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

By Shouvik Mukhopadhyay   |   University of Calcutta
Learners enrolled: 733
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.

Course Status : Ongoing
Course Type : Core
Duration : 12 weeks
Start Date : 02 Jan 2023
End Date : 26 Mar 2023
Exam Date :
Enrollment Ends : 15 Mar 2023
Category :
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit Points : 4
Level : Undergraduate

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1:
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. Post Mauryan Developments: Language, Literature, Art

Week 7:
22. Post Mauryan Developments: 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

Books and references

1. Basham A.L. , The Wonder that was India. First Published 1954
2. Chakraborty, R., Exploring Early India; upto c. A.D. 1300 Delhi. 3rd  ed. 2016.
3. Singh, U., A History of Ancient & Early Medieval India, n. Delhi, Pearson, 2007.
4. Thapar, R., Early India from the Origins to c. AD 1300. University of California Press. 2004. First pub. 2002.
5. Majumdar, R.C. (ed), The Age of Imperial Unity (600 BC - 630 AD) Bharatiya Vidya Bhavana Series Vol II. 3rd ed. 1960. First pub. 1951
6. Majumdar, R.C (ed), The Classical Age (320-750 AD) Bharatiya Vidya Series Vol III. First pub. 1954. 
7. Sastri, Nilakanta K.A., (ed), The Mauryas and Satavahanas 325 BC-Ad 300 A Comprehensive History of India Vol II. Calcutta, 1957.

Instructor bio

Shouvik Mukhopadhyay

University of Calcutta
Dr. Shouvik Mukhopadhyay, Associate Professor and presently the Head of the Department of History, University of Calcutta since December 2018. He is having a teaching experience of 22 years at UG and PG level. After a brief stint in the Indian Air Force for 5 years he joined Khandra College affiliated to University of Burdwan in 1997. Later he joined Visva Bharati (a Central University, founded by Rabindranath Tagore) in 2002. Presently he is serving the Department of History, University of Calcutta which he joined in 2008. 
After the X standard Mukhopadhyay studied at Visva Bharati for his graduation, post graduation and Ph.D degree. He has worked on ‘Military Organization and Society in early Medieval South India’ for his Ph.D. completed in 2006. Apart from his interest in south Indian history of the early medieval times he has also worked on the history of Santiniketan (the ashrama and educational institution  founded by Rabindranath), and contemporary Indian politics. The number of papers presented in different national and international level seminars and published is more than 60. 
He has completed couple of major projects funded by agencies like West Bengal Heritage Commission and UGC. Presently he is engaged in another major project funded by UGC namely University with Potential for Excellence Phase II focused on Cultural politics of Look  East. 
He has several translations done in Bengali and a monograph namely ‘Some Aspects of Warfare and Society in Early Medieval South India’ is forthcoming.
Apart from the specialization and the areas of his own research interests he has been teaching different themes/courses in the University. They are as following: Early Medieval Indian Social, Economic History; Economic History of Bengal 1757-1857 particularly non-agrarian production, trade networks, big merchants; Economic history of India (south Indian textile industry, colonial period particularly big industries). He has also participated in the making of EMMRC study materials in numerous courses as well as E-PG Pathshala programme.

Course certificate

30% for in Course Assessment & 70% of end-term Proctored Exam.

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