Indian history thread

This is a place where you can enter any non-sports general topics
Post Reply
Sin Hombre
Member
Member
Posts: 4049
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 6:59 pm
Antispam: No
Please enter the middle number: 5
Location: Chicago

Indian history thread

Post by Sin Hombre » Wed Mar 20, 2019 3:08 am

Saw this infographic and thought SI community would like it





The sad demise of the Vijayanagara empire is what it starts with.



User avatar
jaydeep
Moderators
Moderators
Posts: 23207
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 8:59 am
Please enter the middle number: 1
Location: India

Re: Indian history thread

Post by jaydeep » Wed Mar 20, 2019 3:37 am

Really interesting to see the changes in rankings of the top populous cities in more than five centuries ... Thanks for sharing.



Prashant
Member
Member
Posts: 2813
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 3:48 pm
Please enter the middle number: 1
Location: Houston TX

Re: Indian history thread

Post by Prashant » Wed Mar 20, 2019 1:38 pm

That's very cool!

I wonder about the definition of city vs urban area though. I think the urban area of Mexico City has a larger population than his number, and the city of Tokyo has a smaller population. As long as they are consistent...



User avatar
jayakris
Moderators
Moderators
Posts: 24536
Joined: Mon Dec 16, 2002 7:24 am
Please enter the middle number: 1
Location: Irvine, CA, USA
Contact:

Re: Indian history thread

Post by jayakris » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:01 pm

I never knew that Vijayanagara was as large as to be the 2nd most populous in the world! I knew it was large. Isn't it sad that we still do not properly teach these things that are so important to know of our heritage, in our schools?

By the way, how many of you know that "Hampi" is the same word that is in the Ramayana as "Pampa" (the lake) near Kishkinda, the land of the monkeys? In old Kannada, many/most Tamil and Sanskrit words that started with the consonant "p" ended up getting changed to "h"... So "Pampa" became "Hampe" and later became "Hampi". That is the lake in Vijayanagara.

As in the wiki page, Here is Nehru writing about the city in the Discovery of India - "After Timur's sack of Delhi, North India remained weak and divided up. South India was better off, and the largest and most powerful of the southern kingdoms was Vijayanagar. This state and city attracted many of the Hindu refugees from the north. From contemporary accounts, it appears that the city was rich and very beautiful—The city is such that eye has not seen nor ear heard of any place resembling it upon earth", says Abdur-Razzak from Central Asia. There were arcades and magnificent galleries for the bazaars, and rising above them all was the palace of the king surrounded by "many rivulets and streams flowing through channels of cut stone, polished and even." The whole city was full of gardens, and because of them, as an Italian visitor in 1420, Nicolo Conti writes, the circumference of the city was sixty miles. A later visitor was Paes, a Portuguese who came in 1522 after having visited the Italian cities of the Renaissance. The city of Vijayanagar, he says, is as "large as Rome and very beautiful to the sight"; it is full of charm and wonder with its innumerable lakes and waterways and fruit gardens. It is "the best-provided city in the world" and "everything abounds." The chambers of the palace were a mass of ivory, with roses and lotuses carved in ivory at the top--"it is so rich and beautiful that you would hardly find anywhere, another such".

A city with a sixty-mile circumference in those days! Whoa... Places like Rome were nothing compared to it.

As in the wiki page, "The Italian Cesari Federici writing two years after Vijayanagara Empire's military defeat in 1565 describes the city after its ruin, "... is not altogether destroyed, yet the houses stand still, but emptie [sic], and there is dwelling in them nothing, as is reported, but Tygres and other wild beasts."

In just two years the city had disappeared and bushes were growing in the houses that just had wild animals living in them. What a tragedy!



User avatar
Atithee
Member
Member
Posts: 3557
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 9:14 pm

Re: Indian history thread

Post by Atithee » Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:21 pm

This account of Vijayanagara turning into ruins within two years seems very suspect to me. But, anything is possible. The other thing in that graphic, which I’d seen much before being posted here, that bothers me is the change in Beijing’s position over time. I find it hard to believe but, again, it’s possible.



User avatar
jayakris
Moderators
Moderators
Posts: 24536
Joined: Mon Dec 16, 2002 7:24 am
Please enter the middle number: 1
Location: Irvine, CA, USA
Contact:

Re: Indian history thread

Post by jayakris » Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:52 am

Why is it suspect, Atithee? If not 2, it was probably 5 or 10 years, but people can leave a city enmasse if it is made uninhabitable (with the possible destruction of some key urban system like food storages, water supply, palace offices, or even worship places). Anyway, it seems there are a ton of references to the city before about 1550, and hardly any after 1575.

