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Anonymous, Edicts of Aurangzeb  


When he became emperor in 1658, Aurangzeb attempted a radical “Islamification” of Mughal India, imposing a strict interpretation of Sharia law and implementing reforms that he thought would ... More

The Baburnama  


Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur (1483–1530) was born a prince of Fergana in Transoxiana (modern Uzbekistan and Tajikistan), a region that had been conquered (briefly) by the army of Alexander the ... More

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad  


A diverse set of writings, the Upanishads were thought to convey secret knowledge and serve as the vedanta, or fulfillment, of the Vedic tradition. Among these documents are the Aranyakas ... More

The Chachnamah  


Composed in Arabic and translated into Persian in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Chachnama details the Arab conquest of the Sind (a province corresponding to northwest India and ... More

The Code of Manu  


The Code of Manu deals with many different features of Hindu life, such as the proper behavior of different castes and methods for ritual purification. The “Manu” referred to in the title ... More

Commentary on his Journey to the Court of Akbar  

Antonio Monserrate

Akbar the Great was Mughal emperor from 1556 until his death in 1605. One of the main sources we have of Akbar is a commentary written by a Portugese Jesuit, whom Akbar had invited to his ... More

Copper Head of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Vietnam  


This head, crafted from copper alloy, is all that remains of an impressive image found in central Vietnam. It depicts the Avalokiteshvara, the embodiment of Buddhist compassion, and the ... More

Cosmas Indicopleustes (Cosmas The India-Voyager), Christian Topography  


This remarkable account of a merchant’s travels throughout Eastern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and India resulted from the singular obsession of a monk in retirement. Determined to prove ... More

The Duties of Government Superintendents  


Kautilya was a political advisor to the first Mauryan king, Chandragupta Maurya, who in c. 321 BCE. created a vast empire across northern India. Kautilya wrote this treatise to guide ... More

The Five Jewels  

Muhammad Ghawth Gwaliori

In sixteenth-century Hindustan, the Sufi mystic Muhammad Ghawth claimed to have experienced an astounding ascension through multiple heavenly spheres up to the throne of God. This intensely ... More

Hymn to Creation from The Rig Veda  


The Rig Veda is the oldest of the Vedic texts, and consists of 1028 hymns. It was transmitted orally for centuries, and probably assumed its present shape c. 1200 BCE. There are three other ... More

Hymns to Agni, from the Rig-Veda, Book II  


The worship of Agni, as the fire principle animating a burnt offering to the gods, features prominently in the Rig-Veda. The voice of Agni was thought be heard in the crackling of the fire ... More

The Lady of the Jewel Necklace  

Harsha Vardhana

Harsha Vardhana, one of the better known monarchs of India, controlled a wide swath of territory in the northern subcontinent between 606 and 647 CE. Harsha was visited during his reign by ... More

The Lotus Sutra  


Buddhism had begun to spread widely within India after the conversion of Asoka in the third century BCE, and his promotion of the religion as part of a syncretic (a combination of elements ... More

The Mingling of Two Oceans  

Muhammad Dara Shikuh

The eldest son of Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal emperor, Dara Shikuh was defeated by his younger brother in a struggle for power in 1658. The victorious brother, Muhiuddin, ruled as the ... More

The Mystery of the Harappan Seals  

Thomas R. Trautmann

Few things are more tantalizing to historians than an undeciphered script. Hundreds of broken and intact Harappan seals have been discovered in numerous sites throughout the Indus Valley, ... More

On India  


Abu Raihan is often known in the West by his westernized name, Alberuni. Early in life, Alberuni gained a reputation as a scholar, writer, and scientist, and served as an advisor for local ... More

A Record of Buddhist Countries  


Faxien (circa 334-415 CE) was a Chinese monk who, with several companions, traveled the Silk Road to India and returned via the Indian Ocean trade route between 399 and 413 CE. Their ... More

Seated Buddha, From The Gandhara Culture, Afghanistan-Pakistan  


Gandhara became the center of a vibrant artistic tradition for several centuries. As Greek Bactrians merged their cultural values with Buddhists, Hellenistic artistic techniques fused with ... More

“The Path Which Led Me to Leninism”  

Ho Chi Minh (Nguyen Ai Quoc)

On September 2, 1945, the day of Japan’s surrender to the United States, the leader of the communist resistance in Indochina, Ho Chi Minh, read a Vietnamese declaration of independence to ... More