Monthly Archives: March 2014

History of Magadha Empire

History of Magadha Empire

The Magadha Empire was the most powerful Kingdom in Ancient India. It had powerful kings like Bimbisara, Ajatasatru, Dhana Nanda, Chandragupta Maurya, etc.

The Rise of Magadha Empire under Bimbisara:

While Avanti, Vatsa and Kosal were expanding their respective frontiers at the expense of their neighbours, the rise of Bimbisara of Haryanka Kula ascended the Magadhan throne Bimbisara in and about 543 or 545 B.C.

King Bimbisara probably overthrew Brihadratha from the throne of Magadha and assumed the title of `Srenika’ after his accession. Bimbisara was destined to initiate Magadha in the race for imperial supremacy.

Imperial Expansion

In carrying out his programme of imperial expansion, Bimbisara followed threefold policy:

  1. Conquest of immediate neighbours;
  2. Matrimonial alliances and
  3. Friendly relation with distant neighbours.

Matrimonial Policy

Bimbisara knew the art of augmenting his power by matrimonial alliances. He married Kosaladevi, the sister of king Prasenjit of Kosala and received the Kasi village as dowry. The transfer of Kasi village as a dowry to Bimbisara was a diplomatic step as the latter had already established his claim on it.

Bimbisara also married Chellana, the daughter of the Lichchhavi chief of Vaisali. He also got the hand of Vasavi, a princess of Videha in the north. He also married Khema, the daughter of the king of Madra in Central Punjab. According to Buddhist sources, Bimbisara had many other wives some of whom might have been princess of royal blood, besides these queens.

Results of matrimonial Policy:

The results of Bimbisara’s matrimonial policy were remarkable. It added glory to the ruling house of Magadha and brought for Magadha rich dowries of fortunes. These marriages paved the way for expanding matrimonial Policy of Magadha westward and north-ward. Bimbisara could count upon the friendly neutrality of his neighboring powers tied to him by marriage relation, during his war with the kingdom of Anga.

Policy of conquest:

After disarming the hostility of his neighbours by matrimonial alliances, Bimbisara led a campaign against the kingdom of Anga. He defeated its king Brahmadatta and annexed Anga country with its flourishing capital Champa to Magadha. Champa was a flourishing river port which controlled the trade over the Ganges. Ocean going vessels laden with merchandise sailed from Champa across the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal. These vessels sailed up to South India, Burma and other countries of South-East Asia. The Champa merchants brought pearl and spices from South India in exchange of their goods. This extensive trade now came under the control of Magadha. Besides, the annexation of Kasi gave Magadha a trading foot-hold in the Kosalan kingdom. Goods from Magadha were sent by boats along the Ganges up to Kasi or Baranasi. These factors greatly contributed to Magadha power and prosperity.

Friendly relation with distant neighbours:

Master of aggressive imperialism as Bimbisara was, he was equally an adept in the art of peaceful diplomatic intercourse with distant neighbours like Taxila and Avanti. He received an embassy from Pukkusati, king of Taxila. Pukkusati sought his help against the enemies of Taxila. Bimbisara also established diplomatic friendship with Avanti. He sent his physician Jivaka for the treatment of Pradyota king of Avanti.

Consolidation of power:

Bimbisara consolidated his conquests by introducing good administrative machinery. Bimbisara received high praises from contemporary Buddhist writers for his administration. He exercised a rigid control of over high officers, He rewarded the efficient and dismissed the unworthy. The high officers were divided into three viz., executive, military and judicial. The penal laws of Magadha empire were severe. The villages enjoyed rural autonomy. Bimbisara’s kingdom included some republican tribes also. He is said to have built up a capital at Rajagriha. But some authorities attribute this credit to his son. Thus Bimbisara pushed Magadha in the path of incipient imperialism by acquiring a territory of about 300 leagues in extent. That is to say, Bimbisara’s kingdom comprised 80,000 villages. His capital was the ancient city of Girivrajapura. He left this kingdom as a legacy to his son Ajatasatru. Bimbisara was a contemporary of Gautama Buddha. While Bimbisara initiated Magadha in a career of political conquest, Buddha made a spiritual conquest of the people. Bimbisara himself was a devotee of Buddha.

