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Exploring Early India (Up to C.AD 1300)
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About the Book

This third edition of Exploring Early India up to c.AD 1300 offers a broad overview and connected narrative of early Indian history, taking into consideration major historical development from the earliest times to c.AD 1300. Salient features of political, socio-economic and cultural history have been discussed elaborately, and regional diversities in early Indian history have been commented upon, Keeping in sight the commonalties at the subcontinental level. Rich in empirical details and containing relevant illustrations and maps, the book delves into the historiographical thrusts and shifts in the study of early India and is marked by attempts to demonstrate elements of change in early Indian history beyond dynastic shifts. It also offers critical readings of diverse primary sources from the fields of archaeology, epigraphy, numismatics and art-history, and the various congruent, and contesting, images of the past which they generate. This book also includes two new appendices respectively on the Kushana political history and the seafaring to the island of Socotra in the light of recently discovered epigraphic date.

 

About the Author

Ranabir Chakravarti, Professor of Ancient History, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (India) Specializes in social and economic history of early India with a particular interest in the India Ocean maritime history. A regular contributor to refereed journals published in India and abroad, Chakravarti has authored/edited several books, including A Sourcebook of Indian Civilization (2000); Trade in Early India (2005, paperback); Trade and Traders in Early Indian Society (2007); Indo-Judaic Studies in the Twenty-First Century: A View from the Margin (2007) and Exploring Early India (2012). He has recently annotated the fourteenth century Latin Crusade text, How to Defeat the Saracens (English translation by Giles Constable, 2012). Besides these works in English, he has authored/edited three books in Bangla: Prachin Bharater Arthanaitik ltihaser Sandhane (on economic history of early India, 2002); Samaj Sanskriti, litihas:Adhyapak Ashhin Das Gupta Smarak Grantha (essays in Memory of Professor Ashin Das Gupta, 2001) and Bharat-ltihaser Adiparva (History of Ancient India up to AD 600,2007; translated in Hindi as Bharat-ltihaska Adi Kal, 2012).

Chakravarti was elected the Sectional President (Ancient India) of the Indian History Congress (72nd session, Patiala) in 2011. He also presided over the Ancient India section of Punjab History Congress (2011, Punjabi University, Patiala). He was invited to deliver the Anniversary Commemorative Lecture (India and the Indian Ocean: Issues in Trade and Politics up to c. 1500 CE) by the maritime History Society,.

 

Preface to the Third Edition

This third edition has been through press not only with a view to updating the bibliography in line with contemporary debates, but also to augment the understanding of my readers by contextualizing the period discussed in chapter V.I decided to add two appendices in order to bring to the attention of my readers some interesting developments in the history of the period from c.200 BC to AD 300. Appendix I is prepared with a view to situating the recent developments in Kushana studies in terms of political history (but not dynastic history). The main intention is to take a close look at the political processes that led to the transformation of the Kushanas from a nomadic Central Asian tribe to very formidable polity. The new perspectives of the persistent debates on the possible date of Kanishka has also been taken into consideration. Appendix II deals with the remarkable inscriptions, mostly-but not exclusively-Indic, discovered from the island of Socotra near the Horn of Africa in the western Indian Ocean. The inscriptions have deciphered and meticulously studied by Ingo Strauch and his colleagues. Dated to the first five centuries of the Christian era these inscriptions highlight the seafaring activities of the people of the subcontinent. The inscriptions have not only had very significant bearing on the early maritime history of the subcontinent, but raise important issues on social and cultural practices (including the myth of incurring pollution by undertaking voyages across the sea) and the epigraphic culture. Both the appendices address several technical issues, especially pertaining to primary sources. That is why the appendices are presented with footnotes which are otherwise avoided in the rest of the book However, keeping in view the format and purpose of the book, the two appendices present broad overviews of the topics under discussion without getting into intricate details associated with both the topics. The Bibliography has been updated also keeping in the light of the important publications that came out in the last five years. As the manuscript of the manuscript of the third edition was being prepared the excellent overview of south India, entitled A Concise History of South India, edited by Noboru Karashima reached me. I wished very much to incorporate some of the salient aspects of this book into my text, but that would have delayed the production of this book by several months mere. I had to reluctantly refrain from using Karashima’s book, especially the sections therein on early medieval south India.

