Ancient Indian Kings and Legacy of India
An introduction to the history of India
It is always a matter of pride to the Indians when they contemplate about their past.When there were many fledgling civilizations struggling to get an identity and way into the civilized world India already had her`s.The Indus Valley civilization (3300–1300 BC), a well developed urban civilization had flourished in the north western part of the country.
The formation of kingdom began with the advent of Aryans and India was fully involved herself until first European visits India. He was from west- A place where too many disciplines had sprouted and the people were civilized! But to that European civilization had some different meaning.To him civilization meant conquering the tracts of land and then proving the fact that "you just lost the battle because I am more civilized".He was a profound warrior and after defeating many north western tribes of India with valor and honor he moved further.To him slaughtering the people was an act like a farmers reaps his field.Then that chivalrous man unable to breach a fort promised the inhabitants to deal fairly when they come out and then when dwellers came out for a treaty he slaughtered and defeated them with treachery.He was Alexander the Great.
After he defeated Porus he reverted back in 325 BC and was forgotten by Indians as if he never came at all.The great Chandragupta Maurya had ascended to the throne of Indian territory.His dynasty reigned for 137 years and then ousted by a Brahmin ruler, Pushyang Mitra. Conquests followed and soon came the period of Guptas Which is considered to be the Golden age of Indian history. Harshavardhan was the last Hindu Emperor who ruled parts of India known as 'Aryavart' and after that Age of Muslim invaders began.
There were small kingdoms which covered the vast Indian Subcontinent.The North western part of the country was always prone to the hostility of the neighboring rulers.The rise of Islam and the willingness of it`s followers to spread it across the world started.At first the assails from the western Asia were mainly for the monetary purposes and India was well known for her wealth.
Mohammed Ghori changed this trend when he defeated Rajput ruler Prithvi Raj Chauhan. There Again were no Pan India rulers. The rise of Vijaya Nagar and Bahamani kingdoms were to have a Profound influence on Indian History. It was Babar in 1526 AD who led the foundation of a strong Indian Empire. The Mughal empire rose to it`s height in the period of Akbar the Great.
The time is a very sound judge of the deeds of human beings. When Shivaji came into power the breach in the Mughal empire started. The Maratha Empire ended the rule of Mughals and due to many persons involved rose to it`s height. But the fate of the country was to see something else. In 1818 AD the third Anglo-Maratha war handed the empire in the hands of East India company.The revolt of 1857 finally Handed the power and authority to British Government and which made it`s full effort devastate India in terms of her culture and wealth.And not satisfied with it they adopted the policy of divide and rule which sown the seeds for bifurcation of this nation.
Images from Maurya Dynasty
Famous Indian rulers and their contribution to Indian legacy
Indian history is fortunate enough to have seen the life and times of many great rulers.I won`t like to compare them with their counterparts in world history because the world history has totally different parameters which define greatness.The kings whose achievements are discussed here are from the age of Chandragupta Maurya to that of Harsha Vardhana.They are discussed because of the certain traits they had and which makes them invaluable to history of India.
The greatest Indian King ?
Who according you was the Greatest Indian King ?
Chandragupta Maurya(340 BC – 298 BC) is considered to be the first Indian king whose kingdom almost covered whole part of the Indian sub-continent.He ruled from 322 BC to 298 BC and in the same year(298 BC) he left for south India handing his empire to his son Bindusar.
Chandragupta from his childhood had qualities which in future would make him a great king. But it was the Chanakya who provided direction and impetus to his genius.He trained him with other princes in Takshila university and never for a moment let him think that he was born a shephard.
After he completed his education, Chanakya formed coaliation with the tribal kings of the hilly regions in order to devastate Nand kingdom and fulfill his pledge.He attacked with Chandragupta Maurya as Commander in chief but his invasion was a failure and they had to disguise themselves in order to save their life.It was in exile that they found the exact reason for their failure.
This time determined not to repeat the previous mistake they assaulted again and this time they were victorious.Chandragupta maurya was sworn as the emperor of the entire Magadh kingdom with Chanakya as it`s Prime Minister.
Chandragupta Maurya, though a powerful king, yet never wished to be an imperialist. He just wanted to rule over his country and unification of which was a responsibility of any Indian ruler.After having defeated Seleucus he could have easily benefited with the weakness of his enemy but he did not do so.He made some treaty and accepted gifts which was presented to him.Though he was a Hindu he never suppressed Buddhism or Jainism and it is also fabled that he in his old age finally accepted Jainism and headed for South.He respected the diversity of Human culture and many foreigners resided in the grand city of Patliputra(capital) which is well described In Indica by Megasthenes.
Ashoka the great
If somebody asks who was the greatest and ablest ruler in the world History ? Mr. H.G. Wells says he is Ashoka. The great emperor whose name will last till the world sees it`s doomsday.
Ashoka Maurya (304–232 BCE) was the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya. His father Bindusar, who was a perfect successor to the Chandragupta Maurya, presented large empire to Ashoka when he was crowned.The process was not so easy but Ashoka finally made to the throne.He was ambitious in his early life and hence made several expeditions to capture the remaining Indian territories which were not the part of his empire.He ruled from 269 BC to 232 BC.
