The Indian History is perhaps the oldest in the world, and the sources of
Indian History are the verbal history, because our ancients never did bother
about putting things down on paper and archaeological evidences. Based on the
evidences available today, Indian History, like the history of every ancient
culture in the world, is broadly divided into four periods as mentioned below:
From the big bang, the primeval swamp to the Indus Valley civilization.
Though Indus Valley civilization is included in pre-historical period. However,
technical evidences shows that Indus Valley civilization did have a script,
although it has not been decoded yet. So, it is generally included in Ancient
It begins from the Indus Valley civilization (for which the date is a matter
of hot debate, but historians have agreed to disagree on 3000 BC) to just after
the king Harsha Vardhana, which is around 700-800 BC.
It begins from 800 BC to mid-18th century AD.
From mid-18th century to the independence of India, which is on August 15,
1947. The history of Modern India is farther sub-divided into two major periods:
1. The British Period.
2. The India Freedom Struggle and Partition of India.
The discovery of Mohenjodaro and Harappa by British archeologist: Marshall
proved that Indian civilization is the oldest civilization in the world. Even
India came before Greece, considered the oldest civilization before the
discovery of Mohenjodaro and Harappa. The main features of Ancient Indian
History are as follows:
Indus Valley Civilization
Discovery: In 1921, R.B. Dayaram Sahani, first discovered Harappa, in the
Montgomery district of the Punjab. According to radio-carbon dating, it spread
from the year 2350-1750.
Indus Valley Civilization
Dr. R. D. Banerjee found the ancient city Mohenjodaro (literally, ‘city of
the dead’) in Larkana district of Sindh, now in Pakistan in 1922.
The Marvelous Town Planning of Mohenjodaro: A chief feature of Mohenjodaro is
its superb town planning. The streets, which divided the city into neat
rectangular or square blocks, varied in width but always intersected each other
at right angles. The city had an elaborate drainage system, consisting of
horizontal and vertical drains, street drains and so on. The architecture of the
buildings was clearly intended to be functional and minimalist, and certainly
not to please the aesthete. Mohenjodaro was obviously a cosmopolitan city, with
people of different races mingling with the local populace-Proto-Austroloid,
Mediterranean, Alpine and Mongoloid.
The Indus Valley Civilization
Before the coming of Aryans, there was a civilization that was not only
well-developed, but actually far more sophisticated than that of the Aryans. The
Indus Valley civilization said its last hurray roughly in 2200 BC. The beginning
and end of the Indus Valley Civilization are both a matter of debate because
people could not have emerged complete with their perfect town planning, neat
houses, lovely jewellery and loads of make-up. So where did they come from? and
then having come, just where did they disappear? Popular theory, which is most
accepted is that the people of the Harappan civilization were chased out by the
Aryans and went down south. The present South Indians are their descendants.
The Vedic Period (1500 Bc-600 Bc)
Initially, they settled in the area of Sapt-Sindhu, which included Punjab,
Kashmir, Sindh, Kabul and Gandhara (Kandhar). The chief sources of this period
are The Vedas and the Epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, which through
their stories PO and hymns tell us about the expansion of the Aryans. The epic
Ramayana is a symbolic tale which tells of the Aryan expansion to the south-the
good, almost godly, aryaputra (an Aryan’s son) king Rama surging forth to finish
off the evil Dasyu (that was what the Aryans called the natives) Ravana.
Aryans Political System
There was complex political system. They hung around together in small
village settlements (which later grew to kingdoms) and the basis of their
political and social organization was the clan or kula. It was very much a
patriarchal society, with the man the house expected to keep his clan in
The King was the Supreme Power
The king was the supreme power though he had to work in tandem with the
people’s wishes. He had an elaborate court of many officials, including the
chief queen (Mahishi) who was elected to help in the decision making process.
Two Assemblies, Sabha and Samiti further assisted the king.
No Rigidity in Caste System
The caste system was a loose social system where people could move up and
down the social scale. Aryan’s worshipped nature gods-they prayed to the Usha
(Dawn), Prajapati (The Creator), Rudra (Thunder), Indra (Rain), Surya (Sun) and
so on. These gods and goddesses were appeased by prayers and sacrifices.
Growth of Buddhism and Jainism
Buddhism and Jainism were instant hits with the populace and became powerful
clannish minorities while the bulk of the people remained with Aryanism. Not for
long, however. As the two new religions which had extremely charismatic leaders
and very zealous followers caught the people’s imagination, the influence of
both faiths spread enough for kings to profess and actively promote them.
Buddhism founded by Gautam Budha or Siddharha.
The Buddha also known is Sakyamuni or Tathagata.
- Born in 563 BC on the Vaishakha Poornima day at Lumbini (near
Kapilavastu), in Nepal
- His father Suddhodana was the Sakes ruler.
- His mother (Mahamaya, of Kosala dynasty) died after 7 days of his birth,
brought up by stepmother Gautami.
- Married at the age of 10 to Yoshodhara. Enjoyed the married life for t 3
years and had a son named Ralula.
- After seeing an old man, a sick man, a corpse and an ascetic. he decided
to become a wanderer.
- Left his palace at the age of 29 in search of truth (also called
Mahabhinishkramana’ or the Cheat Renunication) and wandered for 6 years.
- Attained ‘Enlightenment’ at Gaya in Magadha (Bihar) under the Pipal
- Delivered the first sermon at Samath where his five disciples had
settled. His first Sermon is called ‘Dharmachakrapracartan’ or ‘Turning of
the Wheel of Law’.
- Attained Mahaparinirvana at Kushinagar (identical with village Kasia in
Deoria district of UP), in 483 BC at the age of 80 In the Malla republic.