Sunday, 4 August 2013

Review for the book Land of The Seven River A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal

Publisher                             : Penguin
ISBN                                  : 978-0-143-42093-4
Year of Publication              : 2013
No of Pages                        : 322
Cover                                 : Paper Back                      
Language                            : English
Author                                : Sanjeev Sanyal
Type                                   : Non-Fiction History
Price                                   : INR 399
Rating                                  : 5/ 5

Sanjeev Sanyal  has written in an author’s note that he is not a historian or geographer and also has not taken any formal training on this field then also i must say because of his exploration to India’s rivers, mountains and cities, visiting ancient archaeological sites, crosses rivers in boat and immerse himself in old records and manuscripts has given a tremendous materials to the readers. Its a mind-blowing non-fiction book i have read on Indian Geography.  The land of the seven rivers is a curious journey through the different rivers of India, the Harappans, the Vedas, Ashoka, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the various cities of India, the Mughals, the British, mapmakers, Partition of India, the rapid growth of Gurgoan, the call-centers etc . This book is about ancient trade routes cultural linkage the rise and fall of cities.
The book is a complete history of the formation of India, starting from pre-history and the formation of the Indian Subcontinent. It traces the breakaway from Gondwana - the supercontinent, introduces the theory of plate tectonics, and explains how India collided with Asia. How amazing sanjeev has written that Gondwana which was the super continent of which India was part – along with Africa, South America, Antarctica and Australia – millions of years ago which was drifting like an ice berg. The author has given brief history of four civilization. The  first was the Harappan or Indus-Saraswati civilisation in north-west India and parts of present-day Pakistan, which was at its peak between 2600 BC and 1900 BC. It had disappeared by 1400 BC, as the Saraswati river from which it drew its sustenance dried up.
The second civilisation, which belonged to the period between 1300 BC and 400 BC, was located in the Gangetic plains. Its main cities were Pataliputra (the imperial capital), Taxila (an intellectual hub near present-day Islamabad), the port of Tamralipti in the east (across the river from Kolkata), Kaushambi (near Allahabad), Varanasi, Rajgir  and Ujjain.
The third cycle of urbanisation was centred on Delhi, the most prominent city of this phase, which began with the sacking of Prithviraj Chauhan’s Delhi and ended six and a half centuries later with the sacking of Mughal Delhi in the wake of the failed revolt of 1857.
The fourth cycle which is currently in which we are all living which is well under way in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay.
By the first century AD, there was a flourishing maritime trade between India and the kingdoms to the west, as well as with Southeast Asian kingdoms. Ships sailing from West Asia to India brought Italian and Arabian wine to modern-day Bharuch in Gujarat, and India even ran a large trade surplus with the Graeco-Roman world. The resulting constant one-way flow of gold and silver coins at one stage even forced Roman Emperor Vespasian to discourage the import of Indian luxury goods and ban the export of gold to India. Clearly, the Indian love of gold, silver and imported alcohol is not new.
Sanjeev has particularly explores the mentions of lions and tigers in the hunting stories, in the royal emblems and in names adopted by certain communities. Another theme is history of cartography and the role it played in the history. In the last chapter it is well written that extraordinary transformation’ India is undergoing: of mobile phones and satellite televisions, of rising apartment blocks and the expanding map of highways, of economic boom and rapid changes.  
“Land of the Seven Rivers” by Sanjeev Sanyal is a fantastic attempt to talk to us simply about our heritage. Its a quick read and doesn't bore you. The only area I found the book lacking is, I expected more maps and pictorial representations also their should be world map in this book. I recommend this book to every Indian strongly. Even though i have given a detailed review of this book than also i think i have left many parts of this book so just grab this book and you will get a very good and detailed history of India.
The things which i liked most in this book:
  • ·         Chess was played in Harappan civilization also Shindur(Indian women put in their forehead) and Namaste is 4000 Years old tradition which are still followed in India.
  • ·         Ayurveda is the oldest medical treatment which was followed before Christ. Also modern plastic surgery is derived through Ayurveda at the time of Tipu Sultan.
  • ·         Indian’s are having 25-30% of world Gold.
  • ·         Rust free Iron pillar in Delhi build by successor of Chandragupt Maurya.
  • ·         The Indian mathematician Aryabhatta was the first person who told that earth was Spherical and that it rotated on an axis and also circumference of earth and the ratio of pi all this thousand of years before Copernicus and Galileo.
  • ·         The meaning of Gayatri Mantra in very simple way given by Sanjeev Sanyal : As you light up the Heavens and the Earth, O Radiant Sun, So light up my Mind and Soul

About the author:

Sanjeev Sanyal is an Indian Ecnomist, an alumni of Delhi University and Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholor. He is currently Deutshe Bank's global strategist. The Indian Renaissance, Economist, environmentalist and urban theorist.