In the course of my studies I had long felt the inadequacy of our so, called Indian histories. For many years, therefore, I was planning an elaborate history of India in order' not only that India's past might be described by her sons, but also that the world might catch a glimpse' of her soul as Indians see it. The Bharatiya Vidyi Bhavan, an educational society which 1 founded in 1938, took over the scheme. It was, however, realized only, in 1944, when my generous friend Mr. G. D. Birla, one of India's foremost industrialists, lent me his co-operation and the support of the Shri Krishnarpan Charity Trust of which he is the Chairman. As a result, the Bharatiya Itihasa Samiti, the Academy of Indian History, was formed 'Yuth the specific object of preparing this series, now styled The History and Culture of the Indian People.
'The Samiti was lucky in securing the services of Dr. R. C. Majumdar, formerly Vice-Chancellor of Dacca University' and one of India's leading historians, as full-time editor, and of Dr. A. D. Pusalker, a young and promising scholar, Assistant 'Director of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, as assistant editor. A large number of Indian scholars of repute have lent their co-operation to the scheme. Professor H. G. Rawlinson has been good enough to undertake the task of revising the MS. Messrs. George Alien and Unwin Ltd. rendered my work easy by 'undertaking its first publication in 1951, despite difficult publishing conditions in England, and have now been good enough to remit ,the publication rights to the Bhavan. To all of them I owe a deep debt of gratitude which 1 hasten to acknowledge.
The General Editor in his introduction has given the point of view of' the scientific historian, to which category the contributors belong. My own work for the past thirty-five years has lain in the humbler .sphere of weaving historical romances and literary and cultural studies out of materials so heroically salvaged by Indian and European scholars. : As a result I have seen and felt the form, continuity and 'meaning of India's past: History, as I see it, is being' consciously lived by Indians, Attempts to complete, what has happened in the past form no small part of our modern struggle; there is a conscious as well as an unconscious attempt to carry life to perfection, to join the fragments of existence, and to discover the meaning of the visions which they reveal. It is not enough, therefore, to conserve, record and understand what has happened: it is necessary also to assess the nature and direction of the momentous forces working through the life of India in order to appreciate the fulfilment which they seek.
Some years ago, therefore, I defined the scope of history as follows: "To be a history in the true sense of the word, the work must be the story of the people inhabiting a country. It must' be a record of their life from age to age presented through the life and achievements of men whose exploits become' the beacon lights of tradition; through the characteristic reaction of the people to physical and economic conditions; through political changes and vicissitudes which create the forces and conditions which operate upon life; through characteristic social institutions, beliefs and forms; through literary and artistic achievements; through the movements of thought which from time to time helped or hindered the growth of collective harmony; through .those values which the people have' accepted or reacted to and which created' or shaped their collective will; through efforts of the people to will themselves into an organic unity. The central purpose of a history must, therefore, be to investigate and unfold the values which age after age have inspired the' inhabitants of a country to develop their collective will and to express it through the manifold activities of their' life. Such a history of India is still to be written."
I know the difficulties which beset the path of any enterprise which seeks' to write such a history. In the past Indians laid little store, by history. Our 'available sources of information are inadequate, and in so far as they are foreign, are almost invariably tainted with a bias towards India's conquerors. 'Research is meagre and disconnected.
Itihasa, or legends of the gods, and Purana legends of origin, had different spheres in the ancient literary tradition of India. But later" both came to 'mean the same thing, traditional history. The Kali Yuga, the current Iron Age, was considered too degenerate a period to deserve recording. The past was only cherished as the pattern for the-present and the future. Works by ancient Indian authors which throw light on history are few. Religious and literary sources like the Puranas and 'the Kavyas have not yet fully yielded up their' chronological or historical wealth. Epigraphic records, though valuable, leave many periods unrelated.
Foreign travellers from other countries of Asia, and from Europe, like Megasthenes' of Greece, Hiuen Tsang of China, Almasudi of Arabia, Manucci of Venice, and Bernier from France, have-left valuable glimpses of India, but they are the results of superficial observation,' though their value in reconstructing the past is Immense. Chroniclers in the courts of the Turk, Afghan or the Mughal rulers wrote "histories" which, in spite of the wealth of historical material, are partially legendary and partially laudatory.' The attempts of British scholars,' with the exception of Tod, wherever they have taken these "histories" as reliable source-books, have hindered rather than helped the study of Indian history. Sir H. M. Elliot, the foremost of such scholars, for instance, has translated extracts from Persian and Arabic "histories" with a political objective, viz. to make, to use his own words, "the native subjects of British India more sensible of the immense advantages accruing to them under the mildness and equity of the present rule ..... " So high an authority as Dr. Maulana Nadvi, in his Presidential Address at the "Early Medieval India" Section of the Seventh Session of the Indian History Congress, expressed the verdict of modern scholars, that both the selection and translation of these extracts have not been honest. But unfortunately, Elliot's volumes became the source-book for most of our modern histories of Medieval India, As a result, they do not present a true picture of India's past, nor do they explain how Indians resisted the Turk, Afghan and Mughal incursions, how they reacted to the vicissitudes through which in consequence they passed, and how a Renaissance sprang up out of the impact of Indian with Persian and Turkish cultures.
The treatment of the British period in most of our histories is equally defective. It generally reads like an unofficial report of the British conques and of the benefits derived by India from it. It does not give us the real India; nor does it present a picture of what we saw, felt and suffered, of how we reacted to foreign Influences, or of the values and organizations we created out of the impact with the West.
The history of India, as dealt with in most of the works of this kind, naturally, therefore, lacks historical perspective. Unfortunately for us, during the last two hundred years we had not only to study such histories but unconsciously to mould our whole outlook on life upon them: Few people realize that. the teaching of such histories in our schools and universities has substantially added to the difficulties which India has had to face during the last hundred years, and never more the during recent years.
Generation after generation, during their school or college career, were told about the successive foreign invasions of the country, but little about how we resisted them and less about our victories. They were taught to decrythe Hindu social system; but they were not told how this system came into existence. as a synthesis of political, social, economic and cultural forces; how it developed in the people the tenacity to survive catastrophic changes for millennia; how it protected life and culture in times of difficulty by its conservative strength and in favourable times developed an elasticity which made ordered progress possible; and how its vitality enabled the national culture to adjust its central ideas to new conditions.
Readers were regaled with Alexander's short-lived and unfructuous invasion of India; they were left in ignorance of the magnificent empire and still more enduring culture which the Gangetic Valley' had built up at the time. Lurid details of intrigues in the palaces of the Sultans of Delhi-often a camp of bloodthirsty invaders-are given, but little light is thrown on the exploits of the race of heroes and heroines who for centuries resisted the Central Asiatic barbarians when they flung themselves on this land in successive waves. Gruesome stories of Muslim atrocities are narrated, but the harmony which was evolved in social and economic life between the two communities remains unnoticed. The Mutiny of 1857-the British name for the Great National Revolt-gave the readers a glimpse of how the brave foreigner crushed India; it is only outside the so-called historical studies that the reader found how at the time patriotic men of all communities in most parts of India rallied round the last Mughal Emperor of Delhi, the national symbol, to drive out the hated foreigner.
The multiplicity of our languages and communities is widely advertised, but little emphasis is laid on certain facts which make India what she is Throughout the last two millennia, there was linguistic unity Some sort of a lingua franca was used by a very large part of the country; and Sanskrit, for a thousand years the language of royal courts and at all times the language of culture, was predominant, influencing life, language, and literature in most provinces. For over three thousand years, social and family life had been moulded or influenced by the Dharma-Shastra texts, containing a comprehensive code of personal law, which, though adapted from time to time to suit every age and province, provided a continuous unifying social force. Aryan, or rather Hindu culture (for there was considerable Dravidian influence) drew its inspiration in every successive generation from Sanskrit works on religion, philosophy, ritual, law and science, and particularly the two epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and the Bhagavata, underwent recensions from time to time, and became the one irresistible creative force which has shaped the collective spirit of the people. Age after age the best of Indians, from the mythical Vasishtha to the. modern Gandhiji, found self-fulfilment in living up to an ideal of conduct in accordance with a code of life which may be traced back as far as the Upanishads.
This second volume, unlike the first, has been printed in India and published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, as the President of which I have planned and organised the publication of this series of 'History and Culture of the Indian People' in eleven volumes. On account of printing difficulties in England, the arrangements with Messrs. George Allen and Unwin Ltd. were terminated by mutual agreement. Since the Bhavan as the sponsoring institution has undertaken the publication of the series, it has become unnecessary to interpose the Bharatiya Itihasa Samiti which, in fact, was a part of the Bhavan, between the sponsor and the publisher. It is hoped that under this arrangement further volumes will be published expeditiously.
This volume deals with the history and culture of India from the beginning of what is termed 'The Historic Period'. It furnishes us with the basis for the structure of early Indian chronology like the dates of the death of Buddha, the rise of Chandragupta and the reign of Asoka, Just as a dynastic treatment of history gives but an incorrect historical perspective, so, to some extent, does any treatment which arbitrarily cuts history into sections of time. The history of a people having a common culture, I believe, flows as a running stream through time, urged forward by the momentum of certain values and ideas and must be viewed as such. It is necessary, therefore, that I should give my reading of this section of the flowing stream. The attempt by its very nature would be open to the charge of over-simplification; but without such an attempt, the past would have no message and the future no direction.
Long before the dawn of the 'Historic Period', the land, as we know it now, had been formed. For millions of years, the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush had risen; mighty rivers had brought down deposits to form the rich alluvial belt of the Sindhu and the Ganga; geographical determinants had been stabilized. Early man had wandered on the banks of some of the great rivers and disappeared.
Over five thousand years ago, aboriginal dwellers generally lived in forests; some of them, however, were slowly driven to the valleys before the pressure of more civilised migrants. Then a numerically vast people, with a culture of which the Mohenjodaro ruins are the physical relics and the base of the Tamil language perhaps the intellectual trace, over-spread the country.
In this land the Aryans, with their Nature Gods, their sacrifices, their cows and horses and their conquering zeal, came into conflict with the Dasas and Dasyus. They were invincible; for they had what their forerunners had not-cultural cohesiveness, powerful social institutions like the patriarchate, and a faith in their superiority. These bonds were further strengthened by a race of intellectuals who sang in sacred chants, worshipped their Gods through varied sacrifices and pursued the quest of higher things. The cohesive force in this community was furnished by the basic idea of an all-pervading law--Rita.--which sustained the universe and regulated the conduct of men; and the law was presided over by mighty god Asura-'the Great'Varuna.
Vast conflicts were waged by the Aryan tribes with the non-Aryans. During their victorious march through the country the races mingled, customs and beliefs were adjusted, a new harmony was evolved. Despite the fusion, the collective consciousness that the Aryans-whether by descent· or by adoption-were the elect and their ways God ordained, and hence unalterable, persisted. 'The Aryanisation of the entire world' remained the inspiring urge.
An unshakable collective consciousness had already taken deep roots in the racial mind, when Vasishtha and Visvamitra-participants in the Dasarajna, the Battle of Ten Kings: the echoes of which are found in the Rigveda,-lived on the banks of the holy Sarasvati; when Parasurama led the Aryans to the banks of the Narmada; when Agastya and Lopamudra crossed the Vindhyas and the seas; when Bharata, possibly the eponymous ancestor of the main tribes who fought in the Bharata War, held sway and gave his name to the land.
