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A History of India eBook: Romila Thapar: wildlifeprotection.info: Kindle Store. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Romila Thapar is Emeritus Professor of History at Kindle Store; ›; Kindle eBooks; ›; Politics & Social Sciences. Read "The Penguin History of Early India From the Origins to AD " by Romila Thapar available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get RS. off your.

History Of India Romila Thapar Ebook

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A history of India upto AD introducing the beginnings of India's cultural dynamics. PENGUIN BOOKS. THE PENGUIN HISTORY OF EARLY INDIA. Romila Thapar was born in India in and comes from a. Punjabi family, spending her early. "Romila Thapar is the most eminent Indian historian. This superb book is not only the basic history of how India came to be and an introduction to how the writing.

She then casts brahmins as a "ruling elite". Strangely she doesn't use this description of the kshatriyas.

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Sadly, her evidence for this judgement is so vague that I can't say whether she has a point or not. Speaking of vague, this book is infuriatingly so. For example, discussing the status of women when social groups moved from clans family groups to jatis subcastes she says: Kinship patterns and gender relations would have differed between the major groups of castes and between regional practices.

It is likely that in the initial stages of conversion jati status, some customary practices from the previous status were retained. What I want to know is, is she telling me something, or is she guessing? Is there any evidence at all for this statement?

And if there is, what the hell does it mean anyway? If you ask me where to catch the bus, do I say "it is likely that the bus will continue to arrive in the traditional location, and it would possibly do so at approximately the same time as it has previously.

Admittedly, as the subject is Indian history from prehistoric times until AD, it's likely that the concrete knowledge available if detailed.

Classification according to race was influenced by biological studies of the time and some degree of social Darwinism. Colonialism appropriated the notion that the colonizers were superior and the colonized, inferior. The 19th century study of philology in Europe, which advanced rapidly after the inclusion of Sanskrit as a comparative language, made a particular impression on German Romanticism Schwab Sanskrit was now spoken of as the ancestral language, a theory also advanced by those theosophists who had made India their home.

This led to a search for an Indo-European homeland in Central Asia, later to be regarded as the source for proto-Indo-European speech. This in part triggered the change to look for the homeland in Europe and the notion that the original Aryan may have been a blonde Nordic Poliakov Measurements of the nasal and cephalic indices became crucial to proving racial purity.

This turned into a major exercise in India where there was a project to confirm the classification of races by these measurements Risley and Crooke Although well aware of not confusing race and language, he nevertheless proceeded to do just that, as did other scholars of the time.

He argued that the word varna used for caste in the Vedic texts meaning color referred to the fair-skinned Aryans and the dark-skinned dasas. Caste was much emphasized as the distinction between the upper caste Aryans and the lower caste Dravidians.

One of the epithets used for dasas was a-nas, which he read as without a nose, and this was at a time when the measuring of nasal indices was regarded as firm evidence, although the alternative reading is an-as, without a mouth i. Situations of conflicts between the two are mentioned and this was taken as proof that the Aryans invaded northwestern India and established themselves as conquerors in the mid-second millennium BC.

This idea has now been discarded and the preference is for a graduated migration and much mixing with existing inhabitants—except among those few who continue to insist that the Aryans were indigenous. Differences in language and rituals were obvious. The structure of Dravidian languages was not the same as that of Indo-Aryan and therefore the racial distinction was also underlined Ramaswamy ; Trautmann The Indian reaction to these theories at the end of the 19th century was an acceptance of their main ideas, which suited the identities sought by the emerging middle class.

But these ideas were reformulated and eventually came to be used politically. The category of race was gradually replaced by caste. Because there was no word for race in Sanskrit, the term jati, which together with varna was used for caste, came to be used for race. The preference for jati was because its root came from ja, birth. This was partly responsible for the change. Caste as a category of exclusion or as a part of social stratification has been a way of ordering societal characteristics of the Indian subcontinent for the past years.

