It’s About Time!
New Finds and Intriguing Theories Conspire with Scholars To Rewrite India’s History-Plus HT’s 7-Page Timeline
When you learned Indian history, a startling amount of myth may have inadvertently been mixed in the masala with fact. The “official” history of India and Hinduism was set down by Western scholars more than a hundred years ago, a history based on the now-disputed principle that an outside group of “Aryans,” not her indigenous peoples, were responsible for most of India’s civilization. Subsequent discoveries, research and analysis have unearthed major flaws in that history. Still, to this day, virtually every textbook and encyclopedia in the world contains the same century-old conjectures.
“Early Indian history is on the brink of a change,” says Professor Shiva G. Bajpai, co-author of the monumental work A Historical Atlas of South Asia. He told Hinduism Today that “Archaeological explorations taking place in the recent decade have changed many of the views we used to hold as being very historical. Many do not even know what they have excavated so far.”
Revising India’s history is practically a cottage industry today. Archaeologists and historians are forming strategic partnerships, even teaming up with astronomers who turn Rig Veda observations of the stars into firm dates for recorded events. Two conferences were held already this year-January in Hyderabad and April in Sringeri. A third, the World Archaeology Congress, is scheduled in New Delhi on December 4-11, where the latest, most significant findings will be revealed. Author and Vedic scholar, David Frawley, reports, “The conferences featured S.R. Rao, Subash Kak, Rajaram and others working in this field. Nobody was really upholding the old model. The issue wasn’t so much whether the old model is working, but how the new model is going to be formed. It’s no longer just Hindus claiming their faith in what their holy books say. All the archaeological and scientific evidence is pretty much in agreement with them.”
The “Aryan invasion” of India is taught as fact everywhere, but many modern researchers don’t support it. Establishment historians aren’t ready to accept any wholesale revision, and are slow to explore discoveries which necessitate such a revision. Nor is Indian history the only one undergoing rethinking. Just a few years ago the Egyptian sphinx was suddenly dated thousands of years earlier by new technology, turning Egyptian history on its head.
Hinduism Today has been following the dramatic events among historians, and our staff has assembled a new Timeline of Hinduism, a chronology that incorporates recent findings and tempers the anti-Hindu bias undergirding previous histories of India. Beginning on page four, we present 600,000 years in 585 entries.
Our seven-page timeline is generous toward Hinduism, listing the earliest possible dates for events and scriptures. Bajpai does not mind, “The Hinduism Today Timeline is extremely important because it highlights the Hindu heritage. This is both its greatest strength and, others might say, its weakness. No timeline can be wholly satisfactory for everyone, as is the case with any encyclopedia.”
A History of India and Hindu Dharma
Much of what India and Hinduism are today can be understood by examining their origins and history. Here is a humble chronology that tells the story of the sages, kings, outside invaders and inside reformers who contributed to the world’s oldest living civilization and largest modern-day democracy. Remarkably, Hindu India has been home to one-fourth of the human race since the dawn of recorded time. Its story, summarized here, is crucial to human history.
The emphasis on spirituality in India’s thought and history is unparalleled in human experience. The king in his court, the sage on his hill and the farmer in one of Bharat’s 700,000 villages each pursues his dharma with a common ultimate purpose: spiritual enlightenment. This perspective is the source of Hinduism’s resilience in the face of competing faiths and conquering armies. No other nation has faced so many invaders and endured. These invasions have brought the races of the world to a subcontinent one-third the size of the United States. There are many feats of which the ancient Hindus could be proud, such as the invention of the decimal system of numbers, philosophy, linguistics, surgery, city planning and statecraft. And most useful to us in this particular timeline: their skill in astronomy.
Dates in Hindu history after Buddha are subject to little dispute, while dates before Buddha have been decided as much by current opinion and politics as by scientific evidence. An overwhelming tendency of Western scholarship has been to deny the great antiquity of Hinduism.
Indian scholar S.B. Roy points out that the commonly accepted chronology of German linguist Max Muller (1823-1900) is based solely “on the ghost story of Kathasaritasagara.” Historian Klaus K. Klostermaier agrees: “The chronology provided by Max Muller and accepted uncritically by most Western scholars is based on very shaky ground indeed.” While making crucial historical contributions in bringing India’s wisdom to the West, Muller admitted his covert intention to undermine Hinduism. In a letter to his wife in 1886 he wrote: “The translation of the Veda will hereafter tell to a great extent on the fate of India and on the growth of millions of souls in that country. It is the root of their religion, and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last 3,000 years.”
Contemporary researchers, such as Dr. B.G. Siddharth of B.M. Birla Science Centre, Dr. S.B. Roy, Professor Subhash Kak, Dr. N.R. Waradpande, Bhagwan Singh and Dr. David Frawley, Vedacharya, have developed a more accurate picture of ancient India, assembling new chronologies based on a highly reliable method: dating scriptural references by their relationship to the known precession of the equinoxes. Earth’s axis of rotation “wobbles,” causing constellations, as viewed from Earth, to drift at a constant rate and along a predictable course over a 25,000-year cycle. For example, a Rig Vedic verse observing winter solstice at Aries can be correlated to around 6500 bce. Frawley states, “Precessional changes are the hallmark of Hindu astronomy. We cannot ignore them in ancient texts just because they give us dates too early for our conventional view of human history.” Besides astronomical references from scripture, there is much to support their dates, such as carbon-14 dating, the discovery of Indus-Sarasvati Valley cities and the recent locating of the Sarasvati River, a prominent landmark of Vedic writings.
Much of the dating in this timeline prior to 600 bce derives from the work of Dr. S.B. Roy (Chronological Framework of Indian Protohistory-The Lower Limit, published in The Journal of the Baroda Oriental Institute, March-June 1983) and that of David Frawley Ph.D. (Gods, Sages and Kings). For technical enhancements to the timeline we depended on Prof. Shiva G. Bajpai PhD., Director of Asian Studies at California State University, who co-authored “A Historical Atlas of South Asia” with Prof. Joseph E. Schwartzberg and Dr. Raj B. Mathur.
Max Muller is the primary evangelist of another, more invidious, dogma imposed on Hindu history: the “Aryan invasion” theory. Originally a Vedic term meaning “noble,” then applied to the parent-language of Greek, Sanskrit, Latin and German, the term Aryan soon referred to those who spoke it, a supposed race of light-skinned Aryans. The idea of a parent race caught the imagination of 18th and 19th century European Christian scholars, who hypothesized elaborate Aryan migrations from Central Asia, west to Europe, south to India (ca 1500 bce) and east to China-conquering local primitive peoples and founding the world’s great civilizations. This theory states that the Vedas, the heart and core of Sanatana Dharma, were brought to India by these outsiders and not composed in India.
Although lacking supporting scientific evidence, this theory, and the alleged Aryan-Dravidian racial split, was accepted and promulgated as fact for three main reasons. It provided a convenient precedent for Christian British subjugation of India. It reconciled ancient Indian civilization and religious scripture with the 4000 bce Biblical date of Creation. It created division and conflict between the peoples of India, making them vulnerable to conversion by Christian missionaries.
Scholars today of both East and West believe the Rig Veda people who called themselves Aryan were indigenous to India, and there never was an Aryan invasion. The languages of India have been shown to share common ancestry in ancient Sanskrit and Tamil. Even these two apparently unrelated languages, according to current “super-family” research, have a common origin: an ancient language dubbed Nostratic.
The Old Model
Credits India’s culture to foreign invaders. Hypothesis, first proposed by German Max Muller (1823-1900), is still accepted in most historical textbooks. Supporters: Sir William Jones, Thomas Young, Joseph de Goubinau, Dwight Witney, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, A.L. Basham.
The New Model
Offers astrological and archeological evidence to discredit invasion theory, pushes Indian history back several thousand years. Supporters: B.G. Tilak, P.C. Sengupta, S.B. Roy, Pargiter, Jagat Pati Joshi, Dikshit, K.N. Shastri, Sri Aurobindo, Hermann Jacobi, S.R. Rao, Dayananda Saraswati, Subash Kak, David Frawley, B.G. Sidharth, and others.
WHAT IS CLAIMED?
The Old Model
Conquering legions of blue-eyed, white “Aryans” from Eastern Russia invaded North India on horseback around 1500bce and ultimately displaced most of India’s unsophisticated Dravidian tribals. They brought civilization and the refined Sanskrit language into India, built the expansive Indus Valley complex, wrote the Vedas and other sacred texts. The Sarasvati River, prominent in the Vedas, is mythical, or lies outside of India somewhere. Claims no astronomical references are found in the Rig Veda.
The New Model
There was no invasion at all. India’s native peoples founded the Indus/Sarasvati River civilization, developed Sanskrit and wrote all her ancient texts. European dates are all wrong. Rig Veda verses belie the old chronology (VI.51.14-15 mentions the winter solstice occurs when the sun rises in Revati nakshatra, only possible at 6,000bce, long before the alleged invasion.) Carbon dating confirms horses in Gujarat at 2,400bce, contradicting old model claim Aryans must have brought them. NASA satellite photos prove Sarasvati River basin is real, not a myth. Fire altars excavated at Kali Bangan in Rajasthan support existence of Rig Veda culture at 2,700 bce. Kunal, a new site in Haryana, shows use of writing and silver craft in pre-Harappan India, 6-7,000bce.
WHAT IT MEANS?
The Old Model
India’s native peoples were primitive and her foundational culture and religion were imported. All the good stuff came from Eastern Europe, of course, and the rest is a vestige of conquered dark-skinned aboriginals. The Vedas are, at most, 3,500 years old.
The New Model
India’s history goes back much farther than anyone knew, perhaps 10,000 years. India need not be indebted to others for her rich and ancient traditions. The Vedic texts, thought to be part mythology, are being vindicated by scientific evidence to be the world’s oldest factual account of human experience.
-2.5m to -1000
How to Read the Timeline
The thick line represents the flow of time from the date on the top to dates on the bottom. The thinner lines to the left indicate the duration of major ruling dynasties. Not all are included, for at times India was divided into dozens of small independent kingdoms. Approximate dates are preceded by the letter “ca,” an abbreviation of the word “circa,” which denotes “about,” “around” or “in approximately.” all dates prior to Buddha (624 bce) are considered estimates.
bce: Abbreviation for “before common era,” referring to dating prior to the year zero in the Western, or Gregorian calendar, system.
ce: Abbreviation for “common era.” Equivalent to the abbreviation ad. Following a date, it indicates that the year in question comes after the year zero in the Western, or Gregorian calendar, system.
-2.5 m: Genus Homo originates in Africa, cradle of humanity.
-2 m: Stone artifacts are made and used by hominids in North India, an area rich in animal species, including the elephant.
-500,000: Stone hand axes and other tools are used in N. India.
-470,000: India’s hominids are active in Tamil Nadu and Punjab.
-400,000: Soan culture in India is using primitive chopping tools.
-360,000: Fire is first controlled by homo erectus in China.
-300,000: Homo sapiens roams the earth, from Africa to Asia.