The several centuries, from the Battle of Ten Kings to the Bharata War (c. 1500 B.C.), the central theme in the Mahabharata, were filled with incessant Aryan activities. The Aryans spread far and wide in the country. They opened up jungles, established large-scale settlements, and founded cities. Before the Bharata War, the Aryan Tribes, ethnically mixed, had already established powerful Kingdoms. Their culture had become a conscious instrument of providing a social pattern based on a kind of traditional common law, elaborate rituals, a background of heroic tradition preserved in epic recitals, a powerful language and literature and a philosophy of thought and of life. The fundamental law Rita-now called Dharma however, continued by the general acceptance of the people to be recognised as supreme; for Esha Dharma Sanatana in the Manu-smriti is an echo of an ancient, unalterable principle; this law was eternal. The race of rishis, Aryan intellectuals, multiplied. They founded their asramas or hermitages all over North India; some pushed their way even to the transvindhyan South. They settled in forests, preached Dharma; interpreted it afresh wherever necessary; laid down canons of conduct. They taught the fundamental values of Aryan culture wherever they went, their character and moral influence being their only source of power. They enriched literature, ethics and philosophy. The most aspiring of them continued in the quest of the 'Absolute', often in the wilderness or on mountain tops. With the growth of kingdoms, a section' of these intellectuals, the Brahmanas, became priests, ritualists, men of learning, ministers, even generals and social and political mentors. But at all times, the law prescribed that a true Brahmana should learn and teach, and not hanker after possessions; if he did, he -fell from his high status. The kings were the protectors of the Dharma. They were invested with the right to conquer and destroy enemies, but there was no right to destroy what they willed. Their duty to protect the people was inalienable; if they failed to fulfil it, they forfeited the people's allegiance.
Of the peoples with whom the Aryans came in conflict, the most powerful were the Nagas in the West and Magadhas in the East. The Haihayas, perhaps of mixed descent, broke the Naga power in the West, and in their turn were broken by the Aryans under Parasurama. Later, when the Aryan tribe' of Bharatas dominated the Madhyadesa, the Magadhas aspired to hegemony; the break-up of the Magadha Kingdom is possibly symbolised by the death of Jarasandha, its king, by Bhima the Bharata, who was assisted by Sri Krishna. To the latter more than to anyone else, if the Mahabharata records facts, belongs the honour of being 'the worshipful among men', and the credit of achieving for his friends, the Pandavas, the over lordship over North India. Thus, a little before the Bharata War the way was cleared for the Aryanisation of the eastern provinces.
The period with which this volume deals (600 B.C.-A.D. 320) offers a great contrast in many ways to the preceding one. We are no longer dependent upon religious literature of a single denomination and uncertain date as the sole source of our historical information, Instead, we have not only literary works of different religious sects which supplement and correct one another, but also valuable literary records of a secular character, both Indian and foreign, of known dates, and the highly important evidence furnished by coins, inscriptions and monuments. In addition, we have a continuous traditional account of states and ruling dynasties whose general authenticity is beyond question. All these enable us to draw an outline of the political history of North India and the Deccan for nearly the whole of the period. They also furnish a mass of highly valuable data for the reconstruction of the social, religious and economic life of the people of the whole region.
As regards South India, however, the position still is far from satisfactory, for we have neither coins, nor inscriptions, nor historical traditions, enabling us to draw even a rough outline of political history. And though the brilliant sangam age of Tamil literature falls within this period, even if it is not wholly covered by it, we can glean from it only the names of a few isolated kings and their heroic achievements without any connecting link. While the literature and other sources give us glimpses of social, economic and religious conditions of the people, and particularly of their extensive maritime trade with the West, we miss the framework of political history against which alone they can be studied in their true perspective.
South India, therefore, necessarily plays a comparatively insignificant part in this volume. But subject to this limitation, the history and culture of the Indian people unfolded in the following pages may be regarded as unique in many respects, marked both by brilliance and variety for which we look in vain during subsequent ages. First and foremost, the age saw the beginning and culmination of that political unification of India which has been alike the ideal and despair of later ages. We can trace the successive steps by which Magadha, a petty principality in South Bihar, gradually extended its authority till, in the course of two centuries, under the Mauryas, it became the mistress of extensive dominions stretching from beyond the Hindu Kush in the west to the hills of Assam in the east, and from Kashmir in the north to Mysore in the south. The royal edicts of this mighty realm still lie scattered throughout India from the North-West Frontier Province to Nepal Terai and the heart of Madras.
The political history .of this empire reaches almost an epic grandeur as we trace the story of its growth from stage to stage, till our vision extends over the whole of India and even beyond. Then follows the story of its fall, imbued with a dramatic interest and pathos of almost equal depth. Religious fervour and pacifist ideals lead away a mighty emperor from the policy of blood and iron which created the empire and which alone could sustain it. Then follows an orgy of greed, ambition and lust for power which saps the vitality of the state. The commander of the imperial army seizes the opportunity to strike the final blow at his royal master. The coup succeeds, but the traitor wears only a crown of thorns. Nemesis appears in the shape of foreign invaders on the horizon of the distant West. They are lured by the gorgeous wealth of Ind, which treachery and dissensions place within their easy reach. The Greeks; the Parthians, the Sakas and the Kushanas move on the chess-board of Indian politics, but leave no permanent traces behind. India, stunned by the blow but not killed, recovers herself. The mighty Satavahana rulers bar the gates of the Deccan to the further advance of the foreigners, and the sturdy republican tribes of the north once more unfurl the banner of freedom and uphold the dignity of their motherland. It is at this juncture, when the ground is finally prepared for the foundation of another great Indian Empire, that we close this volume.
The rise and fall of the Empire of Magadha is thus our central theme, and the climax of its imperial pomp and power and the anti-climax of its decline and fall form a drama of intense human interest. This interest is further heightened by the career of the great emperor Asoka who shines in the dark firmament of Indian history as a bright star whose lustre increases as he recedes further and further into the course of time. His humanism and aversion to warfare cannot fail to strike a sympathetic chord in the heart of a generation, which has passed through two Armageddons shaking the human civilization to its very foundation and is now quailing in fear of a third which threatens to engulf it altogether.
The Maurya empire, which brought about the political unity of India, perished, but left a rich legacy behind it. Though India had to wait for nearly two thousand years for a similar achievement under a foreign yoke, the example of the Mauryas was never lost upon her and inspired successive. royal dynasties to emulate it with varying degrees of success. Besides, the political unity ushered in by the Mauryas led to a cultural unity which manifested itself through the development of a uniform type of language, literature, art and religion all over India; and this left a deep impress which the lapse of time has not been able to efface. The age of imperial unity, the title given to this volume, thus fittingly describes the essential characteristic of the period with which it deals.
But the dazzling brilliance of the political achievements of the period should not blind us to its cultural attainments, which are of an unusually high order. It was predominantly an age of that freedom of thought which is now regarded as a peculiar virtue, if not the monopoly, of the West. It led to an outburst of intellectual activity such as has rarely been witnessed in later ages. Although many of the channels through which this activity flowed were dried up or lost in the sands of time, a few broad streams have survived down to our age fertilising, for more than two thousand years, men's minds and hearts over a considerable part of the globe. These comprise Buddhism and Jainism, the theistic religions Vaishnavism and saivism, and the six systems of philosophy which may be regarded as the permanent contributions of Indian culture to the civilization of the world. The influence of all these upon the growth of civilization in India and the outside world has been described in the following pages, and more will be said in the succeeding volumes. For the student of human culture they perhaps constitute a theme of more abiding interest than even the evolution of an all-India empire under the Mauryas.
There are also other aspects of the intellectual activity which characterise the age. These are the developments in language, literature and art. The period saw the rise of Classical Sanskrit as well as the various forms of Prakrit which are the grand-parents of the numerous modern regional languages of India. It almost brought to perfection the analytical study of languages in the grammatical works of Panini, Katyayana and Patanjali, which still remain the standard works on the subject. As regards literature,
There has been some delay in publishing this volume because of the heavy demand for Volume H, the second edition of which had to be published soon after the first. It is now planned to publish Volumes IV and V simultaneously, and the Bhavan hopes to put them on the market by June 1954.
This Volume covers the period of Indian History from A.D. 320, when the Gupta Empire was founded, to about A.D. 740, when Yasovarman of Kanauj died. The period can suitably be divided into two; one, from A.D. 320 to c. A.D. 467 when Emperor Skanda gupta died, and the other, from A.D. 467 to c.A.D. 740.
Rightly called the 'Classical Age' of India, this period saw a springtime efflorescence in all spheres of life. The creative urge of the time has contributed both character and richness to the evolution of the national mind in every succeeding century. With the rise of the Imperial Pratiharas in the West, the Palas in the East and the Rashtrakutas in the South about the middle of the eighth century, there began the next distinctive period dealt with in the next volume, Empires rise, decline and fall; communities and nations integrate or disintegrate; the latter either develop a collective mind, outlook and will, or lose one or the other only to lose them all eventually. In the one case they evolve an articulate personality; in the other they cast it off and disappear.
The integration and disintegration of human aggregates form the basic patterns of history as viewed through continuous time, To study them, however, they must be viewed in sections, as in this volume. If such a study is to have any meaning, the volume and direction of the flowing stream must be constantly borne in mind.
As I stated in my Foreword to the First Volume, "It is not enough to conserve, record and understand what has happened: it is necessary also to assess the nature and direction of the momentous forces working through the life of India in order to appreciate the fulfilment which they seek."
Throughout the history of India, the process of integration comprises two simultaneous movements: one owes its origin to. Aryan Culture and operates by virtue of the momentum which the from the way of life of the Early Dravidian and other non-Aryan cultures in the country into the framework of the Aryan Culture modifying its form and content, though not the fundamentals, weaving a harmonious pattern continuously. The first movement provides vitality and synthesis; the second contributes vigour and variety. But it is the harmonious adjustment of both that gives to India, age after age, her strength, tenacity and sense of mission.
The adjustment made against the background of racial fusion is symbolised by the sacredness accorded both to the Nigama, the Vedic tradition, and the Agama, the Dravidian tradition; by the equal ritualistic importance of the Vedic horna. and the Dravidian puja to the inseverable Godhood of the Aryan Vishnu and the non-Aryan Siva. It must never be forgotten that Vyasa, the founder and prophet of Arya-dharma, and Sri Krishna, the World Teacher, whose message is its fundamental scripture, are both sons by high-browed Aryans of non-Aryan mothers.
Vedic culture, the culture of the Vedic Aryans, brought an increasing number of people within its fold as it spread through the country. Sweeping changes were made in the religious, social and cultural outlook and institutions of each successive age. But the vitality of the central ideas and fundamental values was never so lost as to bring about complete disintegration. In some periods, however, the two movements produced adjustments at many, if not all, levels; the vitality was converted into irresistible vigour; full nourishment was drawn from the soil of race memory and tradition. At such times a great Age, like the Age of the Guptas, would dawn in India. On the other hand, when the two movements failed either by external or internal maladjustments to support each other, conflict between the two became inevitable; growth ceased to be vigorous; disintegration began as in the beginning of the eleventh century, when the raids of Mahmud of Ghazni overwhelmed parts of north India, the Age of Expansion ended, the Age of Resistance began.
The evolution of India, during the period of the Magadhan supremacy, dealt with in the Second Volume of this series, began with the dawn of history in India in the seventh century before Christ. But long before this, Indians, who had adopted the Aryan way of life, had developed a common way of life; and their sense of unity preserved by tradition and activated by race-memory, recaptured in each generation, was expressed through common action. By vitalising the fundamental values of their culture, they had created vigorous adjustments necessitated by the conditions of each age During this process, the best elements in the society had, from the earliest times, developed a ruling purpose the fulfilment of Rita or Dharma-which gave them the capacity to will themselves into a well-defined and vigorous social organism.
The Magadhan Period closed with the invasion of the Yueh-chis. Disintegration followed in northern and western India and was accentuated by the break up of the Kushana Empire which they had founded. The process of integration was also hindered by Buddhism which was not organically rooted in race memory and race tradition, and stood, in many respects, in antagonism to them. But it was an expansive movement and naturally attracted foreigners; in India, it stimulated the national mind and culture by impact rather than by inspiration. The Sungas and the Satavahana conquerors however drew strength from its roots.