I have held a completely unverified suspicion for a while that the unimaginable wealth ($30 billion or something) found in the vaults under the Thiruvananthapuram temple are possibly brought down quietly for safe keeping from some big capital elsewhere in India when it was about to be plundered (to a place farthest from Muslim attackers, and T'puram qualifies on that). Vijayanagaram has been suspect #1 for me for the origin of the wealth. No evidence at all with me, but it makes no sense that such wealth could be quietly amassed at T'puram, which was never a center of such a huge kingdom.



User avatar
Atithee
Member
Member
Posts: 3557
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 9:14 pm

Re: Indian history thread

Post by Atithee » Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:37 am

Jay, can you cite any other examples of a highly prosperous and populous city being reduced to being totally decrepit in a matter of 2-5 years? I’m not challenging you; rather, you are a wealth of knowledge, so you may know it off hand while I’ll have to do a lot of google search. Thanks.

P.S. Any thoughts on the movement of Beijing around wildly over time? And, IIRC, London being the most populous for sometime—both of which seem very odd to me. Has Asia not always been the more populous continent at least in the time periods in the graphic in question? This is what may be biasing me in the case of my skepticism about these two cities.



Sin Hombre
Member
Member
Posts: 4049
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 6:59 pm
Antispam: No
Please enter the middle number: 5
Location: Chicago

Re: Indian history thread

Post by Sin Hombre » Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:58 am

Every historian agrees that London was the most populous city for most of the 19th century
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_l ... ut_history

Off the top of my head, another example of a prosperous city being destroyed completely in a short time is Carthage.


@Jay i agree about the lack of teaching. I know my history but I had no idea that Vijayanagara was so big and prosperous. Also this story about the temple in T'puram is one which I have never heard.



User avatar
jayakris
Moderators
Moderators
Posts: 24536
Joined: Mon Dec 16, 2002 7:24 am
Please enter the middle number: 1
Location: Irvine, CA, USA
Contact:

Re: Indian history thread

Post by jayakris » Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:57 am

Atithee wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:37 am
Jay, can you cite any other examples of a highly prosperous and populous city being reduced to being totally decrepit in a matter of 2-5 years? I’m not challenging you; rather, you are a wealth of knowledge, so you may know it off hand while I’ll have to do a lot of google search. Thanks.
I was thinking of the same. I am not sure of places that disappeared overnight, but Angkor Wat Hindu temple area in Cambodia may be the only case of something of similar scope that became unpopulated later (but I don't think that place had world top-10 population at any point). The scope of the township of Hampi/Vijayanagar is pretty clear. It is several square miles with so many big temples, so the population described by foreign travelers does seem to fit the city. The battle of Talikota in 1565 is said to be the start of the ruining of the city. It is also documented that the invaders burned the place down for months because archeologists are reported to have found massive amounts of burnt charcoal there, which fits that narrrative. So, this was a case of a city that simply was burned down -most probably because it was THE center of Hinduism in India around that time, by when a lot of Hindus had already come down south to Vijayanagara from parts of North India. If I am not mistaken, many brahmins in cities in Tamil Nadu like Kancheepuram apparently still have family histories (recited in their religious rituals) that lead to Vijayanagara, so the exodus seems to be a fact. I agree with you that two years is probably exaggerated. But if the Sultanates from the north wanted to just take the wealth and burn the place (rather than rule it by re-building, because there were too many Hindus for them to try to handle anyway), then it is possible that they burned most of it over a few months and the rest of the people just left. Who knows!

But to answer your question - this may be a pretty unique case in world history. Not too many cases of cities that really disappeared overnight, other than through natural calamities. At least a city of this size. I don't think the Muslim invaders who went around the world ran over cities with no intention to rule the place, but to just steal and destroy. Mostly they kept control of the places and ruled those cities, like Alhambra in Spain, or Indraprastha (Delhi) in India. So it makes sense that if they were to ever decide that there were too many people to handle and so burning down was the best, it would be at one of the largest cities in the world, which was too unwieldy. They never got too close to take over Beijing then, so the next big city they got, they decided to abandon and burn. Too many temples and Hindu stuff at Vijayanagara to even attempt to build over, I guess?

