Heritage Sites in India and their Preservation

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural organisations is association with member nations has setup the World Heritage Committee to ensure protection and preservation of the common heritage of world’s people. About 730 cultural and natural sites have been declared protected. The member nations are obliged to make suitable laws for protection of sites in the country concerned. These include both religious and secular monuments. Of about 730 World Heritage Sites, 23 are in India.

These World Heritage Sites are of national importance. This enables the concerned Government departments to undertake programmes of preservation, protection and help in keeping the aesthetic values and perceptions active. The Government has also started a chain of Heritage Hotels and Palaces on Wheels making use of old Havelis, castles, forts, residences of kings of medieval and ancient period, as well as very old royal railway coaches. This has enabled renovation and repair of old monuments buildings and railway coaches as well as antique cars. It is considered an important conservation measure.

Need and measures for the preservation of Heritage Sites

We have studied in that our country has many magnificent sites and monuments like the Taj Mahal, Qutab Mmar, Buland Darwaza, Victoria Memorial Building, Rashtrapati Bhawan etc. We have great Sanchi Stupa, Ajanta Caves, beautiful Jam Dilwara Temples and magnificent temples in the south India. We have invaluable inscriptions, coins and rare works of art our country also possesses old classical literature in different languages. The precious pieces of art, sculpture, paintings, old weapons of war etc. stored in various museums in the country.

It is our duty to maintain and preserve our heritage at all costs. This a very uphill task and requires the co-operation of the people. The Government tasks measures to protect and preserve our heritage, sites.

The central government has set up the Department of Archaeology for the proper care and maintenance and skilled persons of the monuments. It appoints a large number of experts and skilled persons who undertake the repair of the monuments. They have succeeded in removing a national monuments from their original site piece by piece. Every piece was systematically numbered. All these numbered pieces were transported to a new zi site. There the old monument was reconstructed exactly as it was before. This task took several months. It was necessary because its monument at its original site was to be submerged under water for building Nagarujna Sagar Dam (Andhra Pradesh). The new site is at a higher place and away from the completed dam. Some monuments were also removed from their original place in Bilaspur which was submerged when the Gobind Sagar Dam was built at Bhakra.

Effort are also being made to preserve scientifically the paintings in the Ajanta Caves so that their original colours do not fade away.

The Government should allocate more funds to the Archaeological Department to spend on the preservation of the monument sites. Strict laws should be passed to punish those who smuggle old sculptures and idols from the country to other countries. It should ask the UNESCO to provide assistance to our country to provide us scientific and technical knowledge about the preservation of our heritage sites. The people must be educated about the importance of national heritage. Some ignorant people write or engrave their names on the walls of the monuments and damage them. By doing so, they spoil them arid reduce their life. Safety measures should be taken to check this ugly practice.

Our heritage sites are a trust. As their trustees, it is our moral and legal duty to preserve them to the best of our capacity for the future generations. These monuments are our cultural heritage. They remind us our of our past. They are indeed our cultural ambassadors.

Basic Unity of India

Inspite of the above mentioned bewildering diversity in the race, religion, language and culture of the people, there is a deep underlying fundamental unity which the superficial observer cannot see. There is unity in this diversity—a unity far more clearly apparent than that produced by geographical isolation or by political suzerainty—a unity that transcends the innumerable diversities of blood, colour, language, dress, manners and sects”. Havel remarks, lndia whether regarded as from the physical or intellectual standpoint, is herself the great example of the doctrine of the one.

Geographical Unity

The geographical unity of India is as ancient as the Puranas. There is an undercurrent of unity of India as one unit from the Himalayas in the North to Kanya Kumari in the South. Since the Vedic Age, all this land sorrounded by the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea and separated from Asia by the Himalayas has formed our country Dakshanapatha, the Deccan was one of the main natural divisions into which the country was divided. Emphasizing the fundamental unity of India, Dr. Radha M. Kumud Mukerjee writes, “Neither the spread of Graeco-Roman institutions, nor the empires of Augustus Charlemagne and Napoleon could produce in Europe the deep underlying unity that is characteristic of India.”

Political Unity

Ever since the ancient times, the rulers of our country set before themselves the ideal to become the Chakravartin i.e. ruler of the whole country. In the ancient times, Mauryan emperors dominated almost the whole country from the Himalayas in the north to the southern part of Deccan and from the Ganges in the east to the Indus in the west. Even the great rulers of the Pathan dynasty Alaud-din Khalji and Muhammad Tughlaq, Sher Shah Sun and the Mughal rulers like Akbar and Shah Jahan did not take rest till they had conquered the entire country. They attempted to introduce a common system of administration in all the territories occupied by them. Later, the British rulers of India introduced a uniform system of administration in a large part of their British Empire in India. India has thus enjoyed political unity in different periods of its history.

Social Unity

There is not much diversity in the social life of the people of India. There are many common social institutions and customs in the whole country. For instance, the caste system, respect for the Brahmans, the practice of untouchability, the joint family system, the sanctity of family life etc. are prevalent in all parts of India. The famous festivals of Diwali, Dussehra and Holi are celebrated throughout the country with gaiety. Similarly, the birth, marriage, death ceremonies are all alike in most parts of the country Since the ancient times to this day, the dowry system, child marriage, pardah system, the duty of women to respect their husbands etc. all these social practices are prevalent in all parts of India. Similarly, all the evil practices like pardah, dowry system, child marriage, untouchability are now on the decline in the whole country. The dress and ornaments used by men and women are also not much different in various parts of the country Men wear shirts, kurta, dhoti, trousers and turbans or cap everywhere in the country. The women wear shirt, lehnga, duppata, dhoti and sari. Women belonging to all classes of the society love to wear gold and silver ornaments like lockets, bangles, bracelets, ear-rings etc.
The British rule in India and the impact of western civilization have greatly influenced the social life of the Indians. They have adopted their table manners, dress, means of entertainment and amusement. The style of living of the people in the large cities is the same. They eat western food, wear western dress and visit hotels and restaurants. They play the same types of games such as cricket, football, volleyball, hockey, basket ball, badminton etc. In fact, the British rule has given social unity to the whole country.

Religious Unity

There is undercurrent of unity even in the diverse religious sects living in India. Hinduism is the oldest religion of India. Hinduism is to India as the soul is to the body. In the medieval period, India was known as Hindustan or the land of the Hindus. Undoubtedly, Hinduism gave unity to India. The Hindus all over India consider the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Vedas and the Upnishadas as their sacred books. The stories of ancient Indian regligious heroes—Rama and Krishna are sung with as much devotion in the Tamil Land in the south as in the Punjab in the north. Shiva and Shakti are worshiped by the Hindus in all the parts of India. There are 68 places of pilgrimage of the Hindus spread all over India. For instance, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Varanasi and Mathura are in the Uttar Pradesh, Som Nath and Dawarka are in Gujarat, Jagnnath Pun in Orissa and Rameshwaran in the south.

Unity of Language

Though hundreds of dialects were spoken in ancient India, there was only one sacred language of the Hindus namely Sanskrit. It is acknowledge as such by all sections of the Hindu society even today. Due to the impact of the British rule, English has become the common language of India. English which was studied in all the states of India greatly contributed to the growth of national movement in British India. Great Indian leaders like Raja Barn Mohan Roy, Surinder Nath Banerji, Gopal Krishan Gokhale, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, Mohammad Au Jinah, Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi were scholars of English.

Unity of Education System

In ancient times, elementary education was imparted in the religious institutions spread all over the country. Higher education was imparted at Taxila, Ujjain, Mathura and Nalanda where the students from all parts of the country came to receive education. All these institutions taught the same subjects.

