The History of India: Its Study and Interpretation

The History of India: Its Study and Interpretation

The History of India: Its Study and Interpretation

The History of India: Its Study and Interpretation

Excerpt

The series of which this pamphlet is a part is designed to provide teachers with analyses of recent materials in various fields of history, and with discussion of trends in interpretation. The subject of the present pamphlet is, however, somewhat outside the experience of many of those to whom it is addressed. A basic knowledge of the history of India is seldom available in the American college curriculum, while many of the significant publications in Indian history are hard to find in our libraries. Even more important is the fact that educated Americans tend to lack awareness of the framework of Indian history—a necessary background against which to fit specific items of information. Without a frame of reference, the student can all too easily flounder about, even in the course of a relatively extensive reading program, with little feeling of accomplishment.

The absence of an adequate framework reflects not only the paucity of materials, the inadequacy of typical college courses dealing with India, and the exotic character of the Indian tradition as contrasted with our own, it reflects also the form which so many of the available texts have taken. By and large, the texts have been written within the confines of a narrow emphasis on political history, leaving much to the imagination as to the structure and nature of the society in which the political events took place. In order to understand Indian history, even political history, the student needs training in the background of Indian society, Indian religion and thought. A pamphlet such as this cannot, therefore, be limited to a discussion of recent materials in the field or to trends in interpretation. It must include some discussion of materials on Indian society, materials which at first glance may seem to be outside the field of history as a discipline. In addition, the discussion should include observations on the framework against which the reading of Indian history needs be placed.

A central purpose of this pamphlet—seriously inhibited by space limitations—is to provide leads into the understanding of Indian culture. At least the major characteristics of that culture must be . . .

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