Magadha Empire under Ajatasatru:

The power of the Haryanka dynasty of Magadha reached its highest watermark under Ajatasatru. He ascended the Magadhan throne in 493 B.C. Ajatasatru’s mother was the Lichchhavi princess Chellana. Ajatasatru was the greatest ruler of the Haryanka dynasty. He followed from the beginning a ceaseless policy of aggression against his neighbours. He started a war against king Prasenjit of Kosala, who had revoked the gift of the Kasi village made to Bimbisara. Legend ascribes the revocation to Ajatasatru’s assassination of his father Bimbisara. Perhaps Kosala was jealous of the growing power of Magadha and wanted to curb her trade by taking back Kasi. Ajatasatru was last to spare his maternal uncle Prasenjit for the revocation of Kasi. He declared war on Kosala which continued for some time. At last it was amicably settled by the restoration of the Kasi village to Magadha and marriage of Ajatasatru to Vajira Kumari, the daughter of Prasenjit.

Struggle with Vaisali:

Ajatasatru engaged himself in a protraced struggle with the Lichchhavis of
Vaisali. Though the Lichchhavis were his mother’s kinsmen and relations, yet, Ajatasatru did not hesitate to attack them. The causes of the struggle between Magadha and Lichchhavi are variously stated by Buddhist and Jaina sources.

According to Basham, the Buddhist and Jaina sources realised the great importance of the Magadha-Lichchhavi war and they fully recorded its details. The Buddhist sources refer to a quarrel between Magadha and the Lichchhavis over the possession of a gold mine and Lichchhavi chief Chetaka’s refusal to extradite Ajatasatru’s step-brother, Chetaka had given the latter political asylum. But Dr. Raychaudhury rightly points out that the most potent cause of the Magadha-Lichchhavi war was the common movement among the republican states against the rising imperialism of Magadha. The Jaina records state that 9 Lichchhavi chiefs, 9 Malla chiefs and 18 chiefs of Kasi-Kosala formed a confederacy against Magadha. Altogether 36 republican chiefs formed a confederacy under the Lichchhavi chief Chetaka. Chetaka, being a man of great political influence, had also mobilized the support of the kingdoms of Avanti, Vatsa and Sindhu-Sauvira. Kasi-Kosala also lent its support to the anti-Magadhan confederacy under Lichchhavi.

Ajatasatru made elaborate war preparations against the republics by constructing a fort at Patalagrama on the confluence of the Ganga and the Son, as a base for operation. As the old Magadha capital Rajagriha was deep inside Magadhan territory and was unsuitable for conducting campaigns against Lichchhavi, Ajatasatru used his new fort of Patalagrama as a base for operations. In order to weaken his enemy, Ajatasatru also employed Magadhan agents under his minister Vassakara for a period of three years to sow the seeds of dissension among the members of the Vrijjian confederacy. Thereafter Ajatasatru started military campaign against the Lichchhavis. The war continued at least for sixteen years from 484-468 B.C. In course of this protracted struggle Ajatasatru defeated the Lichchhavis and annexed the kingdom of Vaisali.

Dr. Basham has explained the significance of Magadhan success in the Lichchhavi war. Magadha aimed at establishing her mastery over the region lying to the north of Ganges. The conquest of Anga and Kosala had allowed Magadhan mastery over the southern Gangetic districts. The northern Gangetic districts were not only fertile but its annexation led to secured Magadhan hold on both the banks of the river. It ensured supreme ascendancy of Magadha.

Defence against other powers:

While Ajatasatru was engaged in such a deadly conflict with the Lichchhavis in Eastern India, king Pradyota of Avanti in Central India became jealous of his power and threatened his capital. But Ajatasatru was successful in preventing Avanti from attacking Magadha.

Thus Ajatasatru defeated Kosala, annexed Kasi, Vaisali and added 200 leagues of territory to his ancestral kingdom comprising 300 leagues. Ajatasatru like Bimbisara followed a policy of imperial expansion by extending Magadhan mastery over the Ganges. Three important events happened in Ajatasatru’s reign. However, he had no direct connection with them. They were:

  1. King Prasenjit of Kosala died after a revolt of his son Vidudabha against him.
  2. The destruction of Kapilavastu, the capital of the Sakya country by Vidudabha.
  3. The Mahaparinirvana of Buddha took place in the 8th year of Ajatasatru’s reign.

Ajatasatru himself died in 475 B.C. (According to Romila Thaper, the date is 461 B.C.). Ajatasatru shirked his earlier hostility towards Buddha. Perhaps latter’s sympathy for the Samghas or republican tribes led to this hostility. But later on Ajatasatru became a devotee of Buddha and the Bharhuta relies depict Ajatasatru’s offering of allegiance to Buddha.

