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UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE INDIANS.

Preliminary Remarks.

We now leave China and pass over to the history of India. But it is necessary to premise that our attention will be exclusively occupied with its western division, or as it is now called, Hindostan. Chin-India, or Farther India, and the Indian islands, have never been the theatre of any eminent historical exploits. As their inhabitants never contributed to the growth of society, or the advance of civilization, we pass them by without any further notice. Those nations alone have a valid claim on our consideration which had a character peculiar to themselves, or exerted a controlling influence on the world in a political, scientific, artistic and religious way.

Geographical Outline.

The mighty peninsula of India, like Italy, in Europe, stretches its immense surface southward towards the Indian Ocean. Its southern portion, known in history by the name of Decan, and forming the peninsula proper, is surrounded by water, and occupies a naturally isolated position. Its northern portion, which is traversed by two large rivers, the Indus and the Ganges, extends to the base of the Solyman and Himmaleh mountains. Its natural qualities and geograpical features are distinguished by their grandeur and by their variety. Its scenery is sublime and enchanting. Surrounded by the Arabian sea and the Indian ocean, irrigated by two noble streams which pour their fertilizing inundations over a vast extent of territory, embracing within its bounds the declivities of three mountain ranges, and well-watered plains of unvaried riches and unbounded luxuriance, wild, ferocious animals, it possesses an unexampled power of vegetation, tall, majestic forests, stately palms, aromatic shrubs, and every variety of natural productions in rich abundance. In this country so admirably adapted for the cultivation of a civilization peculiarly its own, have flourished from the earliest periods on record, a remarkable race, whose history is well worthy of our notice. Hindostan extends somewhat above twenty-four hundred miles from north to south, in breadth about fifteen hundred miles from east to west.

Influence of these Geographical Relations.

In India as well as in China, the physical configuration of the country has left its impress clearly printed upon the character of its inhabitants. The surface of China presents a uniform aspect; its social, political, intellectual and religious spirit is marked by a tedious sameness, never strives to surmount the culture it has already attained. Not so with India. An endless diversity is the main feature of its geography. Nature seems to have been determined to favor Hindostan with all the innumerable forms of her beautiful life Here the most opposite extremes that can possibly exist on the surface of our planet, meet and extend to each other the hand of friendship. Her face wears a continually changing aspect. India is split into several distinct divisions, differing in formation and appearance. In the north and in Decan, the rivers run in totally different directions; chains of lofty mountains, large, extended tablelands, deep fruitful valleys, uninhabited deserts and unhealthy marshes, are scattered over the country. Its surface never presents an even, harmonious appearance, but is broken into numerous sections, each marked by particular features. The Indians likewise have not the same character throughout, but seem to correspond to the special locality they severally inhabit. An intense individuality approaching to egotism, which spurns intercourse with foreigners, marks their character.

History of the Indians.

The history of Hindostan divides itself naturally into three principal periods. As for many centuries past it has made no real advancement in civilization, we will pursue the came course we took with China, and delineate its history from its beginning down to the present day, confining ourselves to the most important facts.

The First Period.

1600 B. C.-327 B. C.

Of the character and civilization of the people who are said to have inhabited India previous to the year 1600, as well as of the chronological tables used by Indian historians, we possess no satis

factory accounts. It is a fact, however, authenticated by indubitable evidence, that about this time a powerful race descended from the Northern mountains and subjugated the country. Of the fabulous accounts which obscure the records of these early times, we will only mention the supposed invasion of Semiramis, the celebrated queen of Assyria and Bactria, during the reign of the Indian monarch Stabrobates (in Sancrit, Stha vara patis, lord of the world). It was recorded by Ctesias, a Grecian author, who imagined that it occurred in the year 2000 B. C. The account of the victorious march of Sesostris, who is said to have overrun entire India, rests throughout on no historical probability whatever. The annals both of India and Egypt, contain no notice of these expeditions; nor have modern researches thrown any light upon the subject.

Beside other weighty considerations, which seem to prove that India came into contact with the western world at any early period, the Scriptural account of the commerce carried on by the Phonicians and Jews, in the time of Solomon, with Ophir, and a few expressions to be found in the writings of Homer, point most clearly to an acquaintance with the Sancrit language and India.* It may be affirmed with considerable certainty, that the Indians, though they never travelled beyond the bounds of their native land, carried on, nevertheless, a considerable commerce with the Phoenicians, 1000 B. C., whose enterprising spirit led them forth from their homes to explore distant countries.

