By Michel Danino*
(Keynote address delivered at a seminar on “History of Globalization and its impact on Indian Culture” organized by the Dept. of History, P.S.G.R. Krishnammal College for Women, Coimbatore, on 20 December 2006.)

In the last few years, Indian history has been much in the news. Not, however, in an effort to make better sense of India’s past, of her behaviour as a civilization, of the specificities of Indian culture, nor also to integrate new findings into an ever-growing perspective, but mostly for polemical, political or sensational reasons that only end up creating more confusion and driving us farther away from the central issue: How to deal with Indian history? Ideology barges in and a finer perception of India tiptoes out. In the end, we Indians are the victims, more particularly the students: as long as the teaching of history is manipulated and remote-controlled, it will stifle creativity and students will continue to look at the discipline as a chore pushed down their throats — a “sleeping pill,” as some of them once told me. Mathematics might be another, but then, you need it to get a good job — what do you need history for? That, in fact, is the whole question. Unless the syllabus, the textbook and the teacher can together convince the student that history opens a window onto Indian culture and heritage and an understanding of ourselves — in short, a meaningful perspective of India — the answer to the question will merely be, to get a few marks at the exam. If there is nothing more to is, we might as well scrap the whole discipline, as a few State governments have indeed suggested recently. India’s history is not about dates and kings and bloodsheds. It is about bringing out the life and culture of the Indian people, also the bend of the nation, the way India reacted (and continues to react) to crises and obstacles, adapted to new conditions, the way it has absorbed and given, changed but also remained the same. In a word, what makes India India.

* Michel Danino ( is a long-time student of Indian civilization, the convener of the International Forum for India’s Heritage, and an author in French and English. His recent titles include The Lost River: On the Trail of the Sarasvati (Penguin Books India, 2010) and Indian Culture and India’s Future (DK Printworld, 2011).

Over many hundreds of years. smeared in red. These histories do not answer the question. On the other hand. If Bharatavarsha is viewed with these passing frames of dreamlike scenes.7 K. . it is our roots. In it he struck a cord parallel to Majumdar’s: The history of India that we read and memorize for our examinations is really a nightmarish account of India. But. the development of social and moral ideas. that have occupied the very heart of Bharatavarsha. C. wrote a seminal essay entitled The History of Bharatavarsha. religion.. It appears as if we are nobody in India…2 Such a conception was also that of Swami Vivekananda. and the general progress of those humanitarian ideals and institutions which form the distinctive feature of the spiritual life of India and her greatest contribution to the civilization of the world. One of them was aptly summarized by the great historian R. M. who presented us with a comprehensive formulation of Indian civilization in his Foundations of Indian Culture. . blows and bloodletting. art. and adopt a different scale of values in order to appraise her culture and civilization. we will soon find that we have to deal with two diametrically opposite perspectives of India. and the development of political ideas and institutions should not be regarded as the principal object of our study. hundreds and thousands of them. we are no weeds or parasitical plants in India. more stress should be laid upon philosophy. our soul loses its anchorage. overlaid on it.1 Rabindranath Tagore. where were the people of India?… Our real ties are with the Bharatavarsha that lies outside our textbooks. After all.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. If the history of this tie for a substantially long period gets lost..5 John Woodroffe.4 of Sister Nivedita. the rise and fall of empires and nations. Some people arrive from somewhere and the pandemonium is let loose. unfortunately. and letters. Majumdar: So far as the available evidence goes. whose view of India and Indian history is rarely highlighted. we are obliged to learn a brand of history that makes our children forget this very fact. The wars and conquests.8 and a host of other profound thinkers and scholars. We have consequently to approach the history of India in a different spirit. And then it is a free-for-all: assault and counter-assault.6 Ananda Coomaraswamy. 2 Two views of India If we pursue this research. Munshi. there cannot be the slightest doubt that Indian civilization manifests itself in a way and a form very different from that with which we are familiar in the rest of the world.3 of Sri Aurobindo. and must be relegated to a position of secondary importance. the real Bharatavarsha cannot be glimpsed.

. . philosophy. To a Marxist historian. which can logically lead only to the atomization of India.” India’s cultural cement. we have what I venture to call the “colonial-Marxist” perspective. Failing to work out an Indian historiography of India. is not thought to be a worthwhile object of study.. even as it throws new insights. technology. art. Yet the relative stability and economic prosperity provided by the caste system to Indian society is overlooked. this perspective in effect promotes a de-Indianized view of Indian history. some of which (in the economic and social fields in particular) are often valuable. spirituality. movements and evolution are interpreted purely from a materialistic standpoint.. as we find that in India’s case. are consistently underemphasized. Semitic religions and societies are gently dealt with. A gross overemphasis is laid on the caste system: most social phenomenons are interpreted in terms of caste. we should certainly mention: A purely materialistic. while Hinduism is portrayed as the spread or sometimes the imposition of “Brahminism.” “class war”.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. 3 On the other hand. We do hear of India’s “diversity” but not of what constitutes its “unity. The hyphenation is justified. Indian spirituality and religion (labelled “animism. Since no spiritual dimension is acknowledged. scripts etc. since one is left to wonder what can hold together this bewildering medley. India’s civilizational achievements and contributions to the world in terms of science. religion.” “feudalism.. Among the main features of this perspective. Artificial breaks are introduced in time (for instance the imaginary Aryan invasion of India) or in society (the Brahmins vs. the rest of India). Also. the substantial role of Islam and British rule in hardening the caste system is glossed over. as are India’s great spiritual figures. social and economic definition of man. for instance the reach of Epic and Puranic lore to the remotest corner of India.” “idolatry”…) are therefore of no value. India’s history is squeezed into a Eurocentric framework through an artificial and alien terminology: “barbarism. India’s cultural continuity and identity are basically denied. literature. India’s religious and spiritual currents. Marxist historiography accepts in practice the broad framework of the erstwhile colonial historians.” ignoring its organic interchange with local cultures. while the defects of Indian society are magnified and invariably put down to Hinduism. Swami Vivekananda’s or Sri Aurobindo’s or Tagore’s understanding of Indian history and civilization is of no relevance.

