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Monday, June 5, 2023

‘Swift Horses Sharp Swords’ by Amit Agarwal – An amazing way to write a history book from a Hindu perspective

The author Mr. Amit Agarwal has done us proud by writing a history book from a Hindu perspective. So far, majority of Bharatiya history books are written with a secular and left- liberal narrative. His maiden literary endeavour, “Swift Horses Sharp Swords – Medieval Battles Which Shook India” is based on Bharat’s turbulent medieval past. 

Although there are several books on this subject, some of which are serious and historical in nature, this one stands out for its wide coverage of the topics of economy, geography, polity and social structures so as to make us better appreciate how our present is derived from this period.

Most history textbooks of older times were generally mostly about Mughals and various slave sultans, wherein an obscure sultan like Feroz Shah Tughlaq was allotted a full chapter. Indigenous kings, apart from Ashoka or Samudragupta or Harsha, were by and large ignored and overlooked from the collective consciousness of the nation. The book is written from this different perspective and propelled with passion.

The author has touched briefly on the advancement and richness of ancient Bharat and the underlying factors for its progress to attain the numero uno status in various areas. However when the invasions started in the 8th century, the decline was equally swift.

The book then tries to contextually introspect on the finer points about the religion, geography, economy, military strategy, and culture while dwelling on the strengths, weaknesses and follies to give a 360-degree vision to it.

The author has also combined the fundamentals of game theory, Maslow’s hierarchy and bell curve to emphasize the reason for survival of Bharatiyas with their culture largely intact, despite the brutal onslaughts. He also throws light on the local kings, chieftains and warriors who valiantly defended their motherland against the invaders.

He also points out the enormity of Bharat’s wealth during the ancient and medieval period which is estimated to have constituted 25% of the world’s GDP in those times. There are some unique chapters like how geometric mean is used while counting the dead and why all the battlefields were in Haryana. The book is full of such interesting anecdotes which make it a worthy read.

The fact that once Bharatiyas ruled all over Asia without even lifting a sword and that Cholas built their empire all over South East Asia and their emphasis on building intricate Hindu temples which survive even to this date, makes every Bharatiya feel proud. 

Every scientific invention is either credited to Europeans of the modern era or Arabs in the medieval era.  Even the present numeral system (0, 1, 2 … 9) is credited to Arabs and commonly known as Arabic numeral system the world over. However, it was the Arabs who imported the system from Bharat after they come across it after their invasion of Sindh in 8th century, a fact nicely brought out by the author.

The book is self-published, is listed on Amazon in both the Kindle version and paperback format. It is recommended for everyone to read it cover to cover to understand the subtleties of Bharatiya history of that period. 

Never one to rest on his laurels, the author has already commenced his second book, which is a compilation of unknown Bharatiya historical tales since ancient times. Apart from being an enthusiastic writer, he is also an avid marathoner and mountaineer. So far, he has run 7 full marathons and 20 half marathons. He has partaken in numerous treks in Garhwal, Kumaon, Himachal and the Western Ghats, including a trek to the Everest base camp. 

(Reviewed by: Vishnukant Saxena- a Sanatani, an IIT engineer and MBA who works as a senior manager in a leading private bank. He writes short stories in English and Hindi.)

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