The Empires of PersiaThe people who originally occupied Persia migrated from India many years ago. Due to their interactions with Indians, these original Persians spoke a language known as indo-European tongues. They were related and also spoke a language close to Aryans who could be termed as their long distant cousins and who also originated from India. There were four major dynasties that existed, evolved and became what the modern Persia is. These include Achaemids (558-330 B.C.E.), the Seleucids (323-83 B.C.E.), the Parthians (247-224 C.E.), and the Sasanids (224-651 224-651 C.E.). They were strong and did their best to rest influenced by the nearby Mesopotamia. However, despite their imperial ruling traditional the four dynasties of Persia were colonized by Mesopotamia, Babylon and Syria. However, this experience made them strong and provided an opportunity for the Persians to collaborate with Medes in the sixth century and thus form a powerful martial society under the leadership of Cyrus the Achaemid. This society became the first majestic or royal empire in history.
After taking up leadership of the new and the very first majestic society or empire, Cyrus capitalized on two important mission. The first one was to unify the first Persian empire; Achaemid empire. The second mission was to expand and grow the empire by conjuring the nearby kingdoms/ empires. Cyrus was an origin of Southwestern Persia, which is today known as Iran. Through determination to achieve his second mission he conquered the kingdom of Lydia in Anatolia in 546 B.C.E. as well as Afghanistan, Babylonia and some borders of Egypt by 539 B.E.C. Unfortunately, he was murdered in 530 B.C.E before he could realize his dream to expand the kingdom further by conquering Europe.
Cyrus’s mission to expand the empire was succeeded by Darius, who ruled the empire from 521 to 486 B.C.E. He just like his successor expanded the kingdom to the east and west by conquering another kingdom. One of the factors attributed to his success administration. He was skilled as an administrator. He also appointed skilled administrators to help him with administration issues. These people held the positions and titles such as ministers, diplomats, religious leaders, advisors among other bureaucratic leaders.. he centralized the administration process so that he could gain a better control of everything. He not only concentrated in expanding the kingdom but also developing new systems to help improve its operations. For instance, through his leadership he implemented a sophisticated network of communication to make sure that the diverse people in his empire and who spoke in different languages were well led. He also introduced a tax collection system that was undertaken by tax collectors. He engaged in the building of important structures necessary for the administration of the empire. To strengthen the administration of the empire, Darius divided it into 23 areas and called them districts. Skilled people headed these districts to help him in administration, development and tax collection. He managed to keep his empire together by making use of large numbers of spies that reported to him whatever was happening on the ground. To boost the ease of administration, communication and movement he developed and introduced postal services, good road networks within the districts as well as towards the neighboring empires some of whom he had conquered.
Everything went on well during the time that Darius led the empire. This is attributed to his leadership and administrative skills. However, as soon as his successor Xerxes took power after Darius was murdered, problems began affecting the Persian empire. The new ruler came in with an aggressive mindset of ruling authoritatively, taking over or conquering all the rich lands and using strict policies to rule the empire. This led to the retaliation of the people of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece. They were not willing to sit and watch as their cultural centers, ancestral lands, and rich lands taken away from them by Xerxes and his empire. This brought about war and tensions over the years that followed after Xerxes took over power. For instance, a warfare between the Persian empire and Greeks occurred, and it lasted for more than 150 years. During this time, the Persian Empire began to weaken. In 334 B.C.E, Macedon under the leadership of a man known as Alexander took advantage of the situation and prepared and led an army of forty thousand men to conquer and take over the kingdom of Persia. The war took weakended the kingdom further and this lead to the dissolving of the empire of the Achaemids a few years later. Alexander took over the kingdom and pretended to be the rightful successor of Xerxes until he died in 323 B.C.E. Upon his death, Alexender left the kingdom in the hands of the Seleucids, Parthians, and Sasanids who went on to promote valuable structure of majestic administration introduced by the Achaemids.
The ruling of the empire of Persia has much in common with what happens today. For instance, leader stopped being selected and termed as successful because of how best they could fight. Instead, a new system was adopted whereby the leaders and administrators have to seek education and intelligence to hold their positions successfully. The kingdom/ empire of Persia influenced the administration and leadership of people from diverse culture, origin, social class and education. It also introduced the issue of bureaucratic and centralized leadership in the society. It is from the Persian Empire whereby the system of using coins and taxation policy was introduced to the world today. Through the introduction of coins, trade became easier. The issue of religion was also a contribution to the Persian Empire. People were encouraged to seek material gratification without being dishonest and by also doing the good and avoiding evil. For these reasons, the contributions of the Persian culture cannot be ignored.