especially in the Gangetic region. they are by no means new. While the site does seem to hold potential. by 6000 BC. such patterns can also arise out of natural formations. giving us a better understanding of the growth of civilization on Indian soil. where in the last few years the National Institute of Ocean Technology11 has been collecting artefacts from the sea bed. Mehrgarh has revealed a continuous sequence of cultures spanning some 4. and they has been amply confirmed by archaeological evidence. One possible candidate may emerge from the Gulf of Khambat. etc. On a surer ground.). games (from spinning tops to dice). sites of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization. dating back to 7000 BC. so I will not go over the “classical” evidence supporting them. the first on Indian soil (2600-1900 BC for its mature phase). the ritual use of water for purification (as seen at Mohenjo-daro’s Great Bath).000 years and leading to the “mature” Indus-Sarasvati civilization and beyond. the pipal. have yielded many artefacts that evidence a cultural continuity with later Indian civilization. at the foot of the Bolan pass. has been excavated in the last decades. Mehrgarh. In themselves. religious symbols (the svastika. Spread over 250 hectares.”10 in the words of French excavator Jean-François Jarrige. the trishul. Antiquity and Continuity Antiquity and continuity are possibly the most striking characteristics of Indian civilization. an important site in Baluchistan.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. For instance. it had “a veritable agricultural economy solidly established. important modes of worship such as . ornaments (including craft techniques). More importantly.000 years old. 1. Which of the two above perspectives of India those new findings tend to endorse should be clear enough.12 Moreover. Among India’s most ancient settlements. sonar photography has revealed strangely geometric patterns along a paleo-river bed that resemble settlements. which can be found in many studies. we should therefore urge caution pending systematic excavations of the sea bed. More such sites may yet come to light. it has brought to light one of the earliest farming communities on the subcontinent. the use of conch shells for libations as well as trumpeting. 4 Themes in Indian Civilization In this paper I propose to highlight a few key themes that naturally emerge from Indian history and archaeology.9 I will only attempt to show how they receive fresh and sometimes crucial support from findings made in recent years. with pottery and wood pieces yielding dates between 3000 and 10. traditions (red pigment at the parting of the hair).

6570 BC for Koldihwa (in the Belan valley of Allahabad district). 6591 BC for Tokwa (Adwa valley of Mirzapur district). the region was a crucial one for the birth of rice and millet agriculture.18 . with rice travelling westward and barley and wheat eastward.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. The two regions gradually came into contact. but one already age-old and stereotyped on Indian soil. are echoed in the works of B. Kenoyer: “Since the discovery of the Indus cities. fragments were found of a 15 cm-high triangular-shaped natural stone of alternating light and dark colours. B.. Rao and others. Lal. mother-goddess. which makes this cult over 10.. lingam. scholars have made comparisons and contrasts between the Indus cities and later urban cultures of the subcontinent. They also get independent corroboration from three recent significant finds in the Gangetic plains: Mother-goddess cult: In the 1980s. Current studies of the transition between the two early urban civilizations claim that there was no significant break or hiatus.. Indeed. R. S. 5 fire. Madhya Pradesh). S. in particular with the Kol and Baiga tribes. Very similar shrines were found in nearby tribal settlements. One thing that stands out both at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa is that the civilization hitherto revealed at these two places is not an incipient civilization.000 years old. which run counter to the theory of an Aryan invasion of or migration into India.”16 Such assertions of India’s civilizational continuity. with many millennia of human endeavour behind it…”14 Jonathan M. On a circular platform of about 85 cm in diameter made of sandstone rubble. etc. Gupta.13 It is therefore hardly surprising to read such statements under the pens of archaeologists: John Marshall: “The [Harappan] religion is so characteristically Indian as hardly to be distinguished from still living Hinduism.17 Rice in Neolithic culture: Recent excavations in North Central India have yielded ancient dates for Neolithic sites where rice was domesticated (often along with millet): 7477 BC for Jhusi (near the Ganga-Yamuna confluence). while the North-West developed barley and wheat agriculture. P. evidence of worship of a mothergoddess going back to 8000 or 9000 BC came to light during the excavation of Baghor in the Son valley (Sidhi district. This pushes back the conventional date for rice cultivation in India by several millennia.”15 Jim Shaffer: “The previous concept of a ‘Dark Age’ in South Asian archaeology is no longer valid.

