If India was so advanced in the past, why did it get invaded repeatedly? Why were we defeated if we had scholars in the political sciences and masters of strategy?
Balaji Viswanathan, Indian by Birth. Indian by Thought.
Invasions happen only to those regions that were worth conquering. People have always fought for the regions around the rivers of Jordan, Tigris, Nile and Rhine, because they found it worthy. Among those civilizations that were a) known to others, b) geographically accessible and c) worth invading [fertile land/great ports] India was among the least invaded.
Look at the history of say Mesopotamia and Egypt. Throughout history they were so frequently invaded that there is very less link between their present culture and their glorious past. In the past 2000 years, Egypt has been ruled by the Persians, then the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Turks, French and the British. Britain was invaded by the Romans, then the Angles, Saxons & Jutes, then the Vikings and the Normans. The original Celtic culture has been sent to the museums for the most part. was much more insulated through geography, but also faced constant invasions by Mongols, Manchus & other northerners even after a wall was built to stop them. Greece was invaded, Rome was invaded, France & Germany were invaded, Arabs were invaded and they all inturn invaded many others.
In short, the history of civilizations is primarily about the history of invasions. No one was spared. Again, scientific superiority goes only so far. In a street fight between a mathematician and a thug who would win? To make it more complex, imagine another mathematician rival who sides the thug to fight the first mathematician. Technology cannot always overcome petty politics.
In case of India, we talk about the handful of invasions because they were quite rare. India had resisted the invasion of Darius & others so that India never came under the Persian rule although so many ideas were exchanged. Then Alexander came and his armies had to turn back after an engrossing battled at the banks of Hydaspes.
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The Kushans from central Asia had briefly penetrated that shield in 1st century, but were eventually Indianized and power restored to Indian rulers (Guptas). The central Asians (now Hunas) once again penetrated at the end of Guptas in 6th century, but after a brief rule they were both Indianized & replaced. The unstoppable Arabs were then stopped at the Battle of Rajasthan in the 8th century without which Asian history could have looked very different. In the 12th century the Afghans finally penetrated after various north Indian empires had collapsed centuries before and were for longer haul this time by occupying parts of north India. But, they were getting Indianized too as seen by Mughal emperor Akbar's attempt at hybridization. In the period of Afghan Sultanates, Genghis Khan was stopped at the banks of Indus and later Mongol warriors defeated at the Battle of Amroha.
In short, in Indus banks greatest world warriors like Darius, Alexander, Genghis Khan and the generals of Umayyad Caliphate were stopped. And all of this is only for the northern India. Southern India for the most part avoided external invasions until the modern era. For over a century, the all-conquering Mongols tried invading and were not successful other than few border territories [Mongol invasions of India]
The reduced number of invasions & extraordinary assimilation is one reason why India among the ancient civilizations has a cultural continuity. Ancient practices of the Vedic saints of pre-1500 BCE and those of Buddha & Mahavira of 600 BCE as much relevant today as it were probably centuries ago.
At the time of the arrival of the British to Indian shores, the GDP of India was among the highest in the world. An estimate of India's pre-colonial economy puts the annualrevenue of Emperor Akbar's treasury in 1600 at £17.5 million (in contrast to the entire treasury of Great Britain two hundred years later in 1800, which totaled £16 million). The gross domestic product of Mughal India in 1600 was estimated at about 21.3% the world economy, the second largest in the world.
To say that the Indian people were prosperous is a matter of debate. But the rulers certainly were.
That being said, there was no real 'India' in the shape and form we know today. It was a collection of loosely held kingdoms governed by the Mughals from Delhi. One can imagine that back the day it would be extremely difficult to directly administer lets say, Orissa from Delhi which is located more than 1200 kms away - a great distance in those days. The point being that control must have fairly loose with the individual kingdoms handling most of their own affairs after pledging allegiance to the throne in Delhi.
Most of these kingdoms and local princes were constantly at mini-wars and fueds with each other. Case in point is Kerala. The Portuguese took control of the Malabar Coast by pitting one kingdom against the other. A tiny contingent of Portuguese would not have been able to conquer any serious land based on pure might alone when up against a powerful kingdom .
So the reason for India being invaded successfully so many times is because of lack of unity, mistrust and infighting among local kingdoms and princely states of the time.
Indians were good with theoretical physics, genetics, health, mathematics, consciousness study, space, astronomy etc.. Supposedly higher sciences. We may not have been the best when it comes to applied sciences - for defence, travel, entertainment etc... As Indians we were more interested in matters of the the spirit. They say our scientists were saints, and applies to people from both South and North India- Be it Patanjali, Panini, Aryabhatta or Siddhars of the South.
If you see deeply, Indian sciences were built on the foundations of sustainability, universality, and peace. This definitely is advanced science. The mystical perception about India was an attraction for people across the globe. We are also geographically placed to enjoy the abundance of nature -sub tropical. So, many kingdoms came towards India to enjoy the prosperity.
