The Land of Seven Rivers is the best book I have read about India. Its a delight for anyone interested in geography and history. Sanjeev Sanyal has beautifully summed up the evolution of civilization in Indian subcontinent right from the age of major tectonic shifts when the young mountains like Himalayas were taking shape to the cycles of urbanizations right from Harappan to mordern era.

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  1. He emphasizes that geographical and climatological events have triggered significant shifts in shaping the history of mankind in this subcontinent and elsewhere on the planet. One such event was drying of once mighty river Saraswati which possibly led to the decline of Harappan civilization. The present variety of human genetics, flora, and fauna is the result of millennia of complex events, which were sometimes influenced by most arbitrary of factors. The author also deconstructs the simplistic and shallow Aryan Invasion Theory (which has dominated the Indian discourse for so long) in light of recent genetic studies and other evidences.

    The Author has touched upon a range of events which were significant and central in shaping our history which I realize that students don’t get sufficiently exposed to at pre-college level in India. Looks like there is a huge scope of improvement in history curriculum in India. The glorious Chola Empire and its trade & cultural relations with South East Asia, Kingdoms along the west coast and their cultural exchanges with the gulf and east Africa, the Vijaynagara Empire, the Ahom Kingdom, are just some of the examples.

    The major takeaways / lessons from history that author emphasizes on:

    – India/ Bharat, right from the Rig Vedic age had a sense of civilizational unity/oneness and the rulers ruling over this landmass were always aware that they were inheritors of a very old continuing civilization. This is evident from their actions, symbolism and the way they saw themselves and even British rule was no exception.

    – History has time and again shown that an old ruler who holds on the throne for long without a well-planned succession invites chaos, disruption of order and a downfall of his empire. Eg. Ashoka, Aurangzeb.

    – Man must clearly listen to the signs of nature as its these forces of nature which have brought down the civilizations time and again. Climate change should be dealt with utmost sincerity.

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