traditions and much of the culture survived: the overall picture is one of a continuum. we also find that there is no cultural hiatus.).”20 Clearly. the Aryan invasion scenario fails at every step and the ground reality evidences continuity in evolution. Taken together. No Thick Forests: In the earlier picture.21 2. these findings help to throw a bridge over the imaginary chasm between the Indus-Sarasvati civilization.” according to Rakesh Tewari. crafts.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. Besides the numerous seals representing deities in yogic postures and a series of figurines from Lothal in various asanas. warfare and man-made destruction in the Harappan world should become clearer with future excavations. The famous “priestking. but technologies. that of yoga.” Thus from its very beginnings. Spiritual Foundations Indeed.19 This date not only “corroborates the early use of iron in other areas of the country. the beginning of the use of iron. ending about 1900 BC.” has been pushed back to 1800 BC. Not only is there no chronological break (the old and now discarded concept of a “Vedic night” between the two civilizations). P. and attests that India was indeed an independent centre for the development of the working of iron. a compelling example of the preceding statement can be found in evidence surfacing from the Harappan cities of a distinctly Indian tradition. the evidence is “indicative of a savannah landscape dominated by grassy vegetation. and developments in the Ganges plains that led to a fresh phase of urbanization there from about 800 BC. Rakesh Tewari again has shown how a large number of agricultural settlements are found in the region right from 2500 BC: although there were indeed pockets of forests. bridging the copper and iron ages. Indian civilization exhibits a spiritual bent. with a “late” phase extending till 1300 BC. might represent a rishi or a sage rather than a “king. traditionally dated 1000-1200 BC and associated with the eastward migration of the imaginary “Aryans. iron was thought to have been the crucial technological development enabling the eastbound Aryans to clear thick forests of the Gangetic plains before settling down to an agricultural life. for instance at Malhar (district Chandauli in U. whether that could be a reason for the absence of army. studies of fossil pollen as well as archaeology. . 6 Iron: So too. Urbanization did collapse in the Indus-Sarasvati civilization.” portrayed in deep contemplation and exuding a sense of self-mastery. This myth falls flat in the face of recent research: combining evidence from literary sources. we have from Harappa a striking figurine with joined hands22 in anjali namaskar. but also overlaps the late Harappan stage.

which have been the object of recent exploration. The Shatapatha Brahmana (2. cities of historical times often have an astronomical backdrop. especially 5/4 (used no less than three times at Dholavira). I will only mention here. Town-planning is the first. among cases recently studied under the direction of astrophysicist J. 1/3.3) does refer to a time when the Pleiades. naturally.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. It is therefore likely that the Harappans practised a “sacred astronomy. are found in other Harappan cities. buildings and structures. it no longer does). their use is therefore not random. we find a careful orientation along the cardinal directions.” although systematic studies in other cities remain to be made. the system of units used by Dholavira’s planners is specifically described in the Artha Shastra. undeniably. In a recent study I tried to work out the geometric foundations of Dholavira.1. “does not swerve from the east.24 Like Mohenjo-daro. Dholavira’s chief ratios of 5/4 and 7/6 are mentioned as ideal proportions by Varahamihira in his Brihat Samhita. amidst many layers of complex cosmogony connected with various pilgrimage routes.2. In the case of Mohenjo-daro.” which is precisely the mature Harappan period. Beginning with the impressive Harappan cities. where Indian spirituality perhaps found its fullest expression. some of the ratios. Those last two points are. enclosing walls. and the case of Kashi where. where places of pilgrimages were found to reproduce on the ground arrow-like designs reminiscent of Lord Rama. important bridges between the Harappan and the historical eras. grid plans. McKim Malville:25 that of Chitrakut. three important facts were brought to light: One. thirdly. integrating cosmic designs from the earliest times. and oriented to the summer solstice sunrise and sunset. Holger Wanzke23 observed that the alignment of Mohenjo-daro’s citadel has a 1° to 2° clockwise divergence from the cardinal directions and in fact points to an eastwest alignment along the Pleiades star cluster (Krittika). Ancient town-planners certainly saw geography as a sacred medium. the first of the 27 Nakshatras. 7/6. 7 This spiritual bent manifested in all fields of life. Secondly. which rose due east during the mature Harappan phase at the vernal equinox (because of the precession of the equinoxes. and in the process. They were also. . sometimes in a most unobtrusive manner. Dholavira is the best example so far of a careful planning involving the use (and sometimes the repetition) of sacred ratios such as 5/4. 3/4 etc. and we will leave aside the much better documented field of art. We will mention here two among the less prominent ones. shrines to 14 Adityas turned out to be patterned in an array of sunbeam-like alignments pointing to precise directions for the sunset at different times of the year. etc. however. experts in geometric town-planning.