-100,000: Homo sapiens sapiens (humans) with 20th-century man’s brain size (1,450 cc) live in East Africa. Populations separate. Migrations proceed to Asia via the Isthmus of Suez.
-75,000: Last ice age begins. Human population is 1.7 million.
-45,000: After mastery of marine navigation, migrations from Southeast Asia settle Australia and the Pacific islands.
-40,000: Groups of hunter-gatherers in Central India are living in painted rock shelters. Similar groups in Northern Punjab work at open sites protected by windbreaks.
-35,000: Migrations of separated Asian populations settle Europe.
-30,000: American Indians spread throughout the Americas.
-10,000: Last ice age ends after 65,000 years; earliest signs of agriculture. World population 4 million; India is 100,000.
-10,000: Taittiriya Brahmana 3.1.2 refers to Purvabhadrapada nakshatra’s rising due east, a phenomenon occurring at this date (Dr. B.G. Siddharth of Birla Science Institute), indicating the earliest known dating of the sacred Veda.
-10,000: Vedic culture, the essence of humanity’s eternal wisdom, Sanatana Dharma, lives in the Himalayas at end of Ice Age.
-9000: Old Europe, Anatolia and Minoan Crete display a Goddess-centered culture reflecting a matriarchial order.
-8500: Taittiriya Samhita 6.5.3 places Pleiades asterism at winter solstice, suggesting the antiquity of this Veda.
-7500: Excavations at Neveli Cori in Turkey reveal advanced civilization with meticulous architecture and planning. Dr. Sri B.G. Siddharth believes this was a Vedic culture.
-7000: Proto-Vedic period ends. Early Vedic period begins.
-7000: Time of Manu Vaivasvata, “father of mankind,” of Sarasvati-Drishadvati area (also said to be a South Indian Maharaja who sailed to the Himalayas during a great flood).
-7000: Early evidence of horses in the Ganga region (Frawley).
-7000: Indus-Sarasvati area residents of Mehrgarh grow barley, raise sheep and goats. They store grain, entomb their dead and construct buildings of sun-baked mud bricks.
-6776: Start of Hindu lists of kings according to ancient Greek references that give Hindus 150 kings and a history of 6,400 years before 300bce; agrees with next entry.
-6500: Rig Veda verses (e.g., 1.117.22, 1.116.12, 18.104.22.168) say winter solstice begins in Aries (according to Dr. D. Frawley), indicating the antiquity of this section of the Vedas.
-6000: Early sites on the Sarasvati River, then India’s largest, flowing west of Delhi into the Rann of Kutch; Rajasthan is a fertile region with much grassland, as described in the Rig Veda. The culture, based upon barley (yava), copper (ayas) and cattle, also reflects that of the Rig Veda.
-5500: Mehrgarh villagers are making baked pottery and thousands of small, clay of female figurines (interpreted to be earliest signs of Shakti worship), and are involved in long-distance trade in precious stones and sea shells.
-5500: Date of astrological observations associated with ancient events later mentioned in the Puranas (Alain Danielou).
-5000: World population, 5 million, doubles every 1,000 years.
-5000: Beginnings of Indus-Sarasvati civilizations of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. Date derived by considering archeological sites, reached after excavating 45 feet. Brick fire altars exist in many houses, suggesting Vedic fire rites, yajna. Earliest signs of worship of Lord Siva. This mature culture will last 3,000 years, ending around -1700.
-5000: Rice is harvested in China, with grains found in baked bricks. But its cultivation originated in Eastern India.
-4300: Traditional dating for Lord Rama’s time.
-4000: Excavations from this period at Sumerian sites of Kish and Susa reveal existence of Indian trade products.
-4000: India’s population is 1 million.
-4000: Date of world’s creation (Christian genealogies).
-3928: July 25th, the earliest eclipse mentioned in the Rig Veda (according to Indian researcher Dr. Shri P.C. Sengupta).
-3200: Hindu astronomers called nakshatra darshas record in Vedic texts their observations of full moon and new moon at the winter and summer solstices and spring and fall equinoxes with reference to 27 fixed stars (nakshatras) spaced nearly equally on the moon’s ecliptic or apparent path across the sky. The precession of the equinoxes (caused by the wobbling of the Earth’s axis of rotation) causes the nakshatras to appear to drift at a constant rate along a predictable course over a 25,000-year cycle. From these observations historians are able to calculate backwards and determine the date when the indicated position of moon, sun and nakshatra occurred.
-3102: Kali Era Hindu calendar starts. Kali Yuga begins.
-3100: Reference to vernal equinox in Rohini (middle of Taurus) from some Brahmanas, as noted by B.G. Tilak, Indian scholar and patriot. Traditional date of the Mahabharata war and lifetime of Lord Krishna.
-3100: Early Vedic period ends, late Vedic period begins.
-3100: India includes Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia.
-3100: Aryan people inhabit Iran, Iraq and Western Indus-Sarasvati Valley frontier. Frawley describes Aryans as “a culture of spiritual knowledge.” He and others believe 1) the Land of Seven Rivers (Sapta Sindhu) mentioned in the Rig Veda refers to India only, 2) that the people of Indus-Sarasvati Valleys and those of Rig Veda are the same, and 3) there was no Aryan invasion. This view is now prevailing over the West’s historical concept of the Aryans as a separate ethnic or linguistic group. Still others claim the Indus-Sarasvati people were Dravidians who moved out or were displaced by incoming Aryans.
-3000: Weaving in Europe, Near East and Indus-Sarasvati Valley is primarily coiled basketry, either spiraled or sewn.
-3000: Evidence of horses in South India.
-3000: People of Tehuacan, Mexico, are cultivating corn.
-3000: Saiva Agamas are recorded in the time of the earliest Tamil Sangam. (A traditional date.)
-2700: Seals of Indus-Sarasvati Valley indicate Siva worship, in depictions of Siva as Pashupati, Lord of Animals.
-2600: Indus-Sarasvati civilization reaches a height it sustains until 1700 bce. Spreading from Pakistan to Gujarat, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, it is the largest of the world’s three oldest civilizations with links to Mesopotamia (possibly Crete), Afghanisthan, Central Asia and Karnataka. Harappa and Mohenjo-daro have populations of 100,000.
-2600: Major portions of the Veda hymns are composed during the reign of Vishvamitra I (Dating by Dr. S.B. Roy).
-2600: Drying up of Drishadvati River of Vedic fame, along with possible shifting of the Yamuna to flow into the Ganga.
-2600: First Egyptian pyramid is under construction.
-2500: Main period of Indus-Sarasvati cities. Culture relies heavily on rice and cotton, as mentioned in Atharva Veda, which were first developed in India. Ninety percent of sites are along the Sarasvati, the region’s agricultural bread basket. Mohenjo-daro is a large peripheral trading center. Rakhigari and Ganweriwala (not yet excavated in 1994) on the Sarasvati are as big as Mohenjo-daro. So is Dholarvira in Kutch. Indus-Sarasvati sites have been found as far south as Karnataka’s Godavari River and north into Afghanistan on the Amu Darya River.
-2500: Reference to vernal equinox in Krittika (Pleiades or early Taurus) from Yajur and Atharva Veda hymns and Brahmanas. This corresponds to Harappan seals that show seven women (the Krittikas) tending a fire.
-2300: Sargon founds Mesopotamian kingdom of Akkad, trades with Indus-Sarasvati Valley cities.
-2300: Indo-Europeans in Russia’s Ural steppelands develop efficient spoked-wheel chariot technology, using 1,000-year-old horse husbandry and freight-cart technology.
-2050: Vedic people are living in Persia and Afghanistan.
-2051: Divodasa reigns to -1961, has contact with Babylon’s King Indatu (Babylonian chronology). Dating by S.B. Roy.
ca -2040: Prince Rama is born at Ayodhya, site of future Rama temple. (This and next two datings by S.B. Roy.)
-2033: Reign of Dasharatha, father of Lord Rama. King Ravana, villain of the Ramayana, reigns in Sri Lanka.
-2000: Indo-Europeans (Celts, Slavs, Lithuanians, Ukranians) follow cosmology, theology, astronomy, ritual, society and marriage that parallel early Vedic patterns.
-2000: Probable date of first written Saiva Agamas.
-2000: World population: 27 million. India: 5 million or 22%. India has roughly G of human race throughout history.
-1915: All Madurai Tamil Sangam is held at Thiruparankundram (according to traditional Tamil chronology).
-1900: Late Vedic period ends, post Vedic period begins.
-1900: Drying up of Sarasvati River, end of Indus-Sarasvati culture, end of the Vedic age. After this, the center of civilization in ancient India relocates from the Sarasvati to the Ganga, along with possible migration of Vedic peoples out of India to the Near East (perhaps giving rise to the Mittani and Kassites, who worship Vedic Gods). The redirection of the Sutlej into the Indus causes the Indus area to flood. Climate changes make the Sarasvati region too dry for habitation. (Thought lost, its river bed is finally photographed from satellite in the 1990s.)
-1500: Egyptians bury their royalty in the Valley of the Kings.
-1500: Polynesians migrate throughout Pacific islands.
-1500: Submergence of the stone port city of Dwarka near Gujarat, where early Brahmi script, India’s ancient alphabet, is used. Recent excavation by Dr. S.R. Rao. Larger than Mohenjo-daro, many identify it with the Dwarka of Krishna. Possible date of Lord Krishna. Indicates second urbanization phase of India between Indus-Sarasvati sites like Harappa and later cities on the Ganga.
-1500: Indigenous iron technology in Dwarka and Kashmir.
-1500: Cinnamon is exported from Kerala to Middle East.
-1472: Reign of Dhritarashtra, father of the Kauravas. Reign of Yudhisthira, king of the Pandavas. Life of Sage Yajnavalkya. Date based on Mahabharata’s citation of winter solstice at Dhanishtha, which occurs around this time.
-1450: End of Rig Veda Samhita narration.
-1450: Early Upanishads are composed during the next few hundred years, also Vedangas and Sutra literature.
-1424: Bharata battle is fought, as related in the Mahabharata. (Professor Subash Kak places the battle at -2449. Other authors give lower dates, up to 9th century bce)
-1424: Birth of Parikshit, grandson of Arjuna, and next king.
-1350: At Boghaz Koi in Turkey, stone inscription of the Mitanni treaty lists as divine witnesses the Vedic Deities Mitra, Varuna, Indra and the Nasatyas (Ashvins).
-1316: Mahabharata epic poem is composed by Sage Vyasa.
-1300: Panini composes Ashtadhyayi, systematizing Sanskrit grammar in 4,000 terse rules. (Date according to Roy.)
-1300: Changes are made in the Mahabharata and Ramayana through 200 bce. Puranas are edited up until 400 ce. Early smriti literature is composed over next 400 years.
-1255: King Shuchi of Magadha writes Jyotisha Vedanga, including astronomical observations which date this scripture-that summer solstice occurs in Ashlesha Nakshatra.
-1250: Moses leads 600,000 Jews out of Egypt.
