Home :: History Of India
Derivation of India: The official name India comes from Sindhu, the historic local appellation for the river Indus and is the most globally recognizable of the country. The Constitution of India and common usage also recognizes Bharat as the further official name of equal status. Bharat comes from the name of an ancient Hindu king and which means seeker of knowledge. The third name is Hindustan, which refers to land of the Hindus (where again Hindu means to those who dwell to the right of the Indus/Sindhu river) used from the Mughal times onwards.
The spirit of India has thus enthralled the world with its very mystique. A subcontinent with a 5000-year old history. A civilization united by its diversity - India has for all time been known as a land where history echoes itself with all its wonders in each piece of stone and each particle of dust.
India’s first main civilization thrived about 2500 BC in the Indus river valley much of which lies surrounded by present day India. This civilization, which lasted for 1000 years, and is called as the Harappan culture, appears to have been the finale of thousands of years of settlement. From roughly about 1500 BC onwards, Aryan tribes from Afghanistan and Central Asia began to filter into northwest India. in spite of their martial superiority, their progress was gradual. Ultimately though these tribes were able to control the whole of Northern India as far as Vindhya Hills, and a lot of the original inhabitants, the Dravidians, were pushed into south India. As the Aryan tribes spread out athwart the Ganges plain, in the seventh century BC, a lot of them were grouped together into 16 major kingdoms. Progressively these amalgamated into four large states, with Kosala and Magadha emerging to be the most influential during the fifth century BC. North India on the other hand came to be dominated by the Nanda dynasty in about 364 BC. During this period conversely, North India narrowly avoided two other incursions from the west. The initial one was by the Persian king, Darius about in 521- 486 BC and the second by Alexander the Great who marched into India from Greece in 326 BC.
The Mauryas were the initially ruling dynasty to control large parts of North India and few parts of South India, as one territorial unit. Founded by Chandragupta Maurya with the able regulation of Kautilya, the author of the well-known treatise - Arthashastra - he was able to set up extremely centralized administrative setup. The empire reached its peak under Ashoka, who left pillars and rock-carved edicts, which define the huge span of his territory that covered great areas of the Indian subcontinent; these can be seen in Delhi, Gujarat, Orissa, and Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh and Sanchi in Madhya pradesh. Following the death of Ashoka, in 232 BC, the empire quickly disintegrated, lastly collapsing in 184 BC.
A number of empires rose and fell, particularly in North India, following the fall down of the Mauryas. The next dynasty value a mention is that of the Guptas. Even though the Gupta Empire was not as great as the Maurya Empire, it kept North India politically unified for more than a century from AD 335 to 455.
Following the turn down of the Mauryan Empire a number of powerful kingdoms occurred in central and south India, amid them Satavahanas, Kalingas and Vakatakas hold priority. Later on these regions saw the increase of few of the furthermost dynasties of South India in the form of the Cholas, Pandyas, Cheras, Chalukyas and Pallavas.
The turn down of the Guptas, in North India, and the resulting rise of a large but futile number of regional powers made the political situation very runny and unbalanced by the ninth century AD. This lined the way for the Muslim invasion into India during the early half of the eleventh century. These were felt in the form of seventeen successive raids to North India, made by Mahmud of Ghazni among 1001 and 1025. These raids efficiently shattered the balance of power in North India permitting following invaders to claim the territory for them. On the other hand the next Muslim ruler to invade India accomplished the establishment of foreign rule in India, in its truesense. This Mahmud of Ghauri attacked India and after some ineffective resistance by the local leadership was able to effectively lay the foundation of a foreign empire in India. Under him, great parts of India came under Muslim rule and very soon his heir Qutub - ud - Aibak became the first of the sultans of Delhi. His was followed by the rule of the Khaljis and Tughlaq, also called as the rule of the Delhi Sultanate, who ruled against a great portion of North India and components of South India till until the coming in of the Lodis andSayyids and after them the Mughals who established, what came to be known as the most effervescent era of Indian History.
Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb were some of the most important rulers of the Mughal dynasty. Even though the Mughal’s heyday was comparatively brief, their empire was massive, covering, at its height, almost the whole Indian subcontinent. Its importance was not only in its size, however. The Mughal emperors presided over a golden age of arts and literature and had fervor for building, which resulted in a few of the utmost architecture in India. In finicky, Shah Jahan’s Taj Mahal at Agra ranks as one of the wonders of the world. This apart, the huge number of forts, palaces, gates, buildings, mosques, baolis gardens, etc., forms the cultural inheritance of the Mughals in India. The Mughals were also instrumental in starting one of the most competent administrative setups in India. Most remarkable being their revenue administration, the traits of which form the fundamentals of the revenue and land reform laws in India till date.
The turn down of the Mughals saw the corresponding increase of Marathas in Western India. In other parts of India, nonetheless a new trend of foreign invasion under the garb of commercial links had began from the fifteenth century AD onwards - first, with the influx and gradual conquest of Goa by the Portugese led by Vasco da Gama -between 1498 and 1510 AD; and then with the arrival, and the setting up of the initial trading post at Surat, in Gujarat, by the East India Company.
The British and Portugese were not only the Europeans in India. The Danes and Dutch also had trading posts, and in 1672 AD, the French recognized themselves at Pondicherry, an enclave that they held even after the British had disappeared. The British represented by the East India Company started their commercial power over vast areas in India, which very soon had a directorial dimension to it. The British rule in India was nonetheless formalized by the direct takeover of India by the British Crown, all the way through the post 1857 reforms.
Since then uptill independence the history of India is one of stable struggle among the nationalists - who assumed diverse names, ideologies, backgrounds and methods - and the Britishers and their oppressive policies in India.
Historians however, use the commencement of mature agriculture in the Indus and Ganges valleys as the starting point of the story of Indian civilization. The calendar reads initial millennium BC. Before now, iron had been discovered, and even iron implements for clearing of forests and cultivation had been shaped out. Starting here, the art or science of metallurgy urbanized very swiftly in India. India had lot of copper, tin, lead, brass and silver reserves, not to mention gold mines. Indian steel was so famous that after the well-known battle among Alexander the Great and Porus, the one and only gift Porus could think of giving Alexander was steel. Today, apart from lot of steel plants, India has held this thread of continuity still in indigenous research in titanium technology and composites.