Skip to main content


A History of India, 2nd Edition

Burton Stein, David Arnold (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-444-32351-1 February 2010 Wiley-Blackwell 472 Pages


This new edition of Burton Stein's classic A History of India builds on the success of the original to provide an updated narrative of the development of Indian society, culture, and politics from 7000 BC to the present.
  • New edition of Burton Stein’s classic text provides a narrative from 7000 BC up to the twenty-first century
  • Includes updated and extended coverage of the modern period, with a new chapter covering the death of Nehru in 1964 to the present
  • Expands coverage of India's internal political and economic development, and its wider diplomatic role in the region
  • Features a new introduction, updated glossary and further reading sections, and numerous figures, photographs and fully revised maps

List of Illustrations viii

List of Maps x

Series Editor’s Preface xi

Introduction to Burton Stein’s A History of India xiv

Acknowledgements to First Edition xxii


1 Introduction 7

The Physical Setting 8

The Social Setting 14

Resituating Communities and States 21

Historian’s Choice 35


Chronology 38

2 Ancient Days 39

The Pre-formation of Indian Civilization 39

Vedic Culture 46

Political and Religious Developments 53

Religion in the Later Vedic Period 59

The Nature of the Mauryan Kingdom 68

Towards the Classical Pattern 75

Early Hinduism 79

Developments in the South 84

The Age of the Early Empires 85

The Gupta Classical Pattern 90

The Classical Pattern Elaborated and Extended: the South 96


Chronology 104

3 Medieval India 105

Introduction 105

Medieval Kingdoms 110

The Role of the Southern Kingdoms 124

The Advent of Islam 129

The Indian Development of Islam 138

The Deccan and the South 146

Vijayanagara 147

States and Communities 150

4 Early Modern India 155

Introduction 155

The Mughal Empire 159

The Wars of the Mughal Succession 171

The Last Act of the Mughals 179

The Maratha Moment 185

The Shadow of Europe 193

5 The East India Company 196

Introduction 196

The Joint Trajectory of Development 201

The Company Perpetuates the Past 211

The Emergence of a New Order 215

Mutiny and Revolt 222

Late Company Rule 223


Chronology 226

6 The Crown Replaces the Company 227

The Contemporary State 227

After the Mutiny 229

The Rule of the Raj 239

The Political Economy of the Late Nineteenth Century 247

Cultural Change, Education and New Classes 253

The Politicization of Class, Caste and Gender 262

7 Towards Freedom 274

Two Types of Nationalism 274

Early Congress and Its Adversaries 277

War, Sacrifice and Mass Political Mobilization 287

Imperialism’s Paradoxical Enemy 289

The First Campaigns 294

Between Campaigns 299

Conditions for a New Politics 306

8 Gandhi’s Triumph 308

Civil Disobedience 308

The Left in Politics 325

The Right Prevails 332

War and the Last Act Begins 338

The Bitter Victory of Partition 348

9 New States, Old Nations 357

Territorial Passage 357

The Promises of Independence 358

Pakistan in Parallel 368

The Green Revolution: Promise of Plenty 376

Environmental Problems, Old and New 377

The Condition of Women: Broken Promises 384

Communal Politics: Shattered Pluralism 388

India and the World 393

Promises Kept, Promises Broken 396

10 Another India 398

The Nehruvian Consensus 399

Eroding Consensus 402

Failure on the Left 406

Hindu Nationalism 409

Rise of the Hindu Right 410

Economic Liberalization 413

The Indian State 417

Notes 421

Glossary of Non-English Terms 425

Further Reading 430

Index 435

Reviews of first edition

"A powerful and coherent interpretation of the grand sweep of India's past ... It is a 'must read' for all serious students of India regardless of their discipline and/or chronological focus." History.

"What impresses is Stein's ability to take the long view of Indian history and to develop his analysis across so many centuries and through such diverse material. It is also a mark of his achievement that his book stimulates discussion of matters that he has touched on only fleetingly himself, for it is an argument as much as an account of events." Times Higher Education Supplement.

"A History of India is clearly superior to its predecessors ... The fact that Stein was willing to put forward so many provocative formulations is itself a virtue. The text itself is likely to stimulate interesting discussions in classes, something that most predecessors did not even attempt to achieve ... in its paperback version this book might be seen by many teachers as the solution to their text dilemma." The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.