At History Gallery A, you will walk through the prehistory of the Indian subcontinent, presented in context to the Bihar region. Unravel the history of Indus Valley, the second urbanization and Haryanka. Learn about Buddha’s key disciples, the global spread of Buddhism and the core teachings of Buddhism and Jainism. Marvel in the collection of stone and bronze Tirthankaras showing ‘The life of Mahavira’ and absorb Jain art. Journey past the Shishunagas and Nandas and witness the rise of the Mauryan Dynasty, Ashoka’s reign, the Kalinga War and Ashoka’s turn to peace. Ashoka’s edicts illustrate the use of Brahmi and other scripts. View a recreation of the impressive architecture of Barabar Caves.
Introduction to Gallery A
At the entrance, there are four large terracotta jars from Harappa set within a copper clad wall. A map of the gallery introduces the visitor to the various sections.
Prehistory to First Urbanization
Stone tools and artefacts from the Paleolithic and Mesolithic Age are on display. Neolithic celts and grinding stones are exhibited. People of Chirand in Bihar made smaller, more precise tools called microliths to aid them in hunting and farming. From the Chalcolithic Age, there are large terracotta jars, rare copper hoards and tools.
The First Urbanization section showcases advanced skills in pottery and the Harappan civilization. It explores the lost civilization of Indus Valley and the mystery of the Harappan script, which is yet to be deciphered. Here, you can also learn about the origins of Vedic traditions.
Second Urbanization: 16 Mahajanapadas
The 16 Mahajanapadas were the core of sovereign kingdoms formed in ancient India. Of these, Magadha, Kashi and Kosala emerged as principal states. In this section, you can see an array of punch-marked coins, terracotta and Northern Black Polished ware from those eras. A recreated stone wall with coins and terracotta constitutes a special part of this exhibit.
Stories of Haryanka on a Cyclopean Wall
The Haryanka portion of the Gallery has a Cyclopean wall and an introductory panel presents the rise of Magadha. Under King Bimbisara, the precepts for imperial expansion were established. Rajagriha remained the capital of Magadha during his son Ajatasatru’s reign and he conquered Kosala, Vajji and Kashi. During this time Pataliputra was in making and emerged as a major city and was designated a capital. Visuals of artefacts from this period demonstrate Ajatasatru’s respect for Buddhism and Jainism.
Jainism and Buddhism show a way of life
At the entrance to the Buddhism and Jainism sections, there are stimulating visuals on Awakening and similarly at the end of this section, you will see an inspiring landscape at dawn. Stone and bronze sculptures introduce visitors to the philosophy of Jainism and Vardhamana Mahavira.
The Buddhism section is detailed with stone and bronze sculptures from different periods elaborating on Buddhism’s influence on Indian society.
Buddha and expansion of Buddhism
The main highlights of this section include an extensive collection of Gandhara sculptures on the Buddha as well as large Buddhist sculptures. Key disciples of Buddha are introduced. The global expansion of Buddhism is depicted through murals and literature. Buddhism is also showcased through its symbols as bells and stupa.
Mahavira and expansion of Jainism
A display of stone and bronze Tirthankaras elaborate on aspects of Jainism and different Jinas. Symbolic expressions of Jainism through artefacts, exhibits and an extensive collection of statues are showcased. In the Jaina Art and Pawapuri section, a stylized recreation of a Jain Toran against a beautiful wall projection of rippling water can be seen.
Core Teachings of Buddhism and Jainism
The centrepiece of this section comprises a number of small Buddhist and Jain artefacts. Ribbons of fabric are suspended across, making a graphic connection between Buddhist and Jain philosophies. The doctrine of karma and the path to nirvana are explained.
The Rise of Magadha
Enter through a large wooden Toran gate and walk past a vibrant overhead display of a canopy of spears to learn about the mighty armies of the Nandas. Natural resources of the Bihar region aided the growth of Magadha. Rajagriha was established as a major town and the Magadhan empire evolved by garnering authority as a trade centre. The Nanda Dynasty consolidated the first Empire of India and made Pataliputra a strong centre of military activities.
The Great Mauryan Empire
Meet some of this region’s most fascinating heroes with the rise of the Mauryan Dynasty: Chanakya the prime strategist and counsellor to Chandragupta Maurya who vanquished the Nandas and established the Mauryan empire. Learn about how the Arthashastra was re-discovered. Find out about the Greek ambassador Megasthenes who toured the Mauryan Empire and recorded his impressions in his wonderful account ‘Indica’. The fabulous achievements of Mauryans in art are on display
Ashoka the conqueror and pacifist
Meet Ashoka, India’s intriguing emperor! This section shows the Kalinga War and its devastating effects followed by Ashoka’s turn to pacifism. Learn about Ashok’s Edicts where he refers to himself as “Piyadasi”– ‘Beloved to the Gods’. Ashoka’s unique model of a welfare state and Dhamma missions are depicted. Find out how Brahmi was decoded and how the Kumrahar excavations revealed various facets of Mauryan history.