-1200: Probable time of the legendary Greek Trojan War celebrated in Homer’s epic poems, Iliad and Odyssey (ca -750).
-1124: Elamite Dynasty of Nebuchadnezzar (-1124-1103) moves capital to Babylon, world’s largest city, covering 10,000 hectares, slightly larger than present-day San Francisco.
-1000: Late Vedic period ends. Post-Vedic period begins.
-1000 to 1000
-1000: World population is 50 million, doubling every 500 years.
-975: King Hiram of Phoenicia, for the sake of King Solomon of Israel, trades with the port of Ophir (Sanskrit: Supara) near modern Bombay, showing the trade between Israel and India. Same trade goes back to Harappan era.
-950: Jewish people arrive in India in King Solomon’s merchant fleet. Later Jewish colonies find India a tolerant home.
-950: Gradual breakdown of Sanskrit as a spoken language occurs over the next 200 years.
-925: Jewish King David forms an empire in what is present-day Israel and Lebanon.
-900: Iron Age in India. Early use dates to at least -1500.
ca -900: Earliest records of the holy city of Varanasi (one of the world’s oldest living cities) on the sacred river Ganga.
-900: Use of iron supplements bronze in Greece.
-850: The Chinese are using the 28-nakshatra zodiac called Shiu, adapted from the Hindu jyotisha system.
ca -800: Later Upanishads are recorded.
-800: Later smriti, secondary Hindu scripture, is composed, elaborated and developed during next 1,000 years.
-776: First Olympic Games are held in Greece.
-750: Prakrits, vernacular or “natural” languages, develop among India’s common peoples. Already flourishing in 500 bce , Pali and other Prakrits are chiefly known from Buddhist and Jain works composed at this time.
-750: Priestly Sanskrit is gradually refined over next 500 years, taking on its classical form.
-700: Life of Zoroaster of Persia, founder of Zoroastrianism. His holy book, Zend Avesta, contains many verses from the Rig and Atharva Veda. His strong distinctions between good and evil set the dualistic tone of God and devil which distinguishes all later Western religions.
-700: Early Smartism emerges from the syncretic Vedic brahminical (priestly caste) tradition. It flourishes today as a liberal sect alongside Saiva, Vaishnava and Shakta sects.
-623-543: Life of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, born in Uttar Pradesh in a princely Shakya Saivite family. (Date by Sri Lankan Buddhists. Indian scholars say -563-483. Mahayanists of China and Japan prefer -566-486 or later.)
ca -600: Life of Sushruta, of Varanasi, the father of surgery. His ayurvedic treatises cover pulse diagnosis, hernia, cataract, cosmetic surgery, medical ethics, 121 surgical implements, antiseptics, use of drugs to control bleeding, toxicology, psychiatry, classification of burns, midwifery, surgical anesthesia and therapeutics of garlic.
ca -600: The Ajivika sect, an ascetic, atheistic group of naked sadhus reputated for fierce curses, is at its height, continuing in Mysore until the 14th century. Adversaries of both Buddha and Mahavira, their philosophy is deterministic, holding that everything is inevitable.
ca -600: Lifetime of Lao-tzu, founder of Taoism in China, author of Tao-te Ching. Its esoteric teachings of simplicity and selflessness shape Chinese life for 2,000 years and permeate the religions of Vietnam, Japan and Korea.
-599-527: Lifetime of Mahavira Vardhamana, 24th Tirthankara and revered renaissance Jain master. His teachings stress strict codes of vegetarianism, asceticism and nonviolence. (Some date his life 40 years later. )
-560: In Greece, Pythagoras teaches math, music, vegetarianism and yoga-drawing from India’s wisdom ways.
-551-478: Lifetime of Confucius, founder of Confucianist faith. His teachings on social ethics are the basis of Chinese education, ruling-class ideology and religion.
-518: Darius I of Persia (present Iran) invades Indus Valley. This Zoroastrian king shows tolerance for local religions.
ca -500: Lifetime of Kapila, founder of Sankhya Darshana, one of six classical systems of Hindu philosophy.
ca -500: Dams to store water are constructed in India.
-500: World population is 100 million. India population is 25 million (15 million of whom live in the Ganga basin).
ca -500: Over the next 300 years (according to the later dating of Muller) numerous secondary Hindu scriptures (smriti) are composed: Shrauta Sutras, Grihya Sutras, Dharma Sutras, Mahabharata, Ramayana and Puranas, etc.
ca -500: Tamil Sangam age (500 bce-500 ce) begins. Sage Agastya writes Agattiyam, first known Tamil grammar. Tolkappiyar writes Tolkappiyam Purananuru, also on grammar, stating that he is recording thoughts on poetry, rhetoric, etc., of earlier grammarians, pointing to high development of Tamil language prior to his day. He gives rules for absorbing Sanskrit words into Tamil. Other famous works from the Sangam age are the poetical collections Paripadal, Pattuppattu, Ettuthokai Purananuru, Akananuru, Aingurunuru, Padinenkilkanakku. Some refer to worship of Vishnu, Indra, Murugan and Supreme Siva.
ca -486: Ajatashatru (reign -486-458) ascends Magadha throne.
-480: Ajita, a nastika (atheist) who teaches a purely material explanation of life and that death is final, dies.
-478: Prince Vijaya, exiled by his father, King Sinhabahu, sails from Gujarat with 700 followers. Founds Singhalese kingdom in Sri Lanka. (Mahavamsa chronicle, ca 500.)
-450: Athenian philosopher Socrates flourishes (ca -470-400).
-428-348: Lifetime of Plato, Athenian disciple of Socrates. This great philosopher founds Athens Academy in -387.
ca -400: Panini composes his Sanskrit grammar, the Ashtadhyayi. (Date accepted among most Western scholars.)
ca -400: Lifetime of Hippocrates, Greek physician and “father of medicine,” formulates Hippocratic oath, code of medical ethics still pledged by present-day Western doctors.
ca -350: Rainfall is measured by Indian scientists.
-326: Alexander the Great of Greece invades, but fails to conquer, Northern India. His soldiers mutiny. He leaves India the same year. Greeks who remain in India intermarry with Indians. Interchanges of philosophy influence both civilizations. Greek sculpture impacts Hindu styles. Bactria kingdoms later enhance Greek influence.
305: Chandragupta Maurya, founder of first pan-Indian empire (-324-184), defeats Greek garrisons of Seleucus, founder of Seleucan Empire in Persia and Syria. At its height under Emperor Ashoka (reign -273-232), the Mauryan Empire includes all India except the far South.
ca -302: Kautilya (Chanakya), minister to Chandragupta Maurya, writes Arthashastra, a compendium of laws, administrative procedures and political advice for running a kingdom.
-302: In Indica, Megasthenes, envoy to King Seleucus, reveals to Europe in colorful detail the wonders of Mauryan India: an opulent society with abundant agriculture, engineered irrigation and 7 castes: philosophers, farmers, soldiers, herdsmen, artisans, magistrates and counselors.
ca -300: Chinese discover cast iron, known in Europe by 1300 ce.
ca -300: Pancharatra Vaishnava sect is prominent. All later Vaishnava sects are based on the Pancharatra beliefs (formalized by Shandilya around 100 ce).
ca -300: Pandya kingdom (-300-1700 ce) of S. India is founded, constructs magnificent Minakshi temple at its capital, Madurai. Builds temples of Shrirangam and Rameshvaram, with its thousand-pillared hall (ca 1600 ce).
-297: Emperor Chandragupta abdicates to become a Jain monk.
-273: Ashoka (-273-232 reign), greatest Mauryan Emperor, grandson of Chandragupta, is coronated. Repudiating conquest through violence after his brutal invasion of Kalinga, 260 bce, he converts to Buddhism. Excels at public works and sends diplomatic peace missions to Persia, Syria, Egypt, North Africa and Crete, and Buddhist missions to Sri Lanka, China and other Southeast Asian countries. Under his influence, Buddhism becomes a world power. His work and teachings are preserved in Rock and Pillar Edicts (e.g., lion capital of the pillar at Sarnath, present-day India’s national emblem).
-251: Emperor Ashoka sends his son Mahendra (-270-204) to spread Buddhism in Sri Lanka, where he is to this day revered as the national faith’s founding missionary.
ca -250: Lifetime of Maharishi Nandinatha, first known satguru in the Kailasa Parampara of the Nandinatha Sampradaya. His eight disciples are Sanatkumar, Shanakar, Sanadanar, Sananthanar, Sivayogamuni, Patanjali, Vyaghrapada and Tirumular (Sundaranatha).
ca -221: Great Wall of China is built, ultimately 2,600 miles long, the only man-made object visible from the moon.
ca -200: Lifetime of Rishi Tirumular, shishya of Maharishi Nandinatha and author of the 3,047-verse Tirumantiram, a summation of Saiva Agamas and Vedas, and concise articulation of the Nandinatha Sampradaya teachings, founding South India’s monistic Saiva Siddhanta school.
ca -200: Lifetime of Patanjali, shishya of Nandinatha and gurubhai (brother monk) of Rishi Tirumular. He writes the Yoga Sutras at Chidambaram, in South India.
ca -200: Lifetime of Bhogar Rishi, one of eighteen Tamil siddhas. This mystic shapes from nine poisons the Palaniswami murti enshrined in present-day Palani Hills temple in South India. Bhogar is either from China or visits there.
ca -200: Lifetime of Saint Tiruvalluvar, poet-weaver who lived near present-day Madras, author of Tirukural, “Holy Couplets,” the classic Tamil work on ethics and statecraft (sworn on in today’s South Indian law courts).
ca -200: Jaimini writes the Mimamsa Sutras.
ca -150: Ajanta Buddhist Caves are begun near present-day Hyderabad. Construction of the 29 monasteries and galleries continues until approximately 650 ce. The famous murals are painted between 600 bce and 650 ce.
-145: Chola Empire (-145-1300 ce) of Tamil Nadu is founded, rising from modest beginnings to a height of government organization and artistic accomplishment, including the development of enormous irrigation works.
-140: Emperor Wu begins three-year reign of China; worship of the Mother Goddess, Earth, attains importance.
-130: Reign ends of Menander (Milinda), Indo-Greek king who converts to Buddhism.
-58: Vikrama Samvat Era Hindu calendar begins.
-50: Kushana Empire begins (-50-220 ce). This Mongolian Buddhist dynasty rules most of the Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia.
ca -10: Ilangovadikal, son of King Cheralathan of the Tamil Sangam age, writes the outstanding epic Silappathikaram, classical Tamil treatise on music and dance.
Western Calendar Begins. C.E. – Common Era
-4: Jesus of Nazareth (-4-30 ce), founder of Christianity, is born in Bethlehem (current Biblical scholarship).
10: World population is 170 million. India population is 35 million: 20.5% of world.
ca 50: South Indians occupy Funan, Indochina. Kaundinya, an Indian brahmin, is first king. Shaivism is the state religion.
