Install our official mobile app and stay in touch with your friends anytime and anywhere. Use this short address to access the mobile version of VK. The author throws in a one-liner joke now and again, but what I really found humorous were the fictions that were widely believed back in the day. Most of these resulted from merchants telling tall tales to make asking prices more palatable. If I had one criticism of the book, it would be that in the final chapters the author leaves behind the historical objectivity that seems prevalent throughout most of the book.
I learned a great deal, and found the book readable and intriguing. May 01, Vijay Ivaturi rated it it was amazing. And above all, it talks very clearly about the rogue adventures of European nations which currently take moral high ground and act as better civilized societies than rest of the World.
Sanjeev Sanyal is an accomplished Economist and a good Historian as well. He starts the book stating his view on how history is traditionally written and how European writers and have completely skewed the World history in a way that suits their own countries. Never did I imagine reading a book that would start million years ago and end in the 21st century. This book just does that. There are so many dimensions to our history and Sanjeev Sanyal takes a calculated path events are described in their chronological order.
Key strength of this book is the way it links smaller events in history to something major. It also gives a perspective on various things or persons or places that we keep hearing regularly but are not aware of their historical importance.
The book does lose its focus towards the end where a lot of print space is dedicated to WW-2 and India. While there is nothing wrong in this, such a detailed account of a 20 year period goes against the briskness with which the earlier historical events were dealt with.
What I really like about this book is the fact that it covers a very broad spectrum of events. The list is endless and extremely interesting to read. I wish the author gave more important to non-political events post AD events.
It almost comes out as if the only thing which mattered in history is the wars and kings. How the lives of people evolved, science, technology, climate etc simply takes a backseat in the book, especially towards the latter part. I think this is totally wrong. The important people and events in history are the thinkers and innovators, the Darwins, Newtons, Beethovens whose work continues to grow in influence in a positive fashion" But this alone does not make any dent to the readability of this book.
Simply brilliant. A must have for every Indian who want to knows beyond the headlines. Oct 09, Ravi Singh rated it it was amazing. This book was a pleasure to read from start to finish!
It is well researched and written in free flowing, easy style with an aim to let you enjoy the experience rather than encumber you with stodgy, academic prose. The critics of this book are reflecting their own biases rather than anything the book offers.
The author more often than not just states his research and lets you make up your own mind. He does draw your attention to various events that have been consigned to the backroom of history mo This book was a pleasure to read from start to finish! He does draw your attention to various events that have been consigned to the backroom of history mostly by design by those who came in later and could control the narrative. Readers would fall into the usual category of those happy to learn the vast and rich history of the subcontinent from a fresh perspective and other who think western authors can't do any wrong.
He obviously chose to give us a reasonably short, interesting version we are likely to read, rather than a voluminous account that would just adorn the bookshelves of a few. Think of it as a great primer and introduction after reading which you can delve deeper into the aspects that most intrigued you. Choosing to base his narrative from the ocean inwards brought out some of the great moments of our history which we usually wouldn't be aware of.
Marthanda Varma's crushing of the Dutch in the Battle of Colachel is a relatively unknown defeat of an European Power a superpower arguably at that time which preceded the much better known Japanese defeat of the Russians by nearly 2 centuries. In addition he takes away the focus from the North of the country to the South. This is important because the Southern empires were able to expand the Indic influence far and wide and do not get enough credit in the standard history books.
Centuries are consigned to mere paragraphs whereas some decades of the North get pages devoted. Breaking down Ashoka and his times was probably a bold and important part of this book. It is just another example of how we have lapped up whatever we've been told without really examining it. The same can be said of the last chapter. It is particularly important from the Indian point of view because it calls out the firmly established notion of how we got our independence and gives various events and personalities their rightful place in history.
Understandably people will take issue with that, but facts speak for themselves. Jun 21, Sanket Tilekar rated it really liked it. The whole history of world right from evolution of human till current time seen through the eyes of Indian ocean.
