In the long history of India, there have appeared several kings who were highly trained in shastra (multidisciplinary sciences). Traditionally, kings underwent rigorous training in all the shastras.
The Kalyani Chalukya king, Someshvara III, wrote a voluminous encyclopedia in Sanskrit, known as Rajamanasollasa, in which he lists 100 different disciplines to be learned by kings.
Emperor Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara was also a prolific author who authored the Amuktamalyada.
In ancient times, many royals contributed to the Upanishads. Buddha himself was born a prince.
During the Golden Age of the Guptas, the change occurred from a mostly rural society to one where cities began to develop. One of the results of this development was the blooming of arts and aesthetics.
With Kalidasa, one finds an urban poet-playwright unparalleled in impact.
The science of aesthetics in the form of the Natya Shastra also began to be widely studied, implemented and improved.
The age of the Guptas is known as the Golden age of India which lasted around four centuries. Travelers such as Fa Hien documented the life style of the people who lived in a mostly crime-free safe society as well as the standard of living.
Historically, India has been the recipient of innumerable populations from all over the world. During ancient times, it was a melting pot of similarly aligned cultures.
After the coming of Alexander in 326 BC, a contingent of Greeks remained in northwest India.
The ancient Greeks and the ancient Indians followed similar systems of worship. It is thus not surprising that the Indo-Greeks eventually adopted the customs and philosophies of India. Menander I (Milinda), for example, was a patron of Buddhism.
Later on the Indo-Scythians and the Kushans similarly followed in the footsteps of the Indo-Greeks.
In the history of the human race, the interaction that went on between homo sapiens and the other related species like the Neanderthals is interesting. The Neanderthals seem to have been larger and stronger. In spite of this it appears that the Neanderthals were outcompeted in evolutionary terms.
Chandragupta Maurya was one of the great emperors of all time. He was guided by the great philosopher and strategist, Chanakya.
Chandragupta came from a simple background. His family had little to do with major statecraft.
However, with the help of Chanakya, he built an empire that spanned much of India.
His story is one where courage sprang from unexpected places.
During the time of Gautama Buddha in Ancient India, there were a few republics along with kingdoms, forming the Mahajapadas. There appears a widespread impression today that the Buddha went against tradition.
In reality, for most of his life, after having been born in the Shakya capital of Kapilavastu, he lived most of his life in the major kingdoms of his day. He was patronized by the kings of his day, including Bimbisara, the king of Magadha.
Perhaps the Buddha favored practicality by choosing to live in the kingdoms, which offered security and a relatively peaceful environment?
In terms of international influence in the fields of culture and spirituality, few ancient figures come close to Buddha. It is interesting to note that among all the founders of sects, most information is available for the Buddha because of the written records available from his time.
Behind many major historic events can be a few turning points. It is difficult for many contemporaries to know this. Also, people studying history will debate for long about these “turning points”. It appears that such things are difficult to know.
When it comes to historical evidence, oral records form a very important piece in understanding the past. Unfortunately the difference between an oral record held by tradition and a written record is the difficulty in verifying the authenticity of the oral tradition.