As we contemplate the long procession of Indian history it may at first sight seem little more than an unending procession, with the elephants of state and umbrellas of authority appearing at intervals, interspersed with trains of attendants and disturbed by the brawls of contending factions. An Amurath to Amurath succeeded, it would seem, with intervals of anarchy while one dynasty replaced another. Or it can be seen as a series of invasions, each adding some new element to the population, whose rule is displaced in turn by the next arrivals. Professor A. L. Basham, in a recent inaugural lecture, could see no thread of meaning running through the four and one-half thousand years of which we have some knowledge. The dynastic and racial view was given its classical form by Mountstuart Elphinstone in his History, which ran through nine editions from 1841 to 1909. The Indian historian is inclined to see Indian history as a splendid Hindu creative cultural achievement leading to a golden age in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D., followed by the humiliation of Muslim conquest and domination, the British episode, and the glorious renaissance and revival in the last and present centuries. The Pakistani may see Indian history as a great Muslim creative achievement superimposed upon a corrupt pagan society and culminating in the Mughal period and the reign of Aurangzeb. The British were the darkeners of the light, the precursors of the greater degradation of the modern Indian infidel state. British historians in the past have tended to see Muslim rule as a preface to their own, and their own as a restoration of ordered life in a decayed society and the introduction of fresh light from the West, and more particularly the Western isles.
Looked at from this level, it is indeed difficult to discern much trace of progress or detect a continuing thread of inner meaning. Indian history would seem to be a broken country in the world of time, with