But I can see that if the institutions were all destroyed at such a massive scale, the people would just leave the place. Thanks to our reluctance to look closely into the truth of destruction of Hindu culture/life/cities during those centuries, we haven't really brought out all of the truth on what happened to this city, in my opinion. We would rather not know, to be at peace with ourselves. I can even understand that sentiment.

Similar things happened in other places in India. Another case of massive burning, was supposedly at the Nalanda university, where 9 million manuscripts at the world's largest library supposedly burned for a year or something (again, based on charcoal findings). Then we tell everybody that India did not have a tradition of keeping records (and the BS that everything was by word of mouth), when a lot of historians know that a lot of our books got burned everywhere. But what do we do?.... We can't talk about our history, because we are afraid of ourselves.



User avatar
Atithee
Member
Member
Posts: 3557
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 9:14 pm

Re: Indian history thread

Post by Atithee » Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:28 am

Jay, thank you for answering my query. I’m still skeptical but it’s plausible. There’s just not enough socio-economic development around any city, even today, to sustain even killing en masse or displacement by other means of so many people in India, especially given our cultural and religious beliefs and resiliency. I don’t think there are more resilient people than Indians in this world. Hence my doubts.

Maybe our resident historian PKB has the knowledge to indulge us.



User avatar
PKBasu
Member
Member
Posts: 33432
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 6:04 pm
Please enter the middle number: 1
Location: Singapore

Re: Indian history thread

Post by PKBasu » Thu Mar 21, 2019 8:59 am

Yes, in "Asia Reborn" I mention Domingo Paes' description of Hampi when he visited Vijayanagara in 1520. He described it as being as large as Rome (the greatest city in Christendom) and more prosperous. Paes praised the irrigation systems of Krishna Deva Raya that had delivered very high crop yields and low food prices. (Things we are still struggling with in modern India...). He described a flourishing trade from "factories" in at least six major ports that the kingdom had.

The last Lankan king to surrender to the British (in 1815) -- the King of Kandy -- was a Telugu-speaking Hindu, although he was the protector of the Buddha's Tooth relic in Anuradhapura (the most sacred Buddhist relic in Sri Lanka). The flag of modern Sri Lanka is actually an exact replica of the King of Kandy's insignia. For many generations, Kandy's kings had been Nayaks imported from India, who claimed descent from the Nayaks at Vijayanagara's court (such was Vijayanagara's mystique and charisma).

The Wodeyar kings of Mysore were also descended from Nayaks of Vijayanagara (although they claimed, falsely, to be descended from Krishna Deva Raya himself). About 25 years ago, the WSJ ran a story about an SBI clerk in Warrangal, whose wife had accidentally stumbled upon something invaluable: in their little family puja room, there were 3-4 massive egg-like objects that were shrouded in black soot. She was told at the time of her wedding to treat those objects with reverence and never to try and remove the black powder. Curious about what it was, she nonetheless rubbed the object clean, and found that it was the world's largest ruby. The other objects turned out to be among the largest sapphires, etc. The four objects were together worth over US$2 billion, and the clerk (who is described in other reports as a lawyer) was supposedly the direct descendant of Krishna Deva Raya himself!!



User avatar
PKBasu
Member
Member
Posts: 33432
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 6:04 pm
Please enter the middle number: 1
Location: Singapore

Re: Indian history thread

Post by PKBasu » Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:02 am

Nalanda was indeed the greatest university on earth for many centuries, and its closest rivals were those in Taxila and Vikramshila. Nalanda was destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji, and the libraries containing 9 million books/volumes are said to have burned for more than six months. Scholars from all over Asia (China especially, but also Mongolia, Korea, Japan and of course neighbouring Tibet) came there regularly to study -- and not just Buddhism/religion, but astronomy, physics, mathematics, etc., too.



User avatar
PKBasu
Member
Member
Posts: 33432
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 6:04 pm
Please enter the middle number: 1
Location: Singapore

Re: Indian history thread

Post by PKBasu » Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:21 am

A more recent example of a great city being destroyed and emptied in short order is the Burmese destruction of the great Siamese (Thai) capital of Ayutthaya in 1767. After capturing and sacking the city, the Burmese initially thought they would occupy it, but their attention was diverted by the "Chinese" invasion of eastern Burma. Of course this was a Manchu (Qing dynasty) invasion, which occurred during the hot monsoons. The Manchu armies were wearing uniforms that were more appropriate for the cold climes of Manchuria, and they were thrashed and expelled by the Burmese. The Chinese didn't come back to try and invade Burma for another 180 years...



Post Reply