A Survey Of Indian History
THIS Survey of Indian History was published originally on the 15th August 1947, the date of India’s independence. Since then, it has been reprinted ni~e times within a period of seven years and may, therefore, be said to have achieved the position of a popular favourite, an unusual distinction for a historical work. Unfortunately, however, owing to my continued residence outside India, it was not found possible to bring out a revised edition till now. A distinguished Chinese scholar, Dr. Yu Ta-wei, once remarked to me that whenever he tried to read a book on Indian history he was constrained to give it up after a few pages as it looked to him less like a historical work than a telephone directory-an enumeration of names unconnected with each other. Though the criticism is no doubt exaggerated, it is undoubtedly true that text books of Indian history are generally written more from the point of view of dynasties and kings and they have but little to say about the growth of civilisation, the change in national attitudes, the development and decay of social organisations and religious beliefs and suchother matters which constitute the stuff and substance of national history. Up to a point this was inevitable as, at the time when Indian history became a subject of serious study, there was no framework of dynasties and chronology within which the growth of the Indian people could be historically traced. The efforts of researchers were therefore mainly directed towards the deciphering of inscriptions, the discovery of local and imperial dynasties, tj:le study of coins, and the rehabilitation of forgotten kings. These are undoubtedly important, for they provide the background to history, though they do not constitute history. Though there are still wide gaps in our knowledge and the gulf between the Harrappa period and the period of the Buddha remains to be bridged, the material now available is sufficient to enable a historian to write a continuous narrative of the political and social life of India at least from the 6th century B.C. At times the political background may still be hazy, but the social organisation, the development of the mind and the general features of Hindu life can be traced clearly not only through the genuinely historical material available from inscriptions, records of foreign observers and allusions in the annals of neighbouring countries but also through Hindu, Buddhist and Jain literatures which cover the whole period and throw a great deal of light on the living conditions of the people at different periods.
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Book Name: A Survey Of Indian History
Publication: Asia Publishing House
Authors: K.M. Panikkar
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