The British Government made efforts to establish a uniform system of education in India. On the recommendations of Sir Charles Wood’s Despatch of 1854 A.D., it established universities in all the
aces. Colleges arid schools were affiliated to these universities. A uniform system of education was produced in the whole country. The present system of education in India is based on the system introduces by the British. The British education system no less contributed to the unity of the country.

Unity in Music and Dance

There is also unity in different spheres of art. The art of classical music
in the country. Since the ancient times, the seven “swars” of music are used in all parts of India. There are more than 100 Ragas and Ragnis in Indian classical music, yet the same basic Ragas w north as well as in the south India. Emphasising the unity of the music system in India,
Bhashan remarks, “Anyone who has heard a performance on the Veena by a good South Indian musician, has probably heard much as it was played over a thousand years ago”. The art of dancing in India also shows the same fundamental unity.

Unity in Independent India

Thus in spite of great diversities in its geographical conditions, religions, sects and creeds, India was regarded as one country But unfortunately, the partition of the country in 1947, broke its geographical and political unity. But independent India has maintained its basic unity. About 500 native states were integrated in the country which gave political unity to new India. The new Constitution of India has provided a uniform system of administration to the whole country. Although the Indian Constitution is federal in structure, it is unitary in spirit. The development of new means of transportation and communication has further strengthened the unity of the country. People living in all parts of the country have shown a unique spirit of unity and nationalism whenever the country was faced with danger to its safety and integrity.

Diversities in India

The most remarkable characteristic of Indian society is unity in diversity. India is a vast country. This sub-continent is called “the epitome of the world”. It has different types of climates, variety of crops, people belonging to more than forty distinct races or nationalities, who speak 150 different languages and use as many as 30 different scripts. Despite such diversities, India is geographically, politically, socially and culturally blessed with fundamental unity Since the ancient times “India offers unity in diversity.” Let us first discuss the diversities in our country.

Diversity of Soil

India being a large country, has different types of soils in different parts of the country In the north it has great Himalaya mountains. The snowy wall runs across the north of India and is about 1600 miles long. The western ranges are not so high. The plains of Indus and the Ganges are about 1000 feet above sea level. While the Deccan plateau is between 1000 feet to 3000 feet high above sea level. Thus India has fertile plains, deserts, hills and high mountains. Some plains of the Ganges are very fertile while the territories of Sindh and Rajasthan have large tracts of deserts. The land of Deccan is rocky and less fertile. But the coastal lands of the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea are very fertile.

Diversity of Climate

The country, as writes Minoo Masani, has a variety of climate from the blazing heat of the plains, as hot in places as hottest Jackobabad in Sindh down to the below freezing point, the Arctic cold of the Himalayan region. While Cherrapunji in Assam hills has 400 inches of rainfall in the year, upper Sindh has only three inches of rainfall in a year.

Diversity of Agricultural Produce

Due to the diversity of climate, different types of crops are produced in different parts of the country. In the eastern regions such as Gangetic plains, the agricultural products are wheat, rice, jute, tobacco, while in the north-west regions farmers mostly produce wheat, cotton, sugar, oilseeds etc. The Deccan region produces spices, coffee, copra, tea, rice, millet etc. There are many types of animals and plants in India in different regions of the country. According to Blandford, ‘The fauna of India surpass that of Europe which is twice its size”.

Diversity of Races

India has different types of people belonging to different races such as Negroids, eddias, the Melainidis (Dravidians), the Mongoloids and Indids (the Indo-Aryans). There are black as white people. There are tall as well as short statured people. There are snub-nosed people as hose with long and pointed noses. No other country contains such differences of human types as India. Some people have small eyes and some have big eyes. Some have long hair and some have short great families of human species, the Austrics, the Tibetarts, the Chinese, the Semitic, the davidians and the Indo Europeans inhabit India, Different dialects are spoken in this sub-continent.

Diversity of Languages

India is a multilingual country It is estimated that 150 languages and 544 dialects , pent in India. The Indian Constitution officially recognizes eighteen languages in the country.

Diversity of Religions

In religion too India shows the same diversity as in climate, land and people. Hindus, Buddhists, Jams, Sikhs, Muhammadens and Christians live here side by side. The Hindu religion itself is divided into numberless sects such as the Vedic Hindusim, Sanatan Dharma, the Puranic Hinduism, the Brahmo Samaj etc. There is also no unity in other religions. For instance, the Buddhists are divided into Hinayanas and Mahayanas. The Muslims are divided into Shias and Sunnis. The Christians are divided into Roman Catholics and Protestants. Thus India has great diversity of religions.

Diversity in Social life

There is much diversity in the social life of the country. The people belonging to different religions follow different social customs, traditions and religious practices. Hindu society is divided into four main castes and numerous sub-castes. The people belonging to different castes and religions have different types of food habits, dress, customs, ritual and religious practices. The people living in the North differ considerably in the social habits from the people living in the South.

Political Diversity

The large size of the country, the endless variety of races, huge population, division of society into countless castes, multiplicity of languages and dialects made difficult for any ruler to establish an all India empire. There was no political unity in the true sense in the country. Some powerful rulers like Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Samudragupta, Ala-ud-din Khilji, Akbar and, Aurangzeb exercised their sway over a large part of India. However, the extensive Southern peninsula always remained independent and was governed by her local provincial dynasties. In fact, India had never enjoyed political unity till the nineteenth century, under the British rule.

Thus India because of such diversities, has sometimes been called the “ethnological and sociological zoo inhabited by all types of people with conflicting and varying shades of blood, culture and modes of life”.

Music and Dance in Ancient India

The arts of dance and music developed a very rich variety on the foundations laid down in ancient India. The chanting of Vedic hymns provide us the earliest traditions of Indian music. Till this day, the Vedic hymns are chanted in music, Bharatas Nat yasastra, the earliest work on Indian music, dance and drama belongs to the second century B.C. Another work on dance and music is Matonga’s Brihaddesi which was composed a thousand years later. This work deals with the Ragas at great length. Seven basic notes or ‘swars’ and five others of the Indian music both vocal and instrumental, were developed. Gradually the musicians developed a variety of string, wind and drum instruments. Many rulers were themselves accomplished musicians. The Lyrist type of coins of Samudra Gupta exhibit his proficiency in fine arts and music. In the Allahabäd pillar inscription, he is compared to Narda and Tumburu which suggest the achievements of Samudragupta in the art of music. The rulers also patronised musicians and gave them grants.

During the medieval period, the Sufi saints contributed much to the development of dance and music. Many new types of musical instruments were developed. It is said that Mir Khusuru invented some musical instruments. Khusuru was also the inventor of the popular musical style known as Qawali. In the 16th century, Baz Bahadur, the ruler of kingdom of Maiwa and his queen Rupmati were not only accomplished musicians but also introduced new Ragas.

The Mughal rulers, except only Aurangzeb, greatly patronised the arts of music and dance. Babur was fond of both vocal and instrumental music. He is himself said to have written a treatise on music. Humayun was also greatly interested in music. He enjoyed the company of singers and listened to their music on Mondays and Wednesdays. Akbar excelled his predecessors in patronising the art of music. The most distinguished musician at the court of Akbar was Mian Tansen of Gwalior. Abul Fazal writes, “a singer like Tansen had not been seen in India for the last one thousand years. So sweet was his melody that it induced intoxication in some and sobriety in others”. Tansen is said to have invented some new Ragas and contributed a good deal to the development of this art. Some other musicians of Akbar’s court were Baba Ram Das, Baiju Bawara and Sur Das. The courtiers of Akbar with some exceptions also patronised music. Many works on music were translated into Persian during this period. A style of music known as Hindustani music came into existence which was a blend of Hindu and Muslim ideas in music.

