The Discovery of India
Author: Jawaharlal Nehru
Publishers: Oxford University Press
ISBN No: 0 19 562359 2
When one reads a book, there must be a purpose to this exercise – be it for entertainment, pleasure, knowledge or just to ‘past time’. In reading The Discovery of India one is given the chance of experiencing all of these at once.
In conjunction with the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund in New Delhi, Oxford proudly announced the reissue of Glimpses of World History and The Discovery of India. Together, these two famous works by Jawaharlal Nehru, showed that he was one of modern day’s most articulate statesmen.
This book was written over five months when Jawaharlal Nehru was imprisoned in the Ahmadnagar Fort in 1945. It was then published in 1946 and has since acquired the status of a classic.
The story begins from prehistory to the last years of British colonial rule, some of the greatest heroes of India are mentioned. Analysing texts from the Vedas to the Upanishads, and epics such as the Mahabahrat and the Ramayana, and personalities like the Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Nehru brings to life an ancient culture and land that has been the base and headquarters of some of the world’s great traditions of philosophy, science and art, and almost all its major religions.
Mr. Nehru’s narration of history and knowledge about India is excellent. Writing with pride about his motherland, he does not mince his words. Whilst singing the praises of his people’s successes and great heritage, he also acknowledges their failures and weaknesses. His intense dislike for British rule comes through and it is his hope for India that prevails.
At times, this book is also autobiographical and for anyone at all interested in the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty of today, this book serves to provide the reader with the story of one of its founding members. This only adds to the uniqueness of the book and makes it even more of an enjoyable read for the author has put a little of himself in his book – on of the most important ingredients of writing anything at all. At times, one feels that Mr. Nehru has just stopped by for a chat in your living room. The style of writing is such that you never feel that he is ‘lecturing’ you or even ‘teaching’ you. He is but discussing with you your heritage and really his abilities here show an in depth understanding of how to tell a story without sounding deadly dull.
To read The Discovery of India is to more than discover just India. Not limited to information about the subcontinent as it is today, one discovers the world from Plato, Emerson, the history of lands like Afghanistan, China’s ancient trade links with India and so much more. It is to venture into a discovery of the world itself. In countries where any historical or archaeological link with India and the Hindu religion is embarrassing and perhaps suppressed, it is most refreshing to read of the contributions of this ancient land to the world. It is a book that can make a person have inner knowledge and pride that he originates from so wonderful a land.
A very good read and a must for all who wish to know India.