“The Wonder That Was India” is a renowned book written by Arthur Llewellyn Basham, a British historian and Indologist. The book was first published in 1954 and has since become a classic in the field of Indian history and culture. Basham’s work is highly regarded for its comprehensive exploration of India’s past, covering various aspects of its ancient civilization.
Key Themes and Topics Covered:
Basham provides a detailed historical overview of ancient India, starting from the earliest civilizations in the Indus Valley to the medieval period. The book spans thousands of years, exploring the political, social, and cultural developments.
Society and Culture:
The author delves into the social structure of ancient India, discussing the caste system, family life, and the status of women. He explores the cultural achievements of the time, including literature, art, and philosophy.
Religion and Philosophy:
A significant portion of the book is dedicated to the religions and philosophies that originated in ancient India. Basham discusses Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and other religious traditions, providing insights into their beliefs and practices.
Basham covers the political history of ancient India, highlighting the major empires, rulers, and dynasties. He discusses the Maurya and Gupta periods, among others, and their contributions to governance and administration.
Economic and Technological Advancements:
The book explores the economic and technological advancements of ancient India, including its trade relations, agricultural practices, and contributions to science and mathematics.
Languages and Literature:
Linguistic diversity and the rich literary traditions of ancient India are also addressed. Basham discusses the Sanskrit language, classical literature, and the epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana.
Decline and Transformation:
The book covers the factors contributing to the decline of ancient Indian civilization and the subsequent transformations that shaped the medieval period.
“The Wonder That Was India” is praised for its breadth and depth, providing readers with a holistic understanding of India’s ancient past.
Basham’s writing style is accessible to both scholars and general readers, making complex historical and cultural concepts understandable to a wide audience.
The book continues to be a key reference for students, scholars, and anyone interested in the history and culture of India.
“The Wonder That Was India” remains a seminal work that has stood the test of time, contributing significantly to the study of ancient Indian civilization. Basham’s nuanced and insightful exploration of India’s rich heritage has left an indelible mark on the field of Indology.