My country: My pride and Passion
Sunday,18 September 2022 09:36 PM IST
Bharat, Aryavarta, or India whatever name you call her, has always been known as “cradle of civilization”. India is a country in the continent of Asia whose name comes from Sindhu or Indus River. The name 'Bharat' is also a name used for the country after the Emperor Bharat, whose story is told, in the epic Mahabharata.
The Puranas stated Bharat conquered the whole of Indian Subcontinent and he was said to have ruled his country in peace and harmony. The country, hence came to be known as ‘Bharatavarsha’. Nearly lakhs of years ago, Hominid activity was excavated in the Indian subcontinent and goes back to over 250,000 years, and we can proudly say, “one of the oldest inhabited regions on the planet”.
However, unfortunately, the West overlooked our greatness and only writes about the greatness of the Egyptian, Greek, Roman or Mesopotamian civilization, even though our Indus Valley Civilization is older and greater than any of these. The inventions of the people of ancient India include many like the flush toilet, drainage and sewer systems, public pools, mathematics, veterinary science, plastic surgery, board games, yoga, meditation, Ayurveda and many more.
However, Indus Valley Civilization, spread in the north western side of my country during the period of 3300 BC to 1300 BC being India's first civilization, and is marked as the main beginning of the ancient history of India. Starting from that period till the end of the Golden Age is roughly marked as the country's ancient history. I by mentioning India is intending the geographical area which is now Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh too.
The ancient period in the Indian history can be broadly categorized as:
The stone age period begins from the age of Homo erectus and continues till the starting of the Indus Valley Civilization. Homo erectus remains including crafted tools found near the Narmada Valley prove that the central part of India was inhabited during the period dating back in between the past 5,00,000 years and 2,00,000 years. The oldest archaeological site was found near the river valley of the Soan River, which is a site of Paleolithic Hominid. The Neolithic Age featured by extensive settlements followed the Mesolithic Age. The findings of Mehrgarh, dated back to 7000 BC is near Baluchistan in Pakistan and represented the early South Asian Neolithic culture. This culture even gets reflected from the remains of the Civilization
The earlier part of the Indus Valley Civilization, which is even known as the Mohenjo-Daro-Harappa Civilization dating back to 3300 BC is the start of the Bronze Age in India. This Civilization flourished in the banks of the river Indus and its tributaries and was located in the present-day Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab (in both India and Pakistan), and Sind. The archeological findings revealed that the handcrafted and metallurgical techniques developed by the Harappans who were the inhabitants of that region. The civilization of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa reached its matured stage during the period between 2600 BC to 1900 BC. Indus Valley Civilization is known for its improved brick multi-storied establishments and modernized drainage system, and includes some famous urban centers in India like Dholavira, Kalibangan, Lothal, Rakhigarhi and Rupar.
The period from 1500 BC to 500 BC, is called Vedic period and this historical period gained its name from the sacred text of Hindus, the Vedas. It is believed that the Aryans invaded India in this time. Vedic Civilization marked the foundation of Hindu religion and its association with Indian culture. The Rig-Vedic period witnessed the social as well as agricultural development of the Aryan society. It was during this time that the Ramayana and the Mahabharata – the two great epics were written.
The starting of the Iron Age in India's north western side portrayed the Kuru's association with the “painted red, black and grey wares dating back to about 1000 BC”. Those grey painted wares flourished more in between the period of 1100 BC and 600 BC. The later part of this era was associated with the Mahajanapadas (great kingdoms), or the sixteen kingdoms. They were a combination of sixteen small republics and monarchies that extended over the region from present day Afghanistan to Bangladesh on the Indo-Gangetic plains. The early Jaina and Buddhist texts of 1000 BC have the names of those Janapadas mentioned in them. The sixteen Mahajanapadas formed by 500 BC are as follows – Anga, Assaka, Avanti, Chedi, Gandhara (Afghanistan), Kamboja, Kasi, Kosala, Kuru, Magadha, Malla, Matsya or Machcha, Panchala, Surasena, Vajji or Vriji and Vatsa or Vamsa. I am sure you must have heard of these kingdoms in Mahabharata.
It is seen that during the period of Gautama Buddha, these sixteen monarchies were combined to make four big kingdoms -- Avanti, Magadha, Kosala and Vatsa. The language spoken was Prakrit and for the learned Sanskrit. Apart from that, the different rituals of Hinduism were conducted by the class of priests.
Then Cyrus, the Persian King of the Achaemenid Empire conquered the country in 530 BC. During their rule of two centuries, Takshashila emerged as a major university. Persian supremacy was stopped by Alexander the Great as he invaded Persia and North-west India in 326 BC. These invasions had remarkable influence over Indian civilization.
The Maurya Empire ruled India between 322 BC and 185 BC, and is regarded as the first main kingdom in the ancient history of India who was geographically extensive as well as politically powerful. The kingdom was founded in Magadha by Chandragupta Maurya, However, the empire flourished most during the 37 years' rule of Ashoka the Great from 268 BC to 232 BC. Apart from an efficient and modern socio-economic society, this period of Indian history even witnessed the massive development of slavery. The Ashokan inscriptions and the Arthashastra written by Kautilya are the main written records of this period.
The Golden Age in the ancient history of India included the rule of the following dynasties:
The decline of the Maurya dynasty marked the emergence of a new empire called Satavahanas, that was established by King Simuka. Besides the flourishing of Buddhism, their rule was featured with great works of art as well as architecture. Many Buddhist Chaityas, Stupas and Viharas were constructed in the country during this period. Among the several kingdoms emerging during the period in between 185 BC and 300 AD, Kushans were the biggest. It was during this period that India witnessed a rise in foreign trade, art and culture. Originating from Turkistan in China, the Kushans established their empires in Peshawar and Taxila. Numerous foreigners migrated to India during the period from 200 BC to 100 AD. Kanishka who was the third emperor of this dynasty made the empire flourish most.
I have no words to describe the greatness of the Gupta Age. Being one of the largest empires in the world, who had military and political strength, the rule of the Gupta Empire is said to be India's Golden Age. Though the empire was established by Srigupta I, a Magadhan ruler, Chandragupta laid the foundation of this great dynasty as well as fought foreign invasions. Some of the other prominent rulers of this dynasty were Samudragupta, Chandragupta II, Kumargupta I and Skandagupta. In spite of his heroic efforts, it was during the time of Skandagupta that the Gupta dynasty failed to survive the repeated Hun invasions.
Despite formidable barriers in the form of the mighty Himalayas and the deep ocean, India had succession of invaders, many of them carrying swords and guns. The period of history after when Prithvi raj Chauhan lost to the butcher of Humanity Gori can rightly be called Dark Ages. I wish we did not have to study about Islamic terrorist attacks on this Punya Bhoomi. They corrupted our religion and the land. I hope the Government removes 800 years of Islamic rule. Waiting hopefully for the day! Vandemataram.