Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ancient India Agriculture Assignment

Conner Lewis         12/1/14
Period 4

          Agriculture within the Indian sub-continent has many unique features not found in other agrarian societies. These features developed in order to help guide farmers and keep agriculture successful. They have been enveloped in both the culture and religion of the region for so long that often times their worldly purpose is forgotten. One of these features is the sacredness of cows, who are forbidden to be killed in Hinduism. This belief developed due to the drastic climate of India and the agricultural importance of cows. Many farmers would turn to slaughtering cows for meat during droughts and monsoons, however this action is extremely narrow-minded and only benefit the short term situation. Cows, who birth the oxen to move plows, also provide services such as manure for heat and construction as well as milk. These benefits are more useful in the long run than some meat is at the time. Fine times farmers without cows also cannot gain any more ox for their plows, meaning they lose the ability to farm. This is why Hinduism developed the sacred cow as a belief, to give a spiritual reason for farmers to not succumb to short sighted desires.
             All of the agricultural features in India are due to the geography of India, which can be split
into two very broad sections, the north and the south. The north, which extends from the Himalayas in the north and the Satpura Mountains in the south, is almost completely covered by the Indo-Gangetic Plain. The Indo-Gangetic Plain is a very lush area, covered mainly by large plains. This area is also home to large amounts of rivers and lush valleys, such as the Indus River Valley. The south starts from the Satpura Mountains in the north to the tip of India in the south. This land is drastically different, being covered in mostly by the Deccan Plateau. This plateau varies from semi-arid to tropical climates, however this is all depending on the monsoons arriving. Because it is a plateau, there are very few rivers, meaning all of the water comes from monsoons.
           This reliance on monsoons causes another very important aspect of Indian agriculture, possibly the most important factor, is the prevalence of monsoons and droughts. The monsoon season occurs from the 25 of May to the end of November. These monsoons, however, are unpredictable, and while they occur at similar times when they come, there are times when the monsoon does not come. This is a vital part of rural life in India, as most of the farms rely on the yearly monsoon to stay fertile by the silt it brings as well as the nutrients and water that comes along. The entire agricultural calendar relies on the monsoons, because the farmers plant as quickly as they can after the monsoon season and winter end and harvest before it arrives. When this season does not come, however, it causes a massive drought across all of India. That is why these droughts are often directly followed by famines. This unpredictability causes many stable sources of water to become revered. This is why Hinduism reveres the river Ganges as a deity.
            This causes water conservation to be an important action for farmers to perform, as it is vital to do as a fail safe just in case the monsoon is late or absent. It also means that being near the rare reliable water sources is very important. All of this causes pollution in rivers to be egregious, as people attempt to gather water from it while hundreds of nearby farms irrigate in and out of it, bringing more salt into it, and it also means that waste often times finds a way into it. This is due to the large population centered on all the river's banks. This means that while it is important for people to attain water, most of the reliable water sources are contaminated beyond use. All of this makes
having fail safes in case of drought extremely difficult, and this culminates to mean that if monsoons do not come, famine is unavoidable.
              The possibility of famine would logically cause most Indian farmers to turn to more high yielding crops, such as wheat and rice, however lots of the most fertile land in the Indo-Gangetic Plain is used for cash crops, such as sugar cane and cotton. This is because these lands are ideal for growing massive amounts of cash crops, and these lands are also usually owned by very wealthy land owners. These land owners are more concerned with increasing their wealth, as they are not worried
about running out of food. This is why much of the most fertile lands are not used to maximize the food supply which could then be distributed to the starving, and why the lack of monsoons is such a problem for the poor and middle class. This also shows the different priorities for poor and wealthy, and this is only strengthened by the caste system in Hinduism, which justifies this large wealth gap.

The Twelve Agricultural Commandments

1. Thou shall not kill any cows, without exception.
2. Thou shall not drain irrigation directly into any freshwater rivers.
3. Thou shalt store at least 20 gallons of fresh water for each monsoon season.
4. Thou shalt plant no less than 20 acres of food crops to be granted to local granaries every in case of droughts if you are of the Kshatriyas class.
5. Thou shalt own no more than 200 acres of suitable farm land in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, to make way for both government owned farms and small independent farms.
6. Thou shalt grow only rice and wheat on the Indo-Gangetic Plain, to maximize food production.
7. Thou shalt charge no more than 236 rupees for a  bushel of rice.
8. All granaries shall save 50 bushels of wheat for Sudra and Untouchables if the yearly monsoon is absent the year before.
9. Thou shalt harvest all fields before the 23 of May, to allow time for these resources to be stored.
10. Thou shalt begin to plant seeds during the calends of February.
11. A village shall provide a cow for each farmer if that farmer's previous cow was stolen or killed.
12. All farmers owning suitable farm land of 50 acres or less are exempt from rule 4.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Digital Scrapbook Entry #4 - Egypt
Author: Paul Rogers
Creator Man. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Author: Unknown
From Castles of the Dead To Towers of the Heavens

