2 • India • Classical period

  • Dates : Classic Period (500-1200 AD): The beginning of this period is generally associated with the end of the Gupta Empire and the start of the Harsha Empire. The end of this period is marked by the Muslim invasion of the Indian subcontinent and the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate.

The classical period in India extends approximately from the 4th to the 12th century CE. This period is characterized by the development and flourishing of several empires and kingdoms, as well as significant advances in religion, philosophy, art, architecture, and literature. 


1. The Guptas and the Golden Age: 

The classical period witnessed the emergence of the Gupta Empire, considered the golden age of ancient India. The Gupta established effective governance and fostered the flourishing of arts, sciences and literature. This period was marked by remarkable achievements in the fields of astronomy, mathematics, medicine and philosophy. 


2. Buddhism and Jainism: 

The classical period saw Buddhism and Jainism continue to exert significant influence. Buddhist schools, such as the Mahayana and the Vajrayana, emerged, bringing new philosophical and religious ideas. Jainism also flourished, with important thinkers and teachers contributing to the expansion of this religious tradition. 


3. The Cholas and South India: 

The Cholas emerged as a major power in southern India during the Classic period. They established a powerful empire and exerted influence over the regions of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and parts of Sri Lanka. The Cholas were renowned for their efficient governance, grand art and architecture, including the famous temples of Brihadesvara and Gangaikonda Cholapuram. 


4. Literature and arts: 

The classical period was marked by a flourishing of literature and the arts. Major literary works were composed, such as the epic epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as famous philosophical texts like Upanishads and Vedanta. Art and architecture also enjoyed a period of prosperity, with lavish temples, sculptures and frescoes being produced. 


5. Contacts with the outside world: 

The classical period was also marked by cultural and commercial exchanges with foreign civilizations. Trade routes were established, facilitating trade with the Persians, Greeks, Arabs and Chinese. These contacts influenced art, architecture, religion and language in India. 


In summary, the classical period in India was a time of great achievement in the fields of governance, religion, literature, art and architecture. The empires and kingdoms that emerged left a lasting legacy and helped shape India's cultural and intellectual identity. The classical period was marked by remarkable advances in knowledge, spirituality and aesthetics, leaving a legacy that continues to influence Indian society to the present day.