The History of India begins with the Indus Valley Civilization and the coming of the Aryans. These two phases are generally described as the pre-Vedic and Vedic periods. The earliest literary source that sheds light on India’s past is the Rig Veda. It is difficult to date this work with any accuracy on the basis of tradition and ambiguous astronomical information contained in the hymns. It is most likely that Rig Veda was composed between 1,500 B.C. and 1,000 B.C. In the fifth century, large parts of India were united under Ashoka.
The 6th Century B.C. was a period of great tumult in India. The kingdom of Magadha, one of the 16 great Janapadas had become paramount over other kingdoms of the Ganges Valley. This period also saw the emergence of various heterodox sects in India. This was the time when Buddhism and Jainism emerged as popular protestant movements to pose a serious challenge to Brahmanic orthodoxy.
This period was followed by the Mauryas of whom the most famous was Ashoka the Great. The boundaries of his empire extended from Kashmir and Peshawar in the North and Northwest to Mysore in the South and Orissa in the East – but his fame rests not so much on military conquests as on his celebrated renunciation of war
For the next four hundred years (after the great Mauryas), India remained politically disunited and weak. It was repeatedly raided and plundered by foreigners. Stability was restored by the Guptas. The Gupta age was the period of peace and prosperity and witnessed an unprecedented flowering of art, literature and the sciences. This period also saw the beginning of Hindu temple architecture.
After the Guptas there was only a brief afterglow, in the time of Harshavardhana of Kannauj. A Chinese traveler, Huen-tsang visited India from (629 – 645 A.D.) during the reign of Harshavardhana. His account gives us an opportunity to note the changes that had taken place in the lives of the Indian people since the days of the Guptas.
Ancient Indian Art
Each era is unique in its distinctive culture. In the same way Indian art forms have continuously evolved over thousands of years. In ancient India, various art forms like paintings, architecture and sculpture evolved. The history of art in ancient India begins with prehistoric rock paintings.
Ancient Indian Geography
India and its surrounding countries are so similar in culture and climatic conditions that the region is sometimes called the Indian sub-continent. In ancient times the geography of India was a little different than what it is today. In the northern part of India stand the Himalayan Mountains and the Hindu Kush stand in the North West.
In the beginning of the Vedic age people did not have a settled life and were nomads but with development in agriculture people started to settle down in groups. The organization was mainly tribal and the head of the tribe was supposed to be the raja or the King, though the concept of King had yet not developed.
Ancient India Religion
The predominant religion in ancient India was Hinduism. The roots of Hindu religion can be traced back to the Vedic period. Hinduism is believed to be the oldest of major religions and originated in northern India. Early Aryan, or Vedic, culture was the early Hinduism whose interaction with non-Aryan cultures resulted in what we call Classical Hinduism.
Ancient India Facts
According to Greek philosophers slavery did not exist in ancient India. Aryabhatta, the great astronomer and scientist, discovered zero. The number system was also invented in ancient India. The Indus valley civilization was one of the most advance civilizations in terms of town planning etc. During the ancient period there were many famous and important centers of learning in India- Taxila and Nalanda, where thousands students from all over studied different subjects.
Asoka was one of the most powerful kings of the Indian subcontinent. A ruler of the Mauryan Empire, Ashoka ruled over the country from 273 BC to 232 BC. The reign of Emperor Asoka covered most of India, South Asia and beyond, stretching from present day Afghanistan and parts of Persia in the west, to Bengal and Assam in the east, and Mysore in the south.
Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the Maurya Empire in India. He is credited with bringing together the small fragmented kingdoms of the country and combining them into a single large empire. As per the Greek and Latin accounts, King Chandragupta Maurya is known as Sandracottos or Andracottus.
Harshavardhana was an Indian Emperor, who ruled over the northern parts of India for a period of more than forty years. His empire was spread over the states of Punjab, Bengal, Orissa and the entire Indo-Gangetic plain, lying to the north of the Narmada River.
Indus Valley Civilisation
Indus Valley Civilization was an ancient civilization that thrived in the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra river valleys, now in Pakistan, along with the northwestern parts of India, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. The civilization, which is also known as Harappan Civilization, lasted from 3300 BC to 1700 BC. The discovery of the Ancient Indus River Valley Civilization was made, when the Harappan city, the first city of Indus Valley, was excavated.
The Vedic Period or the Vedic Age refers to that time period when the Vedic Sanskrit texts were composed in India. The The society that emerged during that time is known as the Vedic Period, or the Vedic Age, Civilization. The Vedic Civilization flourished between the 1500 BC and 500 BC on the Indo-Gangetic Plains of the Indian subcontinent.
During the late 16th and the 17th Centuries, the European trading companies in India competed with each other ferociously. By the last quarter of the 18th Century the English had outdone all others and established themselves as the dominant power in India. The British administered India for a period of about two centuries and brought about revolutionary changes in the social, political and the economic life of the country.
Once the British set their foot solidly on Indian soil, they began the commercial exploitation of the natural resources of India. By the middle of the 19th Century arrogant exploitation of the people had tried the patience of the Indians to the limit. The British imperialism reached its zenith between the middle of the nineteenth century and the First World War. The exploitative policies of the British in India saw the birth of nationalist agitation against it. With increasing intrusion of aliens in their lives, a group of middle class Indians formed the Indian National Congress (1885).
The anti British struggle became truly a mass movement with the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948). It was followed by numerous movements against the British rule. With the passage of time and stubbornness of the Indians the British had come to realize that the day was not far off when they will have to quit India. Successive campaigns had the effect of driving the British out of India in 1947, but with independence came the independence of the country into Pakistan.
Freedom Fighters of India
His brave deeds earned Vallabhbhai Patel the title of the iron man of India. For his role in the Bardoli Satyagraha, Patel came to be called the Sardar. Sardar Patel was a famous lawyer but gave up his practice in order to fight for the freedom of the country. After independence he became the deputy PM of India and played an important role the integration of India by merging numerous princely states with the Indian Union.
The feeling of nationalism had started growing in the minds of Indians as early as the middle of the nineteenth century but it grew more with the formation of the Indian national Congress in 1885. Though the Congress started on a moderate platform but with the passage of time and apathetic attitude of the British government, the national movement began to shape well.
Mahatma Gandhi was born as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on 2nd October 1869. He was the most popular as well as the most influential political and spiritual leaders of India. His contribution to the freedom struggle of India is priceless and the country owes its independence, partly, to this great man. The Satyagraha movement, which led to India’s independence, was founded by Mahatma Gandhi only.