This book covers quite a large period of history of trades, and rise and fall of empires around the Indian ocean coast. Despite it's large coverage the small details and stories make it very interesting read.
Feb 23, Priyank Bhavsar rated it really liked it. History taught in schools is unfairly focused upon the northern part of the Indian Subcontinent and it is often taken for granted that all the major political changes took place in the north and there is utter disregard for coastal history. Studying political-economy one realises that substantial research in regard with India's coastal history is yet to be carried out.
The discipline of political economy begins with Mesopotamian empire and comes down to European Mercantilism, with a mere mention History taught in schools is unfairly focused upon the northern part of the Indian Subcontinent and it is often taken for granted that all the major political changes took place in the north and there is utter disregard for coastal history.
The discipline of political economy begins with Mesopotamian empire and comes down to European Mercantilism, with a mere mention of the subcontinent as a major trading centre, sadly nothing more than that. In the study of International Relations political -economy has long focused on European history and has recently moved on to Silk Road.
India's political-economy begins with arrival of colonial powers. Often concentration is upon the continental empires and maritime history is given less importance.
Angus Maddison provides fabulous figures highlighting India's gigantic share in Global wealth. But what about the history of amassing of such wealth? Who were the movers of this wealth? Much of India's historical political economy is yet to be researched.
And Sanjeev Sanyal provides a fresh perspective on the issue. Diving into the history of grand empires of South India and tracing down stories of few individuals who have been long remembered by the locals but unknown to us, Sanyal tries to justify the importance of the Indian Ocean littoral in global history, though not enough to accord the Indian Ocean a respectable place in the discipline of political-economy.
Perhaps, there was intellectual analysis and larger statecraft and diplomacy and mean imperial designs attached with the normal activity of trade around Indian Ocean, in the past too. If at all any such thought existed in past it becomes difficult to find out for the lack of efficient documentation in Indian tradition.
As the mankind continues to struggle with the idea of Racial and Ethnic past and is in constant search of the ultimate unknown identity that it may have borne in past, comprehensive and profound study on political economy of the Indian Ocean might turn out to be helpful. The book is a very commendable effort by the author to bring forth the historical events and personalities that may go into obscurity if not mentioned. The extensive travels by the author to verify the places and events lends that much authenticity to the book.
The first part of the book contains facts collected from varying sources and not present in written form anywhere.
This part could have been The book is a very commendable effort by the author to bring forth the historical events and personalities that may go into obscurity if not mentioned. This part could have been organized better to make it easier reading. The second part which presents more recent history is clearly explained largely because of the available information. I feel the positive facts from India history should be included in the school and college curriculum.
This will make the citizens proud of their heritage and uplift the self image of whole society. Jun 21, Iami Menotu rated it really liked it. A enjoyable read about the history of the Indian Ocean.
May 10, Siddarth Gore rated it it was amazing. Path of history flows neither from nor to Utopia. History never seemed interesting to me.
How does it matter if a King did this or a Saint said that hundreds of years ago? The older stone-age rock-paintings at Bhimbetkar in Madhya Pradesh also exhibit horses which indicate that horse was known to India from an early age p.
Beyond BCE the hubs of the riverside civilizations began to emerge. Its decline began thereafter till it petered out in BCE. Harappans developed sophisticated cities but not the Pyramids as the Egyptians did. Before BCE, both Indus and Ghaghar flowed through Rann of Kutch in Gujarat to enter the sea at Lakhpat; Ghaghar dried up long ago but the Indus got diverted only recently after the earthquake p.
Harappans also used land routes through Afghanistan and central Iran to trade with Mesopotamia. Harappans exported cotton textiles, ghee, beads, carnelian, weights and measures.
Rig Veda mentions Saraswati River in forty five hymns, in full flow as the greatest and the most important life-line of the populace. Ganga is mentioned only twice. Saraswati is placed between the Yamuna and Satluj p.
