Previous Page [Digital South Asia Library] Next Page

Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 2, p. 271.

Graphics file for this page
few facts a century or a century and a half older; and we
cannot be far wrong if we place the commencement of
authentic Indian history about 600 B.C., or a little earlier.
The tribal movements which introduced civilization and laid
the foundations of the existing nations are, of course, very
much more ancient. But the story of those movements is
necessarily obscure and uncertain, and refuses to be bound in
chronological fetters.
The writer of this chapter holds that history cannot be
divorced from chronology, and that the investigation of facts
incapable of chronological arrangement lies outside the
historian's province. No approximately accurate date earlier
than 650 B.C. can be assigned to any Indian event, and that
year may be regarded as the extreme anterior limit by which
the inquiries of an Indian historian are bounded.
A great difficulty is placed in his way by the indifference to Difficulties
chronology displayed by Indian writers, and by their careless- of chrono-
ness in distinguishing fact from fiction. During the last logy.
hundred years generations of European scholars have been
engaged in the task of determining the cardinal facts of Indian
chronology, and thus preparing the indispensable framework
for historical narrative. But for the discovery of certain
clear instances of synchronism between events in India and
those in countries of which the history is known, the accom-
plishment of this task would have been impossible, and the
ancient history of India would still be a chaos of unverified
conjecture. But within the last twenty or thirty years most of
the leading problems in Indian chronology have been success-
fully attacked and solved with the aid of these synchronisms;
and it is now possible to give an outline of the main facts in
chronological order from 6oo B.c. to A.D. 650. Such an out-
line is attempted in the following sketch, which is necessarily
imperfect, owing to the limitations of space, forbidding
minute detail or the justification of categorical statements on
disputed points. A more adequate presentation of the story
of Ancient India will be found in the writer's Early History of
India, published in i904.
The oldest historical traditions seem to be those embodied Ancient
in the Jain and Buddhist scriptures, parts of which may literary
have been composed as early as the fifth century B. C.
The Purgnas of the Brahmans, although containing much
material of high antiquity, were rearranged in their existing
form at much later dates. The earliest of them, the Vayu
Purana, may be assigned to the fourth century a.D., and the

Previous Page To Table of Contents Next Page

Back to Imperial Gazetteer of India | Back to the DSAL Page

This page was last generated on Monday 18 February 2013 at 16:20 by
The URL of this page is: