History of India

History of India is history of mankind. India is one of the oldest civilizations of the world. Just as the anthropological finds of the last fifteen years indicate that man is a much older creature than hitherto believed, recent research and studies prove a far greater antiquity of Indian civilization than presented by scholars up to this time. The theory of Aryan invasion of India is now questioned. Archaeological exploration is bringing revealing facts to light. For example, for a long time it was held that the horse was an animal brought by the Aryans into India and that was a great factor in their victory over the non- Aryans. But in 1973 excavators discovered at Kalibangan in Ganganagar district of Rajasthan the bones of horses of the time of the Harappan civilization — a pre- Aryan settlement. The horse was perhaps as much a ‘native’ to the most ancient India as the Aryan. Hence, we choose not to put down dates showing the time of the questionable Aryan invasion. The present and modern researches have established that the Aryans are the aborigines of India and they migrated from here to many parts of the world. The time ascribed to the composition of the Vedas— the Rig Veda (oldest of them) in particular — too is not given, for the generally accepted date is rather conjectural.

We choose to begin our chronology from the point of history that is factually presentable.

Year Historical Incident
2000 - 1000 BC Composition of the Upanishads — and the great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
600 - 500 BC Mahavira and Buddha lay down the principles of Jainism and Buddhism respectively.
523 BC Darius of Persia annexes Punjab and Sind to his empire.
326 BC Alexander of Macedonia invades India.
320 BC Founding of the Maurya Dynasty by Chandragupta Maurya.
273 BC Asoka ascends the throne of Magadha and begins building up his empire through conquests.
261 BC The great Kalinga war near Bhubaneshwar, the brutal sight of which moved Asoka that he became a follower of Buddhism.
185 BC Pushyamitra kills the last Maurya king and founds the Sunga Dynasty 1 over Magadha.
150 BC Rise of Kharavela, the king of Kalinga who defeated Pushyamitra.
60 BC Rise of the Satavahana Dynasty between the Godavari and the Krishna.
58-57 BC Commencement of the Vikram Era, after the name of the legendary King Vikramaditya.
1-100 AD Jews reach the Malabar Coast. The Apostle St. Thomas arrives in Malabar Coast
40 AD The Sakas or Scythians (Kushans) rule over Indus Valley and a part of Western India.
78 AD The beginning of the Saka Era.
120-144 AD Rule of the Kushan King, Kanishka.
320 AD Chandragupta I founds the Gupta Dynasty.
360 AD Samudragupta establishes a large empire to the whole of northern India and greater part of Deccan.
375-413 AD Reign of Chandragupta II, the Golden Age of Indian culture and literature; Kalidasa; Nalanda University becomes a famous seat of learning.
405-411 AD Fa Hien’s travels in India
606-647 AD Harshavardhana rules Kanauj and Thaneswar.
712 AD Invasion of Sind by Muhammad Bin Kasim, general of Al-Hajjaj, the Arab Governor of Iraq.
753 AD The Rashtrakuta Empire founded in Deccan by Dantidurga, with Nasik as the capital.
1000 AD Founding of the Chola empire with Rajaraja I as the king.
1026 AD Mahmud of Ghazni ransacks the famous Somanath temple at Prabhasa, Gujarat.
1191 AD Prithviraj Chauhan, King of Delhi, defeats Muhammad Ghori.
1192 AD Muhammad Ghori defeats Prithviraj. Way paved for Muslim rule.
1206 AD Qutub-ud-Din Aibak establishes the Slave Dynasty in Delhi.
1221 AD Invasion by Chenghiz Khan, the Mongol.
1288 AD Marco Polo comes to India, at Kayal.
1290 AD Fall of the Slave Dynasty; beginning of Khilji Dynasty.
1398 AD Invasion by Timur.
1451 AD Lodi Dynasty rule begins at Delhi.
1498 AD Vasco da Gama/ the Portuguese explorer, lands at Calicut.
1469-1538 AD The time of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
1510 AD Goa captured by the Portuguese.
1526 AD First Battle of Panipat. Babur defeats the Lodis, begins the Mughal Dynasty.
1556 AD Accession of Akbar.
1571 AD Foundation of Fatehpur Sikri laid by Akbar.
1576 AD Battle of Haldighati; Rana Pratap ' of Mewar defeated by Akbar.
1600 AD East India Company formed.
1664 AD Shivaji became a king.
1739 AD Nadir Shah of Persia invaded Delhi.
1742 AD Dupleix consolidated French rule over Pondicherry.
1757 AD Battle of Plassey. Siraj-ud-daulah, the Nawab of Bengal, defeated by the British.
1765 AD Lord Clive became the first English Governor General of Bengal, in India.
1831 AD Ranjit Singh, the king of Punjab, mobilizes the Sikh power.
1853 AD The first Railway in India — between Bombay and Thana.
1857 AD The first great rising against the British in India — popularly known as the Sepoy Mutiny.
1858 AD The Government of India passes from East India Company to the British Crown.
1885 AD Indian National Congress born.
1906 AD Founding of the Muslim League.
1911 AD Capital of India shifted from Kolkata to Delhi.
1947 AD India achieves independence on 15 August — creation of Pakistan.
1950 AD India becomes a Republic, with a new constitution coming into force on 26 January.