53: Legend records Saint Thomas’ death in Madras, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ and founder of the Church of the Syrian Malabar Christians (Syrian Rite) in Goa.
ca 60: Buddhism is introduced in China by Emperor Ming Di (reign: 58-76) after he converts to the faith. Brings two monks from India who erect temple at modern Honan.
ca 75: A Gujarat prince named Ajishaka invades Java.
78: Shaka Hindu calendar begins.
ca 80: Jains divide, on points of rules for monks, into the Shvetambara, “white-clad,” and the Digambara, “sky-clad.”
ca 80-180: Lifetime of Charaka. Court physician of the Kushan king, he formulates a code of conduct for doctors of ayurveda and writes Charaka Samhita, a manual of medicine.
ca 100: Lifetime of Shandilya, first systematic promulgator of the ancient Pancharatra doctrines, whose Bhakti Sutras, devotional aphorisms on Vishnu, inspire a Vaishnava renaissance. The Samhita of Shandilya and his followers, the Pancharatra Agama, embody the chief doctrines of present-day Vaishnavas. By the 10th century the popular sect leaves permanent mark on many Hindu schools.
100: Zhang Qian of China establishes trade routes to India and as far west as Rome, later known as the “Silk Roads.”
105: Paper is invented in China.
117: The Roman Empire reaches its greatest extent.
125: Shatakarni (ca 106-130 reign) of Andhra’s Satavahana
(-70-225) dynasty destroys Shaka kingdom of Gujarat.
ca 175: Greek astronomer Ptolemy, known as Asura Maya in India, explains solar astronomy, Surya Siddhanta, to Indian students of the science of the stars.
180: Mexican city of Teotihuacan has 100,000 population and covers 11 square miles. Grows to 250,000 by 500 ce.
ca 200: Lifetime of Lakulisha, famed guru who leads a reformist movement within Pashupata Saivism.
ca 200: Hindu kingdoms established in Cambodia and Malaysia.
205-270: Lifetime of Plotinus, Egyptian-born monistic Greek philosopher and religious genius who transforms a revival of Platonism in the Roman Empire into what present-day scholars call Neoplatonism, which greatly influences Islamic and European thought. He teaches ahimsa, vegetarianism, karma, reincarnation and belief in a Supreme Being, both immanent and transcendent.
ca 250: Pallava dynasty (ca 250-885) is established in Tamil Nadu, responsible for building Kailasa Kamakshi Temple complex at their capital of Kanchi and the great 7th-century stone monuments at Mahabalipuram.
ca 275: Buddhist monastery Mahavihara is founded in Anuradhapura, capital of Sri Lanka.
350: Imperial Gupta dynasty (320-540) flourishes. During this “Classical Age” norms of literature, art, architecture and philosophy are established. This North Indian empire promotes Vaishnavism and Saivism and, at its height, rules or receives tribute from nearly all India. Buddhism also thrives under tolerant Gupta rule.
ca 350: Lifetime of Kalidasa, the great Sanskrit poet and dramatist, author of Shakuntala and Meghaduta. (The traditional date, offered by Prof. Subash Kak, is 50 bce.)
ca 350: Licchavi dynasty (ca 350-900) establishes Hindu rule in Nepal. Small kingdom becomes the major intellectual and commercial center between South and Central Asia.
358: Huns, excellent archers and horsemen possibly of Turkish origin, invade Europe from the East.
375: Maharaja Chandragupta II Vikramaditya, greatest Hindu monarch, reigns to 413, expanding the prosperous Gupta empire northward beyond the Indus River.
391: Roman Emperor Theodosius destroys Greek Hellenistic temples in favor of Christianity.
ca 400: Laws of Manu (Manu Dharma Shastras) written. Its 2,685 verses codify cosmogony, four ashramas, government, domestic affairs, caste and morality (others date at -600).
ca 400: Polynesians sailing in open outrigger canoes reach as far as Hawaii and Easter Island.
ca 400: Shaturanga, Indian forerunner of chess, has evolved from Ashtapada, a board-based race game, into a four-handed war game played with a die. Later, in deference to the Laws of Manu, which forbid gambling, players discard the die and create Shatranj, a two-sided strategy game.
ca 400: Vatsyayana writes Kamasutra, famous text on erotics.
419: Moche people of Peru build a Sun temple 150 feet high using 50 million bricks.
438-45: Council of Ferrara-Florence, Italy, strengthens Roman Catholic stance against doctrine of reincarnation.
ca 440: Ajanta cave frescoes (long before Islam) depict Buddha as Prince Siddhartha, wearing “chudidara pyjama” and a prototype of the present-day “Nehru shirt.”
450-535: Life of Bodhidharma of South India, 28th patriarch of India’s Dhyana Buddhist sect, founder of Ch’an Buddhism in China (520), known as Zen in Japan.
ca 450: Hephtalite invasions (ca 450-565) take a great toll in North India. These “white Huns” (or Hunas) from China are probably not related to Europe’s Hun invaders.
ca 450: As the Gupta Empire declines, Indian sculptural style evolves and continues until the 16th century. The trend is away from the swelling modeled forms of the Gupta period toward increasing flatness and linearity.
453: Attila the Hun dies after lifetime of plundering Europe.
499: Aryabhata I (476-ca 550), Indian astronomer and mathematician, using Hindu (aka Arabic) numerals accurately calculates pi () to 3.1416, and the solar year to 365.3586805 days. A thousand years before Copernicus, Aryabhata propounds a heliocentric universe with elliptically orbiting planets and a spherical Earth spinning on its axis, explaining the apparent rotation of the heavens. Writes Aryabhatiya, history’s first exposition on plane and spherical trigonometry, algebra and arithmetic.
ca 500: Mahavamsa, chronicling Sri Lankan history from -500 is written in Pali, probably by Buddhist monk Mahanama. A sequel, Chulavamsha, continues the history to 1500.
ca 500: Sectarian folk traditions are revised, elaborated and reduced to writing as the Puranas, Hinduism’s encyclopedic compendium of culture and mythology.
500: World population is 190 million. India population is 50 million: 26.3% of world.
510: Hephtalite Mihirakula from beyond Oxus River crushes imperial Gupta power. Soon controls much of N.C. India.
ca 533: Yashovarman of Malva and Ishanavarman of Kanauj defeat and expel the Hephtalites from North India.
ca 543: Pulakeshin I founds Chalukya Dynasty (ca 543-757; 975-1189) in Gujarat and later in larger areas of West India.
548: Emperor Kimmei officially recognizes Buddhism in Japan by accepting a gift image of Buddha from Korea.
553: Council of Constantinople II denies doctrine of soul’s existence before conception, implying reincarnation is incompatible with Christian belief.
565: The Turks and Persians defeat the Hephtalites.
570-632: Lifetime of Mohammed, preacher of the Quraysh Bedoin tribe, founder of Islam. Begins to preach in Mecca, calling for an end to the “demons and idols” of Arab religion and conversion to the ways of the one God, Allah.
ca 590-671: Lifetime of Saiva saint Nayanar Tirunavukkarasu, born into a farmer family at Amur, now in South Arcot, Tamil Nadu. He writes 312 songs, totalling 3,066 Tirumurai verses. Cleaning the grounds of every temple he visits, he exemplifies truly humble service to Lord Siva. His contemporary, the child-saint Nayanar Sambandar, addresses him affectionately as Appar, “father.”
ca 598-665: Lifetime of Brahmagupta, preeminent Indian astronomer, who writes on gravity and sets forth the Hindu astronomical system in his Brahma Sphuta Siddhanta. Two of 25 chapters are on sophisticated mathematics.
ca 600: Religiously tolerant Pallava King Narasinhavarman builds China Pagoda, a Buddhist temple, at the Nagapatam port for Chinese merchants and visiting monks.
ca 610: Muhammed begins prophecies, flees to Mecca in 622.
ca 600-900: Twelve Vaishnava Alvar saints of Tamil Nadu flourish, writing 4,000 songs and poems (assembled in their cannon Nalayira Divya Prabandham) praising Narayana, Rama and narrating the love of Krishna and the gopis.
ca 600: Life of Banabhatta, Shakta master of Sanskrit prose, author of Harshacharita (story of Harsha) and Kadambari.
606: Buddhist Harshavardhana, reigning 606-644, establishes first great kingdom after the Hephtalite invasions, eventually ruling all India to the Narmada River in the South.
ca 630: Vagbhata writes Ashtanga Sangraha on ayurveda.
630-34: Chalukya Pulakeshin II becomes Lord of South India by defeating Harshavardhana, Lord of the North.
630-44: Chinese pilgrim Hiuen-Tsang (Huan Zang) travels in India, recording voluminous observations. Population of Varanasi is 10,000, mostly Saiva. Nalanda Buddhist university (his biographer writes) has 10,000 residents, including 1,510 teachers, and thousands of manuscripts.
641-45: Arab Muslims conquer Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia.
ca 650: Lifetime of Nayanar Saiva saint Tirujnana Sambandar. Born a brahmin in Tanjavur, he writes 384 songs totalling 4,158 verses that make up the first three books of Tirumurai. At 16, he disappears into the sanctum of Nallur temple, near Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu.
ca 650: More than 60 Chinese monks have traveled to India and her colonies. Four hundred Sanskrit works have been translated into Chinese, 380 survive to the present day.
686-705: Reign of Pallava King Rajasinha. He inherits the stone-carving legacy of Emperor Mahendra and his son, Narasinha, who began the extensive sculptural art in the thriving sea-port of Mahabalipuram.
ca 700: Over the next 100 years the Indonesian island of Bali receives Hinduism from its neighbor, Java.
712: Muslims conquer Sind region (Pakistan), providing base for pillaging expeditions that drain North India’s wealth.
732: French prevent Muslim conquest of Europe, stopping Arabs at Poitiers, France, the NW limit of Arab penetration.
739: Chalukya armies beat back Arab Muslim invasions at Navasari in modern Maharashtra.
ca750-1159: Pala dynasty arises in Bihar and Bengal, last royal patrons of Buddhism, which they help establish in Tibet.
ca 750: Kailasa temple is carved out of a hill of rock at Ellora.
ca 750: Hindu astronomer and mathematician travels to Baghdad, with Brahmagupta’s Brahma Siddhanta (treatise on astronomy) which he translates into Arabic, bestowing decimal notation and use of zero on Arab world.
ca 750: Lifetime of Bhavabhuti, Sanskrit dramatist, second only to Kalidasa. Writes Malati Madhava, a Shakta work.
ca 750: Valmiki writes 29,000-verse Yoga Vasishtha.
ca 750: A necklace timepiece, kadikaram in Tamil, is worn by an Emperor (according to scholar M. Arunachalam).
