Why Wasn't India United Before?

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,652
USA
Nope. India had lots of tribes of different types. India is a pretty big landmass with different climatic conditions which resulted in variations in lifestyles, clothing, food.
Why this grossly faulty assumption that everyone from the himalayas to kanyakumari were the same people linguistically and appearance wise? That is plain ridiculous! There are many similarities and some differences. However a north indian has far more common with a southindian than you think.
Aryan as a race is a story cooked up by your so called academics from Europe, many of whom had never visited India nor learned Sanskrit from a native scholar. They keep on referencing their own faulty interpretations and perpetuating this lie.
Where did these indigenous Aryan tribes reside in ancient India, if they were not Dalits?
 
Last edited:
Oct 2015
1,047
India
India seems like a good candidate for one empire to essentially dominate the entire region. Himalayas non-withstanding, it is mostly flat land assumedly easily traversed by armies. There are several large rivers to facilitate trade and transportation all across it. It's not in central Asia and subject to invasion by migrating nomads. During most of its history the region either wasn't touching China or it had the tallest mountain range in the world between itself and it's strongest neighbor. It was right between the middle-east and SE Asia, so it's rulers would've benefited from tariffs on trade between the two areas.

Previous to the British empire, the largest empire in it was the Mauryans, who nearly conquered the entire region.
Why wasn't their success ever repeated?
What allowed them to succeed despite the logistical issues that come with empires existing in the classical era?
India has civilizational unity since more than 2000 years - not political unity. Since minds of historians are captivated by idea of large empires they want to understand why India in those terms - so end confused with names of so many kingdoms and worse - they get a partial understanding of India because the empires lasted for very brief periods.

Political Unity:

There are reasons why empires in India lasted for brief periods:

(i) Wars in India were not as destructive. Megasthenes, Greek Ambassador (c. 300 BCE) has recorded that a battle could be going on and in a nearby agri-field a framer would be tilling his field unharmed & undisturbed.

"But, farther, there are usages observed by the Indians which contribute to prevent the occurrence of famine among them; for whereas among other nations it is usual, in the contests of war, to ravage the soil, and thus to reduce it to an uncultivated waste, among the Indians, on the contrary, by whom husbandmen are regarded as a class that is sacred and inviolable, the tillers of the soil, even when battle is raging in their neighbourhood, are undisturbed by any sense of danger, for the combatants on either side in waging the conflict make carnage of each other, but allow those engaged in husbandry to remain quite unmolested. Besides, they neither ravage an enemy's land with fire, nor cut down its trees." [1]

[ii] Indian political thought has a long & continuous history. As per the philosophy, it was enough for a king that his neighbouring kings (Rajas) acknowledge him as an emperor (Maha-raja) and pay tribute. Thus there are only rare instances in Indian history where cities were destroyed, citizens massacred, and a completely new political hierarchy established. After conquest, the defeated king was allowed to continue as a subsidiary king. This allowed competing powers to live and rise again.

Instances of total destruction are mentioned few - in time of Buddha (Ajatashatru's war with Shakya Clan, c. 500 BCE), in time of Ashoka (Kalinga war which converted him to Buddhism, c. 250 BCE), but hardly any after that till arrival of Muslims (Mohd Kasim - c. 712 CE, Mohd Ghazni - c.1010 CE, Deccan Sultanates joining to destroy Vijaynagar- c.1550 CE)

[iii] Wars involved only small percentage of population. There were four castes and of them only the 'Kshatriya' caste fought in wars. Others castes were not supposed to carry arms. The kshatriyas may have constituted at most 10% of population. This meant armies were small in size even though population was very big.

[iv] There is so much diversity in Indian population that it is difficult for non-Indians to appreciate that. This exists in languages, racial origin, modes of living, religion followed, and so on. Like the Hans Chinese are supposed to have a majority in China, there is no ethnicity which has a majority and which could consolidate to rule. Shashi Tharoor, ex-UN Under Sec has observed that India is a country of minorities. Once again not many kings were keen to rule all diversity.

These are the some reasons why large empires were not created and even if they were created they did not last.

