Sources of Indian History

Archaeological and Literary Sources of Indian History
Sources of Indian History
It is hard to believe that Indians who made great contributions in the field of philosophy, medicine, science, mathematics, astronomy, physics, economics, literature, and every kind of art, has no sense of history. The problem can be attributed to their sense and understanding of time. To Indians, time is circular in nature, it has no linear structure, as perceived by western and many modern philosophers. So, they never took any serious effort to document history. One can also say, Indians were not concerned about recording the events. However, this cost dearly to their future generations.

Nevertheless, one can trace the footprints of ancient Indians through a variety of sources such as material culture, coins, inscriptions, literary resources, and accounts of foreign travellers. These sources could be divided into two categories, first, archaeological resources, and second, literary resources.

Archaeological Sources of Indian History

Material Culture
Material culture refers to physical objects, resources, and spaces that define a culture. It includes structures, means of productions, means of storage, and daily use objects. The material culture defines how people used to live in a certain period.

Coins play an important role in the study of history. Coins, not only, help one defines the boundaries, and economic condition of the country, but it also defines how the state or nations interact with each other.

Inscriptions are important because they help in defining the length and breadth of a kingdom. This inscription also helps us to understand the lineage of the royal houses, and how they rule over their kingdom.

Literary Sources of Indian History

Indians know how to write since 2500 BC, but earliest records of Indian writings can be trace backs to 400-500 BC. Moreover, there are few writings about Indian society by foreign travellers. These writings or literary sources altogether can be subclassified into two categories, first, Indian literary sources, and second, accounts of foreign travellers.

Indian Literature
Indian literature can be reclassified into three categories. First, religious literature which includes Vedic literature (Vedas, Ramayana, and Mahabharata); Buddhist literature (Tripitaka, and Jatak Katha), and Jain Literature (Angas, Upangas, Prakrina), second, Secular Indian writings such as Arthashastra, Astadhayee, and Rajtarangini, and third, Sangam literature.

Accounts of Foreign Travelers
The accounts of foreign travellers can provide a good amount of information about India. First, such major information about India came from the account of Greek traveller Megasthenes. He has written about India in great details in his book, Indica. Later, Chinese travellers like Tsumachi, Fa Hein, and Hieun Tsang, and Mohammedan travellers like Ibne Khurdadab, Suleiman, and Al-Masudi.

Archaeological and Literary Sources of Indian History
Archaeological and Literary Sources of Indian History