The publication of this volume is to me the
near-realization of a long-cherished ambition of preparing and publishing a
comprehensive history and culture of the Indian people by Indians. Many years
ago, in defining the scope of history, I ventured to suggest that it must be
primarily the/story of the people of the land, a progressive record of their
life and achievements in which their exploits and traditions serve as the
pillars on which the super-structure of history is built to
elucidate the characteristic reaction of the people to political, social and
Thus, history includes the story of political
changes and vicissitudes which create the forces and conditions operating upon
life, social institutions and beliefs; they provide the norms, creative arts
and movements of thought which go to create values. To all these, people react,
forging a collective will in a bid to form an organic unity. The central
purpose of history, therefore, must be to investigate and unfold the values,
which in succeeding ages have inspired men to develop their collective win and
to express it through the manifold activities of life.
Whether my ambition has been realized is for the
readers to judge. However, the writing of the history of India, particularly
the earlier period, is beset with difficulties. For, while the history of
religion and philosophy from the Vedas down to our times is well documented, that of political history is
scattered and hardly adequate to be shaped into a continuous narrative. An
important fact, however, emerges from this strange contrast: whatever the. political vicissitudes, be they internecine wars or foreign
invasion, our' sages, seers, and poets went on undisturbed in their
quest or unity-social, cultural and spiritual. Even in the present century when
political thought and scientific approach dominate the destiny of man, the great names of Indian
history are those of Rimakrishna Paramahamsa, Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo,
Ramana Maharshi, Dayananda Saraswati, Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma
Gandhi. This is a fact of history which the present genertion
may carefully bear in mind. For, there is the danger, that the science and
methodology of history, as developed in the West, being based upon the Graeco-Roman history and that of
Europe in the middle and modern ages, may' bypass special features and
when it differs from the established notion, as irrelevant or obscurantist.
Another problem that we have to consider is the
persistent demand for the rewriting of history to foster communal unity. To my
mind, nothing can be a greater mistake. History, in order to generate faith in
it, must be written as the available records testify, without any effort to
exaggerate or minimise the actual facts. Suppression and distortion of
evidence, leading to false conclusions about the past, is hardly the way to
improve the present situation or build up a better future.
I have had the privilege of living through the
period of history covered by this volume, and practically from 1915 onwards I
took part, small though it was, in the various nationalist struggles which I
have described in my book Pilgrimage to Freedom. I shall not therefore go
into those facts here. But one point I want to make clear. The communal
problem, which ultimately divided the country, was neither inevitable nor
insoluble. It was a price we had to pay for our inability to assess political
Recent events in Pakistan have shown that religious
bonds like Islam are not sufficient to create a nation out of different people
separated by deep cultural traditions and language, and living more than a
thousand miles apart. Indeed, Pakistan was created to placate not so much the
Muslims, fifty millions of whom were left in India, but Mr. Mohamed All Jinnah
who wanted a kingdom for himself. 'I knew Mr. Jinnah very well, being his close
associate in the Home Rule Movement. He was inflexible, indomitable and honest
according to his own light but was totally incapable of understanding other's
point of view. However, Pakistan was created in his shadow and once he
disappeared the political stability was in jeopardy.
In India, the greatest danger is the formation of
sub-nation States and linguistic chauvinism. The formation of homogeneous
provinces on the basis of language was an administrative necessity, and was
recommended by the Congress long before anyone dreamt of independence in 1947.
After independence some necessary adjustments were made, but it is impossible
to draw the boundaries of a State in such a manner as to totally exclude
linguistic groups from the adjacent States. Nor is such a boundary necessary or
desirable, for we are citizens of India, not of any State, though the present
dangerous trend is to identify oneself with his State rather than with India.
