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What are some things every Indian

should know about Indian history?

Balaji Viswanathan

Text content in:
A short story of a land with a million colors
We weren’t always poor – For most of
recorded history India led the world in GDP
“India, that is Bharat, shall be a union
of states…” – starts Indian constitution
• Official name in Indian languages is Bharat –
after the mythological emperor of Bharatha
• Vedas use the term Bharatavarsa & Aryavrata
• Japanese called us Tenjiku, Chinese called us
Tianzhu: both meaning heaven
• The name Indu was created by Greeks who
associated us with the river Sindu
• Persians & Arabs called us – Hindustan – from
the root Indu
7000 BCE – Mehrgarh Civilization: Start
of farming & herding
3000 BC – Start of Indus Valley Civilization: World’s
most planned cities and sanitation systems
2500 BC – Massive cities & invention
of toilets & bathrooms
1500 BCE – Start of Vedic Age – world’s
oldest surviving literature

1. Rig Veda

2. Sama Veda

3. Yajur Veda

4. Atharvana
800 BC-800 AD: Magadha kingdoms – Birth
of Indian religions – Buddhism & Jainism
500 BC: Takshashila (Taxila) University
– Cambridge of India

The world’s one of the first universities housed 100s of great scholars, including the
master of strategy: Chanakya, Charaka – the master of Ayurvedic medicine and Panini -
master of grammar. All of their works are still used in India. It is near the modern city of
Islamabad, Pakistan.
500-300 BC: Nanda Empire –
Consolidation of India begins
328 BC: The
unstoppable Alexander
is finally stopped in
Battle of Hydaspes by a
local Indian ruler - King
Purushothama (Porus)
who ruled Purushapura
(Peshawar). Although
he was defeated in the
closely fought war,
Alexander considered
him an equal.
320 BC: Shamed by the lack of support for Porus from
other Indian kings, Kautliya leaves his professor job at
Taxila to become a king maker. His book Arthasastra is a
landmark work in business & military strategy
320 BC: Chandragupta Maurya: The first
Indian emperor & a disciple of Kautilya
269 BC: Rise of Emperor Ashoka – the
greatest of Indian kings

Fights a nasty war with Kalinga. The colossal

destruction moves him & becomes a pacifist. He
spread Buddhism throughout Asia (including China
and Sri Lanka).

Gave India its current emblem & the wheel in the flag.
Ashoka’s Rule: Period of bliss and a full
unification of India
70 BC: Jews fleeing persecution were welcomed. India was the only major region
where Jews faced no anti-semitism. 52 AD: Early Christians were provided asylum.
Later Zorastrians fled Persia in 10th century AD. In modern days, Dalai Lama & Tibetan
Buddhists escaped China in 1959. First civilization to accept in all cases.
320-550 AD: Gupta Age: Golden Age of
India produced some of the greatest
thinkers in this period:
1. Aryabhata (left) – Used decimal
system, approximated pi, built
2. Kalidasa – master of drama &
3. Vatsayana – wrote Kamasutra
4. Varamihira – a great astronomer
who built important works in
6th-13th Century AD: Nalanda
University (modern Bihar)

A great center
of learning for
the ancients
that attracted
students from
Greece, Persia
and China.
3rd century BC –
13th century AD:
Chola dynasty of
South. Built
stunning temples.
Most temples
survive intact
for1000+ years
Rajendra Chola (1014 AD): Ruled South east Asia from
South India. Trade & art flourished. Indian culture spread.
Century AD:
Sultanates: Dark
ages in Indian
history. Nation
begins its long
1336-1646 AD: Vijayanagara Empire. Rebuilt
South India after foreign invasions that
destroyed most native temples
South languages – especially Telugu
and Kannada flourished during their
period and Hinduism had its
renaissance. They are famous for the
ruins in Hampi.
Mughal empire: 1526-1757 AD. Period
of great Islamic architecture
Extent of Mughal Empire. By 1707,
most of India came under their rule.
1616 AD: East India Company is allowed to
operate in India. Began as traders. First
megacorporation of the world.
1680 AD: Death of the last great Indian
king – Shivaji. India was ripe to be
conquered now.
1757: Turning point in battle of Plassey due
to betrayal by local general. East India
company now rules India
1857: Indians start fighting back. Triggered
by a suspicious coating of gun cartridges.
First war of Independence
Between 1850-1900: 24 major famines attack India. Massive
neglect kill millions. Indians get dirt poor and hungry.
1885: Indian national congress formed. First
little step towards peaceful freedom struggle.
1919: Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. Turning
point in Indian freedom struggle.
1930: Gandhi begins the landmark Dandi March
and used simple salt to shake British Empire.
India now sees hope. People come in droves.
1947: India gets its freedom. The nation is broken
into India (1947), Pakistan (1947), and Bangladesh
Summary: A short history of Indian
We don’t need to be poor. We just
need to discover our glorious past.