Han China vs. Mauryan/Gupta India Essay

Analyze similarities and differences in methods of political control in the following empires in the classical period. Han China (206 B. C. E. -220 C. E. ) Mauryan/Gupta India (320 B. C. E. -550 C. E. ) During the Classical period, Han China and Mauryan/Gupta India developed many methods of political control. Although these empires were located in different geographic regions, they both used social hierarchy, language, bureaucracy, and religion as a means of political control.

Many of Classical India’s religious beliefs and bureaucratic practices contrasted each other in relation to the ways that they supported the methods of political control. Like Han China, Classical India used their social structure system as a method of political control. Han China developed a social structure based on literacy, and Classical India introduced a caste system based on skin color. Literacy divided China educationally so that lower classes were not capable of taking the Civil Service Exam, and the higher classes were knowledgeably qualified to take this exam and become bureaucrats.

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The Indian caste system based on skin color created the idea of racial division by placing the lighter skinned people in higher classes and the darker skinned people in lower classes. Both of these systems had a class or Varna that consisted of unskilled people. In China, these people were referred to as “mean people”. In India, these people, or the “untouchables”, were not considered apart of the caste system. These unskilled people were not slaves, but they were given jobs that the rest of the population did not prefer.

These social structures controlled the population by creating boundaries of division in the specialization of labor. Although Han China had a strong, centralized government, Classical India’s bureaucracy was based on regionalism. China developed a bureaucracy that stressed central authority, and this created a more unified government system that was connected more directly to Chinese philosophy and economical practices. This idea of a central government was brought about when the concept of legalism was developed in China during the Qin Dynasty.

In contrast, India created a bureaucracy allowing local rulers to maintain regional control. This concept of regionalism brought about political diversity in India. China was unified in relation to their ruler, code of law, and economical practices, but India was divided in relation to their rulers, codes of law, and economical practices. Because of this regional practice, the Indian empire continued to expand, adding more regions their area, and eventually leading to political instability.

Han China used its centralized bureaucratic system to control the population by a unified code of law and a strong army. Classical India used the concept of regionalism to control a larger population by using local rulers that governed different areas by different laws and punishments. In contrast to Han China’s official Mandarin language, Classical India did not develop a unified language. During the Zhou Dynasty, the Chinese created the language of Mandarin. As a centralized dynasty, China made Mandarin its official spoken language, and brought about linguistic unity in the empire.

Whereas, Classical India, being a regional empire, did not require a unified language considering the separated areas that could speak different languages and dialects in each region. The development of Mandarin aided Han China by creating a unified language that would enhance trade and communication inside the empire. This language controlled China politically and socially by distinguishing literacy in this empire. Considering that the Chinese social hierarchy was based on literature, educated people who knew the Mandarin language would most likely be the ones in the higher social classes.

This level of education allowed these people to meet requirements of the Civil Service Test and prosper in their divisions of labor. Unlike Han China, Classical India’s religious beliefs did not stress the importance of politics and social structure. Confucius, born in the Zhou Dynasty, was a philosopher that believed in a virtuous, humble life, but his ideas were not used until the Han Dynasty. This philosophy, Confucianism, did not include much spirituality or equality, and it supported the Chinese social structure and political system.

Upper class members mainly followed this philosophy because of the social inequalities that marked these teachings. Daoism, another Chinese philosophy, was followed by members of lower classes. This philosophy was more spiritual than Confucianism, but it also stressed the importance of politics. Even though China had the Confucian philosophy, members of society were searching for a belief that gave them an essence of spirituality and enlightenment. Daoism gave these people the balance of nature, balance of the good and evil, and a way of life.

Also, another aspect of China’s beliefs was filial piety, or the relationships based on respect between family members and members of society. These relationships controlled society in respect to household and community peace. India’s religious beliefs, Buddhism and Hinduism, were very spiritual and related to moral conduct. These beliefs did not stress the importance of politics or social structure, but mainly stressed the importance of a pure, sinless life that would help people’s advancement in the next life.

The difference between China and India’s religious practices was that in India, religion was more of a spiritual release for followers, but in China, religion was the code of conduct that people would follow, including their social and political acts. A similarity between the Chinese and Indian philosophies was the belief in reincarnation. The people of these to regions believed that after you died, and you had not sinned in your past life, you would be rewarded by advancing social classes in your next life. This belief controlled society by providing a hope of social advancement to those that were not in the best social situations.

Han China used religious practices as a method of political control by providing people a moral code that included punishments and political and social acts. Classical India used religious practices to provide followers with a spiritual relief from a world of hardship and hope of advancement in the next life. As Classical empires, Han China and Mauryan/Gupta India used similar aspects of society as methods of political control. The way that they used their social structures, bureaucratic systems, languages, and religious beliefs to control the populations varied on a large scale.

A major difference in these empires is the unification of China versus the regionalism of India. China’s unified social hierarchy, rule, language, and religious beliefs were vast measures taken on the political control. By creating empirical unity, China was able to centrally control all aspects of society as a whole. India, developing a regional approach, created division of social structures, languages, religions, and codes of law, leading to a lack of common connection. By using these methods of local political control, India was able to rule its empire through separated areas.