The Index to the third edition has been kindly prepared by Ms. Preeti Gulati and Mr Abhimanyu, both currently pursuing M. Phil. Degree in the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal University, New Delhi. My most sincere thanks go to them for them for their help and cooperation.

I have tried my best to keep the book as error free as possible. In case of any inaccuracy cropping up in the book, I would ask for the indulgence of the readers. I shall feel rewarded if this book is able to arouse curiosities and interests in the history of Early India which can be enriched by fresh exploration of the field.

 

Preface to the First Edition

It is a matter of relief for the author that this broad overview of early Indian history is about to see the light of the day. I would like to record my sincere thanks to Macmillan Publishers India Ltd. for approaching me to take up this project, but more for their interminable and exemplary patience with a recalcitrant author like the present one, who missed many deadlines. The proposal came from Macmillan Publishers India Ltd. in 2004- 5; it took a much longer time than what was originally estimated to complete the book. I must own up the entire blame for the delay in bringing out this book.

A special note of thanks goes to the cartographer, who had taken considerable pains to prepare the maps for this book. A large number of photographs were made available to me by the kind permission of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi; I would like to acknowledge here my sincere thanks to the ASI. The photographs of the coins in this book are published with the kind permission of the National Museum, New Delhi, to whom also I am whom also I am sincerely thankful. I must record here my sincere appreciation to the anonymous reader (s)/referee (s) of the manuscript; the suggestions and comments from the reader (s)/referee (s) were indeed valuable. I have tried to incorporate these suggestions to the best of my ability and made modifications to the original manuscript wherever necessary. It is with immense pleasure that I would like to record here my thanks and appreciation to Digvijay Kumar Singh and Asish Kumar- both pursuing M. Phil. Programmes in the Centre for Historical Studies, JNU for ably preparing the index. I received sustained cooperation from the staff of the Central Library, JUN and also from staff of the library of the Centre for Advanced Study of the Centre for Historical Study, JNU; I acknowledge with gratitude their help in the production of this book.

I would like to dedicate this book to the memory of my beloved uncle, Uma Prasad Chakravarti. His passing away in 1996 left a void in my life that is impossible to fill up. That he breathed his last with my name on his lips, while I was away from home, is an inestimable grief which I am unable to overcome. Though terminally ill, he firmly instructed me not to hurry back home, but to attend first to my academic assignments in 1996. By dedicating this book to his memory, I do the minimum to say that I miss him so very much every day ever since he departed.

Two persons are present in every world written in this book: they are Tutul, my wife and Majaru, my son. Upright, straightforward, focussed and resolute, especially when the chips are down, they have set for me a very high standard that I try to emulate, but which are also elusive milestones for a person of my calibre. Mere world cannot illuminate their contributions to the making of this book.

 

Introduction

The Introduction of a book gives its author both opportunity and space to spell out the aims, objectives and plan of the book. The present work attempts from the period of the emergence of human beings in the subcontinent to c.AD1300. Recent decades have witnessed a growing interest in early Indian history as a curricular subject at undergraduate/postgraduate level, as a subject attracting informed general public and as a specialized field of in-depth research. The increasing awareness of the subcontinent’s remotest past encourages a historian to delve deep into the subject and present an overview of various facets of early Indian history by drawing upon the works of a host of historians of both older and recent generations. Needless to explain that this book has to attempt at synthesization of the existing knowledge about the subject. Taking into account the vast body of published scholarly works on multiple aspects of early Indian history was indeed a major learning experience for the present author, who in this process was able to improve upon his own readings of early Indian history to overcome many of his lacunae of understanding and to develop a clearer perspective of early Indian history. It also gives the author an opportunity to comment upon the production of knowledge of early India in recent decades.

