Indian History Study Notes
The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens, as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the north-western part of the Indian subcontinent from 3300 to 1300 BCE in present-day Pakistan and northwest India, was the first major civilization in South Asia. A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture developed in the Mature Harappan period, from 2600 to 1900 BCE.
This Bronze Age civilization collapsed at the start of the second millennium BCE and was later followed by the Iron Age Vedic Civilization, which extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plain and which witnessed the rise of major polities known as the Mahajanapadas. In one of these kingdoms, (Magadha), Mahavira and Buddha were born in the 6th or 5th century BCE and propagated their Shramanic philosophies.
Most of the subcontinent was conquered by the Maurya Empire during the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. Various parts of India ruled by numerous Middle kingdoms for the next 1,500 years, among which the Gupta Empire stands out. Southern India saw the rule of the Chalukyas, Cholas, Pallavas, and Pandyas. This period, witnessing a Hindu religious and intellectual resurgence, is known as the classical or “Golden Age of India”. During this period, aspects of Indian civilization, administration, culture, and religion (Hinduism and Buddhism) spread to much of Asia, while kingdoms in southern India had maritime business links with the Roman Empire from around 77 CE.
Muslim rule started in some parts of north India in the 13th century when the Delhi Sultanate was established in 1206 CE. During the reign of Alauddin Khilji and Muhammad bin Tughluq the Delhi Sultanate ruled the major part of northern India in the early 14th century and raids were conducted into southern India. After the death of Muhammad bin Tughluq the Delhi Sultanate declined and its territories were confined to some parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. The 15th century saw the emergence of several powerful Hindu kingdoms like the Vijayanagara Empire in south India, the Gajapati Kingdom in eastern India and Rajput kingdoms in northwestern India. The northern Deccan was ruled by the Bahmani Sultanate and parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain was still ruled by the Delhi Sultanate. Mughal rule came from Central Asia to cover most of the northern parts of the subcontinent in the 16th century. Mughal rulers introduced Central Asian art and architecture to India. In addition to the Mughals and various Rajput kingdoms, several independent Hindu states, such as the Vijayanagara Empire, the Maratha Empire, Eastern Ganga Empire and the Ahom Kingdom, flourished contemporaneously in southern, western, eastern and northeastern India respectively. The Mughal Empire suffered a gradual decline in the early 18th century, which provided opportunities for the Maratha Empire to exercise control over large areas in the subcontinent. Beginning in the late 18th century and over the next century, large areas of India were annexed by the British East India Company. Dissatisfaction with Company rule led to the Indian Rebellion of 1857, after which the British provinces of India were directly administered by the British Crown and witnessed a period of both rapid development of infrastructure and economic decline. During the first half of the 20th century, a nationwide struggle for independence was launched by the natives irrespective of caste, creed or religion, the leading party being Indian National Congress which was later joined by Muslim League as well. The subcontinent gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, after the British provinces were partitioned into the dominions of India and Pakistan and the princely states all acceded to one of the new states.
Ancient Indian history (3000 BC to 1200 AD) broadly consisted of the Indus Valley Civilization, the rule of Indo-Aryans, Pre-Mauryan period, Mauryan Dynasty, Post-Mauryan period, the Gupta period, the rule of Harshavardhana, and other kingdoms consisting of the Pratiharas, the Palas, the Senas, and the Chauhans.
Mohenjo-daro and Harappa flourished in the Indus Valley
This civilization puts India at par with other ancient civilization of the world. Indian sub continent can be traced to the Paleolithic and Neolithic Human inhabitation in the Indian subcontinent. Archaeological remains have been found at Sind and Punjab in current day Pakistan. Traces were also found in parts of Ambala, Saurashtra, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. This civilization is found to have used copper extensively and remains suggest that there was good town planning and efficient administrative
structure. Especially known for World class city planning, with excellent drainage systems, Great Bath and Granary.
Aryan tribes immigrated from the northwest. Their merger with the existing Dravidian inhabitants led to the evolution of classical Indian culture.
