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Ancient History : RS SHARMA : CHAPTERs 1-4 : Your buddy.


Chapter 1 : The importance of Ancient Indian History


PAGE 1 :

  • First 2 paras : Why the study of Ancient History is important? To understand how we evolved.

  • UNITY IN DIVERSITY : Various ethnic groups made their home in India. (Who are they) ; Did they maintained their original form after reaching India ?

  • LANGUAGE : Which group used what language?

PAGE 2 :

  • Religions in India

  • Perception of Ancient People ? : Unity or hostility ?

Key words : Bharatavarsha / Bharatasantati / Chakravatins / Sindhu

  • Lingua franca of the people?

PAGE 3 & 4 :

  • EPICS - read by whom?

  • Varna System – Prevalent or Not?


  • Restoration of Ancient culture and Civilisation V. Preservation of Ancient Heritage in Art and Architecture.

  • Comparison of S&T

  • Social Justice or Injustice?

  • Why should be get rid of the past? Caste system , Sectarianism, Women Sub-ordination = as they hinder Integration & development of the democractic country.


Chapter 2 : Modern Historians of Ancient India


British Rule in India after 1765 required knowledge about Indian manners + social system. So they started translating the ancient texts (epics, puranas, semi-biological works etc..) to English.

  • Hindu law of inheritance : Manusmriti à A code of Gentoo laws.

  • ASB – 1784 Calcutta by SW.Jones : Abhijnanashakuntalamà English.

  • Wikins translated :Bhagvadgita à English.

  • Bombay AS -1804 ; AS of Great Britain – 1823

  • Revolt of 1857 : eye-opener that they did not understand Indians properly; Works of Max Muller (Sacred books of the East series).

What british told V. reality ?


Irked with british distortions of Indian history, Indian scholars, who had received western education, reconstructed Indian ancient history with nationalist ideas of Hindu revivalism.

  • RL Mitra : caste system vis-à-vis division of Labour in Europe.

  • RG Bhandarkar : reconstructed political history of satavahanas + vaishnavism

  • VK Rajwade : Maratha history + evolution of marriage

  • PV Kane ; History of the dharmasastra : ancient social laws and customs

  • DR Bhandarkar : Ancient Political Institutions + Ashoka.

  • HC Raychaudari : History of Ancient India from Bharta (Mahabharta) War.

  • RC Majumdar : History & Culture of the Indian people = Hindu revivalism.

  • K.A.Nilakanta : History of Ancient India + South India = Nature of Polity ; Supremacy of Brahamanas

  • VA SMITH ; about Alexandar Invasion

  • KP Jayaswal + AS Alterkar : Role of Indigenous rulers in liberating from Shakas + Kushanas.KP also known for exploding the myth of Indian despotism in his Hindu Polity 1924.


  • AL BASHAM : Wonder that was India

  • DD KOSAMBI : Study of Indian History (his writings of Karl Marx) ; His book was to FIRST survey to show social + economic development.


Chapter 3 : Types of Sources and Historical Construction



Material remains – as mounds (remains of old habitations) – can be classified as

1. Single culture (only one culture) : Eg : PGW ; Satavahanas ; Kushan culture.

2. Major Culture : One culture is important others are not.

3. Multi Culture : Many important culture in succession and overlapping fashion Eg: Ramayana and Mahabhartha

  • Mound excavation can be either – vertical and horizontal.

  • Dry arid climate sites have more remains left behind than moist and humid climate sites.

  • Even 2500 B.C. Gangetic plains material culture can be found.

  • Dead people with their belongings encircle in a big stones = Megaliths.

Not important = Archaeology ; radio-carbon dating method; pollen analysis.

  • Whether Agriculture was practised in Rajasthan 7000BC ago ? Yes. Including Kashmir.

Page 12 : COINS : Study of coins = Numismatics. ‘

  1. Ancient india – no paper currency – only metal (Copper, Silver, Gold, Lead) coins made from burnt clay moulds had been used during Kushan period; this practice disappeared during post-gupta period (this shows the decline of trade & commerce)

  2. No modern banking system ; earthen pots + brass vessels = used to store coins (Indian + Roman where found in them)

  3. Coins earlier contained symbols ; later the names of Kings, Gods, Dates.

This helped to decipher who ruled - where. Fact : Indo-greeks (from north afghan) ruled india in 2nd and 1st century B.C.