The stratification is based on dividing society into privileged and nonprivileged groups, the first constituted by the upper castes and the second by the lower castes. The normative condition was that social mobility was not to be allowed into the former, whereas control over the latter was not in effect possible. There was a belief that an immobile, frozen society could be created and could function without change through enforcing the code of caste functioning, especially rules of marriage and inheritance.

The two systems of caste organization were juxtaposed. One was varna, where society was divided into four hierarchical components or castes.

A History of India, vol. 1: From Origins to 1300

The normative texts, such as the Dharmashastra of Manu, were the social codes that in theory determined identity and functions. The relationship of one to the other is crucial to the system and conformation at least in theory, necessary. The other associated system was jati, in which there was again a hierarchical division. Here the rules of birth and marriage were suggestive of the functioning of clan societies but with an emphasis on occupation, and written codes were largely absent.

There was some attempt to find equivalences with the varna categories but this was problematic as jati hierarchies prevailed largely in the lower two varnas and as such they were more flexible.

Neither system was as rigid as was hoped for in the normative texts. The mixing of castes was regarded as social degradation, yet many castes, high and low, resulted from such mixing. Among the more influential of these was the Kayastha caste of scribes and administrators. The exclusivity of caste was maintained but entry into an upper caste status could not be barred to other castes as is shown by the contradictions in the texts.

Some royal families were of obscure origin but the genealogies made for them linked them to high castes, a case in point being the 18th century Maratha ruler, Shivaji.

However, both the Orientalists—brought up on a diet of normative texts—and the Indian middle class, drawing inspiration from the former, believed in the purity of descent of each varna. Indian interpretations of the theory of the Aryan race went from one extreme to another and shifted the identity of Aryan.

Jyotiba Phule in Maharashtra turned the theory upside down, as it were Deshpande The latter took away the land of the former through guile. He drew on various myths as support for his ideas. The cultures that existed before the coming of the Aryans were therefore the creation of the lower castes.

This argument has been useful to the identity of lower castes, particularly after the discovery of the Indus Civilization in the early 20th century, with which civilization they claim close links.

Upper caste authors ignored Phule. Thus, B. Tilak, for example, argued that the Aryans trekked from the Arctic where they originated and one branch came to India. Underlining the Brahmin perspective he stated that the Aryans were linguistically and racially pure and migrated from Tibet into India Sarasvati He claimed that they established the purest and finest culture in India and that this should be revived.

The latter could be incorporated once they had gone through a purification ritual. There were some common ideas between the Arya Samaj and the Theosophical Society, also active particularly in South India, during the later 19th century.

In the early 20th century there was another shift in the identity of the Aryan. Savarkar and M. Golwalkar changed the identification from caste to include religion. The Hindus were now defined not only as the primary citizens of India, but also as the Aryans in the Indian population.

All others were aliens.

The term Aryan was now given a religious connotation. India i. Therefore, only the Hindus were eligible. This was to be a foundational argument to the more extreme Hindu nationalism of the 20th century, often labeled as Hindutva. The concept of the Aryan was now getting enmeshed in a variety of interpretations and definitions, very different from its earlier meaning.

The Aryans were no longer the bedrock of Indian history. The beginnings now went back to the Indus civilization. What was its identity? Is it different from the agropastoral society of the Vedic texts? The nuclei were the cities and these were unknown to the Vedas. Because the language has remained unread, claims have been made both by supporters of Indo-Aryan and proto-Dravidian viewpoints.

One solution to the problem was to maintain that the Indus civilization was identical to the Vedic and represented its archaeological counterpart. This was first suggested by L. Wadell in when not much was known about the cities. The Hindutva ideologues in recent decades have been saying much the same but encountering opposition from many archaeologists and historians who find it unacceptable in the absence of evidence.

The latter had generally distanced themselves from variants of the theory. The initial argument had been that the Harappan cities declined owing to the invasion of the Aryans.

This was questioned for lack of evidence and the decline traced to environmental factors. Extensive archaeological work in the Indus plain and adjoining areas revealed a large number of settlements of varied archaeological cultures, contemporary with the Harappan cities.