Jahangir and Shan Jahan retained the traditions of Akbar. The Iqbalnamah-i-Jahangiri gives the names of notable musicians in the court of Jahangir. Jahangir himself was a musician and composed many Hindi songs. Shah Jahan was also greatly devoted to music. He listened to the best musicians of his court before he went to bed. The chief musicians of his court were Jagannath, Janar Das Bhatta of Bikaner, Mahampati and many others.

After the death of Shah Jahan the art of music declined rapidly. Aurangzeb disliked music and dismissed his court musicians. He even officially banned music. But despite all these restrictions, music remained popular with his courtiers and nobles and they continued patronising it.
The Bhakti reformers and the Muslim Sufi saints also contributed to the development of music.A book Kitab-i-Nauras, a collection of songs in praise of Hindu deities and Muslim saints was written by Ibrahim Adil Shah II in the seventeenth century A.D. The growth of classical music in India is a great heritage of the country. Most of the words and the themes of the classical music have been derived from Hindu mythology. But both Muslim and Hindu musicians have keenly learnt and practised this art. A large number of renowned classical musicians were Muslims. The two main classical styles of music are Hindustani and Carnatic. The two styles have different identities but have many common features. India has also a rich tradition of folk music.

India has a tradition of highly developed art of classical dance. The classical dance is a unique medium of expression of emotions and telling a story. The carvings on the walls of the ancient Indian temples exhibit the scenes of dancing people is different poses. The image of Shiva in the form of Nataraja indicates that the art of dance was popular in ancient and medieval times. There are various styles of classical dance such as Kathakali, Kachipuri, Odissi, Bharat Natayam and Manipuri. Besides, different types of folk dances were popular in different regions of the country.

Modern Age: During the British rule, Rabindra Nath Tagore made great efforts to promote the art of music. Numerous institutions for imparting education in music were opened in the country Many schools of classical dance were established to impart education and training in dancing.
Eminent musicians like Vishnu Digambar, Omkar Nath Thakur, P.V. Pulaskar, have Kishori Amolkar, Bhim Sam Joshi and Pt. Jasraj have contributed much to popularise the vocal classical music. Great contribution has been made by Ustad Bisamullah Khan, Hariparshad Chaurasia, Ravi Shankar, Ustad Akbar Au Khan, Allah Rakha Khan and Amjad Au Khan in the field of instrumental music.

The Indian musicians, along with Indian musical instruments like Sitar, Veena, Sarangi, Bansuri use western musical instruments like violen, harmonium, clarent, piano, guitar and accordion. To promote Indian classical dance, many institutions like Shanti Niketan in Bihar, Kala Mandir of Kerala, and Lalit Kala Academy have done commendable work. Many eminent classical dancers like Gopi Krishan, Shambhu Maharaja, Udhay Shankar, Rukmani Devi, Sitara Devi and Sonal Man Singh have contributed much to revive the classical dance in India. They have also visited foreign countries to popularise the art of Indian classical dance.

The western dance styles have also become popular in India.
Thus we see that music and dance are important components of our cultural heritage.

Dress, Ornaments, Amusements

During the early ancient period, clothes of cotton, dear skin and wool of different hues were worn by the people. Often garments were embroidered with gold. The use of gold ornaments and of floral wreaths on festive occasions was common. Both men and women wore turbans. They were long hair and beautifully combed. Women’s long locks were folded in broad plaits. The contemporary paintings and sculptures show the gracefulness of different ornaments worn by women. During the Gupta period, gracefully designed ear-rings, gold and pearl necklaces, and jewelled bangles were in vogue. The paintings in the Ajanta caves show that the fashions of dressing the hair were as numerous as graceful. The women often used paints, pastes and lipsticks to beautify the faces. Kohl, a fine powder of antimony, was used to darken the edges of eyelids.

In the ancient times, gambling, war-dancing, chariot-racing and hunting were the favourite interests of the people. The people were fond of dancing and singing accompanied by the flutex and drum. Women in particular loved to display their skill in dancing and music accompanied by the lute and cymbal players. Ball games (Kanduka Krida) was very popular with children and young girls.

Painting in Ancient India

India has a rich heritage in the art of painting. The art of painting reached the height of its glory and splendour during the Gupta Age. This Art was widely practised and used for the adornment of royal palaces, temples and Buddhist halls. A few paintings of this age have survived, which shoW the excellence of this art during this period. The most celebrated examples of the paintings of this age are the wall paintings in the Buddhist caves at Ajanta in Andhra Pradesh, the Bagh caves in Gwalior, the Sitannavasal temples in Puddukotal and the rock cut chambers at Sigiriya in Ceylon.
The paintings in the Ajanta caves represent “the climax which genuine
Indian art had attained. They vividly portray the real life of the people. On
the wall of these caves are painted scenes of the life of the Buddha. There
are also charming and delicate scenes of home and palace life, toilet and
sports, festivities and processions. “On the hundred walls and pillars of those rock carved temples” remarks Rothen Stein, “a vast drama moves before our eyes, a drama played by princes and sages and heroes, by men and women of every condition among forests and gardens, in courts and cities, on wide plains and deep jungles, while above messengers from heaven move swiftly in the sky. The most notable of the pictures in the caves are those of “the Mother and Child”, “the Hunting
Scene” and the “Dying Princess.” Cave No. XVII has been aptly described as a picture gallery. It illustrates some of the most interesting episodes
concerning the birth, life and death of Buddha. In this cave there are also
remarkable paintings depicting scenes of hunt of a lion and black buck and of elephants. Mrs Harring points out that these pictures are composed in a light and shade scheme which can scarcely be paralleled in Italy before the 17th century A.D.

The paintings in the caves at Bagh in Maiwa are of the same quality as those of Ajanta. There are scenes of dancing acted by a group of women led by a man. The paintings in the galleries of a rock ci citadel on the top of a hill at Sigiriya in Ceylon depict a procession of noble ladies, beautifully dresses going to a Buddhist temple. The ladies are attended by their maid-servants who carry the material for worship. The portraits are of the same type as that of Ajanta paintings. After the Gupta Age, the art of painting began to decline. But the art of book illumination continue
particularly in Jam texts. The Jam monks of Western India and the Buddhist monks of Nepal and Eastern hidia were fond of illuminating their manuscripts with miniature paintings. Each picture was a fine piece of art. The Rajputs developed their own style of painting. They painted scenes from the epics and the legends about Lord Krishna.

Medieval Period: Muslim rulers did not encourage the art of painting. But the art of painting was used to illustrate the books. Artists were employed to decorate the books owned by the Sultans and their courtiers. Influenced by the Persian artists, the Indian painters used more delicate colours and shading.

The Mughal Period: The art of painting owes its revival to the Mughals. The Mughal paintings depict an art which was a harmonious blend of Hindu, Persian and Chinese art. Babur had a taste for the art of painting. He saw in Herat the fine specimens of Iranian paintings. Impressed by these works, he also began to patronise the painter artists. But no painting of his time has survived. Humayun developed a taste for painting during his exile in Persia. On his return to India, he brought with him two artists named Mr Saiyyid Tabrizi and Khwaja Abdul Samad. He got prepared from them a fully illustrated copy of the Dastan-i-Amir Hamzah, a well-known Persian work. During Akbar’s reign, the art of painting made real progress. Abul Fazal writes that Akbar encouraged painting both as a means of study and of amusement. He examined every work of the artists, offered criticism and suggestions and gave rewards for excellit works. He got painted beautiful pictures on the walls of the palaces ar Fatehpur Sikri. The most prcenirtent among the painters at the court of Akbar were Abdul Samad, Mir Saiyyad Ali, Farukh, Daswandh, Basawan, Tara Chand and Jagannath. Basawan’s work was highly appreciated by the Emperor. Akbar got illustrated by the painters the well-known works like Chingeznamah, the Zafarriah, the Ramayana, Ayar-i-Danish etc. Under Jahangir, the art of painting continued to flourish. Jahgir was an expert painter himself. He was at once an art critic and collector of historical paintings. Tie inguished painters in the time of Jahangir were Farrukh Beg, Muhammad Nazar and Muhammad Miid. He also patronised Hindu painters like Bishan Das, Keshav Brothers, Manohar and Tulsi. In the period of Jahangir, the favourite subjects of painting were plants, flowers, animals birds and other nabual objects. Miniature paintings and book illustrations also received impetus.
Shah Jahan did not show any interest in painting. Most of the painter artists were compelled to seek employment with lesser princes. However, there were some eminent painters who found place in the court of Shah Jahan and their names were Mir Hasan, Anup chitra, Chintamani and Faquir Ullah.

