(Download) Old NCERT PDF: Ancient India by (Romila Thapar) India by Romila Thapar). File Type: PDF File Only Introduction. The Study of Indian History. Romila Thapar was born in India in and comes from a. Punjabi family, spending her early Mauryas, Ancient Indian Social History: Some. Interpretations. Class 11 – Ancient Indian History by R.S Sharma, PDF Download Class 6 – Ancient Indian History by Romila Thapar, PDF Download.
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Ancient India - Romila Thapar - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf) or read book online. ias. History of Early India From the Origins to AD Uploaded by. Ancient India by Romila Thapar PDF. Hello, Aspirants, I am sure you have often asked yourself why you are studying. history is one way to getting to know the. About Romila Thapar. Romila Thapar (born 30 November ) is an Indian historian whose principal area of study is ancient India. She is the.
But the concept became established in the nineteenth century when it was introduced into various philosophies of history and was thus given intellectual legitimacy. In the case of India the primary 6 reason given for the rise of Oriental Despotism was the belief that there was no private property in land in pre-British India.
This belief was based on a misunderstanding of the agrarian system of the Mughal empire by both Thomas Roe and Francois Bernier. Hegels philosophy of history influenced yet another interpretation of Indian history. Christian Lassen, writing in the mid-nineteenth century, applied the dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis--applied by Hegel to the phases of Greek, Roman and Christian civilization in Europe--to India, where the three phases became Hindu, Muslim and Christian civilization.
In addition, this idea further strengthened Mills original periodization. In spite of applying the Hegelian dialectic to his interpretation of Indian history, Lassen was unable to refute Hegels assumption concerning the unchanging nature of Indias past.
This assumption was taken up by Marx and worked into the thesis on the Asiatic Mode of Production Marx used as sources the information supplied by administrators and other officers employed by the British Indian government and the Parliamentary Reports. Unfortunately neither he nor Engels worked on this theory in great detail; the Asiatic Mode of Production was marginal to their main concern, which was the dialectic of European history. The sources were not only scanty but also not altogether reliable, since many of the administrators had preconceived ideas about the Indian past based on the writings of James Mill, Richard Jones, and others which were prescribed texts at Haileybury College and other such institutions where these administrators were trained.
The characteristics of the Asiatic Mode of Production were: the absence of privately owned land, since all land was state-owned; the predominantly village economy, the occasional town functioning more as a military camp than as a commercial centre; the nearly self-sufficient nature of this village economy with each isolated village meeting its agricultural needs and manufacturing essentail goods; the lack of much surplus for exchange after the collection of a large percentage of the surplus by the State; the complete subjugation of the village communities to the State, made possible by state control of major public works, most importantly irrigation.
The extraction of a maximum percentage of the surplus from the village communities enabled the despotic 7 ruler to live in considerable luxury. The emphasis on village communities and despotic rulers continued to haunt the writing of Indian history in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of the historians of this period were administrators who were convinced that the pattern of British administration was acting as a catalyst in changing Indian society for the better.
The theoretical ideal of the caste system as a rigid social system, as implied in the ancient law-books, dharmasastras, was accepted as an actual description of a caste society, in spite of the fact that many of these writers were intimately concerned with rural administration, where discrepancies between the theoretical description of the caste system and its actual working were obvious. Attempts were therefore made to fit Indian society into the uniform scheme of evolution which.
Obviously, it would be easier to fit an atypical society into such a scheme if it could be assumed that such a society had always been static. An interesting contrast to British historiography of India can be seen in German and French writing on India.
These scholars were not writing under the shadow of administrative duties and governmental policy, and their comprehension of the Indian past was significantly different.
The keynote to this understanding was struck by Auguste Comte, who was generally sympathetic to the early Indian tradition15 partially due to the influence of the Orientalists but also due to the interest of French and German sociological thought in the nature of industrialization and its relation to social organization. One expression of this interest was the study of societies with an ideological base believed to be totally different from that of contemporary Europe, exemplified by Max Weber's work on India.
Dumont maintains that the basic misunderstanding of Indian culture arose from the fact that an essentially hierarchically ordered culture was studied by persons committed to an egalitarian ordering of society, who were consequently unable to comprehend the society they were studying. Dumonts contention is open to question. What is interesting, however, is that this kind of conceptual framework for the study of Indian culture and history did not emerge from British writing on early India.
