Indian History and Culture 1526 to1707 AD by K M Munshi, founder Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

  • This part covers period 1526 to 1707 and includes Mughal rule esp. intolerance towards Hindus, Hindu warrior Hemu and Tansen.

Shri V Balachandran (ex-Special Secretary Cabinet Secretariat) wrote in The Tribune Chandigarh Neglecting cultural czar Munshi’s efforts This goaded me to do a precis of Foreword of 11 Volumes of The History and Culture of Indian People. We present precis of Volume 7.  

Respected K M Munshi was an educationist, freedom fighter, founder of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (1938), author and worked closely with Sardar Patel. He initiated the writing of The History and Culture of the Indian People. The books are a masterpiece & my constant reference book. Shri R.C. Majumdar was General Editor. Of volume 7, J.N. Chaudhuri and S. Chaudhuri were Assistant Editors.  


K M Munshiji said, “That although efforts to prepare this massive history-writing had started in 1938, it could assume concrete shape only in 1944 with generous help from GD Birla and the Shri Krishnarpan Charity Trust.” 


Precis is split in parts. Each part has a number and title that represents content. Let us hope these books become part of the mainstream educational system. 


Part 1 covered period 1000-1300 and includes state of Indian society around 1000, why did it survive the earlier 2,000 years, status of Sanskrit, social impact of Muslim invasions, why lower strata of society adopted Islam, South Indian kings, rise of Desabhashas and Bhakti.


Part 2 covers period 1300 to 1526. It tells did Khilji/Tughluq rule all of India, Timur invasion, what is common between Timur and Vasco da gama, Religious Life then, Impact of Islam, Religious life and Language Literature and did Muslim or Hindu ruler of Orissa support Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.


This part covers 1526-1707. It includes Mughal rule esp. intolerance towards Hindus, warrior Hemu and Tansen.


My only contribution is doing a precis of the preface. This piece is courtesy the publisher, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Mumbai.


The Mughul Empire (period 1526-1707) Preface by Dr R.C. Majumdar 

This volume was published in 1974 after Shri K M Munshi passed away. So we are presenting excerpts from Preface written by General Editor, Dr R.C. Majumdar. For sake of consistency the title remains the same except the period.


I Mughul Rule / Intolerance towards Hindus

“This is the period during which the Mughuls gradually established their authority over nearly the whole of India. The Mughal rule is distinguished by the establishment of a stable Government with an efficient system of administration etc. and wealth and splendour such as no other Islamic State in any part of the world can boast off. 

Near Burhanpur, MP. This is where Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal was first buried. She died in 1631.

During this period there was no improvement in their moral or material condition or in their relations with Muslims. With the sole exception of Akbar, almost all other Mughal Emperors were notorious for their religious bigotry. Muslim law which imposed many disabilities and indignities upon Hindus was followed by them with as much zeal as was displayed by their predecessors, the Sultans of Delhi.

Faces of Jain Tirthankara, Gwalior Fort destroyed by Babur or Aurangzeb. 

The climax was reached during the reign of Aurangzeb, who deliberately pursed the policy of destroying and desecrating Hindus temples and idols with a thoroughness unknown before or since.

Elephant trunks broken by invaders, Siddhanath Mandir Omkareshwar, most probably Aurangzeb.

In the present volume, reference has been made to Muslim bigotry in general and the persecution of Hindus by Aurangzeb in particular (pp.233-36, 305-6). There is a distinct and conscious attempt to rewrite the whole chapter of the bigotry and intolerance of the Muslim rulers towards Hindu religion.


This was originally prompted by the political motive of bringing together Hindus and Muslims in a common fight against the British but has continued ever since.


If we consider the relevant facts of history as discussed, in an open mind, we can never deny that religious bigotry contributed to a very large extent to the downfall of the mighty Mughul Empire. It is true that there were other causes at work such as fratricidal wars of succession.


We should remember that there were similar wars also just before Aurangzeb ascended the throne, the Mughul Empire survived because it could count on the loyal support of the Rajputs and had not to encounter opposition of the Rajputs or of the Marathas and the Sikhs whom Aurangzeb’s bigotry had converted into deadly enemies. 

Govind Temple Vrindavan, originally 7 storey, destroyed by Aurangzeb. Built by Raja Mansingh in 1590. 

Nevertheless Aurangzeb must be regarded as a very able ruler. It was he who extended the southern boundary of the Mughal Empire, which then included the vast region from the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas, to Cape Comorin. For a near parallel we have to look back at the Maurya Empire that flourished about 2,000 years ago.

Tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan near Burhanpur M.P. It is called Black Taj Mahal for its resemblance to the Taj.   

The Mughul period should also be credited with great artistic achievement for e.g. the Taj Mahal. Mughal paintings have also received a world-wide renown. Finally, India during the Mughul period enjoyed a reputation for wealth and splendour which attracted a large number of visitors from Europe.


II Kings next to Mughals

Next to the Mughals, the Rajput States in the north, the five Sultanates of the Deccan arising out of the ruins of the Bahmani kingdom, and the Hindu Empire of Vijayanagara played a dominant role in history at the beginning of this period. (1527). The end of this period witnessed the rise of two great powers, the Marathas and Sikhs who were destined to play the most prominent role in the 18th century.

Maharana Pratap.

During this period were a number of great personalities who left a deep impress upon the political history of India. These were Babur, Sher Shah, Hemchandra, Akbar, Chand Sultan, Rana Pratap Singh, Nur Jahan, Shivaji, Bajirao and Guru Govind Singh.


III Hemu

This volume may claim credit for rescuing from oblivion the name of Himu or Hemchandra, a forgotten Hindu hero who began his life as a greengrocer, and by dint of his own efforts and personality ascended the throne of Delhi- the only Hindu to do so after the Battle of Tarain in 1192 A.D.

Tansen Tomb Gwalior. He was the child of Laxmi Bai and Makrand Pandey. 

IV Tansen and Tulsidasa

To the above names, add Tulasi-dasa and Tansen whose influence still persists over Hindi literature and classical music of India.


This volume gives a brief account of the 14 local vernacular literatures, most of which were yet at their formative stage.


There is a view that the development of Bengali literature was rendered possible by the enlightened rule of Hussain Shah, the Sultan of Bengal whose rule ended in A.D. 1519. The Editor feels, that Hussain Shah had no reasonable claim to be regarded as the promoter of the development of Bengali literature.” End of quote.  


The above excerpts are courtesy and copyright the publisher the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kulapati K.M. Munshi Marg, Mumbai-400007, India. eSamskriti has obtained permission to share from the Editorial Advisory Board of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.


To read full Foreword visit the Bhavan site and HERE (shall be uploaded shortly)

To buy book The History and Culture of Indian People at Bhavan’s Online Store or on Amazon

To subscribe to the Bhavan’s Journal  To read on Culture

To read Vande Mataram (English translation by Sri Aurobindo)


Also read

1. Atrocities of Mughal Emperors in India

2. Re-examining history – The Making the Taj

3. Lachit Borphukan Memorial Assam-he defeated Aurangzeb’s forces in a naval battle fought on the Brahmaputra. Final battle fought in 1671. 

4. Life of Sant Tulsidas

5. Hindustani Classical Music – evolution and emotional synthesis


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