           One main goal of all nations is to continue that nation's rule over its people and land. Throughout history it has been crucial for a nation to keep its people satisfied in order to keep stability. One main way for a government to maintain it's rule is to instill its people with a sense of nationality and comradery, which will make a nation's people more united in the idea of their country. Many nation's find different ways to accomplish this binding between individuals, and use methods that can range from slogans and banners to parades and speeches. Great Britain and many other nations during the 19th and 20th century are great examples of how nationalism can help keep a country both stable and prosperous. Ancient Egypt accomplished this sense of union through the construction of great wonders. These wonders would act not only as symbols of that nation's power, but also as symbols which could instill pride and comradery within its own people. These wonders were the pyramids, massive stone tetrahedrons which were constructed with uncanny skill, both mathematically and architecturally. These structures baffle even the scientists and historians of today, and are marvels of the Ancient World. They took huge amounts of manual labor to complete, which Ancient Egypt had to spare as the seasonal floods meant during the off season, farmers were free to work on other projects. These structures served two major roles for Ancient Egypt. They acted as symbols of strength for the nation, warning off foreigners by showing what the combined might of Egypt could accomplish. They also acted as symbols of unity and pride for the people of Ancient Egypt. These pyramids employed hundreds of thousands of workers to complete them, and this sense of being part of something large instilled many Egyptians with a sense of bonding to other workers. It also instilled others with a sense of wonder, as when the workers went home and spread the word of these massive structures, their families and villages would be in awe at the power of the state. In turn this awe and unity led to the legitimacy of the pharaohs, as it kept the people in line underneath them. This is because the workers, now feeling friendship and bonds towards others of the nation, felt pride in their country and pride in their current leadership. This national pride in turn led to stability, as people were content of their leadership. It is this stability and nationalism that allowed Egypt to remain for so long. Nobody wishes to rebel or overthrow a government that they are proud to be a part of. Even for the pharaohs who built no pyramids, they served as great reminders of the power behind the pharaoh. This stability in turn led to Egypt allowing itself to turn outwards, and focus on matters other than internal peace. This is why they were able to expand into an even vaster empire, and why they were able to leave such a mark on world history. In this way the pyramids contributed a great deal to the success and longevity of the Egyptian state, and why it is still remembered as one of the greatest powers of the Ancient World.
           Another great works is also underway in an area very close to Egypt, the Middle East, this time however, it is taking place in the Modern Era. The Kingdom Tower is currently being constructed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, very close to the city of Mecca. This tower is currently under construction, however will be the tallest building in the world upon completion, and is planned on measuring at a kilometer high. This construction is one of the most ambitious in history, and is supposed to have 200 floors serviced by 59 elevators. The total cost is planned on being 1.25 billion US dollars, and will be completed in 2019. This tower is supposed to serve as a national symbol for Saudi Arabia, and as a wonder to show the power of Saudi Arabia. It is also supposed to show the economic strength of the nation, and its nations ingenuity and worth.
           Many nations turn to construction and wonders as a way to ensure nationalism within their country for several reasons. While many would believe that such structures would be very inefficient, as their cost would greatly outweigh their worth, these critics are wrong. It is true that such structures cost fortunes of wealth, their contribution to a nation is far greater than the worldly cost. Firstly, these structures serve as symbols of a nations power. This power can be economical or militaristic. For the Egyptians it showed both the wealth of the pharaoh and also the sheer manpower he commanded. To create such a massive structure required a large workforce, and this large workforce could also be trained as soldiers and given equipment using the obvious fortune the pharaoh's held. This warned foreigners of the possible might of the Ancient Egyptians. The Kingdom Tower, on the other hand, shows the ingenuity and economical strength of Saudi Arabia. It shows that the economy is flourishing there, and that they have as much wealth as any of the nations often considered economically powerful. Either way it is used, these massive wonders serve a symbols for the power of a nation and its government. It also is used to boost the nationalism of all its people, and this way is most important. The Pyramids of Egypt boosted nationalism because it meant that all of the workers felt connected, and as part of something bigger than themselves. It also meant that any Egyptians passing it could feel pride in what their nation could accomplish. People would hear of it far and wide, of what they could accomplish as a group. The Arabians, however, use it to increase nationalism differently. They do not employ huge amounts of manual labor, and the comradery that comes from the towers is much more symbolic. Instead of gaining this unity through work, it instead is a symbolic way for the country to show its own power to its people. It shows their people what they can accomplish with their ingenuity and resourcefulness. In this way, while the Kingdom Tower is more a symbolic representation of Saudi Arabian power, it is just as powerful as the Pyramids.