The third century after Christ is still shrouded in obscurity. But, according to the Bhagavata purana, northern India was undergoing a period of disintegration. Nagas ruled in Champavati and Mathura; Abhiras ruled in Saurashtra and Avanti; in the region of Abu and Malava the rulers were devoid of culture 'like unto the mlechchha'. In Sindh, on the banks of the Chandrabhaga, in the land of Kunti in Kashmir, the Sudras, Vratyas and the mlechchhas ruled. These rulers, the author says, lacked the power of the Spirit, disregarded Dharma and Truth, and were 'contemptible and irascible'—phalgudah tivramanyavah. His only hope lay in the new rulers, Visvasphani in Magadha and Vindhyasakti, a Brahmana, ruling on the banks of the Narmada.
But there is little doubt that by the beginning of the fourth century, the forces of disintegration had lost their momentum. In Southern India the old forces were being given new forms and directions.
The period of history described in the preceding volume drew to a close amid chaos and confusion. The great empire of the Mauryas and the political unity of India which it brought about vanished, and the hordes of foreign invaders who dominated over large parts of India gradually lost their political power. A number of new peoples and states emerge out of the political chaos, but dislocation rather than settlement seems to be the order of the day. The abundant records of the Maurya age give place to the scantiest historical materials, so much so that the third century A.D., with which Volume II closes, has been described by some historians as "one of the darkest in the whole range of Indian history."
With the present volume we enter upon a period which offers a striking contrast to the one immediately preceding in almost all these features. The main theme of its political history is the foundation of the Gupta Empire which, at full maturity, once more brings unity, peace and prosperity over nearly the whole of Northern India. It was far less extensive than the Maurya Empire, but was more enduring, and we can study its gradual growth in much fuller detail. The historical records grow larger in number and more varied in character. The darkness of the third century passes away and we are brought into a fuller light. What is more, for the first time we get a clear outline of the political history of India in a definite chronological setting which has continued unbroken to the present day.
The volume starts with the story how the descendants of a petty chieftain named Gupta acquired and maintained and then lost an empire which was bigger than any that flourished since in Ancient India. It covers the first six chapters.
During their rule of more than two centuries the Guptas established their sway over nearly the whole of Northern India and the Imperial writ was obeyed from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea. The dynasty produced a succession of able 'monarchs who were both capable administrators and successful generals. One of them, Samudra-gupta, carried his victorious arms as far as Madras in the south, if not further beyond, and has been deservedly styled 'Indian Napoleon' by an eminent European historian. His son Chandra-gupta advanced probably beyond the Sindhu river, as far as Balkh, and finally extinguished the last vestige of foreign domination in India by defeating the Saka chiefs who had been ruling in Gujarat for more than three hundred years. Skanda-gupta, the grandson of Chandra-gupta, was faced with the terrible ordeal of a Huna invasion. The Hunas, notorious for their ferocious cruelty, were at that time the most dreaded scourge of humanity. They carried fire and sword over Asia and Europe, and their leader Attila was 'able to send equal defiance to the courts of Ravenna and Constantinople.' About the time when the two Roman Empires quailed before them the Hunas appeared at the frontier of India. But the Gupta Emperor inflicted such a crushing defeat upon them that for nearly half a century they dared not cross the Sindhu. When later, they appeared once again, the Gupta Empire was crumbling, but the heroic tradition of old days still inspired the Indians, and no less than three contemporary rulers, including the last great Gupta Emperor, claim to have defeated the Hunas. Whether the three heroes acted singly or in concert we do not know. But it is certain that after a brief spell of success the Hunas ceased to be an important political power in India, far less a threat to its safety and security. Judged in the context of the history of the then world, this definite check to the nomadic barbarian hordes must ever redound to the credit of the Gupta Empire.
The Gupta rulers were versed in arts of war as well as of peace.
They established an efficient system of administration which became the model for succeeding ages. They ensured peace 'and prosperity to the people to which even foreign visitors paid eloquent tribute. During their rule India witnessed a wonderful outburst of intellectual activity and a unique efflorescence of culture to which detailed reference will be made later. There are good grounds to believe that the political system set up by the Gupta rulers and the personality of some of them played a large part in bringing about this momentous change, The Gupta Age was mostly a product of the Gupta Empire.
The Gupta Empire perished, but the memory of its greatness continued for centuries. This was echoed in the popular legends, the most famous of which is that of Vikramaditya. Whether there was an historical king Vikramaditya before the Guptas is a matter of dispute. But there is no doubt that the legend owes much of, its vitality and inspiration to the lives and achievements of the Gupta Emperors, no less than three of whom actually assumed the title Vikramaditya. Like his great contemporary Sulivahana, the legendiary hero Vikramaditya is to be regarded as the personification of a group of rulers rather than an individual. The cycle of Vikramaditya legends, which has been a cherished tradition of India or many centuries, may thus be looked upon as a fitting tribute to the glory of the Gupta Age of which it was a product.
The history of the Imperial Guptas cast into shade that of several contemporary dynasties which enjoyed great local importance. These are dealt with in two separate chapters (VIII, XI). One of them, the Vakatakas, received an undue importance on account of some fanciful conjectures of the late Mr. K. P. Jayaswal, so much so that a recently published volume in a comprehensive history of India, planned in 20 volumes, has been styled the Vakataka-Gupta Age. As a matter of fact, however, the political influence of the Vakatakas hardly ever spread much beyond the Deccan, and for a considerable period their state was an appendage to, if not a vassal of, the Gupta Empire. The same may be said of most other states which enjoyed a nominal independence. Few of them can really be said to have been quite beyond the sphere of influence of the Guptas.
Among the states that succumbed to the Gupta Imperialism special reference must be made to those ruled by republican or oligarchical clans. These formed a distinctive feature of the Indian political system since the days of Buddha, if not much earlier still, and some of them like the Lichchhavis, Sakyas and Mala as played an important role in the political and cultural history of India. The existence of these states with their republican tradition of freedom was always a thorn in the side of Imperialism. The Maurya Empire, true to the imperial policy enunciated by Kautilya, swept them away. But these clans appeared again, and indications are not wanting that many of them took a leading part in the struggle against the foreign hordes who dominated India. But the Gupta Empire made a clean sweep of them all. Some of them submitted to Samudra-gupta and continued for some time as vassal states. But with the growth of the Gupta Empire they gradually fade out of existence never to appear again. We cannot clearly trace the last stages in the dissolution of the republican system after more than a thousand years of recorded activity in Indian politics. But it is certain that Gupta Imperialism was the main cause of its final extinction.
The Age of Imperial Kanauj, with which this Volume deals, deserves a more important place in Indian history than it has been given so' far. I should, therefore, be forgiven if I gave in my own way a picture as I see it.
The Age begins with the repulse of the Arab invasions on the mainland of India in the beginning of the eighth century and ends with the fateful year A.D. 997 when Afghanistan passed into the hands of the Turks.
With this Age, ancient India came to' an end. At the turn of its last century, Sabuktigin and Mahmud came to powerin Ghazni. Their lust, which found expression in the following decades, was to shake the very foundations' of life in India, releasing new forces. They gave birth to medieval India. Till the rise of the Hindu power in Maharashtra in the eighteenth century, India was to pass through a period of collective resistance.
This Age of Imperial Kanauj, on the other hand, was an era 'of great strength and achievement for India. The Arabs who were on .a march in three continents were repulsed. Throughout they were held on the frontiers. The Tibetan power was eliminated from Nepal. The South emerged effectively in the political life of the country, as it had emerged in the earlier age in its religious and cultural life.
This Age saw the rise and fall of three great Empires in the country: of the Rashtrakiitas, founded by Dantidurga (c. A.D. 733757) and his successor, Krishna I (c. A.D. 757-773), which dominated the South till its collapse in the year A.D. 974; of the Palas in the East, 'which saw its zenith under Dharmapala (c. A.D. 770810) ,though it revived a little at the end of the tenth century; of the, Pratiharas of the West and North. founded by Nagabhata I, which saw its zenith during the reigns of Mihira Bhoja (c.A.D. 836-885) and Mahendrapala (c. A.D. 885-908), went under on account of the catastrophic blows dealt by the Rashtrakuta raids, but retained a shadowy imperial dignity to the end.
It was the Age of Kanauj or, Kanyakubja, the imperial city of Isanavarman, which dominated Madhyadesa, the heartland of India. It was the coveted prize of the three imperial powers racing for all India supremacy. Ultimately it passed into the hands. of the Pratthara Gurjaresvaras about A.D. 815; remained the metropolis of power till A.D. 950, and continued to be the most influential centre of culture till A.D. 1018 when it was destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni,
By inheritance Kanauj was the home of Indo-Aryan traditions.
In the post-Vedic ages the region from Hardwar to Urmao, near Lucknow, was known as Aryavarta. Later with the spread of IndoAryan culture, first, north India, and then the whole country, came to be called by that name. The original Aryavarta then come to be known as Brahmavarta, with accretions, was called Madhyadesa during this age.
When Hastinapura met with disaster due to floods, as the recent excavations at Hastinapura corroborative of the Puranic testimony show, Nichakshu, the descendant of Janamejaya Parikshita led the Kurus to Kausambi. In the early sixth century when the Magadhan Age opened, it was the capital of a powerful Aryan kingdom; Vatsaraja, who could lure elephants by his music, was then its ruler. It remained such capital till the end of the sixth century of the Christian Era. Then North India was overrun by the Hunas Kausambi was destroyed. But with isanavarman, the liberator who drove out the Hunas, Kanauj came into prominence, as the centre of power in Madhyadesa, no longer a principality of the Gupta Empire.
In the seventh century the kings of Bengal and Mlalava destroyed the power of Kanauj, then in the hands of the descendants of isanavarman. On ·the ruins of the Maukhari kingdom, Sri 'Harsha built his short-lived empire of Madhyadesa. During his forty-two years' rule (A.D. 606-647), Kanauj grew into the foremost city of India. Sri Harsha, however, could not create a hierarchy pledged to support his Imperial structure. He left no able successor. His empire was dissolved soon after he died.
For more than half a· century thereafter, the history of Kanauj is wrapt in obscurity. At the end of. it, Yasovarman, a great conqueror and the patron of Bhavabhtrti and Vakpati, is found ruling Kanauj. Both Yasovarman and Lalitaditya of Kashmir joined hands against the inroads of the Arabs and Tibetans. But the allies soon fell out and Lalitaditya destroyed the power of Yasovarman.
The classical age of India closed with the reign of Yasovarman This age then opened with one Indrayudha on the throne of Kanauj, which had retained its metropolitan and symbolic importance as the capital of India. And the stage was set for the triangular struggle for it between the Rashtrakiitas of the South, the Pratiharas of Gurjaradesa and the Palas of Bengal.
The first great conqueror to emerge on the scene, with the Age, was the Rashtrakirta Dantidurga. The son of Indra I by a Chalukyan princess of Gujarat, he began his Napoleonic career in c. A.D. 733, became the master of the whole of Maharashtra by 753, and destroyed the Chalukyan Empire to assume an imperial status. He was succeeded by his uncle Krishna I, the builder of the Kailasa temple of Ellora. In a reign of fifteen years, he added to the empire what are the modern states of Hyderabad and Mysore.
About the same time, Gopala, elected to the position of a chieftain, consolidated Bengal. His son Dharmapala (c. A.D. 770-810) led his conquering army through the whole valley of Ganga; reduced the ruler of Kanauj to a puppet; held courts at Kanauj and Pataliputra. For long he commanded the allegiance of most/of the kings of the north.
There was ferment also in the west. In A.D. 712 the Arabs conquered Sindh. About A.D. 725 Junaid, its governor, under the orders of Caliph Hasham of Baghdad, sent an army for the conquest of India. It overran Saureshtra, Bhillamala, the capital of Gurjara (the Abu Region), and reached Ujjayini.
Then arose an unknown hero, Nagabhata by name; possibly he belonged to a branch of the royal Pratihara family Of Bhillamala, the capital of Gurjaradesa. He rallied to his banner the warriors 'of the allied clans of Pratiharas, Chahamanas and also, perhaps, Guhilaputras, Chalukyas and Paramaras, all of whom had their home in the region of Mount Abu. Nagabhata fought the invading army, flung it back, destroyed it.
