The following points highlight the eight major effects of geography on the history of India. The effects are: 1. Different Local Zones, Political and Cultural Units 2. The Thar Desert Rendered Indian Defence Difficult 3. Isolation of India 4. Neglect of Defence 5. Preservation of Primitive Indian Culture 6. Impact of the Climate 7. Absence of Strong Naval Power 8. Development of Fine Arts.
Effect # 1. Different Local Zones, Political and Cultural Units:
The varied physical features of the sub-continent of India have led to the formation of different local zones, political and cultural units. On account of the difference in the physical features and natural barriers, India has come to be divided into different political and cultural units.
The northern India, the Deccan Plateau, Peninsular plans and the Ghats-all possess special political and social characteristics of their own, which are quite distinct from each other. The Aryan civilization could not exercise much influence on the Deccan. In the Far South the non-Aryans language, customs, and ideas continued to dominate.
Effect # 2. The Thar Desert Rendered Indian Defence Difficult:
The Thar desert which lays in between the plains of Indus Valley and the Ganges has also greatly effected the course of the Indian history. As the Thar desert separates these two regions into two different units, the Indian Defence was rendered weak. This greatly benefited the foreign invaders who came to India through the north-western mountain passes.
As the bulk of the Indian regions were separated through this region by the great desert, the resources of northern India could not be fully pooled up against the foreign invaders. In view of the limited resistance offered to them the invaders won a number of decisive victories and reached as far as Delhi.
Effect # 3. Isolation of India:
India has been separated from the rest of the world by Himalayan in the North and sea on the three other sides. As a result India lived in isolation and evolved her own style of life and development. No doubt, some of the foreign cultures and civilizations found their way into India through the northern passes but their influence was very limited.
Effect # 4. Neglect of Defence:
The separation of India from the rest of the world by natural barriers gave to the people of ancient India a sense of security and they completely ignored the defence of the country. In fact they never paid any attention to the security of their frontiers. This inevitably resulted in a number of invasions on India from across the border. This neglect of military was responsible for the enslavement of the country by the foreigners.
Effect # 5. Preservation of Primitive Indian Culture:
The access to certain areas has been so difficult that they have remained completely cut off from the rest of the country. The vast sandy deserts, the un-penetrable forests and high ranges of mountains have provided shelter to the primitive tribes who were driven away from the plains.
As these areas could not be easily approached the wild primitive tribes continued to evolve their own culture, which is in existence even today. Some of the prominent primitive tribes which exist even today include Bhils, Kols, Santhals, Gonds, etc. These tribes succeeded in maintaining their primitive characteristics only because of the difficult terrains of their area.
Effect # 6. Impact of the Climate:
The climate of the country has also exercised great influence on the course of Indian history. The tropical climate has been greatly responsible for the failure of the Indians to resist the foreign invaders from the cold regions.
The hilly terrains of the south made the people of Maharashtra and Rajputana sturdy. The people living in these areas had to work hard to earn their livelihood and they developed qualities of warriors.
These people strongly resisted all the attempts to deprive them of their liberty. This is mainly due to the physical conditions prevailing in this region that the Marathas and the Rajputs were able to offer a tough resistance to the rulers of Delhi.
The variety of the climate prevailing in the different parts of the country has also exercised tremendous influence on the course of history. While rich and flourishing towns had existed in abundance in Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and Bihar due to good rainfall, famines has greatly stood in the way of the setting up of similar towns in Rajasthan and Deccan.
The rivers which flow from the Himalayas through the year have greatly contributed to the prosperity and development of the plains, which would have otherwise made India a desert. The fertility and the consequent richness of the people of the plains invited foreign invaders to India.
Mahmud Ghaznavi and Muhammad Ghori attacked this region several times and took huge quantities of gold, silver, diamond, and other valuable articles whenever they attacked this region. This region also continued to be the field of all political and cultural activities and number of Important empires rose and fell here.
The prosperity and richness of the region has also made the people peace-loving and luxurious. The persons of the Vindhya mountains have been responsible for the division of the country into two distinct parts—North and South. This natural division has been responsible for two separate histories of the north and south. This has also to a large extent kept South India immune from the political turmoil of the north.
Though India has a long coast extending over 3,000 miles, she never maintained a strong Navy for its defence. No doubt, India carried on cultural and commercial pursuits and established a contact with the outside world through seas, but it never thought of political domination over those regions.
A number of Indians inspired by the spirit of enterprise ‘and adventure went to the neighbouring island, like Burma, Java, Sumatra Malai etc. to spread the Indian culture.
The ancient rulers of the south also gave every possible encouragement to the development of Navy. But all these activities were guided by peaceful motives and no need was felt for the creation of strong naval force. In fact the Indian rulers realised the difficulties of establishing overseas empire and concentrated mainly on military ambitious within India.
Effect # 8. Development of Fine Arts:
The geography of India also exercised tremendous influence on the lives and habits of the people In view of abundance of wealth and other resources in the country the Indians not only developed the habit of staying at home but also became ease living.
These richness and fertility of the Indian soil provided the people with plenty of leisure and they devoted their attention to the promotion of art and literature. The Vedic literature is one of the most valuable treasures of our country.
The arts and crafts also made remarkable progress. The relics of the Mauryan and Gupta period are the best specimens of architecture, sculpture, painting, etc. of that period. In the domain of literature the most outstanding work produced during the ancient times were the Arthashastra of Kautilya and dramas of Kalidas.
Two of the world renowned universities Taxila and Nalanda also flourished in the Northern parts of the country. These universities attracted students from various foreign countries also. As most of the Indians were free from the worldly worries, they naturally spent much time pondering over the problems of life and death and developed a speculative frame of mind.
This accounts for the predominance of the spiritualism in Indian culture. Again it was only the Northern parts which were subject to foreign invasions and influence. The South, which was not easily accessible to the foreign invaders continued to be promoter of the Indian civilization and culture.