Sunday, September 11, 2011

Early History of India : A Leap over Ages

The earliest habitation of the Indian subcontinent dates some 5,00,000 years back. This was established after traces of the hominid habitation(the homo erectus) were discovered here. The prehistoric antecedents of the homo sapien in India are also some 75,000 years old and substantiated by the discovery of his remains in northern India. Vestiges of the ice age (second ice age to the fourth) have been detected in the form of large flakes, embedded in boulder gravels in parts of NW Punjab, Siwalik foothills , Poonch  and Jammu.

It is widely believed that the earliest immigrants to India were from the African continent . They arrived in southern India and gradually moved northwards (traces of the negroid gene still occurs in parts of India like the Andamans and some parts of southern India). In all probability, there were many  invasions/migrations in subsequence. This led to the inhabitation of several races in the Indian subcontinent. They varied from the early Negroids, the Proto Australoids , the Mongoloids , the Caucasians-Mediterranean  etc. These races intermingled amongst themselves and their admixture is the present Indian. This migration ofcourse traversed ages and took place from the early ice age,  and continued till the medeival times.

The Stone age began with the early Paleolithic man. He was probably a Negroid. He dwelt in natural caverns and his sustenance depended upon his hunt and the fruits , plants that grew in abundance in the dense forest lands of India. The discovery of his rather large,crude, tools and  implements like pebble tools,flake and coral tools etc occurred in almost all parts of India like Rajputana, Gujrat, Upper Narmada valley, Bengal, parts of Bihar, Orissa, Deccan and southern India(everywhere except the Gangetic plains).

Most Indologists believe 30,000-10,000 was the stone age period in the Indian subcontinent.

The Mesolithic  age was the transitional period connecting the Paleolithic age to the Neolithic age. This age was characterized by small silicate based tools called ‘microliths’. Like his predecessor, the Mesolithic man too was a hunter gatherer. His imprints in form of fossils, skulls and cave drawings were to be discovered in places like Bhimbhetka(MP),Kurnool(AP),Edakal(Kerala),Sanghao(Pakistan),Langhnaj(Gujrat),Adamgad(MP),Mahadaha(UP) etc. The average life expectancy in these ages may have have been between fifteen to fourty.There was constant migrations for food and people may have died by exhaustion and osteo arthritis.

In the Neolithic age there was the advent of the Proto Australoid man. His tools came to be more sophisticated, polished and varied. He started using chisels, hammers, saws, spears,bows,arrows,swords made of polished stone ( fine grain dar green trap, diorite,basalt,slate,chlorite,sandstone etc) in his hunts and battles.The evidences of the Neolithic man have been found at Galighai in Swat (Pakistan),Sarai Khola further south,Baluchistan,Loess plateau in Kashmir,Punjab,Gujrat,Rajputana,Chirand in Bihar,Belan valley(UP),Manipur,Orissa,Godavari and Krishna valleys in south India etc. He subsequently learnt agriculture, domesticating animals, pottery, and even painting objects.

Note.Today Proto australoids are still found amongst the adivasi/aborigine tribes like the Irulas in southern India,Oraon in eastern india,Korku in western india,the Munda and Santal in central India etc. The Bhils  and the  Gonds  are also considered Proto Australoid by many, but the Gond language appears Dravidian while the Bhil language is leaning more towards Indo European. Same is the case with the Oraon as well. Their language Kurukh appears Dravidian.

The Chalcolithic age converged with the Bronze age. In this age, the stone tools weren’t absolutely abandoned but discoveries were made in smelting of metals like Copper and Bronze. The microlithic tools like those with parallel sided blades continued to be used, but there was more reliance on metal in tool making. This age also saw the use of pictorial scripts.The evidences of the chalcolithic age were mainly discovered in Burzahom/Gufkral(Kashmir),Swat,Damodar/Ajay valleys(Bengal),Jorwe/Inamgaon(Maharashtra) etc.

 The Stone age was followed by the Bronze age. This age saw the advent of the Caucasoid races like the Dravidians and the Aryans*. There was also an influx of the Mongoloid races from central Asia.

 Note.Today, the Mongoloid races are typical in the north eastern parts of India, while Dravidians encompass the southern landscape.

Note* This statement is only as per the AIT (Aryan Invasion Theory) /AMT (Aryan Migration Theory) theories. But the latter proposed OIT (Out of India Theory) dispels this division between Aryans and Dravidians and stresses on the fact that their race origins were the same and they got bifurcated in a latter period by geographical delocalisation and ofcourse  inter-intra tribal enimties (which are so vividly described in the Vedas and other ancient texts). This is somethig we will discuss further in detail.

The Bronze age man learn metal smelting and converted a major part of his weapons and tools from stone to bronze, copper. Even the use of noble metals like gold and silver started.His weapons and tools were unearthed mostly in Northern India (with a few exceptions in south India).

Subsequently the Bronze age man discovered a more stronger and malleable metal called Iron and his tools changed contents accordingly. This started the Iron age, a precursor to what we call the historical period.

Indus Civilisation  or Sindhu civilization prospered around the river Sindhu (Indus). It is also termed as Harappan civilization after the discovery of this civilization at Harappa (presently in Pakistan).Historians have tried to provide a chronology to the Harappan period by dividing it into : Pre Harappan (7000-3000),Early Harappan (3000-2600),Mature Harappan (2600-1900),Late Harappan (1900-1300).

Note: Discoveries of these ancient urban sites have been found centred more around the now extinct Saraswati river, in comparison to the Sindhu river. Hence the term Indus civilisation has given way for Saraswati civilisation. However it is mostly termed as Harrappan civilisation.

 Early Harappan period was a part of the Bronze age.It was first discovered and reported by a British East India Company armyman by the name of Charles Masson in 1842. In 1922, Rakhaldas Bandopadhyay an archaeologist connected to the ASI excavated another city of Mohenjodaro in vicinity to Harappa.

Between 1922-23, explorers Sir John Marshall, Rai Bahadur Dayaram Sahni and Madho Swarup Vats conducted digs at Harappa and unearthed a fairly sophiscated urban civilization (objects discovered in these towns were – ornaments, personal grooming items like cosmetics,combs,mirrors,lipstick etc, utensils, tools,beads,statuettes,seals with animal figurines carved on them,toys,furniture,weapons etc made of clay,terracotta,ceramics,bronze and copper).  The township was well planned with a grid like structure having roads,lampposts after every few meters, storeyed brick houses, drainage system,dustbins, granaries,tanks,public baths (e.g the great bath discovered at Mohenjodaro ,size.180x108sq ft) etc.  
In due course many such excavations were made in and around the region e.g Chanhudaro in 1931,Sindh,Hyderabad,Jacobabad and Narmada valley etc leading to a lot of information about this culture. Today, both Harappa and Mohenjodaro towns lie in the Punjab region of Pakistan.
The civilization had its own illegible script (pictorial) which remains undeciphered till date.
The cities seemed to have people belonging to different races (deduced on basis of the skeletal remains) though a section believes that the majority belonged to the Dravidian stock.
There are many theories about the original inhabitants of the Indus civilization. The Aryan Invasion theory describes the Aryans invading from the north (perhaps central asia) with their horses, chariots and iron weapons and driving out the inhabitants (ref. theory by Sir Mortimer Wheeler on basis of skeletons found) of the Harrappan civilisation, supposedly,the Dravidians (from the Indus civilisation sites centred mostly around the rivers Saraswati and river Sindhu) to the southernmost parts of India (this supposedly took place around 1900 BC). Amongst the earliest proponents of this theory was Max Mueller, a German orientalist and author based in Britain. He proposed that the origins of the Aryans lay in central Asia, from where one branch migrated to Europe, while another went to Iran. From Iran, branches further divereged towards Mesopotamia  and the Indian subcontinent. There they invaded and pushed the local inhabitants to the forests and  southwards.
Later many have concluded that there wasn’t a invasion as there are no traces of any mass genocide.  
Hence it is assumed that the Aryan tribes migrated in small numbers and gradually enmeshed amongst the local inhabitants. This is called the Aryan Migration theory.
However these theories are now being contested by new radical theories like the 'Out of India Theory' (OIT).

