|Author||Charles River Editors|
|Publication Date||December 24, 2018|
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*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
“Placed as if by Nature in a locality which gives it a crowning position and serving as a gateway to India, every invader from the North has, by its possession, sought the road to fame.” – Syed Mohammad Latif
Gujarat is one of the most storied sites in a storied area. Many groups and empires ruled India or tried to, and Gujarat was the power center for the region’s oldest of all, the Indus Valley Civilization.
Gujarat also played an instrumental role in India’s greatest ancient empire. During the last centuries of the first millennium BCE, most of the Mediterranean basin and the Near East were either directly or indirectly under the influence of Hellenism. The Greeks spread their ideas to Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Persia and attempted to unify all of the peoples of those regions under one government. Although some of the Hellenistic kingdoms proved to be powerful in their own rights – especially Ptolemaic Egypt and the Seleucid Empire, which encompassed all of Mesopotamia, most of the Levant, and much of Persia during its height – no single kingdom ever proved to be dominant. The Hellenic kingdoms battled each other for supremacy and even attempted to claim new lands, especially to the east, past the Indus River in lands that the Greeks referred to generally as India. But as the Hellenistic Greeks turned their eyes to the riches of India, a dynasty came to power that put most of the Indian subcontinent under the rule of one king.
The dynasty that came to power in the late fourth century BCE is known today as the Mauryan Dynasty, and although the ruling family was short-lived and their power was ephemeral, its influence resonated for several subsequent centuries and spread as far east as China and into the Hellenistic west. Through relentless warfare and violent machinations, the Mauryans were able to take a land that was full of disparate and often warring ethnic groups, religions, and castes and meld it into a reasonably cohesive empire. After establishing the empire, subsequent kings were able to focus their attentions on raising the living standards of their people. One particular Mauryan king, Ashoka, embarked on several ambitious public works projects and promoted the tenets of Buddhism. Due to its influence on religion and what many believe was the world’s first attempt by a government to legitimately acknowledge human rights, the Maurya Empire continues to be a source of interest and inspiration today.
From there, Gujarat’s history is similar to much of the rest of the subcontinent, which witnessed the rise and fall of various conquerors, from the Islamic era in the Middle Ages to the British Empire. In that time, the ethnic and religious divides brought about by time and the movements of people hardened, and by the time Gujarat was part of an independent India again, there were numerous separatist and independence movements. To this day, Gujarat has a highly charged political environment, situated as it is on the volatile border between India and Pakistan.
Gujarat: The History of the Indian State from the Ancient Indus Valley Civilization to Today looks at the region, the various civilizations that lived there, and what took place there over the last 5,000 years. Along with pictures and a bibliography, you will learn about Gujarat like never before.
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