788: Adi Shankara (788-820) is born in Malabar, famous monk philosopher of Smarta tradition who writes mystic poems and scriptural commentaries including Viveka Chudamani, and regularizes ten monastic orders called Dashanami. Preaches Mayavada Advaita, emphasizing the world as illusion and God as the sole Reality.
ca 800: Bhakti revival curtails Buddhism in South India. In the North, Buddha is revered as Vishnu’s 9th incarnation.
ca 800: Life of Nammalvar, greatest of Alvar saints. His poems shape the beliefs of Southern Vaishnavas to the present day.
ca 800: Lifetime of Vasugupta, modern founder of Kashmir Saivism, a monistic, meditative school.
ca 800: Lifetime of Auvaiyar, woman saint of Tamil Nadu, great devotee of Lord Ganesha and author of Auvai Kural. She is associated with the Lambika kundalini school. (A second date for Auvaiyar of 200 bce is from a story about Auvaiyar and Saint Tiruvalluvar as siblings. A third Auvaiyar reference is dated at approximately 1000. (Auvaiyar is a Tamil word meaning “old, learned woman;” some believe it may refer to three different persons.)
ca 800: Lifetime of Karaikkal Ammaiyar, one of the 63 Saiva saints of Tamil Nadu. Her mystical and yogic hymns, preserved in the Tirumurai, remain popular to the present day.
ca 825: Nayanar Tamil saint Sundarar is born into a family of Adishaiva temple priests in Tirunavalur in present-day South Arcot. His 100 songs in praise of Siva (the only ones surviving of his 38,000 songs) make up Tirumurai book 7. His Tiru Tondattohai poem, naming the Saiva saints, is the basis for Saint Sekkilar’s Periyapuranam.
ca 800: Lifetime of Andal, woman saint of Tamil Nadu. Writes devotional poetry to Lord Krishna, disappears at age 16.
ca 825: Vasugupta discovers the rock-carved Siva Sutras.
846: Vijayalaya reestablishes his Chola dynasty, which over the next 100 years grows and strengthens into one of the greatest South Indian Empires ever known.
ca 850: Shri Vaishnava sect established in Tamil Nadu by Acharya Nathamuni, forerunner of great theologian Ramanuja.
ca 850: Life of Manikkavasagar, Saiva Samayacharya saint, born in Tiruvadavur, near Madurai, into a Tamil brahmin family. Writes famed Tiruvasagam, 51 poems of 656 verses in 3,394 lines, chronicling the soul’s evolution to God Siva. Tirupalli-eluchi and Tiruvembavai are classic examples of his innovative style of devotional songs.
875: Muslim conquests extend from Spain to Indus Valley.
885: Cholas kill Aparajita, king of the Pallavas, in battle.
ca 900: Lifetime of Matsyendranatha, exponent of the Natha sect emphasizing kundalini yoga practices.
ca 900: Under the Hindu Malla dynasty (ca 900-1700) of Nepal, legal and social codes influenced by Hinduism are introduced. Nepal is broken into several principalities.
ca 900-1001: Lifetime of Sembiyan Ma Devi, queen of Maharaja Gandaraditta Chola from 950-957 and loyal patron of Saivism, builds ten temples and inspires and molds her grand-nephew prince, son of Sundara Chola, into the great temple-builder, Emperor Rajaraja I.
900: Mataramas dynasty in Indonesia reverts to Saivism after a century of Buddhism, building 150 Saiva temples.
ca 950: Lifetime of Gorakshanatha, Natha yogi who founds the order of Kanphatha Yogis and Gorakshanatha Saivism, the philosophical school called Siddha Siddhanta.
ca 950-1015: Lifetime of Kashmir Saiva guru Abhinavagupta.
960: Chola King Vira, after having a vision of Siva Nataraja dancing, commences enlargement of the Siva temple at Chidambaram, including the construction of the gold-roofed shrine. The enlargement is completed in 1250 ce.
985: Rajaraja I (reign 985-1014) ascends the South Indian Chola throne and ushers in a new age of temple architecture exemplified at Tanjavur, Darasuram, Tirubhuvanam and Chidambaram. Pallava architectural influences (dominant vimanas, inconspicuous gopuras) fade.
ca 1000: Gorakshanatha writes Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati, “Tracks on the Doctrines of the Adepts.” The nature of God and universe, structure of chakras, kundalini force and methods for realization are explained in 353 verses.
1000ce to 1500
1000: World population is 265 million. India population is 79 million, 29.8% of world.
ca 1000: A few Hindu communities from Rajasthan, Sindh and other areas, the ancestors of present-day Romani, or Gypsies, gradually move to Persia and on to Europe.
ca 1000: Vikings reach North America, landing in Nova Scotia.
ca 1000: Polynesians arrive in New Zealand, last stage in the greatest migration and navigational feat in history, making them the most widely-spread race on Earth.
1001: Turkish Muslims sweep through the Northwest under Mahmud of Ghazni, defeating Jayapala of Hindu Shahi Dynasty of S. Afghanisthan and Punjab at Peshawar. This is the first major Muslim conquest in India.
ca 1010: Tirumurai, Tamil devotional hymns of Saiva saints, is collected as an anthology by Nambiandar Nambi.
1017: Mahmud of Ghazni sacks Mathura, birthplace of Lord Krishna, and establishes a mosque on the site during one of his 17 Indian invasions for holy war and plunder.
1017-1137: Life of Ramanuja of Kanchipuram, Tamil philosopher-saint of Shri Vaishnava sect that continues bhakti tradition of S. Indian Alvar saints. His strongly theistic nondual Vishishtadvaita Vedanta philosophy restates Pancharatra tradition. Foremost opponent of Shankara’s system, he dies at age 120 while head of Shrirangam monastery.
1018-1060: Lifetime of Bhojadeva Paramara, Gujarati king, poet, artist and monistic Saiva Siddhanta theologian.
1024: Mahmud of Ghazni plunders Somanath Siva temple, destroying the Linga and killing 50,000 Hindu defenders. He later builds a mosque on the remaining walls.
1025: Chola ruler Maharaja Rajendra I sends victorious naval expeditions to Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia, initiating decline of Mahayana Buddhist empire of Shrivijaya.
ca 1040: Chinese invent the compass and moveable type and perfect the use of gunpowder, first invented and used in India as an explosive mixture of saltpetre, sulfur and charcoal to power guns, cannons and artillery.
ca 1050: Lifetime of Shrikantha, promulgator of Siva Advaita, a major philosophical school of Saivism.
ca 1130-1200: Lifetime of Nimbarka, Telegu founder of the Vaishnava Nimandi sect holding the philosophy of dvaitadvaita, dual-nondualism. He introduces the worship of Krishna together with consort Radha. (Present-day Nimavats revere Vishnu Himself, in the form of the Hamsa Avatara, as the originator of their sect.)
ca 1130: Lifetime of Sekkilar, Tamil chief minister under Chola Emperor Kulottunga II (reign 1133-1150) and author of Periyapuranam, 4,286-verse epic biography (hagiography) of the 63 Saiva saints and 12th book of Tirumurai.
ca 1150: Life of Basavanna, renaissance guru of the Vira Saiva sect, stressing free will, equality, service to humanity and worship of the Sivalinga worn around the neck.
ca 1150: Khmer ruler Suryavarman II completes Angkor Wat temple (in present-day Cambodia), where his body is later entombed and worshiped as an embodiment of Vishnu. This largest Hindu temple in Asia is 12 miles in circumference, with a 200-foot high central tower.
ca 1162: Mahadevi is born, female Saiva ascetic saint of Karnataka, writes 350 majestic and mystical poems.
1175: Toltec Empire of Mexico crumbles.
1185: Mohammed of Ghur conquers Punjab and Lahore.
1191: Eisai founds Rinzai Zen sect in Japan after study in China.
1193: Qutb ud-Din Aybak founds first Muslim Sultanate of Delhi, establishing the Mamluk Dynasty (1193-1290).
1197: Great Buddhist university of Nalanda is destroyed by Muslim Ikhtiyar ud-din.
1200: All of North India is under Muslim domination.
1200: India population reaches 80 million.
ca 1200: An unknown author writes Yoga Yajnavalkya.
1215: King John is forced to sign the Magna Carta, giving greater rights to citizens in England.
1227: Mongolian Emperor Genghis Khan, conqueror of a vast area from Beijing, China, to Iran and north of Tibet, the largest empire the world has yet seen, dies.
1230-60: Surya temple at Konarak, Orissa, India, is constructed.
1238-1317: Lifetime of Ananda Tirtha, Madhva, venerable Vaishnava dualist and opponent of Shankara’s mayavadin advaita philosophy. He composes 37 works and founds Dvaita Vedanta school, the Brahma Vaishnava Sampradaya and its eight monasteries, ashtamatha, in Udupi.
ca 1250: Lifetime of Meykandar, Saiva saint who founds the Meykandar school of pluralistic Saiva Siddhanta, of which his 12-sutra Sivajnanabodham becomes its core scripture.
1260: Meister Eckhart, the German mystic, is born.
1268-1369: Lifetime of Vedanta Deshikar, gifted Tamil scholar and poet who founds sect of Vaishnavism called Vadakalai, headquartered at Kanchipuram.
1270-1350: Lifetime of Namadeva, foremost poet saint of Maharashtra’s Varkari (“pilgrim”) Vaishnava school, disciple of Jnanadeva. He and his family compose a million verses in praise of Lord Vithoba (Vishnu).
1272: Marco Polo visits India en route to China.
1274: Council of Lyons II declares that souls go immediately to heaven, purgatory or hell; interpreted by Catholic fathers as condemning the doctrine of reincarnation.
1275-96: Lifetime of Jnanadeva, Natha-trained Vaishnava saint, founder of the Varkari school, who writes Jnaneshvari, a Marathi verse commentary on Bhagavad Gita, which becomes Maharashtra’s most popular book.
1279: Muktabai is born, Maharashtrian Varkari saint and Natha yogini, writes 100 sacred verses.
1280: Mongol (Yuen) dynasty (1280-1368) begins in China, under which occurs the last of much translation work into Chinese from Sanskrit.
1296: Ala-ud-din, second king of Khalji dynasty, rules most of India after his General Kafur conquers the South, extending Muslim dominion to Rameshwaram.
ca 1300: Lifetime of Janabai, Maharashtrian Varkari Vaishnava woman saint who writes a portion of Namadeva’s million verses to Vithoba (Vishnu).
ca 1300: The Ananda Samucchaya is written, 277 stanzas on hatha yoga, with discussion of the chakras and the nadis.
1300: Muslim conquerors reach Cape Comorin at the southernmost tip of India and build a mosque there.
1317-72: Life of Lalla of Kashmir. Saiva renunciate, mystic poetess contributes significantly to the Kashmiri language.
1336: Vijayanagara Empire (1336-1565-1646) of South India is founded. European visitors are overwhelmed by the wealth and advancement of its 17-square-mile capital.
1345: Aztecs establish great civilization in Mexico.
1346-90: Life of Krittivasa, translator of Ramayana into Bengali.
1347: Plague called the Black Death spreads rapidly, killing 75 million worldwide before it recedes in 1351.
ca 1350: Svatmarama writes Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
ca 1350: Lifetime of Appaya Dikshita, South Indian philosoper saint whose writings reconcile Vaishnavism and Saivism. He advances Siva Advaita and other Saiva schools and compiles a temple priests’ manual still used today.
