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History of India

India is a land of ancient civilization. India's social, economic, and cultural configurations are the products of a long process of regional expansion. Indian history begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization and the coming of the Aryans. These two phases are usually described as the pre-Vedic and Vedic age. Hinduism arose in the Vedic period.

The fifth century saw the unification of India under Ashoka, who had converted to Buddhism, and it is in his reign that Buddhism spread in many parts of Asia. In the eighth century Islam came to India for the first time and by the eleventh century had firmly established itself in India as a political force. It resulted into the formation of the Delhi Sultanate, which was finally succeeded by the Mughal Empire, under which India once again achieved a large measure of political unity.

It was in the 17th century that the Europeans came to India. This coincided with the disintegration of the Mughal Empire, paving the way for regional states. In the contest for supremacy, the English emerged 'victors'. The Rebellion of 1857-58, which sought to restore Indian supremacy, was crushed; and with the subsequent crowning of Victoria as Empress of India, the incorporation of India into the empire was complete. It was followed by India's struggle for independence, which we got in the year 1947.

<Ancient India>
The History of India begins with the Indus Valley Civilization and the coming of the Aryans. These two phases are generally described as the pre-Vedic and Vedic periods. The earliest literary source that sheds light on India's past is the Rig Veda. It is difficult to date this work with any accuracy on the basis of tradition and ambiguous astronomical information contained in the hymns. It is most likely that Rig Veda was composed between 1,500 B.C. and 1,000 B.C. In the fifth century, large parts of India were united under Ashoka.

The 6th Century B.C. was a period of great tumult in India. The kingdom of Magadha, one of the 16 great Janapadas had become paramount over other kingdoms of the Ganges Valley. This period also saw the emergence of various heterodox sects in India. This was the time when Buddhism and Jainism emerged as popular protestant movements to pose a serious challenge to Brahmanic orthodoxy.

This period was followed by the Mauryas of whom the most famous was Ashoka the Great. The boundaries of his empire extended from Kashmir and Peshawar in the North and Northwest to Mysore in the South and Orissa in the East - but his fame rests not so much on military conquests as on his celebrated renunciation of war.

For the next four hundred years (after the great Mauryas), India remained politically disunited and weak. It was repeatedly raided and plundered by foreigners. Stability was restored by the Guptas. The Gupta age was the period of peace and prosperity and witnessed an unprecedented flowering of art, literature and the sciences. This period also saw the beginning of Hindu temple architecture.

After the Guptas there was only a brief afterglow, in the time of Harshavardhana of Kannauj. A Chinese traveler, Huen-tsang visited India from (629 - 645 A.D.) during the reign of Harshavardhana. His account gives us an opportunity to note the changes that had taken place in the lives of the Indian people since the days of the Guptas.

<Modern History of India>
During the late 16th and the 17th Centuries, the European trading companies in India competed with each other ferociously. By the last quarter of the 18th Century the English had outdone all others and established themselves as the dominant power in India. The British administered India for a period of about two centuries and brought about revolutionary changes in the social, political and the economic life of the country.

Once the British set their foot solidly on Indian soil, they began the commercial exploitation of the natural resources of India. By the middle of the 19th Century arrogant exploitation of the people had tried the patience of the Indians to the limit. The British imperialism reached its zenith between the middle of the nineteenth century and the First World War. The exploitative policies of the British in India saw the birth of nationalist agitation against it. With increasing intrusion of aliens in their lives, a group of middle class Indians formed the Indian National Congress (1885).

The anti British struggle became truly a mass movement with the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948). It was followed by numerous movements against the British rule. With the passage of time and stubbornness of the Indians the British had come to realize that the day was not far off when they will have to quit India. Successive campaigns had the effect of driving the British out of India in 1947, but with independence came the independence of the country into Pakistan
India Timeline | Economic History of India | Medieval Indian History | Akbar | Shah Jahan | Chhatrapati Shivaji
Ancient India
Ancient Indian Art | Ancient Government | Ancient Indian Religion | Ashoka | Chandragupta Maurya | Harshavardhan | Indus Valley Civilisation | Vedic Age
Modern History of India
Freedom Fighters India | Indian Independence | Mahatma Gandhi

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