ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Historical Geography of Ancient India

The Geopolitical Orbits of Ancient India: The Geographical Frames of the Ancient Indian Dynasties by Dilip K Chakrabarti (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 2010; pp 198, Rs 650.

The book explores ancient political history in terms of its historical-geographical configuration. A chronological account of the major political powers of ancient India has been analysed with an emphasis on the geographical dimensions. The author seeks to elaborate on “how the political history of ancient India has been enacted in various geographical orbits and how these orbits have kept on interacting throughout this history”. Further, the author hopes to find out “if there is a recurrent pattern in this interaction, defining certain historical orbits”.

It is not always possible to see the origin, development and decline of political power linked exclusively to geographical factors. Therefore, the book makes an attempt to outline the interactions of different parts of the Indian subcontinent through the activities of various political units of the time. After a brief lay-out of the book’s objectives, Chakrabarti tries to identify and analyse, in separate chapters, the various orbits that existed in the period of study. These are, the first orbits from the “legendary” beginnings till about 200 BC, indicating the dominance of Gangetic India; the period from 200 BC to 300 AD which witnessed a shift of focus to Orissa, Deccan and Malwa; 300 AD to 800 AD, or the era of the re-emergence of the Gangetic orbit; the period between 800 AD and 1000 AD, which focuses on the supra-regional orbits of the north and the south; followed finally, by the period of thrusts and counter-thrusts of power up until 1300 AD. The last chapter summarises the arguments regarding the historical-geographical patterns elaborated in the earlier chapters.

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