1398: Tamerlane (Timur) invades India with 90,000 cavalry and sacks Delhi because its Muslim Sultanate is too tolerant of Hindu idolatry. A Mongolian follower of Sufism, he is one of the most ruthless of all conquerors.
1399: Hardwar, Ganga pilgrimage town, is sacked by Timur.
ca 1400: Goraksha Upanishad is written.
1414: Hindu prince Parameshvara of Malaysia converts to Islam.
1414-80: Life of Gujarati Vaishnava poet-saint Narasinha Mehta.
1415: Bengali poet-singer Baru Chandidas writes Shrikrishnakirtana, a collection of exquisite songs praising Krishna.
1429: Joan of Arc, age 17, leads the French to victory over the English.
ca 1433: China cloisters itself from outside world by banning further voyages to the West. (First bamboo curtain.)
1440-1518: Lifetime of Kabir, Vaishnava reformer with who has both Muslim and Hindu followers. (His Hindi songs remain immensely popular to the present day.)
ca 1440: Johannes Gutenberg (ca 1400-1468) invents the West’s first moveable-type printing press in Germany.
1450?-1547: Lifetime of Mirabai, Vaishnava Rajput princess saint who, married at an early age to the Rana of Udaipur, devotes herself to Krishna and later renounces worldly life to wander India singing to Him beautiful mystic compositions that are sung to the present day.
1469-1538: Lifetime of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism, originally a reformist Hindu sect stressing devotion, faith in the guru, repetition of God’s name and rejection of renunciation and caste. (Most Sikhs in the present day consider themselves members of a separate religion.)
1478: Spanish Inquisition begins. Over the next 20 years, Christians burn several thousand persons at the stake.
1479-1531: Lifetime of Vallabhacharya, a married Telegu brahmin saint who teaches pushtimarga, “path of love,” and a lofty nondual philosophy, Shuddhadvaita Vedanta, in which souls are eternally one with Brahman. Vallabhacharya’s Vaishnavism worships Krishna in the form of Shri Nathji.
1483-1563: Lifetime of Surdas, sightless Hindi bard of Agra, whose hymns to Krishna are compiled in the Sursagar.
1486-1543: Life of Chaitanya, Bengali founder of popular Vaishnava sect which proclaims Krishna Supreme God and emphasizes sankirtan, group chanting and dancing.
1492: Looking for India, Christopher Columbus lands on San Salvador island in the Caribbean, thus “discovering” the Americas and proving that the earth is round, not flat.
1498: Portugal’s Vasco da Gama sails around Cape of Good Hope to Calicut, Kerala, first European to find sea route to India.
ca 1500: Life of Arunagirinathar, Tamil saint, author of Tiruppugal hymns; emphasizes feeding the hungry during a time of Muslim oppression and disrupted family life.
ca 1500: Buddhist and Saiva Hindu princes are forced off Java by invading Muslims. They resettle on neighboring Bali, with their overlapping priesthoods and vast royal courts: poets, dancers, musicians and artisans. Within 100 years they construct what many call a fairytale kingdom.
1500 to 1800ce
1500: World population 425 million; 105 million live in India.
1503-1566: Lifetime of Nostradamus, French physician and astrologer who wrote Centuries (1555), a book of prophecies.
1509-1529: Reign of Maharaja Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire in Andhra Pradesh.
1510: Portuguese Catholics conquer Goa to serve as capital of their Asian maritime empire, beginning conquest and exploitation of India by Europeans.
1517: Luther begins Protestant reformation in Europe.
ca 1520: Poet-saint Purandardas (1480-1564) of the Vijayanagara court systematizes Karnatak music.
1526: Mughal conqueror Babur (1483-1530) defeats the Sultan of Delhi and captures the Koh-i-noor diamond. Occupying Delhi, by 1529 he founds the Indian Mughal Empire (1526-1761), consolidated by his grandson Akbar.
1528: Emperor Babur destroys temple at Lord Rama’s birthplace in Ayodhya, erects Muslim masjid, or monument.
1532-1623: Life of Monk-poet Tulasidasa. Writes Ramacharitamanasa (1574-77), greatest medieval Hindi literature (based on Ramayana). It advances Rama worship in the North.
1542: Portuguese Jesuit priest Francis Xavier (1506-1552), most successful Catholic missionary, lands in Goa. First to train and employ native clergy in conversion efforts, he brings Christianity to India, Malay Archipelago and Japan.
1544-1603: Life of Dadu, ascetic saint of Gujarat, founder of Dadupantha, which is guided by his Bani poems in Hindi.
1556: Akbar (1542-1605), grandson of Babur, becomes third Mughal Emperor at age 13. Disestablishes Islam as state religion and declares himself impartial ruler of Hindus and Muslims; encourages art, culture, religious tolerance.
1565: Muslim forces defeat and completely destroy the city of Vijayanagara. Empire’s final collapse comes in 1646.
1565: Polish astronomer Copernicus’ (1473-1543) Heliocentric system, in which the Earth orbits the sun, gains popularity in Europe among astronomers and mathematicians.
1569: Akbar captures fortress of Ranthambor, ending Rajput independence. Soon controls nearly all of Rajasthan.
ca 1570: Ekanatha (1533-99), Varkari Vaishnava saint and mystic composer, edits Jnanadeva’s Jnaneshvari and translates Bhagavata Purana, advancing Marathi language.
1588: British ships defeat the Spanish Armada off the coast of Calais, France, to become rulers of the high seas.
1589: Akbar rules half of India, shows tolerance for all faiths.
1595: Construction is begun on Chidambaram Temple’s Hall of a Thousand Pillars in South India, completed in 1685.
ca 1600: “Persian wheel” to lift water by oxen is adopted, one of few farming innovations since Indus Valley civilization.
1600: Royal Charter forms the East India Company, setting in motion a process that ultimately results in the subjugation of India under British rule.
1603-4: Guru Arjun compiles Adi Granth, Sikh scripture.
1605: Akbar the Great dies at age 63. His son Jahangir succeeds him as fourth Mughal Emperor.
1605: Sikh Golden Temple (Harimandir) at Amritsar, Punjab, is finished, completely covered with gold leaf.
1608-49: Lifetime of Tukaram, beloved Varkari sant famed for his abhangas, “unbroken hymns,” to Krishna. Considered greatest Marathi spiritual composer.
1608-81: Lifetime of Ramdas, mystic poet, Sivaji’s guru, Marathi saint, who gives Hindus the dhvaja, saffron flag.
1610: Galileo of Italy (1564-1642) perfects the telescope, with which he confirms the Copernican theory. Condemned a heretic by the Catholic Inquisition for his discoveries.
1613-14: British East India Company sets up trading post at Surat.
1615-18: Mughals grant Britain right to trade and establish factories in exchange for English navy’s protection of the Mughal Empire, which faces Portuguese sea power.
1619: Jaffna kingdom is annexed and Sri Lanka’s ruling dynasty deposed by Portuguese Catholics who, between 1505 and 1658, destroy most of the island’s Hindu temples.
1619: First black slaves from Africa are sold in the USA.
1620: European pilgrims land and settle at Plymouth Rock, US.
1627-80: Life of Sivaji, valiant general and tolerant founder of Hindu Maratha Empire (1674-1818). Emancipates large areas confiscated by Muslims, returning them to Hindu control. First Indian ruler to build a major naval force.
ca 1628-88: Lifetime of Kumaraguruparar, prolific poet-saint of Tamil Nadu who founds monastery in Varanasi to propound Saiva Siddhanta philosophy.
1630: Over the next two years, millions starve to death as Shah Jahan (1592-1666), fifth Mughal Emperor, empties the royal treasury to buy jewels for his “Peacock Throne.”
1647: Shah Jahan completes Taj Mahal in Agra beside Yamuna River. Its construction has taken 20,000 laborers 15 years, at a total cost equivalence of US$25 million.
1649: Red Fort is completed in Delhi by Shah Jahan.
ca 1650: Dharmapuram Aadheenam, Saiva monastery, founded near Mayuram, South India, by Guru Jnanasambandar.
ca 1650: Robert de Nobili (1577-1656), Portuguese Jesuit missionary noted for fervor and intolerance, arrives in Madurai, declares himself a brahmin, dresses like a Hindu monk and composes Veda-like scripture extolling Jesus.
ca 1650: Two yoga classics, Siva Samhita and Gheranda Samhita, are written.
1654: A Tamil karttanam is written and sung to celebrate recovery installation of Tiruchendur’s Murugan murti.
1658: Zealous Muslim Aurangzeb (1618-1707) becomes Mughal Emperor. His discriminatory policies toward Hindus, Marathas and the Deccan kingdoms contribute to the dissolution of the Mughal Empire by 1750.
1660: Frenchman Francois Bernier reports India’s peasantry is living in misery under Mughal rule.
1664: Great Plague of London kills 70,000, 15% of the population.
1675: Aurangzeb executes Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur, beginning the Sikh-Muslim feud that continues to this day.
1679: Aurangzeb levies Jizya tax on non-believers, Hindus.
1688: Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb demolishes all temples in Mathura, said to number 1,000. (During their reign, Muslim rulers destroy roughly 60,000 Hindu temples throughout India, constructing mosques on 3,000 sites.)
1700: World population is 610 million. India population is 165 million: 27% of world.
1705-42: Lifetime of Tayumanavar, Tamil Saiva poet saint and devotional yogic philosopher of Tiruchirappalli.
1708: Govind Singh, tenth and last Sikh guru, is assassinated.
1708-37: Jai Singh II builds astronomical observatories in Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, Benares and Mathura.
1718-75: Lifetime of Ramprasad, Bengali Shakta poet-saint.
1722: Peter the Great rules in Russia.
ca 1725: Jesuit Father Hanxleden compiles first Sanskrit grammar in a European language.
ca 1750: Shakta songs of Bengali poets Ramprasad Sen and Kamalakanta Bhattacharya glorify Her as loving Mother and Daughter and stimulate a rise in devotional Shaktism.
1751: Robert Clive, age 26, seizes Arcot in modern Tamil Nadu as French and British fight for control of South India.
1760: Saiva sannyasis fight Vaishnava vairagis in tragic battle at Hardwar Kumbha Mela; 18,000 monks are killed.
1760: Eliezer (Besht), liberal founder of Hasidic Judaism, dies.
1761: Afghan army of Ahmad Shah Durrani routs Hindu Maratha forces at Panipat, ending Maratha hegemony in North India. As many as 200,000 Hindus are said to have died in the strategic eight-hour battle.
1764: British defeat the weak Mughal Emperor to become rulers of Bengal, richest province of India.
1769: Prithivi Narayan Shah, ruler of Gorkha principality, conquers Nepal Valley; moves capital to Kathmandu, establishing present-day Hindu nation of Nepal.
ca 1770-1840: Life of Rishi from the Himalayas, guru of Kadaitswami and first historically known satguru of the Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara since Tirumular.
1773: British East India Company obtains monopoly on the production and sale of opium in Bengal.
ca 1780-1830: Golden era of Karnatik music. Composers include Tyagaraja, Dikshitar and Shastri.
