Mauryan India, as part of the People's History of India series, covers the period from about 350 BC to about 185 BC, thereby encompassing the invasion of Alexander (327-325 BC) and the history of the Mauryan Empire (C. 324-185BC). There is a detailed account of the inscriptions of Ashoka and their significance. A picture of the economy, society and culture of the time follows, constructed out of the varied sources available, epigraphic, textual and archaeological. An effort is made throughout to keep the reader abreast of recent discoveries, and to share with him the reasons for all conclusions and inferences. There are special notes on Mauryan chronology, the date of the Arthashastra, the science of epigraphy, and the dialects of Ashokan Prakrit. As many as fifteen except from Indian and Greek sources, including ten full edicts of Ashoka, are provided. There are nine maps (five of them exceptionally detailed) and twenty illustrations (black-and-white).
The volume is addressed to both the general reader and the student, and attempts to cover all topics that conventional textbooks include besides much other material that a 'people's history' needs to be concerned with, such as economic life, technology, social structure, gender relations, modes of exploitation, language, varied aspects of culture, etc. It is hoped that it will be considered a readable addition to what has so far been written on the Mauryan Empire.
Irfan Habib, formerly Professor of History, Aligarh Muslim University, is author of The Agrarian System of Mughal India 1556-1707 (1963, second revised edition 1999), An Atlas of the Mughal Empire (1982) and Essays in Indian History: Towards a Marxist Perception (1995). In the present series he has authored Prehistory (2001) and The Indus Civilization (2002), and been the co-authored of The Vedic Age (2003). Tulika Books has published the following volumes edited by him: Confronting Colonialism: Resistance and Modernization under Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan (1999), States and Diplomacy under Tipu Sultan (2001), Sikh History from Persian Sources (with J.S. Grewal) (2001) and A Shared Heritage: The Growth of Civilization in India and Iran (2002). He has co-edited the Cambridge Economic History of India, Vol. I (1982), and UNESCO'S History of Humanity, Vols IV and V, and History of Central Asia, Vol.V.
Vivekanand Jha, former Director, Indian Council of Historical Research, edited the Indian Historical Review (20 vols, 1974-94), making it India's most substantive historical journal. He also edited Itihas (Hindi), Vols I-III (1992-94), and co-edited Indian Society: Historical Probings (1974), as well as the Journal of Studies on Ancient India (1998) of the World Association for Vedic Studies. One area of his scholarly interest has been the early history of the Untouchables (the themes of his doctoral thesis, 1972), on which he has published several papers. He has also published studies of the Bhagavad-Gita. In 1990 he presided over the Ancient India section of the Indian History Congress.
In the present volume, which is No.5 in the People's History of India series, we have tried to follow the style and approach aimed at in the first three published monographs of the series. Some factors have, however, made this text considerably longer than any of its predeces- sors. Some readers having complained that the style in the earlier monographs has sometimes been excessively concise, we have tried in this monograph to follow a more leisurely course, allowing a greater tolerance of explanatory statements and even repetition, and this natu- rally has led to greater expenditure of space. Moreover, the large amount of information available to us for the one-and-a-half centuries here studied cannot be very easily compressed. Greater space has also been taken up by excerpts from sources, which include translations of as many as ten edicts of Ashoka alone. We have also increased the num- ber of maps and figures, in the belief that these will substantially sup- plement the textual information. We offer separate notes on Mauryan chronology, the date of the Arthashdstra, the science of epigraphy and Ashokan dialects, which have seemed to us to involve technical or con- troversial matters that deserve special attention.
As in The Vedic Age, the scheme of transliteration adopted departs from the conventional one in the following particulars: 'ch' and 'chh' are respectively used instead of 'c' and 'ch'; 'sh' and 'sh', instead of 's' and 's"; and 'ri', instead of 'r'. We have not followed the schol- arly custom of converting the words of Ashokan Prakrit into Sanskrit. Since, however, the forms of Prakrit words vary according to dialects, we have usually chosen the forms found in inscriptions using Ashokan Magadhi, but replacing '1' by 'r', wherever the corresponding Sanskrit forms or the forms in other dialects justify such an alteration. This hopefully preserves authenticity without sacrificing convenience.
While omitting, for reasons of space, detailed references to books and journals for individual statements, we have frequently given chapter-and-clause references to original texts, whereby the passages can be easily located in different printed texts and translations. Ashokan edicts are referred to by their full conventional designations, without troubling the reader with any abbreviations. The bibliographical notes are really select bibliographies and cannot, regrettably, include all the material that has been used in the making of this book.
The maps are drawn by Mr. Faiz Habib with the collaboration of Mr. Zahoor Ali Khan. Mr. Ghulam Mujtaba photographed the origi- nals for our figures, except the photograph of the pillar at Lauriya Nan- dangarh, which Mr. Shamim Akhtar has given us. Mr P.N. Sahay has compiled the index.
Mr Muneeruddin Khan has processed the entire manuscript. Mr Arshad Ali looked after all the paper work, and Mr Idris Beg under- took the necessary xeroxing and 'courier-service' duties.
The libraries of the Centre of Advanced Study in History, Ali- garh, and the Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi, have placed both of us greatly in their debt by their readiness to let us con- sult books and journals.
Professor Shireen Moosvi, Secretary, Aligarh Historians Society, has done everything to make things move fast, once our manu- script reached her, even if only in parts. Mr Rajendra Prasad and Ms Indira Chandrasekhar of Tulika Books have constantly made us feel, by their counsel and support, that the series occupies a special place in their regard.
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