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Emergence of Early Historic India (300BCE-750CE)

University of Calcutta and CEC via Swayam

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There is a growing interest in the history of early India in general attracting the attention of informed general public as well as specialists. General advance made in research on the period has made it possible as well as necessary to make a synthesis of this ever expanding knowledge base. The spatial scope of this course is pan-Indian subcontinent (when there was no such notion of a nation state) expressed by the term Bharatavarsha/Jambudwipa (used in the Puranic accounts) or India (first used by Heredotus in the 6th Century); Shendu (the Chinese word initially used to denote the Sindhu/Indua which gradually increased in the geographical scope to cover the whole of Indian subcontinent) or Hindustan ( first used in AD 262 in the Naksh-i-Rustam inscription of Sassanid ruler Shahpur I). The temporal scope based on the recent trends avoid any particular categorization and focus on chronological brackets as ‘valid temporal unit of historical study’ – to denote historical changes and processes which can be clearly identified. The period under consideration saw vigorous efforts in building up huge empires. It was not simply territorial expansion – the administrative apparatus of a functioning state when taken to/established in an erstwhile non-state region, had larger ramifications, wonderfully expressed by the phrase ‘Lineage to State’. This process though initially started in the northern India – Uttarapatha, was replicated in different parts of Indian subcontinent – albeit with regional variations expressed by the term ‘secondary state formation’. The horizontal expansion of ‘state society’ occupies a major part of this course. However construction/deconstruction of empire and discussion of polity is not a study of its own. The empire(s) and their patronage to the Buddhist and Jain monastic establishment in the earlier phase of the course and the eleemosynary grants to the Puranic religion in the later part; the unprecedented growth of trade and commerce in the period between 200 BCE – 300 Ce and the patronage by the non-royal donors to the Buddhist and Jain establishments in around the urban centres had larger ramifications. The sustained patronage resulted in emergence of celebrated cultural centres. There will be a thrust on primary sources as well as source criticism. A juxtaposition of field archaeological materials many a time have dispelled or considerably modified the views presented in the normative texts. This course is meant to give a comprehensive treatment of the period which saw several sharp and distinguishable changes in Indian polity and society.  


1. Emergence of New Culture-Urbanization 2. Social Structure 3. Ganasanghas

Week 2: 4. Sixteen Mahajanapada 5. Janapada coins 6. Janapada crafts & guilds 7. Early Indian Trade

Week 3: 8. Ashok and the History of Writing Mauryan History 9. History of Ancient India Chandragupta & Bimbisara- 10. History of Ancient India Reign of Asoka

Week 4: 11. History of Ancient India Structure of Mauryan Polity- 12. History of Ancient India Asoka’s Dhamma 13. History of Ancient India Society and Economy 14. History of Ancient India Cultural Life

Week 5: 15. Post Mauryan Developments-Part-1 16. Post Mauryan Developments-Part-2 17. Post Mauryan Developments-Part-3

Week 6: 18. Polity and Statecraft- 19. Post Mauryan Developments Trade and Urbanisation- 20. Post Mauryan Developments Society- 21. History of Ancient India Language, Literature, Art and Religion-

Week 7: 22. History of Ancient India Buddhism, Jainism and Cultural Life- 23. Sangam Age Part-I 24. Sangam Age Part-2 25. History on Researches on Bactro-Indo-Greek coins & their contribution to Central Asian Studies

Week 8: 26. Cultural Contact with Central Asia – Part A 27. Cultural Contact with Central Asia-B 28. History of Writing the History of the Gupta Period 29. State and Administration of Guptas

Week 9: 30. Socio Economic changes in the Gupta Era –A 31. Socio-Economic Changes in the Gupta Era –B 32. Cultural Contributions of the Guptas – Part A 33. Cultural Contributions of the Guptas – Part B

Week 10: 34. The later Guptas and Other Emerging Kingdoms 35. Harshavardhana Political System and Administrative Institutions 36. South Indian Polity Kingship and Council of Ministers 37. South Indian Polity Administrative and Revenue Structure

Week 11: 38. South Indian Polity Chalukya and Pallava Conflict 39. South Indian Society 40. Religion in South India 41. South Indian Economy -Village Economy and Land Rights

Week 12: 42. South Indian Economy -Irrigation, Taxation and Trade 43. South Indian Literature- Contributions of the Pallavas 44. South Indian Architecture -Pallavas & Vatapi Chalukyas 45. Fine Arts, Music, Dance and Painting in The Pallava Period

Taught by

Shouvik Mukhopadhyay


4.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

Start your review of Emergence of Early Historic India (300BCE-750CE)

  • Chithra Gopala Krishnan

    Chithra Gopala Krishnan completed this course, spending 7 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    The lecture gave a brief idea of the hindu civilization only. It did not gave a deeper understanding on the topic. However, it introduces the topic clearly. There should more understanding and details of the main events.

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