Timeline Description: Hinduism is the primary religion of South Asia, believed to be the result of a gradual combination of various ancient Indian cultures. Followers believe the concepts of dharma and karma, and the religion breaks into various denominations, including Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism.
|2500 BC||The Indus River Valley civilization begins to develop(c. 2500 BCE).
The first evidence points to the Indus River Valley civilization developing around 2500 BCE. Archaeological evidence suggests that early Hindu practice begins here.
|1600 BC||The Aryan invasion begins(c. 1600 BCE).
The Aryans invade the Indus River Valley around 1600 BCE. This brings the Sanskrit language to the region and drastically influences Hinduism, which is developing at this time.
|1500 BC||The Vedic Age begins(c. 1500 BCE).
The Vedic Age, the period in which the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, the Vedas, are written, begins. This period signals the rise of large, urbanized areas and the shramana movements, which include Jainism and Buddhism.
|800 BC||The major Upanishads are written(c. 800 BCE).
The eleven major Upanishads are written around 800 BCE, and these become fundamental texts of Hinduism. These introduce the ideas of reincarnation and karma, that those who are righteous in the current life will be reborn in a better life until they eventually reach Nirvana, or the holy bliss.
|500 BC||The Epics and Puranas are written(c. 500 BCE).
The Epics, which chronicle history of mortal men, and the Puranas, which chronicle the history of celestial figures, are written around 500 BCE. These signal the beginning of devotional Hinduism, in which followers commit themselves to one deity, particularly Shiva or Vishnu, though Devi is popular as well.
|320 BC||The Maurya Empire is founded(c. 320 BCE).
Chandragupta founds the Maurya Empire in the Indian subcontinent around 320 BCE, which goes on to become one of the world's largest empires in its time. Hindu ministers, including Chanakya, initially introduce Hinduism as the major religion of the empire, but under Ashoka's leadership, the empire later embraces Buddhism.
|320||The Gupta Empire is founded(c. 320 CE).
Around 320 CE, Maharaja Sri Gupta founds the Gupta Empire, which covers much of the Indian subcontinent. It ushers in an era of peace and prosperity that allows Hindu culture to stabilize and spread.
|500||The Gupta Empire falls(c. 500).
Overrun by the invading Hun, the Gupta Empire fragments into various weaker entities around 500.
|1498||Vasco de Gama arrives in southern Asia.
Vasco de Gama's arrival in southern Asia in 1498 signals the beginning of European's involvement in India. He is quickly followed by missionaries from Portugal.
|1600||The Hindu Renaissance begins(c. 1600).
The Hindu Renaissance begins around 1600. Scholars focus on modernistic interpretations of the sacred texts and social reform.
|1617||The British East India Company wins trading rights in the Mughal empire.
Hoping to make money trading with India, the British East India Company wins trading rights on the fringe of the Mughal empire in 1617. As the Mughal empire declines, the East India Company’s influence in India grows steadily.
|August 2, 1858||Parliament puts India directly under control of the British crown.
Parliament ends the rule of the East India Company and places India directly under control of the British crown on August 2, 1858. India is now governed by colonial rule, with British officials ruling in the name of the queen and holding top positions. Britain slows the reforms that so angered Hindus and Muslims, but continues to develop India for its own economic benefit.
|1894||The Vedanta Society is formed.
Formed by Vivekananda in 1894, the Vedanta Society promotes Hinduism as a religion in the west, and argues for India's integration as a single nation.
|1920||Mahatma Gandhi launches a campaign of noncooperation(Summer 1920).
Indian lawyer Mahatma Gandhi launches a two-year campaign of noncooperation beginning in 1920. He encourages Indians to leave British institutions, return British honors, and practice self-reliance. While Gandhi is forced to stop the campaign upon his arrest and imprisonment in 1922, he goes on to become the most recognized leader of the Indian nationalist movement.
|June 1947||Britain agrees to grant India independence.
After World War II, Britain finally agrees to grant India independence. However, the Muslim League, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, insists that the Muslim minority have its own separate state, Pakistan. Britain decides to partition the subcontinent into two states: Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India. This causes massive migration and death as members of the two religious groups travel to their new states.