The tribe was known to be semi-nomadic with a possible place of origin assumed to be from Poland to Central Asia, but experts usually differ. Most famous theorist Max Mueller calls them European or Central Asian Tribe who knew the use of Bow and Arrow. Since Aryans immigrated to a lot of places, the ones who came to India are referred to as the Indo-Aryans. Their superiority resulted in the submission of the Dravidian (Dasuyas) of Indus Valley civilization and their retirement to the south.
They are found to have practised both social and political organization. Aryan-Dravidian divide theory has since late been strongly challenged.
This period consisted of various empires, and emergence of Magadha as Important power and social centre, and establishment of Greek settlement in India. This period lacks written records.
The vedic / epic period of India saw the rise of various kingdoms between 1000 and 600 BC. The greatest epics such as Ramayana, Mahabaratha, and the Upanishads are credited to this epic age. The 16 Mahajanapadas (including 1st Republic), the 16 powerful kingdoms, rose before the start of Buddhism around 600 BC. Four important kingdoms of this period were the Magadha, the Avadh, the
Vatsa, and the Malwa with Magadha being the most powerful, which started around 4th century BC through Saisunga Dynasty founded by Saisunga in 642 BC. Most popular rulers of the dynasty were Bimbisara, the 5th King and his son Ajatasatru, during whose rule Mahavira and Buddha were patronized, and the first Buddhist council was held after Buddha s death in 478 BC. The period between decline of Magadha Dynasty and establishment of Mauryan saw the establishment of Nanda dynasty under Nandivardana.
Alexander the Great invaded India
Even though invasion of Alexander the Great belonged to the pre-Mauryan period, the invasion holds a lot of significance in the Indian history. It resulted in the establishment of Greeks, better awareness about disciplined army, enhanced road and sea trade, and exchange of art and literature, and restructure of Indian state affairs and society. Indo-Greek conflict and collaboration enriched the culture for a long time.
322 –182 BC
Mauryan dynasty, the first historical dynasty in the Indian history
The Mauryan dynasty marked a glorious era of integration of territories, flourishing art, trade, commerce, and contact with rest of the world. The famous rulers of the era were Chandragupta Maurya, its founder, followed by his son Bindusara, known as Slayer of enemies (Amitrachates) by the Greek, and the most famous of the rulers Ashoka, Son of Bindusara, and the last capable ruler of the Mauryan Dynasty. After his conversion to Buddhism, religion got a new life and travelled to
other countries beyond Indian Boundaries. This period saw Buddhism emerging as the major national religion. Chanakya or Kautiliya was another marked personality of the era, who was the able minister and was known for his treatise on statecraft
Arthashastra . The period promoted art and architecture widely, the most striking monument being the pillar with four lions that continues to be the Indian emblem.
Post Mauryan Period
This period again saw the emergence of various kingdoms until the stablishment of Gupta Dynasty in the 4th century AD.
The prominent kingdoms of this period include: the Sunga Dynasty, founded by Pushyamitra, who ruled for over 100 years. This was followed by the Kanavas, a Brahman dynasty founded by Vasudeva Kanva, the minister of Devabhuti, the last Sunga king, who ruled for the next 45 years. The other prominent kingdom was the Satavahanas, after whom the kingdoms disintegrated into various territories.
320 AD – 480 AD
Lichchavis of Vaishali, one of the important independent kingdoms of the period merged with the state of Maghada, ruled by Chandragupta I, through the marriage of Lichchavi Princess with Chandragupta I. This marked the emergence of Gupta Dynasty, followed by other prominent kings Samudragupta, Chandragupta II, Vikramaditya, Kumaragupta, and Skandagupta. . Samudragupta in particular was known as Napolean of India and possessed an extremely strong Navy. Chandragupta II-Vikramaditya was a great king in league of Ashoka. Apart from Militray
conquests, culture was at its pinnacle with famous Kalidas and Varahamir being in his court. The Gupta Period is referred to as the Golden age. This was the time when Ancient Vaishanv and Shaiv sects again became popular and replaced Budhism and Jainism as dominant religions This period saw the renaissance of Hinduism. Art, sculpture, painting, literature, and science flourished, along with, sound diplomatic ties with many countries including China, Greece, South Asia. The Non Rusting
Iron pillar at Delhi belongs to this period.
