~DOWNLOAD ♂ The First Spring Part 1: Life in the Golden Age of India ♴ PDF or E-pub free

~DOWNLOAD ⚔ The First Spring Part 1: Life in the Golden Age of India ♌ Part One of a brilliant study of ancient Indian civilization For about a thousand years, from around the middle of the first millennium BCE, to around the middle of the first millennium CE, India was a prosperous and marvellously creative civilization The unprecedented economic prosperity that India enjoyed in the first half of the first millennium CE was a crucial catalyst that energized the flowering of the classical Indian civilization In Part One of The First Spring Life in the Golden Age of India Abraham Eraly unfolds a profoundly illuminating panorama, covering the political history, polity, economy, society, family and everyday life, of an age that flowered luxuriantly before its inevitable decay Nice book to know about history of India Writing about the cultural history of a nation is a tricky business Having composed and compiled long ago, inconsistency in the ancient texts is bound to occur Besides, the moral code that applied to the ancient society would be radically different from what is in force at the present time These two factors manage to set up a virtual minefield for the researcher Though considerable freedom of selection is thus guaranteed, the ideals and aspirations of the descendants of that civilization als Writing about the cultural history of a nation is a tricky business Having composed and compiled long ago, inconsistency in the ancient texts is bound to occur Besides, the moral code that applied to the ancient society would be radically different from what is in force at the present time These two factors manage to set up a virtual minefield for the researcher Though considerable freedom of selection is thus guaranteed, the ideals and aspirations of the descendants of that civilization also need to be taken into account This introduction had become necessary while comparing this book with Wendy Doniger s The Hindus an Alternative History , reviewed earlier in this blog The subject matter of both books remains similar, but the yawning ocean of difference lies in the attitude of the authors While Doniger adopts a headstrong, callous, insensitive and unscholarly bent to history, Eraly is matter of factly and always keeps a respectful eye on propriety This excellent book is a wonderful work in English composed by an Indian author Abraham Eraly was born in Kerala and educated there and in Chennai He has taught Indian history in colleges in India and the U.S and has authored twobooks on Indian history featuring the Mughal period.The Classical Period in India extends from 500 BCE, when the post Vedic society had given birth to heterodox sects like Buddhism and Jainism, till 500 CE with the decline of the Gupta dynasty India, for once, became an open, prosperous, progressive and vibrantly creative civilization It must not be surmised that the country was free from external aggression in this period far from it Eraly records a series of disastrous invasions that ravaged the land However, unlike what happened another five centuries later in the case of Muslim invaders, the Bactrian, Pahlava, Saka and Kushana hordes stayed on in India and blended with its people seamlessly and without even a trace The immigration of these groups enriched the cultural diversity which was already impressive coupled with economic prosperity because of the spread of agriculture, improvement of farming practices, development of trade, cultural cross fertilization from Persia and Greece and the Buddhist ethic The author is very particular on the last point and he asserts that Classical Indian civilization was essentially a Buddhist civilization But then in the Classical Age, religion was not the faith in god, but simply a worldview Economic factors also contributed to the changes in polity Settled agriculture and territorial states replaced elective tribal chieftains Kings were appointed on claims of heredity The function of the monarch was limited to provide protection, collect revenue and engage in wars He was constrained by customs and practices of castes, groups and guilds However, Eraly s characterization of such a loose structure as constitutional monarchy seems a bit farfetched So, by the Classical Age, the village supplanted the tribe and clan as the basic unit in the body politic.The author comments on the sophisticated treatment of the concept of god as a part of the world and its processes in Classical India To those sages, the concept of the Semitic god as an anthropomorphic creator god would ve seemed infantile During the post Gupta period, India slid into dark ages Eraly makes a bold guess as to the cause of this decline to be the economy s failure in a domino effect consequent to the fall of the Roman Empire As scope for lucrative export trade dwindled in West Asia and Europe, trade declined in India too This state of affairs indirectly led to rigidity of the caste system, with Brahmins at the top of the pyramid Status of women also dropped remarkably and cities diminished in influence India once again became rustic.The book suggests that the Pallavas of Tamil Nadu might actually have been the descendants of Pahlavas, who came from Parthia in modern day Iran, as they were uprooted by the marauding Sakas Eraly substantiates his argument with the observation that the Pallavas showed no affiliation to Tamil deities in the first few generations They followed Buddhism and Jainism, but later converted to Hinduism The first land grant to Brahmins in South India is seen in the reign of Pallavas in their supposed bid to obtain spiritual legitimacy The Brahmins performed sacrifices and contrived grand pedigrees for the kings so as