The successor of Ajatasatru – Udayi:

The Puranas mention the name of Darsaka as the successor of Ajatasatru. But the majorities of the scholars reject the Puranic list and accept the Buddhist and Jaina lists. According to these lists Udayi or Udayabhadra ascended the throne of Magadha after Ajatasatru in 462 B.C. or 459 B.C.

Udayi constructed the city of Pataliputra round the fort of Patalagrama and it became the principal city of Magadha. In the reign of Udayi, there began a contest between Magadha and Avanti for mastery of Northern India. But Udayi did not live to see the fall of Avanti at the hands of Magadha. He left the struggle with Avanti as a legacy to the next Magadhan dynasty. Udayi had a predilection of Jainism. Jaina texts refer to Udayi’s creation of a great Jaina monastery of Pataliputra.

Udayi was succeeded by three weak kings of his house named Aniruddha, Munda and Nagadasaka. Probably they ruled up to 430 B.C. This Nagadasaka is indentified by some scholars with Darsaka mentioned in the Puranas. The Ceylonese chronicles and the Buddhist ‘Anguttara Nikaya’ agree on the names of the three successors of Udayi mentioned above. But they were inefficient rulers and according to the Ceylonese Chronicle all the three rulers were parricide. People became tired of their rule and taking advantage of their unpopularity, the Magadhan minister Sisunaga overthrew the Haryanka dynasty and ascended the Magadhan throne. This political revolution led to the rise, of Saisunaga dynasty in Magadha.

Magadha under Nanda Dynasty

Mahapadma Nanda was the founder of Nanda Empire. It is generally accepted that Mahapadma Nanda was of low caste. The Magadha Empire under Mahapadma Nanda and his son Dhana Nanda was immensely powerful. The Nanda Dynasty was succeeded by Maurya Dynasty.

Magadha under Chandragupta Maurya

Chandragupta Maurya, took the help of a Brahmin name Kautilya, to overthrew the Nanda Empire. The empire of Chandragupta consisted of almost the entire portion of present India and its neighbours.

– Paridhi Khanna

Wahabi Movement

Wahabi Movement

The Beginning:

The actual name of the Wahabi Movement was Tarikh-i-Mumammadia or the Path shown by Prophet Muhammad. In the 18th century, Abdul Wahab (1703-87) started a reformist movement within Islam in Arabia and aimed at purging the faith of prevalent superstitions on the line prescribed by the Prophet. This new faith was called Wahabism and the sect Wahabi.

Wahabi means renaissance. In India, this movement took off in the early 19th century. With similar reformist objectives in mind, Waliullah (1703-87), the famous Muslim saint of Delhi and his son, Aziz, started this movement. So it originated as a religious movement, with the aim of purifying Islam.

Syed Ahmed:

Though Shah Waliullah started it, the actual founder of the Wahabi movement in India was Syed Ahmed (1786-1831) of Raibareilly in Uttar Pradesh. He came in touch with Aziz and 1820-21 onwards started preaching the ideals of Islamic reforms.

Syed Ahmed went on a pilgrimage to Mecca and became familiar with the Wahabi ideals there. Back home in 1822, he launched a reformist movement along Wahabi lines. Modern historians claim that he had no contact with Indian Wahabism and he evolved the main principles of the movement himself. In 1822, on his return from Mecca, he stayed at Patna.

His faith drew many Muslim disciples and his religious movement soon assumed political proportions. Syed Ahmed called British-occupied India Dar-ul-Harb and called upon his followers to launch a crusade against the British. He identified the British as the foremost enemy of India’s freedom and went about garnering Indian and foreign support to oust them. He tried to train an army in European war techniques. He set up a centre at Sitana in the north-west frontiers and consolidated his powers with Afghan support. Essentially anti-British, the movement eventually got embroiled in wars against the Sikhs of Punjab and Syed Ahmed lost his life at the Battle of Balakot against the Sikhs in 1831.

The extent of the movement:

The Wahabi Movement assumed widespread proportions in the North-West Frontier Province, the Punjab, Bengal, Bihar, Meerat and Hyderabad. After occupying the Punjab (1849), the British engaged in a long-drawn struggle with the Wahabis. Wahabis from many parts of India gathered at Multan with a lot of funds and arms. The British, from 1850 to 1857, tried to capture Sitana 16 times and deployed 35,000 troops along north-western borders but failed each time. The Wahabis finally gave up in 1863 and many rebels were brutally killed, though the British had to struggle till 1885 to completely rout the Wahabis.