606 AD – 647 AD
Rule of Harshavardhana
The rule of Harshavardhana is of eminence in the Indian history. During his rule, his was the only consolidated Hindu kingdom after the Gupta period; it marked the emergence of Muslim rule.
647 AD – 1200 AD
The major kingdoms of this period are said to have been the Pratiharas, the Palas, the Senas, and the Chauhans, prominent of them being Prithviraj Chauhan, who fought the battle of Tarain I and II in the year 1191 and 1192. The death of Prithviraj Chauhan in the second battle saw the end of Chauhans and the emergence of Muslim rule in India.
Kingdoms of the South
The Satavahanas is one of the earliest southern kingdoms founded by Simuka in the 65BC. Gautamiputra Satakarni was one of the most important kings. They constructed many Buddhist worshipping sites – the important ones being at Amaravati and Nagarjuna Konda.
There were three major Southern Kingdoms namely, the Cholas, Cheras, and Pandyas.
The Cholas, The Chola dynasty was founded by Vijayalaya in 850 AD, ruled with the emblem of Tiger. Rajaraja Chola and Rajendra Chola were 2 of the greatest Indian Kings. Earlier the capital was situated at Uraiyar. Later the capital was shifted to Tanjore. Raja Raja I (985 AD – 1014 AD) was an important king. He constructed the Siva Temple at Tanjore which is also famous as Raja Rajeshvar Temple. Its generally accepted to be the most beautiful temple in India. Rajendra I (1014 AD- 1044AD) was called the Napolean of South India. The Cholas were famous for naval power and for their village administration. Their influence went beyond Indian Shores to Sri Lanka and even South East Asian Archipelagoes. Kamban’s Ramayan was a literary master piece. Sangam Literature had blessings of Chola clan.
Administrative Units of the Cholas
- Mandlam the provinces
- Valanadusnadus the districts
- Taniyur the large villages
The Village Assembly was constituted of:
- Urs the assembly of common people
- Abha the assembly of brahmins
- Nagaram the assembly of merchants.
The Cheras, with the capital at Vanji, Karur, ruled with the emblem of Bow. Udiyanjeral was one of the important kings.
The Pandyas, with the capital at Madurai, ruled with the emblem of Carp. Nedunjdiyan was one of the important kings.
The Chalukyas (6th – 7th Century AD): Pulkeshin I founded the Chalukya dynasty and established its capital at Vatapi. Pulkeshin II (609 AD – 642 AD) was the most important king of this dynasty. He defeated Harshvardhana on the banks of river Narmada in 619 AD. Most of the Buddhist cover at Ajanta and Ellora was structured during the reign of the Chalukyas. Aihole was the temple town of this period.
The Pallavas (560 AD – 903 AD): The Pallava dynasty was founded by Simhavishnu in 560 AD. Their Capital was at Kanch. Mahendranarman I was defeated by Pulkeshin II. Narasimhavarman I was the greatest king of the dynasty, and because he defeated Pulkeshin II and captured Badan, he was known as Vatapi-Konda. Narasimhavarman II constructed the shore temple of Mahabalipuram and the Kailashnath Temple of Kanchi. He was also a worshipper of Vishnu. He built the Vaikunthaperumal Temple at Kanchi. Aparajita Pallav was the last ruler and was defeated by Aditya Chola.
The Rashtrakutas: Founded by Dantedurga in Deccan, their capital was located at Manyakhet or Malkhed. Greatest kings of the Rashtrakuta dynasty were Govind III (796 AD – 814 AD) and Amoghavarha I (814 AD – 978 AD) – He had written the first Kannada book – Kabirajamarga. and Ratnamalika in Kannada. Kailash I built the Kailash Temple at Ellora (in 9th century).
