A noted Indian economist, environmentalist and urban theorist, Sanjeev Sanyal is fond of history and did wrote a book named – The Indian Renaissance: India’s Rise after a Thousand Years of Decline. The book got a successful selling. His latest book is – Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography. Here we present our reviews for the same.
|Book Title||:||Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography|
|Publisher||:||Penguin Books (2012-2013)|
What interest us in reading the book is its title. Especially, “A brief history of INDIA’S GEOGRAPHY”. Most of the historical books written takes a cultural or historical look at the historical events. It is rare to find an analysis of geography of a land over the period of time. The Aaryans came to the land via the way of HinduKush mountains through Khaibar pass. But the Indian sub-continent indeed exist since a long before than. It was considered as the “SaptaSindhu” area “Sapta” means seven, Sindhu is amongst one of the most important river in the history of Indian sub-continent. It is said that the Indian civilization took place at the banks of these rivers and grown to the stage at it is right now. Scholars often refer that the roots of the word Hindu and India remains in Sindhu. Cultures always develop at the bank of a remarkable river, as it give all the ingredients needed by a society to form and develop. The seven rivers Indus, Saraswati, Ganga, BrahmaPutra (probably the only river in India with Male name), Krishna, Narmada and Cauvery (Kaveri) played a significant role for entire Indus Vally Civilization.
Let us take a look at the content of the book to see what it has to offer us.
The book raises some of the points in a kind of healthy debate, where the author puts forward his point by referring some proofs, assumptions and analysis. It is actually good to hear his side. At various points he makes it clear that this could have been done, it is actually a healthy approach. The book refers quotes and findings by various noted archeologist and geologists. There are some political events also covered as political history affects geography and vice-versa. Though the geographical changes can be result of a lot of other factors too. Harappa, Mohenjodero, Dholavira, Lothal, Aravalli, Vindhya, Himalaya and other stuff explored well.
The author also draws link with Manu’s story and Matysavatar with Noah’s tale. It might be easy for the western audience to relate to the same due to this. The author also draws attention to the fact that both Aryans and Dravidian refer Manu. The book also explores that it is a wrong representation by the (possibly British rulers, as they wanted to link their acts in India with some good work) historians that Aryans came to to land and made the people living here ‘civilized’. They were having their own civilized way before that. The ancient Indian literature refers that there is Himalaya in North and the sea (the Arabian sea) in the south and west banks, it proves that they knew the geography pretty well, and it is a misconception that the western rulers initiated process to get maps done for the land of India.
Saraswati was the most referred river in the Rigveda, more than Ganga, so it played significantly important part in the geographical history of India. There are reference that the river was meeting the sea! There is a quite good analysis made about the step-by-step process in which the water of Saraswati got shrunk and its effects. The trade between India and other countries and continents is also referred. It is also mentioned that there were several things India was exporting the but there was a little to import. The book raises the possibility of importing Arabian horses.
The analysis of promoting and demoting casts as a practice – is a worth reading point. As we see that people pushing efforts their cast to be included in EBC or OBC layer these days, in order to gain some significant benefits in various aspects, the point doesn’t look baseless at all. There much more in the book but we think it is better to explore on your own, it will preserve the charm.
We must say that the author did a significant research work and went through a large amount of reference material which gives the authenticity to this book. We often see some heavy (not so popular or common) English words in the books, which may not be friendly to the reader. If author should have tried even simpler language the effect of the book would have been even higher. The author didn’t explore the modern times in very much detail though. There are several maps integrated in the articles, though we expect more maps and pictures in the same.
The book provides a good material to make a TV serial on the same, as we know Shyam Benegal made a good adoption of Pt. Nehru’s book Discovery Of India – as Hindi TV Serial – Bharat Ek Khoj. And yes, it is not for the readers who want to read it just for timepass or fans for what it is called 100Rs. literature. Also, some of your beliefs might be challenged by this book about India, its culture, progress, geography and even history, based on the research work by the author, so you need to read it with open mind. If you are seriously interested in knowing some historical and geographical facts about India, only then, this book can appeal you. And as that is the target of the book, we can say the author passes the test in that regards.