The Wonder That Was India: A Survey of the Culture of the Indian Sub-Continent before the Coming of the Muslims

The Wonder That Was India: A Survey of the Culture of the Indian Sub-Continent before the Coming of the Muslims

The Wonder That Was India: A Survey of the Culture of the Indian Sub-Continent before the Coming of the Muslims

The Wonder That Was India: A Survey of the Culture of the Indian Sub-Continent before the Coming of the Muslims

Excerpt

This book has been written to interpret ancient Indian civilization, as I understand it, to the ordinary Western reader who has little knowledge of the subject, but some interest in it. The three nations of the Indian Sub-continent, since the momentous days of 1947 when they gained complete independence, have been playing an evergrowing part in the affairs of the world, and there is perhaps room for a new outline of their ancient culture, to replace the many excellent works now out of print, and to further our understanding of the civilization of these new states in the contemporary world.

As this book is intended for the general reader I have tried, as far as possible, to leave nothing unexplained. And as I believe that civilization is more than religion and art I have tried, however briefly, to cover all aspects of Indian life and thought. Though primarily intended for Westerners I hope that the book may be of some interest to Indian, Pākistānī and Sinhalese readers also, as the interpretation of a friendly mleccha, who has great love and respect for the civilizations of their lands, and many friends among the descendants of the people whose culture he studies. The work may also be of help to students who are embarking on a course of serious Indological study; for their benefit I have included detailed bibliographies and appendices. But, for the ordinary reader, the work is cumbersome enough, and therefore I have not given references for every statement. I have tried to reduce Sanskrit terms to a minimum, but the reader without background knowledge will find definitions of all Indian words used in the text in the index, which also serves as a glossary.

Sanskrit, Prākrit and Pāli words are transliterated according to the standard system at present used by Indologists; this, with its plethora of diacritic marks, may at first seem irritating, but it is the only sound method of expressing the original spelling, and gives a clear idea of the correct pronunciation. Modern Indian proper names are generally given in the most usual spelling with the addition of marks over the long vowels, to indicate their approximately correct pronunciation. I have tried to employ consistently the names and spellings officially adopted by the new states of the Sub-continent (e.g. Banāras for Benares, Uttar Pradesh for United Provinces, etc.,) and as these do not appear in pre-war atlases they are shown in the . . .

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