This tendency was not' apparent before independence;
it· may be a passing phase. But, while it lasts, it has to be dealt with firmly
though sympathetically, without weakening the Centre or the federal bonds in
any way . It has been the experience of history, as
the pages of preceding volumes of this Series testify, that this subcontinent
has fallen a prey to foreign invasion in' the absence of a strong central
authority. This lesson of history we had in mind when we adopted a
quasi-federal constitution for India. What is now needed is not a
constitutional change but a psychological one with political realism.
Unity of India is not a modern exotic growth, but is as a French scholar has
put it recently. a response, 'a des liens ancients et profonds de conceptions,
de sentiments, de rapports de situations, entredes groupes infiniment disparates, mais entes sur un meme fends'.
Before I conclude, I would like to repeat that the
publication of 9 out of the 11 volumes of the Bhavan's
History Series has been a matter of immense joy and pride to me.
I am deeply grateful to Dr. R. C. Majumdar whose tireless industry "and profound
knowledge of Indian history ensured the success of this undertaking. I am also.
indebted to all the learned contributors to the
volumes, some of whom, alas, are no longe alive to
share with us the joy of a great achievement. I should not forget to pay. a special tribute to Dr. A. D. Pusalkar,
whose scholarship and diligent co-operation were available to Dr. R. C. Majumdar in full measure till the completion of five
volumes. Dr. Pusalkar's .place had been taken by Dr.
A. K. Majumdar, whose energy and sound knowledge have
been of great value to his father.
I offer my thanks to the donors who have extended
generous financial assistance by way of grant or loan to the scheme. I am also
thankful to the Government of India for the loans that they have given to
complete the Series.
I am indebted to the staff of Associated Advertisers
and Printers, who have, with diligence and efficiency, seen the volumes through
the press as also to the staff of the Bhavan
and the Press who looked after the preparation and printing of this volume with
care and zeal.
I am delighted to see that the volumes have proved
popular both with scholars and others. . The fact that all the volumes have run
into several editions and have found a place in almost all the universities and
libraries in the world, confirms my belief that this Series has been fulfilling
a long-felt need.
It is my earnest hope that the remaining two volumes
will also be published soon.
This is the concluding Volume of the Hist01·Y
and Culture of the
Indian People originally
planned in 1945. But it does not complete the series, as two Volumes, VII and
VIII, dealing with the period from A.D. 1526 to 1818, have riot yet been
published, for reasons stated in the Preface to Vol. IX. As
a matter of
fact, that Preface may well serve also as a Preface to this. Volume, as Vols.
IX, X, and XI really deal with a single topic-India under British Rule, and
almost all that has been said in the Prefaces to Vols. IX and X are, mutatis
to this Volume also.
Certain differences, however, mark this Volume from
the preceding ones. As the title shows, it primarily deals with the struggle
for freedom, and, generally speaking, this forms the central theme of its
political history, all the other topics being treated as merely subsidiary or
accessory to it. The difference is rendered conspicuous by the concluding
Chapters, XXXV-XXXVIII, of Book I dealing with political history. These
chapters, comprising only 35 pages, give a brief resume of the administration,
both civil and military, the Indian States, Frontier policy, and the Indians
outside India-« topics, each of which has been dealt with in much greater
detail in Vol. IX, covering the period 1818 to 1905. In other words, attention
is focussed in this Volume on the events leading to India's independence, which
forms the most significant episode in the political history of the period and
overshadows other topics concerning it to such an extent that no adequate
treatment of them was possible within the space of a single Volume. Besides, in
the context of the period as a whole culminating in the end of British rule in
India, these topics lose much of their 'importance which they would have
For similar reasons the economic condition of India,
forming Book 11, occupies much less space. Further, the different aspects of
it, forming subject-matters of different chapters in Vol. IX, are dealt with
together in a single chapter. For, it has been thought more desirable to give
an integrated picture of the economic condition of India as a whole at the end
of the British rule; Separate treatment of the different aspects would have
involved considerable overlapping, and none or" the new aspects had
completed a definite well-marked course of development within the short period
of forty years dealt with in this Volume.