Note, both the AIT and AMT theories have come under a cloud of suspicion and are being looked at skeptically as a colonial interpretation of Indias history which was based more on vague assumptions and their personal religious beliefs rather than concrete evidences.
 Out of India theory. This theory believes that the Indus region was in fact the cradle of civilization of the Aryan or Vedic civilization, whereas the Dravidians were mainly people that dominated the southern parts of India (Note: Its been concluded that Dravidians are not a race but a adjective (referring to people living near a water body: drava=water) just like the term Aryan (arya= noble). In fact Dravidians are a part of the Aryan culture). It was from the Indus region that Aryans further branched out to Bactria, central Asia, Iran (from there onwards to Mesopotamia - refer Aryan tribes like Hittites, Mitanis), Europe (as far as Ionia) etc.
The main concentration of the Aryans was around river Saraswati . However after the river dried up (Note: Traces of Saraswati have since been rediscovered by researchers using satellite imagery), the Aryans branched out and moved southwards. Many settled in the Gangetic basin (some branched towards Saurashtra), while some proceeded towards the East and the south. In the south they came to be known as the Dravidians (people around the coast: Drava=water).So essentially this means that Arya and Dravida belong to the same race. Differences in their physical characteristics, [perhaps due to their intermingling with the local aborigines] are attributed to their geographical conditions and climatic conditions). These races can all be considered Aryan and fought amongst themselves for land supremacy.There is a mention in the ancient Vedic texts of a war between a king Sudas of Bharata dynasty and a confederacy of ten kings , whereby Sudas emmerged victorious.(incidently these ten kings find reference in the Iranian text Avesta also. As well as mention of a battle of  Varshagira (which is found both in Avesta as well as the Rigveda, alluding that the fights may be between the tribes of the Indian mainland and others who migrated north in central asia , afghanistan,iran etc).Similarly the various races like Bharatas, Yadus,Ikshwakus,Druhyus etc fought amongst themselves. The time period of the Avesta also appears to coincide with the latter half of the Rigveda. Not to mention the simlarity in the Gods mentioned in the Avesta and other central asian ancient tribes like the Hittites, Mittanis etc.
 Amongst the early proponents of the Out of India theory were Voltaire, the French writer philosopher,Immanuel Kant the german philosopher,Karl Wilheim Friedrich Schlegel the german poet and theosophists like Col.Olcott, the retired American armyman and the first president of the Theosophical society, Aurobindo Ghosh, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak etc. Amongst the new protagonists of this theory are Dr Lal, Dr David Frawley, Shrikant Talegiri and Stephen Knapp.

Note1: OIT Researchers find it truly hard to believe that small nomadic tribes that migrated (AMT) could have had such an impact on the existing civilisation and are dismissive about the AMT, which they call the dying face of the already dead AIT.

Note2: The main contention of the Aryan Dravidian division was the color of the skin, whereby the Aryans were light skinned and Dravidians the dark skinned ones. But OIT dismisses this contention on the basis of georgraphical location and climatic conditions, stating that the people below the equator/ towards the south are naturally dark (similar to the Mediterranean europeans being darker than their northern counterparts).

Note3: Vedas mention the now dried up river Saraswati (around Punjab-Rajasthan) very prominently and the contention of OIT is how could the Vedic aryans know of this river if they invaded the Harrapan civilisation in 1500 BC?

Note4:IVC was initially considered non aryan because there were no 'rathas' war vehicles /chariots that the aryans supposedly got along with them. But later excavations did find their presence in IVC itself, dispelling any aryan invasion.Seals depicting several aryan gods like Indra etc were also discovered in IVC.
 Its also been proved that the so called invading Aryans did not bring along horse chariots/iron weapons from their homeland. Rather they  existed all along in the so called Indus civilisation (now termed as Saraswati civilisation). Moreover it was not possible to carry the charriots through the rough terrain of central asia.

Note5: The discovery of a ancient city at Mehrgarh (dt 6500 BC) also dispels the AIT (which dates Aryans arriving around 1900 BC). Thus a new model of ancient India has emerged as per OIT as under:
6500-3100 BC- was the Pre Harrapan age(early Rigvedic).
3100-1900     - was the Mature Harrapan age (age of the four vedas), abandonment of Harappan towns due to river and ecological changes..
1900-1000     - was the Late Harrapan age ( late vedic and brahmana period). [ref. Myth of AIT :Dr David Frawley]

There were also people who believed that the Aryans coexisted and intermingled with the other inhabitants of the Indus civilization and were one of its active contributors.
Below stated findings were enumerated after the Indus valley civilisation was discovered:
The religion of the Indus people was probably one of the earliest forms of modern Hinduism (Note. Present day Hinduism is considered to be an amalgamation of basic Vedic concepts with additions from the non Vedic  religions like that of the Dravidians.).
Gods of Indus civilization: Discovery of seals, statuettes etc lead us to believe that the people of the Indus worshipped a (Trimukha) three faced god identified as Pashupati-the god of cattle(an figurine depicting an image of a god seated in a lotus position and surrounded by animals was discovered during the excavation). Similarities have been drawn between Pashupati and gods like Rudra. Also, objects looking very similar to the linga or the phallic symbol of Shiva were also discovered which leads one to believe that the inhabitants belonged to the Shiva/ Shaivite cult. There was also worship of female energy (Shakti),the yoni(womb) in the form of the mother godess. Also prevalent was the worship of the sun god, characterized by the swastika symbols found in the dig. There were also the Naga (serpent) worshippers evident by a figurine with a snake wrapped over the head. Animals like the bull, one resembling a unicorn, birds like the dove and the vegetation like the Pipal tree was also venerated in the Indus.
Dress of the Indus people:Both the men and women wore a two piece clothing.They kept long hair.The women folk used necklaces,armlets,rings,bangles,hairpins,earlings,anklets etc made of gold ,silver,copper,semi precious stones etc as per their status.
Customs of the Indus people:The people buried their dead (Note. Cremation on a funeral pyre was a Aryan practice). However in the latter phase, the people cremated their deas (This was probably due to latter vedic influence) and buried the ashes in urns which were in turn buried in tombs.
Diet of the Indus people: The Indus people enjoyed a complete diet of wheat, barley,rice,vegetables,fruits,milk,fish and meat (including beef, mutton,pork etc).
Trade, occupation of the Indus people: The Indus men were mainly traders and agriculturists. They were also well versed in crafts like carpentery,pottery,weaving,medicine etc.They were aware of measurement systems and had advanced medical practices including dentistry. Foreign trade existed with central Asia, middle east (Egypt,Mesopotamia etc). Mode of communication was the bullock cart (open or covered).
End of the Indus civilization: The Indus civilization gradually came to an end possibly by famine,floods and perhaps invasions. However there is no conclusive evidence pointing towards a invasion as such. The original view has ofcourse been the Aryan Invasion Theory. But this is challenged by other theories that claim flood,climatic changes as the like reason. The inhabitants may have then migrated south.