The later Vedas do not give prominence to Saraswati. After BCE, due to weakening or successive failure of Monsoon rains, rivers shrunk in width or dried up completely. Similar changes in rain-fall patterns in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Iran caused immense political disruptions there.
Scarcity of water forced Harappans to shift from Barley-Wheat to Millet production which necessitated small rural settlement culture to grow. Thus cities had to be abandoned. Search for water led people to reach the Himalayan foot-hills as well as Gangetic plains. The people from Gujarat seem to have migrated south to the Narmada and Tapti valleys.
The Harappans must have taken their technologies and knowledge to wherever they migrated—east, south and then to south-east Asia. Varanasi may be a Harappan settlement, thus equally old where people from all regions, north-south-east-west converged; hence, Indian civilization is a result of multiple ideas, influences and people p.
During the millenniums before the C. The Zoroastrians or Parsi-s seem to be the descendants of the Parsu community that constituted one of the ten communities that were defeated by the Bharata-s.
The latter possibility explains commonalities in rituals and customs, worship patterns as well as the rise and subsequent disappearance of Jiroft civilization in eastern Iran. Iron technology was introduced thereafter, five centuries after its introduction in southern India. Hittites soon mastered the iron technology and in association with Anatolia now Turkey ousted Mittani in the thirteenth century BCE. Later Christians, it is believed, adopted the same date [25 th of December] to celebrate Christmas.
However the Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7th. Puritans in the th centuries banned the celebration of Christmas altogether. Mitra, an ancient god from Haryana travelled to and came to be celebrated in Europe p.
Thus, Cyprus rose to replace Oman. Recent genetic studies reveal that or more years ago, an adventurous band of Indians seems to have voyaged and turned up in Australia and contributed their DNA to the aborigines. Today these people speak languages related to Vietnamese as well as Khymer. By BCE use of Iron had expanded from south of India to the central and north of India which gave thrust to a fresh phase of urbanization.
Urban Varanasi survives from that era. During the same period, the sub-continent came to be connected by two high-ways: uttara- patha [east-west road] from Afghanistan to Bengal and dakshina-patha [southern road], a triangular road from the gangetic plains [Allahabad-Varanasi] via Ujjain, ports of Gujarat to Kishkindha in Karnataka and beyond p.
Alexandar defeated Porus [a king from the Vedic Puru clan] in the plains of Panjab and decided to return home but most of his men perished on way to home and he himself died in Babylon. After the murder of his son, his Generals divided up the Empire among themselves!
Subsequently, with the establishment and the rise of the Maurya Empire, Chandragupt defeated Seleucus and expanded his Empire from Afghanistan to Bengal. After his death Asoka in connivance with the Greek mercenaries, killed 99 of his half brothers and their loyalist officers in four years, sparing only his full brother Tissa, to be the unrivalled Maurya king. He had converted to Buddhism two years prior to the invasion [ BCE] of Kalinga [Odisha] which might have been a rebellious province p.
Asoka died in BCE when Satvahanas had already established control over most of the southern India, Kalinga had seceded. Asoka too had links with the Greek rulers of West Asia. Asoka had close links with the Chola-s as well as Pandya-s of the Tamil region p.
Teenager Samprati, a grand-son of Asoka, was crowned at Patliputra [Patna] but the family- feuds forced him to run away to Ujjain. Satavahana-s, from Andhra Pradesh, with their capital at Pratishthana [Paithan- Maharashtra] took over much of the southern territories of the Maurya Empire and took control of the dakshina-path [southern trade route].
In their march further north and west, the Satavahana-s fought Indo-Greeks and Sakas [Scythians] and defeated them which is recorded in a Nashik inscription which tells us that the Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni pushed back the Sakas and the Indo-Greeks. Kharavelu Hathigumpha [elephant-cave] inscription records the rise of Kalinga military leader Kharavelu, who under the leadership of the Chedi clan in BCE, re-established the Kalinga Empire and marched up north into Magadh to defeat the Indo-Greek king Demetrius who had to retreat to Mathura.
