Readers will encounter the foundation of Buddhism, Hinduism, the Gupta dynasty, Muslim encounters in India, British rule, Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, and much more. A biographical section and an annotated bibliography add reference value to this up-to-date resource on the history of India.
India has always been a land of great contradictions. To Alexander the Great, the country was a place of clever naked philosophers and massive armies mounted on elephants – which eventually forced his army to retreat. To ancient Rome, it was a source of luxuries, mainly spices and textiles, paid for in gold—hence the enormous numbers of Roman gold coins excavated in India. At the height of the Mughal empire in 1700, India boasted 24 percent of the world economy—a share virtually equal to Europe’s 25 percent. But then its economy declined. Colonial India was known for its extremes of wealth and poverty, epitomized by the Taj Mahal and famines, maharajas and untouchables, and also for its spirituality: many-armed Hindu gods and Buddhist philosophy, Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore.
India: A Short History places as much emphasis on individuals, ideas and cultures as on the rise and fall of kingdoms, political parties and economies. Anyone curious about a great civilization, and its future, will find this an ideal introduction, at times controversial, written by an author who has been strongly engaged with India for more than three decades.
• Explores historical occurrences from each major time period starting with the first appearance of man 30,000 years ago
• Couples the clarity and perspective of an outsider with the unique and specific knowledge of an insider
• By the internationally recognized Hindu scholar and translator of The Complete Kama Sutra (200,000 copies sold)
Alain Daniélou approaches the history of India from a new perspective--as a sympathetic outsider, yet one who understands the deepest workings of the culture. Because the history of India covers such a long span of time, rather than try to create an exhaustive chronology of dates and events, Daniélou instead focuses on enduring institutions that remain constant despite the ephemeral historical events that occur. His selections, synthesis, and narration create a thoroughly engaging and readable journey through time, with a level of detail and comprehensiveness that is truly a marvel.
Because of the continuity of its civilization, its unique social system, and the tremendous diversity of cultures, races, languages, and religions that exist in its vast territory, India is like a history museum. Its diverse groups maintained their separate identities and never fully supplanted the culture and knowledge of their predecessors. Even today one may encounter in India primitive Stone Age people whose technology has remained at what is considered prehistoric levels. Thus Daniélou's examination of India reveals not only the diversity and historical events and trends of that country, but also the history of all mankind. Through Daniélou's history of India we learn from whence we came, what we have discovered over the years in the fields of science, arts, technology, social structures, religions, and philosophical concepts, and what the future may hold for us.
The Volume begins by contrasting the stifling theocracy of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism and Christianity), and of Islam, to the pristine ideation of compassion, love and universal wellbeing inherent in the Vedic world. The forced conversion of “pagan” peoples and their places of worship was consequently institutionalized by intolerance, savagery, barbarism, cruelty, and unparalleled brutality.
This cultural and religious Invasion shook the very foundations of the Vedic patrimony as the native Hindus adapted Alien lifestyles where Vedic values were repackaged as European and/ or Islamic. Consequently, the modern Indians began to despise what had once been their own legacy, the Cradle of civilization, and embraced imported modes of behavior. The transformed, native polity, supported by foreign vested interests, exploited their own country even more than the alien invaders.
As the Western world frees itself from the shackles of Middle Age conformism and depravity, this second volume concludes that the eternal values of Vedic Bharata are to inspire the nascent Civilization of tomorrow. Eastern introspection will replace, then, the Western tradition of a ’wholly other’ divinity.