The concept of Dravidians and Aryans as races that was all along taught (as per a part of AIT/AMT, before being challenged by the OIT) as a part of history is as under: 

Dravidians displaced the Proto Australoids and gained hegemony in India. The term Dravidian however is a western term for the word Dravida, which refers to the people of southern India. So it is assumed that this group came to be known as Dravida after they moved south. The name Dravida as such has been derived from the word ‘Drava’ or water, probably symbolizing people living near the sea.
The Dravida people belonged to the Mediterranean stock. The Sumerian texts have mentioned the people living around the Indus (read dravida) as Meluha. While some categorise them as Non Vedic people  i.e those who didn’t believe in the Vedas, but rather had their own customs and rituals. As we have already discussed that as per the Aryan invasion theory (which is ofcourse contentious), when the vedic people/Aryans arrived on the scene, they came into confrontation with the Dravidians and pushed them southwards. However a Dravidian group, identified from their language, still exists in the north in form of the Brahui tribe in Balochistan(in present day Pakistan).
Note. The proponents of the Aryan invasion theory maintain that this group may be remnants of the Dravidians that were driven out, while the Out of India theory proponents maintain that a small Dravidian group probably migrated from the south and made home in the fertile Indus valley, coexisting with the Aryan population. The present day Dravidian stock is mainly found in the south viz.Karnataka,Tamilnadu,Andhra,Kerala,Lakshadweep(and to some extent the west,east-Kurukh in Bangladesh and central parts of India).
The Dravidians themselves intermingled with the inhabitants of southern India viz. the Proto Australoids , the Negroids  (Note. there are still tribes in the Andaman Nicobar islands and certain parts of south India that belong to the same genetic pool as the Negroids) and other  aborigines they had displaced earlier from the north (Note. This is as per the further speculations on the Aryan Invasion theory). The dravidians probably had their own script, their own laws and customs and were a very evolved lot compared to most of their contemporaries.They were acquainted with agriculture,spinning,weaving,dyeing,pottery etc. They played games like dice etc. The men and women wore a two piece clothing and at times a headress.They were adept at making boats and sailing.In war they used weapons like spears,swords,maces,axes,bows,arrows etc. They had their Gods and built temples for them.

Aryans The term ‘Aryan’ is a western term for the word ‘Arya’. The word ‘Arya’ simply means the ‘noble one’. This group of people can also be called Vedics or the people believing in the Vedas, their holy scriptures. In fact the term Indo Aryan is considered language specific rather than race specific.
Origins of the Indo Aryans: Some Indologists believe that the Aryans (Vedics) came to India, sometime around 2500-2000 BC. However a section of indologists maintain Vedic existence in almost 15,000 BC. But it is based more on astronomical calculations and scriptures rather than archaeological evidence. Some have theorized their findings on basis of the text Aitreya Brahmana of Rigveda and using the positions of the star constellations mentioned.
There are again conflicting theories given by several orientalists regarding the advent of the Aryans. As per the Aryan Invasion Theory, the Aryans faced resistance in form of the already established non vedic groups of India also known as the Dravidas/Dasas/Dasyus/Panis/Mlechas etc, whom they eventually subjugated and forced them to move southwards.
Regarding the origins of the Aryans there are again different versions. Their origins vary from the Caucasus mountains, South of Russia (as per Morgan), the Arctic (as per B G Tilak), to  Eastern Europe (as per Mc donell) . According to some, the Aryans came from the north of present day Iran. Some have pinpointed a region which was known as Aryanem Vaejah (the name Iran itself is said to have been derived from this name) as being the homeland of the Aryans. From there they were said to have split tribes and migrated for greener pastures. Some went to Iran, some towards Europe, some towards Bactria and some proceeded via the Hindukush mountains towards India.
Their first stop in India was around the Indus (Sindhu) river and its tributaries like the mythical Saraswati (Aryan concentration was said to be mainly along the Saraswati river. This river is no longer in existence) and Drishadvati. From there they migrated southwards i.e first towards the Gangetic valley and from there towards eastern, central and western India. It is believed that the river Saraswati dried up, forcing the migration of the Vedics/Aryans towards the Gangetic plains.
There are ofcourse conflicting theories to this particular one. Some believe that the Aryans existed in India thousands of years earlier than the traditionally accepted date. Whether the Aryans invaded (Aryan Invasion theory) or migrated (Aryan migration theory) is also in contention. According to the Out of India theory, the Sapta Sindhu (Indus) region was infact the original homeland of the Aryans from where they spread to various directions like Hindukush mountains, some further to central asia, some to Persia, from where they branched out to the middle east and some towards India. Another branch proceeded towards Europe. The Aryans of the Sapta Sindhu migrated towards the Gangetic plains, after the drying up of the Saraswati river and then further down south. Even the terms 'Deva' and 'Rakshasa' which are presently believed to be Gods and the Demons respectively were said to be adjective for people of a common race, whereby 'Deva' simply meant 'the luminiscent' one (probably some with power,attractive qualities..the word diva or light can be said to have been derived from the word deva),Rakshas simply meant the 'rakshaks' or preotectors or people with an army. The word 'aryan' is also derived from the word arya or the noble one dismissing it as a race specific word.With time the Rakshas may have become oppressive with increased power and came to be villified.

Similarities are drawn between the Indo Aryan tribes and the people of Europe on the linguistic basis. There are a lot of similarities between the Sanskrit language spoken by the Indo Aryans and the European lingua. This was first proposed by Fillipo Sasseti and later by Sir William Jones in the Asiatic society meet at Calcutta in 1786. Sanskrit has words like ‘pitra’ (father), matri (mother) similar to the Latin words ‘pater’ and ‘mater’, the German word ‘vater’ and ‘mutter’. Also alluding to their foreign origins was the description of the Vedic Aryans as light skinned people (in their texts) in comparison to the non vedic people(dasas-other people,panis-cattle lifters,mlechas-barbarians), whom they mention as dark skinned. The Out of India theory states that Sanskrit is infact the mother of all the Indo European languages.
The Aryans belonged to different tribes. Each tribe had a king. Wars between Arya tribes were also quite common. There is an example of one King Sudas of the Tritsu tribe fought off a confederacy of ten tribes. Wars were also fought to extract tribute. In war they used weapons like swords, spears, axes, bows and arrows etc. There was also the use of horse and chariots in war.
Aryan contribution: The Aryans were warlike tribes and are credited to several introductions to India like the chariot (something many believe the Aryans created in India at a latter date), the domesticated horse (a Aryan branch probably learnt the art of domesticating horses and introduced them to India), the major tenets of modern Hinduism etc.
Aryans were earlier Nomads: The Aryans (vedics) eventually gave up their nomadic lifestyle and settled down. They lived in wooden and bamboo dwellings. An early king Prithu (probably of the Bharata tribe) was said to have cleared the forest lands enabling his tribe to settle down in that region.
Aryan family customs: The family system of the Vedics/Aryans was patriarchal, yet the women had no secondary role (at least in the early Vedic times). Some women have even risen to the stature of rishis like Visvavara,Apala,Gargi,Maitreyi and Ghosha. There were rare instances of women participating in war (as in the case of Kaikeyi assisting Dasharatha in the Ramayana). Polygamy was not uncommon,especially for people of higher social status (Polyandry was rare, almost absent and seen only occasionally as in the case of Draupadi and the Pandavas of Mahabharata). Life of a man was divided into brahmacharya(the first 25 years of his life, the person has to stay with his teacher and work for him and learn from him),grahasta(householder from the age of 25-50),vanaprastha(from the age of 50-75 the person along with his life is to live in the forests, retiring from his materialistic life and concentrating on philosophical meditation),sanyas(live alone as a hermit from the age of 75-100 till renunciation of life).
Aryan rituals: In the latter Vedic period certain yagnas or fire rituals came into existence, like the ‘Rajasuya yagna’ performed after the coronation of a king and the ‘Ashvamedha yagna’ or horse sacrifice performed to declare the king to be an emperor.
Aryan dress: They wore a two piece clothing made of wool,animal skins, later linen/cotton etc.They  combed their hair and also wore head dresses. Many adorned themselves with jewellery, ornaments,beads  and trinkets.
Aryan entertainment: They enjoyed music,dance and games like dice (called dyoot), marbles, balls. They also indulged in sports like horse/bullock/chariot races, bull fights,cock fights,archery,wrestling,weapon duels etc. They consumed alcoholic beverages like the Sura (a brandy made of corn and barley) and Soma (a juice extracted from the soma plant, found mainly in present day Afghanistan region).They even venerated Soma as a deity. They believed in the basic concepts of karma, but were not fatalist in their approach. They believed in living life to its fullest.
Aryan occupation and trade: Agriculture was the main occupation of the Aryans (besides trade etc). The Aryans practiced the barter system and the cow was a principal standard of valuation and exchange.
Aryan diet consisted of rice, flour items,barley,bean and sesamun. They ate vegetables, fruits,meat and consumed milk and milk items.