At the risk of stating the obvious, it should, however, be emphatically stated here that the historical space treated in this book is not equivalent to the present nation state of India, but it deals with what is most conveniently expressed as the Indian subcontinent. On many occasions, areas now included in the modern nation stated of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, prominently figure in our discussions. By this, we never intend to project an image of what, in a particular political perception, is promoted as ‘akhand Bharat’ (unified India). This is a problem and contradiction of historical methodology. While the most common practice of selecting a spatial unit for historical studies is a modern nation state or part (s) thereof, the chronological span of a historical enquiry may take the historian to pre-modern times when there was no nation state. In our present case, the aspiration for and the emergence of the nation state of India goes back to the late nineteenth and twentieth century; but the history of this land takes us several millennia ago. To treat the past of these millennia in the parameters of a modern nation state it will not only be inaccurate and anachronistic, but also methodologically wrong because the emergent historical image will appear as a frozen one. The essential feature of historical studies is to identify and explain significant changes in a given people’s history and also to suggest its impacts on subsequent times. Thus the spatial unit India here stands for the subcontinent. This may be reason of convenience. But there is also a logic of impossible geography.

While it is impossible to treat the area of the Indian subcontinent as a unified, undifferentiated area of a pre-modern state, it is also clear that as a landmass, this region has remarkable historical entity. The two well- known ancient geographical epithets of this country-Bharatavarsha and Jambudvipa-generally signified the vast area of the subcontinent, bounded by Himalayas on the north and the sea on its other three sides. Bharatavarsha is so named in the Puranic accounts after Bharata, the name of a Rigvedic tribe. The earliest known definite use of the term, as show in Chapter 5, figures in a first century BC inscription. But at that time it denoted not the subcontinent, but a portion of the Ganga valley lying possibly between Magadha in south Bihar and Mathura in the Ganga-Yamuna doab. The term Jambudvipa, first appearing in an inscription of Asoka in the third century BC, is likely to refer both to a country and the Mauryan realm, in the latter sense, therefore, recognizing a geo-political entity. In the Puranic cosmographical and geographical concepts, the earth consisted of seven islands (saptadvipa vasumati), separated by seven seas that resembled concentric circles. Jambudvipa was one of the seven islands; it was further divided into various quarters or varshas. One such varsha was Bharatavarsha. It is also true that in Puranic ideas, the names Jambudvipa and Bharatavarsha covered an area, in which were occasionally included places that are now situated in mainland or maritime South-East Asia. This cannot be seen as a justification of what was once termed as ‘Greater India’. The intimate and sustained contacts of South Asia with mainland and maritime South-East Asia paved the way for this Puranic practice of including these extra-Indian areas into Jambudvipa/Bharatavarsha.

 

Contents

 

  Transliteration Table ix
  Preface to the Third Edition xi
  Preface to the First Edition xiii
  Author's Note to the Second Edition xv
  Abbreviations xvii
  Introductions xix
1 From the Beginning of Human Presence to the First Civilization (up to c. 1500 BC) 1
2 India During the Days of the Vedic Corpus (c.1500-600 BC) 44
3 Mahajanapadas, Urban Centres and Heterodox Religious Movements (c. 600-300 BC) 83
4 The Maurya Empire (c. 325 BC -185 BC) 125
5 Confrontations, Commerce and Cultural Scenario (c.200 BC-AD 300) 179
6 A Political, Social and Cultural Overview: The Epoch of the Guptas and their Contemporaries (AD 300-600) 247
7 Realms and Regions: Profiles of Economy, Society and Culture (c. AD 600-1300) 316
  Appendix I 432
  Appendix II 454
  Bibliography 461
  Index 477

 

Sample Pages




















Exploring Early India (Up to C.AD 1300)

Item Code:
NAM102
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Edition:
2016
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English
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9.5 inch x 6.5 inch
Pages:
515
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Weight of the Book: 680 gms
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About the Book

