The Culture and Civilisation of Ancient India in Historical Outline

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The Culture and Civilisation of Ancient India in Historical Outline D. D. Kosambi

Preface 1. THE HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE 1.1. The Indian Scene 1.2. The Modern Ruling Class 1.3. The Difficulties Facing the Historian 1.4. The Need to Study Rural and Tribal Society 1.5. The Villages 1.6. Recapitulation 2. PRIMITIVE LIFE AND PREHISTORY 2.1. The Golden Age 2.2. Prehistory and Primitive Life 2.3. Prehistoric Man in India 2.4. Primitive Survivals in the Means of Production 2.5. Primitive Survivals in the Superstructure 3. THE FIRST CITIES 3.1. The Discovery of the Indus Culture 3.2. Production in the Indus Culture 3.3. Special Features of the Indus Civilisation 3.4. The Social Structure 4. THE ARYANS 4.1. The Aryan Peoples 4.2. The Aryan Way of Life 4.3. Eastward Progress 4.4. Aryans after the Rigveda 4.5. The Urban Revival 4.6. The Epic Period 5. FROM TRIBE TO SOCIETY 5.1. The New Religions 5.2. The Middle Way 5.3. The Buddha and His Society 5.4. The Dark Hero of the Yadus 5.5. Kosala and Magadha 6. STATE AND RELIGION IN GREATER MAGADHA

6.1. Completion of the Magadhan Conquest 6.2. Magadhan Statecraft 6.3. Administration of the Land 6.4. The State and Commodity Production 6.5. Asoka and the Culmination of the Magadhan Empire 7. TOWARDS FEUDALISM 7.1. The New Priesthood 7.2. The Evolution of Buddhism 7.3. Political and Economic Changes 7.4. Sanskrit Literature and Drama

IT is doubtless more important to change history than to write it, just as it would be better to do something about the weather rather than merely talk about it. In a free parliamentary democracy every citizen is supposed to feel that he, personally is making history when he elects representatives to do the talking and to tax him for the privilege. Some have now begun to suspect that this may not suffice, that all history may terminate abruptly with the atomic age unless a bit more is done soon. Much that has been talked about India's glorious past, unhampered by fact or common sense, is even more free than Indian elections. Discussion eddies around obscure dates and deservedly obscure biographies of kings and prophets. It seems to me that some something more might be achieved in the way of charting the main currents of Indian history, notwithstanding the lack of the kind of source material which, in other countries, would be considered essential by the historian. That, at any rate, is what this book attempts to do, with the minimum of scholarly display. I am especially grateful to Mr. John Irwin for special advice in making the book fit its avowed purpose, in choice of illustrations, and in seeing the work through the press. To him and to Professor A. L. Basham, my gratitude is also due for initiative in finding an English publisher. Mr. Sunil Janah was kind enough to permit the inclusion of a few of his brilliant photographs of Indian tribal and rural life, My thanks are due also to Miss Margaret Hall for her painstaking revision of maps and drawings; and to Mr. Semyon Tyulaev for tracing and photographing illustrative material in the USSR. Any claim this book may have to originality rests on fieldwork done as a free agent. To those friends and pupils who have shown faith in my methods and supported them with heart warming enthusiasm, I owe more than can be expressed in a few lines.

House 803, Poona 4, India, July 31, 1964.


CHAPTER ONE The Historical Perspective
1.1. The Indian Scene A DISPASSIONATE observer who looks at India with detachment and penetration would be struck by two mutually contradictory features: diversity and unity at the same time. The endless variety is striking, often incongruous. Costume, speech, the physical appearance of the people, customs, standards of living, food, climate, geographical features all offer the greatest possible differences. Richer Indians may be dressed in full European style, or in costumes that show Muslim influence, or in flowing and costly robes of many different colourful...
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