since we see Nature worship in full action from the IndusSarasvati civilization onward. who compiled a list of 3. Less so is that of Jagdish Chandra Bose.244 science manuscripts found in 400 repositories in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.473 texts. most ancient civilizations and non-Abrahamic cultures regarded Nature as sacred. We are far from having assessed its colossal output. Of those 3. medicine. Sarma.… The first successful wireless signalling experiment by Marconi on Salisbury Plain in England was not until May 1897. medicine. but nowhere has this been so systematized. Emerson: In 1895 Bose gave his first public demonstration of electromagnetic waves.26 While they have added to our detailed understanding of it. K. rather than Marconi. trees and other plants. religious worship. T. and the earth is our Mother. But India’s achievements were by no means limited to ancient times. natural elements are all woven into a rich web along with mythology.29 . there is no better conservation policy. V. metallurgy. whose pioneering research has been reassessed in recent years in a manner that credits him. No doubt. we know nothing of the remaining 93% and depend on 7% of those texts for our understanding of Indian science. rivers. using them to ring a bell remotely and to explode some gunpowder. together. customs and festivals. with the invention of wireless transmission. This cosmic tapestry of life rests on two beliefs: the whole universe is a sacred place.473 science texts from 12. sometimes also planets and calendars. Let us hope that the unpublished texts will come to light before they crumble away as many of their predecessors. Ramanujan is now well known. There have been many recent studies of this vital aspect of Indian culture. 3. To give one glimpse of the extent of our ignorance. animals. from advanced mathematics to the treatment of seeds. As current ecology is beginning to understand. The field is much too vast to be even summarized here. or from the most refined and complex architecture to horse training. The case of S. no more than 7% are available in print. their fundamentals remain the same: mountains. Tireless Creativity A good deal of recent research has produced new insights into advanced concepts and pioneering developments in early India in mathematics. widespread and deep-rooted as in India — and ancient too. In the words of D. water conservation and other technologies. In other words. project India as an extraordinarily creative civilization. but mention should be made of a number of important studies27 which.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. astronomy. we may mention the recent publication28 by the well-known late scholar of Indian science. 8 The second field is India’s ecological heritage.

B. The implications of this phenomenon have yet to be fully digested. In modern parlance. Bose’s breakthrough. India developed democratic traditions early on. M. . we find republics almost anywhere in India that our sources allow us to examine society in any detail. . C. 9 There is.” the Mahajanapadas of North India at the start of the historical era.33 . The existence of Indian republicanism is a discovery of the twentieth century.” . ground to believe that Marconi generously borrowed from J. and help dispel the common idea that the very concept of democracy is specifically “Western. in the Indian past as elsewhere. Historians may find. depict Indian society as one based on Dharma at all levels. a Dharma-based society Numerous texts. Indeed. he made it clear that he was not interested in commercial telegraphy and that others were welcome to use his research work. and 400 A. Kenoyer32 have argued that two thousand years earlier.. plenty of raw material for a new history of the development of human government.. India’s “early republics. This generous attitude. But recently. but also because of the remarkable invisibility of any kind or ruling class in the archaeological record. archaeologists such as B.C.. if better known. 4. have long been documented. something without parallel in other ancient civilizations. The republics of India were very likely more extensive and populous than the poleis of the Greeks.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. not only in view of the huge distances involved. Lal31 or J. to have denied him credit for his pioneering work.. during the nearmillennium between 500 B. ought not. however. This is reflected in a number of inscriptions. Steve Muhlberger made a fresh study of Indian republicanism. in fact. from Ashoka’s Edicts to elaborate social codes under the Cholas. would by itself make democracy seem less of a freakish development. But the bolts and nuts of Indian society depended much less than generally thought on the king at the top: there were multiple layers of assemblies to ensure that villagers as much as town and city dwellers could participate in the management of their own affairs.D. especially the Mahabharata and the Dharmashastras. noting: The experience of Ancient India with republicanism.30 Not that Bose minded. It is especially remarkable that.. it appears that the phenomenon was far more extensive than our textbooks make it out to be — especially those that trace the birth of democracy in India to 1947! Recently a Canadian historian. India. the Indus-Sarasvati civilization might also have been some sort of federation of city-states.. in line with India’s age-old gifts to the world..

notably Vasudeva.”34 5. This “sacred mapping” of India’s geography is perhaps an unparalleled cultural phenomenon.. organic and decentralized interplay between Vedic and local cultures at all levels of Indian society.”36 But Tagore went further. ethical. S.39 In this complex process involving thousands of communities and many more local traditions. Bharatavarsha stands as an ideal of the endeavour to unify the diverse. supreme lord of .. or. It is no surprise to find.40 and have established links between their landscape and one or another episode from the Epics. who did not shrink from depicting the “cohesive role” of Sanskrit literature. juridic and customary law organically governing the life of the people. and wrote: India has all along been trying experiments in evolving a social unity within which all the different peoples could be held together. 10 This is one more field clearly calling for sustained research. songs. including the tribal ones. followed by the Bhagavatam and Puranic lore. This has produced something like a United States of a social federation. as Sri Aurobindo put it.37 Even though today such a statement would raise eyebrows (especially the left one).38 In actual fact. India’s two Epics have played a major part. political. that many rural communities and tribes throughout the country (as far as the NorthEastern States) have preserved and continue to enact their own versions of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana through tales. Hinduism is largely the result of a centuries-old peaceful. To quote Rabindranath Tagore again: “Amongst the civilizations of the world. all major gods of the Indic tradition have tribal links.. while fully enjoying the freedom of maintaining their own differences. “a greater sovereign than the king was the Dharma. It was tacitly accepted by the late sociologist M. new myths and customs.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. Peaceful Integration: the “Many in the One”35 To the unbiased student of India. as were Vishnu's incarnations as Varaha (boar) and Narasimha (lion). India’s extraordinary cultural integration is and remains one of her greatest achievements. Her history will bear this out. Shiva was worshipped by forest-dwelling communities in large parts of the country. the religious. Srinivas. social. its truth is undeniable. the outcome of which may well establish that a social order based on Dharma was actually the supreme ruler in the Indian concept. for instance. whose common name is Hinduism. Vishnu in fact evolved out of several distinct deities. A recent study by Sandhya Jain on tribal contributions to Hinduism concludes: Tribals have made an enormous contribution to India's civilization.