The nature of the movement:

Historians differ regarding the nature of the wahabi movement. Dr. Quemuddin Ahmed points out that it was a movement launched by both Hindus and Muslims and were non-communal in nature. It was a part of India’s freedom movement and the rebels aimed at ousting the British from India.

Titu Mir’s Revolt:

In Bengal, the Wahabi Movement found its leader in Mir Nishar Ali or Titu mir (1782-1831). Born in Haidarpur, Baduria, of 24 Parganas, he met Syed Ahmed during Haj pilgrimage at the age of 39 and embraced the Wahabi faith. He was a deft organizer and founded a big association of oppressed Muslims.

Titu Mir started an intense movement in the 24 Parganas, Nadia, Jessore, Rajsahi, Dhaka and Malda. He declared end of British rule in extensive parts of Barasat and Basirhat and proclaimed himself as `Badshah’. He built a bamboo fortress at Narkelberia village, 10 km from Baduria, and set up his headquarters there. He started raising taxes from zamindars of Taki and Gobardanga; this is known in history as the Barasat Uprising. The ocal zamindars, indigo planters and the Company resented such measures and Lord William Bentinck sent troops against him. His bamboo fortress was destroyed. Titu Mir and some of his followers fought bravely and died as heroes in the battlefield (19 November 1831). The captured soldiers were hanged and many were imprisoned for long.

By Amit Agarwal

Raja Rammohan Roy and the Brahmo Samaj

Raja Rammohan Roy and the Brahmo Samaj

Raja Rammohan Roy was the founder of Brahmo Samaj. The contributions of Raja Rammohan Roy and his ‘Brahmo Samaj’ to the social reform movement of India is immense.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy is called ‘the first modern man of India’. In every sphere of modern life – literature, religion, education, science, social ethics and politics it was he who set the modern trend. On the basis of monotheism of Vedanta, he founded the ‘Brahma Samaj’ (1830) which later became the focal point of the socio-religious movement of the Indians.

Rammohan Roy denounced the social abuses of the Hindu society like child marriage, polygamy, dowry system, kulinism, caste system, untouchability, infanticide or sacrifice of child, etc.

Rammohan carried on vigorous propaganda against these social abuses through newspaper. He made loud protest against the practice of ‘Sati’ or self-immolation of widows.

He sought to educate public opinion against this inhuman practices. In his essays and treatises he successfully established the fact that the practice of ‘Sati’ was not based on any injunction of the Hindu Shastras. Rammohan started agitation against the practice of ‘Sati’ at the risk of his life.

He had to face the strong opposition of the Orthodox Hindus. The public opinion against the practice of ‘Sati’ made things easy for Governor-General Lord Bentinck who abolished this infamous practice by enacting Regulation XVII in 1829. Rammohan also made serious effort to ensure social prestige for the womenfolk. He demanded right of the female to their ancestral property. The question of female education also engaged his attention.

After Rammohan Roy, the ‘Brahmo Samaj’ was led by able personalities like Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905 A.D.) and Keshab Chandra Sen (1838-1884 A.D.). After them Pandit Sivnath Shastri and Anandamohan Basu took the readership of the ‘Samaj’.

The Brahmo movement had left a deep impress upon the Hindu society. It played a vital role in liberalizing the Hindu Society. It had great contribution in the introduction of widow remarriage, inter-caste marriage, and spread of female education, abolition of early marriage of girls, purdah system and untouchability.

It was due to the movement of the Brahmo Samaj that the government was compelled to enact Regulation III, prohibiting child-marriage and polygamy, and sanctioning widow-remarriage and inter-caste marriage. Under the influence of these liberal movements, the social evils of the Hindu society gradually disappeared. They also tried to improve the lot of the laborers and the common masses. Although the Brahmo movement was confined to the educated class only, its contribution to the national awakening was immense.

By Amit Agarwal

Methods of Irrigation in India

Methods of Irrigation in India

A common method of irrigation cannot be followed in all parts of India due to the variation in relief, depths of underground water, soil, temperature, rainfall etc. There are mainly 3 methods of irrigation in India. They are:

  1. Wells and tube-wells.
  2. Tanks, ponds and lakes and
  3. Canal Irrigation.

1. Wells and tube-wells:

38% of irrigation land uses wells and tube wells in India. By this method, wells are dug to reach the underground water level. Then the water is lifted up to the surface to be used for farming. If the underground water level is near the surface, the wells can be shallow. After the wells and tube wells are constructed the water is lifted by two methods:

  1. Common method is the Persian Wheel: Normally animals like cattle drag a rope to the surface at the end of which a bucket of water is lifted from the well to the surface. By the Persian wheel method, a wheel with many buckets around the circumference is pulled by a rope by an animal in such a manner that buckets of water rise from the well to the surface one by one.
  2. The other method of lifting water to the surface used today is by electric pumps or diesel pumps. In a short time large amounts of water can be lifted usually from deep wells or tube wells.