Also look at the leaders who inspired us - from Ashoka to Abdul Kalam. They ultimately take interest in things that are not really 'rational'. We are nonviolent to the core. Even when we fought British, we used Satyagraha, supposed to be the highest form of Courage. Our outlook to strength is different. If you look at our attitude, none of this is really helpful in defending the borders as understood today.
Rajashekhar Marthi, Materials Science,Anime/Manga,TV series, FRIENDS,Comics, Mythological novels
I think you are familiar with the old saying " UNITED WE STAND . DIVIDED WE FALL". India was plundered again and again because we weren't united. Our then society was preoccupied in caste and religious division which made us an easy target to be conquered. Before English regime we had 565 princely states which shows that lack of unity was a key factor to get plundered.
Yes , India was advanced in the past (atleast I believe that) . It was India which first extracted Zinc. Extraction of Zinc is a difficult process especially when it is being extracted with Lead because Zinc vapourises. However, our ancient metallurgists devised a system which helped in condensing Zinc vapours. This is one of the best ancient scientific work of Indians.
Well there were many technological advancements made by our country but we had a major drawback in the structure of society. It is "caste division" i.e discrimination based on hierarchical occupation.
Just imagine a case, a lower caste member coming up with something innovative. The then society would have discredited that person's idea because he is from a lower caste. ie. as time progressed we were complacent with our old discoveries and weren't encouraging flow of new ideas. So our actual scientific advancement deterred and turned into fables.
Meanwhile students coming from various places learnt many things from India and implemented them in their own countries and gained respect.
While we were busy demeaning new ideas and were relishing in our past success the western world transformed its society and allowed ideas to flow which led to industrialisation. Industrialisation meant more resource usage and mass production. To gain more resources British invaded India using tactics and by exploiting our own weakness.
To summarise: WE WEREN'T UNITED WHEN OTHERS WERE INVADING US AND THUS GAVE AN EASY OPPORTUNITY FOR FOREIGNERS TO INVADE.
Ameya Rao, Political & Defense Analyst
1.You missed a very important point - India was never one single nation till the time the British ruled it. So, we were advanced, strong but a set of multiple nations. If we would have formed a grand alliance (alliance of all Hindu nations) from Peshawar to Arunachal Pradesh and Bengal and from Tamil Nadu to J&K, then we would have probably succeeded in defending ourselves from foreigners (Muslim Kingdoms and European Kingdoms)
2.Whether to call the above point as "lack of unity" is highly debatable. This is because we are racially, linguistically, and ethnically quite diverse
3.Another point is that being advanced in terms of civilization or education or cultural heritage does not necessarily mean we excelled at military. Not sure where the point of master strategists is coming. Even the other Asian nations and European nations had master strategists
4.Lastly, 'some' people have executed immense media propaganda to prove the point that Indians were always weak and disunited, hence got invaded repeatedly. This is not completely true. See below:
1)Indians won the Arab-Indian war circa 800 CE
2)Chola Kingdom showed aggression by invading Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia
3)Mauryan Kingdom protected India from foreign invasions
4)Vijayanagar Kingdom successfully protected Southern India from Delhi Sultanate and Bahamani Sultanate
5)Ahom Kingdom successfully defended North-east India from any and every foreign Muslim Kingdoms
6)Maratha Kingdom defended and liberated whole of India from Mughal tyranny. They also gave the British a hard time
7)Gajapati Kingdom of Odisha, although with less success, defended Odisha from Mughals
8)Rajputs tried their best to protect North India from the tyranny of Delhi Sultanate
Ritinkar Dasbhaumik, a discontent Indian
First of all, 'India' as a continuous political entity did not exst until the British Empire.
What is present day India was once comprised of multiple smaller nation states who fought most of their wars against one another. What you see in retrospect as 'Ancient Indian scholars' were 'ancient national scholars'(if that is even a term) of these smaller nation states. It's as silly as thinking that Europe was a 'common civilisation' and a country for most of its history.
Secondly, the subcontinent was greatly insulated from foreign invasions courtesy natural boundaries such as the Hindu Kush in the North-West, the Balochistan Desert in the border with Iran, the Himalayas in the North and North-East and of course, the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. When nations are that insulated from invasions from outside the subcontinent, most of the wars would be played out between these nation states.
And no, the subcontinent never had technology that would have put the rest of the World to shame at the time. Civilisations emerged roughly around the same time in the Old World and technological development was comparable.
Finally, technological development is no guarantee against being invaded and routed by a less technologically developed military force. This has happened repeatedly across history, the most notable being Genghis Khan's hordes overrunning the far more advanced Song Dynasty in and Khwarazmian Empire that controlled Persia and the Western part of Central Asia. That didn't happen in the Indian subcontinent, by all accounts, but it pays to remember that technological prowess while being excellent insurance, isn't a guarantee of invulnerability.
India scientific knowledge were good for their period but confined to only a few people .BRAHMINS. They were the people never shared their knowledge with others.
Invading and capturing India was some times as walking in garden because common people were so much tortured by brahmins they never wanted to fight back .
Upper caste has always been good in propagating false propaganda and deceiving lower caste and chained them in ignorances hence