Aryan language: The Aryans spoke languages like Sanskrit,Prakrit,Pali etc. Their scripts (which developed later) were Brahmi,Kharoshti etc.Sanskrit is considered by many as the mother language that gave birth to not only the Indian languages but many languages that are spoken outside the subcontinent (even Europe). All these languages belong to a group named Indo European lingua.

Note: The word Ashwa in sanskrit meaing horse is the same as one would find in the distant Lithuanian language. Other similar words in Sanskrit are Pitar (father, Patar in Greek, Pater in Latin),Matar (Mother, similarly Mater,Meter) etc.

Aryan administration: Government matters were discussed by an administrative body called ‘samiti’ in an assembly called the ‘sabha’. Amongst the royal officials were the Purohita (high priest), senani (army general), amatya (chief minister),gramani (head of the village) etc. Then there were the doot(envoy) , spas(spies). Later several other departmental posts came in existence like the samagrahitri(treasurer),rathakara (chariot maker),suta (charioteer), kshattri(chamberlain),Bhagadugha(tax collector)and interestingly even a superintendent of the dice(Akshanapa).
The types of governance were either the rajya-monarchies/kingdoms (where the king was the supreme head who ruled with the help of a council of ministers) or the gana sanghas-oligarchies (where a clan or a confederacy formed an council that concerned itself with the administration). Note, that these gana sanghas were ruled either by a confederacy of clans like the Koliyas and Mallas or by a single clan like the Vrijis and Shakyas. These gana singhas were mostly in mountainous areas. Their ruling clans were Kshatriyas (warrior class). But some brahmana texts have denounced them as worse than shudras(peasant class) for not adhering to the traditions of the Vedas.What is interesting is that these clans produced some great individuals who provided a different school of thought different from the vedic Brahmanism e.g the Vriji clan produced Mahavira who gave rise to Jainism, while the Shakya clan produced Gautama Buddha who started Buddhism.
Aryan laws: Cattle lifting,robbery were the principal crimes in the Aryan society, whereby the guilty were tied to the stake.

Aryan Gods: 

The early Aryans refer to God as an invisible entity, however the latter aryans however came to worship everything in nature that held power and had a definite effect on them like fire,wind,earth,lightening,water etc.Later they gave a human form to their Gods.Probably men of exceptional qualities that lived amongst them were elevated to the status of Gods.

Note: As per some ancient texts, both the (alleged) Gods and the (alleged ) demons had the same ancestor viz Bramha (Note: Bramhas grandson Kashyapa was married to some of the many daughters of king Daksha viz Aditi, Diti, Danu etc). The children of Aditi came to be known as 'devas' (Gods) while her sisters Diti bore children that came to be known as 'Daitya'. Their other sister Danu had children that came to be known as 'Danav'. Apparently the Danavs and Daityas were always acting in conjunction and are today interpreted as the demons. They were always having a rivalry with the devas. The Devas had access to the medicinal herb/plant 'Sura' while the Daityas/Danavas didnt. So the Daityas probably were called as 'Asuras' (those without the acccess to the sura).

Amongst their early gods were Mitras, Dyaus, Nasatya, Indra (God of rain/light), Maruts (gods of lightening/thunderstorm), Parajanya (god of rain Note.earlier Indra was believed to be the sole god of rain),Varuna (god of the oceans and upholder of the moral code),Vasu, Prajapati,Rudra etc. Dyaus was said to be similar to his greek counterpart Zeus (or v.v), but the Aryans never had a king of Gods as such, until post Puranas when Indra held that position 9though even in the Vedas he had an important position). The Vedas also mention Agni(god of fire and food),Soma(the alcoholic beverage), Usha(dawn),Surya(sun),Aswins(twilight),Vayu(wind),Prithvi(earth),Brihaspati(prayer-later Brihaspati is portrayed as the teacher of the Gods),Chandra(moon) etc. There is also a mention of Rudra (vault of heaven-ref. rudraprashna namak vibhaaga) , later came to be identified with Shiva (the destroyer) . Vishnu was known as the the protector and Brahma as the creator.
Vishnu has been mentioned ninety three times in the Vedas, but more as Indras friend and aide who assists Indra in his most arduous battles (One text mentions Vishnu being born to Aditi the mother of the Devas as a dwarf Vamana. He helped the Devas supercede their powerful cousin the Asura king Bali). Later Shiva and Vishnu were to acquire the primary stage amongst the pantheon of gods and Indra, Varuna were to take the backseat.Shiva came to be identified with the primeval god Mahadeva.
The Rishis (sages) prayed before ‘Agni’  the fire god for purity of thought. They performed their rituals (chanted hymns) before a central fireplace called ‘Agni kunda’ or ‘Havana kunda’. Earlier there were no temples built for the Gods (that was a latter phenomena).
There is also mention of a tusked God associated with Ganesha (elephant headed god of learning-he was interpolated in the latter age epics likeMahabharata as the one who actually wrote down the epic while its composer Vyas breathlessly recited it to Ganesha. However it was in the Purana stage that Ganesha emerged as a primary god) and Yama (mentoned in the Vedas as the first mortal to ascend heaven and duly made the god of the departed).Later gods like Brahma(the creator) were added. The mother goddess also came to be reviled in various forms like Goddess Parvati the consort of Lord Shiva, also manifested in the shakti form as Durga,Kali etc. Then there was Godess Laxmi (godess of wealth)-the consort of Lord Vishnu,Godess Saraswati (the river goddess  and also the goddess of learning)-the consort of Lord Brahma-some also describe her as his daughter. 
Post the Puranas -1st century AD,mortal gods like Rama,Krishna who were heroic characters from epics like Ramayana ,Mahabharata respectively came to be worshipped as the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Even the cow came to be venerated as a mother godess.
Interestingly , some of these gods like Indra,Varuna etc have found mention in the Avesta, the scriptures of the Zorastrians-fire worshippers of early Iran. The Ahuras (asuras of the Vedas) of the Avesta are considered the good forces, while Devas (gods of the Vedas) are called the evil forces in the Avesta, which is an exact antithesis of the Vedas.
Note: Varuna in the Avesta is called Ahura Mazda, their supreme god. Avesta is assumed to be a last millennium BC treatise.
It is found that there is a interchangebility between the letters ‘h’ and ‘s’ in the Avesta and the Vedas . For example in Avesta ‘hepta hindu’ is the ‘sapta sindhu’ of the Vedas , ‘homa’ in Vedas is the ‘soma’ of the Vedas, ‘daha’ is the ‘dasas’  etc. The Aryas of the Vedas are reffered to as the Arias in the Avesta. Even evidences have been found in a 14th century BC treaty between the Hittite and the Mittanis who dominated the Syrian region of Mesopotamia where both the tribes refer to some Gods like Mitra(mentioned as Mitrasil) ,Indra (Indara),Nasatya(Nasatiana),Varuna(Uruvanas) as their witnesses. Even the Kassites of Babylon who came from Iran mention gods like Suria (surya-sun god in the Vedas), Marutas (Marut-thunder god in the Vedas) etc. So in all probability , it is deduced that both the Zorastrians and Aryans had common ancestors. Little wonder that in latter years when zorastrians faced persecution in Iran from the radical Islamists, they sought refuge in India and are today one of their most integral citizens, popularly known as the Parsi community (adulterated from the word ‘Pharsi’ or Persian).

