The EXPLORING INDIA series of books are delicious, bite-sized portions of history that will interest every reader who wants to know more about various facets of India.
Battles and Warriors takes the reader on a journey through the events that led to, and the descriptions of, five major battles that took place in India: Alexander vs Porus, Ashoka vs the Kingdom of Kalinga, Rajendra Chola vs the Kingdom of Srivijaya, Babur vs Ibrahim Lodi and Siraj-ud-Daula vs The East India Company.
Find out why these battles occurred, the strategies that were employed, the arms and armour used by the warriors, the after-effects of these battles and how they shaped the course of Indian history.
Concise, yet filled with relevant details and accompanied by attractive colour illustrations, the EXPLORING INDIA series will make history fascinating and unforgettable for every reader.
Why do we go to war?
In India, our kings devised a really unusual way to conquer a kingdom. We used a horse. No other country has done this. In ancient India, there was a religious ceremony called the AshwamedhaYagya during which a fire was lit and along with a lot of chanting of mantras and pouring of ghee by the priests, a horse was worshipped. Then the horse was set free to wander with the king's army following closely behind. The rule was that wherever the horse went, that land now belonged to the king. If any other king protested and stopped the horse, a battle would follow. So powerful kings used this sacrificial horse to force weaker kings to become their vassals and pay them tribute without having to fight a war. It was very convenient, of course. We read about the Ashwamedha Yagya in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Rama's sons, Luv and Kush, stopped the horse and then defeated their father's army in a fierce battle. And what happened to that horse after its land-grabbing job was over? It was sacrificed in another yagya. That is the way with battles. Soldiers, horses, elephants and even people who get caught in the middle of a conflict, all pay with their lives so that the men in power can gain even more power and wealth. Whatever the reasons for a battle, there is always someone who pays a price and that is the way it has been since ancient times.
Wars aren't cool, are they?
So you may ask, why do we fight wars? We fight because human nature includes envy and ambition, greed and pride, and for many people war is a desirable, admirable and even a necessary human activity. That is why we romanticize battles and sing praises of warriors. They are the heroes of our epics and for many people battles are exciting.
Wars are also fought for religion and probably the most number of people have died in such wars. Often ambitious, ruthless men have used religion as a cover for their hunger for power. They have declared themselves to be defenders of a faith and deluded people into joining their battalions. Men have fought and died believing they are going straight to heaven as holy martyrs while their leaders have stayed back and gathered power and wealth for themselves.
So is war always bad? Not really. People can fight to defend or gain their freedom like Shivaji resisting Aurangzeb or Birsa Munda fighting the British. A war can be waged for humane reasons like the way the American Civil War led to the emancipation of slaves; or the Second World War that was fought to save the world from the Nazis. A nation has to defend itself against invasions and India has faced many invasions from the Mongols to the Turks. So we need an army, and our brave and selfless soldiers have sacrificed their lives not just in wars against other countries but also in battles against terrorism.
There has never been a time in the history of the world when no battles were being fought somewhere or the other around the globe. So as long as there is violence in the world, we will need an army. Battles and warriors are woven into our history; they are part of our folklore, literature, music, dance, sculpture, painting, films, plays and television. We can never really get away from violence because battles and warriors make such wonderful stories. Can you imagine what Hollywood would do if they could not make films about battles and superheroes?
Going to battle
Today battles are often fought from a distance and one does not even see the enemy. Soldiers aim missiles and planes drop bombs at targets which are far away. However, once battles were fought face-to-face, often hand-to-hand and It required great personal courage. This turned successful warriors into heroes.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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