Administrative Units of the Rashtrakutas
- Rashtras the provinces
- Visaya the districts
- Bhukti the villages
The medieval Indian history consists of the Delhi sultanate, Mughals, and Europeans in India
1175 AD– 1525
Delhi Sultanate and Arrival of Portuguese
This period consists of the later part of the Hindu kingdoms and was prior to the arrival of the Mughals in India. The period saw a series of Muslim rulers, whose main motive seems to have been the spread of Islam and plundering the vast wealth. The first prominent consolidation of Muslim rule happened under Mahmud Ghazni and then by Mohammad Ghori, whose victory over Prithviraj Chauhan saw the end of Hindu Kingdom. Qutab-ud-din-Aibek, the slave of Mohammad Ghori, who was made the incharge in India, laid the foundation for the Slave Dynasty in 1206 AD after the death of Ghori. Another important ruler of the Slave Dynasty was Iltutmish, son-in-law of Aibek, who also constructed the Qutub Minar during his time. In due course, disintegration of the slave dynasty led to the establishment of Khilji Dynasty by Jalaluddin Khilji, which started in 1290 AD and continued till 1340 AD. Victory of Ghazi Malik Tughluq, a Turkish noble, over the last Khilji ruler, Khusru, saw the end of Khilji Dynasty and the emergence of Tughluq Dynasty. Tughluq Dynasty s fate was sealed by the invasion of Timur, which paved way for the establishment of rule by Sayyids and Lodhis, who were later overthrown by Babur in 1525 and 1526 in the battle of Panipat, that later established the Mughal rule in India.
With increased military might, Islam became one of the dominant religion with mass conversion being a way to gain the favour of the ruler and to increase ones social standing. Many conversions happened due to coercion as well. The caste system crept into Islam with Arabic Muslims being called Ashraf and those who converted to Islam from other religions called as Ajlaf. Ashrafs were considered racially superior to Ajlaf and garnered all the top posts of administration. Ajlaf were generally responsible for smaller or less important roles and suffered rigid discrimination from upper class Muslims due to their converted status.
Vasco-da-Gama lands at Calicut.
Even though India had flourishing foreign trade from time immemorial, it was enhanced from the time of Alexander with established trade routes through Afghanistan, Central Asia, Persia, and Syria. However, rise of Arabs in India blocked this route forcing Europeans to explore different sea routes. Portugal, known for its sea-faring experience and love for navigation and exploration, brought Portuguese to India with Vasco-da-Gama s arrival at Calicut in 1498 and further establishment of trading centers and rule in India. Almeida was the first Portuguese Governor in India.
1510 – 1590
Expansion and Decline of Portuguese
The second Portuguese Governor Albequerque expanded Portuguese occupation with capture of Goa in 1510, Bassein in 1534, and Daman in 1538. After a century of rule, the Portuguese rule started declining with the combined effect of defective administration by successors, religious intolerance, resistance from the Mughals, instability, and lack of financial support from homeland, and emergence of other European competition. Strong portugese influence can still be found in Goan Culture
1526 – 1707
Mughal rule in India
Mughal, chagatai turks, rule in India started with Babur after he defeated Ibrahim Lodi in the Battle of Panipat in 1526. Humayun succeeded Babur, after his death in 1530. Humayun faced opposition from the Sher Shah and Sur Dynasty and had to abandon his throne in 1540. After 15 years he ended the second Afghan rule and came to power in 1555. Akbar, the most successful Mughal king, came to power in 1556 after the death of his father, Humayun. Hemu, a King from Vaisya clan, threatened to uproot the Mughal
empire and almost succeeded before he was defeated by Bairam Khan who was Akbar s mentor Akbar followed a policy of reconciliation with the Rajputs and religious
tolerance, and he was successful in consolidating the states and raised the Mughal empire to glory. Muhammad Salim also known as Jahangir, who ruled from 1605 to 1627, until his death, succeeded Akbar. Shah Jahan, who ruled from 1627 to 1658, succeeded Jahangir. He is well known for building the Taj Mahal, in memory of his Queen, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1931. Aurangzeb, the ablest son of Shah Jahan, succeeded Aurangzeb. Unlike his predecessors, Aurangzeb followed religious fundamentalism. He was the
last great Mughal ruler who took Mughal empire to its greatest glory and made it the biggest of the empires existing then. The succession of rulers after Aurangzeb proved incompetent to maintain the Mughal kingdom. Other factors that led to the decline of the Mughals were the role played by other independent kingdoms and rulers such as the Sayyid Brothers, Rajputs, Jats, Sikhs, and the Marathas. Plagued by inexperience, petty quarrels, intrigues, and conspiracies, British East India Company marked the foundation of British rule in India through the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and consolidated with Battle of Buxar in 1764.