This victory welded the clans of Gurjaradesa into a hierarchy. It gave them self-assurance and. the will to conquer. With a leader and a destiny, they laid the foundations of a new power that was destined to play an important part in history.
During Nagabhata's time Dantidurga with his conquering army swept over the north, captured Ujjayini, where the Pratihara, his fortunes temporarily eclipsed, played the host to the conqueror.
The preceding volume closed with an account of the shortlived empires in Northern India founded .by Harsha-vardhana, Yasovarman, .and Lalitaditya. But although they failed in their efforts to build up a stable empire, the imperial tradition handed down by them bore rich fruit during the period covered by this volume. The middle of the eighth century A.D., which marks its commencement, is a great landmark in Indian history. It saw the rise of three great dynasties which were destined to play the imperial role. with far greater success than any of the' three individual heroes mentioned above.
Of these three great dynasties the Gurjara-Pratiharas were the earliest, and the foundation of their power in Western India, shortly before A. D .750, has been described in the preceding volume. The two other powers, which suddenly came into prominence about the same time, were the Palas of Eastern .India and the Rashtrakutas of the Deccan. The rivalry and struggle between these three great powers forms the dominant theme of history dealt with in' this volume.
The city of Kanauj was raised to the dignity of an imperial capital by Harsha-vardhana, But though his empire collapsed .with his death, the glamour: of Kanauj was revived by Yasovarman. During the period under review it formed the centre of attraction of all the three great powers, and they regarded its possession as a consummation to be devoutly wished for. It was finally chosen as the capital by the Gurjara-Pratiharas. Under them it rose to be the finest city in the whole of India and continued' as such till the end of the period covered by this volume. This circumstance has suggested the name of this volume, viz. The Age of Imperial Kanauj. It is hardly necessary to add that this nomenclature is only to be taken in a general sense, and Ts not intended to cover the entire history dealt with 'in this volume. Indeed no title could be devised' which fulfils this condition, and no apology is perhaps needed' to name any particular volume after its dominant theme.
The period, covered by this volume witnessed the rise and fall of three empires. The Palas under Dharmapala and Devapala established a mighty empire, and they claimed allegiance of nearly the whole of Northern India. Then came the turn of the Pratiharas who, under Bhoja and Mahendrapala, brought under their direct administration a vast extent of territory, from the Kathiawad Peninsula in the west to Northern Bengal in the east. No such empire flourished in North India after the Guptas. For there is no doubt that the Gurjara-Pratihara Empire was more extensive, more durable, and had a more stable and organised administration than the empire of Harsha-vardhana. The detailed account of this empire in the present volume will show the erroneous, almost ludicrous, character of the 'notion that Harsha-vardhana was the last empire builder In Northern India, to which reference has been made in the Preface to the preceding volume.
Both the Palas and Pratiharas felt the full brunt of the Rashtrakuta power. Although the Rashtrakutas ruled over the Deccan, they were fired by the ambition of conquering Northern India. They defeated the Pratihara rulers Vatsaraja and Nagabhata and the Pala king Dharmapala. Under Dhruva and his son Govinda III they proved to be the greatest military power in India, and while the former carried his victorious campaign as far as, the do and between the Ganga and the Yamuna, the latter overran the whole country up to the Himalayas. Even a century later, one of their' successors sacked the imperial city of Kanauj, then at the heyday of its glory, and forced the Pratihara Emperor to fly for his life.
The Rashtrakutas also successfully fought with the Pallavas and other powers of the South Indian Peninsula, and advanced even as far as Ramesvaram. From the political point of view the Rashtrakuta Empire constitutes the most brilliant episode in the history of the ancient Deccan. No other power, south of the Vindhyas, played such a dominant role in the history of North India, until the age of the Maratha Peshwas in the eighteenth century.
The Pratiharas, though never a match for the Rashtrakutas, played a dominant role in North Indian politics. They stood as bulwark against the Muslims of the Sindhu valley. It has been asserted by the Muslim writers that the Pratiharas were the greatest foes of the Muslims, and could easily defeat the latter; but whenever the Pratiharas advanced, the Muslims threatened to destroy: the famous image of the Sun-god in Multan, and the Pratiharas immediately retreated. The Muslims thus took advantage of the religious feelings of the Hindu Pratiharas in order to save themselves from, impending ruin.
One of the objects of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, the Institution which sponsors this Series, is the "study of the forces, movements, motives, ideas, forms and art of creative energy through I which it expressed it (Indian Culture) in different ages as one continuous process". An attempt has, therefore, to be made, consistently with this object, to present a view of the Age in flowing time.
I do so in all humility. I fully realise my inadequacy to do so for, I have to rely upon whatever little study I have made and whatever I have observed, during the last fifty years, of the collective responses of our people to the events, movements, customs, institutions and values as also to men who have, through their life and teachings, evoked the unseen forces which have shaped the life of India.
The most crucial Age in Indian history began in A.D.' 998, when the Turkish conqueror, Mahmud, captured Ghazni; it ended in A.D. 1292, when the Khalji Chief, Jalal-ud-din, proclaimed himself the Sultan of Delhi. It can, however, be conveniently divided into two periods, the first ending in A.D. 1193, when Mucizz-ud-din Ghari defeated Prithviraja Chahamana of Ajmer in the Battle of Tarain or Taraori and opened the gates of Madhya Pradesh to the foreign invader; the second ending in 1299.
This period, in my opinion, has not yet been studied from India's point of view; from the point of view of the trials she passed through; of the sufferings she underwent when foreign elements forced their way into her life-blood; of the' manner in which she reacted to the situation; of the means which she found to meet, or to mitigate, the dangers that confronted her;' of the ways in which she reconstructed, achieved and fulfilled herself.
Such a study is difficult for two reasons. First, the chronicles written by the proteges of the invaders or their successors throw a dubious but concentrated light on the narrow sector of life which their patrons dominated. This generally leads to the unconfessed impression that the vastly broad sector, which lies in obscurity for want of historical material either did' not exist or does not matter as much.
Secondly, the magnificence of Akbar's achievements in the sixteenth century, by an illusory retrospectively casts a reflected glamour on the period of the Sultanate.. Because the Mughal Empire was an experiment in a national monarchy presided over by a Muslim monarch, one comes to assume, by an easy transition, that the Muslim-dominated Sultanate was the chrysalis from which it sprang.
Unless, therefore, the period is viewed from a right perspective, its true picture cannot possibly emerge; nor would it be possible to assess the factors which, coming into existence during this period, affected the life of the people through the intervening centuries, and which still confront it with unsolved problems.
The year A.D. 1000 was a fateful year for India. In that year, Mahmud of Ghazni first invaded it. That event, in my opinion, divides Ancient from Medieval India.
For over 2000 years before this event, that is, from before the days of king Janamejaya Parikshita, referred to in the Brahmanas, the culture of the dominant classes, developing in almost unbroken continuity, had brought large sections of the people within its fold. It was, however, disturbed on occasions, for instance, by the raids of Alexander; by the influx of the Bactrian Greeks, the Kushanas and the Sakas; by the invasion of the Hunas; by the Arab incursions in Sindh. But these inroads were only temporary episodes; the vitality of the culture and social organization found it easy to absorb most of the alien elements which were left behind in the country after they were closed.
This continuous vitality is a phenomenon, without appreciating which it is difficult to study the epochs of Indian history in continuous time. Several factors have maintained it. Of them, perhaps the most important was the 'Aryavarta-consciousness' which threw up values and institutions of great vigour and tenacity.
It was based on the faith that Bharatavarsha, in its ideal aspect often referred to as Aryavarta, was the sacred land of Dharma, 'the high road to Heaven and to Salvation'; where 'men were nobler than the Gods themselves;" where all knowledge, thought and worship were rooted in the Vedas, revealed by the Gods themselves; where the Dharmasastras prescribed the fundamental canons of personal life and social relations; where Chaturvarnya, the divinely-ordained four-fold order of society, embraced all social groups; where, whatever the dialect of the people, Sanskrit, the language of the Gods, was the supreme medium of high expression.'
The Dharma-Sastras-and by that is meant not only the Smritis beginning with the Manu-smriti, but the Mahabharata2-have played a very big role in the life of the country. Particularly Manu-smriti, as the Dharmasastra of divine origin, has had an all-pervading influence from the time historical memory could reach back to moulding the mind and the life of men, not only in India but in the India beyond the Seas, in Burma, Siam, Annam, Cambodia, 'Java and Bali,
With the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, it has provided ,a background of continuity to the social and moral life; modified customary laws of tribes and communities in different stages of civilization; and built up the Collective Unconscious of our people, that subconscious source of integrative vitality which keeps a people together, leads them to feel and react as one in the face of certain circumstances, and provides the urge to collective action of a curring character.
Century after century, the system, first formulated by the Manusmriti, was accepted throughout the country, never by force of arms, less by royal fiats than the sanction implied in the belief that 'God ' gave it and the ancestors obeyed it'. It was found so acceptable because it had a revealing basis of reality: of a frank recognition of the temperamental inequalities of man; of the predominance of hereditary influences over environments; of the need for a synthetic framework for widely differing social groups in a vast country where culture had been staggered from not only region to region, but often from one group of villages to another. Its fundamental aim was to produce a synthetic urge towards human betterment, which treated economic, social, material, and ethical and spiritual well-being as indivisible; an aim which has yet to be improved upon by any other system.
These values gave continuity to the way of life of even those sections who did not accept the divine origin of the Vedas or Chaturvarnya. They also provided homogeneity to widely differing communities and religious cults and forms. The universal urge which they provided to go on a pilgrimage, generation after generation, to the mountains, rivers, towns of ancient fame, and holy spots and shrines which were conceived as the physical manifestations of the Land of Dharma, also kept alive an emotional awareness of unity and sanctity.
The 'Aiyavarta-consciousness' was mainly religio-cultural in content. Its political significance which, though often belied in practice, exercised considerable influence with the kings of an earlier age in North India when they faced foreign invasion; it is summed up by Medhatithi thus: "Aryavarta was so called because the Aryas sprang up in it again and again. Even if it was overrun by the mlechchhas, they could never abide there for long". The tradition. also had it that whenever a crisis arose, a chakravartin, a worldemperor, would rise in the land and re-establish Dharma. South India, however, which accepted the religio-cultural aspects of 'Aryavarta-consciousness' and Manu's system, knew no such significance, for it had never to face the problem of the mlechchhas till the fourteenth century.
The consciousness in its political aspect had all but disappeared during the few decades which preceded A.P. 1000 on account of the recurring upheavals in North India. The empire of Kanauj, which had stabilised North India for well-nigh 150 years and supported the Shihi kings of the North-West has disintegrated. Now Raghukulabhuchakravarti, 'the World-Emperor of Raghu's race', was merely a symbol of a vanished greatness, ruling over a small territory around Kanauj on the sufferance of his erstwhile feudatories. Some of them, however, like the Chandellas of Jejakabhukti, the Kalachuris of Dahala and the Paramaras of Malava were engaged in struggling to found an empire on the ruins of old one, but with little success.
In Eastern India, the Pilas, the Chandras, the Varmans and the Gailgas fought each other with fluctuating success, struggling to retain whatever they had or to filch what they had not.
The Rashtrakutas, the rivals of the Pratihara-Gurjaresvaras, had faded away; their empire, which for well-nigh two centuries had dominated most of South India, had also been dissolved. The Paramaras of Malava and the Western Chalukyas, both feudatories of the Rishtrakutas, at one time or the other, were locked in a life and death struggle, while Rajaraja Chola (A.D. 985-1014), who ruled over the extreme South, was just emerging as a powerful and wise monarch.