The course of cultural development ran more or less
smoothly during the period under review, being comparatively free from the
effect of the struggle for freedom. But press and literature were both
influenced by it, the first to a very large, -and the second to a smaller
extent. The old plan has therefore been followed in Book III of this Volume
dealing with cultural history. Here, again, as in Book II, the short duration
of the period under review has caused considerable difficulty, as literary
movements and activities of individual authors are not usually confined within
such a short time. The most conspicuous example is furnished by the literary
career of Rabindra-nath Tagore which goes back to the
19th century. The difficulty has been met by treating his whole literary career
in this Volume. Care has also been taken to indicate the influence exerted by
the national struggle for freedom, not only on literature ' but also on the
Press which during this period had become the handmaid of politics to a far
larger extent than ever before.
The last chapter of Book III dealing with art covers
the entire period from 1707 to 1947, which forms the subject-matters of Vols.
VIII, IX, X, and XI. In .other words, the art of the post Mughal and British
period is dealt with in a single chapter in this concluding Volume. . The
reason for this' has been stated in the Preface to Vol. X (pp. xvi-xvii). It
was stated there that the Kangra art would be dealt
with in Vol. VIII, and the rest in Vol. XI. The author of the chapter on Art,
however, thought it to be more convenient and appropriate to deal with the
post-Mughal art In a single chapter, as its different
phases are closely connected. There is no clear line of distinction between the
earlier and later phase of Kangra art, which
continued till the close of the nineteenth century, and this art itself is a
developed form of the Pahari
or Hill School of art that flourished at Guler, Basholi, and other places in the Punjab hills. Some art
critics also associate all of these with the Rajasthani
paintings. Accordingly, all these have been dealt with together in the chapter
on Art in this Volume. This will also remove the inconvenience caused by the
fact that Vol. VIII is not likely to be published within the next two or three yeats, and the inclusion of the Kangra
art ill that Volume will therefore make the treatment of that art in this
chapter-particularly its beginning -somewhat . abrupt
and unintelligible to readers.
For reasons stated in Preface to Vol. IX. (p. xxx) the editor himself
is the author of almost all the chapters of this Volume with the exception of
those dealing with economic condition, literature and art, but the co-operative
principle followed in Vols. I-VI, has not been altogether lost sight of. The
editor has availed himself fully of the writings of some eminent persons on
many topics of the political history of the period, the vast source materials
of which are either too scattered and not easily available, or somewhat
fragmentary, and not un often contradictory. In
particular he has made extensive use of THE· CONSTITUTIONAL PROBLEM IN INDIA
by R. Coupland and THE TRANSFER OF POWER IN INDIA
by V. P. Menon. Both these writers have made a thorough study of
documents relating to the events they relate and described the events in a
lucid manner. The frequent quotations from them are a deliberate process, as
the editor did not like to hide or minimise his indebtedness to them by simply
paraphrasing or summarising the facts stated by them in his own words, as he
could easily have done. It should be pointed out, . however, that the editor has relied on them for facts and
not views and opinions, unless he had reasons to agree with them. For example,
though he has quotedextracts from Coupland's
book about the Pirpur Committee's Report, he has
differed from him in assessing its value (of. pp. 608, 613, p. 616,-f.n. 8).
In this connection reference may be made to the
following extract from the Preface to Vol. IX (pp. xxxi-xxxii) as it is as
much, or perhaps more, applicable to Vol. XI.
"The editor does not claim any credit for
original research, his main interest being concentrated on the proper
presentation of historical truth, on the basis of facts already known and
published, and a correct interpretation of them without being influenced in any
way by long-standing notions, conventions, or traditions. In order to form
correct opinions and judgments, he has tried to ascertain contemporary views of
an impartial character. For views unfavourable to any group or community, he
has cited evidence, as far as possible, of distinguished
persons belonging to that group or community, for prima
facie they are
not likely to cherish any bias or prejudice against their own kith and kin.
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