This type of irrigation is common in the plains of North India – Punjab, U.P., Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. Some wells are also seen in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu etc.

2. Irrigation from tanks, ponds and lakes:

15% of irrigation is provided from tanks, ponds, and lakes. In the plateau of South India impervious rocks do not allow rainwater to penetrate underground. As the relief is undulating rainwater can be easily stored in low-lying area. From such reservoirs of water in tanks, ponds and lakes, water can be used for irrigation by pumping. The main drawback of this method is the loss of water in summer due to high temperatures which does not provide irrigation when required most i.e. dry season.

This type of irrigation is seen in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu mainly. Such irrigation is also seen in West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Bihar etc.

3. Canals Irrigation:

Canal Irrigation is the most common method of irrigation providing water to 40% of the irrigated land in India. There are 2 types of canals:

Inundation Canal

inundation canal, which provides water to the fields only during the rainy season or flood times when excess water from the rivers in diverted through inundation canals to the fields. But this canal has less importance since in the dry summer season it cannot provide irrigation.

Inundation Canal Irrigation is common in the deltas of Mahanadi, Krishna Godavari and Kaveri.

Perennial Canal Irrigation

The second type of canal provides water to the fields throughout the year. Only when river have water throughout the year or dams are constructed across them reserving water, then water can be supplied continuously to the fields.

Perennial Canal Irrigation is found in:

  • Uttar Pradesh: Upper Ganga canal, Lower Ganga canal, East Jamuna canal, Agra canal and Sarada canal are all perennial canals,
  • Punjab: West Jamuna canal, Upper Bari Doab canal and Sirhind canal.
  • West Bengal: Midnapur canal, Eden canal, irrigational canals of Damodar, Mayurakshi and Kangsabati projects.
  • Tamil Nadu: Mettur canal and canals of the Kaveri delta.
  • Kerala: Malampuzha canal and Pamba canal.
  • Andhra Pradesh: Godavari delta canal and Krishna delta canal etc.

By Amit Agarwal

Bhakra Nangal Dam Multipurpose Project

Bhakra Nangal Dam Multipurpose Project

The Bhakra Nangal Dam is the largest river valley project in India. It has been implemented by the joint efforts of the Punjab and Rajasthan Governments.

The plan for Bhakra Nangal Dam was accepted in 1948 and work began in 1951. Under this project, a 226 meters high dam was constructed across river Sutlej, tributary of the Indus, at Bhakra in Himachal Pradesh. To the south of it, 13 km away at Nangal in Himachal Pradesh, another 29 meters high dam was constructed.

From these dams nearly 1104 km long main canal and 3360 km long branch canals were constructed providing irrigation to nearly 14 lakhs hectares of land in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. Under this project, 4 hydel power stations have also been set up at Bhakra, Gangwal and Kotla (Production capacity approximately 1204 megawatts).

By Amit Agarwal

Iron-Ore in India

Iron-Ore in India

Iron & Steel are extracted from iron-ore. Iron-ore has many impurities when extracted from the mines so it has to be smelted. After smelting, the impurities are removed and the iron rich material is again smelt and into it is added the required amounts of manganese, nickel, chromium, etc to produce steel. Both steel and pig iron are produced from it.

Uses:

Iron is very strong and tough. At present it is the most widely used metal. Steel is used to produce needles or pins, railway tracks, bridges, wagons, coaches, trucks, buses, motor vehicles, machines, furniture, utensils etc. Thus, an iron and steel forms the backbone of the modern age and it has been seen that the more a country produces the more economically developed it is.

Classification of iron-ore:

According to the content of iron in the rocks, there are mainly four types of iron-ore:

  1. Magnetite is best quality iron-ore with 72% iron content and black in colour.
  2. Hematite is reddish in colour and has 70% of iron content or less.
  3. Limonite is brownish yellow in colour with nearly 60% of iron.
  4. Siderite is grayish brown in colour with low iron content, nearly 48%.