Smaller empires did exist but are not studied:

India has a long history so naturally lot of thing get skipped in its narration. So the focus while studying it is on empires which had meteoric rise and then fall - Mauryan, Gupta, Mughal, British etc. These were all short-lived ones.

There were empires or large kingdoms which existed for more than any of the above but are mostly ignored. Often cited example is the Ahom Kingdom in Assam which lasted for 600 years (1228-1826 CE). Most students of hstory in India never get to hear about it.

Civilizational & Cultural Unity:

This requires a long post. Most historians tend to ignore this aspect because history generally means kings & successions.

References

[1] FRAGMENT I. OR AN EPITOME OF MEGASTHENES. (Diod. II. 36), Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian. Translated and edited by J. W. McCrindle. Calcutta and Bombay: Thacker, Spink, 1877.

[2] Ahom kingdom - Wikipedia
 

SSDD

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
3,900
India
India has civilizational unity since more than 2000 years - not political unity. Since minds of historians are captivated by idea of large empires they want to understand why India in those terms - so end confused with names of so many kingdoms and worse - they get a partial understanding of India because the empires lasted for very brief periods.

Political Unity:

There are reasons why empires in India lasted for brief periods:

(i) Wars in India were not as destructive. Megasthenes, Greek Ambassador (c. 300 BCE) has recorded that a battle could be going on and in a nearby agri-field a framer would be tilling his field unharmed & undisturbed.

"But, farther, there are usages observed by the Indians which contribute to prevent the occurrence of famine among them; for whereas among other nations it is usual, in the contests of war, to ravage the soil, and thus to reduce it to an uncultivated waste, among the Indians, on the contrary, by whom husbandmen are regarded as a class that is sacred and inviolable, the tillers of the soil, even when battle is raging in their neighbourhood, are undisturbed by any sense of danger, for the combatants on either side in waging the conflict make carnage of each other, but allow those engaged in husbandry to remain quite unmolested. Besides, they neither ravage an enemy's land with fire, nor cut down its trees." [1]

[ii] Indian political thought has a long & continuous history. As per the philosophy, it was enough for a king that his neighbouring kings (Rajas) acknowledge him as an emperor (Maha-raja) and pay tribute. Thus there are only rare instances in Indian history where cities were destroyed, citizens massacred, and a completely new political hierarchy established. After conquest, the defeated king was allowed to continue as a subsidiary king. This allowed competing powers to live and rise again.

Instances of total destruction are mentioned few - in time of Buddha (Ajatashatru's war with Shakya Clan, c. 500 BCE), in time of Ashoka (Kalinga war which converted him to Buddhism, c. 250 BCE), but hardly any after that till arrival of Muslims (Mohd Kasim - c. 712 CE, Mohd Ghazni - c.1010 CE, Deccan Sultanates joining to destroy Vijaynagar- c.1550 CE)

[iii] Wars involved only small percentage of population. There were four castes and of them only the 'Kshatriya' caste fought in wars. Others castes were not supposed to carry arms. The kshatriyas may have constituted at most 10% of population. This meant armies were small in size even though population was very big.

[iv] There is so much diversity in Indian population that it is difficult for non-Indians to appreciate that. This exists in languages, racial origin, modes of living, religion followed, and so on. Like the Hans Chinese are supposed to have a majority in China, there is no ethnicity which has a majority and which could consolidate to rule. Shashi Tharoor, ex-UN Under Sec has observed that India is a country of minorities. Once again not many kings were keen to rule all diversity.

These are the some reasons why large empires were not created and even if they were created they did not last.

Smaller empires did exist but are not studied:

India has a long history so naturally lot of thing get skipped in its narration. So the focus while studying it is on empires which had meteoric rise and then fall - Mauryan, Gupta, Mughal, British etc. These were all short-lived ones.

There were empires or large kingdoms which existed for more than any of the above but are mostly ignored. Often cited example is the Ahom Kingdom in Assam which lasted for 600 years (1228-1826 CE). Most students of hstory in India never get to hear about it.

Civilizational & Cultural Unity:

This requires a long post. Most historians tend to ignore this aspect because history generally means kings & successions.

