classifying most of Indian history as ''tribal'', debate on Indian urbanization in 1st millennium

Mar 2019
1,688
KL
scrutinizing indic history has lead me to believe that a major chunk of indic history has been declared as ''tribal''

There was hardly centralization during the Mauryan Empire in the Deccans and you are focusing on a few locations and not looking at the entire subcontinent. Ashokan inscriptions showed clearly that large parts of India had no state structure, intensive agriculture or urban sites, which is why forest tribes like the Bhojas and Pitinikas were everywhere in the inscriptions. Places like Rajasthan were still largely tribal even until the Gupta period but had states by the start of the 2nd millennium.
if one looks at the gupta empire map, the empire is basically declared as a big tribal empire

1564052517295.png

The aryan migration theories also purport the same concept of tribal nomadic aryan group migrating to india and forming village settlements called ''janapada''

but janapadas have been mentioned as governing units and not tribal unit or tribal community

1564052673564.png

Terracotta sealing found at Nalanda, depicting an eight-armed goddess riding a lion which could be one of the more elaborate forms of Durga. Inscription in Brahmi of c.AD600-700 and reads "Ghrtanjana-Grama- Janapadasya". (Ghenjan in Gaya district) (National Museum of India). The text on the seal shows janapada as a governing unit and not a tribal confederacy or community.

i think translating vedic text janapada as nomadic people settlement has lead to misappropriation of several janapadas which appear in medieval periods as ''tribal clans groups'' rather than urban areas.

i was seeing some online posted maps and i was surprised to see how the shaded areas in medieval times transform into tribal lands

1564052894438.png

1564052921072.png

similar arguments have been made for decline of urbanization in india during post gupta periods.

the muslims are credited for ''urbanizing'' india, but the evidence on it is minimum since from history it can be inferred that the muslim rulers settled on the already settled lands, for instance dehli was chosen as capital of the new islamic kingdom in india which was already an urban area since atleast the mauryan periods if not prior as archaeologically proven through purana qila ruins. same thing stands for devagiri turned into aurangabad, which was already a formidable fortified city before it was transformed into tughlaqabad, the second capital of the dehli sultanate as tughlaq authorized the move from dehli. The bengal sultanate also settled at gauda which was established by kamarupas of north eastern india or the palas, again exemplifying the urbanization in new indo islamic era utilizing the previous urban development and continuation.

im not very well versed in the degree of urbanization in india from first millennium to the second millennium and its transformation, but the data shows that islamic invasion didn't introduce any new urbanization trends in india but was a continuation of one, since they settled in the exact same areas which were urbanized for a long period of time. Obviously we see new cities emerging like agra etc which is also thought to have existed before the muslims, but it is in continuation of urbanization process as was happening in the region since time immemorial and would be very misleading in declaring that urbanization process as islamic influence.

here is the sentence i read from wikipedia, not the best source, but the exact image has been propagated in the history books

Muslim rule saw a greater urbanisation of India and the rise of many cities and their urban cultures. The biggest impact was upon trade resulting from a common commercial and legal system extending from Morocco to Indonesia. This change of emphasis on mercantilism and trade from the more strongly centralised governance systems further clashed with the agricultural based traditional economy and also provided fuel for social and political tensions.
Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent - Wikipedia

some cities like Ahichchatra and kausambi did end up abandoned but establishment of new cities were also recorded.

if the second map is correct then how does one explain a continuity of urbanization in dehli from mauryan periods to the indo islamic periods, if it was turned into a tribal land?

i think that this concept of tribalism in indian history reflects eurocentric view on indian history.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,169
Sydney
That's not particularly special
the Persian Empire core was the Achaemenid tribe
the Manchu tribal federation ruled the Han chinese
the Franks were as tribal as any and they ruled over the continental Atlantic West
the Burgundians , Wisigoths , Vandals thought of themselves as tribes where the warchief was a relative no matter how distant
for the Scottish clans , this was explicit

Plenty more could be mentioned
the blood links of the clan or tribe was the strongest tie biding a conquering army
ultimately after the conquest , cities dissolved the bonds those were replaced by a formal administration
 
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Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,783
New Delhi, India
Yes, tribes were/are important. Jat, Ahir, Gujar Meena, Yadav, Kurumbas (I do not know much about South Indian groups, but can always find in Wikipedia). Various groups among brahmins, kshatriyas and vaishyas also. It is not that in a Youdheya kingdom, only Youdheyas lived or prospered. For example the Jodhpur Rathore clan and the Jaipur Khichi clan were many times at war. But Jodhpur had its own Khichi nobles who were loyal to their king.
 
Mar 2019
1,688
KL
So I assume the actual organizational structure varied between them?
janapada probably also referred to a particular system of organization such as a district etc as well as designation for a realm or country. for a smaller country, or kingdom it would have been an independent unit, for a bigger one, probably a constituent unit.

regards
 

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,783
New Delhi, India
'Janapada' need not be a kingdom, or independent. 'Janapada' means where people live. It could even be a village (Panchayat). So the meaning would depend on context.
 
Mar 2019
1,688
KL
the evidence of the seal shows that janapada was just not simply a land where people lived, it was a political denomination whose name was used by officials of the state, obviously a word can have multiple meanings, but the ground archaeology shows that it has been used as a political term for an administrative unit, not just simply designation of a village body or a tribal land where people lived. no where the archaeology shows a village being declared a janapada. the concept of janapada being tribal village mentioned in vedic texts is wrong and should be tallied with archaeological textual references to the word.

regards
 
Nov 2014
1,668
Birmingham, UK
i think that this concept of tribalism in indian history reflects eurocentric view on indian history.
really? how (and as importantly, why) so?

how, and why, would 'eurocentric' history propose that 'the muslims are credited for ''urbanizing'' india'? I'm not sure if you noticed, but Eurocentric views of history tend to be characterised by their emphasis on the, well, the 'European'. and not, really, the muslim.

I suspect actually that you simply use the word 'eurocentric' as a kneejerk response to pretty much any view of Indian history that you don't like, it certainly seems to be a word you throw around with almost no discretion or discernment whenever you take issue with anything (search: Ashok's posts and 'eurocentric', results: 3 whole pages of posts where you can't help using the word), however I'd be fascinated to hear how the eurocentric project is intended to promote the Muslim contribution towards indian urbanisation (amongst many other things, no doubt, the whole point of 'eurocentrism' being presumably that the 'European' part is actually an elaborate bluff, and its all really a plot by the multiculti lefties to promote Islam)