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Visions Of Past

The past lives on in India's continuity. There is no nostalgia for what was, no impatient anticipation for what will be. For the philosophy of the land dictates that to live for the moment is to share the spiritual joy of belonging.

The first records of history trace back to the great 5000-year old Indus valley civilization on the banks of the River Indus. Many planned cities have been excavated at Harappa, Mohenjodaro (now in Pakistan), Lothal (in Gujarat) and many other sites.

The restless Aryans who came to the subcontinent around 2000 BC, became the inhabitants of the country pushing the Dravidians towards the southern tip of India. They came and settled in this beautiful land, and they took as their own the forests and rivers and seas. Sun worshippers, they settled down to a pastoral life, governed by the politics of kings and emperors. Their own contribution to the civilization was a wisdom born of their travels, their spirit of adventure, and their language.

Legends of India :
spread across the continents and tempted no less a man than Alexander of Macedonia who rode in at the head of his army and fought the small kingdoms of this great land. His victories did not, however, cloud his regard for the magnificent civilization of the country. And eventually he retreated, leaving behind a fair portion of his army which was gradually assimilated.

The Mauryan dynasty was founded in 323 bc by Chandragupta Maurya and the golden age of this period has been recorded by Megasthenes, a Greek ambassador. A great monarch, Ashoka was a product of this dynasty. While expanding the boundaries of his empire, he recognized the futility of conquest by war and embraced Buddhism. Later he sent monks with the message of the Buddha to Sri Lanka, Syria, Egypt and Macedonia. Inscriptions on rock and pillars listing his ethical principles for universal adoption are found throughout India.

Kanishka ushered in the Kushan empire. In southern India, the Chola, Pandya and Chera dynasties flourished. The Gupta dynasty strengthened India and trade with Europe began on a major scale. One of the world's most famous universities at Nalanda opened its doors; Kalidasa, the seer poet, set the note for future compositions in poetry; the spirit of learning spread across the length and breadth of the country.

The Chalukayas and Pallavas established dominion in south India. Islam found its way into India in the 8th century ad. Muslim conquerors came to the country and settled down. Subsequently, the Mughals established a mighty empire. So recent was their reign that monuments of that period are virtually intact.

Then came the British - first as a commercial and then as a political body. For the first time in its history, India was united in a bid to oust foreign dominance. When battles proved worthless, leaders of the stature of Tilak, Lajpat Rai, Gandhi and Nehru rose from the ranks. And India regained her independence to become a democratic nation.

Souvenirs of her glorious past still survive in India. Edicts and stupas from the Mauryan age; the rock temples and mural-paintings of Ajanta and Ellora from the Gupta age; the magnificent heritage of Chola and Pallava kings; the striking 13th century sun temple at Konark; the traditions of architecture left behind by the Muslim rulers in Delhi, Mandu, Golconda, Ahmedabad and Bijapur; the great palaces of the Mughals-the Red Fort, Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri.

The imperial extravagance of the Raj with the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi, their great universities and the initiation into the industrial age which resulted in the railways, posts and telegraphs and an organized, central administrative machinery.

This history continues to live in India. Religion and culture combine with education to give the Indian a background that other nations envy. And in the tradition of excellence, India now builds great universities, atomic power plants, factories, hydel projects and dams... "the temples of modern India."




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