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History of Ancient Indian Historiography: Did Ancient Indians have Historiographical knowledge?

Early colonial historians such as James mill, V.A. Smith, and H.H. Wilson emphasized that the knowledge of history writing was absent in Ancient India. It was emphasized that no historical work was composed in India before the establishment of Turkish rule and Indians learn the art of history writing from Turks.

Though ancient India did not have great historians like Herodotus, at the same time it’s not correct to say that knowledge of historiography was completely absent in Ancient India.

Puranas have the elements of historical work because in these books the subject matter is classified into five parts.

  • Puranas contains names of rulers and dynasty in a chronological manner.
  • “Itihas Purana” deals with the subject matter of history.

Though chronological work was not found in most ancient works. But at the same time, it should be emphasized that work like Vedas and Arthshastra, Nitisar, and Harsha Charita are important historical sources for understanding life in India during the ancient age.

Kalhana was the first true historian. He lived in Kashmir in the 12th-century A.D. In his book Rajatarangini, he explain the attributes of true historians and true historical work.

Historiography witnessed remarkable progress in India during mediaeval age because the art of history writing was far more developed in Persia and Central Asia. Rulers of Delhi maintained Court historians who compiled important details, but it will not be correct to say that ancient Indians were not aware of historiography completely.

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