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The History of Hindu India

The History of Hindu India was developed by the editors of Hinduism Today magazine in collaboration with Dr. Shiva Bajpai, Professor Emeritus of History, California State University Northridge. It is intended to provide an authentic presentation of the history of India and Hinduism for use in American middle and high school classes, as well as Hindu temple study groups and general presentations on the Hindu religion and history.

This documentary is based on the textbook, “The History of Hindu India,” published in 2011. It covers Indian history from the Indus-Saraswati Civilization up to 1850 ce in three parts.

Part 1 covers Indian history from the Indus-Saraswati Civilization up to the Gupta period (to 300 ce). The Hindu concept of God is explained, along with the key concepts of karma, dharma, ahimsa and reincarnation, the practice of temple worship, major saints and the main Hindu scriptures.

Part 2 covers Indian history from 300 to 1100 ce. It opens with magnificent footage of the famed Kailasanatha Temple in Maharashtra, then presents the political history of India at a time when a third of the world’s population lived there. It explores the Gupta Empire, the Huna invasions, the visits of Buddhist monks Faxian and Xuanzang, the initial incursions of Arab Muslim armies in the 8th century, and the rise of the great Chola kingdom of South India. City and village life is described, along with marriage arranging and jati, the joint family structure. This period also witnessed the beginning of the Bhakti Movement and the construction of thousands of famous and still active Hindu temples.

Part 3 covers Indian history from 1100 to 1850 ce, from the Arab Muslim invasions to British rule, a time of great difficulty for the Indian people. These extensive foreign invasions are recounted, including the plunder of the great Siva temple at Somnath, and the establishment of the Mughal Empire by the 16th century in most of India, its subsequent decline by the mid-18th century and the gradual control of India by the British. The documentary provides an account of the saints of the powerful Bhakti Movement, including Ramananda and Kabir. One section is devoted to an overview of the Sikh religion, from its founding in the 16th century by Guru Nanak to formation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in the 18th century. This is followed by a brief introduction to Indian music and its basic concepts of tala (rhythm), raga (scale) and improvisation.

For more information and for class lesson plans based on the book, visit www.hinduismtoday.com/education/. This documentary is directed and produced by Sushma Khadepaun; produced and narrated by Roger (Raj) Narayan. Funded by the Uberoi Foundation, Institute for Curriculum Advancement, this film may be freely distributed for educational purposes.

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