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Tag Archives: Guptas

The Growth of Civilization in Early India

early india

Two hundred years before Columbus discovered America, a certain Marco Polo told strange, exciting stories to his friends and neighbours in Venice, a city in northern Italy. He had travelled, he said, to distant lands in Asia and had become rich. Europeans at that time had some general knowledge of eastern Asia and of its products, but Polo furnished detailed and colourful descriptions of magnificent cities, of strange customs and of powerful rulers who owned many palaces and lived in unheard of luxury. Marco Polo had visited the court of the khan, or ruler, of an empire that included most of east Asia as well as great islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Polo had been made a public official. He had been sent on errands to the cold wastes of present day Siberia and the green Spice Islands where it was always warm. He had seen civilizations of many kinds — some primitive, some more magnificent than those in Europe. Marco Polo’s stories were so amazing that not until long after his death did most people believe them. “How,” thought Europeans, “could Asians have travelled so far on the long road from savagery without our help?” Today we know that Marco Polo’s stories were true, atleast in all important respects. We know that while Egyptians were building their pyramids and the Sumerians their temple towers in Mesopotamia, civilization was growing in India. We know also that while the Greeks and Romans were creating “the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome,” the Chinese were developing their own civilization and way of life. You will not find the empire of Alexander or the Roman Empire on a modern map of the world, as you know, but India and China still exist. Many changes have taken place …

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The Moguls Take Over A.D. 1504-1605


THE name “Mogul” comes from the Arabic word for “Mongol.” Babur, the founder of the Mogul dynasty, was probably descended from both Timur and the mightiest of all Mongol conquerors, Genghis Khan. His early story was much like that of Genghis. Born a minor prince in what is now Soviet Turkistan, he was driven from his throne while still a child. He spent years wandering about with a few hundred ragged, half-starved followers. In 1504, he captured Kabul and began to dream of conquering the richer lands south of the Khyber Pass. In 1519, he made a start by seizing a border province. In 1524, on the invitation of the Afghan nobles, he invaded the Punjab. His army was ridiculously small for such an ambitious venture, but the weakness of the Delhi Sultanate favoured him. In 1526, he defeated the sultan in battle at the ancient town of Panipat and so became master of North India. The Battle of Panipat showed how important firearms could be in deciding the outcome of a battle. Babur had only eight thousand troops to Sultan Ibrahim’s fifty thousand men and one thousand elephants. He also had cannon and crude muskets. By clever tactics he forced the sultan’s army into a solid mass and then ordered his men to fire. Twenty thousand of the enemy fell dead, including the sultan. The following year, Babur beat back a combined attack by the Hindu princes of the neighbouring Rajputana. This victory ended the Hindu’s last hope of chasing the Moslems out of North India. In 1530, Babur died. His intelligent but lazy son Humayun had to flee the country when one of his provincial governors rebelled against him. Humayun’s son Akbar turned out to be the strongest and also the greatest of all the Mogul rulers. AKBAR, …

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