References

[1] FRAGMENT I. OR AN EPITOME OF MEGASTHENES. (Diod. II. 36), Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian. Translated and edited by J. W. McCrindle. Calcutta and Bombay: Thacker, Spink, 1877.

[2] Ahom kingdom - Wikipedia
Good post. India's caste system balanced each caste against another, so society became decentralized, People minded only their own caste's business even if not at least a spirit of national effort or even a kingdom wise effort was absent. In Assam where caste system was almost non-existent there Paik system ensured steady flow of reinforcements and mobilized entire Assam society resulting in defeat of Mughals.

In Orissa and Bengal Jungle Mahal, same happened. Chuar Rebellion and Paik Rebellion of Orissa had mass support.

Thing is decentralization is okay as long as it is down to village level like Paik system, but disastrous if it is due to feudal chiefs.

Just to give an example, Mughal Empire had 240,000 Cavalry and 40,000 infantry under Aurangzeb, among them directly controlled army of emperor was only 25,000 under Akbar. Meanwhile total number of armed retainers in empire were 3.7 million. So much decentralization.

In Vijayanagara king's army had 100,000 soldiers, total soldiers were about 7 lakh.

Kautilya's Arthashashtra says 6 types of soldiers, only Maula was standing army.

So as it is, Indian Kingdom's or Empire's armies were not centralized. Large bulk of troops were provided by Feudal Lords.

Whereas in China, Rome, Persia Central Army had formed large bulk of army.
 

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,652
USA
India has civilizational unity since more than 2000 years - not political unity. Since minds of historians are captivated by idea of large empires they want to understand why India in those terms - so end confused with names of so many kingdoms and worse - they get a partial understanding of India because the empires lasted for very brief periods.

Political Unity:

There are reasons why empires in India lasted for brief periods:

(i) Wars in India were not as destructive. Megasthenes, Greek Ambassador (c. 300 BCE) has recorded that a battle could be going on and in a nearby agri-field a framer would be tilling his field unharmed & undisturbed.

"But, farther, there are usages observed by the Indians which contribute to prevent the occurrence of famine among them; for whereas among other nations it is usual, in the contests of war, to ravage the soil, and thus to reduce it to an uncultivated waste, among the Indians, on the contrary, by whom husbandmen are regarded as a class that is sacred and inviolable, the tillers of the soil, even when battle is raging in their neighbourhood, are undisturbed by any sense of danger, for the combatants on either side in waging the conflict make carnage of each other, but allow those engaged in husbandry to remain quite unmolested. Besides, they neither ravage an enemy's land with fire, nor cut down its trees." [1]

[ii] Indian political thought has a long & continuous history. As per the philosophy, it was enough for a king that his neighbouring kings (Rajas) acknowledge him as an emperor (Maha-raja) and pay tribute. Thus there are only rare instances in Indian history where cities were destroyed, citizens massacred, and a completely new political hierarchy established. After conquest, the defeated king was allowed to continue as a subsidiary king. This allowed competing powers to live and rise again.

Instances of total destruction are mentioned few - in time of Buddha (Ajatashatru's war with Shakya Clan, c. 500 BCE), in time of Ashoka (Kalinga war which converted him to Buddhism, c. 250 BCE), but hardly any after that till arrival of Muslims (Mohd Kasim - c. 712 CE, Mohd Ghazni - c.1010 CE, Deccan Sultanates joining to destroy Vijaynagar- c.1550 CE)

[iii] Wars involved only small percentage of population. There were four castes and of them only the 'Kshatriya' caste fought in wars. Others castes were not supposed to carry arms. The kshatriyas may have constituted at most 10% of population. This meant armies were small in size even though population was very big.

[iv] There is so much diversity in Indian population that it is difficult for non-Indians to appreciate that. This exists in languages, racial origin, modes of living, religion followed, and so on. Like the Hans Chinese are supposed to have a majority in China, there is no ethnicity which has a majority and which could consolidate to rule. Shashi Tharoor, ex-UN Under Sec has observed that India is a country of minorities. Once again not many kings were keen to rule all diversity.

These are the some reasons why large empires were not created and even if they were created they did not last.

