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Mother India

India’s history and culture is ancient and dynamic, spanning back to the beginning of human civilization.

Indian History in Short:-

The History of India begins with the Indus Valley Civilization, which spread through in the north-western part of the Indian subcontinent, from 3300 BC to 1300 BC. This Bronze Age civilization collapsed at the beginning of the second millennium BC and was followed by the Iron Age Vedic period, which extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plains and which witnessed the rise of kingdoms known as the Mahajanapadas.

In the fifth century, large parts of India were united under Ashoka. He also converted to Buddhism, and it is in his reign that Buddhism spread to other parts of the Asia. In the reign of Mauryas, Hinduism took shape fundamentally.

In the eight century Islam came to India and by the 11th century it firmly established itself in India. The North Indian dynasties of the Lodhis, Tughlaqs, and numerous others, whose remains are visible in Delhi and scattered elsewhere around North India, were finally succeeded by the Mughal empire, under which India once again achieved a large measure of political unity.

The European presence in India date to the seventeenth century and it is in the latter part of this century that the Mughal Empire began to disintegrate, paving the way for regional states.

During the first half of the 20th century, a nationwide struggle for independence was launched by the Indian National Congress, and later joined by the Muslim League. The subcontinent gained independence from Great Britain in 1947, after being partitioned into the dominions of India and Pakistan.

The History of India can be broadly divided into following three categories.

Ancient India:


The ancient civilization of India grew up in a sharply demarcated sub-continent bounded on the north by the world's largest mountain range-the chain of the Himalayas, which, with its extensions to east and west, divided India from the rest of Asia and the world.

The long sea coasts of India facilitated the growth of maritime trade and a large number of harbours were established through which trade relations with Rome, China, Malaya, South East Asian archipelago were set up. India's centralised position in Indian Ocean is also of great strategic and economic importance.

India is a curious meeting place of diverse religions, races, manners and customs. From the point of religion, India is the home of the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Sikhs and the Paris. Diversity is also to be seen in the languages of the Indian people. From the points of view of race, religions, language, manners and customs, the Indians constitute a composite population.

In ancient literature, mention is found of five natural divisions of India:-

1. Madhyadesa i.e. Indo Gangetic plain stretching from the valley of the river Saraswat to the   Rajmahal Hill. This division has been known as Aryavarta from the ancient times.

2. Uttarapatha or Udichya i.e. North-West India

3. Pratichyaor Aparanta i.e. Western India

4. Dakshinapatha or Dakshinatya i.e. the area south of Madhyadesa

5. Prachya or Purvadesa, the region east of Madhyadesa

The course of history is also shaped through geographical factors, such as geology, climate, etc. The study of Indian physiography, therefore, can be classified into three territorial compartments, such as the northern plains of the Indus and Ganga basin, the Deccan plateau lying to the south of the Narmada and to the north of Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers and the far south Tamil states. Rivers made the irrigation easier by continuous supply of perennial water to this tract which includes the states of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.

The horizontal and vertical excavations have helped uncover the period-wise sequences of cultures and of ancient remains. Excavations have brought to light the cities which the people established around 2500 BC. They also reveal the layouts of the settlements in which people lived, the types of pottery they used, the form of house in which people dwelt, the kind of food they ate, and the types of implements they used. The vast variety of rich vegetation and congenial regular weather chain suited the human habitat and the pages of history and replete with the stories of their linux. The Mahajanapadas attracted the risings of smaller states. As early as in 5th century BC, Herodotus observed that "of all the nations, that we know, it is India has the largest population."

Medieval India:

North India and the Deccan:

In the post Harsha period, three great centres of powers emerged in North India and Deccan: Gurjara-Pratiharas, Palas and Rashtrakutas.

Gurjara Pratiharas - The Gurjara-Pratiharas were the early Rajputs who began their rule from Gujarat and south western Rajasthan. Later they ruled from Kanauj. Nagabhata I was the first great ruler of the dynasty. He defeated the Muslim forces of Arab. Bhoja I (AD 836-885) was the most famous ruler of this dynasty. He was a devotee of Vishnu and adopted the title of Adivaraha, which has been incorporated as a legend on some of his coins.

Palas - The Pala dynasty came into power in Bengal in about the middle of the eighth century AD. The founder of this dynasty was Gopala I who was elected as the king by the people. Dharampala and Devapala were the most famous rulers of this dynasty. They extended and consolidated the Pala Empire. The Palas ruled over Bihar, Bengal and part of Orissa and Assam with many ups and down in their learning and religions. Dharmapala founded the famous Buddhist monastery at Vikramshila, which became second only to Nalanda in fame as a centre for higher learning. During Devapals's reign, the king of Suvarnadvipa(South East Asia), Balaputradeva, built a monastery in Nalanda and requested Devapala to endow the income of five villages for the maintenance of the monastery.