Aurangzeb sounded the death-knell of art of painting in his kingdom. He hated painting so much that he defaced the paintings in Asar Mahal at Bijapur and whitewashed those in Akbar’s mausoleum at Sikandra. But the art of painting did not completely disappear. Many pictures are found which show Aurangzeb taking part in certain battles or hunting, travelling and reading etc.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the art of painting made much progress in different regions of the country. The Deccan School of Painting produced some works of great merit but they were looted and destroyed by the Maratha Peshwas. The Rajput chiefs helped in the development of Rajput School of Painting. The Hindu painter artists decorated their palaces and buildings depicting the life of common people, their beliefs, manneis and traditions. The Pahari or Kangra School of Painting flourished in Nurpur, Basohli, Chamba and Jammu. The artists painted pictures of Shankar, Parvati and Radha Krishna in different moods. The chief features of these paintings were delicacy of lines, brilliance of colours and minuteness of decorative details. With the spread of Western education in India, there grew a new urban culture which gave birth to the modern art of painting. After 1857, the British government in India gave a fillip to Indian art. In order to train artists in the use of colours and art forms, it established Art schools at Bombay, Clacutta and Madras. The European artists trained the painter artists of these schools in painting mostly the scenes of nature. Though they learnt to make oil paintings on the canvas, they could paint only in Western style. The eminent painters of the pre-independence period were Rabindra Nath Tagore, Ram Kinkar, Nand Lal Bose, Amrita Shergil, Raja Ravi Verma, Sobha Singh etc.

The Art of Writing Language and Literature in Ancient India


The Indian Vedic scholar Pandit S.D. Stavalekar has proved from the internal evidence of the Rig Veda that the Aryans in the early Vedic times were studying the written works and they knew and preached the art of writing. But unfortunately, we do not have any traces of the evidence of the writing in ancient India upto the time of Emperor Ashoka. His Rock and Pillar Edicts of the period 273- 233 B.C. are the first evidence of the practice of the art of writing by the ancient Indians.

The historians generally hold that since during the time of Ashoka (3rd century B.C.) the Indians fully practiced the fully developed. script for inscriptions, they must have been knowing it some few centuries earlier. Some historians are of the view that the Indians learnt the art of writing from the people of Sumeria in the 6th century B.C. when they traded in Sumeria. It is also held by others that the Indians learnt the art of writing from the people of Persia (who had learnt it from Sumeria) when the king Darius I conquered territories upto Punjab in India in the later part of the 6th century B.C.

From the art of writing which developed during Ashoka’s time was the Brabmi script. It is read from left to right. Its origins are not known. Some trace its origins to Harappan script. Since the Harappan script has not been deciphered its origins remain disputed. Along with practising the art of writing in this script, they also practised the Kharoshti Script which is derived from the Armaic language of the people of Armenia (near Pheomcia in Asia Minor). Like Arabic, it is written from right to left. The Kharoshti script was gradually given up by the Indians after the 3rd century A.D. The Indians developed the Devnagari or Brahmi script in which Sanskrit, Hindi and Marathi are written in the present form.
As the 270 sign marks found on the seals of the Indus Valley Civilization have remained undeciphered and cannot be related to any of the scripts of writing in India, they have remained a great problem in the history of ancient India.


Dharainshastras: Manu Samriti is one of the oldest Dharamshastra. It deals with all aspects of domestic life of an orthodox Hindu. The Hindu law being administered today by the Indian courts is based upon the principles laid down by Manu.

The Mauryan Age: Literature made much progress during the Mauryan period. The Edicts issued by Ashoka the Great and the inscriptions on the pillars occupy a significant place in the history of literature of this period. It seems that these were written by Ashoka himself. V.A. Smith remarks that the style of Ashoka’s inscriptions is not wanting in force and dignity. Two types of scripts have been used in Ashoka’s inscriptionsJe. Kharoshti script and the Brahmi script.

Arthashastra and Kamasutra: Many famous literary works were written during the Mauryan period. Kautilya, the minister of Chandragupta Maurya, wrote his Arthashastra. It is a standard work on politics and art of governance and is compared to the Italian statesman Machiavelli’s work the “Prince”. Yatsyana wrote his celebrated work Kamasutra during the Mauryan period.

Buddhist Literature: The Buddhist literature also made some progress during this period. A Buddhist monk wrote his work Katha Vayu. The Buddhist religious text Thitzka was also codified during this period.

Jain Literature: Jain literature also progressed along with the Buddhist literature. The famous Jam scholars Bhadrabahu and Jambuswami belonged to this period. Their works are valuable from literary point of view. Bhasa’s work “Apa Suba” is of outstanding merit. It is also said that Achartmg, Bliagwati Sitira, Samvayaangsutra etc. and Jaina religious texts were written during the Mauryan period.

The Gupta Age

The Gupta age was a period of great literary activity in the cultural history of ancient India. Much of what is best in almost all the branches of Sanskrit literature was written in this era. This is evident from the fact that great poets and playwrights like Kalidasa, Bharvi Visakha datta, philosophers like Isvarakrishna, Vatsyana and Praspada and astronomers and mathematicians like Aryabhatta and Varahamihra all flourished during this age. It was a golden age of Sanskrit literakire and learning. It was now the language of the inscriptions and coin legends and was used for all literary compositions.

Among Kalidasa’s famous works are Rilusamhara, Malvikagizimiram, Kumarasarnbahva, Megliauta, Sirakuntala and Raghuvansha. His masterpiece Shakuntala is “among the hundred best books of the world.” Sudraka was another great scholar of this Age. He wrote Mrichhacatika or the Little Clay Cart. Dandin wrote his Kavyadarsa, a work on the art of poetry. Panchianfra, the most remarkable storehouse of fairy tales and fables was also composed during the Gupta period. Its influence on the literature of the world is astonishing. This work has been translated into more than 50 languages of the world.

The Puranas, “a storehouse of ancient Indian traditions, myths, legends, rituals, moral code and religious principles” were recast in the present form in the Gupta period. The Mahabharata and Ramayana were also finally revised and given the present form. Various laws of Dharamshaslras of Manu were also finally codified.

South Sangam Literature

In the South, considerable Tamil literature called ‘Sangam Literature’ was produced in the early centuries of the Christian era, although it was finally compiled in the 6th century A.D. A considerable quantity of literature in Tamil was written by innumerable Tamil poets. The entire collection includes, 2279 poems by 473 poets besides 102 anonymous poems. These are found grouped in eight anthologies (Ettutgai) and Ten songs (Pottutatta). One of the important poetical works is Kural, a collection of brie verses. It is the chief source of moral ideas of the Tamils. The Sangam was a college or assembly of Tamil poets held probably under the royal patronage. We do not know the number of Sangams or periods of which they were held. There used to be a great academy or college of poets and pandits from Madurai. Th literature produced by the scholars of this academy forms the principal source of information about the
activities of common men and women and the conditions of the kingdoms of the south.

Many literary and religious works were translated from Sanskrit into the Tamil language and became popular among the people of the south. The Telugu writers like Nannja and Tikhhan are excellent adaptations of the Mahabharata.