Vedas literally mean the supreme knowledge. The early Vedas were passed down from generation to generation by the oral tradition. It was much later that a script (7th century  BC Brahmi script etc) was developed. 
Note:The vedas are called 'shrutis' in contrast to the 'smritis' or the post veda texts.
The earliest Veda we know of is the Rigveda. Though it is attributed around 2000-1500 BC, its quite possible that it was composed much earlier. The Vedas is not one book but a collection of texts written over a period of time. It has several authors called rishis (sages) who dwelt in the forests and composed these texts for the common man. They provided him with his philosophy and acted mainly as a blueprint for conducting his lifestyle.
The Vedas are categorized as follows (said to have been categorised by Sage Vyasa):
Samahitas : contain hymns,chants,prayers etc.
Brahmanas: prose texts containing the meaning of the samahitas.
Aranyakas and Upanishads: partly connected to the Brahmanas and partly are separate works embodying philosophical medtations of the sages .
The samahitas are further classified as :
Rigveda: a collection of hymns.
Atharveda: a collection of spells and charms.
Samaveda: a collection of songs taken from the Rigveda.
Yajurveda: contains sacrificial formulae.
Also present separately was the Parishta (appendix of samahitas).
Then there is another kind of work called as Vedanga. The Vedangas are differentiated into six subjects: Shiksha(pronunciation),Chhandas(meter),Vyakrana(grammar),Nirukta(glossary),Jyotisha(astronomy), Kalpa(about ceremonies).
Then there is another literature called the Sutras which consisted of a series of concise formulae. There were also the UpavedasAyurveda(medicine),Dhanurveda(military science),Gandharveda (classical art). Also the mega epics Ramayana (It was composed by sage Valmiki (later there were other versions/interpretations on Ramayana like ones by Kamban,Tulsidas etc. Other south east asian countries like Thailand,Indonesia, Philipene,Burma,Laos,Malay etc have their own versions of Ramayana. The Jains, Buddhists have their own versions), hundreds probably thousands of years prior to the Mahabharata. Dates vary for the Ramayana.Some say it occurred in the 7th or 8th century BC, while some have given the Ramayana date as 4th century BC. But this is very much in contention.Some indologists on basis of astronomical data maintain that Ramayana actually took place 9000 years back) and Mahabharata (It was composed by Sage Vyasa. There is a lot of debate over the dating of the Mahabharata. The dates given are very different as per different sources: 1400-1000 BC-Puranic literature, 10th cen BC-Basham, 836 BCE- BB Lal,3130-3102 BC-Aryabhata,2449BC-Varahamira).
The Upanishads were initially called Vedanta, but later Vedanta came to be known as an interpretation of the Upanishads. Lots of sub schools of thought sprang from  Vedanta like Advaita (non dualism/monism-ones soul ‘atma’  is not distinct from the supreme soul ‘brahmana’ and the goal of life is to unify these souls), Dvaita (dualism- atma and brahmana /parmatma are separateThe bramhana is seen as having a personality and worshipped according to his sect viz Vishnu,Shiva,Shakti etc),Vishishtadvaita,Dvaitadvaita,Shuddhadvaita,Yoga etc
Amongst the latter texts were Panini’s classical sanskrit ( A book on grammar. The sanskrit we know today is derived from Panini's book) composed post 500 BC and the Puranas, composed  post first millennium AD.  Puranas like the Vishnu Purana, Bhagwat PuranaVayu Purana also give us a lot of insight into the Vedic period.
These ancient texts of the Vedic civilisation are a repository of knowledge covering various arts and sciences.Complex surgical menthods, mathematical theorems, theories on physics, chemistry and atomic science, metallurgical methods are a part of their repertoire.  They are an testimony to the fact that the Vedic civilsation was very advanced and somehow this vast knowledge remained hiddden from the rest of the world until scientific discoveries were made in the western world (since post medeival times). 

Varna system : The Aryan society practiced what came to be known as the Varna system. It was mainly a division of professions which eventually created the caste system in India. The basic classification in the Vedic society were: the brahmanas or the imbibers of of the holy scriptures and its teachers, the kshatriyas or the warrior class that defended the region and its people, the vaishyas or the trader class and  the shudras or the labourer class. Initially all Aryans were considered ‘Dvija’ or twice born and non Aryans were ‘Advija’.Later, the  first three classes amongst the Aryans came to be ‘dvija’. The second birth being after a holy thread initiation ceremony called ‘upanayana’. For Non Aryans to be included in the Aryan fold, they had to undergo an ceremony called ‘Vratayastoma yagna’.
As per a Rigvedic hymn, the Brahmana was the mouth of God, the Rajanyas/Kshatriyas were his arms, the Vaishya formed his thighs, while the Shudras were his feet.
It is believed that the people enslaved by the Aryans were later added to the shudra fold. They were mostly the non believers of the Vedas viz.the Dasas,Mlechas(barbarians),the Panis(cattle lifters) . Later they came to form an untouchable, a more impure class called chandalas, nishada etc.
Earlier there were instances when the Shudras could attain the status of even the Brahmanas. Sage Valmiki was one such example (In many stories he is described as a shudra who later became a brahmana. Note: However in his epic Ramayana itself Valmiki describes himself as a descendent of Sage Prachetsa). Then there is an example of Sage Vishwamitra, a kshatriya turning into a brahmana, Sage Vyasa the compiler of the vedas was born of a slave woman. 
But later the caste system became very rigid and some amongst the shudras were denounced to the lowest echelons of Aryan society. Ages later they came to be known as the Dalits or Asprushta.
Note: Brahmanism was initially a choice of life and a more austere one at that (devoted to meditation,learning and teaching). The people who could not or would not follow the strict rigours of the Brahmanic life (Rishis) migrated to other professions like Kshatriya,Vaishya,Shudra. But with passage of time Brahmanism started being considered as a birthright and heridatory in nature. 
It is to be noted that the Aryan religion can be called Vedic religion or popularly 'Sanatana dharma' (eternal law) but not Hinduism as we know it today. Hinduism was never a composite religion. Hinduism as such is a western name given to actually what were diverse philosophies that included Vedic religion (where Vedas were considered supreme),Shaivism (Shiva is the supreme god),Bhagwatism (Vishnu is the supreme god), Smartism (all major hindu deities are forms of a main god the brahmana),Advaitism(monism),Dvaitism(dualism), Tantra( esoteric worship of Shakti and Shiva),Nastika/Charvaka/Samkhya/Mimansa (atheist philosophies),Ajivika,Jatilaka,Pantheism (god does not exist separately but is synonymous with the nature and the universe), Panentheism (God exists as a entity in all living forms besides maintaining a separate presence) etc.
Note1. Astika simply means belief in the Vedas as Nastika means non belief.But belief in the Vedas was later considered synonymous to belief in god.
Note2:Shaivism and Bhagwatism gained popularity because of their non adherence to many principles of vedic brahanism and their belief in social equality.
The early Aryan society was not very dogmatic and all philosophies coexisted and were debated.
Note:The main concept of life in Hinduism is based on the beliefs of Karma (deeds),Samsara(stages of life),Yoga(meditation) and moksha (salvation).Moksha can be achieved by Karmayoga(right actions),Bhaktiyoga(right devotion),Rajayoga (right meditation) and Jnanayoga (right knowledge).
The word ‘Hinduism’ is derived from the word ‘Hindu’ which meant the people living beyond the river ‘Indu or Sindhu’(Indus). The people from the far west of India (Persia and beyond) referred to the people of ‘Indu’ as ‘hindu’.