This volume covers the period, roughly speaking, from A.D. 1000 to 1300. But there has been a slight departure from these limiting dates both at the beginning as well as at the end. In the First Chapter the rise of the Ghaznavids has been traced from the very beginning in the latter half of the tenth century A.D. In Chapter V the history of the Delhi Sultanate is brought to a close with the accession of Sultan Jalal-ud-din Firoiz Shah in A.D. 1290. In both the cases the departure has been made with a view to giving a complete account of the Ghaznavids in this volume and of the Khaljis in the next. For a similar reason the history of some Hindu ruling dynasties has been brought down to the fourteenth century A.D. when they were incorporated in the Delhi Sultanate. The most notable instances are the Yadavas of Devagiri, the Kakatiyas of Warangal, and the Hoysalas and the Pandyas of South India. But only a 'very brief outline is given in this volume of their history after A.D. 1300. More detailed account will be given in the next volume in connection with their Muslim conquerors. In some cases all controversial issues have been omitted in this volume and reserved for the next. For instance, the current and generally accepted views of the date of the first invasion of Devagiri by 'Ali-ud-din Khalji and the name of the crown-prince who opposed him have been stated, but different views on both these points will be discussed fully with reference to authorities in the next volume.
This volume deals with the transition period that marks, the end of independent Hindu rule and the beginning of the dominance of Turkish tribes over a large part, if not the whole, of India. Such dominance of foreign peoples, even from the same region in Central Asia, was no new thing in Indian history. Successive waves of Turkish hordes submerged a great "portion of Northern India during the period that intervened between thefa1l of the Maurya and the rise of the Gupta Empire. And all these, like the later Turkish, invaders, came to stay-in this country. Nevertheless they did not mark any turning-point in the history of India, nor any sudden break in the continuity of her history and culture. . For they slowly and silently merged themselves into the population of the country, and became one with them in all respects without leaving, any trace of their separate entity. This was, however not the' case with the and were loyally supported by the Indians from the interior. But nothing availed against the repeated and stubborn onslaughts of Sabuktigin and Mahmud. The resistance collapsed, and then the horrors of barbarian invasions, fired with the fanatic zeal for demolishing idols and temples, born of the crusading spirit of Islam, were let loose on the fair plains and cities of Hindustan. It is not possible to recount fully the sad tales of those dark and evil days, as we have no record from the side of the Indians; but the picture depicted by the victors themselves enables us to get a faint echo of the great tragedy which befell India during the first quarter of the eleventh century A.D. It was a tragedy big with future consequences. Not only was India drained of enormous wealth and man-power, but, what was far worse, the Muslims obtained a permanent footing in the Punjab which commanded the highway to her interior.
But a still more sublime tragedy was the comparative indifference of the Indian chiefs to this growing menace and the fancied security in which they chose to repose during the period intervening between the death of Mahmud and the next invasion by the Ghuris. Some Indian kings defeated the Muslims, and checked their further aggressive campaigns. One of them even claims to have exterminated the Mlechchhas (Muslims) so that Aryavarta again became true to its name, i. e. abode of the Aryas. But this rare evidence of a sense of national consciousness makes it all the more a matter of surprise, that instead of uttering such vain boast the Indian chiefs should not have taken concerted action in removing the thorn in their flesh by driving the Turkish conquerors out of India. Innumerable opportunities offered themselves to render this task a comparatively easy one. The kingdom of Ghazni passed through critical days and was overtaken by many dangers, both internal and external, till the nemesis overtook it, and its beautiful capital city, built on the ruins and plunder of India, perished in flames. But the powerful Indian chiefs, far from taking advantage of any such opportunity during the long period of a century and a half, were more intent upon aggrandising themselves at the cost of their neighbours than turning their whole-hearted attention to the great national task of freeing the Punjab from the yoke of the foreigners of an alien faith.
On account of heavy pressure of work, I have had to deny myself the usual privilege of writing a detailed foreword to this volume, presenting a view of this age in flowing time.
In preparing this volume, Dr. R. C. Majumdar, General Editor, has had to bear more than· his usual burden and I am deeply grateful to him for his indefatigable and conscientious labours, which were so ably supplemented by Dr. Ashok Majumdar, the Assistant Editor in charge of this volume. My thanks are also due to the scholars who have contributed the different sections of this volume, as also to the Director General of Archaeology who has supplied photo- graphs for the illustrations of this volume.
I again express my gratitude to Shri G. D. Birla, Chairman, and members of the Board of Shri Krishnarpan Charity Trust, for their initial grant, without which the scheme could not Kave been undertaken, as also to the Government of India for their giving us a loan of Rs. 150,000/- for further financing this project. The staff of the Bhavan and its Press have looked after the preparation and printing of this volume with their usual care and deserve congratulations for their zeal.
This volume deals with the. period during which the foreign Muslim conquerors, mostly of Turkish origin, established 'an effective suzerainty over the greater part of India. The popular notion that after the conquest of Muhammad Ghurfi India formed a Muslim. Empire, under various dynasties, is hardly borne out by facts. It has been shown in the preceding' volume that the major, part of India remained free from Muslim domination till almost the very end of the thirteenth century A.D. It was 'Ala-ud-din Khalji who for the first time established Muslim suzerainty over, nearly the whole of Indi8. But his actual sovereignty did not extend beyond the Vindhyas, save in the Western Decean during the last three years of his reign. The Khalji empire rose and, fell during the 'brief period of twenty years (A.D. 1300-1320). The Tughlaqs, who succeeded the Khaljis, made an attempt not only to revive the empire, but also to exercise an effective sovereignty' over it. But the task proved been their power. The empire of Muhammad bin Tughluq, which included. the southernmost part of India as a province under his governor, broke up within a decade of his accession (A.D. 1325), and before another decade was over, the Turkish .empire passed away for ever India once more presented the spectacle of being divided into a congeries of States both big and small, which always followed the dissolution of an empire in the past. The state of things continued for nearly two centuries and a half till the Mughuls established a stable and durable empire in the second half of the sixteenth century A.D.
Thus, Barring the two very short lived empires under the Khaljis and Muhammad bin Tughluq which lasted, respectively; for less than twenty and ten years, there was no Turkish Muslim empire of 'India. The Delhi Sultanate, as the symbol of this empire; continued in-name·throughout the period' under' review but, gradually shorn of power and prestige, it was reduced to a phantom by the Invasion of Timur at the end of the fourteenth century A.D. Among the States that arose out of the ruins of these two ephemeral empires; six may' be regarded as really very powerful. Three of "these namely the Bahmani kingdom in the Decean, Gujarat in the west, and Bengali in the east were ruled by Muslims, while their rivals and neighbours, namely Vijayanagara in South India, Mewat in Rajputana; and Orissa, along the eastern coast, were ruled by Hindus. The remnant of the Delhi Sultanate and two other Muslim States, Jaunpur and Milwa, also occasionally played an important role. The con- start rivalries and struggles between these States which were generally, but not invariably, grouped on religious lines, form the main feature of the political history of the period covered by this volume. A very prolonged and sustained warfare between Mewar and Gujarat cum Malwa in the west, Bahmani and Vijayanagara in the south, and between Orissa and the last two as well as Bengal in the east, indicates the main trend of politics during the period. These struggles weakened all these powers, but led to no decisive result. The intrigues and dissensions within the Delhi Sultanate, which had a brief revival of power under the Lodis, and its quarrels with the petty States in the north-west paved the way for - the Mughul conquest under Babur.
The political disintegration and lack of a central authority were mainly responsible for two great calamities that befell India in the shape of foreign invasions, both big with future consequences. The first was the invasion of Timur, the Turkish autocrat; who followed in the footsteps of the Mongol Chingiz Khan and carried fire and sword over a large part of the continent of Asia. He had two objects r in view in invading India,-first, to put Islam on a firm footing by 'destroying the infidels (Kafir) and thereby becoming a Ghazi or a martyr', and secondly, 'to plunder the fabulous wealth and valuables of the infidels'. He was no doubt encouraged by the tottering condition of the Delhi Sultanate, and advanced with his hordes towards India. Urged forward by the hope of gaining reward both in this world as well as in the next--a combination of the two incentives most powerful in a medieval Muslim autocrat-Timur let loose the horrors of a barbaric warfare oh the fair cities and plains of India. Never since the days of Sultan Mahmad, four hundred years before, had 'India witnessed such deliberate massacre of the Hindus in cold blood. Fortunately for historians, Timur has. himself recorded. his misdeeds, as it would otherwise be difficult to believe the inhuman atrocities perpetrated by him. Everything that unbridled lust and unchecked barbarism could conceive was perpetrated by his fanatic myrmidons, and the climax was reached in the cold-blooded massacre of one hundred thousand Hindu prisoners outside the plains of Delhi,-an event unparalleled in the history of the world. As attempts have been recently made to minimise and explain away his enormity, the account of his unmitigated barbarity has - been given in some detail, as far as possible in his own words, in Chapter VII.
A century later India was visited by the Portuguese fleet under Vasco da Gama. It was the first scene in the tragic drama which ended with the complete subjugation of India by a European power. Vasco da Gama's name occupies a high place in European history as the discoverer of the route or the means which enabled Europe to exploit fully the resources of the east. But the historians of India are bound to regard him, like Timur and other foreign conquerors beginning from Alexander, in quite a different light. For nearly two centuries he and his followers brought untold miseries upon the people living in the coastal regions, and 'Portuguese' became a by- word for cruelty in India. The historians have, however, generally failed to point out the strong family resemblance between 'Timur and Vasco da Gama. Both were inspired by the same motives acquisition of wealth and promotion of religion, Islam in the one case and Christianity in the other. Both were equally cruel-al- most fiendish in character. The atrocity of Vasco da Gama, though necessarily limited by the means at his disposal, did not differ in kind; save that it had a refined touch of racial arrogance which made it all the more odious. As this aspect of Vasco da Gama is generally shrouded under his well-deserved reputation for exploring the sea- route to the east as in the case of Alexander who similarly explored the land-route-this point has been fully dealt with in Chapter XIII-E IV. It may be further added that Timur' and Vasco da Gama were instrumental in establishing the supremacy, respectively, of the Mughuls and the British In India. The visitations of Timur and Vasco da Gama were thus no mere passing episodes in. the history of the period, but pregnant with big consequences. They also demonstrated the serious defects in the defence system of India, caused by the manifold development in the technique of warfare, both by land and sea, in countries far beyond the frontiers of India within whose seemingly impregnable barriers her people chose to immure them- selves, But the lessons were lost upon men and rulers of India.
The reasons for the postponement of the publication of this and the next volume (Vols. VII and VIII) till after Vols. IX, X and XI were published have been stated in the Preface to Vol. IX of this series (p. xxxiv).
This, the seventh volume of the series, deals with the period from 1526 to 1707 A. D. during which the Mughuls gradually established their authority over nearly the whole of India. This is the brightest Chapter in the history of Muslim rule in India, which began in the 13th century A.D. and covers a period of nearly six hundred years in north and five hundred years in south India. The Mughul rule is distinguished by the establishment of a stable Government with an efficient system of administration, a very high development of architecture and paintings and, above all, wealth and splendour such as no other Islamic State in any part of the world may boast of.
So far as the Hindus were concerned, there was no improvement either in their material and moral conditions or in their relations with the Muslims. With the sole exception of Akbar, who sought to conciliate the Hindus by removing some of the glaring evils to which they we're subjected, almost all the other Mughul Emperors were notorious for their religious bigotry. The Muslim law which imposed many disabilities and indignities upon the Hindus, mentioned in Vol. VI (pp. 617-20), and thereby definitely gave them an inferior social and political status, as compared to the Muslims, was followed by these Mughul Emperors (and other Muslim rulers) with as much zeal as was displayed by their predecessors. the Sultans of Delhi. The climax was reached during the reign of Aurangzib, who deliberately pursued the policy of destroying and desecrating Hindu temples and idols with a thoroughness unknown before or since. Such disclosures may not be liked by the high officials and a section of the politicians, but it is the solemn duty of the historian to state the truth, however unpleasant or discreditable it might be to any particular class or community. Un- fortunately, political expediency in India during this century has sought to destroy this true historic spirit. This alone can explain the concealed, and mostly unsuccessful, attempt to disparage the statements about the Hindu-Muslim relations made in Volume V (pp. 497-502) and Vol. VI (pp. 615-636), though these were based mainly on Muslim chronicles and accounts of a Muslim traveller, supported by contemporary Indian literature.
