The History and Culture of the Indian People

The History and Culture of the Indian People is a series of eleven volumes on the history of India, from prehistoric times to the establishment of the modern state in 1947. Historian Ramesh Chandra Majumdar was the general editor of the series, as well as a major contributor. The entire work took 26 years to complete. The set was published in India by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai.

QuotesEdit

The Vedic AgeEdit

Volume 1: The Vedic Age [Prehistory to 600 B.C.]
  • The history of India is not the story of how she underwent foreign invasions, but how she resisted them and eventually triumphed over them.... To be a history in the true sense...the work must be the story of the people inhabiting a country. It must be a record of their life from age to age presented through the life and achievements of men whose exploits become the beacon lights of tradition...the central purpose of a history must...be to investigate and unfold the values which age after age have inspired the inhabitants of a country to develop their collective will...such a history of India is still to be written. ... I had long felt the inadequacy of our so called Indian histories...for many years, I was planning an elaborate history of India in order... that the world might catch a glimpse of her soul as Indians see it.
    • The History and Culture of the Indian People: Volume 1, The Vedic Age: Foreword, K M Munshi, quoted in in: S. Balakrishna, Seventy years of secularism. 2018.
  • “On the whole ... the language of the first nine Mandalas must be regarded as homogeneous, inspite of traces of previous dialectal differences... With the tenth Mandala it is a different story. The language here has definitely changed.”
    • B.K. Ghosh in The History and Culture of the Indian People, Vol. I: The Vedic Age edited by R.C. Majumdar, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Publications, Mumbai, 6th edition 1996. Quoted in Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • Max Müller, Weber, Muir, and others held that the Punjab was the main scene of the activity of the Rgveda, whereas the more recent view put forth by Hopkins and Keith is that it was composed in the country round the SarasvatI river south of modem AmbAla.”
    • The History and Culture of the Indian People, Vol. I: The Vedic Age edited by R.C. Majumdar, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Publications, Mumbai, 6th edition 1996.
  • That age [of the Rigveda] is not known with even an approximate degree of certainty.
    • A.D. Pusalker , The History and Culture of the Indian People, Vol. I: The Vedic Age edited by R.C. Majumdar, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Publications, Mumbai, 6th edition 1996. quoted in S. Talageri, The Aryan Invasion Theory and Indian Nationalism (1993)

The Classical AgeEdit

Volume 3: The Classical Age [320-750 A.D.]
  • In the seventh century A.D., these two kingdoms formed parts of India both politically and culturally, being Indian in language, literature and religion and ruled over by kings who bore Indian names.
    • On kingdom of Zabul (Jabala) in Afghanistan.
    • Majumdar, RC . The Classical Age. quoted in Misra, R. G. (2005). Indian resistance to early Muslim invaders up to 1206 A.D. p.32

The Struggle for Empire Edit

Volume 5: The Struggle for Empire [1000-1300 A.D.]
  • It is legitimate to conclude...that northern India was fully aware of the grave peril caused by the menace of Islam, and her people gave practical evidence of their love for their country and religion by willingly offering to sacrifice their lives in the bleak hills of far distant Afghanistan.
    • DC Ganguly, Struggle for Empire. also quoted in Misra, R. G. (2005). Indian resistance to early Muslim invaders up to 1206 A.D. p.129

The Delhi SultanateEdit

  • The only voice which was heard against this nation-wide exercise in suppressio veri suggestio falsi in the field of medieval Indian history, was that of the veteran historian, R.C. Majumdar. For him, this “national integration” based on a wilful blindness to recorded history of the havoc wrought by Islam in India, could lead only to national suicide. He tried his best to arrest the trend by presenting Islamic imperialism in medieval India as it was, and not as the politicians in league with Stalinist and Muslim historians were tailoring it to become. “Political necessities of the Indians during the last phase of British rule,” he wrote in 1960, “underlined the importance of alliance between the two communities, and this was sought to be smoothly brought about by glossing over the differences and creating an imaginary history of the past in order to depict the relations between the two in a much more favourable light than it actually was… But history is no respecter of persons or communities, and must always strive to tell the truth, so far as it can be deduced from reliable evidence. This great academic principle has a bearing upon actual life, for ignorance seldom proves to be a real bliss either to an individual or to a nation. In the particular case under consideration, ignorance of the actual relation between the Hindus and the Muslims throughout the course of history - an ignorance deliberately encouraged by some - may ultimately be found to have been the most important single factor which led to the partition of India. The real and effective means of solving a problem is to know and understand the facts that gave rise to it, and not to ignore them by hiding the head, ostrich-like, into sands of fiction.”
    • R.C. Majumdar, quoted from Sita Ram Goel, The Calcutta Quran Petition (1986), quoting R.C. Majumdar (ed), The History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume VI, The Delhi Sultanate, Bombay, 1960, p. xxix.