to suggest a Kshatriya origin Pallava kings wrote in Sanskrit and they adopted the Tamil language very much later in the reign The section on political history is very informative and a pleasure to read.The division of society into endogamous jatis castes is a unique feature of India that is still continuing in the modern age The identification of a practicing Hindu is complete only when he discloses his caste Most Hindus have a sixth sense to guess the caste of a stranger from subtle clues in speech, actions or mannerisms The author presents an excellent review of how such a system came into being and what maintained it for so long, in the two sections on economy and society Classification of people by occupation was in place in Vedic times too, but it was not rigid Change from one varna to the other was difficult, but possible The term varna though it means colour was not based on skin colour The varnas assigned to Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra varnas were white, red, yellow and black respectively This is only a convenient mode for sorting social rules An analogy may be seen in the national flags of states or the colours red, green and blue assigned to quarks and gluons in particle physics, which have no chromatic significance to what they represent As the attitudes hardened, new ways were devised to keep the lower castes in their degraded positions Concepts of karma and transmigration came in handy A man is born in a particular varna according to the karma he has accumulated in previous births Good karma earns one a birth as a Brahmin and bad karma guarantees life as a Sudra There is no way this can be changed in the present birth On the other hand, if a Sudra or an outcaste lived according to the obligations of his caste, he accumulates good karma and there is a chance that he will take birth again in a higher varna It may seem surprising to us now, but this fallacious reasoning persuaded the lower castes to resign to their fate and hope for the hereafter When this attitude was linked to the rise of Puranic Hinduism by the late Classical age, with its insistence on fatalism and preserving the status quo, the ossification of Indian society began.The caste system was a heinous deal that flung the lower castes to a life not much better than animals and at the same time ensured all privileges for the upper castes This graded inequality led to Brahmins enjoying substantial material and social privileges without making any matching contribution, while the lower castes contributed much, but without any privileges The system had some advantages too Castes and trade guilds administered the lives of its members This helped ease the burden on the ruler Rules of interaction between individuals and groups thus became unconnected to the fate of kings This was a reason behind the continuity of tradition in India Another mitigating factor was that much flexibility was allowed in practice in the early stages Eraly lists out a number of kings who were not Kshatriyas the Nandas were Sudras, the Mauryas were of uncertain caste, the Sungas and the Kanvas were Brahmins, and the Bactrian Greeks, Parthians, Sakas and Kushanas were mlecchas A number of such royal houses were inducted into the Kshatriya varna in the post Gupta period This legitimating ritual put those kings under the power of Brahmins who conducted the ceremony The rise of Brahmins above Kshatriyas in the late Classical period is attributed to the incorporation of the ruling dynasties into the varna system In fact, the author assigns the rationale for the decline in culture and trade to the ascendancy of Brahmins The resurgent Puranic Hinduism favoured rustic life With the disintegration of Buddhism, trade declined further Buddhist monasteries also performed the role of business investors by issuing capital to traders Hindu temples were also flush with gold, but the inscriptions show that they lent almost exclusively to village assemblies Village economy ran with the sacrosanct precept of self sufficiency Trade dwindled in such a society, leading to scarcity of money Very few coins of the post Gupta period have been recovered.The book is neatly structured into six sections, with an overview that presents a panoramic snapshot of what is to come Being the first part of a two volume series, this book covers the political history, polity, economy, society, family and everyday life of the people of Classical India This text is the product of great scholarship and years of dedicated research The author takes great care to explain the historiography and the methodology that went into its compilation However, a few minor drawbacks could be pointed out Even though much appreciation is heaped on the social impact of heterodox religions like Buddhism and Jainism, the book is disappointingly silent about the causes of their decline The book cites quotes from the Mahabharata to indicate the loss of status of women in the late Classical period, but the time of composition of the epic is well ahead of the age alluded to by the author On another front, the current consensus among historians is that the term Aryan refers to a group of languages, rather than a racial group But the book follows the older idea in treating it as a race Numerous references to South India in all the chapters present a refreshing change from most of the books of this genre, whose orbit is fixed north of the Vindhyas In fact, references to urban life of that era are available only in the South Indian texts The book is graced with an impressive bibliography and a very good index Too many references from the Kama Sutra quoted verbatim in the text might have been avoided on the grounds of decency, as some of the passages are quite lewd.The book is highly recommended