Classical India and China were among one of the oldest and most fascinating civilizations that have existed during the Classical period in 1000 B.C.E-600 B.C.E. As both civilizations developed, they both showed significant uniqueness. In fact, India and China shared many political, cultural, and economical similarities. But despite their similarities, they too acquired distinctive qualities throughout the same categories.
To begin with, India and China’s political systems had their differences, but they also had significant similarities. In China they had a centralized government, meaning they were ruled by an emperor of a royal family.
These emperors controlled China through a bureaucratic system. But before a person can be part of the bureaucracy, they first have to take a civil service exam because the government was run by the civil service. This test was really hard and requires a lot of studying. Most of the people who took the exam were the rich people because they could afford tutors or go to universities for them to study.
The emperor divided his empire into 36 small provinces, and in each provinces has a pair of government officials in charge of it. The reason why there were two officials is so they can keep an eye on each other.
The place you get in the civil service depends on the score you get on the exam. The way this whole thing works is that the empire gets broken down in half with two officials for each, and then the provinces gets broken into smaller provinces again with two officials in charge of it. And the unit goes smaller and smaller, each unit reporting to the official above from them. These levels of officials were paid very well. The reason they had set this up, was so they would be able to control every minute of every single person’s lives. This evidence is important because this shows a major difference between India and China. Both civilizations governed differently from one another. Moreover, the Chinese believed that the Mandate of Heaven granted the emperors the right to rule. Also they believed that when a dynasty fell, it was because that ruler became corrupt.
They say that the Mandate of Heaven takes the gift of power and gives it to another. The emperors were at the top of the social structure above with the scholars whom were considered to be great value to society. In China’s social structure, the merchants were considered to be on the bottom because they were seen as people who were out for profit and did not contribute to society. Below the merchants were the unskilled people(mean people), although they were at the bottom of the social ladder, they were still able to have contact with the higher classes. On the other hand, India’s rulers were aristocratic kings. This meant that the title was hereditary. But unlike China’s emperors, India’s kings had limited power. While China’s emperors had divine rights, the kings in India had limited power for they had republican government, meaning they were not lead by hereditary monarch but by the people.
The people elected representatives to rule in their behalf. Moving on, India’s kings weren’t the ones who unified and gave structure to the empire, it was their caste system. Unlike in China, it was the emperor’s ruling ability that unified the empire. In contrast, there was another class above the kings, they were the priests. Also, unlike the China, merchants have a higher respect because they make a lot of money in trade. But by contrast to China, the lower class people called the “untouchables”. They were prohibited to talk, touch, or come in contact with people from a higher caste system, they had a more complex system and strict system than China.. In fact, they were so strict an individual can almost never move up a class. It may seem like all that China and India were differences, but they also had similarities. They were both patriarchal societies, in other words, male dominated. Women weren’t allowed many rights because they were practically owned by men. Women weren’t allowed to own land, file divorce, or anything. Women back then were like property.
Culturally India had and still has two major religions which were Hinduism and Buddhism. Aryans brought a belief system which later on evolved into Hinduism. It did not have any particular founder. Hinduism is often thought to be polytheistic, but they really only believe in one god, Brahama. Brahama was believed to be an entity inhabiting everything that exists. Many Indians preferred to follow Hinduism than Buddhism. Buddhism, unlike
Hinduism has a founder, his name was Gautama Siddhartha. He started of by pondering on what caused people to suffer. He tried to find an answer and he eventually found his answer by meditating under a tree. And that’s when he developed the concept of Buddhism. Buddhism focuses on the suffering of people and how it can be prevented. On the other hand, China had three major belief systems. They were Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism. Confucianism was a belief/ philosophy founded by a man named Confucious.
Confucianism told people that if they live their lives virtuously and accordingly, they will then be rewarded no matter what class the person is in. Its purpose is to try to keep order in society. Next there was Legalism in which another philosophy that emphasizes strict obedience toward the legal system. It was a philosophy that did not address questions like the purpose of life. Last there was Daoism, this is a religion that was more spiritual. Daoism embraces nature’s harmony and mysteries founded by Lao-Tse. Despite the religions differences, both India and China believed in the existence of supernatural forces. For instance, they believed that supernatural forces controlled their crops’ growth and weather. All the evidence about China and India’s belief/religion is important because this shows that India has a religious beliefs while China had a belief system.
Also, due to both of the civilizations’ religious beliefs, they emphasized their devotion to their respected religion by creating art based on the belief/religion. This evident where in China they created Confucian temples all over China, they also created paintings and sculptures representing Confucianism. While in India they also built holy temples, and statues for worship. The creation of sculptures and paintings weren’t the only achievements made by both civilizations. China, developed a set of Five Classics that was written during the early part of the Zhou dynasty. After that, during the Han dynasty, the innovation of the seismograph was created. On the other hand, in India, they invented the number system we use today, and this includes the number zero. Indians also created the decimal system, along with negatives, square roots, sines, and the accurate pi. Without them we wouldn’t have the subject math today.
Last but not the very least, is the economy of both civilizations. The civilizations were both settled along two major rivers. China settled along the Yellow river and India along the Indus river. The river provided water for the people to allow them to cultivate land for agriculture. In fact both civilizations were agricultural based. The river also allowed them to trade among with other civilizations. In fact this was how religions and diseases were spread. Although in China, they didn’t do much trading because their geographical features made it impossible to travel far. China’s geographical features also isolated them. This isolation gave the Chinese a chance to develop all on their very own.
Due to their isolation, they were also able to create everything they developed all on their own for instance, a language, writing system, and other great innovations they have made. Not only that, their geographical features also protected them from invasions of other civilizations. But eventually, later on, the Chinese created the silk road that enable them to trade with other civilizations. While China isn’t so big on trade, for India, trading is very important. Trade is where the get most of their income.
Unlike China, India, has connections with other neighboring civilizations for trade. Some of the products they traded were cotton, silk, and salt. Trade made India very wealthy. But due, to all their connections, they couldn’t help but get influenced by others, like for, their religion, they got the idea of Hinduism from the Aryans. This evidence is important because this allows you to compare the difference on how differently both China and India developed. The geographical features of both civilizations played a huge part on how they both developed.
In conclusion both India and China both showed many differences, but also showed political, cultural, and economical similarities in the Classical period during 1000 B.C.E.- 600 B.C.E. Both civilizations prospered during their times but they both also failed at some point. Both civilizations developed very differently due to their geographical features. China was isolated and India had great contact with other civilizations. But eventually both developed greatly in their own ways.