The purpose of this book is to portray the transformation of India under the impact of the West into a modern nation state. But India, as the seat of an ancient civilization, the creator of two world religions and the host of two cultures, has her roots deep in the past. The present cannot be understood without reference to these influences from the past, some still powerful as in the case of caste, and some still active and creative as in the case of certain aspects of Hindu thought. Mahatma Gandhi has reminded us that the world can still be moved by ancient creeds as well as by modern slogans. For this reason more space has been given to the early history of India than is usual in some works of this series. Indian society itself has its beginnings in the third millennium B.C. and reached full stature in the first millennium A.D. Down the centuries there have been successive developments which are still living influences today. The plan of this book has therefore been to give a general historical view of India's past, emphasizing those aspects which time has proved to have been creative agents in the formation of the present. Thus, the formation of Hindu society, Buddhism, the rise of the Rajputs, and the coming of Islam are treated as themes relevant to the present, while the details of wars and dynastic lists, chronological controversies, and changes of frontiers are omitted as irrelevant.
So we proceed until the period of the Mughal Empire ( 1526-1761). An effort has been made to give a picture of India at that time, as being the last period of Indian independence immediately preceding the British occupation. Much that was accomplished by them would have been impossible but for the previous achievements of the Mughals.
From the mid-eighteenth century the emphasis has been on the transformation of India under Western influences and the rise of the modern Indian nation.