

    • Led by Jawaharlal Nehru (future first prime minister of India)​
    • In 1906, the All India Muslim League was founded
    • Initially meant to collaborate with the British, but later resented their rule & sought independence
    • Sometimes assassinated colonial officials & bombed British governmental buildings
    • Inspired by Enlightenment thought
  • Ram Mohan Roy sought to create an independent India
    • Wanted more rights & education for women
    • Inspired by Enlightenment principles & Hindu ideals
    • Attracted many upper-class people, including some Muslims

Indian Independence Movement

Indian National Congress & British Resentment

  • Council of Indians meant to collaborate with British
    • Originally collaborated with British when founded in 1885
    • During WW1, as food supplies were low, it started resenting the British
    • Also, many Indians were sent to fight in British army during WW1, causing more resentment
    • All India Muslim League, a group of Muslims in India, was founded in 1906
  • Started resenting British after WW1 & upon hearing ideas about independence
    • Many Indians were educated in Europe, where they learned ideas about personal freedom from the Enlightenment, contradicting imperialism
    • Heard about Wilson's 14 Points & the idea of self determination
    • Muslims wanted separation from Hindus as they feared repression from Hindus
  • Mohandas K. Gandhi sought to bring Indian Independence & improve rights of Indians
    • Studied law in London & practiced it in South Africa
    • Expanded Indian National Congress, appealed to Indians because of his spiritual approach
    • Spoke an Indian language that many could understand
    • Hated the caste system
    • Led peaceful protests against British, boycotted British goods & schools, etc.

India Act & Its Failure

  • British proposed the Government of India Act (1935)
    • Allowed Indians to have their own self-governing legislatures, still under British control
    • Failed as 600 local Indian princes refused to accept the sovereignty of the legislature
  • Many poor people & Muslims resented British rule & the India Act
    • Poor people were hard hit in Great Depression, British did nothing about it
    • Many Muslim tenants had Hindu landlords & hated the religious oppression
    • Muslims feared that India Act was Hindu domination, no better than British domination
    • Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of Muslim League, wanted a separate Muslim state called Pakistan ("land of the pure")

Indian Independence

Partition of India

  • After WW2, sentiments of independence came true
    • British forced Winston Churchill out of office as he supported imperialism
    • British citizens believed imperialism was expensive & British needed to focus on repairing its destroyed economy at the time
    • Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of Muslim League, wanted a separate Muslim state for all Muslims
    • Jawaharlal Nehru (First Prime Minister of India) & Gandhi wanted one undivided India
    • Jinnah killed thousands of people on Great Calcutta Killing (1946) to show his desire for a partition of India
  • In 1947, Partition of India happened
    • Present-day Pakistan & Bangladesh became Muslim nation of Pakistan
    • Present-day India was secular nation of India
    • By 1948, 10 million refugees migrated to their correct side of the border
    • 1 million people died in the conflict
  • Jawaharlal Nehru promoted Nonalignment (not allying with US or USSR)
    • Led Bandung Conference (1955) in Indonesia
    • Encouraged other African & Asian nations to remain neutral in Cold War

Democracy Building in India

  • Jawaharlal Nehru helped India build its democracy after independence
  • Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, took office in 1966
    • Launched Green Revolution to increase agricultural output (used GMOs and other scientific methods to increase output)
    • Declared India in a state of emergency in 1975-1977 due to overpopulation, took absolute power, imposed harsh birth control laws
    • In 1980, the Sikhs wanted greater autonomy, so she ordered her army to attack the Golden Temple (a holy Sikh temple)
    • Two of her Sikh bodyguards killed her
  • Her son, Rajiv Gandhi, established friendly relations with Sikhs