1781: George Washington defeats British at Yorktown, US.
1781-1830: Lifetime of Sahajanandaswami, Gujarati founder of the Swaminarayan sect (with 1.5 million followers today).
1784: Judge and linguist Sir William Jones founds Calcutta’s Royal Asiatic Society. First such scholastic institution.
1786: Sir William Jones uses the Rig Veda term Aryan (“noble”) to name the parent language (now termed Indo-European) of Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and Germanic tongues.
1787-95: British Parliament impeaches Warren Hastings, Governor General of Bengal (1774-85) for misconduct.
1787: British Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade is formed, marking the beginning of the end of slavery.
1789: French revolution begins with storming of the Bastille.
1792: Britain’s Cornwallis defeats Tipu Sahib, Sultan of Mysore and most powerful ruler in South India, main bulwark of resistance to British expansion in India.
1793: Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin in the US, greatly affecting the institution of slavery.
1796: Over two million worshipers compete for sacred Ganga bath at Kumbha Mela in Hardwar. Five thousand Saiva ascetics are killed in tragic clash with Sikh ascetics.
1799: Sultan Tipu is killed in battle against 5,000 British soldiers who storm and raze his capital, Srirangapattinam.
1800ce to the Present and Beyond!
1803: Second Anglo-Maratha war results in British Christian capture of Delhi and control of large parts of India.
1803: India’s population is 200 million.
1803-82: Lifetime of Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet who helps popularize Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads in US.
1807: Importation of slaves is banned in the US through an act of Congress motivated by Thomas Jefferson.
1809: British strike a bargain with Ranjit Singh for exclusive areas of influence.
ca 1810-75: Lifetime of renaissance guru Kadaitswami, born near Bangalore, sent to Sri Lanka by Rishi from the Himalayas to strengthen Saivism against Catholic incursion.
1812: Napoleon’s army retreats from Moscow. Only 20,000 soldiers survive out of a 500,000-man invasion force.
1814: First practical steam locomotive is built.
1817-92: Lifetime of Bahaullah, Mirza Husayn ‘Ali, founder of Baha’i faith (1863), a major off-shoot religion of Islam.
1818-78: Lifetime of Sivadayal, renaissance founder of the esoteric reformist Radhasoami Vaishnava sect in Agra.
1820: First Indian immigrants arrive in the US.
1822-79: Life of Arumuga Navalar of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, renaissance activist who propounds Advaita Siddhanta, writes first Hindu catechism and translates Bible into Tamil so it can be compared faithfully to the Vedas and Agamas.
1823-74: Life of Ramalingaswami, Tamil saint, renaissance founder of Vadalur’s “Hall of Wisdom for Universal Worship.”
1824-83: Lifetime of Swami Dayananda Sarasvati, renaissance founder of Arya Samaj (1875), Hindu reformist movement stressing a return to the values and practices of the Vedas. Author of Satya Prakash, “Light on Truth.”
1825: First massive immigration of Indian workers from Madras is to Reunion and Mauritius. This immigrant Hindu community builds their first temple in 1854.
1828: Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833) founds Adi Brahmo Samaj in Calcutta, first movement to initiate religio-social reform. Influenced by Islam and Christianity, he denounces polytheism, idol worship; repudiates the Vedas, avataras, karma and reincarnation, caste and more.
1831-91: Lifetime of Russian mystic Madame H.P. Blavatsky, founder of Theosophical Society in 1875, bringing aspects of psychism, Buddhism and Hinduism to the West.
1831: British Christians defeat Ranjit Singh’s forces at Balakot, in Sikh attempt to establish a homeland in N.W. India.
1833: Slavery is abolished in British Commonwealth countries, giving impetus to abolitionists in United States.
1835: Civil service jobs in India are opened to Indians.
1835: Macaulay’s Minute furthers Western education in India. English is made official government and court language.
1835: Mauritius receives 19,000 immigrant indentured laborers from India. Last ship carrying workers arrives in 1922.
1836-86: Lifetime of Shri Ramakrishna, God-intoxicated Bengali Shakta saint, guru of Swami Vivekananda. He exemplifies the bhakti dimension of Shakta Universalism.
1837: Britain formalizes emigration of Indian indentured laborers to supply cheap labor under a system more morally acceptable to British Christian society than slavery, illegal in the British Empire since 1833.
1837: Kali-worshiping Thugees are suppressed by British.
1838: British Guyana receives its first 250 Indian laborers.
1838-84: Lifetime of Keshab Chandra Sen, Hindu reformer who founds Brahma Samaj of India, a radical offshoot of the Adi Brahmo Samaj of Ram Mohan Roy.
1840-1915: Lifetime of Satguru Chellappaswami of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, initiated at age 19 by Siddha Kadaitswami as next satguru in the Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara.
1840: Joseph de Goubineau (1816-1882), French scholar, writes The Inequality of Human Races. Proclaims the “Aryan race” superior to other great strains and lays down the aristocratic class-doctrine of Aryanism that later provides the basis for Adolf Hitler’s Aryan racism.
1842-1901: Life of Eknath Ranade, founder of Prarthana Samaj. His social-reform thinking inspires Gokhale and Gandhi.
1843: British conquer the Sind region (present-day Pakistan).
1845: Trinidad receives its first 197 Indian immigrant laborers.
1846: British forcibly separate Kashmir from the Sikhs and sell it to the Maharaja of Jammu for pounds1,000,000.
1849: Sikh army is defeated by the British at Amritsar.
1850: First English translation of the Rig Veda by H.H. Wilson, first holder of Oxford’s Boden Chair, founded “to promote the translation of the Scriptures into English, so as to enable his countrymen to proceed in the conversion of the natives of India to the Christian religion.”
1851: Sir M. Monier-Williams (1819-99) publishes English-Sanskrit Dictionary. His completed Sanskrit-English Dictionary is released in 1899 after three decades of work.
1853-1920: Lifetime of Shri Sharada Devi, wife of Shri Ramakrishna.
1853: Max Muller (1823-1900), German Christian philologist and Orientalist, advocates the term Aryan to name a hypothetical primitive people of Central Asia, the common ancestors of Hindus, Persians and Greeks. Muller speculates that this “Aryan race” divided and marched west to Europe and east to India and China around 1500 bce. Their language, Muller contends, developed into Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, German, etc., and all ancient civilizations descended from this Aryan race.
1856: Catholic missionary Bishop Caldwell coins the term Dravidian to refer to South Indian Caucasian peoples.
1857: First Indian Revolution, called the Sepoy Mutiny, ends in a few months with the fall of Delhi and Lucknow.
1858: India has 200 miles of railroad track. By 1869 5,000 miles of steel track have been completed by British railroad companies. In 1900, total track is 25,000 miles, and by World War I, 35,000 miles. By 1970, at 62,136 miles, it has become the world’s greatest train system. Unfortunately, this development depletes India’s forest lands.
1859: Charles Darwin, releases controversial book, The Origin of Species, propounding his “natural selection” theory of evolution, laying the foundations of modern biology.
1860: S.S. Truro and S.S. Belvedere dock in Durban, S. Africa, carrying first indentured servants (from Madras and Calcutta) to work sugar plantations. With contracts of five years and up, thousands emigrate over next 51 years.
1861: American Civil War begins in Charleston, S. Carolina.
1861-1941: Lifetime of Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.
1863-1902: Life of Swami Vivekananda, dynamic renaissance missionary to West and catalyst of Hindu revival in India.
1869-1948: Lifetime of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Indian nationalist and Hindu political activist who develops the strategy of nonviolent disobedience that forces Christian Great Britain to grant independence to India (1947).
1870: Papal doctrine of infallibility is asserted by the Vatican.
1872-1964: Lifetime of Satguru Yogaswami, Natha renaissance sage of Sri Lanka, Chellappaswami’s successor in the Kailasa Parampara of the Nandinatha Sampradaya.
1872-1950: Life of Shri Aurobindo Ghosh, Bengali Indian nationalist and renaissance yoga philosopher. His 30-volume work discusses the “superman,” the Divinely transformed individual soul. Withdraws from the world in 1910 and founds international ashram in Pondicherry.
1873-1906: Lifetime of Swami Rama Tirtha, who lectures throughout Japan and America spreading “practical Vedanta.”
1875: Madame Blavatsky founds Theosophical Society in New York, later headquartered at Adyar, Madras, where Annie Besant, president (1907-1933), helps revitalize Hinduism with metaphysical defense of its principles.
1876: British Queen Victoria (1819-1901), head of Church of England, is proclaimed Empress of India (1876-1901).
1876: Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.
1876-1990: Max Muller, pioneer of comparative religion as a scholarly discipline, publishes 50-volume Sacred Books of the East, English translations of Indian-Oriental scriptures.
1877-1947: Lifetime of Sri Lanka’s Ananda Coomaraswamy, foremost interpreter of Indian art and culture to the West.
1879: Incandescent lamp is invented by Thomas Edison (1847-1931). The american inventor patents more than a thousand inventions, among them the microphone (1877) and the phonograph (1878). In New York (1881-82) he installs the world’s first central electric power plant.
1879: The “Leonidas,” first emigrant ship to Fiji, adds 498 Indian indentured laborers to the nearly 340,000 already working in other British Empire colonies.
1879-1966: Lifetime of Sadhu T.L. Vaswani, altruistic Sindhi poet and servant of God, founds several Hindu missions in India and seven Mira Educational Institutions.
1879-1950: Lifetime of Shri Ramana Maharshi, Hindu Advaita renunciate renaissance saint of Tiruvannamalai, South India.
1882-1927: Lifetime of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Indian-born Muslim mystic, instrumental in bringing Sufism to the West.
1884-1963: Lifetime of Swami Ramdas, known as “Papa,” Indian saint and devotee of Lord Rama.
1885: A group of middle-class intellectuals in India, some of them British, found the Indian National Congress to be a voice of Indian opinion to the British government. This was the origin of the later Congress Party.
1885: First automobile powered by an internal combustion engine is produced by Karl Benz in Mannheim, Germany. Henry Ford makes his first car in 1893 in the US and later invents assembly line production.
1886: Rene Guenon is born, first European philosopher to become a Vedantin, says biographer Robin Waterfield.
1887-1963: Life of Swami Sivananda, Hindu universalist renaissance guru, author of 200 books, founder of Divine Life Society, with 400 branches worldwide in present day.
1888: Max Muller, revising his stance, writes, “Aryan, in scientific language, is utterly inapplicable to race. If I say Aryas, I mean neither blood nor bones, nor hair nor skull; I mean simply those who spoke the Aryan language.”
1888-1975: Lifetime of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, renowned Tamil panentheist, renaissance philosopher, eminent writer; free India’s first vice-president and second president.
1891: Maha Bodhi Society, an organization to encourage Buddhist studies in India and abroad, is founded in Sri Lanka by Buddhist monk Anagarika Dharmapala.
