The Dawn of Recorded History:
Alexander and Asoka
The dawn of recorded Indian history can be placed around 600 B.C. Though no exact dates can be supplied for the next two centuries, we are able to obtain a general, if rather vague, picture from a variety of sources. The information mainly concerns the northern parts, it is true, but this was the scene of most vital change. There are inferences to be drawn from the epics; there are dynastic lists to be studied in the Puranas;1 there are Buddhist and Jain writings and there is the Ceylonese historical chronicle, the Mahavamsa. From these sources it can be seen that the center of political gravity has moved still further eastward. As the Panjab in Vedic times gave place to Indraprastha ( Delhi) and Hastinapura on the upper Jumna and Ganges in Epic days, so these places have yielded in importance to the modern region of Oudh in western Uttar Pradesh and Behar south of the Ganges. Ayodhya, Rama's city, was the capital of Kosala in Oudh. Banaras appears in history as the sacred city of Kashi, while near the modern Patna was the city of Pataliputra, the capital af Magadha in modern Behar. It can be loosely said that Ayodhya and Pataliputra have taken the place of Indraprastha and Hastinapura. In the south there is evidence of the process of the peaceful penetration of Hindu culture and of kingdoms formed along the eastern coastal plain or the Coromandel coast of South India. The kingdoms mentioned were larger than those of Epic days but none as yet approached the dimensions of an empire. Magadha, of whose kings in two dynasties to 322 B.C. we have some information, was probably the leading state. In the sphere of culture, both Jainism and Buddhism took their rise.
In the northwest the position was obscure, but it is here that we have the first evidence in Indian history of foreign political intervention as