The difficulty of writing the true history of Hindu-Muslim relations as well as the editorial policy followed in this matter has been stated at some length in the Preface to Vol. VI (pp. xxix- xxx) of this series. The same policy is followed in this volume also.
It is very sad that the spirit of perverting history to suit political views is no longer confined to politicians, but has definitely spread even among professional historians.
In the present volume, reference has been made in some detail to the' Muslim bigotry in general' and the persecution of the Hindus by Aurangzib in particular (pp. 233-36, 305-6). Although the statements are based on unimpeachable authority, there is hardly any doubt that they will be condemned not only by a small class of historians enjoying official favour, but also by a section of Indians who are quite large in number and occupy high position in politics and society. It is painful to mention, though impossible to ignore, the fact that there is a distinct and conscious attempt to rewrite the whole chapter of the bigotry and intolerance of the Muslim rulers towards Hindu religion." This was originally prompted by the political motive of bringing together the Hindus and Musalmans in a common fight against the British but has continued ever since. A history written under the auspices of the Indian National Congress sought to repudiate the charge that the Muslim rulers broke Hindu temples, and asserted that they were the most tolerant in matters, of religion. Following in .its footsteps a noted historian has sought to exonerate Mahmud of. Ghazni's bigotry and fanaticism, and several writers in India have come forward to defend Aurangzib against Jadunath Sarkar's charge of religious intolerance. It is interesting to note that in the revised edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, one of them, while re-writing the .article on Aurangzib originally written by Sir William Irvine, has expressed the view that the charge of breaking Hindu temples brought against Aurangzib is a disputed point. Alas for poor Jadunath Sarkar, who must have turned in his grave if he were buried. For, after reading his History of Aurangzib one would be tempted to ask. if the temple-breaking policy of Aurangzib is a disputed point, is there a single fact in the whole recorded history of mankind which may be taken as undisputed? A' noted historian has sought to prove that the Hindu population' was better off under, the Muslims than under the Hindu tributaries or independent rulers. While some historians have sought to show that the Hindu and Muslim cultures were fundamentally different and formed two distinct and separate units flourishing side by side, the late K. M. Ashraf sought to prove that the Hindus and Muslims had no cultural conflict." But the climax was reached by the politician-cum-historian Lala Lajpat Rai when he asserted that "the Hindus and Muslims have coalesced into an Indian people very much in the same way as the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes and Normans formed the English people of today." His further assertion that "the Muslim rule in India was not a foreign rule" has now become the oft-repeated slogan, of a certain political party. I have discussed the question in some detail. 'elsewhere" and need not elaborate the point any further.
The policy adopted in regard to this question in this ,and the preceding volumes, and discussed at some length in Vol. VI (pp. xxix-xxx) , was most eloquently expressed by Jadunath Sarkar as far back as 1915 in 'his Presidential speech at a historical conference in Bengal. The following is a literal English translation of the original Bengali passage:
"I would not care whether truth is pleasant or unpleasant, and in consonance with or opposed to current views. I would' not mind in the least whether truth is or is not a blow to the glory of my country." If necessary, I shall bear in patience the ridicule and slander of friends and society for the sake of preaching truth. But still I shall seek truth, understand truth, and accept truth. This should be the firm resolve of a historian."
I may conclude this topic by referring to the views expressed by Jadunath Sarkar and Dr. Rajendra Prasad at a much later date when Dr. Rajendra Prasad launched a scheme' to write a comprehensive national history of India on a co-operative basis, and requested Jadunath to become its chief editor. Jadunath wrote to him on 19 November, 1937: "National history, like every other history worthy of the name and deserving to endure, must be true as regards the facts and reasonable in the interpretation of them. It will be national not in the sense that It will try to suppress or white-wash everything in our country's past that is disgraceful, but because it will admit them and at the same time point out that there were of and ' .nobler aspects in the stages of our nation's evolution which:'c;51fset· the former. In this task the historian must be a judge; He will not suppress any defect of the national character, but add to his portraiture those higher qualities which, taken together with the former, help to constitute the entire individual."
In his reply to the above, dated 22 November, 1937, Dr. Rajendra Prasad wrote: "I entirely agree with you that no history is worth the name which suppresses or distorts facts. A historian who purposely does so under the impression that he thereby does good to his native country really harms it in the end. Much more so. in the case of a country like ours which has suffered much on account of its national defects, and which must know and under- stand them to be able to remedy them."
An apt illustration of the truth of the observation in the last sentence is furnished by the religious bigotry of the Mughul Emperors. If we consider the relevant facts of history as discussed in this volume, in an open mind, without either any rancour or resentment on the one hand, and a desire to suppress the truth on the other, we can never deny that religious bigotry contributed to a very large extent to the downfall of the mighty Mughul empire. If we realize fully this great historical truth we may learn a valuable lesson from the teachings of history which might serve as a useful guide in shaping our destiny in future. If we deny it out of misguided sentiments, it would be a perversion of historical truth. For. the rebellion of the Rajputs, who were a pillar of strength to the Mughul Emperors, against Aurangzib, and the rise of the Marathas and Sikhs as great military powers-the three great events which brought about the decline and fall of the Mughul empire were direct consequences of the bigotry of the Mughul emperors in general and of Aurangzib in particular. It is not perhaps a mere coincidence that the reign of Aurangzib, during which the religious bigotry reached its climax, was followed almost immediate- ly after his death by a rapid process of decline and disintegration of the Mughul Empire. It is true that other causes were also at work, such as the fratricidal wars of succession. We should remember, however, that there were similar wars also just before Aurangzib ascended the throne, but the Mughul Empire survived it-because it could still count on the loyal support of the Rajputs and had not to encounter the opposition, either of the Rajputs or of the Marathas and the Sikhs whom Aurangzib's bigotry had converted into deadly enemies.
The publication of this volume completes" THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE INDIJ\N PEOPLE" Series published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay. It was originally planned to consist of only ten volumes; and the first six volumes, ending with the history of the Delhi Sultanate, were published between 1951 and 1960.
In the meanwhile the idea had gradually gained ground that the British period of Indian history ending with the independence of India. was so important both from practical and sentimental points of view that it must take precedence over the other volumes and should be dealt with in three volumes instead of two, assigned to it. So Volumes IX, X and XI, dealing with the British rule in India, were published between 1963 and 1969. Volume VII dealing with the Mughul period was then taken up and published in 1974. The present Volume VIII, dealing with the period from 1707 to 1818, completes the scheme, initiated in 1944, of writing the history and culture of the Indian people from the earliest times.
The project of writing this history was conceived by Dr. K. M. Munshi and the idea lying behind it is stated by him in the following words in the Foreword to Vol. I of this series:
"In the course of my studies I had long felt the inadequacy of our so-called Indian histories. For many years, therefore, I was. planning an elaborate history of India in order not only that India's past might be described by her sons, but also that the world might catch a glimpse of her soul as Indians see it. The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, an educational society which 1 founded in 1938, took over the scheme. It was; however, realized only in. 1944, when my generous friend Mr. G.D. Birla, one of India's foremost industrialists, lent me his co-operation and the support of the Shri Krishnarpan Charity Trust of which he is the Chairman. As a result, 'The Bharatiya Itihas Samiti', the Academy of Indian History, was formed with the specific object of preparing this series, now styled" THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE INDIAN PEOPLE. "
In the same Foreword Dr. Munshi defined the scope and object of history (quoted again in Vol. VII, p. vii) which have always been kept in view by the Editor in preparing this series:
When, in 1944,' Munshiji conceived the project of writing this his- tory, there were two other schemes of writing such a history of India, respectively,' in twenty and twelve volumes. Only two volumes of each of these projects have been so far published. This clearly indicates the handicaps under which such projects have to be carried out in this country and is cited here not as an excuse or explanation of the long period of thirty-two years required for, the completion of this series of eleven volumes, containing about 9,000 pages, 283 plates and 20 maps.
When I naturally feel a sense of relief and exaltation that I have lived long enough to see the completion of the hardest and most arduous and ambitious literary work in my life, I cannot but recall without deep. sorrow that Munshiji is no longer with me to share this emotion. Fortunately, Gunanidhi Shri Ghanshyamdas Birla, whose munificent donation enabled Munshiji to start this project, as mentioned above, is still with us to see the completion of the project.
I take this opportunity to offer my heart-felt thanks to the scholars -about seventy-five in number-who have enriched this series by their contributions. Many of them, alas! are no longer with us to share our joy. To this category belongs Dr. A. D. Pusalkar, the Assistant Editor of the first six volumes. I cannot express in words the deep obligations I owe to him for helping me in various ways in preparing the first six volumes. I take this opportunity to place on record my deep obligations to the other Assistant Editors who rendered very valuable service in preparing this series. These are Dr. A. K. Majumdar, Dr. J. N. Chaudhuri, Dr. D. K. Ghose, Dr. S. Chaudhuri and Dr. V. G. Dighe, who are all happily alive to share my joy at the completion of this series of, eleven volumes.
I also convey' my thanks to the editors of the various journals whose favourable reviews of the different volumes proved to be a great source of inspiration and enthusiasm that sustained me in carrying on this arduous task of editing the eleven volumes. I still remember how encouraged I felt when I read the review of the Five Volume in the Times Literary Supplement containing the following appreciative remarks: “This history, unlike its predecessors, is first and foremost a history of India and of her people, rather than a history of those who have invaded her from time to time. The standard, in a word, is very high...”
Today, when this 32-yearold scheme has had a successful completion, the 88 year old Editor considers it as the proudest day in his life and takes leave of the readers of this series by uttering Nune Dimittis, Oh my Lord, let me die in peace.
This volume deals with the history of India from the death of Aurangzib (1707) to the Third Maratha War (1818). It was an eventful period that witnessed the end of Muslim rule, the rise and fall of the Maratha Empire and the foundation of the British Empire in India.
The period began with political disintegration leading to struggle for power, not only among the Indian States but also between the French and the British trading companies in India. This chaotic political situation facilitated, if not invited, foreign invasions, notably those of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali, which, bear comparison, both in nature and effect, with those of Sultan Mahmud and Tamerlane.
But there is no cloud without a silver lining. This period of political disruption leading to great disasters also witnessed the rise of great personalities-not less than ten within a century'-that shed lustre on the age. These were Balaji Vishwanath, Baji Rao I, Nana Phadnis, Mahidji Sindia, Haidar 'Ali, Ranjit Singh, Robert Clive, J. F. Dupleix, Warren Hastings, and Marquess Richard Colley Wellesley.
But the political history, highly important though it was, was not the only important feature of the period. It paved the way for India's transition from the Medieval to the Modem Age in the nineteenth century. It was during this period that India first came into close contact with the Western World-Europe and America- which was big with future consequences so far as Indian culture is concerned. It brought about those remarkable changes' in almost all aspects of Indian culture "in the nineteenth century, which is generally referred to as Indian Renaissance. It was during' the period under review that the Indians first learned the English language, which may be regarded as the most important single factor that brought about those far-reaching changes in Indian life, thought and education as well as social and- religious concepts in the course of one hundred years in the 19th century, such as were not noticed during the previous thousand years. That the nineteenth century India was a New India was mainly due to those forces and factors which began to influence India during the period under review. To realise this truth, it "is only necessary to point out that the Fort William College was founded in 1800 and the Hindu College was established in Calcutta in 1817. The Pandits of the Fort William College laid the foundation of modem Bengali language and literature, which served as the model ,or the rest of India, while at the Hindu College the young generations of Bengalis imbibed the ideas of free thinking and social and political reforms. And these formed the foundation on which New India was built.
Against this background of all-round signs of progress must be seen the deterioration in the economic condition to such an extent that it would be hardly an exaggeration to say that India, which was one ·of the wealthiest countries in the world, sank to the position of one of the poorest in the world during the period under re- view; This was as much due to the British rule in India as the brighter features of cultural regeneration noticed above. The ruthless economic exploitation of India by the British was undoubtedly the cause of the deplorable poverty in India following the ruin of trade and industry by the unfair competition of British merchants and manufacturers aided by the political power of Britain.