Not only was British sociological thinking different, but in the specific case of India the exigencies of administration impinged on historical understanding. What the French made of the history of their own colonies is quite another story. He was enthusiastic about the activities of the ancient Greeks and took their achievements to be the yardstick by which to measure all civilizations. His pro- Greek bias is shown in attempts to suggest that the finer qualities of Indian civilization were derived from Greece.
Heroes and empires were the subject matter of history; and, furthermore, only those who had survived successfully were worth consideration. The intervening periods of small kingdoms he saw as periods of anarchy and misrule, since they failed to produce emperors; and in his interpretation of Indian history, these became the dark ages. Smiths depiction of the rise and fall of empires and the intervening dark ages did weaken the idea of a totally unchanging society, even if the change was largely limited to the upper sections of society.
Vincent Smith and his contemporaries writing on India were in a sense reflecting the main trend of British historical writing of the time. It is perhaps as well to remember that in the late 9 nineteenth century British historians studying Britain also were sing attention on great men. As has been recently observed: history was more conveniently interpreted as the interaction between great men and the institutions they created, modified or restored.
Smiths studies of ancient Indian history present, nevertheless, a considerable advance over earlier writings on the same subject, because a significant new body of evidence was available. Apart from the work on the literary sources, there developed in the later nineteenth century an interest in the antiquities of India.
The objects and the information collected constituted the beginnings of archaeology in India. James Prinsep had deciphered the brahmi script in , thus opening up the epigraphical sources. Alexander Cunningham began a systematic study of monuments, which became the nucleus of art-history. The exploration of archaeological sites laid the foundation not only for archaeological work but also for an interest in historical geography, which in turn encouraged local history.
The study of numismatics, originally inspired by the extension of the study of Greek coins to those in India, became a source of fresh evidence. Surveys of local castes, customs, religious practices, and languages served to advance the cause of antiquarian interests. By the early twentieth century, there was a sizeable amount of non-literary evidence to complement the written sources.
The main concern of historians writing on ancient India was still with political and dynastic history for which fresh information was available from the epigraphic and numismatic evidence.
Historical writing was mainly a narrative of dynastic and political history or else work of a largely antiquarian interest in fact-finding. Bhandarkar, though recognizing the deficiencies of the sources as historical material, was also aware of the more obvious prejudices of contemporary historians writing on the Indian past.
Incidentally, it is interesting to observe that many of the early writers came from brahman and kayastha families, largely because they were the ones who had the quickest access to a knowledge of the required classical language. The cultural background of Indian historians' tended to inhibit a critical or analytical study of the sources. However, their hesitation to question the model put forward by British historians is linked with the larger question of sociology of education in modern India.
Subsequently the challenge arose out of nationalism and gradually acquired intellectual formulations within the discipline of history. The following generation of Indian historians, however, differed from their elders in one fundamental assumption. Historians writing in the s and s felt the impact of the national movement, and this was reflected in their historical thinking. Historians such as H.
Raychaudhuri, K. Jayaswal, R. Majumdar, R. Mookerjee and H. C, Ojha, among others, continued to write political and dynastic history in the main, but their interpretations were based on a clearly nationalistic point of view. This was in part a reaction to the criticism of Mill and other writers and in part a necessary step in the building of national self-respect.
The glorious past was also a compensation for the humiliating present. To some extent the glorification of the past represented a revival of interest in the writings of the more sympathetic Orientalists; and, not surprisingly, eulogistic quotations from Max Muller, for instance, were given as proof of disinterested European opinion of Indias past. Ancient Indian society was visualized by these writers as comparatively unchanging society over the period from B.
It was felt hat nineteenth-century historians had belittled the achievements of ancient India by, among other things, denying its antiquity and by suggesting that its achievements were borrowed mainly from Greece. There was an attempt, therefore, to place literary sources as early in time as was reasonably feasible and to prove that the more worthwhile aspects of Indian culture were entirely indigenous.
It followed that in essence Indian culture was superior. Another characteristic of historical interpretation influenced by nationalism was the desire to stress the political unity of the country from earliest times. Thus the rise of the Mauryan empire in the third century B. References to imperial glory gave rise to a sense of pride in the past and strengthened the ideology of nationhood.
The term 'empire' continued to be applied to the large north Indian kingdoms, and the geographical perspective was that of the Ganges heartland. In spite of this geographical focus there was no lack of generalization embracing the entire sub-continent.
Some of the generalizations now appear to be self-contradictory, but clearly they were not so regarded at the time.