Magnetite and Hematite are good quality iron-ore and used widely in iron and steel industries of the world. Limonite and Siderite are low grade iron-ore which are seldom used commercially in the world. In India, most iron-ore is of Hematite. Magnetite ore is mined from Kudremukh region of Karnataka and a few other areas in India.

Producing Areas:

In India most of the iron-ore is produced from the ancient rocks of peninsular India.

  1. Chhattisgarh – Produces 25% of the total iron-ore production in India and ranks first. Mines are located in Durg and Bastar district.
  2. Goa – Ranks second in production of iron-ore.
  3. Karnataka – It is the third largest iron-ore producing state in India. Important mines are Donai-Malai in Bellary-Hospet region, Debadri, Bababudan in Chikmagalur district, Kudremukh in Chitradurg district and Arasul in Shimoga district.
  4. Jharkhand – Ranks fourth in India. The Iron ore producing areas are Noamundi (some areas located in Orissa), Goa, Budaburu, Singbhum district. Recently at Chiria in this district probably the world’s largest deposit of iron-ore (nearly 200 crores tones) has been discovered.
  5. Orissa – Ranks fifth in India. The areas of production of iron ore are Gorumahisani, Sulaipat and Badampahar in Mayurbhanj district, Kiriburu and Bagiaburu in Keonjhar district and Bonai in Sundargarh district.
  6. Andhra Pradesh – Cuddapah, Kurnool, Nellore, Anantapur, Khammam, etc.
  7. Tamil Nadu – Salem, Tiruchchirappalli, Madurai, Tirunelveli etc.
  8. Maharashtra – Chanda, Ratnagiri etc.
  9. Rajasthan – Jaipur and Alwar.
  10. Haryana – Mahendragarh.
  11. Himachal Pradesh – Kangra Valley.

Iron-ore Reserves:

Surveys conducted by Geological Survey of India and Indian Bureau of Mines has indicated that India has a total iron-ore deposit of nearly 1346 crores tons. The reserves of Hematite is 1005 crores tones and the magnetite variety is 341 crores tones. Hematite is mainly found in Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka. Deposits of magnetite occur along the west coast of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and part of Andhra Pradesh.

Iron-ore Production:

India ranks fifth in the world in iron-ore production after China, Brazil, Australia and Russia. The iron-ore mines in India have an annual production capacity of nearly 8 crores tones. In 1950-51, only 50 lakhs tones of iron-ore was produced. In 1999-2000 nearly 7 cores 35 lakhs tones of iron ore were produced valued at Rs. 1965 crores.

Nearly 50% of the iron ore produced in the country is exported to Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Poland, Hungary etc.

By Amit Agarwal

Downfall and Decline of the Mughal Empire

The Mughal Empire, which was founded by Muhammad Babur (1526) and consolidated by Akbar, fell to pieces within thirty years of the death of Aurangzeb (1707). During the reign of Aurangzeb, the extent of the empire reached its zenith, as well the beginning of the end also started. Various causes were re­sponsible for the decline and downfall of the vast and powerful Mughal Empire.

  1. Smooth running of a despotic government depends much on the ability and personality of the despot. Up to the time of Aurangzeb the Mughal emperors were all able and men of personality. But Aurangzeb’s successors were not able make any serious impact.
  2. According to Jadunath Sarkar, the Mughal nobility was the ‘steel frame’ of the Mughal Empire and degeneration of the nobility was the most important factor for the fall of Mughal Empire. At the beginning of the Mughal rule, the nobles were faithful, hardy and brave warriors. In course of time wealth, luxury etc. made available to them in India led to their degeneration. They became lazy, ease-loving and corrupted class. The emergence of different groups and rivalry among these groups had sapped the very foundation of the empire. After Aurangzeb’s death, during the rule of his weak successors, the nobles were deeply involved in factionalism. Taking advantage of the civil war in the Royal family, the nobles involved themselves in that to fulfill their selfish ends. Even some of the nobles curbed out independent princi­palities and damaged the integrity of the state.
  3. Deployment of contractors for collection of revenue from the jagirland multiplied the harassment of the peasants. As a reaction of all these, peasants and smaller Zamindars rose in revolt against the authority time and again during and after the rule of Aurangzeb.
  4. The absence of law of succession amongst the Mughals resulted in ‘frequent wars of succession’ after the death of almost all emperors. As Erskine has said, “The sword was the grand arbiter of right and every son was prepared to try his fortune against his brothers.”  In that fratricidal contest the highest nobles involved themselves to promote their personal interests. Ultimately the nobles emerged de facto ruler of the state.
  5. In spite of a strong civil service, the military was the main strength of the Mughal Empire. But towards the end of the 17th century the effectiveness of the Mughal army deteriorated leading to the decline and downfall of the empire.
      • The army did not receive adequate compensation towards the end of Aurangzeb’s reign. Naturally lost energy to fight.
      • As no appreciable success had been secured, the morale of the army began to break down. Resultless continuous struggle against the Marathas, failure in Central Asian expedition etc. degenerated the morale of the army.
      • Mughal military organization was based upon the feudal principle. The emperor was dependent on the mansabdars for supply of force. Later on weak Mughal rulers were not able to exercise effective control over the mansabdars.
      • Little attempt was done to improve the quality of standard of the arms and ammunitions.
      • Above all, luxurious habits, indiscipline, want of cohesion led to the loss of efficiency in the army.
  6. At the beginning of 18th century, economy of the Mughal Empire had deteriorated extremely. The long wars in the Deccan emptied the Royal treasury which became an important factor for the downfall of the Mughal Empire. The sufferings of the people were further aggravated by the large-scale destructions by the Marathas. To come out of the problem the latter Mughal rulers imposed heavy taxes on the people which ultimately hampered the popular base of the empire.

