CHAPTER VII
New Peoples: The Rajput World:
South India

Beginning with the fall of the Guptas and becoming complete after the death of Harsha in 647 A.D., north Indian history is confused and obscure for some five or six hundred years. This long period of time is perhaps the most difficult of all for historians of India, for there is confusion as well as obscurity, a medley of new peoples and emergent groups as well as a lack of information. Nothing like a clear picture of the period as a whole has yet emerged. Here all that will be attempted will be to characterize the main features of the time, to clarify the processes that were involved, and to explain the significance of these centuries in relation to modern India.

As the Dark Ages divide the modern West from the classical age of the Greeks and Romans, so do these centuries divide modern from ancient India. Though Hinduism and Brahminism survived the years of change, they were so modified that in a real sense we can say that there is no living tradition going back beyond the sixth Christian century. The period was a watershed of peoples and cultures. It is from this time that the modern languages and peoples and many features of the modern cults of India date. No Rajputs or Marathas or Jats are to be found before the sixth century; none of the early peoples like the Lichchhavis, no cult of the sun, no Buddhism are to be found after its close. The marks of this period can be briefly summarized. There is first, with the death of Harsha of Kanauj, a disappearance of imposing bureaucratic empires with closely knit organizations. Empires existed like those of the Gurjaras and the Pratiharas, but they are shadowy compared with the Mauryas and the Guptas. There were notable personalities like Raja Bhoja of Kanauj, but they are figures of legend or folklore rather than of history. There is not so much a lack of information as a lack of precise informa-

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