Many of the chapters were written long ago, and the Editor places on record his deep regret at the death of Prof. C. S. Srinivasachari, Prof. S. V. Puntambekar, Prof. Biman Behari Majumdar, Dr. N. K. Sinha and Prof. D. N. Banerjee who contributed scholarly chapters to this volume.
My special thanks are due to Dr. V. G. Dighe not only for his contributions to this volume but also for the valuable service he rendered as Assistant Editor. Owing to my serious illness while this volume was in the press, the editorial work had mainly to be carried on by him, and t am deeply grateful to him for his ungrudging per- formance of this duty with conspicuous success.
I also convey my sincere thanks to Dr. C. M. Kulkarni for the help I received from him and to the several contributors for the services Tendered by them in the preparation of this volume.
There is no separate Chapter on Art in this volume as the art of this period has already been dealt with in Chapter XLV of Vol. XI of the Series.
Before I take leave of this stupendous project, it is my pleasant duty to thank the staff of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for the devotion they have shown in this work throughout the long period of thirty-two years. I· would specially like to mention the very capable Executive Secretary, Shri S. Ramakrishnan, whose sustained interest in this project made it possible to complete the History Series. The former Production Manager Shri S. G. Tolat and his successors Shri M. K. Rajagopalan (who died prematurely in 1975), and Shri B. Srinivasa Rao, the present holder of the post, have all bestowed great care in the printing and publication of the present as well as the earlier volumes, for which I am much indebted to them. i also take this opportunity to thank the Library authorities of the University of Bombay and the Director of Archives, Government of Maharashtra, for granting facilities to our contributors and editors to use their vast treasure-houses.
The printing of this History Series was made possible because the Bhavan has behind it the experience and willing help of the Associated Advertisers and Printers, and my thanks are also due to the staff of the Press.
Volume IX and X
Volumes IX and X deal with the history of India from HUG to 1905. These two dates are significant landmarks in the history of Modern India. The establishment of British paramountcy in India was completed in 1818, and the year 1905 marks the beginning of that national struggle by the Indians against the British rule which' culminated in the achievement of independence in 1947. This volume describes the nature of British rule in India for nearly a century after it had become the dominant political power; and the next volume delineates the social changes and cultural renaissance which led to the emergence of India from the Medieval to: the Modern Age, and set in motion those forces and tendencies which created the Indian nation out of heterogeneous groups of peoples. It is hardly necessary to point out that the events described in these two volumes are inextricably mixed up, and they should be looked upon as parts of a single work describing the different aspects of the history of India during the nineteenth century. As a matter of fact, when the plan for the History and Culture of the Indian People was first drawn UJ1 in 1945, only a single volume, namely Vol. IX. was designed to cover all the topics which are now treated in Vols. IX and X.
Vol. IX is divided into two Books which deal, respectively, with the political and economic history of the period. The political history is again divided into three parts; the second part dealing with the mutiny and revolt of 1857-8, and the other two with the periods before and after it.
The political history has been designed to be not a mere chronicle of events, but a broad review of the British rule. bringing out its two main characteristics, namely, the establishment of paramount authority all over India, and the creation of a framework of an allIndia administration on' a solid basis, such as India has probably never known, save under the Maurya and the Mughul Emperors. It also seeks to draw, in true' colour, the colonial imperialism of Britain which forms the real background of British rule in India in the nineteenth century. It omits the meticulous details which are' more suitable for a chronicle or a Gazetteer, and avoids, as far as possible, emphasis on personalities,-Governors-Genera1. military commanders and high Civil Officials-whose individual activities loom large in the current histories of British India.
The materials for writing the history of India in the 19th century are both ample and varied in character. Apart from numerous printed books, pamphlets and periodicals, the very nature of the British Government in India has been of great help to the historians in this respect. Being merely a subordinate body to the superior authority-East India Company up to 1858 and the British Crown thereafter-residing in England, almost every transaction of any importance had ·to be put on record for the examination by the latter, and there was a continuous stream of correspondence, both official and private, between the two. It has furnished invaluable source materials, such as has been seldom the good luck of a historian to possess. The confidential minutes and despatches of the Governors General and the Court of Directors or Secretary of State, as well as private correspondence between them, have thrown very interesting light on the inner motives that inspired the British policy and activities in India. They have also supplied positive evidence as to the real nature of many aspects of British imperialism, and thrown off the mask of benevolence under which it was successfully hidden for a long time. As more and more of these records are gradually being thrown open to the public, the historian has been in a position to rearrange the different elements of British policy in India properly in order to draw up an integrated picture of the British rule in India in the 19th century.
A very valuable, supplement to these private and confidential official documents is supplied by the speeches and writings of a few liberal-minded Englishmen who felt real sympathy for Indian aspirations. The adverse comments on the various aspects of British rule in India by Englishmen like George Thompson, John Bright, Henry Fawcett, Sir Charles Digby, Wyndham and Sir Henry Cotton cannot be lightly dismissed as irresponsible criticism dictated by selfish motives, sense of frustration, or an anti-British spirit-insinuations such as are usually made in regard to any unfavourable criticism of British rule by even the highest Indian. The adverse comments on British rule in India by the Britishers themselves are therefore of inestimable value to a historian, when they lend support to Indian criticism which would, otherwise, not carry much weight, having emanated from an interested party with natural repugnance against the British.
The historian of British India has therefore no complaint about lack of materials;-he rather suffers from a plethora of them. It is impossible for a single individual, however industrious he might be, to peruse all the available records of the 19th century. All that he can hope to do is to go through a judicious selection of them, and utilize the monographs written on various aspects of British administration by specialists who based their work on a minute and critical study of all relevant documents on the subject. -There are-many valuable works of this nature, but they are unequal in value and need to be studied with care. For, generally speaking, both British and Indian writers were, more or less, influenced by personal feelings and prejudices, and few could rise above them in order to produce a real objective study.
There are a number of important historical works of a general nature covering the whole or parts of the 19th century, written by contemporary Englishmen. The earliest work relating to the period under review is H. H. Wilson's Supplement, in three volumes, to-the six-volume History of James Mill. This Supplement continues the history of British India from 1805 to 1835. Next comes Thornton's six-volume History of the British Empire in India, covering the period up to nearly 1845 when the last volume was published. Two other less voluminous works are Beveridge's Comprehensive History of India in three volumes, published in 1867, and Trotter's History of the British Empire in India (1844-58), published in 1866. These were not followed by any such comprehensive history. written by a Britisher for more than half a century. It is not a little curious, that although a great deal of fresh materials became available as the years rolled on, no British historian felt inclined to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessors mentioned above, and write a comprehensive history of the glorious achievements of his country in a far distant land. Instead, we find only a small number of short treatises of the nature of advanced text-books. written by Meadows Taylor (1870), Sir Alfred Lyall (1894'), V. A. Smith (1919), P. E. Roberts (1921), and Thompson and Garratt (1934). But scholarly books were written on select topics, primarily with a view to defend British officials and British policy in India against charges levelled by older writers, including. English historians. In general, the historical writings of Englishmen from about the last quarter of the 19th century were, more or less, tinged by the spirit of imperialism which they inherited as a legacy from the British rule in India during the preceding century, The most typical example of such a historical work is furnished by V. A. Smith's Oxford History of India (1919) on a smaller scale, and The Cambridge.
This volume reply forms a part of Vol. IX, and was originally planned as such; but as the achievement of independence made it possible as well as necessary to give a more detailed and critical history of the period from 1818 to 1905, V91. IX exceeded the normal size and was split up into two parts. For the convenience of reference the two parts have been treated as separate volumes, with separate numbering of pages and chapters; but, to indicate the continuity, the original number of chapters in the undivided volume has been indicated within brackets in this volume.
The relation between the two parts, i. e., Vols. IX and X, has been explained in the Preface to Vol. IX. While Vol IX deals with the political and economic history of India from 1818 to 1905, this volume treats of the other aspects of Indian life during the same period with the Renaissance as its central theme. It accordingly begins with a short account of the general condition of the Indian people at the beginning of the nineteenth century (Ch. I) and then describes the introduction of English education and its general impact on Indian people (Chaps. n, ill), leading to what is justly regarded as the Renaissance of India. A detailed account is then given of some of the prominent aspects of the Renaissance, such as the change in religious and social ideas, the growth of new types of literature, and the rise of the Press as an important factor in Indian life (Chs. IV-VII). 'The most important aspect of the Renaissance namely, political organization and the development of nationalism which distinguished the period under review from all preceding epochs in Indian history. is dealt with in five chapters (XII-XVI), preceded by four chapters (VIII-XI) which supply the background of political evolution.
A few words are necessary to indicate the scope, object, and necessity of the concluding chapter which marks a departure from the current books on the modern history of India, written both by the Indians and Englishmen. It deals with the state of slavery and semi-slavery to which a large number of Indians were reduced. both at home and abroad, by Englishmen who uprooted the plant of slavery else Where in their dominions only to grow and nurture it on Indian soil. The depth of degradation to which these Indians were condemned, and the brutalities to which they were often subjected, with the full knowledge, and sometimes tacit consent, of the British Government; is a sad commentary on the oft-expressed anxiety of the British rulers of India to guard the interests' of her common people, who formed the bulk of the population, as against the microscopic minority of the educated middle class. There is, however, no cloud without a silver lining. The miserable lot of the Indian slaves overseas served as an incentive to India's struggle for freedom. How deeply it stirred the emotions of the politically conscious Indians may be gathered from the resolutions on the subject .passed 'year after year at the 'annual meetings of the Indian National Congress. Apart from this aspect, the stolid, almost criminal, indifference of the British to the indescribable misery and utter humiliation of the Indian labourers and free citizens in the Colonies is mainly responsible for the barbarous and universally condemned policy (or impollcy) of 'apartheid' now adopted by the White People of South Africa and their general attitude to the coloured inhabitants of the country.
The materials for the study of the aspects of history dealt with in this volume are not as varied and ample as is the case with the political and economic history which forms the subject-matter of Vol. IX. The official records, except in a few particular case, do not directly throw much light on the various topics discussed in this volume. The British authors of Indian history, like the court chroniclen of the Medieval period, were mostly interested in the British conquests and administration, and seldom concerned themselves with the people except as adjuncts. to the political and administrative history which constituted their main and central theme. The Cambridge History of India, for example, allots less than a dozen pages. to the topics of (except English education and Sati) dealt with in this volume, and does not refer, even once, to the Renaissance that changed the face of India, though an' entire volume of 680 pages is devoted to the history of sixty years covering the period from 1858 to 1918. The same thing is more or less true of the volumes of Indian history written by earlier British authors, mentioned in the Preface to Vol. IX (p. xxiii) as important sources of political history.
Although there is no historical work dealing with the subject, as a whole, treated in this volume, the. materials for writing it are not very scanty. Valuable data for studying the development of various aspects of Renaissance in India lie scattered in the periodicals and literary works-specially memoirs on particular topics and biographies or autobiographies of eminent persons. Unfortunately much of these materials could not be utilized, in the present volume, mainly for, two reasons. In the first place, old periodicals are not easily available. Secondly, many of these as well as other literary works are written in regional languages, and there is no English translation. No historian knows all the Indian languages, and co-operative effort such as has been adopted in the chapter on literature could not be extended, to others for very obvious reasons. It is therefore, inevitable that the literary evidence in Bengali language, with which the author of these chapters is familiar, has been more extensively used than that in other languages. This was further facilitated by the fact that two Bengali scholars have performed the laborious task' of collecting and classifying useful extracts from a few old Bengali periodicals. If similar studies be undertaken with reference to old periodicals in other regional languages, it would be possible to give fuller and better accounts of modern' India. Fortunately, many good books-memoirs, biographies, essays and studies on special topics-have been written in English in different parts of India, throwing valuable light on the ' progress of Renaissance in these regions. These enable us to draw up the general outline of this development which must suffice for the present, leaving the details and illustrative examples for the future.