Jainism and Buddhism In the last millennium BC offshoots from the Vedic line of thinking emerged. They were mainly Jainism started by Vardhamana Mahavira and Buddhism started by Gautama Buddha. They negated the hegemony of the Vedas and the brahmanas of Vedic Brahmanism and adopted newer customs and rituals. Both stressed on non violence , purity of thought , control over desires, meditation and shunned the varna (caste) system. These gained popularity mainly amongst the non brahmana community and were patronized by several kings as well. Later a chasm came into being and Jainism (Note.Jain is derived from the word Jina which means a conquerer of ones passions) was divided into sects called Digambara (viz. followers of Bhadrabahu and the original teachings of Mahavira, the monks renounced all materialistic things including garments) and Shvetambara(viz. followers of Sthulabhadra, the monks were dressed in white and even wore a mask to cover their mouths). Similarly post the death of Gautama,Buddhism segregated into Hinayana (those that believed in the original teachings of Buddha and did not venerate Buddha as God) , Mahayana (propogated by Nagarjuna,Asanga,Vasubandhu etc, worshipped Buddha as God and believed in the Bodhisatvas, viz. icarnations of Buddha who had not attained Buddhahood) and Vajrayana (which added tantric/esoteric beliefs to Buddhism).
Note: Jainism spread in the East mainly Bihar,Bengal,Orissa and the west in Gujrat,Rajasthan and in the south in Karnataka. But eventually they reconciled with the concepts of induism and even adopted several hindu gods. Though Mahavira remained skeptical about the concept of God, his latter followers came to accept Mahavira as a gods incarnation along with twenty three of his predecessor tirthanaras (prophets). Note, only two of these tirthankaras viz Mahavira and Parshwa born 2-3 centuries earlier have a historical basis, rest are a part of mythology.
Buddhism spread to all corners of the world. While Hinayana found followers in China,Japan,Afghanistan,central asia etc, Mahayana spread in Sri Lanka and South east asia.Vajrayana came to be followed in Bengal,Bihar in India,Tibet,Mongolia etc.
However in due course the extreme pacifism in Jainism and Buddhism, the inherent corruption in their monastic order,deviation from several of their core principles etc led to the decline of Jainism/Buddhism (pacifist tendencies led to a decrease in the martial skills of the kingdoms that practised Buddhism and Jainism and made them vulnerable to external attacks) as also the fact that several reformist movements (advaita etc) began within the original hinduism iteslf that led to revival of hinduism to the detriment of Jainism and Buddhism.

Historical representation of Indian mythology: Incidently much of India’s history of the early ages comes under the section of Mythology. This is mainly because the early history was never really documented chronologically but rather passed on orally from generation to generation. As a result it has ended up with a lot of interpolations , fantasy, superhuman attributes to certain individuals which in all probababillity is fiction and often transcends logic.  However here is an attempt to present this mythological age in a logical form weaning out its fantasy part.

Note: The ancient scriptures mention time period as 'Yuga' - 12000 years which is further divided into Satya yuga - 4800 years,Treta Yuga-3600 years,Dwaapar Yuga- 2400 years and Kalki Yuga- 1200 years)

The major tribes prevalent during the Rigvedic times were the Bharatas,Matsyas, Krivis,Tritsus,Sviknas,Ayogava etc and the group of five tribes called the Turvas,Yadus,Purus,Druhyus and Anus. Their kings performed various sacrifices like the Rajasuya yagna and the Ashwamedha yagna(the horse sacrifice) that heralded their hegemony over others. The Bharata kings were amongst the most powerful in those times, as were the Matsyas.
Later new tribes evolved with the old ones either fading or merging into new ones. Amongst the most prominent of these new tribes were the Kurus,the Panchalas, the Kasis,the Kosalas, the Videhas etc. The primeval king of the Aryans was said to be Manu Vaivasta (said to have descended from Raja Barhi. His eleventh desccndent was Prachet. His son was Daksha who was married to Aditi. His son was Vivaswan, the father of Vaivasta Manu. 

Note1: the scriptures mention many kings with the name Manu viz. Prior to Vaivasta Manu-Swayambhu Manu or the self born. The name Manu is ofcourse very similar to the word Manav or the man (Sawambhu Manu = the self born man), Swarochis Manu,Uttam Manu,Raivat Manu,Chakshus Manu : Post Vaivasta Manu- Savarni Manu,Bhautya Manu,Rochya Manu,,Merusavarni Manu,etc).

Note2: There is a mention of a great deluge and Vaivasta Manu, his wife and sapta (7) rishis were the survivors. Manu is said to have taken them to safely in a boat (filled with varieties of grains,animals etc) with the help of a whale.Manu apparently settled near the Himalayas.This story very much resembles the Biblical story of Noah's ark.

Manu was said to have nine sons (Ikshwaku,Dhrushnu,Sharyati,Narishya,Pranshu,Nabhagarishta,Karush,Prushagra. Note 1: Mahabharata mentions a name Ven instead of Pranshu. Note2: There is also a mention of a tenth son of Manu viz.Nedishta, the founder of the Vaishali kingdom) and a daughter(Ila). He divided his empire amongst his children. His eldest son Ikshwaku got Madhyadesha (U.P-Uttar Pradesh) as his share and he started the Suryavansha or the solar dynasty. From Manus daughter Ila (some sources call her a hermaphrodite.She was married to Budha)sprang the Chandravansha or Lunar dynasty.


Note1:Nabhagarishtas sons became merchants (ancestors of Vaishyas), Karushas sons became warriors (kshatriyas),Prushagras sons did menial jobs(thus his descendents are considered shudras).Pranshu's son was Prajapati, Narishyas descendents were the Shakas,Sharyati had a son Aanart (founder of the Aanarta kingdom whose capital was Kushasthali or Dwarka) and a daughter Sukyanya (married to Sage Chyavan).

Ikshwaku’s son Nemi started the kingdom of Videha. His capital Mithila was named after his son Mithi whose descendent Janak(a.k.a Siradhwaj) was the father of Sita (a.k.a Janaki or Maithili viz.wife of Rama, hero of the epic Ramayana). Ikshwakus other son Kukshi ruled Ayodhya (Sage Vashistha became the head priest of this kingdom).Thus Rama and his wife Sita technically had the same ancestor Ikshwaku.