For example, whereas on the one hand non-violence was regarded as a distinguishing feature of Indian culture, there was at the same time a glorification of military power. For some, Asokas policy of non-violence was his greatest achievement; other historians found this the major criticism of him, arguing that he so weakened the defence of India that the northwestern part of the sub-continent was conquered with ease by foreign invaders. Historians such as Vincent Smith, W.
Tarn and others came under attack because of their theories concerning the widespread influence of Greek culture on Indian culture. Thus Jayaswal maintained that the political life of the ancient Indian republics had been based on the concepts of democracy and representative government to the same degree as had the political life of the Greek city-states.
Coomaraswami argued against the aesthetic superiority of Greek art, since the Greeks were obsessed with physical beauty whereas the Indian artists sought to express higher spiritual values in their work.
The nationalist historians were writing at a time when the leaders of the national movement were demanding political rights and political representation in the government. Understandably, therefore, the political life and institutions of the past were probably the most sensitive areas of disagreement with earlier historians.
The discovery and interpretation of the Arthasastra, a work on political economy, was, for instance, a form of exoneration from the charge that Indian society was unconcerned with political relationships. In spite of such weaknesses the nationalist historians played a very significant role in the interpretation of ancient Indian history. Because they wrote in conscious opposition to the earlier writing, they forced historians to take a fresh look at the sources. They raised controversies, and a debate began.
The recognition of an historians conceptual framework became meaningful. The interpretation of Indian history was no longer based on a monolithic ideology deriving authority from the concept of Oriental Despotism.
Furthermore, the study of the ancient past began to have relevance for the present, and historical writing had to be more than the antiquarians collection of facts. Although most of the historical writing was still confined to dynastic history, the debate on ancient political and cultural life necessitated the study of social and economic 13 history 33 Interestingly enough, although a fair amount of work had been done by this time on, for example, caste and religious croups historians rarely integrated the results of this work into their histories; thus bibliographies of sections entitled Society in most standard histories would refer to Altekars book The Position of Women in Ancient India or N.
Duttas Origin and Growth of Caste in India, both merely compilations of references to the subject from the literary source material, but would rarely mention any of the standard works on the study of caste or social institutions. That the system of placing various facets of history in watertight compartments neatly labelled Political History, Economic History, Society, Religion and Philosophy, Language and Literature, the Arts, etc.
There was a tendency to regard the ancient period as one of considerable prosperity and general contentment, in fact a period of which the Indian people could justifiably be proud. This was legitimate for its purposes except on occasions when there was a reluctance to admit to blemishes on the culture. This distinction was emphasized by the rather arbitrary association of the most acceptable achievements of the Indian past with Hindu culture.
Not surprisingly, nationalism was replaced by a form of militant Hinduism, and the communal atmosphere in Indian politics in the late s and the s tended to vitiate the study of ancient and medieval history. The Gupta period became the Golden Age largely because it was the period of renascent Hinduism. Many of the ills of India were ascribed to the Muslim invasions and rule. It was maintained that Hinduism in its Sanskritic form was the essential culture of India, and other forces were in a sense an intrusion.
The identification of ancient India with Hindu culture became so marked that even the Buddhists were regarded with some suspicion. Earlier attempts at proving the indigenous origin of all things Indian were accentuated, a trend which continues to be supported by certain historians to this day.
At another level, it was believed that the dynamics of many Asian cultures, particularly those of Southeast Asia, arose from Hindu 14 culture, and the theory of Greater India derived sustenance from Pan-Hinduism. A curious pride was taken in the supposed imperialist past of India, as expressed in sentiments such as these: The art of Java and Kambuja was no doubt derived from India and fostered by the Indian rulers of these colonies.
This form of historical interpretation, which can perhaps best be described as being inspired by Hindu nationalism, remains an influential school of thinking in present historical writings. Studies of regional histories of smaller geographical areas and states--such as histories of Bengal, Maharashtra and!
It led to the discovery of new source material in local archives and to greater archaeological work in the region. The results of these studies not only filled many lacunae in historical knowledge of the early period but also acted as a corrective to some of the earlier generalizations. It also led to the recognition of the fact that an area as large as the Indian sub-continent will show evidence of regional variations in the cultural pattern and this historical change in the sub-continent need not be identical nor occur simultaneously.
Nilakantha Sastris work on south Indian history created a new awareness of the history of the sub-continent by bringing the history of the south into perspective. Some writers came to it through an interest in Marxism, as is exemplified in the work of D. For others it resulted from a recognition that history, and particularly ancient history, can best be studied within the framework of al social science discipline.