State, Society, and the Quest for Salvation in India
India was not unified as an empire until 520 B.C.E. when it was conjured during the expansion of Persian Empire under the rule of Darrius. Before this, India had no uniform form of governance. However, after it was taken over by Persian Empire, it was introduced to the system of governance and administration that had been used in Persia for years. After the death of Darrius and the sabotage of the kingdom by Xerxes the entire kingdom including India was undertaken by Alexender the great. Though he did not rule for long, by the time died, Alexander left Indi without stable political governance. This is because his desire to conquer and take over the dynasty he destroyed the ruling state in the northern India. However, by 321 B.C.E Chandragupta Maurya took over, organized the northern Indi and Mauryan Empire. He was a successful leader of the Mauryan kingdom/empire. He used effective methods and strategies to ensure that the Empire succeeded in various important trade, development and administrative areas. He led his empire through the construction of a large empire through conquering other regions. He also promoted effective administrative system by spearheading law and order, trade, foreign networking with other strong empires, tax collection and agriculture among other things. In 297 B.C.E. Chandragupta Maurya’s son took over the ruling of the Empire. His son’s ruling was characterized by expansion of the empire as he conquered and included the southern India into the empire. By the time Chandragupta Maury’s grandson known as Ashoka the kingdom had grown large and strong. After taking over the kingdom, Ashoka continued the effective administrative and development strategy of the Empire of India. He continued to expand trade and agriculture. He built a good road system to improve these two sectors. He also introduced the irrigation system so as to grow further the agricultural sector. However, his death led to the decline and vanishing of the Empire of India in 231 B.C.E and 189 B.C.E respectively.
Even after the total collapse of the India Empire, India did not get into anarchy leadership system. Instead, it got divided into various regional kingdoms such as northwestern, northern and central kingdoms. The descendants/ heirs of Alexander the great who were also known as the Bactria started to rule the northwestern regional kingdom. Though they ruled for only a short time, they promoted cross-cultural interaction and trade between the northwestern region and Northern India especially the Gandhara region that was highly flourishing in terms of trade. Towards the end of the 2nd century, B.C.E. conquers of the nomadic lifestyle started to invade the northwestern kingdom of Bactria. Eventually the Kushans (one of the nomadic conquerors) succeeded in the conquest. The Kushans managed to rule a large part of the northern and central regions of Asia which included what is today called Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the central Ganges Valley. Throughout their rule, the Kushans promoted trade in these areas.
In 320 B.C.E., the Bactria Empire was replaced by the Gupta Empire, which was being led by a ruthless ruler known as Chandra Gupta. The main characteristic of Gupta dynasty was to unify most of the India just like the Mauryan Empire. Nevertheless, it focused most of its energy on local government and administration rather than on centralized rule. Education especially mathematics, astronomy and plastic surgery were among important masteries during the Gupta Empire ruling. This can be proved by the fact that Indian doctors mastered plastic surgery during this era. Also, mathematicians made important strides in calculating the value of Pi, the length of the solar system in days, advanced algebra, the invention of calculus.
Families and communities played important roles in India during the rule of Gupta Empire. It was so especially towards the end of the 4th Century and the beginning of the 5th century B.C.E. The main influence on family and community was the Indian caste system. The system defined a class, status and role of genders. For instance women automatically assumed the subordinate roles while men were the leaders both in the families and political circles. Patriarchy supremacy was common in India, and it was characterized by such events as arranged and forced child marriage. The most common classes that existed in India were Brahmin also known as priests, the warriors and aristocrats, the peasants and merchants, and the serfs. The caste system of classification continued as India continued to grow, develop and engage in more trade. The emergence of occupation further solidified the classes. As more traders and merchants continued to emerge and move into Indi from other people the merchants class became even more powerful and was given the responsibility to maintain law and order in the society. There emerged courts that were known as Jati. Abiding by the societal values, traditions and norms was something of great importance in India. The merchants or law keepers resolved any disputes and differences among the members of the society. They also advised and guided society issues. Anyone who did not abide by the law was termed as an outcast. He or she was excommunicated from the community and neglected. This forced him or her to take up lowly jobs like butcher jobs, leather tanning among others and thus automatically be classified on the lowest social status in the caste system.
India had an ancient traditional religion that was practiced by 5th and 6th centuries when some new religions and philosophies came into the region. The more the society grew, expanded and developed new social classes emerged. Indians attached high importance to social classes. The new social classes felt that the ancient religion was somehow different from their new interest that they adopted due to the new classes they now believed. Therefore, the new religions and philosophies were pursued to fulfill these new interests of the new social classes in India. Religions and sects such as Atheism, Buddhism, Jainism and new Hinduism emerged and were embraced in India. Jainism was highly practiced in India by 540 B.C.E. this religion did not agree with Indian caste status classification. It gave tough teachings such that not many people in India could comply with them except the monks. Another religion called Mahavira was also common. This was more of a philosophy that religion. Mahavira teachers believed that everything in the world including humans had a soul. Therefore, they encouraged people to believe and purify themselves for that their souls could be free of incarceration by bad karma. Buddhism was a religion that was started in India in 563 B.C.E. This religion was based on four fundamental teachings of life. It taught that life is full of sufferings, which are brought by desire. It also insisted that elimination of desires eliminates suffering and this help one achieve a state of blissfulness known as Nirvana. Hinduism was popular at the same time as Buddhism. The only difference is that Hinduism claimed to bring salvation to ordinary people.