Book Release of History of Ancient India (11 Volume Series)
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On April 9, 2024, Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) organised a book release of one of VIF’s flagship projects, History of Ancient India (an 11-volume book series), edited by Prof. Dilip Chakrabarti. The books were formally released by Shri. Ajit Doval (National Security Advisor) and Shri. S. Gurumurthy (Chairman, VIF) in the presence of Prof. Dilip Chakrabarti, Dr. Arvind Gupta, Director, VIF, and members of the media.

The 11-volume book series covers interconnected themes of ancient Indian history. Volume I deals with the history of the Stone Age on the Indian subcontinent. Volume II deals with the economic, social and cultural foundations laid down during the protohistoric period. A large section of this volume is devoted to various aspects of the Indus civilization, especially its legacy linking it with later Indian civilization and traditions. Volume III begins with the Vedic texts and covers the period of the 16 Mahajanapadas until 200 BCE. Volumes IV and V deal with the theme of ‘political history and administration’ from the decline of the Mauryan Empire in around 200 BCE to the advent of Islam in India. Volume VI deals with social, political and judicial ideas, institutions and practices, including the caste system, characters of village and urban life in ancient India, the position of women, ancient Indian education, state and government, and law. Volume VII focuses on economic history, including agriculture, crafts and trade. Volume VIII deals with sculpture, terracotta, painting, and architecture. Volume IX offers an outline of ancient Indian science and technology, including metallurgy and medical science. Volume X offers a summary of literature, literary ideas and religious and philosophical systems. The concluding Volume XI focuses on Ancient India’s interrelations with Southeast, East, Central and West Asia, the eastern coast of Africa and the Mediterranean world.

Dr. Arvind Gupta, in his welcoming address, highlighted the important role these published volumes will play in countering the biased western scholars’ version of Indian history. He asserted that these volumes will erase the distortions in writing Indian history by the occidental scholars and their ardent followers in India, who gave a selective, one-sided narration of the exploits of the foreign invaders into India, deliberately ignored India’s achievements, and generated an inferiority complex amongst Indians about their past. The History of Ancient India volumes are an attempt by the VIF to promote Indian history written by Indians. He stated that the series of books cover India’s prehistoric roots, its proto-historic foundations, and its political, social and economic history. It also delves into ancient India’s contributions to science and technology, medicine, literature and the religious and philosophical systems. Dr. Arvind Gupta expressed his gratitude to Prof. Dilip Chakrabarti for his dedicated work on this project. He also thanked Prof. Makkhan Lal, who co-edited the first five volumes with Prof. Chakrabarti. They were able to mobilise a large number of scholars and academics to write for these volumes.

Prof. Dilip Chakrabarti, in his remarks, thanked Shri. Ajit Doval for the support given to him since the inception of the multi-volume series on the history of Ancient India in March 2011. All 11 proposed volumes have been completed and published, thanks to the hard work of the multiple contributors to the volumes. The series is an objective and factual history conforming to basic nationalist pride in the story of India. This series will also make us aware of the areas in which India needs to improve. Prof. Dilip Chakrabarti also spoke about the current dire straits of archaeological research in Indian universities under the influence of foreign universities. Indian archaeologists are becoming mere facilitators of foreign research on Indian history.

Shri. S. Gurumurthy, who conceived the idea of the book series, stated that over the years, Indians only read the history that others wrote for us rather than writing their own history. The historians from all over the world who wrote about India were fixated on the dynasties and individual rulers who ruled or conquered India. But individual rulers do not solely define the history of a period, as they are transient. It is the art, music, literature, science, mathematics and technology of a period that define a society. Therefore, the VIF thought it was necessary to present an all-inclusive historical perspective about Indian civilization. The book series is not an attempt to rewrite history; rather, it is an attempt to use the original Indian sources to present the Indian perspective and reject the false narratives.

Shri. Ajit Doval, in his address, thanked Prof. Dilip Chakrabarti, along with Prof. Makkhan Lal and all the scholars who contributed to the completion of the book series. The book is of great historical relevance because of the references and sources mentioned by the scholars. He described India as a civilization of antiquity and continuity spanning thousands of years over a vast territory. He then went ahead and highlighted the absurdity of most western scholars writing about Indian history, in which they projected the invasion of Alexander as a watershed moment in Indian history. They projected it as a victory of the west over the east. In reality, the invasion of Alexander was a small local incident. Alexander only came to the border of this vast country and was not able to proceed further and had to go back. He stated that the western scholars tried to mentally dominate Indians by teaching us a distorted version of history in which we don’t find any sense of pride. In the medieval period, there was a deliberate attempt to destroy institutions like Nalanda, Takshila and other libraries through which we could connect with our glorious past. The combination of the obliteration of intellectual centers in the medieval period and the propagation of distorted history by the colonials deprived us of having the right sense of our own existence and identity. Shri Ajit Doval also mentioned Swami Vivekananda, who wanted Indians to write their own objective history based on facts, which would develop a better understanding of our own past and help us build for a better future.

The session ended with concluding remarks and a vote of thanks by Dr. Arvind Gupta.

Event Date 
April 9, 2024

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