The Harappan civilization began to decline from about 2200-2000 BCE because of a Tsunami-like calamity, which was the same as the deluge described in the Vedic literature, the atapatha Brahman, to be precise. After the deluge subsided, Manu Vaivasvata, traditionally the first king of India began to rule. This event also marks the beginning of Kali Yuga, a period of stress and strain. Udayana was almost the last of the Hastinapura kings, a contemporary of Buddha, a historic personality, with whom commences our historical period, accoding to the existing convention.
Of the six chapters of the book, the first introduces the problem and a broad outline of the glorious Harappan civilization which was at the zenith of prosperity in the mid-third millennium. The succeeding Late Harappan culture was a mere shadow of its prosperous predecessor. The second chapter deals with the period of the Kali Yuga crisis which was characterized by famines, droughts, economic misery, etc. caused by dwindling profitable trade with West Asia as revealed by the voluminous archaeological data. The essay on Harappan Language (Chapter 3), is followed by one on Harappan Legacy, a popular subject. Here, I have selected mostly those items which are not commonly discussed.
The fifth chapter deals with the sixteen Mahajanapadas which every student of ancient Indian history knows well but my attempt has been to show that many of them were in existence before the time of Buddha and Mahavira (6th cent. BcE), and were established much earlier during the later Vedic period, in the latter half of the second millennium. It appears that most of them were chalcolithic chiefdoms but were converted into Mahajanapadas by Late Harappan migrants. As a matter of fact the study started because I was possessed by the problem: Why Indo-Aryan languages are spoken precisely in those regions where the Harappans/Aryans reached and not in other areas? The answer is that the Harappans and Aryans were not two different but one and the same people. This happened not only in India but all over the Old World where Harappan artifacts occur, and at the same time there is a marked influx of Indo-Aryan speaking people who carried Indian peacock with them, the typical Indian bird (Pavo cristatus).
So much is being written these days on Harappans and Aryans and naturally overlapping is unavoidable. I therefore crave indulgence of readers as the subject is the same and so is the data, archeological and literary. But new evidence keeps on pouring and the subject is of global interest.
While working on this book I had useful discussions with Dr. Arvind Jamkhedkar, Chancellor of the Deccan College Deemed University, Prof. K. Paddayya and Dr. Srinand Bapat of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune. To all of them my thanks are due.
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