Abu Rehn Alberuni whose real name was Mohammad Bin Ahmad was a famous historian, mathematician, philosopher, poet and scholar of the court of Mahmud Ghaznavi.
He spent several years in India. His book ‘Tahquiq-e-Hind’ is a very valuable source of information of economic, political, religious and social conditions prevailing in contemporary India.
He studied Sanskrit with a view to read the philosophical and religious books of the Hindus. He also rendered the Puranas and the Bhagwadgita into Persian.
On astronomy, he wrote a scholarly book entitled ‘Alqanuwal- Masudi’. His books have now been translated in almost all the major languages of the world.
Alberuni’s Account of India:
(i) Social conditions:
Indian society was cast-ridden. Several evil practices like child marriage, prohibition of widow marriage, ‘Sati’ and ‘Jauhar’ existed in the Hindu society. Only the Brahmans had the right to attain salvation. People had a very narrow outlook.
(ii) Religious conditions:
Idol worship was prevalent. Brahamans had the sole privilege of reading the Hindu scriptures.
(iii) Political conditions:
Alberuni informs as that the feeling of nationalism among the Indians was almost absent. The country was fragmented into a number of independent states. These states were jealous of each other and constantly engaged in fights against one another.
(iv) Legal system:
According to Alberuni, criminal law was very mild in India. The Brahmanas were exempted from death punishment. The limbs of serious offenders were amputated.
(v) Economic conditions:
King was not the owner of the land. He took land tax from the peasants at the rate of one-sixth of the produce.
(vi) Philosophical conditions:
Alberuni has unreservedly praised Indian philosophy. He was particularly impressed by the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita.
(vii) Little historical sense:
Alberuni found that the Indians did not evince much interest in writing chronological history.