As A. Gods apart. Tribal society constitutes the keynote and the bedrock of Hindu civilization. There is to this day a close relationship between the Kurumba. also deserves far greater attention than it has been given. Peaceful Interaction with the Other India’s impact on world culture and progress. Balasubramanian.46 . Gopala of the Abhira tribe. with Berenike playing the role of a key link between India and the Middle East. as also that of Jagannath in Puri. Similarly. V. Upward mobility was far more common than we think. Yerukula and Chenchu tribes and Shri Venkateshwar of Tirupathi. Krishna of the Yadava clan. Mesopotamia. Lambadi..”43 Numerous examples of such symbiosis can be cited. Fresh evidence of it constantly keeps coming to light. and Narayana of the Hindukush mountains.42 who found among a few tribal communities of Western India the survival of a most ancient cult to the Vedic god Indra (called “Babo Ind”) — while mainstream. tribal chieftains often naturally became Kshatriyas in the course of this interaction. All these gods and temples. folk elements have mingled with classical Sanskrit theatre (such as Kutiyattam) to create new forms of dramatic art. from ancient to present times. . as well as South-East Asia. Vardhaman Mahavira was a scion of the Jnatrikas. Gautama Buddha hailed from the Sakya tribe..45 New studies emanating from India and viewing the Indian ocean as one civilizational zone of interaction have detailed India’s outreach to Africa. a bidirectional cultural osmosis was the constant. “Brahminical” Hinduism hardly ever worships Indra anymore.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p.44 6. and a number of later kings have such tribal origins. 11 the Vrishni/Satvata tribe. recently noted. Lord Ayyappam in Kerala and Mata Vaishno Devi in Jammu also appear to have tribal links. “The relationship between folk and classical traditions is found to be symbiotic. and even where it did not occur. for instance. Yenadi. India as a cultural entity would not have existed otherwise. an expert on India’s traditional knowledge systems. enjoy preeminent status in the classical Hindu pantheon. In Kerala.41 A startling illustration of this statement can be found in a recent study by Jyotindra Jain. We may cite a few examples almost at random: Current excavations at the Egyptian port of Berenike have brought to light a flourishing sea trade between India and Egypt and the Roman empire.

poets from Lamartine to Rimbaud. in his wide-ranging study The Druids. philosophers from Voltaire to Renouvier. In France..A. and ultimately.52 Schrödinger.S. British mathematician Ian Pearce. an influence that is considerably neglected…. law. The work of Indian mathematicians has been severely neglected by Western historians. 12 Peter B. though physically conquered. through Latin translations.”47 New research on the spread of Indian mathematics suggests that it may have played a crucial role in the development of modern mathematics in Europe. Similarly..Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. Finally. Ellis. India’s outflow of Hinduism and Buddhism to the West is by no means confined to the nineteenth century: the so-called “New Age culture” owes much to it. but needs to be built into a coherent overall picture.”48 Similar conclusions have been suggested by George G. then the ‘role’ of later Indian mathematics is even more important than previously thought. historians from Michelet to Quinet. for instance. and also its humanist philosophies. One remarkable feature of this interaction of India with other cultures and other parts of the world is that it has almost always taken place in a perfectly . and an increasing number of Westerners are turning to some form of yoga and meditation. religious attitudes and mythology. just as Indian culture is getting Westernized to some degree. the inspiration found in Indian concepts by Western scientists like Tesla. thus played a significant part in shaping Europe’s literary movements from Romanticism to Surrealism. on European mathematics.. If indeed it is true that transmission of ideas and results between Europe and Kerala occurred. music and caste. This issue is definitely worthy of discussion as it is noticeable that much is made of the Greek influence on Arabic works but far less of the Indian influence. Joseph49 and K. writes: I believe that the Indian influence on Arabic work is often ignored or played down and consider this to be unfortunate (at the least). occurring in the areas of language. which in retrospect was quite significant…. writes of “the extraordinary parallels and similarities between the Celtic and Hindu cultures. But fresh material has been emerging from other nations.53 Oppenheimer54 or Heisenberg55 has come to light in recent years.51 India. for instance. Indian mathematics had on Arabic mathematics.50 Research on India’s impact on the West in the colonial era has so far been confined largely to Britain and the U. Western culture is getting Indianized. Chandra Hari. writers from Daumal to Malraux were profoundly influenced by Indian concepts and literature.