By Amit Agarwal

Short Note on Harappan Civilization

Harappa civilization

Harappan Civilization is much older than Aryan Civilization. It was believed that the Aryan civilization was the most ancient Civilization of India. But this view has sustained injuries in the twenties of the 20th century with the discovery of a very ancient civilization. Archaeologists have unearthed the ruins of a civilization in the Indus valley which is very older and contemporary to the civilizations of ancient Egypt and Babylon.

In 1921 A.D., Dayaram Sahani excavated remains of Harappa civilization in Montgomery of Punjab and in 1922 A.D. Rakhaldass Banerjee discovered Mohenjo-daro civilization in Larkana of Sind. At the beginning it was named as Indus civiliza­tion but later on it was termed as Harappa civilization.

Area of Harappan Civilization:

After intense study it was found that Harappan civilization was spread in the area between Iran and Pakistan in the west, the Himalayas in the north and to the Bay of Cambey. Many samples of this civilization have been found on the banks of Bhogabar River in Gujarat-known as Lothal; in Rupar on the banks of Sutlez; on the banks of Gharghara; known as Kalibongan and Alamgirpur in Uttar Pradesh. It can be said that Harappa civilization had an area of 1100 km in east–west and 1600 km in north–south.

 Authors of Harappa:

It could not be ascertained as to who were the authors of Harappan civilization. Some said that Vedic Aryans created this. Harappa civilization was too old and Aryans did not come to India before that. So, Marshall said that it was different and foreign in nature. Somebody claimed it to be a crea­tion of Dravids. But that was also not proved. We can say that Harappa was a mixed creation. The skulls and bones excavated from these areas proved that Kaukesian, Mediterranean, Alpsian and Mongol people lived in these areas. So, it can be called a mixed culture.

Also read, Stone Age in India

By Amit Agarwal

Rise of Nationalism in India

Rise of Nationalism in India

The rise of nationalism in India was the cumulative result of a number of factors. According to S.L. Sikri, “Some of these factors sowed its seed; some natured its growth; some molded its form; and some influenced its ideology and techniques”.

Objectives of Rise of Nationalism in India

The rise of Indian nationalism had two objectives:

  • One was to organize people’s opinion against British rule and
  • the other was to establish political organization. I

In between 1856 A.D. to 1885 A.D. many formal organizations came up in Bengal, Bombay and Madras.

Zaminder sabha was established in Calcutta before this period (1837 A.D.). This was later known as Landholders’ Society. Bengal British India Society was formed in 1843 A.D.  In 1851 A.D. British Indian Association was formed. The Hindu Mela was founded by Rajnarain Basu and Nabagopal Mitra. Peoples Association (1872 A.D.) and India League (1875 A.D.) were established to propagate nationalism among all section of the mass. Student’s Association was formed under the leadership of Ananda Mohan Basu and Surendranath Bannerjee in 1857 A.D.

Causes of Rise of Nationalism in India

The caused of Nationalism in India are summarized below:

1. Impact of western culture:

The British rule brought the Indians in contact with West. The liberal ideas and nationalistic spirit came to be known to the educated mass. The young Indians came to know how Italy and Germany were unities as independent states. According to Lord Ronaldshay “the young Indians drank deep the new wine of western learning and became steeped in ideas of liberty and nationalism”.