This third edition of Exploring Early India up to c.AD 1300 offers a broad overview and connected narrative of early Indian history, taking into consideration major historical development from the earliest times to c.AD 1300. Salient features of political, socio-economic and cultural history have been discussed elaborately, and regional diversities in early Indian history have been commented upon, Keeping in sight the commonalties at the subcontinental level. Rich in empirical details and containing relevant illustrations and maps, the book delves into the historiographical thrusts and shifts in the study of early India and is marked by attempts to demonstrate elements of change in early Indian history beyond dynastic shifts. It also offers critical readings of diverse primary sources from the fields of archaeology, epigraphy, numismatics and art-history, and the various congruent, and contesting, images of the past which they generate. This book also includes two new appendices respectively on the Kushana political history and the seafaring to the island of Socotra in the light of recently discovered epigraphic date.

 

About the Author

Ranabir Chakravarti, Professor of Ancient History, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (India) Specializes in social and economic history of early India with a particular interest in the India Ocean maritime history. A regular contributor to refereed journals published in India and abroad, Chakravarti has authored/edited several books, including A Sourcebook of Indian Civilization (2000); Trade in Early India (2005, paperback); Trade and Traders in Early Indian Society (2007); Indo-Judaic Studies in the Twenty-First Century: A View from the Margin (2007) and Exploring Early India (2012). He has recently annotated the fourteenth century Latin Crusade text, How to Defeat the Saracens (English translation by Giles Constable, 2012). Besides these works in English, he has authored/edited three books in Bangla: Prachin Bharater Arthanaitik ltihaser Sandhane (on economic history of early India, 2002); Samaj Sanskriti, litihas:Adhyapak Ashhin Das Gupta Smarak Grantha (essays in Memory of Professor Ashin Das Gupta, 2001) and Bharat-ltihaser Adiparva (History of Ancient India up to AD 600,2007; translated in Hindi as Bharat-ltihaska Adi Kal, 2012).

Chakravarti was elected the Sectional President (Ancient India) of the Indian History Congress (72nd session, Patiala) in 2011. He also presided over the Ancient India section of Punjab History Congress (2011, Punjabi University, Patiala). He was invited to deliver the Anniversary Commemorative Lecture (India and the Indian Ocean: Issues in Trade and Politics up to c. 1500 CE) by the maritime History Society,.

 

Preface to the Third Edition

This third edition has been through press not only with a view to updating the bibliography in line with contemporary debates, but also to augment the understanding of my readers by contextualizing the period discussed in chapter V.I decided to add two appendices in order to bring to the attention of my readers some interesting developments in the history of the period from c.200 BC to AD 300. Appendix I is prepared with a view to situating the recent developments in Kushana studies in terms of political history (but not dynastic history). The main intention is to take a close look at the political processes that led to the transformation of the Kushanas from a nomadic Central Asian tribe to very formidable polity. The new perspectives of the persistent debates on the possible date of Kanishka has also been taken into consideration. Appendix II deals with the remarkable inscriptions, mostly-but not exclusively-Indic, discovered from the island of Socotra near the Horn of Africa in the western Indian Ocean. The inscriptions have deciphered and meticulously studied by Ingo Strauch and his colleagues. Dated to the first five centuries of the Christian era these inscriptions highlight the seafaring activities of the people of the subcontinent. The inscriptions have not only had very significant bearing on the early maritime history of the subcontinent, but raise important issues on social and cultural practices (including the myth of incurring pollution by undertaking voyages across the sea) and the epigraphic culture. Both the appendices address several technical issues, especially pertaining to primary sources. That is why the appendices are presented with footnotes which are otherwise avoided in the rest of the book However, keeping in view the format and purpose of the book, the two appendices present broad overviews of the topics under discussion without getting into intricate details associated with both the topics. The Bibliography has been updated also keeping in the light of the important publications that came out in the last five years. As the manuscript of the manuscript of the third edition was being prepared the excellent overview of south India, entitled A Concise History of South India, edited by Noboru Karashima reached me. I wished very much to incorporate some of the salient aspects of this book into my text, but that would have delayed the production of this book by several months mere. I had to reluctantly refrain from using Karashima’s book, especially the sections therein on early medieval south India.

