Bharatavarsha: A History of Ancient India

India has often been overlooked, especially in the West, about the contributions of its rich history and culture to civilization. Introduction India is a country in South Asia whose name comes from the Indus River. The name ‘Bharata’ is used as a designation for the country in their constitution referencing the ancient mythological emperor, Bharata,[…]

Hindus and Muslims under the Delhi Sultanate in Medieval India

The Delhi Sultanate, which lasted from 1206 to 1526, is known as a period of cultural intermixing. By Christopher Klune The Republic of India stands as one of the most pluralistic nations in the modern world, with many people of varying faiths co-existing under one national identity. Part of the origin of this pluralism can[…]

Sacred Space and Symbolic Form at India’s Medieval Lakshmana Temple

The temples at Khajuraho, including the Lakshmana temple, have become famous for their amorous images. Ideal Female Beauty Look closely at the image above. Imagine an elegant woman walks barefoot along a path accompanied by her attendant. She steps on a thorn and turns—adeptly bending her left leg, twisting her body, and arching her back—to[…]

The Battle of Hydaspes: Alexander the Great Meets Indian King Porus

At Hydaspes Alexander met a formidable opponent in King Porus. Introduction For almost a decade, Alexander the Great and his army swept across Western Asia and into Egypt, defeating King Darius III and the Persians at the battles of River Granicus, Issus and Gaugamela. Next, despite the objections of the loyal army who had been[…]

Rhetoric and Reality: Ancient Greece and the Clash of Civilizations

The opposition between East and West, Europe and Asia, Us and Them stretches back into antiquity. The ‘clash of civilisations’ is a popular theme in today’s political rhetoric, positing the idea of an unbridgeable gulf between the West and the Rest. In domestic politics, the theme is raised in debates over migration and minority integration;[…]

Hoysala Architecture of Medieval India

The most remarkable accomplishment of this era lies, undoubtedly, in the field of architecture. By Dhruba RC Introduction The Hoysala era (1026 CE – 1343 CE) was marked by illustrious achievements in art, architecture, and culture. The nucleus of this activity lay in the present day Hassan district of Karnataka, India. The most remarkable accomplishment[…]

Elephants in Hellenistic History and Art: Alexander to Hannibal and Back to India

Elephants were thought of as fierce and frightful monsters in antiquity, very real though rarely seen until the Hellenistic period. Introduction Elephants were thought of as fierce and frightful monsters in antiquity, very real though rarely seen until the Hellenistic period. They were deployed on the battlefield to strike terror into the enemy, however, since[…]

Muslim-Sikh Relations in Medieval India

Peace but also conflicts that occurred between the Sikh Gurus and the Mughal rulers who were contemporaneous with the former. Introduction: Context and Commitment of the Article Prof Dalip Singh—an eminent academic authority on Sikh Studies, senior-researcher of Sikh Research and Education Center (SREC) based in Chesterfield, Missouri, USA—had written six voluminous books as well[…]

The Rashtrakuta Dynasty of Medieval South India

By Saurav Ranjan Datta Introduction The Rashtrakuta Dynasty ruled parts of South India from the 8th to the 10th century CE. At its zenith, their kingdom included the modern state of Karnataka in its entirety along with parts of the current Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Their importance can be gauged from the[…]

The Temple-Building Gurjara-Pratihara Empire of Medieval India

The Pratiharas were known chiefly for their patronage of art, sculpture, and temple-building. By Dr. Avantika LalHistorian, Independent Researcher Introduction The Gurjara-Pratiharas, or simply, the Pratiharas (8th century CE – 11th century CE) held their sway over western and northern India. This dynasty saw its fortunes rising under Nagabhata I (730–760 CE) who successfully defeated Arab[…]

Lessons from Atheism in Ancient India

We’re still playing the same game, 2500 years later. There were apparently many anti-superstitious atheists in ancient India. (I wrote of Ajita Kesakambali earlier.) Mostly, we know of them through their religious critics in Indian scripture. One such passage is known as Payasi Suttanta, from perhaps the 6th century B.C. In it, a holy man, Master Kassapa, confronts[…]

A History of India’s Partition and Its Modern Effects

As the British Empire became an unaffordable burden, planning for India’s independence quickly ran into trouble. Introduction “Partition” – the division of British India into the two separate states of India and Pakistan on August 14-15, 1947 – was the “last-minute” mechanism by which the British were able to secure agreement over how independence would take[…]

How a British Royal’s Monumental Errors Made India’s Partition More Painful

The partition of India led to more than a million deaths. A scholar argues how British royal, Lord Louis Mountbatten, who hurriedly drew the new borders in secret, was largely responsible. Introduction The midnight between August 14 and 15, 1947, was one of history’s truly momentous moments: It marked the birth of Pakistan, an independent India and[…]