a contradiction in terms) could include. 13 peaceful self-effacing manner. rather than follow a chronological line that churns out events pell-mell and without an atom of relevance to the life of today’s young Indian. the same belief systems. can come only by a system of National Education. the same literature that were warmly welcomed throughout Asia over two millennia ago continue to send their gentle and enriching rays abroad. freedom fighters etc. It should also encourage research projects based on the above or other themes. often visual. its unparalleled continuity. and the large potentiality of the future. etc. a student would acquire a far more concrete. of its synthesizing (not “composite”) nature. This bookish approach must be done away with. if incomplete. In 1918. — so as to show in what ways they have embodied the Indian genius. the . the widening gains of the present.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. It cannot come by any extension or imitation of the system of the existing universities with its radically false principles. besides the above thematic approach. By contrast. with an often much more limited heritage than India’s. poets. its dead-alive routine tradition and its narrow and sightless spirit. good maps. least of all its spiritual foundations and its achievements. visits to archaeological or historical sites and museums. they learn nothing of the unifying virtue of Indian culture. unrelated and often outdated data. find nothing wrong in nurturing pride for it in their students. confused and incoherent idea of India. the above themes offer a pedagogic alternative.56 Together. Instead. in today’s Indian educational system. its vicious and mechanical methods. other nations. and even involve students in a local excavation or restoration. much less to destroy other cultures. contact with Indian culture and would grasp its evolution rather than a mass of scattered. An innovative teaching of Indian history could organize its material around such “master ideas. but also scientists. It is a sobering thought that the same philosophies. for instance the lives of a few great Indians —kings. As a result. Sri Aurobindo diagnosed the problem of Indian education thus: The full soul rich with the inheritance of the past. picture of Indian civilization. sages. in that they paint a living and inspiring. The gain would be enormous: no longer an isolated (and largely meaningless) individual in time and space. Conclusions The average history textbook greets its readers with a fragmented. the same spirituality.”57 as Sri Aurobindo called them. it could encourage the use of visual and multimedia material. saints. India certainly never sought to impose itself on anyone. an intelligent pedagogy (which is.

Let us end this brief journey through Indian civilization with this profound observation of Sister Nivedita: India. can we grow to understand what the country actually is. its demoronization. generous. and what her sleeping potentiality may be. in reality. but a selfconfident. creative identity in tune with the universe. what the intention of her evolution. 14 student becomes part of the great stream of Indian civilization. Identity — the dreaded word of today’s scholarship — would also crystallize.58 . as she is.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. Is it a sin to celebrate India’s symphony. is a problem which can only be read by the light of Indian history. Only by a gradual and loving study of how she came to be.” but nothing less than its decolonization and. while acknowledging a few false notes? The issue now facing India’s history is not some dubious “detoxification.

Swami Vivekananda. Ehrich (3rd ed. Is India Civilized? (Madras: Ganesh & Co. N. No. 1998 & 2002). p. 84. 1981). 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 . F. Allchin & Dilip K. 1981).niot. 1992). Gwalior.). B. J. D. 1. 57. For instance The Cultural Heritage of India (Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. Rabindranath Tagore. also his introduction to The History and Culture of the Indian People.. India and World Civilization by D. New Book Co. 459. op. I. Kenoyer. g. Jim Lectures from Colombo to Almora (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama. B. Basham (New Delhi: Oxford University Press.ifih. Antiquity. B. L. vol. Pal & G. 2003). vi-viii. Akhand Hindustan (Bombay. Kathiroli. A Cultural History of India. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer’s Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization. Lal’s India 1947-1997: New Light on the Indus Civilization and The Sarasvati Flows On: The Continuity of Indian Culture (New Delhi: Aryan Books International. 2nd December 2006 (unpublished). their Chronology and Beginning of Agriculture in North-Central India. The Foundations of Indian Culture. 3rd ed. 6 volumes). “Stone Age Cultures. S. Munshi. Basham (Calcutta: Rupa & Co. vol. 1958-2001. M. Those dates and further details are provided in the article “Recent Marine Archaeological Finds in Khambat.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. Archaeology and Paleoenvironment). I. “De l’Euphrate à l’Indus. vol. XXVIII. Chakrabarti (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. 15 References & Notes 1 2 3 4 The History and Culture of the Indian People (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. R. 1998). vol.” presidential address at the conference of the Indian Society for Prehistoric and Quaternary Studies. p. Rao. See details and photographs on its website www. 180.htm. “An Upper Paleolithic Shrine in India?”. 1. John Marshall. reproduced in A Source-book of Indian Archaeology. pp. Shaffer. 1918). vol. Art and Swadeshi (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. New Delhi. December 1987). 1975-1983). 1931. 49-55. Singhal (Michigan State University Press.. See K. and L’Inde classique by Louis Renou and Jean Filliozat (in French. 42. 1990). Baluchistan. See also Michel Danino. No. “The Indus Valley.. 1942). pp. V. reprinted Munshiram Manoharlal. pp. 1951). 14 in Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo p. Badrinarayanan. ed. 2003 (pp.” Dossiers Histoire et Archéologie (Dijon. 2 volumes). Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilization (London. Jean-François Jarrige.. p. p. J. available online at www. Robert W. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press). Sharma. “The Harappan Heritage and the Aryan Problem” in Man and Environment. V. L. vol. M. Clark. 3 vols. The History of Bharatavarsha. 1983. cit. 2004. Sister Nivedita.” in Chronologies in Old Worlds Archaeology. ed. Misra. 21-32). 1969). Sasisekaran and S.res. R. Gujarat” by S. See for instance his Essays in National Idealism (1910. 141-149. 1. Such evidence has been carefully documented in Jonathan Mark Kenoyer’s Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization (Karachi & Islamabad: Oxford University Press & American Institute of Pakistan Studies. John Woodroffe. D. A. D. and Helmand Traditions: Neolithic through Bronze Age. ed. P.. 88-94. J. E. 1972). The Wonder That Was India by A. Footfalls in Indian History (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama. 1994). Ramesh in Journal of Indian Ocean Archaeology (New Delhi: Centre for Research and Training in History.