Kingdom Tower:
Pyramid of Giza:
WWI Poster:

Chinese Philosophy Activity

Chinese Philosophy Activity

Buddhists believe that life is suffering, and the main goal of any person is to break free of the cycle of life death and rebirth, known as samsara, and reach Nirvana. To do this, people must live by the Eight-fold Path which is a set of instructions teaching people how to live their lives. They also must have good karma, which is all the actions of their previous lives, good or bad. They also believe that based off of karma, people will be reincarnated as different beings. Good karma leads to better lives in the future or even the chance to leave the cycle of samsara and enter Nirvana.

Confucianism is a philosophy centered around an individuals place in society and family. It is centered around the responsibilities of individuals within certain relationships. There are five main relationships, Father to Son, Ruler to Ruled, Wife to Husband, Friend to Friend, and Oldest Sibling to Younger Siblings. Each party within these relationships had responsibilities, and while it was the duty of the Ruled to be obedient, it was also the duty of the Ruler to be just and honorable. Confucianism also believed that all men should be ethical, and that education was an important part of life. Family was the most basic unit of society, and people were taught to act as if the nation was a family, and the ruler was the father. It also believed that by following these basic tenants, even those of poor or lower class could become good men. The main goal of a leader is to act as both a role model and a benevolent ruler of their people.

Taoism/Daoism is a religion in China focusing on the worship of nature, inner purity and succession of personal desire. They believe in Tao, which is a natural force of reality. Daoism, or "The Way" is the natural order of the world. They are very passive, believing in non-action, and believe that order and equilibrium are the natural and best way of the world. They strive to achieve order, and in a way are very similar to Confucian beliefs, however are more spiritual. They believe that all things came from nothing, and appeared spontaneously due to Tao, without a creator being. Instead of believing in a divine being who controls the world, they believe instead in Tao, a natural force which exists everywhere.

Legalism is a philosophy in stark contrast to Confucian ideals. They believe in harsh and powerful governments to manage the people, and that they cannot lead themselves. They believe that a ruler should run their nation based off of a trinity. This trinity is that of Fa, Shu and Shi. Fa is the belief that laws should be public and equal. They also believed that upholding these laws is paramount, and that those who break them should be given no reprieve. These laws also controlled the state, not the ruler. This meant that these laws were not created to keep unfair rulers in check, but instead merely to control the nation. Shu is the belief that rulers should be secretive and should not allow the state to be lost to others.  Shi is the belief that the rulers post, not the ruler, holds power. This means that a ruler must be vigilant towards current events, should they wish to be a good ruler, as it is them but merely their position which holds the nation.

Religions and Philosophy differ in several ways. Religions are beliefs which explain creation, purpose and the afterlife. They explain not only what to do in this life, but particularly why individuals exist and what happens after death. It also covers how the universe came to exist. Philosophies focus upon how to live this life both ethically and morally. They focus on how to be a good person and what is expected of an individual in society. They do not concern themselves with divinity or spirituality, and focus upon this life and how it can be lived correctly.

Confucianism and Legalism are philosophies, they focus on how life should be lived and what is expected both morally and ethically of an individual and a state. They cover how people should behave in society and life, and not what comes after this life or what came before. Taoism and Buddhism are religions, but also philosophies. They cover not only how the universe was created, what the divine being is, and what comes next, but also how this life should be spent. Taoists believe that order and equilibrium should be the goal of all people, and that life should be spent in non-action. Buddhists believe in the Eight-fold path, which consists of teachings and instructions on how this life should be spent, and what the correct way of life is. It also states that this life should be spent doing good deeds so that others may be better than the last.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Confucian's Confucing Concerns

