History of India
Nearly five thousand years back
flourished India's first major civilization along the Indus River
valley. The twin cities of Mohenjodaro and
in Pakistan were ruled by priests and held the rudiments of Hinduism.
These civilizations are known to possess a sophisticated lifestyle, a
highly developed sense of aesthetics, an astonishing knowledge of town
planning and an undecipherable script language. The Indus civilization
at one point of time extended nearly a million square kilometers across
the Indus river valley. It existed at the same time as the ancient
civilizations of Egypt and Sumer but far outlasted them. Surviving for
nearly a thousand years the Indus valley civilization fell to tectonic
upheavals in about 1700 BC, which caused a series of floods.
The coming of the Aryans around 1500 BC,
gave the final blow to the collapsing Indus Valley civilization. At the
dawn of Vedic ages the Aryans came in from the North and spread through
large parts of India bringing with them their culture and religious
beliefs. The Four Vedas or the important books of Hinduism were compiled
in this period.
567 B.C. the founder of the Buddhist Religion Gautama Buddha was
born. During this time lived Mahavira, who founded the Jain
Religion. The Indian subcontinent is full of caves and monuments
devoted to these religions and are worth a visit.
Two hundred years later, in the 4th century B.C., Emperor Ashoka,
one of the greatest King of Indian history, led the Mauryan Empire
to take over almost all of what is now modern India. This great
leader embraced Buddhism and built the group of monuments at Sanchi
(a UNESCO world heritage site). The Ashoka pillar at Sarnath has
been adopted by India as its national emblem and the Dharma
Chakra on the Ashoka Pillar adorns the National Flag.
They were followed by the Guptas in the north, while in the south
part of India several different Hindu empires, the Cholas, the
Pandyas and the Cheras spread and grew, trading with Europe and
other parts of Asia till the end of the 1100s.
Christianity entered India at about the same time from Europe.
Legend has it that St. Thomas the Apostle arrived in India in 52
A.D. Even earlier than that people of the Jewish religion arrived on
approximately the 7th century A.D. a group of Zoroastrians, or
Parsees, landed in Gujarat and became a part of the large mix of
religions in India today, each of which adds its important and
the 15th century Guru Nanak laid the foundation of the Sikh religion
1192, Mohammed of Ghori, a ruler from Afghanistan, came into India
and captured several places in the north including Delhi. When he
went home he left one of his generals in charge who became the first
Sultan of Delhi. During this time Islam, was introduced into a major
part of Northern India. It may be mentioned that even before that,
just after the period of the prophet, Islam was brought to the
western coast of India by Arab traders and flourished in what is now
The Dehli Sultanate gradually took control of more and more of North
India over the next 200 years, till Timur, who was called "Timur the
Lame" or "Tamberlane" came from Turkey in 1398 to attack India. He
and his army stole all the valuables that they could carry and left
again, and after that the Delhi Sultanate was never so strong again.
Soon the Mughals, who were from Iran, came in and took control of
the meantime south , in 1336, the Hindu Vijayanagar empire was set
up and became very strong.
The Europeans - Portuguese, French, Dutch, Danish and British -
started arriving in the early 1600s. All of them held territories in
India and made friends and enemies among India's rulers as they got
more and more involved, with the Indian politics, but it was the
British who eventually controlled most of India and finally made it
one of their colonies.
India got its independence from Britain in 1947 after a long
struggle led mostly by Mahatma Gandhi. In the process of becoming
independent, India became, two countries instead of one. In the
years since independence India has made huge progress and coped with
great problems, and has developed its industry and its agriculture,
and has maintained a system of government which makes it the largest
democracy in the world.