vol. Environmental Education Centre (Chennai): The Ecological Traditions of Tamil Nadu (1997). II. 2003). Rao & Subhash Kak (Louisiana: Center for Advanced Computer Studies. 2006).1. republished by Other India Bookstore. Sacred Groves of Tamil Nadu (1998). A Modern Introduction on Ancient Indian Mathematics.P. George Gheverghese Joseph (London: Penguin Books. & Oxford University Press. Subbarayappa (New Delhi: Indian National Science Academy. 3 vols. 113. T. Bhanu Murthy (New Delhi: Wiley Eastern Ltd. Goa. Sarasvati Amma (New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. S. T. a well-documented series published by the C. both edited by Baidyanath Saraswati (New Delhi: IGNCA and D. V. 536-544). Indian Mathematics and Astronomy – Some Landmarks. 1971. S. The Golden Age of Indian Mathematics. 1999). part 1. p. ed. Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century. Sen & B. 2005).R. pp. Geometry in Ancient and Medieval India. 1986.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. January-June 2003. “The Myth of Dense Forests and Human Occupation in the Ganga Plain. Sacred Tanks of South India (2002). ed. Michel Danino. N. ed. “The origins of iron-working in India: new evidence from the Central Ganga Plain and the Eastern Vindhyas” Antiquity vol. 76-84. 2001). pp. XXVIII. M. 2000). No. Lakshmi Kumari. 298. Urban (Aachen: Aachen University Mission. Indian Scientific Heritage. Technology and Culture AD 1000-1800 (New Delhi: Project of History of Indian Science. Bose. 77. Lifestyle and Ecology and The Cultural Dimension of Ecology. M. T. N. p. 2000).. For an overview and more references. Balachandra Rao (Bangalore: Jnana Deep Publications. The Crest of the Peacock. Lal’s Sarasvati Flows On: The Continuity of Indian Culture. I have developed this perspective in L’Inde et l’invasion de nulle part (Paris: Les Belles Lettres. History of Astronomy in India. among many others. D.. R. Indian Science Through the Ages. XXIX. Deciphering the Indus Script (New Delhi: Cambridge University Press. ed. see Michel Danino. History of Indian Science. S. parts 1 & 2 (Madras: Vivekananda Kendra Patrika. 2000). K. Bansi Lal Malla. 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 .” Man and Environment (Pune). “Dholavira’s Geometry: A Preliminary Study. Computing Science in Ancient India. vol. 1989). by S.” Puratattva No. 1996). Temple Tanks of Chennai (2004). 1983). 1998). eds. as part of Dharampal’s complete works). Bag (New Delhi: Indian National Science Academy. Many excellent studies on early Indian science are available. 3 volumes). vol. Ancient Cities. by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya (Calcutta: Firma KLM. Printworld. Mythology and Folklore (New Delhi: Aryan Books International. Gujral. 1997). See its photograph in B.” in Interim Reports. Sacred Trees of Tamil Nadu (1998). 2003. III. History of Technology in India. Kerala. Gupta. Jansen & G. cit. 2nd ed. History of Science and Technology in Ancient India. op. Reports on fieldwork carried out at Mohenjo-daro. 1998). Philosophy and Culture. 1987). Plant Myths and Traditions in India (Munshiram Manoharlal. “The Harappan Heritage and the Aryan Problem. Let us mention. Gopalakrishnan (Thiruvananthapuram: Indian Institute of Scientific Heritage. 1998). 2000). Trees in Indian Art. We may mention a few here: A Concise History of Science in India. 201. See also Asko Parpola. 16 19 Rakesh Tewari. ed. December 2003 (pp. 2. M. Parameswaran (Swadeshi Science Movement. 1998). The Universal History of Numbers: from Prehistory to the Invention of the Computer by Georges Ifrah (New Delhi: Penguin. J. No. See Holger Wanzke. 2005. B. Shakti M. “Axis systems and orientation at Mohenjo-daro. Sacred Skies: Cosmic Geometries and City Planning in Ancient India (New Delhi: IGNCA & Aryan Books International. A. A. 21-32.. McKim Malville & Lalit M. K. in Man and Environment. S. Dharampal (Hyderabad: Academy of Gandhian Studies. 2000). 35. 1998). N. 2004. 1992). 2004-05 (New Delhi: Indian Archaeological Society. Many valuable papers are also contained in Sanskriti Sangam: Proceedings of First International Conference & Gathering of Elders held at Mumbai from 4 to 9 February 2003 (Bensalem & Nagpur: International Center for Cultural Studies. 1991. Rakesh Tewari.