The delineation of the Hindu-Muslim and Indo-British relations (Chs. VIII-XI) presents a peculiar difficulty to which reference has been made in the Prefaces to Vol. VI (pp .. xxix-xxxii) and Vol. IX (p. xxxiii) of this series, and the editor has nothing to add to what has been said there. The editor once more reminds the readers that though many unpleasant, sometimes even painful, remarks have been made for the sake of historical truth, the writer bears malice to none and goodwill to all. The, history of mankind is Jargely a tale of woe and misery. brought about by the greed, cruelty and' selfishness of 'men, and India has been no exception to the rule. Still that history has to be told, not merely for the sake of truth, but also for the edification of,· and warning to, posterity. To' ignore or belittle historical .truth, with a view ,to promoting peace, harmony or goodwill, may be of immediate advantage! but certainly does great harm in the long run. Courage to face truth, however unpleasant, paves the way for better understanding in future. The editor has kept this in view while depicting the relations between the Hindus, Muslims and the British in India during the period under review.
The publication of this volume is to me the near-realization of a long-cherished ambition of preparing and publishing a comprehensive history and culture of the Indian people by Indians. Many years ago, in defining the scope of history, I ventured to suggest that it must be primarily the/story of the people of the land, a progressive record of their life and achievements in which their exploits and traditions serve as the pillars on which the super-structure of history is built to elucidate the characteristic reaction of the people to political, social and economic changes.
Thus, history includes the story of political changes and vicissitudes which create the forces and conditions operating upon life, social institutions and beliefs; they provide the norms, creative arts and movements of thought which go to create values. To all these, people react, forging a collective will in a bid to form an organic unity. The central purpose of history, therefore, must be to investigate and unfold the values, which in succeeding ages have inspired men to develop their collective win and to express it through the manifold activities of life.
Whether my ambition has been realized is for the readers to judge. However, the writing of the history of India, particularly the earlier period, is beset with difficulties. For, while the history of religion and philosophy from the Vedas down to our times is well documented, that of political history is scattered and hardly adequate to be shaped into a continuous narrative. An important fact, however, emerges from this strange contrast: whatever the. political vicissitudes, be they internecine wars or foreign invasion, our' sages, seers, and poets went on undisturbed in their quest or unity-social, cultural and spiritual. Even in the present century when political thought and scientific approach dominate the destiny of man, the great names of Indian history are those of Rimakrishna Paramahamsa, Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharshi, Dayananda Saraswati, Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi. This is a fact of history which the present genertion may carefully bear in mind. For, there is the danger, that the science and methodology of history, as developed in the West, being based upon the Graeco-Roman history and that of Europe in the middle and modern ages, may' bypass special features and accomplishments of Indian history, when it differs from the established notion, as irrelevant or obscurantist.
Another problem that we have to consider is the persistent demand for the rewriting of history to foster communal unity. To my mind, nothing can be a greater mistake. History, in order to generate faith in it, must be written as the available records testify, without any effort to exaggerate or minimise the actual facts. Suppression and distortion of evidence, leading to false conclusions about the past, is hardly the way to improve the present situation or build up a better future.
I have had the privilege of living through the period of history covered by this volume, and practically from 1915 onwards I took part, small though it was, in the various nationalist struggles which I have described in my book Pilgrimage to Freedom. I shall not therefore go into those facts here. But one point I want to make clear. The communal problem, which ultimately divided the country, was neither inevitable nor insoluble. It was a price we had to pay for our inability to assess political realities.
Recent events in Pakistan have shown that religious bonds like Islam are not sufficient to create a nation out of different people separated by deep cultural traditions and language, and living more than a thousand miles apart. Indeed, Pakistan was created to placate not so much the Muslims, fifty millions of whom were left in India, but Mr. Mohamed All Jinnah who wanted a kingdom for himself. 'I knew Mr. Jinnah very well, being his close associate in the Home Rule Movement. He was inflexible, indomitable and honest according to his own light but was totally incapable of understanding other's point of view. However, Pakistan was created in his shadow and once he disappeared the political stability was in jeopardy.
In India, the greatest danger is the formation of sub-nation States and linguistic chauvinism. The formation of homogeneous provinces on the basis of language was an administrative necessity, and was recommended by the Congress long before anyone dreamt of independence in 1947. After independence some necessary adjustments were made, but it is impossible to draw the boundaries of a State in such a manner as to totally exclude linguistic groups from the adjacent States. Nor is such a boundary necessary or desirable, for we are citizens of India, not of any State, though the present dangerous trend is to identify oneself with his State rather than with India.
This tendency was not' apparent before independence; it· may be a passing phase. But, while it lasts, it has to be dealt with firmly though sympathetically, without weakening the Centre or the federal bonds in any way . It has been the experience of history, as the pages of preceding volumes of this Series testify, that this subcontinent has fallen a prey to foreign invasion in' the absence of a strong central authority. This lesson of history we had in mind when we adopted a quasi-federal constitution for India. What is now needed is not a constitutional change but a psychological one with political realism.
Unity of India is not a modern exotic growth, but is as a French scholar has put it recently. a response, 'a des liens ancients et profonds de conceptions, de sentiments, de rapports de situations, entredes groupes infiniment disparates, mais entes sur un meme fends'.
Before I conclude, I would like to repeat that the publication of 9 out of the 11 volumes of the Bhavan's History Series has been a matter of immense joy and pride to me.
I am deeply grateful to Dr. R. C. Majumdar whose tireless industry "and profound knowledge of Indian history ensured the success of this undertaking. I am also. indebted to all the learned contributors to the volumes, some of whom, alas, are no longe alive to share with us the joy of a great achievement. I should not forget to pay. a special tribute to Dr. A. D. Pusalkar, whose scholarship and diligent co-operation were available to Dr. R. C. Majumdar in full measure till the completion of five volumes. Dr. Pusalkar's .place had been taken by Dr. A. K. Majumdar, whose energy and sound knowledge have been of great value to his father.
I offer my thanks to the donors who have extended generous financial assistance by way of grant or loan to the scheme. I am also thankful to the Government of India for the loans that they have given to complete the Series.
I am indebted to the staff of Associated Advertisers and Printers, who have, with diligence and efficiency, seen the volumes through the press as also to the staff of the Bhavan and the Press who looked after the preparation and printing of this volume with care and zeal.
I am delighted to see that the volumes have proved popular both with scholars and others. . The fact that all the volumes have run into several editions and have found a place in almost all the universities and libraries in the world, confirms my belief that this Series has been fulfilling a long-felt need.
It is my earnest hope that the remaining two volumes will also be published soon.
This is the concluding Volume of the Hist01·Y and Culture of the Indian People originally planned in 1945. But it does not complete the series, as two Volumes, VII and VIII, dealing with the period from A.D. 1526 to 1818, have riot yet been published, for reasons stated in the Preface to Vol. IX. As a matter of fact, that Preface may well serve also as a Preface to this. Volume, as Vols. IX, X, and XI really deal with a single topic-India under British Rule, and almost all that has been said in the Prefaces to Vols. IX and X are, mutatis mutandis, applicable to this Volume also.
Certain differences, however, mark this Volume from the preceding ones. As the title shows, it primarily deals with the struggle for freedom, and, generally speaking, this forms the central theme of its political history, all the other topics being treated as merely subsidiary or accessory to it. The difference is rendered conspicuous by the concluding Chapters, XXXV-XXXVIII, of Book I dealing with political history. These chapters, comprising only 35 pages, give a brief resume of the administration, both civil and military, the Indian States, Frontier policy, and the Indians outside India-« topics, each of which has been dealt with in much greater detail in Vol. IX, covering the period 1818 to 1905. In other words, attention is focussed in this Volume on the events leading to India's independence, which forms the most significant episode in the political history of the period and overshadows other topics concerning it to such an extent that no adequate treatment of them was possible within the space of a single Volume. Besides, in the context of the period as a whole culminating in the end of British rule in India, these topics lose much of their 'importance which they would have otherwise possessed.
For similar reasons the economic condition of India, forming Book 11, occupies much less space. Further, the different aspects of it, forming subject-matters of different chapters in Vol. IX, are dealt with together in a single chapter. For, it has been thought more desirable to give an integrated picture of the economic condition of India as a whole at the end of the British rule; Separate treatment of the different aspects would have involved considerable overlapping, and none or" the new aspects had completed a definite well-marked course of development within the short period of forty years dealt with in this Volume.
The course of cultural development ran more or less smoothly during the period under review, being comparatively free from the effect of the struggle for freedom. But press and literature were both influenced by it, the first to a very large, -and the second to a smaller extent. The old plan has therefore been followed in Book III of this Volume dealing with cultural history. Here, again, as in Book II, the short duration of the period under review has caused considerable difficulty, as literary movements and activities of individual authors are not usually confined within such a short time. The most conspicuous example is furnished by the literary career of Rabindra-nath Tagore which goes back to the 19th century. The difficulty has been met by treating his whole literary career in this Volume. Care has also been taken to indicate the influence exerted by the national struggle for freedom, not only on literature ' but also on the Press which during this period had become the handmaid of politics to a far larger extent than ever before.
The last chapter of Book III dealing with art covers the entire period from 1707 to 1947, which forms the subject-matters of Vols. VIII, IX, X, and XI. In .other words, the art of the post Mughal and British period is dealt with in a single chapter in this concluding Volume. . The reason for this' has been stated in the Preface to Vol. X (pp. xvi-xvii). It was stated there that the Kangra art would be dealt with in Vol. VIII, and the rest in Vol. XI. The author of the chapter on Art, however, thought it to be more convenient and appropriate to deal with the post-Mughal art In a single chapter, as its different phases are closely connected. There is no clear line of distinction between the earlier and later phase of Kangra art, which continued till the close of the nineteenth century, and this art itself is a developed form of the Pahari or Hill School of art that flourished at Guler, Basholi, and other places in the Punjab hills. Some art critics also associate all of these with the Rajasthani paintings. Accordingly, all these have been dealt with together in the chapter on Art in this Volume. This will also remove the inconvenience caused by the fact that Vol. VIII is not likely to be published within the next two or three yeats, and the inclusion of the Kangra art ill that Volume will therefore make the treatment of that art in this chapter-particularly its beginning -somewhat . abrupt and unintelligible to readers.
For reasons stated in Preface to Vol. IX. (p. xxx) the editor himself is the author of almost all the chapters of this Volume with the exception of those dealing with economic condition, literature and art, but the co-operative principle followed in Vols. I-VI, has not been altogether lost sight of. The editor has availed himself fully of the writings of some eminent persons on many topics of the political history of the period, the vast source materials of which are either too scattered and not easily available, or somewhat fragmentary, and not un often contradictory. In particular he has made extensive use of THE· CONSTITUTIONAL PROBLEM IN INDIA by R. Coupland and THE TRANSFER OF POWER IN INDIA by V. P. Menon. Both these writers have made a thorough study of documents relating to the events they relate and described the events in a lucid manner. The frequent quotations from them are a deliberate process, as the editor did not like to hide or minimise his indebtedness to them by simply paraphrasing or summarising the facts stated by them in his own words, as he could easily have done. It should be pointed out, . however, that the editor has relied on them for facts and not views and opinions, unless he had reasons to agree with them. For example, though he has quotedextracts from Coupland's book about the Pirpur Committee's Report, he has differed from him in assessing its value (of. pp. 608, 613, p. 616,-f.n. 8).
In this connection reference may be made to the following extract from the Preface to Vol. IX (pp. xxxi-xxxii) as it is as much, or perhaps more, applicable to Vol. XI.
"The editor does not claim any credit for original research, his main interest being concentrated on the proper presentation of historical truth, on the basis of facts already known and published, and a correct interpretation of them without being influenced in any way by long-standing notions, conventions, or traditions. In order to form correct opinions and judgments, he has tried to ascertain contemporary views of an impartial character. For views unfavourable to any group or community, he has cited evidence, as far as possible, of distinguished persons belonging to that group or community, for prima facie they are not likely to cherish any bias or prejudice against their own kith and kin.
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