Some of these continued into post-Harappan times. This has led to a reevaluation of the process by which the Indo-Aryan language spread in northern India. It seems more likely that there were small-scale migrations into the northwest and settlements within the vicinity of earlier settlements or even merging with these.

The Rigveda, the earliest of the Vedic texts, is generally dated to between and BC. It shows linguistic elements and vocabulary from Dravidian and Munda languages, which may indicate bilingualism, which in turn would suggest a fair degree of mixing of the populations Kuiper ; Witzel Scholars have argued that even when cultures decline, there is always the possibility of some of their myths, rituals, and belief systems being continued through the oral tradition. This relates to the question of which of the two cultures was earlier.

Archaeology generally provides reliable dates. Those for the Harappan cities point to a beginning in about BC for the cities in the northwest and a slightly later start for those in western India. The decline comes about a thousand years later in approximately BC.

Textual evidence is less easy to date. The date of the Rigveda is tied to evidence from elsewhere, such as cognate words and concepts in the Avesta from Iran, and the names of deities in the Mitanni-Hittite treaty of the 14th century BC. The treaty has archaic forms of Indo-Aryan and could therefore probably be a little older than the Rigveda. This would in fact date the Rigveda to later than BC. In any case, it cannot be contemporary with the Indus civilization.

The sophisticated urban culture of the Indus cities is not reflected in the agropastoralism of the Rigveda. The question of chronology assumes centrality if the Harappans are to be described as Aryans as some are trying to do.

This is more an argument of contemporary political ideology rather than that of an analysis of the textual and archaeological evidence. Much of this particular argument results from a concern to determine the indigenous and the foreign groups in the population. But we must remember that there were no cartographic boundaries in those days.

The boundaries of British India, which are the ones used in these discussions, were the much later creation of British colonialism. In the precolonial period, the effective boundaries were based on common languages, practices, customs, and political control, the last of which was blurred at the edges.

With such a vast tapestry of civilization and culture in both time and space; one of her favourite phrases the author fails to capture a single colour, shade or hue, a single thread to weave a riveting narrative with.

The author drones on, page after page, enumerating facts some often repeated throughout the book and giving her view on how certain events may be interpreted.

Which brings me to my next point. The author's leftist leanings shine through whenever she pauses to give her personal interpretation of any event.

Turk and Persian invaders destroyed many Hindu temples? Well, some Hindu ruler destroyed a temple here or there, so it's all the same!

Chinese scholars visiting INdia were all praise for the country? Well, they were just trying to build up the image of the land where Buddha was born. In fact, anyone wrote anything in praise of monarchic India? They were surely exaggerating! But even her leftist viewpoints would have been more palatable or at least forgivable if Ms. Thapar had the writing talents to present her sometimes unsubstantiated and often poorly supported theories in a more vibrant and engaging manner.

Unfortunately, there is an utter lack of wit, humor, wonder, passion, warmth While being dispassionate in writing on such a subject is not, in itself, an undesirable quality in an author, Ms. Thapar should realize that there is a lot of difference between being dispassionate and being uninteresting or even worse, disinterested, The book reinforces my belief that Indian authors of non-fiction should be made to read Sagan, Shubin, even someone as polemic as Dawkins to get some idea on how to present their subject matter in a readable, engaging format.

For me, I'm pretty sure this is the first and last Romila Thapar book I'll buy. All the diagrams and they're precious few are unlabelled. Have fun deciphering them! View all 6 comments. The first half of the book is quite interesting where Thapar talks about historiography and how biases and agendas of diverse groups affect their periodization and narrative of history, and the book begins quite promisingly with a the description of the social milieu.

However, in the later chapters, especially after the Gupta empire or so the book becomes too unfocussed and difficult to follow when it ends up as a listing of too many facts without any sort of clear thread of events.

Sure, histor The first half of the book is quite interesting where Thapar talks about historiography and how biases and agendas of diverse groups affect their periodization and narrative of history, and the book begins quite promisingly with a the description of the social milieu.

Sure, history is sometimes like that and forcing an ideological narrative is not something I want, but it should be possible to have a somewhat loose narrative thread of sorts to make it easier to make sense of what's going on.

