General History

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Usha Albuquerque writes in her column, ‘Field in Focus: HISTORY’ under the headline, ‘Past that can build your future, in The Tribune, Chandigarh, dated 13th June, 2012 on the significance of history as a subject of study , its vast area, additional skills and so on. She writes-

"History is much misunderstood subject, and even as we brush it off in terms of significance, history books and historical fiction remains best sellers, history has its own television channels which millions watch around the world, and some of the best movies made in the recent times have been based on historical events. Obviously, the popular interest in history reflects a desire to know more about ourselves, but we often dismiss its value as a subject that can help us succeed in future.”

She goes on to describe history as a vast subject. According to her, “History is study of human self-knowledge and provides clues to what man is, can do and what man have done. The value of history, then, is not only in learning from the past [we really never do] but it helps to inform us so that we might make better decisions in the future. The study of history, therefore, benefits a student in two ways—it provides domain knowledge in the subject useful for a range of occupations directly related to the study of history, and it also imparts a wide range of transferable skills, which are important in many indirectly related career fields. Understanding and analysis of issues and events are of key importance to historians and can be applied in many other fields of work. For those interested in the social and cultural aspects of history, there are options such as archaeology, museology and art restoration. A study of fossils, monuments, manuscripts, coins and excavated remains can provide you with the knowledge of societies that existed in the ancient past, and lead you on a trail of jobs that can take you right up to the Smithsonian Museum.

"In addition, the study of history hones general abilities, such as memory and intelligence, as also analytical and communication skills that are highly usable in other academic pursuits and in almost any career you choose to get into. The extensive knowledge that graduates gain affects the manner in which they can gather, organise, represent interpret and critically analyse information in their environments. This, in turn, affects their ability to put forward ideas and arguments in a concise manner and to reason, and to solve problems.’’

Methods applied for fixation of ancient Chronology

Deciding a chronology of an event is done on the basis of scientific research based on well settled methods :

  • Literary method,
  • Radio Carbon Technique,
  • Astronomical method,
  • Archaeological method, and
  • Cross Contacts method.

These methods have been rigorously applied to analyse the chronology of not only Ramayana and Mahabharata but also several other aspects of Indian History.

The Chronology of the Proto-History and Pre-History of the world has been fixed/is being fixed by historians applying these methods. In the initial stage of the studies some errors might creep in findings of a scholar which could be rectified by using stronger tools by successive researchers than used by the earlier one. And in this way the quest for knowledge continues.

This process is continuing in the case of fixation of the ancient chronology of Indian history, which goes to hoary past.

Most of the controversies in deciding acceptable dates and chronology plaguing Indian history arise because of lop sided application of these methods or on account of considering one or two but not all the tools of scientific research methods. If an objective effort is made to arrive at convincing results, Indian history offers ample sources to end the controversy generated by wrong application and in an effort to thrust the pre decided, biased and prejudiced views.

Therefore, we must come out of the cob web of basing our views only on one source only of our arbitrary choice, whether it is archaeology or Rigaveda or outside composition like Avesta, or to say any other and study historical sources in the scientific method and then arrive at some convincing results instead of going on to blame one or the other historian without rhyme and reason.

Identification of Indo-Iranians original home

As per the Iranian tradition preserved in the Vendidad, Fargard I of the Zend-Avesta, there is reference to 16 good lands created by Ahura Mazda one after another whose names in order of creation are:

1. Airyyana Vaejo (ऐर्यान वए्जो) or Iranvej: The original Sanskrit name of Iran (आर्याणां बीज:)[1] The first god chosen land for which the word ‘Iranvej’ has been used. It means ‘the seed of the Iranians.’ Therefore, it may be equated with the cradle of Iranians and first created in the Vendidad as the good land. The research by Ernst Herzfeld says in this regard: ‘’From time immemorial, at least from the third millennium down to the middle of the second, the Aryans inhabited, as an undivided ethnical group, the vast plains of the Oxus and the Jaxtartes, the land of Eranvej of the two rivers Vahvi-Datiya and Ranha.” [cited from Iran in the Ancient East, [1941], p. 190 by Misra, D.P. , op cit., p.32]. However, Pithawalla says that Iranvej lay in the valley of Syr Darya.

