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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

A book covering Bharat’s history from the Indic point of view

Bharat’s history has been a victim of distortion by vested interests and the disconnect with the traditional language of the land brought about due to colonization made it all the more difficult to connect the present generation with the nation’s glorious past. Business consultant turned author Vijender Sharma’s new book attempts to bridge the gulf by covering Bharat’s history from the Indic viewpoint.

“History of India and Everything Indian: Since the Arrival of First Humans to the First Islamic Invasion” is a book covering a wide range of topics right from the dawn of human civilization to the great heights achieved by the Saraswati Valley civilization and right up to the formation of modern empires till the time the first Islamic invaders set foot on this land. And that’s a vast time period to cover yet probably just touching the tip of Bharat’s history!

History is a very important subject because the present uses past experiences to create the future. Yet, Bharat’s history has not only suffered various distortions but the methodology of teaching makes it uninteresting and at the same time the textbooks have not been updated with the latest findings which make it outdated. This book makes history an interesting read for everyone by not making it an academic exercise.

The best thing about the book is that it breaks the topics into essays that make reading and one can pick any topic of one’s choice as each chapter is an essay in itself. Another feature of the book that makes readers instantly connect with it is the parallels drawn with the present, something very few history books do!

By the author’s own this is not an academic work yet the topics covered by the book are one that has hardly been touched upon by history textbooks. For example, the essays titled “India’s gifts to the world” contains essays on storytelling, philosophy, medicine, language, astronomy, and mathematics which we normally do not come across in academic textbooks.

Here’s one such interesting excerpt that history textbooks overlook:

The dissemination of Indian mathematics to faraway Europe was a slow process. One of the early mentions of the dissemination is captured in Fibonacci’s Liber Abaci, i.e. the book of calculation. Fibonacci wrote the book in 1202, where he acknowledges the ‘nine Indian figures’ i.e. the nine numerals. He came in contact with various merchants along the Mediterranean trade routes and learnt the Hindu numerals from them. His study of the Hindu numerals led him to the discovery of the advantages the Hindu numerals and mathematics had compared to the Roman numerals.

The chapters on Mehrgarh and Bhirrana, and pioneers of engineering as also several others provide an interesting insight into the life of our ancestors. The book also tells us how foreigners such as the Greeks viewed Bharat. The essay on Alexander’s conquest puts out a fresh perspective as well.

The best thing about the book is the style of writing adopted by Shri Sharma. It is almost as if he is conversing with the reader and that keeps the reader hooked throughout. This is a good read for non-traditional history enthusiasts who wish to look beyond the facts, figures, wars, and political narratives.

It does demolish the existing Marxist narrative but since it is not an academic paper it confines itself to making history interesting, readable, and understandable to a layperson as well. Overall a good read with a fresh perspective of various chapters of Bharat’s history.

Readers can buy the book here.

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