India has one of the largest standing professional armies in the world. Yet, the study of warfare in ancient and medieval periods of Indian history had so far never been made from purely professional angle and by a professional. Major (Dr) S.K. Bhakari presents an altogether new text and theoretical work in the history of warfare in India. Much of the material in this book has been derived from the original sources, sifted view of the development of strategy and tactics of warfare as known to the Indian soldiers and their mighty contemporaries from the West and North-west.
The work brings out the forces and factors that determine strategy and tactics of warfare, organization and composition of forces, administration in the battlefield, including organization of intelligence and secret services, employment of different arms and armour, construction of forts and fortification and special features of the siege-craft as practiced in the early medieval period. The book is an in depth study of the strands of strategy involved in moving huge armies conducting different operation of war such as Advance, opposed-river crossing, Ambuscades, Defence, Patrolling, Deployments for battle, tactics of attack, retreat and pursuit and score of connected subjects of battle-craft with minutest details. The author has taken pains to collect and reproduce enough of historical evidence in support of his enunciations. He has extensively quoted outstanding historians and Military thinkers both ancient and modern and added a map the value of a comprehensive presentation.
This well written text is an expert blending of the historical and the modern and has been designed to help officers of the armed forces and serious Research scholars of Military studies to develop correct perspective needed for proper understanding of warfare of the bygone Ages, which has given birth to the contemporary strategy and tactics of war.
Major S.K. Bhakari is a post-graduate from the Punjab University and received his M. Ed. and Ph. D. from the University of Saugar.
Commissioned into the Army Educational Corps in 1963, Major Bhakari has served in various field formations and in the General Staff Branch, Army Headquarters. He has taught Military History and allied subjects at a number of Army Training Establishment in the Country. He has, by his own right, emerged as an authority on the strategy and tactics of Warfare in the ancient and early Medieval periods of the Indian History.
He has participated in numerous Research project and has produced a number of papers on Educational Training of Indian soldiers.
He has traveled extensively and visited numerous historical sites, studied score of monographs and contemporary Sanskrit, Persian and English sources scatted all over the country to find material for this book which is a trend-setter for writings on Military History.
In a way warfare is said to be a source of the growth and development of civilization. The war has led to the emergence of numerous theological doctrines, political systems an socio-economic concepts. It has provided inspiring theme to the law-giver, to the pen of the poet, to the brush of the painter and to the chisel of the sculptor. His natural curiosity, his spirit of adventure and his instinctive pugnacity took the untrodden paths and blazed trails through the densest of forests and the deepest of waters. No desert or marsh could restrain his arms. He ransacked with impunity palaces of kings and abodes of gods. Smiling meadows were laid waste and national liberties were trampled upon. War, thus, offers an extremely fascinating study, however bloody it may be.
The study of war is no fiction reading. It calls for the concentration of the scientist to understand why a particular course of action adopted by a lesser-known commander could succeed against an apparently formidable foe. This could be better appreciated if one tried to seek the basic principle which led to success or failure in war.
Independent of the weapons of war, these principles have existed in all ages and all climes. That is the basic reason why an objective study of military history has been regarded as indispensable for soldier's education. Jomini was merely stressing the he said: "Military history, accompanied by sound criticism, is indeed the true school of war." Writing about Napoleon's campaigns in the same vein Jomini said, "His victories teach what may be accomplished by activity, boldness and skill; his disasters what might have been avoided by prudence." We may, therefore, not be assuming too much when we say that the theory of warfare is furnished by military history. Its study is essential, so that "each person in succession may not have to go through the same labour of clearing the ground and toiling through his subject, but may find the thing in order and light admitted on it," observed General Carl Von Clausewitz. It is the study of military history which broadens a soldier's vision, tightens his grasp and equips him with the ability to tackle constantly changing situations of war.
According to Montgomery of Alamein, it is by the constant study of the theory of the science of war that a General can attain professional competency since the opportunity of practicing the art of war comes very rarely in his way. That is why the great commanders have always been serious students of military history. T.E. Lawrence felt: "We of the twentieth century have two thousand years' experience behind us, and if we still must fight we have no excuse for not fighting well. Lawrence further thought that those who derided theory and regarded experience in trenches of value alone, were unrealistic. They were like the legendary mules of Fredrick the Great who inspite of having been through forty campaigns, had remained mules!
The present study was undertaken with the aim of uncovering a part of the vast experience of warfare that lies buried under the thick and foggy layers of time. The period between 600-1200 AD was the most crucial in the history of warfare in this great country. The collapse of an apparently strong and lofty ancient Indian political structure at the hands of barbarous, and greedy yet virile, swift and doughty warriors descending from the Northwest, does call for a thorough investigation by a historian as well as a military thinker. The paucity of reliable historical literature rendered the study a difficult undertaking. This work is, therefore, a humble attempt to solve the mysteries so deeply enshrouded in the thick blanket of time. The sole aim was to unravel underlying principles of strategy and tactics of war and not merely the narration of facts or inaccuracies of political history. The object was not to condemn the princes but to throw light on their shortcomings in battle, which led to the loss of their pomp and power and tore off the old social and political fabric of this ancient land. Jacket Illustration:
Mailed and Armed Warrior from Baramula.
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