CHAPTER-2 : Modern Historians of Ancient India

Ancient History of India
Short Notes or Revision Notes 


Colonialist Views on India their Contribution

Legal System

  • Faced challenges administering Hindu Law (1765).
  • Translated Manu Smriti (Hindu law code) in 1776 for reference.
  • Employed Pandits and Maulvis to assist with religious legal matters.


  • Established Asiatic Society of Bengal (1784) for research.
  • Sir William Jones:
    • Proposed connection between Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek languages.
    • Translated Abhijnanashakuntalam (play) and Bhagavad Gita (religious text).
  • Other Societies founded in Bombay (1804) and London (1823).
  • “Sacred Books of the East” series published ancient Indian texts.


  • Vincent Arthur Smith (1843-1920) wrote “The Early History of India” (1904).
  • Emphasized autocracy as a defining feature of Indian history.

Approaches to Ancient Indian History

Nationalist Approach (19th-20th C.)

  • Emphasized Indo-Aryan contributions (e.g., Rajendra Lal Mitra).
  • Reconstructed political and religious history (Bhandarkar, Rajwade).
  • Documented social customs and laws (Kane).
  • Highlighted cultural achievements (Majumdar, Nilakanta Sastri).

Move Towards Non-Political History (Mid-20th C.)

  • Focused on broader social and cultural aspects (Basham).
  • Introduced economic and materialist analysis (Kosambi).
  • Emphasized critical analysis of sources.

Communal Approach (Late 20th C. – Present)

Uses history for political agendas (some Indian and Western

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