Rashtrakutas -The Rashtrakutas called themselves descendants of Satyaki. The founder of the Rashtrakuta power was Dantivarma or Dantidurga who was a contemporary of Chalukya King Pulakeshin II. Dantidurga occupied all territories between the Godavari and the Vima.

Dantidurga was succeeded by his uncle Krishnaraja (768-772). Krishnaraja was responsible for the construction of the Kailash Temple of Ellora which stands as an excellent specimen of the Rastrakuta art and architecture.

The greatest king of the Rashtrakuta dynasty was Amoghavarsha. Asa warrior, he was, however no match with his father Govinda II, but he succeeded in defeating the East-Chalukya kings. It was Amoghavarsha who had successfully arrested the progress of the Gurjara King Bhoja I towards South India.

Tripartite Struggle

The most important event of post-Harsha Period was tripartite struggle among the Gurjara-Pratiharas, Rashtrakutus and Palas for the supremacy of the north. This struggle started during the reign of Vatsaraja-Pratihara. He ascended the throne in 778 AD. In order to give practice shape to his imperialist designs, Vatsaraja attacked Dharmpala, the Pala King of Bengal, and carried away his state umbrella.      The major causes for the continuous struggle between the Pratiharas, Palas and Rashtrakuta, known in history as tripartite struggle, are as follows:-

•To get control over Gujarat and Malwa, the regions very important for foreign trade due to their nearness to the coast.

•To acquire supremacy over Kanauj, a symbol of prestige in Indian politics.

•To get control over the vast resources of the Gangetic valley.

•Desire to impress the pretty kingdoms with the sense of their might.

•Lust for war booty, a prominent source for maintaining huge army.

Modern India:

Stories of India's wealth from travellers and other sources tempted the European nations to discover the sea route to India for trade. The Portuguese were the pioneers in this effort. In 1498, Vasco de Gama discovered the sea route to India and reached Calicut (now Kolkata). His discovery made the Portuguese to be the first among the European nations to trade with India and found settlements along the coasts. Following them were the Dutch, the English, the Danes and the French. Eventually the English and the French were left in the field to contend for the Indian Trade. Not content with trade only their ambitions took a turn to achieve political power and the conditions that followed the decline of Mughal Empire offered them a golden opportunity to fish in the troubled waters.

Advent of European Commerce

The Portuguese

Vasco-da-Gama Discovers Sea Route to India: India had commercial relations with the countries of the west from time immemorial. But from the seventh century AD, her sea borne trade passed into the hands of the Arabs, who began to dominate the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. It was from then that the enterprising merchants of Venice and Genos purchased Indian Goods. The geographical discoveries of the last quarter of the fifteenth century deeply affected the commercial relations of the different countries of the world and produced far-reaching consequences in their history. Bartholomew Diaz doubled the Cape of Good Hope, or the Stormy Cape, as he called it, in 1487; and Vasco de Gama found out a new route to India and reached the famous port of Calicut on the 17th May, 1498.

On his arrival at Calicut, Vasco de Gama was received by its Hindu ruler, known by the title of Zamorin. The arrival of Vasco de Gama led to the establishment of trading stations at Calicut.

Vasco-de-Gama established a factory at Cochin in 1502. He was followed by Alfonso de Albuquerque in 1503. In 1505, the Portuguese decided to appoint a governor to look after their Indian affairs. Francisco de Almeida became the first governor. Albuquerque succeeded him in 1509. Albuquerque was the real founder of the Portuguese empire in the east.

British Expansion in India

Annexation Policies of the Company

Doctrine of Lapse: Lord Dalhousie devised a Doctrine of Lapse, according to which if a ruler of the protected state died without have a natural heir, his adopted son was not allowed to rule. His state was to be annexed by the British.

Subsidiary Alliance: It was used by Lord Wellesley. Under the Subsidiary Alliance, a king was provided with military security. The Princely states used to remain independent so far as internal matters were concerned but it was not possible to have any outside interference. The British Company's Resident was kept in the court of the Indian king and the Princely states had to pay an annual amount. The Indian ruler could not employ any European to his service without prior approval of the British nor could be negotiate with any other Indian ruler without consulting the governor-general.


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