Smaller empires did exist but are not studied:

India has a long history so naturally lot of thing get skipped in its narration. So the focus while studying it is on empires which had meteoric rise and then fall - Mauryan, Gupta, Mughal, British etc. These were all short-lived ones.

There were empires or large kingdoms which existed for more than any of the above but are mostly ignored. Often cited example is the Ahom Kingdom in Assam which lasted for 600 years (1228-1826 CE). Most students of hstory in India never get to hear about it.

Civilizational & Cultural Unity:

This requires a long post. Most historians tend to ignore this aspect because history generally means kings & successions.

References

[1] FRAGMENT I. OR AN EPITOME OF MEGASTHENES. (Diod. II. 36), Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian. Translated and edited by J. W. McCrindle. Calcutta and Bombay: Thacker, Spink, 1877.

[2] Ahom kingdom - Wikipedia
Though the points mentioned above are fair, they also could be debated.

The current India is also an empire, but a modern one in a political sense, and looks to be well united, and well heeled (except for the partition caused by Muslims). This reality points to the fact that Indians culturally would always have preferred a united India, but there was no Indian capable of achieving the task, until the British came along. That is why I pointed out that a clear understanding of how the British was able to conquer and unite the subcontinent gives the clues as to why nobody else could do it. British has the vision, strategy, military skills, political skills, patience and perseverance to stick it out and accomplish the goal. It took several generations for the British finish the task.
 
Last edited:
Aug 2014
1,249
pakistan
Excellent point about cow slaughter.
It was routinely used by the Islamic kings as a method terrorising the Hindus and defiling the temples. Even Akbar's army did it.
People are unaware of the ghastly history that is associated with cow slaughter in India especially i the north and northwest.
Muslims slaughtered cows to 'terrorize' Hindus? how about the fact that they simply liked eating beef like majority of other humans on this planet. Hindu nationalists conveniently ignore the fact that some Muslim rulers and nobles of India even prohibited cow-slaughter in their domains Recording the Progress of Indian History
 

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,652
USA
Muslims slaughtered cows to 'terrorize' Hindus? how about the fact that they simply liked eating beef like majority of other humans on this planet. Hindu nationalists conveniently ignore the fact that some Muslim rulers and nobles of India even prohibited cow-slaughter in their domains Recording the Progress of Indian History
These days Hindus use killing of cattle for meat to terrorize non-Hindus. So are Hindus any better?

Delhi is the capital of the modern India. If you walk into a posh restaurant in Delhi, as anywhere else in the world, and order a fine piece of steak, you would probably find a lynch mob chasing you. So how modern is this modern India?
 
Jul 2017
510
Sydney
Yeah! Beef remains a very touchy topic in India for the masses

But @Azad67 is right in saying most of the Mughals banned cow slaughter

Many Indian muslims didn't seem to eat a lot of meat even till 1947. I've heard stories where their descendants narrate how their grandfather who came to Pakistan in 1947 initially struggled with high meat consumption in districts like Bahawalpur
 
Last edited:
Jun 2017
521
usa
These days Hindus use killing of cattle for meat to terrorize non-Hindus. So are Hindus any better?

Delhi is the capital of the modern India. If you walk into a posh restaurant in Delhi, as anywhere else in the world, and order a fine piece of steak, you would probably find a lynch mob chasing you. So how modern is this modern India?
I cannot understand the thinking that eating meat and beef specifically is "modern". Just what is modern in killing a sentient being and eating it?
I would say that eating meat is one of thw most uncivilised things.
Humanity has progressed to a point where we do not need to kill to survive and thrive.
 
Jun 2017
521
usa
Muslims slaughtered cows to 'terrorize' Hindus? how about the fact that they simply liked eating beef like majority of other humans on this planet. Hindu nationalists conveniently ignore the fact that some Muslim rulers and nobles of India even prohibited cow-slaughter in their domains Recording the Progress of Indian History
You need to read the biographies if the islamic kings to know what I am saying.
The cow was considered a special animal long before the muslims or christians ever set foot on the subcontinent. Yes in the time of IVC and Vedic times cow was slaughtered and offered as a sacrifice but that changed soon after as India became more civilised and incorporated the values of ahimsa and respect for nature.