The Kannada literature also made progress. Niriputanga wrote his work Kavira Jamarga. Pampa wrote his famous work Adztrnrana and the Vzkramarajuna friya. The former book deals with the life of the first Jaina Tirthankara and the other is based on Mahabharata. Ponna wrote his work Shantivurana, a legendary history of the sixteenth Jaina Tirthankara. Ranna was another eminent Karinada writer. His famous works are the Ajitapunana and the Gadayauddha. These three writers Pampa, Ponna and Rana are known as the three Gems of the early Kannada literature. Another writer Kamban wrote the epic of Ramayana in Tamil which is read with great delight even now-a-days. During this period, great Tamil compositions of the great hymns of the A/vans and the Nayananas were produced. The hymns of the Alvars were collected into the Nalayina-Ditya Prabandham.

Philosophy: Indian speculative philosophy also made great progress. Many Hinayana philosophers like Buddhaghosha and Buddhadatta and the great Mahayana teachers and philosophers like Asanga, Vasubandhu and Digana flourished during the Gupta Age.

Vardhana Age: Harshavardhana was a great patron of learning. His court was adorned by poets and scholars like Bana, Matanga, Ewakar, Jayasena and Bharatrihari. The poet Bana wrote the Harishchanilna, a historical romance describing in high flown language the exploits of his hero. Bharatrihari’s three Shauakas are superb in their literary çxcellence. Harshvardhana himself was a poet. His drama Nagananda is considered one of the best dramas written in Sanskrit. He also wrote two other literary works namely, Ratnavaui and Prlyadarshika.

Literature-Sultanate Period

The reign of Delhi Sultans witnessed the development of modern Indian laruages and literature. Persian which was the court language was learnt both by the Hindus and Muslims. Both the communities contributed to the growth of Persian literature. The beginnings of Persian literature are to be traced from the Turkish rule in India. Amir Khusrau, surnamed the “parrot of India”, belonged to this age. He was a famous poet and the author who wrote in Persian, Urdu and Hindi. He also composed music. He
adorned the courts of Balban, Ala-ud-Din Khilji and Ghias-ud-Din Tughlaq. His notable works were Ashza, the Nub, Szvihr, the Qfranal Sadayan and the Khazain-ul Futah. A historian Zia-ud-Din Baruni wrote
Tarikh-Firoze Sizahi in Persian. It gives a detailed account of the reigns of the Khaljis and Tughlaqs. Minhas-us-Siraj and Isam were also well-known historians of this age. Lahqre and Delhi, the centres of Muslim political authority attracted writers and scholars from other parts of the country. The evolution of Urdu, a new mixed language, also took place in the Sultanate period. The origin of the Punjabi literature is also traced back to this period. Baba Sheikh Farid sang both in Punjabi and Persian. He was the first Sufi poet who used standard literary Punjabi.
Krishna Deva Raya, the ruler of Vijayanagar empire, was a distinguished scholar and poet. He made efforts to promote the Telugu language and literature. Eight Telugu poets adorned his court who made a valuable contribution to the growth of Telugu literature. Famous scholar Maclhvacharya was the author of Sarvadrashna Sangrairam, a work on philosopy in Sanskrit. His brother wrote commentaries on the text
of the Rig Veda San1hita. Nacanna, Somnatha Kavi, Sirimati Sarda and Nandi Malla wrote creative works f of high merit in Telugu. The Tamil language too had its share, on royal patronage. The famous poet
Thaumanvar belonged to this period. Kannada literature was also encouraged by the Rayas.

Like the rulers of Vijayanagar, the rulers of Bijapur and Golkunda also took interest in the development of regional languages. For instance, the Sultans of Golkunda were patrons of Telugu literature. Besides,
the Marathi in Ahmednagar, Kannada in Bijapur, Telugu in Vijayanagar and Malayalam in the far south received encouragement.
The Bhakti reformers also contributed much to the development of regional languages. They adopted the language of the people to spread their message of love and devotion to God. In Bengal, Kiritivasa wrote Ramayana and Chandi Dasa wrote hundreds of lyrics. Narsimehta wrote devotional songs in Gujarati. Namdeva and Eknath wrote in Marathi.

Literature Under the Mughale

During the Mughal period, the country made a tremendous progress in the sphere of literature. The Mughal emperors were themselves scholars and patrons of learning and literature. Besides the Persian
literature, the vernacular literature— Hindi, Sanskrit, Bengali, Punjabi and Urdu made mighty strides during the two centuries of Mughal nile. There were several reasons for it. In the first place, there was peace and order in the country especially during the reign of emperor Akbar which helped in the growth of literature. Secondly, most of the Mughal rulers were learned men. They liberally patronised poets
scholars. Thirdly, the policy of religious toleration adopted by Akbar continued in the reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Babur had a brilliant set of scholars in his court of whom the names of Ghias-ud-Din Mohammad, Khawaja Mir, Shahab-ud-Din and Mir Ibrahim were notable. His cousin Mirza 1-laider Doughiat was an eminent Persian scholar of his time. Emperor Humayun was also a lover of learning. Hurnayun was so fond of books that he used to carry with him a library even during his expeditions. He had founded a Madrasa or school at Delhi of which Sheikh Hasan was an eminent professor. Humayun’s sister Gulbadan Begum wrote a great prose work Humayun Namah. Humayun’s servant Jauhar also wrote a historical work Tazkarat-ul-Waqiif. But the greatest work of Humayun’s period is Haff Ak/fm written by Khawand Mir.

Under Akbar. Though Akbar himself was not educated yet he patronised scholars of various languages. Many historical works were written during his period. Faizi wrote Akbar Narnali. Abul Fazal wrote Ain-i-Akban The historaians have praised its style of writing. Abul Fazal was at once a poet, essayist, critic, historian and a man of letters. His Ain-i-Akbari is the most extensive and dependable record giving statistics and even minor details of Akbar’s administration. Badauni’s work Mien/uk/ia/i,e/-Itvarrkh is of great historic importance. From his account we know the views of those who opposed the tolerant religious policy of Akbar.
Some original literary works in Persian were written during Akbar ‘s reign. Abul Fazal writes, “A thousand poets are continually at court and many among them have completed a Dewan or have written a Masnavi (a form of poetry). Ghazali was the most eminent poet of Akbar’s court. Flis great scholarly works are Mfraf-u-Kaima4 Naqush bat/rd and Asrar Makf rib. Faizi was Akbar’s poet laureate for some years. He was an excellent poet and a great expert of the science of medicine. His important works are Masnavrf Na? Dam/anti, Markaz-i-Adwer and Swati ul I/ham. Other eminent poets of this period were Muhammad Hassan Naziri and Saiyyad Jamal-ud-din Urfi or Shirazi.

During the reign of Akbar, a large number of works of other languages were translated into Persian. The eminent scholars who undertook translation work were Abdul Rahim Khan Khana. Badayuni, Abul
Fazal, Faizi, Naqib Khan and Haji Ibrahim Sirhindi. The important works translated into Persian were Mahabharata, Ramayana, Atharva Vedas, Lilavati, Rajatrangani, Nal Damyanti, Kalitya Daman, Bible, Quran etc. Abdul Rahim Khan Khana translated Babur’s Memoirs Tuzzik Ba/in into Persian from Turki. All these considerably enriched Persian literature.

Under Jahangir: Jahangir was also a patron of learning. He was himself and eminent writer. He wrOte his autobiography Tuziik-f-Jahangiri which is a work of great literary merit. Other historical works written during his period were Iqbalnamah-i-Ja/rangrnr, Masi i-i-/a/rang/n/and Zabduf Tawarilch. The prominent scholars who adorned his court were Ghyas Beg, Najib Khan, Mutmad Khan, Niamatwallah and Abdul Haqi Dehlvi.