Modern Indian History
It broadly consists of India s struggle for Independence and carries through to the current day.
East India Company constituted
The East India Co. s presence in India started in 1600 with the grant of free trade by the Queen. Initially the British had to struggle with the Portuguese and the Dutch and found it difficult to exercise influence in the Mughal court. From time to time, they succeeded in gaining concession for the company. Disintegrating Mughal kingdom and superior naval power and support from home helped them to establish their rule from 1757 onwards. At the turn of the 19th century, Governor-General Wellesley began what went on to become 2 decades of accelerated expansion by way of either alliances with local rulers or military occupation.
Coming of East India Company (EIC)
The East India came to India.
First Officer of EIC to visit India
The first officer of EIC, Captain Hawkins, came to India in 1608 in the court of Jahangir, the then Mughal ruler in throne.
First factory of EIC
The first factory of East India Company was established in Surat.
First English Ambassador
Sir Thomas Roe, the first English Ambassador, came to India during the rule of Emperor Jahangir.
Battle of Plassey
Siraj-ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Bengal was defeated by East India Co., under the leadership of Lord Clive, the first governor of Bengal. It is also referred to as the Black hole episode of the Indian History.
Battle of Wandiwash
It was the decisive battle fought between the French and English, which saw the end of French rule in India, except Pondicherry
Battle of Buxar
The joint army of Mir Quasim, former Nawab of Bengal Suja-ud-Daulah, Nawab of Awadh and Shah Alam II was defeated by the English army under the leadership of Hector Munro.
The Regulating Act
In1773, the British Parliament initiated a series of administrative and economic reforms in India. The post of Governor General for Bengal was created. Warren Hastings became the first Governor General of Bengal. The Governor General and his council had all the legislative powers. Supreme Court was established at Calcutta and Sir Elijah Impey became the Chief Justice of India.
First War of Independence
It is also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, where sepoy from the Company army rebelled against the Company rule on the 10th May 1857 in Meerut that soon spread to other areas and civilian mutiny. It took more than a year to contain the rebellion after gaining military support from home. This is a very important turning point in Indian history, as this saw the end of Company rule in India. India came under direct rule of the British crown after failed Indian mutiny from 1858 to 1947. Mangal Pandey was a prominent figure. He killed two British Sepoys at Barrackpore.
Government of India Act
Direct Governance of British Crown over India.
Formation of East India Association
Dadabhai Naoroji, a Parsi intellectual, educator, cotton trader, and early political leader, formed this association. He was the first Asian to be a British MP between 1892 and 1895. He is also credited to be the co-founder of Indian National Congress.
Indian National Congress founded
A. O. Hume, William Wedderburn, Dinshaw Wacha, and Dadabhoi Naoroji founded this organization also called the Congress Party or INC. It is referred to as the true representation of Indians, and was the strongest political and revolutionary organization in the pre-independence era with over 15 million members and 70 million participants in the struggle against British rule. It was initially formed for obtaining greater share of participation in the government for the educated Indians. However, with constant opposition from the government, its demand became more radical with the party having two factions consisting of moderates and extremists by 1907. The party was in many ways an umbrella organization with members drawn from radical socialists to traditionalists and other Hindu /Muslim conservatives. The organization has produced many great leaders.
First partition of Bengal
Lord Curzon, Viceroy and Governor-General (1899-1905) ordered the partition of Bengal for improvement in administrative efficiency, where Bengali Hindu intelligentsia exerted considerable influence on local and national politics. This led to wide spread agitation and boycotting British products under the „Swadeshi’ movement.
Formation of Muslim League
The All India Muslim league (AIML) was founded in Dhaka that later became the driving force behind the creation of Pakistan as a Muslim state in the Indian sub-continent. M.A. Jinnah, who was initially a member of INC and later became the president of AIML in 1916, negotiated the Lucknow Pact with Congress for separate electorate and weighted representation for Muslim community. Jinnah broke from congress in 1920 following launch of Non-cooperative movement by Gandhiji, which Jinnah disapproved. Later, the party put forward the demand for separate Muslim
state. On 23 March, 1940, through Lahore Resolution, the league recommitted itself to creating independent Muslim state called Pakistan consisting of Sindh, Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, and Bengal. The resolution s principles formed the foundation for Pakistan s first constitution.
