Start your review of Ancient India: in Historical Outline Write a review Shelves: history , culture I have been told, since childhood, that the colonial powers rewrote Indian history. Then there were stories I heard from people around me, on television and there was no explanation given onto how to distinguish between a myth and reality. Thus, it can be inferred that, people, including me, were oblivious to the real facts and mythology was the real history and vice-versa. Then there was the history taught in school.
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Description About the Book This is the third enlarged version of the book, which was first published in It pays special attention to elements of changes and continuity and gives the lie to the view that Indian society has been stagnant and changeless, a view propagated by Western scholars in the heyday of British imperialism and which continues to be peddled ingeniously in our own times.
It analyses the changing forms of exploitation and social tensions and the role of religion and superstition in curbing them.
It also stresses the fact that the achievements of ancient India, remarkable though they were, cannot cover up the social and economic disparities which we have inherited from the past. Since both Harappa and Mohenjodaro are situated now in Pakistan, the Hindu revivalists are busy locating the epicenter of the Harappan culture in the elusive Saraswati valley.
Jha graduated from the Presidency College in and obtained M. He was professor of history at the University of Delhi until his retirement in Professor D. It surveys the main historical developments in ancient India up to the end of the Gupta rule in the- 6th century AD and takes into account the recent studies by specialists on the subject.
The draft of the book was read by Professor R. Sharma, head of the department of history, University of Delhi, whose suggestions and incisive comments have helped me a great deal. I am grateful to Professor A. Basham,Australian National University, Canberra, who has made me think afresh on many points. My thanks are due to Shri S. Sengupta for drawing maps, Shri Kameshwar Prasad, lecturer in history, Patna University, for preparing the index, and to the Archaeological Survey of India for the illustrations.
I am also thankful to my friends Professor R. Rao and Shri Subodh Roy for their keen interest in the completion of the work. I do not know how to adequately express my thanks to my wife Rajrani for assisting me silently in various ways.
Preface to the Second Edition The present book is a substantially modified and enlarged version of my Ancient India: An Introductory Outline, first published in It has since had nine reprints in English and eight in Hindi as well as a Chinese edition The survival of the book for more than two decades has forced me to both review and revise it.
All the chapters of the book have, therefore, been rewritten and most of the points made earlier have been elaborated on the basis of recent researches which have brought about some change in my perception of the historical processes at work in ancient India without, necessarily, making me take an academic somersault.
The bibliography has been updated and made more detailed to enable the non-specialist reader to investigate points which may appear to him worth pursuing. Revision has thus meant rewriting which has made the book quite different from its earlier version. This should explain why it is being issued under a modified title. I have always benefited from interaction with my students and professional colleagues but for whose criticisms the book could not have taken its present shape.
In the course of its preparation I have received help from a number of friends and well wishers some of whom insist on anonymity. I cannot, however, restrain myself from expressing my gratitude to Professor R. Sharma who has extended unhesitating support to my academic endeavours during the last four decades.
Professor K. Sahu, Dr R. Chattopadhyaya and Dr V. Jha drew my attention to some recent publications; and Dr MonicaJuneja helped me by interpreting some writings in German. Gupta used their influence to get some rare books for my use. Ratan Lal, Ashutosh and Jagriti have rendered bibliographical assistance.
Gopal andAmarnath have helped in various ways. Dr CM. Jha and- Dr Mrs R. Jha have always stood by-me in difficult times. I am grateful to all of them. In revising the last chapter of the book I have made use of the data collected by me for a research project sponsored and funded by the Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi.
I take this opportunity to thank them. I place on record my gratitude to my late mother-in-law Saraswatee Sinha who constantly goaded me to complete the work but did not live to see it in print.
I wish I could find right words to express my indebtedness to my wife Rajrani whose robust optimism has been a constant source of inspiration. Preface to the Third Edition This book was last revised when its second edition came out in Since then, literature has appeared which made another revision necessary, One way would have been to rewrite the book and incorporate whatever new data has come to light.
I have instead taken note of the feedback which I have received from my readers, especially students, who need to have a balanced view of the place India enjoyed in the ancient world as well as its legacy in different spheres of life. Rather than rewrite the book I have added an Epilogue which focuses on the contact of ancient India with the outside world and on those developments which influence our life and thought in modern times. A small select bibliography for it has been appended at the end of the existing one.