The Marxists did not accept the scheme implicit in the theory of the Asiatic Mode of Production; their interpretations derived more from the understanding of the principles of dialectical materialism and the historical philosophy of Marx, 15 as has frequently been the case with. Asian Marxists writing their own history.
Kosambi stated in the Introduction to the Study of Indian History that he saw the means of production as the key to historical events, and his analysis of ancient Indian history is based on this. For him dynastic history had no meaning, because, apart from everything else, our information on it is of such an uncertain character. It was more important, therefore, to investigate the workings of social and economic forces.
The importance of his work, however, lies not so much in the historical totality which he presented, but in the fact that it raised a number of new ideas and revealed new questions to be put to the sources, such as: To what extent can archaeological evidence provide a background to developments in historical times?
Can archaeology and literary sources give us the clues to technological change? Was the economy in fact the base to the super-structure of other forces in Indian society? Can religious activities in India be studied in either Marxist or Weberian terms, or, for that matter, on the basis of any other model?
Most important of all, what are the variables in the Indian tradition which distinguish it from other traditions? Kosambis writings became a focus and served to emphasize the validity of such questions and the need for further questions and the answers to them. This does not require a search for new evidence so much as a re-reading of the sources, with a different set of questions in mind.
It also requires fresh annotations of existing texts, particularly the law-books, dharmasastras. It requires not merely a familiarity with existing models but, even more important, an awareness and understanding of analytical methods.
To this extent the problems in the interpretation of ancient Indian history are not totally dissimilar to problems faced by contemporary historians of other ancient cultures. These ideas coincided with the realization that the major part of the dynastic history of ancient India had already been written and that other aspects of the historical past would now have to be investigated, not merely by compilation of more information, but 16 also by analysis of the facts with a view to establishing causal relationships.
The paucity of fresh literary source material would inevitably have led to a shift from the antiquarian interest in the ancient past to a more analytical comprehension of it. The increasing relevance of the methodology of the social sciences facilitated this shift. Not surprisingly, the intensification of work in archaeology and anthropology has coincided with this new emphasis in ancient history.
Archaeology is now the major source of fresh evidence, since it is unlikely that large numbers of literary sources still remain to be discovered. It not only provides new evidence in the form of the material remains of past culture, but, precisely because this evidence is tangible, it allows of a more accurate reconstruction of the past.
From the results of investigation into pre-history and proto-history a picture of the evolution of cultures in India is emerging. It is now possible to trace the successive phases of cultures relating to the Palaeolithic, the Neolithic, and the Chalcolithic types. The work on the Neolithic has enabled us to map the major areas of early agriculture in the last three millennia B.
Work on the Chalcolithic in the northern half of India has been somewhat concentrated on extensive excavations relating to the Harappa culture or the Indus Valley Civilization, as it was called until recently. The discovery of new towns and fresh evidence about the chronology and the decline of the Harappa culture necessitates a reconsideration of Mortimer Wheelers theory that the invading Aryans destroyed the cities of the Harappans.
In the Deccan, Chalcolithic traces have provided evidence of trade routes and contact between the Ganges valley and the northwest Deccan and the routes across the Deccan in the beginning of the first millennium B. The continued use of these routes well into the historical period opens up new possibilities of historical analyses of the early history of the Deccan.
Detailed studies on the Iron Age and iron technology from various sites in the sub-continent provide interesting insights into the use and expansion of this technology. Recent carbon analyses have suggested c. For the far south of India there is now archaeological evidence for the period from c. In both cases the contact with the western end of what has been described as the Indian Ocean Arc. The economics of the Roman trade which is now being studied on the basis of archaeological remains, coins, and literary source in Greek, Latin, and Tamil are likely to provide some useful information on the growth of the south Indian kingdoms.
The material evidence from the excavations of urban centres can corroborate or act as a corrective to literary evidence. Epigraphical evidence has illuminated many areas of post-Gupta history from the fifth century A. Material remains can also provide statistical evidence.
Thus the quantity and distribution of the characteristic pottery of the period--the northern-black polished ware--very relevant to the study of communication and trade in the pre-Mauryan and Mauryan periods, the fifth to third centuries B. Studies in economic and social history in recent years have attempted to determine not only the periods of change but the nature of change. In economic history this has resulted in an intensive study of the agrarian system.