Conner Lewis                                                                                                                    11/13/14
Thoughts and Reflections on: The Indifference of Confucius

Confucian's Confucing Concerns

          Confucius, the founder of Confucianism, was different from many others spreading their words throughout the world, as he never stated his teachings were those past down by divine beings. Unlike others, such as Jesus and Abraham, he never claimed to be a prophet of anything divine. In fact, Confucius was quite indifferent to attempting to know the afterlife and understand it foolish and not worthy of his time, and was entirely unconcerned with the creation of the universe. Confucius instead devoted his time, and his thoughts on matters of the present and of this life. He believed that men should focus on improving themselves from the lessons of their past, and of their ancestors. He also believed that to achieve this improvement, people had to learn to respect those higher than themselves, and he taught of the relationships which commanded respect. These relationships are also known as the five bonds; ruler to ruled, father to son, husband to wife, elder brother to younger brother, and friend to friend. However, each member of these bonds had to uphold standards, and it was the duty of those above others to be morally right and good men. This meant that even though it was the duty of the ruled to be obedient, it was the duty of the ruler to uphold themselves as a paragon of virtue, as to be a worthy role model for those beneath them. This belief was unconcerned with the ideas of an afterlife, and deities, and acts more as a social practice and sets of standards which are there to make life more orderly. Confucianism is a social practice and not a religion because it is not a set of stories and doctrines speaking of the origins of the universe, its purpose, and the afterlife. Instead, it focuses on how to be a worthy and model citizen in this life. 
Yin and Yang, often used as a symbol of Confucianism

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chinese Map Activity

          The physical features of China affected Chinese early development in a way similar to India. In China, the ways to the east, west, and north are blocked by terrain, similar to India. To the east, the Pacific Ocean and Yellow Sea stop most traffic from this route. Then to the north the Gobi desert stops settling and traffic from this direction, and finally to the west the Tibetan Plateau and Himalayas stop settling or traffic as well. This means that the people of China are forced to settle in the area between the Yellow and Yangtze rivers, which also is very fertile. This blocked in area means contact to outsiders is difficult, which helped support their theory of being the center of the world. This theory also supported the Chinese belief in superiority, which spewed hatred and bigot-ism towards those considered lesser. They considered most outside their realm to be barbarians, such as the Mongols and Xiongnu. This isolationism also meant that the large population, which grew due to growing high yield rice crops and fertile soil, was crammed in a small area of land. While this land was still the size of Europe, it also held a fourth of the world's population. This cramped society, along with the Mandate of Heaven supporting and justifying rebellions, meant that many dynasty's would rise and fall in Chinese history.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ancient India Activity

Shiva was believed to be a destroyer. He was believed to have destroyed the world periodically when it was in chaos and ungodliness state. He would then recreate the world an make it peaceful again. Shiva is one of the 3 principal gods of Hinduism. Shiva I is also believed to be the source of good and evil. He wears a 3rd eye to represent wisdom and untamed energy. Shiva is important to ancient India because it brings peace and order to the world when in a bad situation and allows people to have peaceful lives.

Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world. Hinduism originated 8,000 years ago during the Neolithic Era. Hinduism was supposedly started in the Indus Valley. Hinduism has a large sphere of influence primarily in places: Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. In Hinduism the soul is in a cycle of death and rebirth. The character of the soul is determined by karma. Hinduism is important to ancient India because it is the main religion but it also                

Ganesha was the lord of strength and wisdom. To represent strength and wisdom Ganesha had an elephant head. People in India prayed to Ganesha before a long journey to bring them success. Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati. In many pictures of Ganesha his fingers are depicted pointing up as a gesture of protection. Ganesha is important to ancient India because they believe that he protects them and gives them strength.

Ganges River
The Ganges River is a river coming from the Himalayas which flows down into India and parallel with the mountains. It is crucial, along with the Indus River, in feeding the people of India. It provides water for over 1 billion people. For this it is revered by the Hindus as a god, as the god Ganga. They believe that Ganga was water of the heaven, however was ordered to go to earth. The gods were worried this would flood the earth, so Shiva caught her fall in his locks. His locks then became the rivers, and so Ganga is supposed to be within each river. It is considered so holy that even looking at the Ganges can cleanse a Hindu of sins from a previous life. People also cleanse in the Ganges for the same reason.