2. Sughdha (सुग्ध): Sanskrit name Ramanaka (रमणक) or Rochaka (रोचक), Greek Sogdiana (सोग्डियाना), present Samarkand city of Uzbekistan.[2]. The second god chosen land Sughdha is identified with Sogdiana or the Amu Darya valley and the valley of Zarafshan. [Now the god chosen land falls within the Steppe-Desert belt of Afrasia.

3. Mouru (मोउरु): Sanskrit name Mriga (मृग) or Marva (मर्व), Greek Margiana.[3] In the Avesta and Margu in the Achemanian inscriptions, Margiana for the Greeks is the region identified with Turkmenistan having medieval times famous city Merv. N L Dey identified it with Sanskrit word ‘Mrga’ which name, according to him, has survived in Murg-Ab, the river of Merv. The whole region of Margiana lies in a fertile oasis between the Karakuram desert and the Kopet Mountains.

4. Bagdhi (बग्धि) / Bakhtri (बख्त्रि): Sanskrit name Ketumala (केतुमाल) and Vahlika (वह्लीक), Old Persian Bakhtri (बख्त्रि) and Bactria (बैकट्रिया) in Greek.[4] It is same as Iranian Balkh and Indian Vahlika (वह्लीक). This is the region lying between the river Oxus and the Hindukush comprises Pauranic Ketumala (केतुमाल) Varsa. The town of Bacteria, for Iranians--the mother of cities, was situated on the southern side of the river Oxus.

5. Nisaya (निसय): According to the location indicated in the Vendidad it lay between Mouru and Bakhdhi i.e., between Merv and Bactria; but no such place as Nisaya has been explored so far hence it may be considered as yet to be explained. [5]

6. Haroyu (हरोयु): or Haraiva [old Persian} or Areia {Greek} is the region comprising the valley of the river Harirud. Haroyu corresponds to Indian Sarayu (सरयू). The famous province and city Herat. This is famous for its fruits production with principal town Heart, a town of antiquity. [6]

7. Vaikereta (वैकेरेत) stands for Seistan, lying to south of Harirud. The word Seistan is equivalent to Sanskrit Sakasthana, so known as it was later on conquered by the sakas also designated as Scythians.[7]

8. Hrva (हृव) or Urva (उर्व) identified by some with ‘Mesene, the region of the lower Eupharates’ or by others with the valley of Kabul. [8]

9. Khnenta (ख्नेन्त) was ancient Kandahar (कन्दहार). [9]

10. Harahvaiti (हरह्वैति): the name of the region through which the river Arghanbad flows. The region was known to the Greeks as Arachosia. [Does Harahvaiti stands for Skt. word Saraswati ? will be taken up for discussion separately].[10]

11. Haetumant (हेतुमन्द) or Greek Etumandros is equivalent to the Sanskrit word Setumanta (सेतुमन्त) and is now known as Helmand with the Chief town present Ghazni. [11]

12. Ragha (रघ): or Raga [Old Persian] or Ragai [Greek] is Rae (राए), now a suburb of Tehran, which is very old habitation according to the local legends.[12]

13. Kakhra or Chakra [Sanskrit] is the region in the Kura valley in Azerbaijan.[13]

14. Varena (वरेन): Identification assigned to it is with Varena, modern Buner located above Attock and the Pangkora which joins the Kabul river before it falls in the Indus at Attock. Some identify it with Gilan also and others with Mt. Demavand or Verana in Kasmir.[14]

15. Hapta Hendava (हप्त हेन्दव): or Hepta Hindava (हप्त हेन्दव) which is Sanskrit Sapta Sindhu (सप्त सिंधु) or Sapta Sindhava (सप्त सिंधव), the region of the Indus and its six tributaries.[15]

16. Rangha (रंह) or Vedic Rasa (रसा). Identified by scholars variously with Tigris, Jaxatrtes or Syr Darya or Pauranic Bhadrasoma (भद्रसोमा) and others identify with Sevika River and its area in Kashmir. [16]

Some scholars are of the view that this list of ‘’good lands’’ represents the actual order of migration and settlements of the old Iranian tribes from south and south east till they occupied Caspian Sea to the Arabian see but others do not agree with this explanation. They look upon it as nothing more than a geographical description of Iran seen from the religious point of view.

Topics under General History

See also


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