Under Shah Jahan: Emperor Shan Jahan was a learned man. He extended patronage to the learned. Many historical works were written during his time, notable among them being Pads/ia/i Namah of Abdul Hamid Lahore, another Padshithnamah of Amin Qazvini, Shah/a/ran Namah of Inayat Khan. These works supply us much information about the reign of Shah Jahan. Under the patronage of his liberal son Dara Shikoh, many Sanskrit works like Bhagvat Gita, Yog Vashishta and Ramayana were translated into Persian by the scholars. Shah Jahan encouraged learned men by giving them rewards and stipends. He also established a centre of learning near Jama Masjid at Delhi. He repaired several Madrasas which were in poor condition.

Under Aurangzeb: Aurangzeb was a great scholar of theology and Islamic law. But he had no taste for poetry and disliked the writing of historical works. But still some historical works were written during his period, notable among them being Muntakhab-ul-Tawarilth by Khafi Khan, A?amgiri Narnah by Mirza Muhammad Kazim and Fatuhat-i-Alamginiby Ishwar Das and the Khulasa-u?-Tawanrkh by Munshi Sajjan Rai.

Hindi Literature

Before Akbar, the Bhakti reformers and the Sufi saints in the 15th and early 16th centuryies had contributed to the growth of Hindi literature. But under Akbar, the Hindi literature made unique

progress. Among the courtiers of Akbar, Todar Mal, Bhagwan Das, Man Singh, Birbal and Abdul Rahim Khan Khana were eminent poets. Birbal was awarded the title of Kavi Raj by the emperor. Rahim’s Dohas have won for him universal fame. They are still read and praised all over the country. Other notable luminaries of Hindi literature in the time of Akbar were Tulsi Das, Surdas, Nabhaji, Ras Khan, Karan, Narhari, Harinath, Parma Nand, Kumbhan etc. Goswami Tulsi Das was the greatest Hindi poet of Akbar’s time. His Ramcharitmanas is the most celebrated book of the Hindus of the Northern India. This book gives story of Rama’s life. It is read and heard and appreciated alike by every class of the Hindus. George Gierson calls it “one Bible of the hundred million people.” Surdas, a blind bard of Agra wrote “Sur Saga/’ in which he describes the sports of Krishna in his early life. Among the Muslim writers of Hindi literature, Abdul Rahim Khan Khana was prominent. He wrote his work Rahimsattasai. Another Muslim poet Ras Khan wrote Premvalika.
Under Jahangir and Shah Jahan, the Hindi literature continued to make progress. The most prominent writers of their times were Sunder Kaviraj, Senapat, Benarsi Das, Bhushan, Nat Rai, Chintamani and Bihari. Sunder, a well known poet of Gwalior wrote his famous work Sunder Sa’ar in 1631 A.D. Shah Jahan gave him the title of Maha Kavi Rai. Bihari was patronised by Raja Jai Singh of Ambar. His book Bthari Safsai and his Dohas are the “daintiest pieces of art in any Indian language”. In the time of Aurangzeb, the Hindi literature began to decline. With the withdrawal of royal patronage, the era of great Hindi poets came to close.

Sanskrit literature

The occupation of a large part of India by the Muslim invaders gave a setback to the growth of Sanskrit literature. But Akbar ‘s religious policy helped in the growth of Sanskrit. His court was adorned by Sanskrit scholars like Ganga Dhar, Mahanand, Devi Misr, Madhusudan Misr and Mahesh. They produced some Sanskrit literature of merit. A Persian Sanskrit dictionary named Parsi Prakash was compiled in Akbar’s time. Jahangir and Shah Jahan gave grants to some Sanskrit scholars. Among them Jagannath Pandit, Ravindra Acharya, Vedangacharya, Banshidhar Misr, Harinarayan Misr were notable. Jagannath was the poet laureate of Shah Jahn’s court. He wrote Rasganga Duzra and Gangasari and enriched Sanskrit literature.

Regional Literature

Regional languages like Punjabi, Kashmiri, Oriya, Bengali, Assamese, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Urdu etc. flourished. The Sikh Gurus greatly contributed to the growth of Punjabi literature. Guru Aliun Dev compiled the Adi Granth, the scripture of the Sikhs. Bhai Mani Singh wrote Gianratnawali and the Sufi Saints wrote K7fi5. It was also in the Mughal period that Damodar Gulati, Warns Shah and Piloo wrote the story of Hir Ranjlia. The legend of Mirza Sahiban was also written in this period. All these works occupy an important place in the Punjabi literature. Krishan Dev Kaviraj, Lochan Das, Narhari Sarkar, Kaitak Das, Khem Chand, Gopal Das etc. contributed to the growth of Sanskrit poetry. Narsi Mehta and Prema Nand, the Guj4rati poets helped in the growth of Gujarati literature. In Maharashtra two great poets Eknath and Tuka Ram enriched Marathi literature with their poetic works. In the progress of the Oriya literature, Dinkrihna Das and Ram Chandra Patnaik contributed much. Haba Khatun, a celebrated poetess of Kashmir, made a remarkable contribution to the development of Kashmiri language. The other eminent Kashmiri poets were Khwaja Habib Bulandshahri, Sahib Kaul etc.
Urdu language also made much progress during the Mughal period. It was due to the social and intellectual intercourse between the various communities and Akbar’s liberal educational policies.Urdu made a popular language. Urdu is a Turkish word meaning military camp. Urdu is the offspring of Hindi and Persian which became the common language of the people. The prominent Urdu poets of this period were Maulana Muhammad Afzal of Panipat , Munshi Wali L. Nasir Au Sirhindi was a poet of great fame.

British Period

During the British rule, there was astonishing development of all branches ( literature in India. Besides Hindi, English and Urdu, all regional languages of the country progressed. Literature in all these languages was produced on a large scale. India is the first Asian country w national spirit was awakened through the medium of literature.

The development of the Hindi literature started in the end of the 18th century. The notable writers of this penod were Sadasukh Lal, Eshallah Khan and Bhartendu Harish Chandra. Raja Lachhman Singh translated Shakuntala into Hindi. Maha Prasad Dwivedi, Ram Chandra Shukia and Shyam Sunder Das were the eminent Hindi prose writers of this age. Modern novel in India was born in the latter half of the 19th century The eminent writer of this period was Bankim Chandra Chatterji (1839-1904 A.D.). His most famous novel was Anand Math. It contains Bande Matram which is honoured as the national song of India. Ananad Math has been translated from Bengali to Hindi. Munshi Prem Chand is the foremost of those writers who took to Hindi and Urdu story writting to the heights of glory. He is the king of novel and story writing in Urdu and Hindi. His works have become an inseparable part of the Indian culture. His writings reflect the life of a common Indian and miseries of peasants. His contribution to the Hindi and Urdu literature consists of about a dozen novels and about 300 stories. His famous novels Rirngblrnmi
and Goaan have become immortal. The other Hindi scholars Jai Shankar Prasad, Maitalisharan Gupt, Sumixutranandan Pant, Suryakant Tripath,
Nirala, Mahadevi Verma, Hazari Prasad Dwivedi and Haribans Rai Bachchan have made great contribution to the development of Hindi poetry Similarly, Varindavan Lal Verma and Ellachander Joshi have enriched Hmdi literature by writing novels of great merit. The Bengali literature has also made unique progress in the modern age. 

The Bangla poets Michael, Madhusudan Dutt, Garish Chandra Ghosh, Hem Chandra Baneiji and Navin Chander also enriched Bangla literature. Rabindra Nath Tagore wrote his Gitanjzli which made him a world famous poet. In the field of Bangla prose, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chatterji and Debander Nath Tagore made notable contribution. Sarat Chandra Chatteijee, the author of noval Devdas occupies a high place among the Bengali novel writers.