The Pushyabhuti Dynasty of Early Medieval India

The most notable ruler of this dynasty was its last ruler, Emperor Harshavardhana (or Harsha). Introduction The Pushyabhuti Dynasty (c. 500 CE – 647 CE) rose after the downfall of the Gupta Empire (3rd century CE – 6th century CE) in the 6th century CE in northern India. Also known as the Vardhana or Pushpabhuti[…]

Images of Enlightenment: Aniconic vs. Iconic Depictions of the Buddha in India

One of the most important moments in the story of Prince Siddhartha is when he reached spiritual enlightenment—a state of infinite knowledge. Depicting the Divine Representing divine figures has long been a thorny issue. After all, depicting the divine in human form would seem to define and limit the divine in a manner which seems to contradict the idea[…]

Siege Warfare in Ancient India

Capturing forts was necessary as enemy capitals were usually fortified and no invader could proclaim victory without these strategic strongholds. Introduction Forts and sieges held a key position in ancient Indian warfare. Built on considerations of strategic location, topography, and the natural advantages provided by the site, forts would be heavily supplemented with man-made fortifications. They[…]

Naval Warfare in Ancient India

The ancient Indian naval ships protected trade and carried troops to war zones. Introduction The navy in ancient India carried out three roles: it was used to transport troops to distant battlefields, participate in actual warfare, and was primarily meant for protecting the kingdom’s trade on sea and navigable rivers and the maritime trade routes.[…]

Religious Developments in Ancient India

Hinduism stood for a wide variety of related religious traditions native to India. Introduction For well over 1,000 years, sacred stories and heroic epics have made up the mythology of Hinduism. Nothing in these complex yet colourful legends is fixed and firm. Pulsing with creation, destruction, love, and war, it shifts and changes. Most myths occur in several different[…]

The Initiation of Religions in Ancient India

The Upanishads are the philosophical account deemed to be the earliest source of Hindu religion. Introduction The religious practices of the early Indo-Aryans, known as the Vedic  religion (1500 BCE to 500 BCE) were written down and later redacted into the Samhitas, four canonical collections of hymns or mantras, called the Veda, in archaic Sanskrit. The Late Vedic age[…]

On the Pallava Trail in Kanchipuram

The creativity of the Pallavas did not diminish throughout their reign. By Anantha Krishnan Introduction The Pallavas ruled south-eastern India from the 3rd through the 9th centuries CE. Their empire covered what is today the Tamil Nadu state. Their origin is shrouded in mystery though historians believe their roots might have been from Andhra Pradesh[…]

The Religion–Politics Divide in Sikh Politics from Pre- to Post-Colonial India

Examining the intersection of religion and politics in the evolution of the Sikh tradition in the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods in the Indian subcontinent. Introduction The purpose of this essay is to look at the changing dynamics of the intersection of religion and politics at various historical junctures in the evolution of the Sikh[…]

Opening the Way to India in the Ancient World

Sea routes got busy and the merchants began to travel with a variety of goods unknown to Europe until then. Possibly being overjoyed by the tales of mythical exploits of Heracles, Semiramis, the fabled queen of Assyria, Cyrus, King of Persia and so on, Alexander the Great set out from the tiny kingdom of Macedon for a daring adventure, unheard of in the entire[…]

Architecture of Ancient Sri Lanka

The architecture of ancient Sri Lanka displays a rich diversity. Introduction The architecture of ancient Sri Lanka displays a rich diversity, varying in form and architectural style from the Anuradhapura Kingdom (377 BC–1017) through the Kingdom of Kandy (1469–1815). Sinhalese architecture also displays many ancient North Indian influences. Buddhism had a significant influence on Sri Lankan architecture after it was introduced to the island in[…]

Divine Light and Melodies Lead the Way: The Medieval Santmat Tradition of Bihar, India

Examining the branch of Santmat, prevalent in the rural areas of Bihar, India. Abstract This paper focuses on the branch of Santmat (thus far, unstudied by scholars of Indian religions), prevalent in the rural areas of Bihar, India. Santmat—literally meaning “the Path of Sants” or “Point of View of the Sants”—of Bihar represents a unique[…]

A Brief History of Ancient Buddhism

The origin of Buddhism points to one man, Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, who was born in Lumbini. Introduction Buddhism is one of the most important Asian spiritual traditions. During its roughly 2.5 millennia of history, Buddhism has shown a flexible approach, adapting itself to different conditions and local ideas while maintaining its core teachings.[…]