Ancient Indian History by R.S Sharma Chapter 1 The Importance of Ancient Indian History
The study of ancient Indian history is important for several reasons. It tells us how, when and where people developed the earliest cultures in our country. It indicates how they started agriculture which made life secure and settled. It shows how the ancient Indians discovered and utilized natural resources, and how they created the means for their livelihood We come to know how they took to farming, spinning, weaving, metal-working, and so on; how they cleared forests, and how they founded villages, cities, and finally large kingdoms.
People are not considered civilized unless they know writing The different forms of writing prevalent in India today are all derived from the ancient scripts This is also true of the languages that we speak today The languages we use have roots in ancient times, and have developed through the ages.
Ancient Indian history is interesting because India proved to be a crucible of numerous races. The pre-Aryans, the Indo-Aryans, the Greeks, the Scythians, the Hunas, the Turks, etc., made India their home. Each ethnic group contributed its mite to the making of Indian culture All these peoples mixed up so inextricably with one another that at present none Pf them can be , identified in their original form
India has since ancient times been the land of several religions Ancient India witnessed the birth of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, but all these cultures and religions intermingled and acted and reacted upon one another in such a manner that though people speak languages, practise different religic observe different social customs, the certain common styles of life through country. Our country shows a deep u unity m spite of great diversity.
The ancients strove for unity. The upon this vast subcontinent as one 1 name Bharatavarsha or the land ol was given to the whole country, after of an ancient tribe called the Bharata people were called Bharatasantati or tl dants of Bharata Our ancient poets, ph and writers viewed the country as an ml They spoke of the land stretching from alayas to the sea as the proper domain universal monarch The kings who triei-lish their authority from the Himala Cape Comorin and from the vallt Brahmaputra m the east to the land t Indus in the west were Universally pra were called chakravartins. This kind < unity was attained at least twice. In century B C Asoka extended his er the whole country, except for the extr Again, in the fourth century A.D. San carried his victorious arms from the borders of the Tamil Land. In t century the Chalukya king, Pulakesi Harshavardhana who was called tl the whole of north India. In spite political unity political formations a country assumed more or less the s
The idea that India constituted one single geographical unit persisted in the minds of the conquerors and cultural leaders. The unity of India was also recognized by foreigners. They first came into contact with the people living on the Sindhu or the Indus, and so they named the whole country after this river. The word Hind is derived from the Sanskrit term Sindhu, and m course of time the country came to be known as ‘India’ in Greek, and ‘Hind’ in Persian and Arabic languages.
We find continuous efforts for the linguistic and cultural unity of the country. In the third century B.C. Prakrit served as the lingua franca of the country. Throughout the major portion of India, Asoka’s inscriptions were written in the Prakrit language Later Sanskrit acquired the same position and served as the state language in the remotest parts of the country. The process became prominent in the Gupta period in the fourth century A.D. Although politically the country was divided into numerous small states in the post,-Gupta period, the official documents were written in Sanskrit.
Another notable fact is that the ancients epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were studied with the’ same zeal and devotion ifi the land of the Tamils as m the intellectual circles of Banaras and Taxi-la. Originally composed in Sanskrit these epics came to be presented in different local languages. But whatever the form in which Indian cultural values and ideas were expressed, the substance remained the same throughout the country –
Indian history deserves our attention because of a peculiar type of social system which developed in this country. In north India arose the varna/caste system which came to prevail almost all over the country. The foreigners who came to India’ iq ancient times were absorbed in one caste or the other The caste system affected even the Christians and the Muslims. The converts belonged to some caste, and even when they left Hinduism to join the new religion they continued to maintain some of their old caste practices.
Ancient Indian History by R.S Sharma Chapter 1 EXERCISES
- Point out the importance of ancient Indian history.
- In what ways does ancient Indian history show the basic unity of India ?