On account of the scarcity of authentic sources of information, our knowledge of the first period of Indian history, which extends to the year 327 B. C., when Alexander the Great invaded the country, is exceedingly limited. Every truly important historical occurrence proceeded from the activity of the Arier or Sancrit people, who had abandoned their abodes in the northern mountains and conquered India. During this period, the division of the inhabitants into four orders, or castes, took its rise. The manner of its origin is

• REMARK.-The word xasoirspos, for example, in Homer, is closely allied to the Sancrit Kastiza. Besides, the length of the voyage to and from Phonicia, as described in the Bible, favors the supposition that Ophir was situated in India. On the western coast of India was situated a city similar in sound to the name Ophir. In addition to all this, it must be borne in mind, that in the Coptic dialect, India is always called Sophir.

involved in darkness,

About the year 540 B. C., died Gauthana

Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. In the present state of historical knowledge, it is impossible to determine the peculiar character of this religious system. It sprung up in opposition to the hierarchial tendencies and doctrines of Brahminism; its object was, to reform the existing religious condition of the country. It reached the height of its prosperity and glory about the year 240 B. C. The Persian kings, Cyrus and Darius, undertook the conquest of India, but without any decided success. Their dominion extended over a very small portion of the country. No important results were occasioned by their efforts to subjugate it. Their invasions may be regarded as so many preparations for the victorious career of Alexander the Great.

Second Period.

327 B. C.-1000 A. D.

The invasion of India by Alexander the Great, constitutes a remarkable epoch in its history. His own ambitious spirit, which aimed at the conquest of the then known world, urged him to attempt the subjugation of a country that had baffled the energies of his predecessors. At the solicitation of the Indian king, Taxiles, or Tacshailas, who was at enmity with his neighbors, he commenced his march. As Western India was torn by violent dissensions and its power weakened, Alexander found no difficulty in penetrating beyond the Indus to the river Hyphasis, now called Sutledge. On the banks of the Hydaspes, he was vigorously assailed by Porus, or Phoor, who had collected an army of the bravest men India could furnish. His soldiers terrified by the extensive desert which it was necessary to pass in order to reach the Ganges, mutinied. Alexander was compelled to return. He sent his fleet down the Indus, and returned himself to the West by a long and laborious march through immense deserts.

After his death, his successors unfortunately dismembered his extensive empire. The Indian possessions-the precise number of which we cannot tell-which his bravery had acquired, were neglected. Internal distractions gradually consumed the political strength of the nation. A state of disorder ensued. Ambitious individuals, whose only interest was self-aggrandizement, watched the opportunity for seizing the reins of government. One of them, by name

Chandragupta, more bold than the rest-whose history, however, is so intermingled by fabulous accounts, and so variously represented by Brahminical and Buddhist writers, who mutually contradict each other, that nothing certain about his life is known beyond the date of his reign, 300 B. C.-usurped the throne. He is said to have commenced his march at Penjab, to have traversed the whole of India, and provoked Seleucus, king of Syria, to undertake an expedition against himself, which resltued in no important consequences. Recently discovered coins prove beyond doubt, that several smaller kingdoms, founded originally by Grecian immigrants, continued to flourish in the middle of the second century before the Christian era. But now the power of the Indian nation was effectually broken. Its shattered condition occasioned irruptions, (2 B. C.) which it could not withstand, by nomadic tribes from the north and north-east, and by the Sakas, a Scythian nation, who succeeded in establishing a new and extensive kingdom in North India. But though externally harrassed by barbarous enemies, India, under the moulding influences of Grecian thought, revived its true spirit by a vigorous and successful cultivation of science. During this period, Sancrit literature attained to an unusual height of prosperity and glory. Great praise must be awarded to Greece, so insignificant in political magnitude, but infinitely superior to all other nations in the achievements of Science and Art. Her influence at this time did not only arouse to fresh activity the dormant energies of the Orient, but was engaged in obtaining a complete mental victory over the Romans who had destroyed her political independence.

The kingdom of the Sakas was of short duration. Internal feuds hurried it to ruin. It was subverted by Vicramaditya, 56 B. C. His reign had been made immortal by the most brilliant achievements of India art and science. Indian literature burst forth in its richest bloom. The circumstances of the age were extremely favorable to the growth of thought. Brahminism, which had for some years past lost its influence, was resuscitated, and again became the predominant religion of the country. But the intellectual bloom of this period soon withered. Fresh hordes who extended their dominion to Benares on the Ganges, broke in from the north, and interrupted the progress of the country. A time of gradual internal dissolution follows; a host of petty dynasties spring up in the lesser kingdoms. Here the thread of our narrative is broken. Various contradictory

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