The Marathi literature also flourished during this period. Rai Bahadur Deshmukh, Vishnu Shastri, Chiplunkar and Bal Gangadhar Tilak enriched Marathi literature Harmaryana Apte, Prof C M Joshi and Dr Ketkar wrote many novels m Marathi The Tamil prose was enriched by Thundaraiya, Mudalayar t and Visage Perumal Ayar The famous novel writers of Tamil language were VG Suryanaram Shastri, Rajm Ayar and Sarvan Pilai
During the modern age, Urdu language made remarkable progress. It produced great poets like Wali Khuraja Mir Dard, Mir Taqi Mir, Nazir Akbarabadi, Ibrahim Zauq, Asadullah Khan Ghalib, Altaf Hussian Hali and Sir Mummad Iqbal, called the poet of the East. In the early 18th century many historical Persian and Sanskrit works were translated into Urdu.

Progressive Writers Movement
After 1936, there began a Progressive Writers Movement in India which gave a new direction to poetry Among these progressive poets may be mentioned the names of Hiranand Sachdanand Vatsayan• Agay and Muktibodh in Hindi, Sahar Ludhianavi, Majaz and Faiz in Urdu, Jiwan and Das in Bengali B.S. Merdhekar in Marathi, Umashankar Joshi in Gujarati and Amrita Pritam in Punjabi. Indian Drama and Theatre. During this period, art of theatre and one-act play also witnessed considerable growth. Raj Kumar Varma is known as the Father of Hindi one act play. His first one-act play “Badal Ki Mrhyu” was published in 1930 A.D. Upendar Nath Ashk was one of the best known one act play writers. In the field of theatre, valuable contribution was made by Badal Sarkarin Bengali), Jai
Shankar Prasad (Hindi), Vijay Tendulkar (Marathi) and Girish Karnad (Kannada). Similarly, role of Shambhu Mitra, Ibrahim Alkazi, Sin Ram Laggu, Habib Tanvir and Satya Dev Dube in the development of stage theatre has been quite commendable. Indian People’s Theater has admirably encouraged theater.

Medicine and Surgery in Ancient India

The earliest Indian medical system is found in the Vedic literature. One of the Upvedas deals with Ayurveda or medicine. The Vedic hymns mention such diseases as fever, cough, constipation, sores, diarrhoea, leprosy etc. They also suggest remedies for these diseases like prayers to the gods, magical charms and spells but gradually men discovered drugs and herbs for treatment of ailments. With the passage of time, medical science was taught as a special subject at centres of learning like Taxila and Varanasi. The famous experts of medical science were, Charaka, Susruta and Dhanvantri. Charaka wrote his famous work Charakasamhita in the second century A.D. He writes about various types of fevers, hysteria, tuberculosis etc. He also prescribes plants, herbs and various compounds for the treatment of diseases. During the Gupta Age, medical sciences were widely studied. The Indian surgeons were well-versed in the art of dissection, plastic surgery, veterinary surgery and even in specialised branches of surgery as that of eye, ear and nose. The great medical writer of the
period was Vagbhatta. He wrote Astanga Sangrah which is a systematic summary of Charaka and Susruta. Palakapya wrote Hastyaaurveda, a treatise on the diseases peculiar to the elephants and their treatment.
In the medieval period also the physicians made researches on the diagnosis and treatment of the diseases. Books were written on the anatomy of human body, giving the details about the bones, nerves, veins, arteries, muscles etc. In the modem age, Allopathy, Homeopathy, Unani and Ayurved all the systems of medicine have made progress in the country. During the modern age, many Indian scientists have contributed to the growth of medical science, notable among them are Jagdish Chandra Bose, P.C. Ray.

Chemistry, Metallurgy and Coins

The excavations at Harappa and Mohenjodaro indicate that science of metallurgy had developed during this period. The people used copper and bronze for making their tools. The Vedic Aryans tanned leather, fermented grains and fruit to make Sura. They could also dye cotton and wool. The science of metallurgy and chemistry flourished during the Gupta Age. The famous Mebrauli pillar shows the excellent skill of the metallurgists of the Gupta Age. The huge pillar is made of wrought iron, 24 feet high and weighs 6½ tons. It is so skilfully manufactured that in spite of its exposure for centuries to the sun and rain, it shows no signs of rusting and corrosion. The discovery of several huge copper statues of the Buddha also represent the triumph of the metallurgical excellence of the Gupta Age.

During the medieval period, the craftsmen developed the art of making glazed tiles, manufacturing of precious stones, polishing of glass and dissolving of metals. In the 16th century, cannons and guns were made of brass, bronze, iron and steel. The coating of copper utensils with tin was common. There was tremendous progress in the science of engineering as is evident from the construction of magnificent buildings, mosques, mausoleums, bridges, dams and canals. Textile industry also made much progress during this period.

British Period: The British rulers laid the first railway line in India in 1853. The first telegraph line was from Calcutta to Agra in 1854 A.D. They also established modern industries like Cotton Textile, Jute etc. They also established many chemical industries. They built numerous dams and canal irrigation works to improve agriculture and generate electricity

Science and Technology in Ancient India

In ancient India, the people of the country made significant advances in the various fields of sciences such as mathematics, astronomy, metallurgy and medical science.

Early Ancient Period

We know that the people in the early ancient India worshipped the Sun and the planets. It shows that they had some knowledge of astronomy. The Furanas tell us that the people had knowledge about astronomy
and astrology.

The study of exact sciences received great impetus in the Gupta Age. The great scholars of this period occupy a high place in the history of sciences
not only in India but also of the whole world. Their researches in Arithmetic, Astronomy and medicine guided scientists in other lands for centuries. They exercised a direct influence on scientific thought in
Arabia and other Islamic countries and indirectly in Europe. The following Indian scientists made notable contribution to the advancement of exact sciences.


Among the notable astronomers and mathematicians of the ancient India, Aryabhatta stands out as the most important. A few of his works
such as Aryabhattiyam, Dasagitikasutra and Aryashatasata have come down to us. He was the first to treat mathematics as a distinct subject. His
most epoch making achievement was the discovery of the principle of place value of the first nine numbers and the use of zero which simplified
arithmetical calculations. He gave value for p more accurate than any suggested before him. Aryabhatta was the first Indian astronomer to declare that the earth was a sphere, that it revolved round the sun and rotated round its axis. He was the first to describe the causes of solar and lunar eclipses and the method of calculating them precisely. His calculation of the size of the earth is very near to that estimated by modem astronomers.


The other notable astronomer of this period was Varahamihira. In his work Pancha Sidhanta, he has given a description of the five systems of
astronomy in use in his times. His work on astrology Birhat Samhita is
a collection of all available knowledge on technical sciences like
architecture, matallurgy, Physiognomy etc.

Brahmagupta was another eminent scientist of this period. He
wrote his Brahmasaphuta and Khandakhayaka. His works deal with ordinary arithmetical equations, square and cube roots, rules of interest, geometry, elementary mensuration and simple. algebric identities. He anticipated Newton when he declared that “all things fall to the earth by a law of nature, for it is the nature of the earth to attract and hold things”.


Another astronomer Bhaskaracharya held that the earth is round and not flat. He also tried to explain the power of gravitation.

Medieval Period

During the medieval period, Shridhara, the author of Ganita Sara, and Bhaskra the author of Lilavati made some contribution to mathematics. But not much work was done in these spheres. The writers devoted themselves to preparation of commentaries on the earlier works of mathematics.

During the Medieval period, Sawai Jai Singh, the ruler of Jaipur set up astronomical observatories at Delhi, Ujjain, Varanasi, Mathura and Jaipur for calculation of time. Sawai Jai Singh also developed numerous instruments for observation of astronomical phenomena. Most of these were missionary. Most of the books produced during the medieval period were commentaries on earlier works or translation of Sanskrit treatises. The astronomical works of Brahmagupta were translated into Arabic. Sawai Raja Jai Singh wrote ZiJ-Jadia’-Muzammad Shahi, which is by far the most outstanding work on astronomy.


