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Remixing History: India

By Branch, June 8th, 2010

Note: This should by no means be taken as a comprehensive timeline. It is, rather, an outline intended to hit the key points of technological development and historical alteration. All named individuals are actual historical figures.

4th-6th C: The Golden Age of India, the Classical period, happens on schedule and produces a bounty of achievements in the arts and sciences.

7th-9th C: Contending kingdoms compete among themselves and participate in sea-going trade with the Roman Empire and Asia.

8th-14th C: The Caliphate and several successors occupy northern India until the Mongol invasions.

16th C: Babur, a Timurid descendant of the Mongol-Turkish-Persian empire to the north, invades and establishes the Mughal Empire. While the empire is established by war, its policies are of integration and tolerance, and this results in a cultural renaissance.

17th C: Dara Shikoh becomes Mughal Emperor instead of his brother, Aurangzeb. Possibly he gains the loyalty of enough sub-rulers to win in the field, or possibly their father, Shah Jahan, decided that everyone was safer if Aurangzeb died young. Dara, being not only tolerant but a staunch proponent of syncretism, does not turn the Mughal empire toward intolerance; instead the Hindu and Islam cultures and religions continue to co-exist and interact to produce innovative advances. Over time, as the Islamic elements continue to be assimilated into the Hindu and the emperors and governors continue to marry local royalty, centralization gives way to still greater independence among the states and kingdoms.

18th C: The Mughal Empire has become an explicitly federal arrangement, with some powers retained by the Emperor but the majority of power and determination legally in the hands of the local ruler. The largest and most powerful of the kingdoms is Maratha, who have grown by alliance and marriage since the 17th C. They supply much of the military for the subcontinent, and especially most of the naval power, preventing the European powers from attacking militarily. Without the opening of severely divided kingdoms or the legal fig-leaf of imperial grants, the European powers are limited to trade enclaves and in competition with India’s old trade partners, China and Africa. As the products of other centers of arts and technology are introduced, the vigorous, hybrid culture India has built enters into the race for invention and innovation.

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