The battle fought with the Kaling completely changed him. The blood-shed he saw in front of his eyes were so pathetic to him that his heart was torn completely apart and he was forced to think about the use of this sort of victory which brings nothing but endless strife to all the people involved.
A great transformation took place in his conscience and he vowed not to wage war again until it was a matter of defending the motherland. He with his all might started his famous 'Dhamm Vijay'. He said that it was useless to win the people through arms but one should win people by heart. He converted himself into a Buddhist and put his all efforts for the betterment of his people. He even sent his messages in other Asian countries and spread of Buddhism in many eastern countries is because of his efforts. He only saw a human in man and for him there were no barriers. He many times sent mission to help the people in other countries.He was true believer of the Indian ancient belief of 'Vasudhaiv kutumbkam'(Whole earth is a family).He was a Buddhist but he gave equal preference to all the religions and respected every religion.
Images from the Gupta dynasty
Samudragupta the Great
Samudragupta was the fourth king in the Gupta dynasty who ruled from 335 AD to 375 AD. He was the son of Chandragupta I who is credited as the main founder of Gupta Dynasty. Samudragupta on ascending the throne of the Magadh kingdom initiated expeditions known as 'Digvijaya' to conquer Northern and central India and he followed the policy of 'Dharm vijaya' in the Southern expeditions. He led many expeditions in all directions and as a result his territories included modern Afghanistan.It is said that in his life he never faced a defeat and hence he assumed the title of 'chakravarti'.He was a great a statesman. In southern expeditions he won the territories but returned the kingdom to their original kings and hence won loyalties of the kings. This prevented revolt for long period of time.
He was a great patron of arts and other disciplines. He himself was a poet but unfortunately we have none of his composed poems.He was a musician too. His expeditions are well described in the excavated inscriptions found in Allahabad.Though he had a strong faith in Hinduism he never rejected Buddhism.He followed a policy of religious tolerance. He allowed the king of Ceylon to build a Buddhist monastery in Bodh Gaya. Had he wanted he would have for sure led expedition to neighboring countries to bring them under his rule. But the traditions of this great culture were deeply rooted inside him and he never did so.
Chandragupta II "Vikramaditya"
He was the younger son of Samudragupta and he was not the immediate successor of the his father. His elder brother ascended to the throne as a part of Vedas` tradition.But was his elder brother Ramagupta was soon killed and this paved the way for his coronation in 380 AD.He conquered the territories further and in his reign the Gupta empire reached it`s zenith.He made his second capital Ujjain while Patliputra was still the capital of the vast empire. He adopted mixed policy of expansion as well as martial relations to annex the territories and unify the country.He made several expedition to drive the foreigners out of the Indian land.He ruled till 415 AD.
He was religiously tolerant and great patron of arts like his father.He was such devoted to the arts that poets were paid in his rule!(A rare phenomenon in ancient civilizations).He had unrivaled poets in his court.A Hindu legend tells that there was a king Vikramaditya who had nine gems in his court.Indeed it was Chandragupta II who had assumed the legendary title.World`s greatest dramatist Kalidas was one of the nine gems of the court.The age of the Chandragupta II is known as the golden age of Indian history.It was the period of Chandragupta II when the Puranas were written and the Hinduism reached it`s true meaning.Vast development took place in various disciplines.
Images of Harsh Vardhana
Harsha Vardhana ruled from 606 AD to 647 AD and he was the king who unified most of the Northern and central India.He started ruling when he was just 16 years old.He was the son of Prabhakar Vardhana who was a local ruler from Thanesar, Haryana. His elder brother was murdered in battle due to a conspiracy led by the secret alliance between Shasanka, king of eastern Bengal and Devgupta, king of Malwa. He avenged the murder of his brother by defeating Shasanka although not completely.
Harsha was at first follower of shaivism but later adopted Buddhism.He built many stupas and provided great funds to Nalanda University. Many Chinese travelers visited in his period in which the works of Xuanzang is notable and reliable as well when discovering facts about Harsha. He was religiously tolerant and respected all religions. Harsha wrote three Sanskrit plays which itself are enough to prove him as notable writer. The plays are Nagananda, Ratnavali and Priyadarsika.
Conclusion : Contribution of Indian Kings to India`s legacy
While I have just outlined few of the kings who made their mark in the ancient Indian history, there were and are many others apart from the domain of the politics who have continued to prove the very legacy in various disciplines of which they were masters.
After going through the upper part of this text there are many things which one finds very common among Indian Kings.
1. Religious tolerance
2. Absence of Imperialistic ambitions.
The above two common aspects have really influenced the Indian history to greatest extent.There are many Indians and others who think that they were ruled by the westerners but they never bother to analyse it. It is true that absence of unity and powerful kingdom was the main cause. But please have a break here!
What would have happened, had Chandragupta Maurya invaded the territories outside India ? he would have gained more territory and hence the influence of the Indian empire would flourish in western Asia.But he was not avaricious. And whosoever through his history considers himself great must consider that"Great are those who were victorious but greater are those who despite defeated never retaliated without a noble cause."