History of India


India is the cradle of one of the most famous ancient civilizations in the world. The Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappan, flourished on the banks of Indus River referred to as Sindhu in the Rig Veda, the oldest Hindu scripture. What distinguishes the Indus civilization from its counterparts is that its cultural traditions are being parctised to the present day. Mohenjodaro, Harappa and Lothal are some of the famous archeological sites of this civilization dating back to 3000 BC.

Though the reason for the collapse of the Indus Civilization is a point of debate among the historians, it is now universally acknowledged Indus Culture was supplanted by the nomadic Indo - Aryan who came to India in groups from Central Asia. Known as the Vedic Period, the Aryan culture flourished between 1500 BC and 600 BC. All the Hindu scriptures including Vedas, Upanishads and epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata were composed during the period.

In the 6th century BC, reaction to the extreme rituals of Brahmanism, as Hinduism is referred to during the Vedic period, witnessed the rise of two heterodox sects of Jainism and Buddhism in India. Buddhism spread rapidly during the 3rd century BC when the famous Mauryan emperor Ashoka the great (268-231 B.C.) embraced the religion. However, Buddhism lost its relevance in the land of its origin, though it remains the dominant religion in the countries of Southeast Asia and some other countries. So powerful was the assimilating potential of Hinduism that Buddha was later absorbed into the Hindu pantheon as one of the nine incarnations of Vishnu, the Preserver in the Hindu Trinity of Gods. Jainism never spread out of India and its adherents are mostly found in the western part of India.

An impossibly long history of India includes a succession of kingdoms and empires. Mauryan empire, which boasts Ashoka as one its ruler, held sway over the territory which was never achieved till the coming of the British. The period between the downfall of Mauryan Empire and the beginning of Muslim rule in India includes a succession of kingdoms and empires. Prominent among them are reigns of the Kushana, the Gupta and the Chauhans besides many other equally important kingdoms.

The defeat of Prithivi Raj Chauhan in the second battle of Tarain in 1192 paved the way of Muslim rule in India by Qutub-ud-din Aibak. The dynasty founded by him came to be called as the Slave Dynasty. The period between the slave and the rules succeeding the former is known as the Delhi Sultanate in the annals of history. The Delhi Sultanate came to an end in 1526 when its last ruler Ibrahim Lodi was defeated and killed by Babur. Babur founded the Mughal rule in India, which lasted for more than 350 years. The dynasty has the distinction of producing one of the greatest rulers of the world, Akbar, and the prolific builder Shah Jahan who constructed the Taj Mahal.

With the coming of the Europeans as traders in India, Indian history takes a new turn. As first, their activities were restricted to commerce. However, thanks to the fluid situation prevailing in Indian political scenario in the 18th century, political ambitions got the better of commercial interests. As a result the Portuguese, English, French and Dutch entered into armed struggle among themselves. The English came out victorious and this paved the way of British colonization of India.

Red Fort, Delhi, Historical Monuments of India The British rule in India resulted in the rise of national aspirations, which found manifestation in the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, often called the First War of Indian Independence. Though crushed with a heavy hand, it marked the beginning of a freedom struggle led by Indian national Congress under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi. Finally, on August 15, 1947, India became independent. However, the joy of freedom has its own share of pain. India was partitioned and Pakistan became a new nation. The partition caused the greatest exodus in human history as 10 million people changed sides.

The constitution of Independent India came into being on 26th January 1950, thereby making it a republic.

Since Independence, India has scaled many heights and made great strides in many areas. It is the largest secular democracy in the world. Though poverty remains the dominant cause of concern for a majority of population, advanced technologies such as computer-software development have made their presence in the country in a big way. As a matter of fact what stirs your imagination is the contrast of India. Bangalore's 'Silicon Valley' is as much a part of India as the area untouched by civilization is.