  1. Coins used for : donation/ mode of payment/ medium of exchange.

  2. With the permission of rulers, some coins issued by guilds of merchant + gold smiths. It shows the importance given to crafts and commerce.

  3. FACTS :

  • Largest no. of coins found after post-maurya period.

  • Largest no of Gold coins issued Guptas.

PAGE 13 : INSCRIPTIONS : - Study of Inscriptions = Epigraphy ; study of old writings in inscriptions = Palaeography.

Where were inscriptions found > Carved in seals/stone pillars/rocks/ copper plates/temple walls/bricks/images.

  • Earliest inscription is on “STONE” (later this method is followed by south Indians esp. in temple walls)

  • During Christian era, “COPPER PLATES” is used for inscriptions.

Language of Inscription : Earliest = Prakrit (3rd century B.C. – 10th century A.D) ; Sanskrit (2nd century – 5th Century A.D.)

  • Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum = collection of inscriptions bearing history of Maurya, Post-Maurya + Gupta.

Harappan Inscriptions – pictographic script

Ashokan Inscriptions =

1. Brahmi Script = written from L to Right. Found all over India.

2. Kharoshthi script = Written in R to Left. Found in North-western India.

3. Greek +Arabic scripts = Pakistan + Afghanistan.


1. Ashokan Inscriptions - Royal Orders/ Decision regarding social, religious & administrative matters

2. Jainist, Buddhist, vaishanavism/shaivism inscriptions -Devotion

3.Allahabad inscriptions -Attributes + Achievements of Kings + conquerors (not of their defeat) .

4.Chief + princes - Land grants by them (inscription in copper plates in All languages including prakrit,Sanskrit, tamil, telugu )


Chapter 4 : The Geographical Setting


PAGE 23:

  • General facts on geography of India (outdated)

Important facts :

  • Monsoon played important role in establishing trade between west Asia + Mediterranean area + S-E asia.

During N-E Monsoon : West asia traders moved to india

During S-W Monsoon : Returned from India to West asia

PAGE 25 :

  • How mountains acted as an barrier against invasions + mountain passes enabled trade India and Central + West Asia.

  • How valleys of Kashmir + Nepal became repositories of Sanskrit manuscripts.

  • How foothills of Himalayas – centre for agriculture + states and terai region became trade routes.

  • Rivers + Rainfall pattern.

1. Indus + Western gangetic plains = produced Wheat + Barley

2. Middle + Lower Gangetic Plains =produced Rice (also used by Gujarat + Vindhyas)

PAGE 26 :

1. Harappan Culture - Indus Valley.

2. Vedic Culture - North- West frontier province + Punjab + western Gangetic basin.

3. Post-vedic Culture - Based on use of Iron in Middle Gangetic Basin.

4. Gupta Age - Lower Gangetic valley + North Bengal.

5. Medieval times - Brahmaputra valley covering assam.

  • Rivers used for = commerce + communication until the arrival of British.

  • Rivers made the areas fertile but also washed away ancient buildings + towns = villages beyond recovery.

  • Rivers marked the political +cultural boundaries. Eg : Kalinga area was between Mahanadi and Godavari. Tamil nadu between Krishna and Kaveri.


  • Eastern part : Coromandal coast.

  • Western part : Maharashtra (between Tapi+ Bhima) etc..

North – Bhima + Krishna


South - Tungabhadra

  • Tungabhadra river : contested area : between chalukyas of badami + rashtrakutas on north and Cholas + Pallavas in South.

  • Malabar coast : Kerala.

  • Rajasthan + Thar desert between Indus in north + Vindhyas mountain in South.

West of aravalli : Rajasthan is desert

South-east of aravalli : Here land is Fertile due to two reasons

  • Human settlements in chalcolithic period

  • presence of khetri Copper mines

  • Gujarat : Rivers Narmada, tapi , Mahi, Sabarmati + Kathiawar peninsula. Famous for coastal + foreign trade + enterprising trade.

  • Madhya Pradesh : Eastern part = important during gupta period ; Western Part including malwa = many wars fought between deccan and northern powers. (1st and 2nd century = Between shakas and satavahanas ;8th century : between marathas and Rajputs)

Due to defensibility of natural frontiers : one ruler cannot control the other areas and this resulted in EACH AREA HAVING DISTINCT CULTURE WITH ITS OWN STYLE OF LIFE AND LANGUAGE.

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