The Index to the third edition has been kindly prepared by Ms. Preeti Gulati and Mr Abhimanyu, both currently pursuing M. Phil. Degree in the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal University, New Delhi. My most sincere thanks go to them for them for their help and cooperation.

I have tried my best to keep the book as error free as possible. In case of any inaccuracy cropping up in the book, I would ask for the indulgence of the readers. I shall feel rewarded if this book is able to arouse curiosities and interests in the history of Early India which can be enriched by fresh exploration of the field.

 

Preface to the First Edition

It is a matter of relief for the author that this broad overview of early Indian history is about to see the light of the day. I would like to record my sincere thanks to Macmillan Publishers India Ltd. for approaching me to take up this project, but more for their interminable and exemplary patience with a recalcitrant author like the present one, who missed many deadlines. The proposal came from Macmillan Publishers India Ltd. in 2004- 5; it took a much longer time than what was originally estimated to complete the book. I must own up the entire blame for the delay in bringing out this book.

A special note of thanks goes to the cartographer, who had taken considerable pains to prepare the maps for this book. A large number of photographs were made available to me by the kind permission of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi; I would like to acknowledge here my sincere thanks to the ASI. The photographs of the coins in this book are published with the kind permission of the National Museum, New Delhi, to whom also I am whom also I am sincerely thankful. I must record here my sincere appreciation to the anonymous reader (s)/referee (s) of the manuscript; the suggestions and comments from the reader (s)/referee (s) were indeed valuable. I have tried to incorporate these suggestions to the best of my ability and made modifications to the original manuscript wherever necessary. It is with immense pleasure that I would like to record here my thanks and appreciation to Digvijay Kumar Singh and Asish Kumar- both pursuing M. Phil. Programmes in the Centre for Historical Studies, JNU for ably preparing the index. I received sustained cooperation from the staff of the Central Library, JUN and also from staff of the library of the Centre for Advanced Study of the Centre for Historical Study, JNU; I acknowledge with gratitude their help in the production of this book.

I would like to dedicate this book to the memory of my beloved uncle, Uma Prasad Chakravarti. His passing away in 1996 left a void in my life that is impossible to fill up. That he breathed his last with my name on his lips, while I was away from home, is an inestimable grief which I am unable to overcome. Though terminally ill, he firmly instructed me not to hurry back home, but to attend first to my academic assignments in 1996. By dedicating this book to his memory, I do the minimum to say that I miss him so very much every day ever since he departed.

Two persons are present in every world written in this book: they are Tutul, my wife and Majaru, my son. Upright, straightforward, focussed and resolute, especially when the chips are down, they have set for me a very high standard that I try to emulate, but which are also elusive milestones for a person of my calibre. Mere world cannot illuminate their contributions to the making of this book.

 

Introduction

The Introduction of a book gives its author both opportunity and space to spell out the aims, objectives and plan of the book. The present work attempts from the period of the emergence of human beings in the subcontinent to c.AD1300. Recent decades have witnessed a growing interest in early Indian history as a curricular subject at undergraduate/postgraduate level, as a subject attracting informed general public and as a specialized field of in-depth research. The increasing awareness of the subcontinent’s remotest past encourages a historian to delve deep into the subject and present an overview of various facets of early Indian history by drawing upon the works of a host of historians of both older and recent generations. Needless to explain that this book has to attempt at synthesization of the existing knowledge about the subject. Taking into account the vast body of published scholarly works on multiple aspects of early Indian history was indeed a major learning experience for the present author, who in this process was able to improve upon his own readings of early Indian history to overcome many of his lacunae of understanding and to develop a clearer perspective of early Indian history. It also gives the author an opportunity to comment upon the production of knowledge of early India in recent decades.

