Here is a well researched blog created by Dr. Aravind Sharma: http://arvindsharma.wordpress.com about Indian history!
In http://arvindsharma.wordpress.com/2008/01/25/18-the-indian-self-image-in-the-fourth-century-bc/ he gives the following information.
- Indians considered themselves to be indigenous (locals) to India even in the 4th century BC.
- Diodorus Siculus (first century B.C.) said that Indians were a diverse group even then and neither spoke of settlers coming in or going out and settling. They remembered living off the land, with usch fruit etc as the trees provided and using animal skins etc.
- With the arts and other appliances which improve human life gradually invented because of necessity.
- Consider the belief the Indians had in their historical antiquity.
- Thus, according to Arrian: “From the time of Dionysus to Sandracottus the Indians counted 153 Kings and a period of 6042 years, but among these a republic was thrice established * * * * and another 300 years, and another 120 years. The Indians also tell us that Dionysus was earlier than Heracles by fifteen generations, and that except him no one made a hostile invasion of India – not even Cyrus the son of Cambyses, although he undertook an expedition against the Scythians, and otherwise showed himself the most enterprising monarch in all Asia; but that Alexander indeed came and overthrew in war all whom he attacked, and would even have conquered the whole world had his army been willing to follow him. On the other hand, a sense of justice, they say, prevented any Indian king from attempting conquest beyond the limits of India.
- It is clear then that already in the fourth century B.C. the Indian self-perception of being a diverse, indigenous and ancient people must have been firmly in place, and was reported as such by the Greeks. One might add that India then was also perceived as “the most populous of all the nations of the world” – a status it seems headed towards regaining.
In http://arvindsharma.wordpress.com/2008/02/03/19-what-should-one-think-of-alexander-the-great/ we learn that Alexander was not-so-great after all.
- “according to Plutarch: As the Indian mercenary troops, consisting, as they did, of the best soldiers to be found in the country, flocked to the cities which he attacked and defended them with great vigour, he thus incurred serious losses, and accordingly concluded a treaty of peace with them; but afterwards, as they were going away, set upon them while they were on the road, and killed them all. This rests as a foul blot on his martial fame, for on all other occasions he observed the rules of civilized warfare as became a king. The Philosophers gave him no less trouble than the mercenaries, because they reviled the princes who declared for him and encouraged the free states to revolt from his authority. On this account he hanged many of them”.
- According to Q. Curtius Rufus, “he ordered…couches of a size larger than was required for men of ordinary stature to be left, so that my making things appear in magnificent proportions he might astonish posterity by deceptive wonders”.
- The Indian philosopher, whose name in its Hellenized form is given as Mandanis was summone by Alexander’s messengers to visit the son of Zeus and promised that he would receive gifts if he obeyed, but punishment if he disobeyed, he replied that in the first place, Alexander was not the son of Zeus, inasmuch as he was not ruler over even a very small part of the earth, and, secondly, that he had no need of gifts from Alexander, of which, there was no satiety and, thirdly, that he had no fear of threats, since India would supply him with sufficient food while he was alive, and when he died he would be released from the flesh wasted by old age and be translated to a better and purer life; and that the result was that Alexander commended him and acquiesced.”
It is ok for the Colonial British with their fondness for imperialism to call Alexander “the great” but to Indians then and now Alexander was the “not-so-great”.
In http://arvindsharma.wordpress.com/2008/02/22/20-what-did-the-ancient-indians-think-of-the-ancient-greeks/ Dr. Sharma makes the following points.
- Account of the meeting of an Indian with Socrates: “Eusebius preserves a tradition, which he attributes to a contemporary, the well-known writer on harmonics Aristoxenus, that certain learned Indians actually visited Athens and conversed with Socrates. They asked him to explain the object of his philosophy, and when he replied, ‘an inquiry into human affairs’, one of the Indians burst out laughing. ‘How’, he asked, ‘could a man grasp human things without first mastering the Divine?’
- “….Mandanis replied that he regarded the Greeks as sound-minded in general, but that they were wrong in one respect, in that they preferred custom to nature..”
- ….”Among the Indians officers are appointed even for foreigners, whose duty is to see that no foreigner is wronged. Should any of them lose his health, they send physicians to attend him, and deliver over such property as he leaves to his relatives. The judges also decide cases in which foreigners are concerned, with the greatest care, and come down sharply on those who take unfair advantage of them.
In “http://arvindsharma.wordpress.com/2008/03/06/21-the-greek-accounts-of-india-and-the-politics-of-representation/ Dr. Sharma lists the mis-representations and exaggerations about India made by the greeks including and not limited to statements like “men with ears large enough to sleep in”.
In http://arvindsharma.wordpress.com/2008/03/13/22-on-hinduism-dining-its-troubles-away/ provides this information.
- Megasthenes, the Greek Ambassador to the Mauryan court from about 302 to 300 B.C. “Indians lead happy lives, being simple and in their manners frugal. They never drink wine except at sacrifices. Their beverage is prepared from rice instead of barley, and their food is principally rice. The simplicity of their laws and their contracts appears from the fact that they seldom go to law.Their houses and property are for the most part unguarded.These things show their moderation and good sense, but other things they do which one cannot approve – that they always eat alone, and that they have no fixed hours when all take their meals in common, but each one eats when it pleases himself. The contrary custom would be better for the interests of social and political life.“
- Albīrūnī : “They call them mleccha, i.e., impure, and forbid having any connection with them, be it by intermarriage or any other kind of relationship, or by sitting, eating, and drinking with them, because thereby, they think, they would be polluted.They consider as impure anything which touches the fire and water of a foreigner; and no household can exist without these two elements. Besides, they never desire that a thing which once has been polluted should be purified and recovered, as, under ordinary circumstances, if anybody or anything has become unclean, he or it would have strive to regain the state of purity. They are not allowed to receive anybody who does not belong to them, even if he wishes it, or was inclined to their religion. This, too, renders any connection with them quite impossible and constitutes the widest gulf between us and them.”
In http://arvindsharma.wordpress.com/2007/09/05/4-is-sanskrit-a-brahmanical-language/ Dr. Sharma brings out the point that Sanskrit was used by Jains and Buddhists as well.
- Classical study of Sanskrit even today commences with the study of the Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini and the Amarakośa of Amarasiṁha.
- The Nanda dynasty, with Jaina leanings, popularised Pāṇini’s grammar.
- As for Amarakośa, its author was a Buddhist.
- The most authoritative commentator on Kālidāsa’s poems, Mallinātha, happens to be Jaina.
- The basic Jaina text, venerated equally by the Digambaras and the Śvetāmbaras, the Tattvārtha Sūtra of Umāsvāti, is also in Sanskrit.
- The original canon of some Buddhist schools, such as the Sarvāstivādins, was in Sanskrit.
In http://arvindsharma.wordpress.com/2007/10/10/9-hindu-muslim-problem-in-a-new-perspective/ Dr. Sharma brings out two phases of Hindu Muslim Relations.
- The first short phase was of peaceful co-existence. It was based on sea-trade with the Arabs which had started much before the Arabs had converted to Islam.
- The second longer phase was one of rulers and the ruled.