Overall, the first few chapters are a fairly good introduction to early India, but it gets too disorganised to follow soon after.

View 1 comment. This one took me much longer than I expected, but there is a lot of dense information packed into this small volume. I won't pretend I memorized everything in the book, since it packs a period of over years into less than pages. That said, it entertained me for the most part, and informed me a great deal about Indian societies of the past. My one minor beef is Ms. Thapar's claim that Sufism came from Shi'i Islam against Sunni orthodoxy.

Say what? Unlike her detractors, however, I can fo This one took me much longer than I expected, but there is a lot of dense information packed into this small volume. Unlike her detractors, however, I can forgive a small error instead of claiming the entire book is thus false.

Hindutva-lovers won't enjoy this book, but I sure did. For Sergei: The modern writing of Indian history began with colonial perceptions of the Indian past that were to be seminal to its subsequent interpretations. It took shape with the beginnings of colonial rule in various parts of the subcontinent from the eighteenth century onwards.

To check up: Max Weber Not an engaging text ye dedication: Max Weber Not an engaging text yet worth keeping for that magnificent timeline I wanted to flesh out my understanding of early Indian history, especially in the realms of politics, economics, art, and regional differences.

I also wanted an accessible "master narrative" from a premier social historian. The narrative is there from time to time, but this book is mostly details. On the plus side, names and dates of dynasties and wars, descriptions of terms of art found in each period's texts, and a brief fleshing out of technological and religious advances.

On the minus, somet I wanted to flesh out my understanding of early Indian history, especially in the realms of politics, economics, art, and regional differences. On the minus, sometimes frustratingly vague generalities about polity, production, caste, and gender.

Sometimes there are invaders; sometimes kingdoms are small; sometimes urbanism happens; surplus is always extracted; tribes become incorporated as castes; casteism is enforced to varying degrees; life is even harder for women, slaves, and serfs. I guess you work with what you've got to work with - triangulations of the evidence constructed from whatever elite texts or monuments have stood the test of time and text-destroying climates, and whatever can be dug up at dig sites.

Sometimes it's really hard to say anything about anything. For that reason, the book actually got more interesting when it got moralistic, because you can see Thapar getting just angry enough to stop merely reciting facts. It fights the good fight, BJP fundamentalism-wise, I suppose.

Scriptures aren't history. Kings and brahmins were often cruel. The history of Islam in India is complicated. The book is broken down into historical periods; there are some cool times when Thapar steps back to analyze and think reflexively about what historians do when they periodize or import terms from European history to imperfectly describe analogous terms in Indian history.

So it's really easy to isolate a section on, say, Gupta pd trade routes, for instance. Here's the key: Overall, the book is a pretty good resource for a specialist, just to get the names and dates and places of your rajas, cakravartins, and texts, and I'd imagine very frustrating for anyone else.

This book may have all the information one might require for a general survey of India before the coming of the Mughals and the Portuguese, but the style is listless and documentary. Better, I suppose, than sensationalistic, but it was still difficult for me to shoulder on through it. Part of the problem I admit was my own lack of knowledge about Indian geography and political divisions. The author frequently referred to geographic areas of India which I couldn't place in my head the maps were This book may have all the information one might require for a general survey of India before the coming of the Mughals and the Portuguese, but the style is listless and documentary.

The author frequently referred to geographic areas of India which I couldn't place in my head the maps were few and far between and not as good an aide as they could have been , and without that grounding, I felt like I was reading a lot of disconnected material which didn't relate to what came before or after.

Another problem is the nature of Indian history itself, which doesn't really follow an easy narrative. At any given point in time, the subcontinent may have had several areas in ascendancy and in decline, some which interacted with one another and others that were in more or less a constant state of warfare.

My frame of reference is European history, which is also fragmented, but still is more unified than Indian history, at least as far as I could tell from this survey. On the other hand, I was exposed to a tremendous amount of information about which I had no idea.

I don't know how much I'll retain, but again, that's more my problem than anyone else's. I would never recommend this book or any book written by Romila Thapar to any one except you are preparing for UPSC exams. Utterly disgusted by this leftist history telling, felt as if Indian history narrated by some India hater.

