History of India – Pre Historic Era, Freedom Struggle & India Independence

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The grandeur history of India depicts the ancient civilization, right from the Pre Historic Era to Freedom Struggle & India Independence. Hence, people find it very interesting to read about the Indian history, which can be described as “a bundle of contradictions held together by strong but invisible threads” in the words of Jawaharlal Nehru. With the evidence of human activity, the Indian history dates back to approximately 75000 years ago. However, the inhabitants of Indus Valley Civilization devised an urban culture based on agricultural trade and commerce, almost five thousand years ago.

To put it in a nutshell, the Indian history is a series of activities that is not just fun to read, but also beneficial from educational point of view. Read below to find out the complete history –

The Pre Historic Era

Pre-history means ‘before history’. It is the period from the time when anatomically modern humans appeared for the first time until the invention of writing systems for recorded history. The prehistory is classified into 3 consecutive time periods, viz.

a)- Stone Age

This was the time when stones were used to make implements with a percussion surface, a point, or an edge. It lasted for almost 3.4 million years, and was popular for various tools utilized by humans and their predecessor species. Apart from stones, the antler, wood, shell, bone and other materials too, were used extensively. Certain animals were domesticated and pottery was also seen during this period.

b)- Bronze Age

This was the period which witnessed the use of proto-writing, bronze, and numerous other features of urban civilization. It is believed that this age dates back to approximately 3300 BCE and is considered to be one of the earliest urban civilizations in the world, along with Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. New techniques in handicraft and metallurgy were found in this era.

c)- Iron Age

This age is considered to fall between approximately 1200 BC and 600 BC. It was the time when the tool making material was iron. Approximately since 3200 BC Meteoric iron was used by humans. But, until the technique to remove impurities, smelt iron ore and regulate carbon amount in the alloy were developed, the iron production was not widespread.

Early Historic Period

This period marked the evolution of Indian culture and society. It is stated as under:

a)- Vedic Period:

In about 1500 BC, the Aryans viz. the Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas came out of the North and introduced varied strong cultural traditions, including the use of Sanskrit language. This was one of the ancient languages used by the Aryans. Therefore, the first documentation of the Vedas could be seen in Sanskrit language. Apart from the Aryans, there were Non-Aryans, i.e. Sudras, which included the lower section people – farm workers, laborers, servants etc.

This period lasted from around 1500 to 500 BCE and laid down the foundation of varied cultural dimensions of Indian society, including Hinduism.

b)- Mahajanapadas:

After the Indus valley Civilization, this period led to the rise of urbanization in India. By the later Vedic period, many kingdoms mushroomed across the country, which find mention in Jain and Buddhist literature. Later on, by 500 BCE, there were almost 16 Mahajanapadas or republics established, named as Chedi, Kamboja, Anga, Vatsa (or Vamsa), Kasi, Panchala, Vajji (or Vriji), Surasena, Kosala, Assaka, Avanti, Magadha, Gandhara, Kuru, Malla and Matsya.

c)- Persian and Greek Conquests:

Major proportion of the Northwest subcontinent came under the control of Achaemenid Empire by 520 BCE, i.e. during the reign of Darius I of Persia. The area was under the Persian rule for two centuries. It was the time when Takshashila became a centre for both Iranian and vedic learning. In 327 BCE, the Persian rule came to an end with the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great. After conquering the Achaemenid Empire and Asia Minor, Alexander the Great reached the northwest frontiers of India.

d)- Maurya Empire:

This was the largest empire on the subcontinent and lasted from around 322 to 185 BCE. Chandragupta Maurya, under the guidance of Chanakya, established by the Mauryan Empire and unified India into one state. Around 297 BCE, Bindusara (the son of Chandragupta) succeeded to the throne. After Bindusara, it was Ashoka the Great, who succeeded to the throne and reigned for almost 37 years. His last campaign against Kalinga is highly popular, as this was the war which made Ashoka to turn towards Buddhism.

Medieval and Modern Periods

a)- Mughal Period:

Babur established the Mughal Empire in 1526. The Mughal dynasty ruled by almost 1600 and Shah Jahan’s reign is considered to be the golden age of Mughal architecture. He is known for building varied large monuments, such as Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, Moti Masjid, the Lahore Fort and the Jama Masjid. It was during the reign of Aurangzeb that the Mughal Empire came to a decline. In 1737, Bajirao, the Maratha general of the Maratha Empire conquered Delhi.

b)- Colonial Era:

This was the time when European powers from the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Portugal and France established varied trading posts in the country, i.e. India. Later on, when internal conflicts started happening, they took advantage of it and established their colonies.

c)- The British Rule:

The rule of Britishers started with the establishment of East India Company in 1600. It reached to its peak in 1857 during the first war of independence. Subhash Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and Lala Rajpat Rai etc. were the great leaders, who had major contribution in the independence of India. Finally, in 1947 India got independent.

Heroic Figures

a)- Mangal Pandey: He was a sepoy in the 34th BNI regiment, i.e. Bengal Native Infantry and was involved in attacking his senior British officers at Barrackpore. This was the incident, which marked the start of First War of Indian Independence.

b)- Tatya Tope: He was one of the notable generals in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and was a personal adherent of Nana Sahib. Later on, he seized the Gwalior city with Rani Lakshmibai. His actual name is Ramachandra Pandurang Tope and was born in Yeola of Nashik.

c)- Nana Sahib: During the 1857 uprising, he was the one, who led the rebellion in Kanpur. He was the adopted son of Peshwa Baji Rao II and therefore, was entitled to a pension after his father’s death. But, the East India Company refused to provide the pension. As a result, he decided seek independence for India.
Veer Kunwar Singh

He had a major role in the 1857 revolt in Bihar. He belonged to a royal family in Jagdispur, Bihar. He was almost 80 years old, when he gave a tough fight to the British forces. He was an expert in guerilla warfare, which left the Britishers puzzled.

d)- Rani Lakshmibai: She was the queen of the Jhansi state, India and was a popular figure of the 1857 revolt. She along with Tatya Tope fought valiantly against the British army. However, she died in 1858 in Gwalior, while battling against the Britishers.

e)- Bahadur Shah Zafar: He was the last Mughal emperor and was involved in the 1857 revolt. Due to his involvement in the revolt, the Britishers convicted him on conspiracy charges and exiled him to Rangoon. He was neutral in his views on religion. Therefore, he was accepted as the Emperor of India by some Indian regiments and kings.

f)- Bakht Khan: He built an army of Rohilla sepoys and was a popular figure in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. In May 1857, when the sepoys in Meerut started the revolt against Britishers, he became the virtual commander of the sepoy forces.

Independence Movement

With an aim to gain independence from the British rule, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi started the Civil disobedience movement. Slowly and steadily, the Indians learned to break the unfair laws in a peaceful manner.

a)- Independence and Partition:

The policy of divide and rule by the Britishers resulted into religious tension between the Muslims and the Hindus. Although, Mahatma Gandhi tried for uniting both religious groups, yet he could not succeed in it. After the World War-II, the economy of the british got weakened and they decided to leave India. As a result, India got independent in 1947 and partitioned into two independent dominions, viz. Republic of India & Dominion of Pakistan.

b)- Post-Independence Period and The Modern India:

After independence, Jawaharlal Nehru became India’s first Prime Minister. However, the leaders associated with Mahatma Gandhi, accepted no office. With the establishment of Indian constitution, India became a democratic and secular state. It has large Muslim minority, majority of Hindu population, and minorities of varied other religions, such as Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians and Jains. Today, India is an influential nation in South Asia and enjoys sixth-largest economy in the world.

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