Compared with those of other ancient civilizations, the interstate relations and warfare of India were the weakest aspects of Indian political affairs.
Compared with those of other ancient civilizations, the interstate relations and warfare of India were the weakest aspects of Indian political affairs. Much of the role of fighting was traditionally assigned to the kṣatriya
Indian Kingdoms and Empires, 400
The military history of South Asia coincides with the influx of Indo-European invaders, who, hardened by migrations from the
The post-Vedic era, however, produced reliable histories describing military events and weaponry in South Asia. The format of war that continued well into the modern era had its birth around 400
Between 200 and 180
The first two hundred years of the Christian era continued as a period of confusion throughout Hindu India with no significant developments in design or employment of weaponry. Between l and 50
During the third and fourth centuries, kingdoms continued to rise and fall with no major power appearing on the scene. The Kushān Dynasty lingered into the mid-third century, and the Andhra Dynasty in the south collapsed and was replaced by the Pallava
The first five hundred years of the Christian era, then, were characterized by partially successful attempts at reestablishing Mauryan and Gupta glory, but ancient militarism did not result in a permanent empire. Only the Mauryans and Guptas exhibited the genius of empire building. The remainder of Indian history is a maelstrom of invasions and petty struggles toward creating a recognized cultural unit of Bhāratavarṣa.
Although the military history of South Asia coincides with the influx of Aryan invaders, Stone
The primary weapon was the bow and
Warriors also used a variety of hacking, stabbing, and felling weapons in the form of pikes, lances, spears, and battle-axes, as well as an assortment of swords, daggers, and javelins. The
Besides traditional weapons, charioteers and infantry used a
Hindu warriors wore protective
The Indian prince Porus is defeated by Alexander the Great at the Battle of the Hydaspes (327
Around the sixth century
Primary reliance was placed upon the
The Hindu army consisted of various categories of warriors but its backbone of seasoned hereditary troops were the Kṣatriya
The army was divided into four sections, the whole forming a
The strength of the army rested in the
Thousands of noncombatants also accompanied the fighting force to battle. They were especially evident in disorderly camps pitched during campaigns. Soothsayers, astrologers, dancers, prostitutes, acrobats, quacks, merchants, cooks, fakirs, religious mendicants, entire families of the fighting men, and royal family, wives, and concubines often slowed the pace of the army. The
The size of the Hindu army usually was enormous. In ancient and medieval times, according to various sources, the army engaged 600,000 to 900,000 men, although these figures are clearly exaggerated. The king led his army personally into battle. Under him were a number of superintendents with a senāpati, or general, at the head of all military affairs. The Mauryan army, according to Megasthenes, was organized under a committee of thirty with subcommittees that controlled infantry, cavalry, chariot, elephant, navy, and commissariat elements. Captains from feudal nobility served under the general. Standards identified all regiments, divisions, and squadrons.
Three reasons are given in the Arthaśāstra for pursuing war: dharmavijaya, or victory for justice or virtue; lōbhavijaya, or pursuit of booty and territory; and āsuravijaya, or incorporation of territory into that of the victor and political annihilation. The Mauryan kingdom waged wars for glory and homage rather than wealth and power. The Guptas, on the other hand, stressed political annihilation and incorporation of territory. However,
War was considered a religious
The king and his nobles, the rājanya, fought from chariots. Infantry marched along with charioteers to the accompaniment of martial music that inspired them toward victory. Laying siege was considered dangerous and was rarely pursued. Generally a town was attacked and starved into capitulation.
Armies met each other face to face, approaching in parallel lines, infantry in the center, with chariots and cavalry on the flanks. Swarms of archers and slingers approached in the foreground, raining harassing fire with shouts and clashing of arms. The usual objective was to outflank an enemy, because the ten to thirty ranks of infantry were deemed vulnerable. Until 700
India generally lagged behind other civilized cultures in military theory, strategy, and tactics up to the dawn of the common era. Although training and discipline were well known to the Hindus, they found it difficult to impose military fundamentals upon the troops. The Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya became the primary guide for military organization, tactics, ethics, and doctrine well into the medieval period.
Early Indian literary sources such as the
Basham, E. L. The Wonder That Was India: A Survey of the History and Culture of the Indian Subcontinent Before the Coming of the Muslims. New York: Grove Press, 1954. Bhakari, S. K. Indian Warfare: An Appraisal of Strategy and Tactics of War in Early Medieval Period. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1981. Bull, Stephen. An Historical Guide to Arms and Armour. London: Cassell, 1991. Mitra, Rajendralala. Indo-Aryans: Contributions Towards the Elucidation of Their Ancient and Mediaeval History. 2 vols. Delhi, India: Indological Book House, 1969. Nicolle, David. Fighting for the Faith: The Many Fronts of Medieval Crusade and Jihad, 1000-1500 A.D. Barnsley, England: Pen and Sword Military, 2007. Nossov, Konstantin S. War Elephants. New York: Osprey, 2008. Spaulding, Oliver L. Warfare: A Study of Military Methods from the Earliest Times. 1925. Reprint. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1993. In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great. Documentary. British Broadcasting Corporation, 2005.
India and South Asia: Medieval
The Mughal Empire
Nomadic Warriors of the Steppe