Note:Kukshis son was Vikukshi aka Shahaad.Vikukshis son was Kukustha a person of great physical strength.He used to fight battles mounted on a bull.
Kukustha (king of Ayodhya) was a contemporary of Nahusha (king of Pratishthana).

Note1: Ayodhya line: Kukushtha-Ven/Baana-Anena-Prithu-Vishwarandhi-Chandra-Yuvanashwa (killed descendent of Druhyu)-........Pratishthan line: Puru-Janmejeya-Prachinvan- Sanyati (married to Kritaviryas daughter from Yadu line)-Sahasraarjuna = ref.Vartak

Ila’s son Pururavas Aila started the kingdom of Pratishthana(modern day Allahabad in UP). One of his sons was Shashabindu  became ruler of the Bahlika kingdom viz Baltic kingdom. 

Note: Ila had other sons called Utkala (kingdom in eastern India), Gaya (Gaya kingdom) and Vinatshwala(kingdom in the west)

This kingdom expanded and his descendents further carved out separate principalities namely Kanyakubja(Kannauj started by Amawasu the other son of Pururavas. His descendent was Janhu who brought Ganga to earth (Ganga is therefore known as Janhavi). Vishwamitra,Parshuram were other descendents),Benares etc.Pururavas's eldest son Ayu's descendents were the Pandavas and Yadavas.
Yayati the great grandson of Pururavas was a great conquerer and came to be known as Samrat(emperor). He divided his empire amongst his five sons: Yadu,Turvasu,Druhyu,Anu and Puru.

Note:Yayati father was a great conquerer Nahusha.

Puru the youngest got the ancestral property, while Yadus kingdom lay near the rivers of Chambal,Betwa and Ken. Yadu’s descendents branched out as Haihayas and the Yadavas. The Yadavas defeated their cousins the Pururavas(descendents of Puru) and drove their other kins the Druhyus (descendents of Druhyu) towards Punjab 

(Note: Dr Vartak says that Yuvanashwa of Ayodhya line killed Angaarsetu of Druhyu line. Druhyu was son of Yayati and Sharmishta. Druhyu-Setu viz.son-Angaarsetu viz.son).

Meanwhile some descendents of Ikshwaku under Yuvanasva II (Kukshi), started a kingdom at Ayodhya (impregnable kingddom / fortified city). His son Maudhata expanded its regions. The Ikshwakus overran the Paurava,Kanyakubja and Druhyu kingdoms. The Druhyu king retired to the north and established his kingdom at Gandhara (Kandahar in Afghanistan). The Ayodhya kingdom spread till the Narmada valley.
Later, the Haihaya (from the Yadu line) kingdom gained prominence and overshadowed the Ayodhya kingdom. Their famous king Arjuna (Note. Not the principal character of the epic Mahabharata, but Kartavirya Arjuna , the son of Kritavirya) extended his territory from the Himalayas to the Narmada.
Apparently some brahmanas from their kingdom fell out with the Haihaya kings and had to flee to Madhyadesha. Their chief rishi Richika Aurva married the daughter of Gadhi, the king of Kanyakubja (It was Gadhi’s son Vishwaratha who became the great brahmana Vishwamitra, the guru (teacher) of the Ayodhya clan and sired a son Jamadagni. Apparently Jamadagni was killed by Kartavirya Arjuna (a.k.a Sahasra-arjuna - descendent of Yadu viz son of Yayati), after a dispute over the cow Kamadhenu, which Arjuna desired,  but which Jamadagni had refused to part with. However Jamadagni’s son Rama  avenged his fathers death by slaying Arjuna in collusion with the Ayodhya and Kanyakubja kings (Note, this Rama is not the principal character of the epic Ramayana, but rather the warrior sage, more famously known as Parshurama, also hailed as Lord Vishnu’s incarnation. Rama was called Parshurama because he was the weilder of the axe ‘Parshu’ of Lord Shiva).

Note1: We often find characters like Ravana, Parshurama,Vishwamitra etc transcending generations. Its often interpreted in mythology as if these persons were immortal. but this is never plausible in science.Hence rationalists (like Dr Vartak) have assumed that there were more than one persons by the above names (possibly that persons descendents).Hence there may have been a Ravana I, Ravana II.....Ravana Xth. Hence the tenth Ravana may have been interpreted as the ten headed one.
Note2: One has to understand that 100 years in Treatayuga constitute 1 year of our times. Hence if it is written that one lived so for 500 years, it actually means he lived so for 5 years in reality.

But the Haihaya kingdom did not wane after Arjuna’s death, but on the contrary continued to grow from the gulf of Cambay to the Ganga Yamuna Doab and Benares. The Haihayas extracted revenge on the Ayodhya and Kanyakubja kings for helping Rama by defeating them in war. The Ayodhya king had to flee and seek refuge in the forests, where he died leaving behind a son Sagara.
Sagara grew up to be a great conquerer who crushed the Haihayas and regained the Ayodhya glory. Alongside the Ayodhya kingdom, two more kingdoms regained their independence viz. Videha (also from the Ishwaku line), Kasi (from Madhyadesha),Anavas (descendents of Anu, the son of Yayati), Yadavas at Vidharba( from the Yadu line that ran parallel to the Haihayas, their cousins).
There was infact a king amongst the Yadus called Vidharba , after whom the Vidharba kingdom was named.His grandson Chedi founded the Chedi kingdom,south of Yamuna.
The Anava kingdom split into Anga, Vanga,Kalinga and Suhma (all in eastern India). The capital of Anga was called Malini and later Champawati or Champa (Bhagalpur) after their king,Champa.
The Pauravas (from the Yayati line that ran parallel along with their kin lines of the Yadavas,Haihayas,Anuvas) who were earlier defeated by Sagara rose after his death. Their famous king Dushyanta regained the glory of this dynasty. His son ,the famous king Bharata (son from Shakunatala) also started his own line, from whom rose the cousins, Kauravas and the Pandavas who fought the great war of Kurukshetra (mentioned in the epic Mahabharata). Bharata’s fifth successor Hastin established the kingdom of Hastinapura (ruled by Kauravas).

Note: Yayati had two wives, mainly Devyani (daughter of Sage Shukracharya) and Sharmishta (daughter of a Asura king). From Devyani , Yayati begot two sons Yadu (ancestor of Sahasraarjuna and Vasudev Krishna) and Turvasu (ancestor of Marut king whose daughter Sammata who married King Sughor , the son of Ili and begot Dushyant the ancestor of the Puru/Kuru vansh - Dushyant:Shakuntala fame)and from Sharmishta: Druhyu (his great grandson Gandhar formed Gandhara kingdom viz possibly Kandahar in present day Afghanistan /central Asia), Anu (formed the kingdom of Greece- Anu= Anvayan=Ionia= Yavana ++ refer Out of India theory) and Puru (heir to Yayatis throne).