The last Mauryam king, Bhrihadhrata was subsequently deposed by his general Pushyamitra Sunga who established a new dynasty that later came to control north and central India. Kharavelu recorded his victories in rock- inscriptions at Udaigiri hill and Hathigumpha, near Bhubanashwar [as if to tell Asoka that Kharavelu had sacked Patliputra and caused the end of the Mauryas] p.
On the economic front, the inscriptions describe the restoration of irrigation-canals and the trade in silk between India, South-East Asia and China p. The Mekong delta in Vietnam had developed into a nucleus from where mercantile ships and boats would reach China.
The first Indianized kingdom in the Mekong delta of the south-east Asia saw the establishment of the kingdom of Funan where the chief of pirates, princess Soma fell in love with and married Kaundaniya, the captain of the Indian mercantile ship who defended his ship successfully and valiantly.
Their lineage [matrilineal] ruled Funan for several generations. Their fight and love is recorded in inscriptions by the Chams of Vietnam as well as the Khymers of Cambodia. Kaundaniya is a family name [sur-name] from Odisha-Andhra- Tamil coastal belt.
Tapoi Ancient mariners would set sail for Indonesia when the winds blow from the north. Tapoi, a daughter of a merchant, was maltreated by her sisters-in-law in the absence of her merchant father and brothers.
Tapoi ran away to a forest and prayed to the goddess Mangala [Durga]. Her father and brothers returned suddenly, and noticed her absence and its cause, the folk-tale hints at long oceanic voyages as well as social tensions associated with it.
Indian merchants exported cotton-textiles and black-pepper, and imported Chinese Silk, Sumatran Camphor, cloves, nutmeg, other spices from Indonesia. The entire supply of cloves came from tiny islands of Ternate and Tidore in Maluku group.
The Ramayana-Mahabharata has reached the entire south-east Asian region. Some of the early mariners from these eastern regions settled in Sri Lanka and came to be known as Vedda, genetic studies confirm it. He had a daughter and a son by her. The son Sinhabahu killed his father in order to escape from the cave.
His son Vijaya, a tyrant, was opposed by the Vedda who were led by Kuveni, a lady. Vijaya changed to be a responsible ruler and married the princess of the Tamil Pandya clan. Sri Lankan Sinhalese are, therefore, genetically proximate to the East Indians. Echoing the lion-link, the Narasimha in Odisha and Andhra and Durga in Bengal continue to be worshipped even today.
Emperor Asoka supported the kingdom of Anuradhapura to gain a prominent place in the island. A decade later kind and caring Ellara, another Tamil ruler ruled Anuradhapura for 44 years. He was decapitated in a duel by young Dattagamani. Pandya-s of the northern Tamil country invariably sided with the southern Sri Lankans whereas the Chola-s supported the northerners. Dattagamani united the island and ruled from Anuradhapura.
Anuradhapura remained the capital of the island for the next thousand odd years. In CE Kassapa, the eldest son from a junior concubine murdered, with the help of Migara, his father, the king of Anuradhapura, Dhatusena, , to capture power. The crown prince escaped to southern India! Kassapa built his capital at Sigiriya. Moggallana returned in CE with an army of Indian mercenaries and killed Kassapa and shifted the capital back to Anuradhapura.
The abandoned Sigriya, located on a hill-top, is home to splendid cave-paintings, and graffiti love-poems p. The sailors after reaching the mouth of the Persian Gulf would reach east of Gujarat. Periplus records that a stretch beyond this point was very difficult to navigate; this might be a reference to Rann of Kutchh p.
Ahead of it there was fertile land of Baracca [Dwarka? Beyond Saurashtra the ships would sail through Narmada to the great port of Barygaza [Bharuch] which exported cotton textiles, iron and Iron-products. Indian merchants imported Italian wine instead of the Arabian or Syrian brew.