2. Economic exploitation of the British:

The only aim of the economic policy of the British Government was to pro­mote the interest of the British industry and commerce. They wanted to make India a good market for British manufactured goods and a source of supply for raw materials to meet the need of industries in England. The British trade policy was suicidal for the Indian industries. The land policy antagonized the peasants. The discriminatory and exploitive economic policy of the British disappointed the Indians so much so that they decided to unite together for independence.

3. Role of Indian Press:

The press focused the attention of the people on the defects of the British rule and made people conscious of their rights. Towards the close of the 19th century, about 650 newspapers and magazines exercised profound influence in molding the public opin­ion on the nationalistic line. Papers and magazines like Amrit Bazar Patrika, Bangalee, Hindu Patriot, Keshari, Hindu etc. stirred a feeling of nationalism.

4. Repressive Policy of Lord Lytton:

The repressive policy of Lord Lytton (1876-’80) encouraged the Indi­ans to be united together for national cause. Lytton re­duced the minimum age limit for I.C.S. examination from 21 years to 19 years, which was opposite to the Indian’s demand. By Vernacular Press Act of 1878 strict restrictions were imposed on papers in Indian languages. Accordingly, the Arms Act of 1878 imposed restrictions on the wearing of arms by the Indians. All these acts united the Indians against the foreign rule. So, the period of Lytton has been described as “the seeding time of In­dian nationalism”.

5.Socio-cultural Renaissance:

Socio-culture reform movement in the 19th century hastened the process of nationalism in India. Raja Rammohan Roy, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Dayananda, Vivekananda and such others severely condemned the prevailing social evils like Sati, Polygamy, infanticide, caste distinction and in the process acquainted the Indian with their glorious past and rich cultural heritage. This created a sense of self-respect among the Indians and prepared the ground for the growth of national movement.

6. Discontent among middle-class people:

It is true that mid­dle-class people at one time welcomed British rule. But once they got the Western education, they saw the world before them. The movement for freedom in other coun­tries broke their dream and they became anti-British. It was evident to them that Britishers were making their country rich with Indian wealth. The leaders’ particularly political leaders explained to the people about this economic exploitation.

Indian Association:

In 1876 A.D. the Indian Association (Bharat Sabha) was established in Calcutta. Probably that was the first political organization of India. Though the Association did not demand political freedom of any kind, they put forward many demands and Surendranath preached the ideal of the Association all over India.

Movement against Ilbert Bill:

Ilbert Bill was introduced by Lord Ripon in 1883 A.D. This was a discriminatory bill and the whole India stood against this controversial bill. It can be said that it was the first instance when the country got a unified look.

Indian National Conference:

In 1883 A.D. the Indian National Conference was held in Calcutta. In these conferences, representatives of Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Ahmedabad, Cuttack and Bhagalpur participated. They voiced many demands. In 1885 A.D. when the second conference started in Calcutta, the Indian National Congress was having its session in Bombay. Later on, they merged to form Indian National Congress.

By Amit Agarwal

Arthasastra of Kautilya

It is generally taken for granted that Chanakya, the minister and main advisor of Chandragupta, took the name Kautilya and wrote the book Arthasastra. In this book, he underlined king’s duties, administration and economics of the state. In the opinion of the book, the king was all in all in the state. But he was not an autocrat. It was the duty of the king to look after the welfare of the subjects and give them security. To run the administration the king appointed officers in every department. The Maurya kings ran the administration with the help of secretaries, ministers and departmental in-charges.

 For every prompt and caring administration, the state or king­dom was divided into few provinces. Generally, princes were the governors of the provinces. The provinces were divided into dis­tricts and districts were divided into villages. A group of officers in the name of Sthan (district magistrate) used to run the dis­trict administration. A set of officers in the name of Gopa used to run the village administration.

In the opinion of ‘Arthasastra’, land revenue was the princi­pal income of the state. One sixth of agricultural products were the king’s share. This was known as Bhaga. Besides this, some other taxes and duties were also there. They were termed as ‘Bali’. The king was the chief justice. To help him in discharging his duties, from village to provinces, there were number of courts. Impartiality was the key to judgment. Regarding foreign policies, Kautilya mentioned four principles. They were Sama, Dana, Bheda and Danda. Sama means friendship treaty. Friendship through help means Dana. Bheda is to create difference among the enemies. Danda means to conquer by battles etc.

There were various types of war in this policy. Asurvijoya means to capture others kingdoms, Dharmavijaya mean to return the country on acceptance of obedience.

By Amit Agarwal