The Process of Integration: The invasions, no doubt, did irreparable harm to India. Thousands of monuments were irreplaceably destroyed; pioneers of creative art lost their patrons; invaluable manuscripts were consumed, when not by the invader’s fire, by time, for continuous turmoil was not conducive to their preservation. That explains why the plays of Bhasa, the earliest known Sanskrit dramatist, who probably belonged to the 4th century BC, could be found in Kerala but nowhere in the north where he had once been immensely popular. However, while India tried to fight back the invaders as best as she could, she was never averse to foreign ideas or cults. The most peaceful settlement the Jews had anywhere was in India. Perhaps the first peaceful process of conversion to Christianity too had been in operation in India.

Legend says that the first batch of Jews to reach the Malabar Coast came in King Solomon’s merchant fleet, around 1000 BC. In any case, according to a record left by Moses Pereya de Paiva of Amsterdam, who visited Cochin in 1686 AD, tens of thousands of Jews had arrived in India in 4th century AD. Some seem to have arrived in 1st century AD. The Apostle, St. Thomas, reached India in 1st century AD.

At a time when strife between Christianity and other religions marked the history of several regions of the world, India provided the Christian faith with a safe harbour. This was a century before Christianity gained official recognition in Europe. The Syrian Christians of India — so called because St. Thomas who initiated them came from Syria — lived in peace until, 1400 years later, the Portuguese arrived on the scene and tried to ‘reform’ them with their brand of Christianity.

When St. Thomas touched the Malabar Coast, he was received by a Jewish girl. It was significant. The scene of bitterness between the Jews and the Christians lay far away. On the soil of India it was in fitness of her tradition that the Jews who had themselves been cordially received long ago should come forward to receive the herald of a new message.

St. Ephram and St. Gregory of Tours have compared the mission of St. Thomas to those of St. Peters in Rome, St. Andrew in Epirus and St. John in Ephesus. By 9th century his fame had reached all parts of the Christian world. That impelled Alfred the Great of England to send a delegation to India to visit the saint’s tomb.

In the 7th century India received yet another batch of foreigners and absorbed them. They were Persians, the followers of Zoroaster, who fled their country, unwilling to embrace Islam. Known as the Parsees, they are the only surviving pre-Muslim period Persians, following Zoroaster.

Among the travelers in the turbulent Middle Ages who visited the peaceful church in India were Marco Polo, his father Nicolo Polo, and uncle Mafeo Polo. The senior Polos, upon their earlier visit to China, had been requested by the great Kubla Khan to return with as many Christian preachers as possible. Through the good offices of the Pope, the Polos had managed to bring only two preachers with them both of whom deserted their guides on the way. The Polos must have felt amazed at learning that Christianity had been cultivated on a neighbouring soil 1,200 years before Kubla Khan’s unsuccessful effort to give a taste of it to his people.

Transactions in goods and ideas seem to have been possible between the Hebrew world, and South India in a remote past. The oldest Tamil word found in any written record of the world is the word for peacock in the Hebrew text of the Books of Kings and, chronicles. The old Tamil word ‘Takai’ became the Hebrew ‘taki’.

There is of course no doubt about successful trade prevailing in the early Christian era between the prosperous Kerala towns like Quilon, Cannanore, Cranganore, Cochin and Calicut on one hand and the cities of the lands of the Bible on the other.