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Military Architecture in Ancient India

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Preface The very name ancient India conjures up a picture of the regions full of mou….tainous ranges, dense forest growth, gurgling fast- flowing rivers, and the forest dwelling tribal people living in caves and other protective places. Before the advent of the Aryans many tribes were residing in the various parts of the land among whom some were, no doubt, completely uncivilized and others were in a semi-civilized state. Most of them lived a secluded and isolated types of life hav...
Preface

The very name ancient India conjures up a picture of the regions full of mou….tainous ranges, dense forest growth, gurgling fast- flowing rivers, and the forest dwelling tribal people living in caves and other protective places. Before the advent of the Aryans many tribes were residing in the various parts of the land among whom some were, no doubt, completely uncivilized and others were in a semi-civilized state. Most of them lived a secluded and isolated types of life having little contact with one another. Besides these, there were civilized tribes also who were far-advanced on the path of civilization. This was the condition of the country when the Aryan people entered this land.

The question is still undecided as to in which part of the country the Aryans first set their feet. It can be surmised from the written works of the Aryans themselves that they first entered the land of the eastern Punjab and upper reaches of the Ganga and Yamuna. After being firmly established there their movement began to the eastern side of the land including the regions of Genetic valley. It was a long process consuming a period of several centuries. The progress was not safe and smooth as the tribal people residing in these region naturally obstructed this onward march at every step. There were continuous and bitter stifles in which the Aryans always had an upper hand due to their better military organization. Still the progress was slow and far from being smooth. There were dense forest which proved a stumbling block obstructing further progress. We have a glimpse of the Aryan movement towards the east from the Brahmanical literature which throws a hint of their movement and also discloses the fact that they had reached up to Videha by that time.

During the time of their movement the Aryans encountered the opposition of the tribal people who belonged to different ethnical groups. In the Punjab they had to subdue the opposition of the Dravidians while in their progress towards eastern direction they met stiff opposition from the Mundas whom they forced to retire into the inner recesses of the area. This was a time for the Aryans to stabilize their gains and establish closer relationship with the indigenous people. A new culture was now being evolved out of the process of coming closer and knowing each other from closer quarter. Before their advent in India the Aryans were nomad people completely ignorant of the benefits of a settled life. They learnt the techniques of agriculture of rice from the indigenous people and brought the occupied areas under the plough. Trade and commerce as time passed also took big steps. As a result of this all round progress the condition of the people underwent a tremendous change. The social and political organisations of the Aryans drew strength under new conditions and were established on the sound footing.

The Aryan lived in small localities surrounded by rampart which stood in complete contrast with the prosperous towns and cities of the Indus Civilization people. Their houses were made of wood and mud enclosed by a muddy ‘vapra’. They had no specific building techniques of their own.

India during the ancient period was a clear-cut geographical unit surrounded on the north by unsurpassable mountainous ranges and enclosed on three sides by the mighty oceans. This was a country designated as ‘Saptsindhava’ in the Rigveda which means a country of seven rivers. By the end of fourth century B.C. the discovery of whole of India had been made. There was a time when the countries situated on the western side of the Sindhu river together with those on the north-east corners of Iranian valley were within Indian Boundary.

The earlier Indian old texts familiarize us with the five traditional parts of the country. These are Madhyadesha, Udichya or Uttarpatha, Prachya, Dakshinapatha, and the Aparanta. The eastern part lay to the east of Varanashi, the Dakshinapatha lay to the south of Mahishamati, the western part in the west of Devasabha and the northern part in the north of prithudaka (pehowa). The country up to the confluence of Ganga- Yamuna was known as Antarveda. This was Aryanvrata which extended up to Vinshana in the west, up to Kalaka forest in the east, up to the Himalayas on the north and Pariyatra in the south.

As time progressed big towns and cities emerged in different parts of the country which resulted into the urbanization of the land. These cities and towns either enjoyed the status of capitals of the rulers or the status of business centers around which a great part of populace thronged. Mutual distrust and envy kept the rulers always alert in strengthening their possession by solid fortifications. The instinct of self-preservation was the guiding factor for the precaution they took during the time.

The ‘Ancient India’ of our conception is the period in history which begins from the time of Indus Civilization and extends upto the period of break-up of the empire founded by the great sovereign Harshavardhana.

During this prolonged period of several centuries a number of empires were established and thrown away after a short duration. Their fall was as swift as their rise. They were wiped out from the face of the earth leaving behind a trail of their greatness. As everything of this world is transitory, riches, power and possession do not fall out of the reach of this all embracing principle of life.

The incessant endeavors of the rulers to safeguard their possession with the aid of natural and human resources failed miserably before the all consuming and inclement time. What they defended persistently against human vandalism fell an easy prey to decadence and evanescence.

A story of this pathetic attempt of these rulers of perpetuate their gains has been told in the following pages which is interesting as well as illuminating. It lays bare the sentiments of human vanity and false pride.

The art of fortification had reached a high state of development even at the dawn of Indus Civilization in India. Powerful military works have been noticed in the excavation conducted at various sites of the civilization. The excavation finds obtained at various sites give ample information of the existing conditions. The Vedic people confronted the strongholds of the Indus valley people and took great pain to reduce them. Later on the Aryan tribes in India also built several forts in the process of extending and consolidating their gains. These forts were really monuments of inventive genius and skill of the Aryan people. There was fundamental unity in the principles of design but each fort had its own peculiarities and local and regional differences. The vedic literature provides rich information about military ideas of the age.

 

Contents

 

  Perface v
  List of Illustrations xvii
1 Fortification in sindhu Civilization 1
2 Fortification in Vedic Period 10
3 Fortification in Epic Period 21
4 Fortification in Post-Epic Period (Buddhist Period) 34
5 Fortification as Described in Early Shilpa-Shastras(The Mauryan Period) 46
6 Components of Fortification 62
7 Arms and Armaments Weapons &Yantras 72
8 Fortification in Later Shilpa Text 85
9 Types of Forts and Their Characteristics 113
10 Survey of Indian History Form Fort-view Point 128
11 Methods of Attack and Defence 148
12 Thumb-nail Sketches of Ancients Forts and Fortified Cities 162
13 The Fort-War in Ancients India 182
14 Some Additional Information About Ancient Fortified Cities 199
  Conclusion 205
  Glossary 213
  Bibliography 217
  Index 225
  Illustration  

 

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Item Code: NAL702 Author: Ratanlal Mishra Cover: Hardcover Edition: 2002 Publisher: B.R. Publishing Corporation ISBN: 9788176462570 Language: English and Sanskrit Size: 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch Pages: 249 (34 B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 450 gms
Price: $35.00
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