HISTORY of INDIA
A. V. WILLIAMS JACKSON, Ph.D.,LL.D.
Professor of Indo-Iranian Languages in Columbia University
From the Earliest Times to the Sixth Century, B. C.
ROMESH CHUNDER DUTT, C. I. E.
Of the Indian Civil Service; and of the Middle Temple, Barrister-at-law, Member of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Finance Minister to His Highness, the
Maharaja of Baroda. India
THE GROLIER SOCIETY
INTRODUCTION BY THE EDITOR
Not the least historic of the ancient nations of the East is India, even when compared with Egypt and its monuments, China and its annals, or Assyria and Babylonia with their cuneiform tablets and their cylinders. India's earliest records, written in its literature, have been inscribed in the hearts of the people for more than three thousand years; and from that remote age its history is recorded in an almost unbroken line to this very century, so that he who will may follow its development through the early centuries that preceded the Christian era, onward through the mediæval period of Mohammedan rule, down to the days when the Europeans entered India and the country came under British dominion.
The aim of this series of volumes is to present a continuous narrative of the history of India from the dim ages of the past down to the present time, combining into an organic whole a succession of standard works by recognized authorities, each a master of the special period with which he deals, thus providing a complete picture of the development of the country whose teeming millions are now under the sceptre of Great Britain. In carrying out this design, the publishers and the editor have had the generous assistance of the scholars whose work is represented by these volumes. Special care has been taken to make such changes as were needed to meet the requirements of
the series in a sympathetic manner and in such a way as to preserve all the essentials, thus giving the reader the results of the ripest scholarship in each field.
Ancient India and its civilization is discussed by the Honourable Romesh Chunder Dutt, of Baroda State, in a manner that will awaken interest in the life and history of our earliest kinsmen of Aryan blood. The second volume, written by Mr. Vincent Smith, recounts the history of the land of the Ganges from the time of Buddha to the first centuries after the Mohammedan conquest of Hindustan, when the history of Mediæval India begins. A comprehensive picture of the fortunes of the country under the rule of Islam is given in the volumes by Mr. Stanley Lane-Poole, and this is supplemented by a collection of the most characteristic descriptions of the period by Mohammedan writers themselves, as translated from their Arabic and Persian originals by Sir Henry M. Elliot, thus covering the
history of India down to the time when the land was brought into direct contact with Europe. The settlements by the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and English, and the struggle for supremacy which resulted in England's triumph, are thoroughly treated in the volumes originally prepared by Sir William Hunter, and Sir Alfred Lyall relates the modern history of British dominion in India. A volume designed to give an objective view of the land and its people, as seen through the eyes of foreigners, presents a collection of the most striking descriptions of India by foreign travellers from ancient times to the eighteenth century, selected by the editor from Greek, Chinese, Persian, and Arabic sources, and from the accounts of the earliest European travellers and discoverers from the Western World.
Throughout the entire series the endeavour has been to eliminate the more technical matters and to omit detailed discussions of mooted points, while foot-notes have been almost universally avoided and diacritical marks omitted in the spelling of proper names. The illustrations of the various volumes have been chosen with great care, and many of them have been taken from photographs in my own collection, made during my travels in India. I am happy to have the opportunity to acknowledge my obligations to those scholars who have so kindly aided me by giving permission to make use of their works and to thank those who have allowed me to reproduce pictures which were their special property.
My thanks in particular are due to my friend and former pupil, Dr. Louis H. Gray, sometime Fellow in Indo-Iranian at Columbia University, for aid in the preparation of the text and for the indexing of the volumes. Mr. George C. O. Haas, formerly Scholar, now Fellow, in Indo-Iranian at Columbia, has also lent generous assistance in reading the proof-sheets and in various matters of detail.
PREFATORY NOTE BY THE AUTHOR
The method by which this work has been written is very simple. My principal object has been to furnish the general reader with a practical and handy work on the Ancient History of India—not to compose an elaborate work of discussions on Indian antiquities. To study clearness and conciseness on a subject like this was not, however, an easy task. Every chapter deals with matters about which long researches have been made and various opinions recorded. It would have afforded some satisfaction to me to have given the reader the history of every controversy, the account of every antiquarian discovery, and the pros and cons of every opinion advanced. But I could not yield to this temptation without increasing the work greatly in bulk and thus sacrificing the very object with which it is written. To carry out my purpose, I have avoided every needless controversy and discussion, and I have tried to explain as clearly, concisely, and distinctly as I was able, each succeeding phase of Hindu civilization and Hindu life in ancient times.
But, while conciseness has been the main object, I have also endeavoured to tell my story so that it may leave some distinct memories in the minds of my readers after they have closed the work. For this reason I have avoided details as far as possible and have tried to develop, fully and clearly, the leading facts and features of each succeeding age. Repetition has not been avoided, where such repetition seemed necessary to impress the cardinal facts—the salient features of the
story of Hindu civilization.
The copious extracts which I have given (in translation) from the Sanskrit works may, at first sight, seem to be inconsistent with my desire for conciseness. Such extracts, however, have been advisedly given. In the first place, on a subject where there is so much room for difference of opinion, it is of the highest importance to furnish the reader with the text on, which my conclusions are based, to enable him to form his own judgment, and to rectify my mistakes if my conclusions are erroneous. In the second place, it is a gain to the cause of historical knowledge to familiarize the reader with the texts of these ancient authors. It is scarcely to be hoped that the busy student will spend much of his time in reading the ancient and abstruse works in the original, or even in learned translations, and the historian who seeks to familiarize his readers with some portions at least of these ancient works, adds in so far to the accurate knowledge of his readers on this subject. And lastly, it has been well said, that thought is language, and language is thought; and if it be the intention of the historian to convey an idea of ancient thought—of what the ancient Hindus felt and believed—he cannot do this better than by quoting the words in which that ancient people expressed themselves. Such brief extracts very often give the modern reader a far more realistic and intimate knowledge of ancient Hindu society and manners and ways of thinking than any account that I could give at twice the length. And it is because I have desired the modern reader to enter into the spirit and the inner life of the ancient Hindus, that I have tried to bring the old composers of hymns and sutras face to face with the reader, and allowed them to speak for themselves. Such an intimate grasp of the inner life and feelings of the ancients is the very kernel of true historical knowledge, and I have felt it a hopeless task to impart this knowledge more accurately or more concisely than in the words of the ancients. It is for this reason mainly, and consistently with my anxiety to be concise, that I have quoted extensively from ancient works.