Morley – Minto Reforms
Under these reforms, a separate electorate was made for Muslims during the leadership of Lord Minto. A series of constitutional reforms were announced, which then was followed by visit of King George V in 1911 who announced the reversal of the partition of transfer of capital from Calcutta to newly planned city, later came to be known as New Delhi.
Home Rule Movement, Lucknow Pact
Annie Besant started the movement in September 1916. Congress and Muslim league held their sessions at Lucknow, which strengthened the Hindu-Muslim unity.
The massacre at Jalianwallabagh
Also referred to as the “Amritsar Massacre,” this happened on 13 April, 1919 on the day of Harvest festival, Baisakhi, and Sikh religious new year at Jalianwala bagh near Golden Temple, Amritsar. Under the command of British Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, the British Indian Army opened fire on an unarmed gathering of men, women, and children. Since the entrance to the Garden was narrow and was bounded all sides with walls, the people could not escape the firing, which lasted for 10 minutes. Official sources place the death toll at 379, yet private sources place the fatalities to be over 1000 and more than 2000 wounded. This marked a catalyzed
freedom movement in Punjab and also paved way for Gandhiji s Non-Cooperation movement in 1920 and motivation for revolutionary leaders such as Bhagat Singh. Rabindranath Tagore returned his knighthood to the King-emperor in protest against the massacre. It eventually played a significant means of freedom movement in the Indian Independence movement.
It gave unstoppable powers to the government to arrest and imprison suspects, without even having a trial.
Condemning Jalianwalla Bagh Massacre and retaliatory violence of Indians, Gandhiji launched the Non-cooperation campaign. In December 1921, Gandhiji was invested with executive authority on behalf of INC with reorganized constitution with the goal of swaraj. The movement saw
the opening of party membership, formation of committees for improving
discipline and mass national appeal. The movement included swadeshi policy – boycott of foreign goods, British educational institutions, courts, to resign from government employment, and forsake British titles and honors. However, the movement was called off in February 1922 after violent clash in Chauri Chaura, fearing the movement to take a violent turn.
This was an anti-British movement started by two brothers Shaukat and Muhammad Ali.
For assessing the extent of forming a representative government in India, Britishers sent back Simon Commission, which was furiously boycotted by Indians and Lala Lajpat Rai (a Prominent Indian leader) who died due to lathi charge in a procession against the commission.
Declaration of Poorna Swaraj
In the Lahore session of the Indian National Congress under the presidency of Jawaharlal Nehru, a resolution was adopted calling for complete independence from the British under the “Poorna Swaraj” and 26 January, 1930 was declared as “Poorna Swaraj Diwas”, Independence Day. It was to commemorate this date particularly that the Indian Constitution was formally adopted on 26 January 1950.
After the declaration of Poorna Swaraj, Gandhiji launched the Salt Satyagraha against the tax on salt in March 1930. It was highlighted by the famous Dandi March from 12 March to 6 April, marching 400 kilometers from Ahmedabad to Dandi, in which thousands of people participated and forced the British to imprison 60000 people, leading the movement to be one of the most successful campaigns against the British rule.
Government of India
Passed on the basis of the Simon Commission report, it envisaged the structure of the government under the direct governance of the „British Crown .
Quit India movement
This was the civil disobedience movement launched in August 1942 in response to Gandhiji s speech calling for immediate independence. Gandhiji hoped to bring the British Government to the negotiation table
that led to the arrest of Gandhiji and many other leaders. The movement though found mass support, the INC members themselves were divided, and it failed to achieve the immediate independence, which was its purpose.
Cabinet Mission Plan
This envisaged forming an interim government in India.
India gains freedom
On 15 August 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru was sworn in as the first Prime Minister of independent India and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, was sworn in as the first Governor-General of Pakistan at Karachi.