Lakshmi is the goddess of beauty , wealth, and prosperity. She is the associate of Vishnu. She is represented as a beautiful woman with four arms. She is also often depicted sitting or standing on a lotus bud. Her four arms each represent something. They are artha (worldly wealth and success), kama (pleasure and desire), dharma(righteousness), and moksha ( knowledge and liberation). She is usually holding something in each of her four arms. In her two front arms she is holding a lotus flower in each hand. They are the symbol of purity and fertility. In her back two arms she is holding gold coins in each hand. They are the symbol of wealth. Lakshmi is important to Ancient India because she is someone that the ancient Indians could pray to when they didn’t have much wealth or were in a bad place in their lives.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Milked For All They Got

Conner Lewis, World History 4 11/7/14
Thoughts and Reflections On: Mother Cow
Article by Marvin Harris
Milked For All They Got

          Cows in India serve many functions, from housing to agriculture. Cow's manure is used for fuel in ovens as coal, wood, and oil are very difficult for low level farmers and Indians in general to acquire. This means having cows available also allows for continuous fuel as well as other benefits. Manure is also a common form of fertilizer, allowing for higher crop yields. It also acts as a housing material because if left to harden it can become a hard floor, which can be swept and kept clean. The main reason they are kept around however is that having cows available ensures the ability to acquire more oxen and milk. By keeping cows around, farmers can have an available source for oxen, which act as the main horsepower towing their ploughs. While the Indian zebu cow does not produce that much milk, it is enough to be worthwhile. All of this is even more useful as cows don't even feed off of what humans do, meaning that they can be left to wander and scavenge also still provide useful services for farmers. The real reason it is taboo for a Hindu to kill a cow is that in the extreme seasons of India, monsoons and droughts, it is very tempting for farmers to kill cows in the short term. However this is detrimental as although the food might be useful at the time, during normal seasons without a cow the farmers would slowly lose oxen and then have nothing to plough their fields. This would either kill them through famine or force them into cities. In the long term the cows are much more beneficial than the short term supply. Americans and other modernized nations perform the same task as cows and oxen by using tractors and chemical fertilizer. The tractors can pull our ploughs while fertilizer acts as the manure from cows. This is, however, less environmentally friendly than the Indian way, as the chemicals and pollution from tractors can be detrimental to the environment. Some pesticides, such as DDT, can cause harm to the fauna as well. DDT causes infertility in birds, which can greatly effect bird populations. Cows, on the other hand, act as part of the ecosystem, and do not cause harm to nearby environments. It is clear that Indians use their cows more efficiently, as they take every aspect of the cow into account and exploit it. When cows are alive they are milked, provide manure for houses, fuel, and fertilizer, and also provide steady streams of oxen to plough the fields. On top of that, upon dying their meat is fed to the Harijans, or untouchables. The Americans, on the other hand, tend to only use one aspect of the cow depending on breed. Certain cows are used for milk, and others meat, not both.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Unity of Sedentary Worlds

Conner Lewis, World History 4 11/4/14
Thoughts and Reflections On: Caste
   Wall of Unity
          The caste system of Hinduism has been an integral part of India's history for millennia, however, now it proves to be both a blessing and a curse. The system gives people who follow it a sense of purpose, and this sense of purpose allows people to remain where they are in society, thus increasing national stability. However now this system also divides castes, as the lower classes hold much resentment for the higher and more "privileged" castes. The caste system is a system found in Hinduism which determines ones role in society and their dharma, or life goal. A person's caste is determined by their karma, which is the good and bad deeds they have performed in previous lives. If they do well enough in accomplishing their dharma in a previous life, through the process of samsara and reincarnation, they can move up in the caste in a next life. The ultimate goal is to leave samsara and achieve unity of their atman, or soul, with the god Brahman. This is moshka, and upon reaching moshka they achieve Nirvana. The caste system entered India after the nomadic Aryans invaded India and brought their religion, which was stored in the Vedas. The Aryan people became the Warriors and rulers who would later form the Kshatriyas, and the Aryan priests would later form the Brahmins. The conquered people's were the Sudra, and the merchants became the Vaisya. Because the Aryans would not marry out of their people, the hereditary caste system formed. The caste system gives a sense of unity to the Hindus and also a sense of purpose. It allows them to believe that hard work in this life will lead to a better life down the line, and that they should follow their dharma and not try to revolt in this life. The caste system still survives because people still resent marrying out of their caste, and also because lower castes are given aids by the government. This aid program attempts to level the playing field for all castes, however it just causes the caste system to persist longer as now there are economical reasons to know what caste you are in.