Be it Ram Guha or Romila Thapar they mastered the art of demeaning India's past, fabricating theories and applying western sense of righteousness in their history telling. To read pages of assumptions is too much for me to read. I have no clue why this writer is so popular? She feeds you with fabricated stories, conspiracy theories of her weird imaginations but definitely not History of India. I am giving 1 star to the publisher for publishing a pages book on 'Fictional History of India'.

Aug 10, Bijo Philip rated it liked it. Well its Romila Thaper Not inspiring and difficult to complete Review originally posted in Abby's Shelf: From the origins to AD by Romila Thapar is probably the most authoritative book I have read on this topic.

But even when I say this do keep in mind to never mistake this book as a light read, this is a very intense information packed book which may even break the most avid fan of History. I actually slept off few nights reading this book. Now while reviewing this book I faced a challenge that forced me t Review originally posted in Abby's Shelf: Now while reviewing this book I faced a challenge that forced me to take a different approach in reviewing this book. For a reader who just wants to explore the early history of India and its relations with contemporary for non-academic purposes or for a light reader who need not mug up so much details the first few chapters may seem very interesting especially because of the limited data, language, interpretation etc.

Most of the information provided in the book are way too detailed that you often forget those intrinsic details by the time you finish it. This edition also includes some new data leading to leading to fresh interpretation while not completely ignoring the old arguments which the author consider relevant to this date.


The author throws light and critically analyse these intricate details which many books I have read lacked, she also guides us to conclusions which again was never put forward in other books on the same subject.

These factors make this book stand apart from other books in this genre.

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Highly recommended for research scholars. Apr 04, Saurabh rated it it was ok Shelves: For a book that's titled this way Looks like the author just dumped her lecture notes into a book. It has lots of information but no knowledge. Style of the book is documentary like and ordinary. I felt like I was reading my school textbooks wait, they were better!

These are the kind of books that made me hate history in school and it took some effort for me to get over that aversion.

Keeping in mind the author's reputation in "Indian Historical Circles", I expected more. Jul 17, Adish Aggarwal rated it it was ok. She had written a somewhat leftist though not strictly Marxist version of ancient and early medivial Indian History. The review of literary evidence is at times biased.

The treatment of Archealogical evidences are not as good as done by Upinder Singh. The language is very complicated and flowery.

The work however is well researched and you feel like sitting in a time machine. She had covered the evolution of religion really well. However details about Harsha and Guptas lack depth. I would not She had written a somewhat leftist though not strictly Marxist version of ancient and early medivial Indian History.

Can Genetics Help Us Understand Indian Social History?

I would not recommend it for non academic reading. Dec 31, Shankar Kashyap rated it it was ok. An excellent subject ruined by inaccuracies and inconsistencies throughout the book.

Difficult to read and extremely dry!! Read it as a textbook for a history of India class. Had no idea Indian history was so immensely controversial before taking the class and reading this book.The problem remains, however, because no such groups have survived as a distinct entity from that period. Sanskrit was recognized as having cognates with Persian and Greek, and a theory of linguistic monogenesis was put forward by Sir William Jones at the end of the 18th century.

Why are there so few truly ancient temples in a land whose history goes back years -- most existing temples are less than a years old. The newcomers established numerous kingdoms, including the Delhi Sultanate, the most significant empire of the period, although at first they made few converts to their faith, with the result that predominantly Hindu populations found themselves under the rule of Muslim overlords.

Sure, history is sometimes like that and forcing an ideological narrative is not something I want, but it should be possible to have a somewhat loose narrative thread of sorts to make it easier to make sense of what's going on. But we must remember that there were no cartographic boundaries in those days.

I have no idea if Thapar is a Marxist personally, but it doesn't show in this informative and easy to read book. Social isolation and containment is not associated with castes, but with those that were excluded.

Furthermore, the categories have been and constantly are redefined by historians and social scientists, and the redefinitions no longer allow an unimpaired existence across the centuries.

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