Literature in Ancient Rajput Period

In the Rajput period, there was a tendency among the scholars to write more about the regions to which they belonged and the important personalities living there. For instance, Vilhanana wrote the biography of Vikramaditya VI of Chalukya dynasty Chanderbardai wrote in his PnithvinajRaso about the exploits of Prithvi Raj III, the ruler of Ajmer and Delhi. Some scholars wrote the history of a particular region. For instance, Kaihana wrote the history of Kashmir in his Rajtarangni.

Although Sanskrit was regarded by the people as devabhasha (the language of gods), its study was confined only to the elite. Praknii was commonly used by the masses. Literature began to be produced in vernaculars. Various Apabhnamaslua (a Sanskrit word which means impure) was evolved as a distinct language. This language was used for the first time by Chanderbardai in his work PrithvirajRaso. Many regional languages like Bengali, Marathi and Oriya, with their own scripts were evolved as separate languages. These languages received great encouragement from Rajput rulers. The two famous Bengali works Bandlua-Gano and
Surya Purina were written in this Age. The writers in the regional languages drew freely from religious and political literature of Sanskrit.
They also brought into prominence popular legends and folk tales. These regional languages provided the basis for the development of different cultures. They also helped in the growth of regional consciousness.
The Bhakti reformers composed their devotional songs in the regional languages. Bhakti saint Ramanuja wrote commentary on Brahma Suinas, a unique literary work of his time. Jaideva wrote his most famous work Cliii
It beautifully describes the spiritual love of Radha Krishna. Kabir’s devotional songs or Dohas had a great popular appeal for the common people. Guru Nanak Dev preached in the Punjabi language. Tulsi Das wrote his most celebrated work Ramtharitra Manas in Hindi. Sur Das, Mira Bai, Chandi Das, VidyaPati, Gyaneshwar, Tuka Ram and Nam Dev greatly contributed to the growth of the regional literature by their unique works. A remarkable feature of the history of the growth of literature was that some Muslim poets and scholars like Malik Jayasi, Kuthan, Manjhan and Abdul Rahim Khan wrote excellent works in Indian regional languages. Some dramas were also written during this period. The most prominent among them were Lalit Virahafti Natak, Harikeli Natak, Parvati-Parinaya Vidagadha and Mati Madhava.

Famous Literary Heritage of Ancient India

Our country is very rich in literary heritage. Literature means novels, poetry plays, prose and other creative written works. They are considered to have artistic qualities. They have permanent worth through their intrinsic excellence. These artistic writings are worthy of being remembered.

The Vedic Literature in Ancient India

The Vedas are the earliest literary works in India. The Rig Veda is the earliest record of the Indo-Aryan culture. Though devoted more to the study of spiritual and moral subjects, it contains frequent references to the daily life of the early Vedic people, their manners, customs, beliefs, their society, political organisation, their trade and occupations and their mode of warfare. These references put together enable us to construct a vivid picture of the ancient Indian society. There are many references in RigVeda which bear resemblance to Harappan Culture. In the RigVeda, is the Gayatri Mantra which is recited by millions of Hindus everyday. The RigVeda was followed by other three Vedas. The Samveda or the book of chants contains 1549 hymns taken from Rig Veda. Yajurveda is generally called the book of “sacrificial prayers”. It treats the principles of Yajnas sacrifices and some magical formulas and charms. The Atharvaveda contains hymns dealing mostly with special customs, magic and witchcrafts. It also throws light on Vedic civilization and culture.
The Brahmanas are the explanation of the meanings of the Vedic hymns. They were written by lamed priests to explain Vedic texts in simple prose. The Aryanakas are the concluding portions of the Brahmanas. They deal with philosophy and stress the path of knowledge.

The general body of early philosophical treatises is known as upanishad. Their number is about 200. They deal with high philosophical problems. What is this world? What becomes of one after death? Such questions are asked and boldly answered in the Upanishadas. The Vedanagas are the limbs of the Vedas and deal with such subjects as Grammer, Phonetics and Astronomy. The Upvedas deal with four secular subjects : (a) Ayurved (medicine), (b) Dhanurveda or military science (c) Gandharva veda or music (d) Shilpveda or architecture.

The Sutras represent the last phase of the Vedic literature. They are written in a very compressed style. They deal with the vedic rituals and customary law. The Sruta Sutra describe the itua1s of greater sacrifices. The Garahya Sutra describes the ceremonies connected with the domestic life from birth to death. The Dharam Sutra are the earliest works on law both religious and secular.

Six Schools of Hindu Philosophy

They make a systematic and logical examination of the doctrines
of life and Moksha. These schools are

(1) The Samkhya School of Kapila
(2) The Yoga System of Patanjali
(3) Nayaya School of Gautma
(4) The Vaisesika System of Kanda,
(5) Uttra Mimamsa of Vyasa
(6) Vedanta.

The Two Great Epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata

The Ramayana was written by Rishi Valmiki and it is the oldest and the most popular epic. It is devoted to the celebration of the deeds of Rama. This work is the first example of Sanskrit Kavya and comprises of 21,000 couplets. The style is simple but highly literary. The Mahabharata is the longest epic in the world and contains more than 100,000 slokas or verses. Its main theme is “the Great epic of the War of the descendants of Bharata” but numerous other stories have been added to illustrate the main theme. It is believed to be the work of a legendary sage Vyasa. But in its present form it cannot be regarded as the work of one author. The Mahabharata is regarded as the “encyclopaedia” of moral teachings as conceived by Brahmanical mind.

The historical importance of the two great epics is really great. They reflect the social customs, political and religious conditions of the age. They vividly portray the virtues and vices and ideals of the people. These epics have considerably influenced the daily life of the Hindus. The lives of Rama and Sita have always supplied to Hindu men and women their ideals of life. Rama is still regarded as an ideal son and an ideal king. Sita is still regarded as a model of Indian womanhood for both purity and loyalty Lakshmana is still looked upon as an ideal brother. Similarly, Yudhishtra is regarded as an embodiment of truthfulness and Lord Krishna as an incarnation (Avtar) of God Vishnu.

Bhagvad Gita

Shrimad Bhagvada Gita is the most instructive and the most interesting portion of the Mahabharata. It is the most beaitftil and perfect song of the Supreme God. Hindus believe that it contains the very words of Shri Krishha incarnation (Avtar) of God Vishnu, to his disciple and friend
0 the Pandav hero Arjuna. It teaches the doctrine of rnshkama karma (work done without seeking any, reward) and Bizakii (loving faith) in God of Grace. Man must do his duty in a selfless way without any desire for reward. The Bhagvad Gita, for more than two thousand years, has deeply influenced the Hindu thought. It is read and revered by millions of Hindus to this day. It has been translated in almost all the living languages of the world. According to Aldous Huxley, “It is of enduring value not only for the Indians but for mankind”.

The Puranas

The Puranas are the storehouse of Indian philosophy and ancient Indian history They are eighteen in numbers. They deal with exploits of gods and heroic princes. Some Puranas gave the names of several kings of different dynasties, in succession. The main purpose of the Puranas was to propagate religion and morals and to create a fear of God in the minds of people. The exact date of the Puranas cannot be fixed but they are a valuable source of information for the history of the period before the 6th century B.C.

Panini’s Ashtadhyayi

Panini, the celebrated Sanskrit grammarian, flourished not later than the fourth century B.C. He was the author of the Ashtadhyayi, the most scientific work on Sanskrit grammar. According to Max Mullar, the Hindus and Greeks are the only nations which have developed the science of grammar and Panini perhaps is the greatest grammarian that the world has ever seen.