At the risk of stating the obvious, it should, however, be emphatically stated here that the historical space treated in this book is not equivalent to the present nation state of India, but it deals with what is most conveniently expressed as the Indian subcontinent. On many occasions, areas now included in the modern nation stated of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, prominently figure in our discussions. By this, we never intend to project an image of what, in a particular political perception, is promoted as ‘akhand Bharat’ (unified India). This is a problem and contradiction of historical methodology. While the most common practice of selecting a spatial unit for historical studies is a modern nation state or part (s) thereof, the chronological span of a historical enquiry may take the historian to pre-modern times when there was no nation state. In our present case, the aspiration for and the emergence of the nation state of India goes back to the late nineteenth and twentieth century; but the history of this land takes us several millennia ago. To treat the past of these millennia in the parameters of a modern nation state it will not only be inaccurate and anachronistic, but also methodologically wrong because the emergent historical image will appear as a frozen one. The essential feature of historical studies is to identify and explain significant changes in a given people’s history and also to suggest its impacts on subsequent times. Thus the spatial unit India here stands for the subcontinent. This may be reason of convenience. But there is also a logic of impossible geography.

While it is impossible to treat the area of the Indian subcontinent as a unified, undifferentiated area of a pre-modern state, it is also clear that as a landmass, this region has remarkable historical entity. The two well- known ancient geographical epithets of this country-Bharatavarsha and Jambudvipa-generally signified the vast area of the subcontinent, bounded by Himalayas on the north and the sea on its other three sides. Bharatavarsha is so named in the Puranic accounts after Bharata, the name of a Rigvedic tribe. The earliest known definite use of the term, as show in Chapter 5, figures in a first century BC inscription. But at that time it denoted not the subcontinent, but a portion of the Ganga valley lying possibly between Magadha in south Bihar and Mathura in the Ganga-Yamuna doab. The term Jambudvipa, first appearing in an inscription of Asoka in the third century BC, is likely to refer both to a country and the Mauryan realm, in the latter sense, therefore, recognizing a geo-political entity. In the Puranic cosmographical and geographical concepts, the earth consisted of seven islands (saptadvipa vasumati), separated by seven seas that resembled concentric circles. Jambudvipa was one of the seven islands; it was further divided into various quarters or varshas. One such varsha was Bharatavarsha. It is also true that in Puranic ideas, the names Jambudvipa and Bharatavarsha covered an area, in which were occasionally included places that are now situated in mainland or maritime South-East Asia. This cannot be seen as a justification of what was once termed as ‘Greater India’. The intimate and sustained contacts of South Asia with mainland and maritime South-East Asia paved the way for this Puranic practice of including these extra-Indian areas into Jambudvipa/Bharatavarsha.

 

Contents

 

  Transliteration Table ix
  Preface to the Third Edition xi
  Preface to the First Edition xiii
  Author's Note to the Second Edition xv
  Abbreviations xvii
  Introductions xix
1 From the Beginning of Human Presence to the First Civilization (up to c. 1500 BC) 1
2 India During the Days of the Vedic Corpus (c.1500-600 BC) 44
3 Mahajanapadas, Urban Centres and Heterodox Religious Movements (c. 600-300 BC) 83
4 The Maurya Empire (c. 325 BC -185 BC) 125
5 Confrontations, Commerce and Cultural Scenario (c.200 BC-AD 300) 179
6 A Political, Social and Cultural Overview: The Epoch of the Guptas and their Contemporaries (AD 300-600) 247
7 Realms and Regions: Profiles of Economy, Society and Culture (c. AD 600-1300) 316
  Appendix I 432
  Appendix II 454
  Bibliography 461
  Index 477

 

Sample Pages




















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Best web site to shop on line.
Suman, USA
Thank you for having such a great website. I have given your site to all the people I get compliments on your merchandise.
Pat, Canada.
Love the website and the breadth of selection. Thanks for assembling such a great collection of art and sculpture.
Richard, USA
Another three books arrived during the last weeks, all of them diligently packed. Excellent reading for the the quieter days at the end of the year. Greetings to Vipin K. and his team.
Walter
Your products are uncommon yet have advanced my knowledge and devotion to Sanatana Dharma. Also, they are reasonably priced and ship quickly. Thank you for all you do.
Gregory, USA
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