Meanwhile Ayodhya rose again under Bhagiratha, the great grandson of Sagara. However during the reign of Kalmashapada, trouble brewed for Ayodhya after the king killed two sons of the great sage Vashishta. Soon the kingdom got split into two, until Dilipa II reunited the kingdom (the kingdom got the name Kosala with Ayodhya becoming its capital). Dilipa II was followed by his successors Raghu,Aja,Dasharatha and Rama (the hero of the epic Ramayana, revered as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu).
As mentioned in the Ramayana, the virtuous Lord Rama was exiled by his step mother Kaikeyi to the forests of Dandakaranya, so that her son Bharat could become the king.  Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Laxmana were thus  banished for fourteen years. During this period Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, the asura king of Lanka in revenge for the humiliation Laxmana meted out to his sister Shurpanakha. Apparently Laxmana had cut off Shurpankha’s nose after she dared to attack Sita. In the battle, Rama emerged victorious and  Ravana was killed. Shortly afterwards, the fourteen years of his exile too ended and Rama returned to Ayodhya , where he was crowned king. Later Rama was succeeded by his son Kusha.
After Lord Rama, the kingdom of Ayodhya ceased to play any important role in history, although it had a number of kings that ruled the kingdom for centuries. Their last king Vrihadbala was said to have been killed by Abhimanya, the valourous son of Arjuna (the principal character of the epic Mahabharata).
Meanwhile, the Yadavas who were divided into several minor kingdoms, rose under their king Madhu, who established his sway from Yamuna to Gujrat. His descendents came to be known as Madhavas. The Yadava kingdom (after their king Satavata) again got divided amongst his sons. Amongst them, the Andhakas at Mathura and Vrishnis at Dwarka gained importance.
The kingdom of north Panchala which was also on the ascendency rose under their king Sudas, who defeated a confederacy of hostile kings. Later he also came in conflict with the Pauravas and drove them out of Hastinapura. But under their king Kuru, the Pauravas rose again and wrested back Hastinapura and also captured the kingdom of north Panchhala. Their sway extended beyond Prayaga.
Kuru also changed the name of Kurujangala to Kurukshetra (this was the place where the famous war of Mahabharata was later fought between his descendents Kauravas and the Pandavas).
Vasu, a descendent of Kuru conquered the kingdom of Chedi, extended his conquests to Magadha in the east and Matsya in the northwest. Vasu divided the kingdom amongst his five sons. Brihadratha the eldest got Magadha. Jarasandha was the most well known king of this line. He extended his kingdom as far as Mathura, where Kansa, the Yadava king accepted him as his overlord and was also made his son in law. However Kansa was killed by his nephew Krishna (who is venerated as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu). This roused Jarasandha’s wrath and the Yadavas under Krishna and his brother Balrama , had to migrate to Dwarka. Krishna was later to take the help of Pandavas to slay Jarasandha.. Meanwhile, the Kauravas, descendents of Kuru had gained prominence in Hastinapura under king Shantanu( Pratipas son). Later his grandsons Pandu and Dhritarashtra were to become kings at Hastinapura. Pandus sons were the Pandavas, while Dhritarashtras sons came to be known as Kauravas (after their ancestor Kuru-Dhritarashtra being the king, his sons got the name of his family line). Later a war erupted between the Pandavas (Yudhishtira,Bhima,Arjuna,Nakula and Sahadeva) and the Kauravas after Duryodhana(a.k.a Suyodhana)son of Dhritarashtra , refused to share their kingdom with his cousins. Pandavas had earlier assisted Krishna in slaying Jarasandha (Jarasandha the powerful magadhan king had driven away the Yadavas from their homeland Mathura, probably in retaliation for the killing of his son in law Kamsa by the Yadava prince Vasudeva Krisha), hence Krishna and his Yadavas of Dwarka (region where Yadavas migrated) sided with the Pandavas during the war. In fact it was Lord Krishna who actually strategized the war for the Pandavas and even assisted them in gaining support from friendly kingdoms. Thus the Matsyas,Chedis,Karushas,Kasis,South Panchala,Western Magadha etc fought from the Pandava side, while the kingdoms of Punjab etc fought from the Kaurava side.
The Kurukshetra war was won by the Pandavas and Yudhistira the eldest Pandava became the king at Hastinapura. He ruled for some years before abdicating the throne and retiring to the forests, along with his other brothers. Arjunas grandson Parikshit (son of his martyr son Abhimanyu) was made king.After him there were around thirty more kings ruling Hastinapura including his son Janmejeya.
After Lord Krishnas death, the Yadavas of Dwarka were destroyed in a fratricidal war.
Post the Kurukshetra war, the Pauravas of Hastinapura became the dominant power in the country. However other kingdoms like Magadha (under Brihadrata), Ayodhya,Kasi,Videha etc did survive.
From here onwards starts the historical period of India.
Early History of India
By 6th century BC, the Vedic tribes (Janapadas: Jana=people,tribe and pada= foot) transformed into sixteen great Mahajanapadas (Maha=great) viz. Magadha (S.Bihar),Kashi (Varanasi in UP),Kosala(Awadh in UP),Anga (Eastern India),Vriji (N.Bihar),Malla (North central India),Panchala (Budaun,Farukabad,UP),Matsya (Jaipur,Alwar,Bharatpur in Rajasthan),Surasena (Mathura in UP),Ashmaka (south of Vindhya mountains,Maharashtra),Avanti(MP),Gandhara(Kandahar in Afghanistan) and Kamboja (Hindukush region in Afghanistan).
Eventually four major kingdoms became the most powerful viz. Kosala,Kashi,Magadha and the Vriji confederacy.
In the first half of the last mllenium BC,Magadha was ruled by king Bimbisara of the Haryanaka dynasty. He was murdered by his own son Ajatshatru who then ascended the throne. Ajatashatru subdued Kosala,Kashi and Vriji and became the undisputed king of northern India. As destiny would have it,Ajatashatru was also killed by his own son for the Magadha throne. This history of parricide was repeated amongst the successive kings (Udayabhadra,Anirudha,Munda,Nagadasaka)until the dynasty was overthrown amidst a popular rebellion, after which their minister Shishunaga became the king. However Shishunaga (some say his son,Kalasoka was the one murdered-as per L Prasad. While according to some sources there were at least five kings-sons of Kalasoka,  ruling Magadha after him viz.Nandivardhan,Kshemadharman,Kshemajit,Bimbisara II,Mahanandin),was  murdered(as per R Thapar) by an usurper , Mahapadma Nanda, a shudra by birth who started the Nanda dynasty. Under the Nandas, Magadha emerged as a very powerful empire. Most of the surrounding kingdoms either merged into Magadha or ended up as its vassals. This position of Magadha remained for centuries to come. There were said to be eight kings (Pandhuka,Panghupati,Bhutapala,Rashtrapala,Govishankara,Dashasidhkhaka,Kaivarta,Dhanananda) after Mahapadma Nanda.
Later the region of Afghanistan came under the Achemenid rule of Cyrus, the king of Persia.
In 326 BC, after defeating the Achemenid king Darius, the joint armies of Macedonia and Greece marched under Alexander into the Indian subcontinent acquiring one small kingdom after another. His most famous battle of Hydapses with King Puru (Porus) of Jhelum region is vividly documented.
However Alexanders victory march halted at Punjab after which he had to turn back, following the reluctance of his army to march any further. It may also have been so because beyond Punjab lay the realm of the mighty Magadhan army and Alexanders soldiers were too tired to take on such a powerful adversary.
(Note: The army of Alexander was referred to as the Yavanas, probably because of their homeland in the region of Ionia).
After Alexander return his satraps couldn’t retain their control over India . An upstart called Chandragupta Maurya (according to some sources the son of Mahanandin of the shishunaga dynasty)had succeeded in overthrowing Dhananada, the last Nanda king of Magadha. Chandragupta Maurya  soon pushed back the Greeks beyond present day Afghanistan.
Chandragupta Mauryan and his descendents were destined to become the emperors of  a large empire whose boundaries began from Afghanistan and ended up with Karnataka in southern India.

Penguin History of Early India by Romila Thapar(Penguin books), Studies in Indian History by L Prasad (Bookhive publishers), Ancient India by R C Majumdar (Motilal Banarasidas publishers),Vatav Ramayan by Dr P V Vartak (printed by Amriti enterprises).