This book gives an authoritative, up- to-date, and compendious account of the history, institutions and culture of India from the earliest times to the adven t of the Moslem period. It is based on all available materials- literary, epigraphic, and numismatic-and is written in a most elegant, sober, and lucid style. The author brings to bear upon his task not only profound scholarship and critical acumen but also a scrupulous regard for historical truth, accuracy offacts and impartiality of judge- ment. The merit of the book has been enhanced by an exhaustive Bibliography and a comprehensive Index. Students, scholars and the general reader alike will find the book highly interesting, useful and valuable for study and references.
The object of this volume is to provide within a moderate compass a compendious account of the history, institutions, and culture of ancient India from the dim ages of antiquity to the establishment of Moslem rule. It has not been planned to meet the needs of any particular class of readers. Its primary purpose is to serve alike students, scholars, and all others, interested in the study of ancient Indian history, as a book of ready use and reference. How far I have succeeded in striking a happy balance in my narrative to suit the requirements and tastes of each one of these groups that approach history from widely divergent angles, it is for competent critics to judge. But suffice it to say here that in the pages which follow every attempt has been made to avoid presenting a mass of the dry bones of historical fact or over-burdening the account with intricate discussions on knotty problems of history, on the one hand, and giving a mere general and readable survey of India's long and fascinating past, on the other. I have endeavoured to tap and utilise properly the available sources of information, literary, epigraphic, and numismatic, and also to embody and set forth in a consistent manner the results of up-to-date researches on different topics and epochs. All the materials have been patiently sifted and critically examined with the sole desire 'to arrive at historical truth and scientific accuracy; and the unfortunate tendency, manifest in some modern publications, to extol or decry without warrant any of the manifold aspects of India's panoramic story, has been scrupulously eschewed. It is my firm conviction that the historian cannot take sides in a controversy.
For he is neither a propagandist of ideas nor a panegyrist of the exploits of ambitious dynasts of old. He must, as far as possible, eliminate the subjective element, and hold up the mirror of his mind to reflect facts plainly without the least distortion or colouring. Besides, he cannot afford to be dogmatic in his statements, specially in ancient Indian history, where gaps still yawn and the evidence is not only vague, uncertain, and incomplete, but also at times conflicting or contradictory. Such being the nature of the data at our disposal, even the historicity of some kings is indeed a matter of doubt and controversy at this distance in time. Our skepticism, however, appears natural, when we remember that our ancient. predecessors as well had a fair measure of it. We may aptly recall here the words of Visnu Purana, which run to this effect: "I have given this history. The existence of these kings will in future be- come a matter of debate and doubt as the very existence of Rama and other august kings has become today a matter of doubt and speculation. Emperors become mere legends in the current of time-the Emperors who thought and think "India is mine." Fie on Empires fie on the Empire of Emperor Raghava."
The idea of the work originated a few years ago, but, for reasons which need not be detailed here, it could not materialise earlier. Even now I have not been able to write a chapter on Greater India and another on the general features of our history. I hope, how- ever, to add both in the second edition when it comes out. I have not also been able to give maps anti illustrations owing to the forbidding prices of printing materials.
My debt to all those who have written before me on the history of ancient India is heavy. I have studied their works with care and profit, and have drawn upon them where necessary. I owe special obligation to my esteemed friend, Prof. B. L. Sahni, who very kindly went through the proofs at much personal inconvenience, and ungrudgingly gave me the benefit of his scholar- ship and experience. To my valued colleague, Dr. A. S. Altekar, I am grateful for going through the MS. and making some useful suggestions. Lastly, my thanks are also due to Mr. Ram Sumer for helping me in the preparation of the Index.
The system of transliteration adopted in the text is the one followed in my earlier work, 'The History of Kanauj.' To illustrate, we may mention: Bana, Rastrakuta, Sasigupta, Soma, Candra, Cola, Anga,. Rigveda etc. But, as a rule, I have not used diacritical marks in the case of modern place-names and other popular forms.
In conclusion, I crave the readers' indulgence for any blemishes and errors of omission and commission, which may still be discovered by the discerning eye, although no pains have been spared to make the account lucid, accurate, concise, and comprehensive. The subject dealt with here is vast and complicated, and while writing I was often reminded of the well-known lines of Kalidasa:
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