“Nationalism in India” (republished New Delhi: Macmillan. Charlton (Washington. L. The Foundations of Indian Culture. N. cit. Steve Muhlberger.tuc. The Cohesive Role of Sanskritization and Other Essays (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. 2000). 410. The Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture. eds. Vol. On Himself. 1999). A number of illustrations of this can be found in Mahabharata in the Tribal and Folk Traditions of India. 28 K. January 1998. Indian Astronomy – An Introduction. See also Painted Words: an Anthology of Tribal Literature. it conducted several important seminars. Singh & Birendranath Datta (Calcutta: Seagull K. Sri Aurobindo. Nichols and T. p.htm. B. 51-70. 17 N. K. Sarma. The History of Bharatavarsha.” Sandhya Jain. No. Tagore. 236.unipissing.nrao. C. Shukla (New Delhi: Indian National Science Academy). Srinivas. p. ed. 329. Rabindranath Tagore. H. p.htm and www.Recent Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. 1993). Bondyopadhyay. 259-285. Adi Deo Arya Devata: a Panoramic View of Tribal-Hindu Cultural Interface (Delhi: Rupa. S. D. whose papers are being published. “Democracy in Ancient India”: www. centenary edition 2002).html. V. 26 in Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram. See also “Lord RangFrah in The Tangsa Pantheon: A Note on Tangsa Religion and Philosophy” by Narayan Singh Rao. 2004). 1989).. eds. see also http:// earlyradiohistory. A History of Hindu Chemistry. B. Proceedings of The IEEE. by S. 16. Sen & K. 1997). Science Texts in Sanskrit in the Manuscripts Repositories of Kerala and Tamil Nadu (New Delhi : Rashtriya Sanskrit & Centre for Studies in Civilizations. ed. 1972). S. See “Sir J. D.ifih. p. V. 1. vol. 1999). Scotland. pp. p. 1993) and Rama-Katha in Tribal and Folk Traditions of India. On this issue. part op. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer. 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 .” in The Archaeology of Early City-States: Cross-Cultural Approached. Balachandra Rao (Hyderabad: Universities Press. 2002). Singh (Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study.C. Emerson in The Work of Jagadis Chandra Bose: 100 Years of MM-Wave Research at www. Bose’s Diode Detector Received Marconi’s First Transatlantic Wireless Signal of December 1901 (The ‘Italian Navy Coherer’ Scandal Revisited)” by Probir K./department/history/histdem/. Acharya Praffullachandra Ray (Kolkata: Shaibya Prakashan Bibhag. which constitutes an excellent introduction to the topic: http://www-history. 2002).. T. B. D. has spearheaded a major effort in the area of tribal culture in the North-East. IV.: Smithsonian Institution Press). available online at www. S.html. A thousand pities that no Indian University offers such an Internet resource on this important aspect of India’s heritage. Philosophy and Culture. 69. 86. “Early City-States in South Asia: Comparing the Harappan Phase and Early Historic Period. We may add an important Internet resource from the School of Mathematics and Statistics of University of St. under chapter “Myth. for instance.mcs. Chemistry and Chemical Techniques in India. M. Subbarayappa (New Delhi: Project of History of Indian Science. Guwahati. The Earliest Civilization of South Asia (New Delhi: Aryan Books International. in which many tribal and other scholars have taken part. p. ed. Devy (New Delhi: Penguin Books. vol. N.

” in Living Traditions: Studies in the Ethnoarchaeology of South Asia. Sri Aurobindo. a journal edited by Annie Besant (Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library. 27.html. See Fritjof Capra Uncommon XXVII No. 2000). 2002). p. 13 ff.hinduism. 1918. quoted in: www. p. p. 1. 117 ff. See Swami Vivekananda. Peter Berresford Ellis. V. “India’s Impact on French Thought and Literature. 1947). p. and “Under Centuries of Sand. Bridget Allchin (New Delhi: Oxford & IBH. 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 . 2002. 2001). C. May-June 2001. Pondicherry: 1972). See Man and Environment. “Folk Elements in Kerala’s Sanskrit Theatre” in Living Traditions of Natyashastra.html See his The Crest of the Peacock (London: Penguin Books. (Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library. 18 42 Jyotindra A. available at: www.26. Pondicherry: 1972). Rajendran (Delhi: New Bharatiya Book Corporation. June 2003. “Propitiation of Babo Ind: Survival of the Ancient Cult of No. 14. ”Indian Influence in the Development of Quantuum Mechanics” at www. See Pearce’s website: http://www-history.mcs. See C. pp. P.photonics. ed. Complete Works (Vol. The Druids (London: Constable. X. 42-43. 1995). 6. p. See “Sea Route to Rival Silk Road Found” in Los Angeles Times of June 12. 24. 1990). July 9. 2004. See also Journal of Indian Ocean Archaeology. see also the articles “Tesla: Electricity's Mastermind” in Hinduism Today. ed. and “The Influence of Vedic Philosophy on Nikola Tesla's Understanding of Free Energy” by Toby Grotz. Rajendran. See his paper “Genesis of Calculus. Sister Nivedita. p. vol. 46-56.cusat. “Social Organisation of Knowledge in India: Folk and Classical Traditions” (paper presented at a seminar on Indian Knowledge Systems held at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. Footfalls in Indian History (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama.htm In a message on National Education published in New India of April 8. 1.fsnet. See C. See Subhash Kak.vedanta-newyork. p. 1994). 77. The Wishing Tree: The Presence and Promise of India (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. 2. Findings on Indian Civilization: a Synthetic Presentation / p. V. 27-29 September. vol. Girija Vallabhan. The Foundations of Indian Culture. 5th Edition.htm). 2003).” See Michel Danino. a Trading Hub” by John Noble Wilford in New York Times.” Critical Practice. No. 2002 with several articles.

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