It can now be said that not only is there evidence to prove the existence of private property in land but also that the rule of property changed significantly over the centuries. This disproves the basic premise of the argument in support of the theory of Oriental Despotism as applied to India. The major contribution in this area has been the study of land grants reconstructed from epigraphical sources, on the basis of which it has been suggested that a gradual change took place in the agrarian system from the fourth century A.
Various aspects of the revenue system have also been reconsidered in the light of new interpretations of forms of ownership. These studies have a bearing on the nature of the bureaucracy. Epigraphical material is frequently used as a means of checking the evidence from literary sources.
The use of inscriptions for such studies is comparatively new, since earlier historians tended to use inscriptions largely for information on dynastic history. Archaeology provides evidence for the study of trade and the growth 18 of towns in the context of a well-developed commercial economy, and here again the material remains have been used effectively in correlation with literary, sources.
This is an area of study for which there is immense scope with fresh excavations of trade centres and town sites. Indian social history at the moment has one basic preoccupation: an inquiry into the precise nature of social relationships in the I structure of early Indian society. Attempts are being made at re- examining the texts in the light of our contemporary understanding of theoretical model of the caste system, varna. These inquiries have taken the form of investigating a particular social group, for example the studies on the Sudras on the Vratyas, or the interrelationships of groups in a particular period, or the nature of an institution known to other societies as well, for example, slavery.
The social and economic underpinnings of religious institutions provide yet another avenue of related interest, the studies of the Chola temples being a case in point.
The nationalist phase also saw considerable interest in the study of ancient Indian political theory. The dominant themes were the status and role of the king, the channels of political representation, the function of the bureaucracy, and the distribution of power. The understanding of the theory of kingship in ancient India had been coloured in the nineteenth century by the concept of the divinity of kingship, based on the evidence from the Ancient Near East. This concept was rather arbitrarily extended to Indian kingship in together with the political corollary of a lack of representative institutions and the concentration of power with the king.
Although the nationalist historians did attempt to refute the latter, they rather overlooked the question of the divinity of the king.
This theme has come into prominence in recent work on the nature of kingship and the distribution of political power and status in early Indian society. The work on the land-grants, particularly from the sixth century onward, suggests a different type of power structure for the bureaucracy than was previously 19 assumed on the basis of the theory of despotism.
The exclusion of straight political history is not for all time. There are indications of a more meaningful return to political history now that the background of social and economic history is being gradually filled in. The nationalist phase of historical interpretation led for obvious reasons to the overwhelming participation of Indian historians in writing their own history.
This seemed to coincide with an appreciable decline of interest in ancient Indian history by European Indologists, except in France. The pore recent interpretations of ancient Indian history have suggested methods of analysis which can be used by historians of any nationality and can circumvent national and ideological bias, and by the use of which a greater degree of objectivity in interpretation can be achieved.
These methods work within the framework of certain hypotheses. They assume that all societies change and that in a period stretching from B.
The idea of a static society is clearly no longer tenable. Clearly there is a need to redefine the various periods of Indian history, if periodization is necessary, or else to dispense with such divisions altogether.
Both were great books which entertained me and left me wit I enjoy reading history, and am just becoming interested in the history of India and central Asia. Both were great books which entertained me and left me with a sense of having learnt something. I may have some feeling of the great ideological battle raging to define India, but I didn't want to read a book about politics.
Sadly, I feel that Thapar cannot write otherwise. Let me fill you in on some of the conflicts I sense. Everybody knows that India has Hindu and Muslim inhabitants. If you've seen "Gandhi" you'll know there were terrible massacres perpetrated after partition in The historical question is: have Hindu and Muslim always been enemies, or have they lived together peacefully? Your answer to that question will influence your position on the war in Kashmir, Pakistan's role within the world, and hence your opinion on what to do about Afghanistan.
Everybody knows India has a caste system. The highest caste is the brahmins, the priests; then kshatriya, the warriors; then vaishya and shudra. Brahmins have traditionally been well-educated - these days it is family tradition - so brahmins are more often professionals from wealthy families.
In modern India there are quotas for non-brahmins at universities because the brahmins tend to oversupply students. This means that there is effectively anti-brahmin discrimination, resulting in a brahmin diaspora as budding professionals travel overseas for education.
Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on your historical perspective - did brahmins achieve their advantageous position by generations of hard work, or did they achieve it by preferential treatment by the kings who were mostly kshatriya? Thapar takes the opportunity to mention that "brahmans" as she spells it counter to convention, were the recipients of land grants from the rulers. Brahmins then became administrators of the land, employing the lower castes to do the labour.