The Mughul Empire Edit

Volume 7: The Mughul Empire [1526-1707]
  • I would not care whether truth is pleasant or unpleasant, and in consonance with or opposed to current views. I would not mind in the least whether truth is, or is not, a blow to the glory of my country. If necessary, I shall bear in patience the ridicule and slander of friends and society for the sake of preaching truth. But still I shall seek truth, understand truth, and accept truth. This should be the firm resolve of a historian.
    • Jadunath Sarkar. Quoted in R.C. Majumdar, The History and Culture of the Indian People, Vol. 7, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1984, pp. xiii (quoted from a Presidential speech given at a historical conference in Bengal, 1915)
  • But his voice remained a voice in the wilderness. Fourteen years later, he [R.C. Majumdar] had to return to the theme and give specific instances of falsification. “It is very sad,” he observed, “that the spirit of perverting history to suit political views is no longer confined to politicians, but has definitely spread even among professional historians… It is painful to mention though impossible to ignore, the fact that there is a distinct and conscious attempt to rewrite the whole chapter of the bigotry and intolerance of the Muslim rulers towards Hindu religion. This was originally prompted by the political motive of bringing together the Hindus and Musalmans in a common fight against the British but has continued ever since. A history written under the auspices of the Indian National Congress sought to repudiate the charge that the Muslim rulers broke Hindu temples, and asserted that they were the most tolerant in matters of religion. Following in its footsteps, a noted historian has sought to exonerate Mahmud of Ghazni’s bigotry and fanaticism, and several writers in India have come forward to defend Aurangzeb against Jadunath Sarkar’s charge of religious intolerance. It is interesting to note that in the revised edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, one of them, while re-writing the article on Aurangzeb originally written by William Irvine, has expressed the view that the charge of breaking Hindu temples brought against Aurangzeb is a disputed point. Alas for poor Jadunath Sarkar, who must have turned in his grave if he were buried. For, after reading his History of Aurangzib, one would be tempted to ask, if the temple-breaking policy of Aurangzeb is a disputed point, is there a single fact in the whole recorded history of mankind which may be taken as undisputed?”
    • R.C. Majumdar, quoted from Sita Ram Goel, The Calcutta Quran Petition (1986), quoting R.C. Majumdar (ed.), Ibid., Volume VII, Preface to The Mughal Empire, Bombay, 1974, p. xii.

Quotes about the workEdit

  • A standard work of many volumes commissioned in the 1950s to celebrate India's liberation from foreign rule and foreign scholarship.
  • The first volume of the first genuine history of India.... [and that it] is likely to remain for many generations the most important of all histories of India, and, indeed, renders all others obsolete if not superfluous.
    • M.F. Ashley Montagu M.F. Ashley Montagu, Review in: Isis, Vol. 43, No.1 (Apr., 1952), pp. 75-76. in a review in the Isis journal

External linksEdit


  • Volume 1: The Vedic Age [Prehistory to 600 B.C.]
  • Volume 2: The Age of Imperial Unity [600 B.C. to 320 A.D.]
  • Volume 3: The Classical Age [320-750 A.D.]
  • Volume 4: The Age of Imperial Kanauj [750-1000 A.D.]
  • Volume 5: The Struggle for Empire [1000-1300 A.D.]
  • Volume 6: The Delhi Sultanate [1300-1526]
  • Volume 7: The Mughul Empire [1526-1707]
  • Volume 8: The Maratha Supremacy [1707-1818]
  • Volume 9: British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance, Part 1 [1818-1905]
  • Volume 10: British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance, Part 2 [1818-1905]
  • Volume 11: Struggle for Freedom [1905-1947]