I thank all of them. I do not know how to thank my wife Rajrani for being always there. Introduction For long centuries India was known to the rest of the world only through stray references to it in classical Greek and Roman literature. In the eighteenth century, however, we come across a few Jesuit fathers in the peninsular region making a systematic effort to understand the life of the Indian people.
Father Hanxleden, active in the Malabar area from the end of the seventeenth century to the fourth decade of the eighteenth, wrote the first Sanskrit grammar in a European language, which remained unpublished. Father Couerdoux, in , was the first to recognize the affinity between Sanskrit and European languages.
The foundation of Indology, however, was laid not by Jesuit missionaries but by officers of the English East India Company. A trading organization at the time of its inception in , it gradually acquired territories which were later to become the building blocks of the British empire.
The transformation of a trading partner into a ruling power, though an area of absorbing study, is not our concern here. But it is necessary to bear in mind that historical writing-in the modern sense-on early India began as a sequel to the establishment of the English East India Company.
The growing administrative responsibilities of the Company, especially after when the Mughals granted it the right to collect revenues and administer civil justice in Bengal, made it necessary for its officer to gain familiarity with the laws, habits, customs, and history of the Indian people. Many administrators therefore evinced keen interest in Indian literature and culture. In N. Halhed translated into English the most authoritative among all the early Indian legal texts, the lawbook of Manu, which appeared in German two years later.
In , Charles Wilkins rendered into English the Bhagavadgita, the most popular religious text of the upper caste Hindus, to be followed in, by his translation of the Hitopadesha, a popular collection of fables composed by Narayana in the twelfth century in Bengal.
The Society and its journal, Asiatic Researches. Intensive research on the Muslim and Hindu laws of inheritance undertaken by Jones and his British contemporaries may be seen as an attempt to break the Indian monopoly of legal knowledge and assert British judicial power. All this gave a stimulus to the study of ancient Indian history and culture, and Indological studies no longer remained the preoccupation. Interest in Indian culture was aroused at a number of European universities where several scholars worked on Sanskrit and related subjects.
The affinity between Sanskrit and certain European languages, once discovered, was stressed. This may partially explain the growing interest in Indology outside England. It also gave rise to the idea of a common Indo-European homeland and heritage. The Aryans in India came to be regarded as the brethren of the Europeans. Some upper class Indians like Keshub Chandra Sen took this literally and identified themselves with the British people. A distinction was drawn between Aryans and non-Aryans, and a variety of virtues were attributed to the former.
Several early Orientalists like Max Mueller spoke glowingly about the unchanging Indian village communities. They thought of India as a country of philosophers given to metaphysical speculation with little concern for their mundane existence. Indian society was depicted as idyllic, and as being devoid of any tension or social discord. Possibly ill at ease with the changes caused by rapid industrialization in the West, they found a utopia in India and sought their own identity in it.
Max Mueller thus took the Sanskritic name Moksha Mula. Some of his ideas were misconstrued by the British to emphasize sometimes quite crudely that Indians were not fit to govern themselves, given as they were primarily to metaphysical thought. Grant and Mill did not share the early Orientalist view of India, and their writings give ample evidence of hostility to Indian culture. Though not a missionary himself, Grant was an important personage in missionary circles, and exercised a lasting and strong influence on nineteenth-century British thought on India.
His Anglicist bias made him plead strongly for the conversion of Indians to Christianity. It seems to have received memorable expression in the famous Minute on Indian Education authored by Thomas Babington Macaulay who had a high profile Evangelical family background. It became popular enough to go into its fifth edition by , though H. Mill divided Indian history into three periods, the Hindu, Muslim and British. The seeds of communal historiography were thus sown.
Unduly critical of the people and their culture, Mill postulated that contemporary as well as ancient India was barbarous and antirational. Indian civilization, according to him, showed no concern for political values and India had been ruled by a series of despots. Stagnant since its inception, Indian society was inimical to progress. All this was based on a grossly distorted version of the early Orientalist writings on India.
In his book Mill was obviously making a case for changing Indian society through British legislation. This he was doing without ever having visited the country or knowing any of its languages-a fact he tried hard. Hence the historical writings on India by British administrators betray the influence of Mill in considerable measure. The best known of the British-administrator historians on ancient India was Vincent A.
He came to India in as a member of the Indian Civil Service and remained in service until He wrote all his nine books on Indian history after retirement. Of these his Early History if India, published in , was based on a deep study of the primary sources available at the time. It was the first systematic survey of early Indian history and remained perhaps the most influential textbook for nearly fifty years and is sometimes used by scholars and students even today.
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