1893: Swami Vivekananda represents Hinduism at Chicago’s Parliament of the World’s Religions, first ever interfaith gathering, dramatically enlightening Western opinion as to the profundity of Hindu philosophy and culture.
1893-1952: Life of Paramahamsa Yogananda, universalist Hindu, renaissance founder of Self Realization Fellowship (1925) in US, author of famed Autobiography of a Yogi (1946), popular book globalizing India’s spiritual traditions.
1894: Gandhi drafts first petition protesting the indentured servant system. Less than six months later, British announce the halt of indentured emigration from India.
1894-1994: Lifetime of Swami Chandrashekarendra, venerated Shankaracharya saint of Kanchi monastery in South India.
1894-1969: Life of Meher Baba of Poona, silent sage whose mystical teachings stress love, self-inquiry and God consciousness.
1896-1982: Lifetime of Anandamayi Ma, God-intoxicated yogini and mystic Bengali saint. Her spirit lives on in devotees.
1896: Nationalist leader, Marathi scholar Bal Bangadhar Tilak (1857-1920) initiates Ganesha Visarjana and Sivaji festivals to fan Indian nationalism. He is first to demand complete independence, Purna Svaraj, from Britain.
1896-1977: Lifetime of Vaishnava Hindu renaissance activist Bhaktivedanta Swami Pradhupada. Founds Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in US in 1966. Dies 11 years later.
1896: American humorist Mark Twain writes Following the Equator, describing his three-month stay in India, during voyage to Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, South Africa and England. According to him and his critics, it is one of his finest works.
1897: Swami Vivekananda founds Ramakrishna Mission.
1898-1907: Cholera epidemic claims 370,000 lives in India.
1900: World population is 1.6 billion. India population is 290 million: 17.8% of world.
1900: India’s tea exports to Britain reach 137 million pounds.
1900-77: Uday Shankar of Udaipur, dancer and choreographer, adapts Western theatrical techniques to Hindu dance, popularizing his ballet in India, Europe and the US.
1905: Lord Curzon, arrogant British Viceroy of India, resigns.
1905: Sage Yogaswami, age 33, is initiated by Chellappaswami at Nallur, Sri Lanka; later becomes the next preceptor in the Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara.
1906: Muslim League political party is formed in India.
1906: Dutch Christians overtake Bali after Puputan massacres in which Hindu Balinese royal families are murdered.
1908-82: Lifetime of Swami Muktananda, global Kashmir Saiva renaissance satguru and founder of Siddha Yoga Dham.
1909-69: Lifetime of Dada Lekhraj (1909-1969), Hindu renaissance founder of Brahma Kumaris, Saivite social reform movement stressing meditation and world peace.
1909: Gandhi and assistant Maganlal agitate for better working conditions and abolition of indentured servitude in S. Africa. Maganlal continues Gandhi’s work in Fiji.
1912: Anti-Indian racial riots on the US West Coast expel large Hindu immigrant population.
1913: New law prohibits Indian immigration to S. Africa, primarily in answer to white colonists’ alarm at competition of Indian merchants and expired labor contracts.
1914: US government excludes Indian citizens from immigration. Restriction stands until 1965.
1914: Austria’s Archduke Ferdinand is assassinated by Christian Serb nationalists. Chain reaction leads to W.W. I.
1914: Swami Satchidananda is born, founder of Integral Yoga Institute and Light of Truth Universal Shrine in the US.
1917: Communists under Lenin seize power in Russia, 1/6th of the Earth’s land mass, following the Bolshevik Revolution.
1917: Last Hindu Indian indentured laborers are brought to British Christian colonies of Fiji and Trinidad.
1917-93: Life of Swami Chinmayananda, Vedantist writer, lecturer, Hindu renaissance founder of Chinmaya Mission and a co-founder of the Vishva Hindu Parishad.
1918: World War I ends. Death toll is estimated at ten million.
1918: Spanish Influenza epidemic kills 12.5 million in India, 21.6 million worldwide.
1918: Shirdi Sai Baba, saint to both Hindus and Muslims, dies at approximately age 70.
1919: Brigadier Dyer orders Gurkha troops to shoot unarmed demonstrators in Amritsar, killing 379. Massacre convinces Gandhi that India must demand full independence from oppressive British Christian rule.
1920: Gandhi formulates the satyagraha, “firmness in truth,” strategy of noncooperation and nonviolence against India’s Christian British rulers. Later resolves to wear only dothi to preserve homespun cotton and simplicity.
1920: System of indentured servitude is abolished by India, following grassroots agitation by Mahatma Gandhi.
1920: Ravi Shankar is born in Varanasi, sitar master, composer and founder of National Orchestra of India, he inspires Western appreciation of Indian music.
1922: Pramukh Swami is born, renaissance traditionalist Hindu, head of Bochasanwasi Swaminarayan Sanstha Sangh.
1922: Tagore’s school at Shantineketan (founded 1901) is made into Vishva Bharati Univ. Becomes national Univ., 1951.
1923: US law excludes citizens of India from naturalization.
1924: Sir John Marshall (1876-1958) discovers relics of the Indus Valley Hindu civilization. Begins large-scale excavations.
1925: K.V. Hedgewar (1890-1949) founds Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist movement.
1926: Satya Sai Baba is born, Hindu universalist renaissance charismatic guru, educationalist, worker of miracles.
1927: Sivaya Subramuniyaswami is born, present-day satguru in the Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara.
1927: Maharashtra bars tradition of dedicating girls to temples as Devadasis, ritual dancers. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa soon follow suit; 20 years later, Tamil Nadu bans devotional dancing and singing by women in its thousands of temples and in all Hindu ceremonies.
1927 & 34: Indians permitted to sit as jurors and court magistrates.
1928: Hindu leader Jawaharlal Nehru drafts plan for a free India; becomes president of Congress Party in 1929.
1929: Chellachiamman, woman saint of Sri Lanka, dies. She was mentor to Sage Yogaswami and Kandiah Chettiar.
1931: Shri Chinmoy is born in Bengal, yogi, artist, self-transcendence master and United Nations peace ambassador.
1931: 2.5 million Indians reside overseas; largest communities are in Sri Lanka, Malaya, Mauritius and S. Africa.
1931: Dr. Karan Singh is born, son and heir apparent of Kashmir’s last Maharaja; becomes parliamentarian, Indian ambassador to the US and global Hindu spokesman.
1934: Paul Brunton’s instantly popular A Search in Secret India makes known to the West such illumined holy men as Shri Chandrashekharendra and Ramana Maharshi.
1936-1991: Lifetime of Shrimati Rukmini Devi, founder of Kalakshetra-a school of Hindu classical music, dance, theatrical arts, painting and handicrafts-in Madras.
1938: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan is founded in Bombay by K.M. Munshi to conserve, develop and diffuse Indian culture.
1939: Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), manifesto of Nazism, published 1925, sells 5 million copies in 11 languages. It reveals his racist Aryan, anti-Semitic ideology, strategy of revenge and Socialist rise to power.
1939: World War II begins September 3, as France and Britain declare war on Germany after Germany invades Poland.
1939: Maria Montessori (1870-1952), first Italian female physician and “discoverer of the child,” spends nine years in India teaching her kindergarten method and studying Hinduism through the Theosophical Society in Adyar.
1939: Mohammed Ali Jinnah calls for a separate Muslim state.
1941: First US chair of Sanskrit and Indology established at Yale Univ.; American Oriental Society founded in 1942.
1942: At sites along the lost Sarasvati River in Rajasthan, archeologist Sir Aurel Stein finds shards with incised characters identical to those on Indus Valley seals.
1945: Germany surrenders to Allied forces. Ghastly concentration camps that killed 6 million Jews are discovered.
1945: US drops atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan, ending World War II. Total war dead is 60 million.
1945: United Nations founded by 4 Allied nations and China to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”
1947: India gains independence from Britain August 15. Pakistan emerges as a separate Islamic nation, and 600,000 die in clashes during subsequent population exchange of 14 million people between the two new countries.
1948: Britain grants colony of Sri Lanka Dominion status and self-government under Commonwealth jurisdiction.
1948: Establishment of Sarva Seva Sangh, Gandhian movement for new social order (Sarvodaya).
1948: Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated January 30th by Nathuram Godse, 35, editor-publisher of a Hindu Mahasabha weekly in Poona, in retaliation for Gandhi’s concessions to Muslim demands and agreeing to partition 27% of India to create the new Islamic nation of Pakistan.
1949: Sri Lanka’s Sage Yogaswami initiates Sivaya Subramuniyaswami as his successor in Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara. Subramuniyaswami founds Saiva Siddhanta Church and Yoga Order the same year.
1949: India’s new constitution, authored chiefly by B.R. Ambedkar, declares there shall be no “discrimination” against any citizen on the grounds of caste, jati, and that the practice of “untouchability” is abolished.
1950: Wartime jobs in West, taking women out of home, have led to weakened family, delinquency, cultural breakdown.
1950: India is declared a secular republic. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (1947-1964) is determined to abolish casteism and industrialize the nation. Constitution makes Hindi official national language; English to continue for 15 years; 14 major state languages are recognized.
1951: India’s Bharatiya Janata Sangh (BJP) party is founded.
1955-6: Indian government enacts social reforms on Hindu marriage, succession, guardianship, adoption, etc.
1950-60s Tours of Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan lead to worldwide popularization of Indian music.
1955: Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German physicist formulator of the relativity theory dies. He declared Lord Siva Nataraja best metaphor for the workings of the universe.
1956: Indian government reorganizes states according to linguistic principles and inaugurates second Five-Year Plan.
1956: Swami Satchidananda makes first visit to America.
1957: Sivaya Subramuniyaswami founds Himalayan Academy and opens US’s first Hindu temple, in San Francisco.
1959: Dalai Lama flees Tibet and finds refuge in North India as China invades his Buddhist nation.
1959: The transistor makes computers smaller and faster than prototypes like the 51-foot-long, 8-foot high Mark I, containing I-million parts and 500 miles of wire, invented for the US Navy in 1944 by IBM’s Howard Aiken. From the 1960s onward, integrated circuitry and microprocessors will take computers-descendants of the 5,000-year-old Oriental abacus-to unimaginable levels to revolutionize Earth’s technology and society.
1960: Since 1930, 5% of immigrants to US have been Asians, while European immigrants have constituted 58%.
1960: Border war with China shakes India’s nonaligned policy.
1961: India forcibly reclaims Goa, Damao and Diu from the Portuguese. Goa became a state of India in 1987.
1963: US President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
1963: Hallucinogenic drug culture arises in US. Hindu gurus decry the false promise and predict “a chemical chaos.”
1964: India’s Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu religious nationalist movement, is founded to counter secularism.
1964: Rock group, the Beatles, practice Transcendental Meditation (TM), bringing fame to Maharshi Mahesh Yogi.
1965: US immigration cancels racial qualifications and restores naturalization rights. Welcomes 170,000 Asians yearly.
1966: J. Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, becomes Prime Minister of India, world’s largest democracy, succeeding L. B. Shastri who took office after Nehru’s death in 1964.
1968: US Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King is assassinated.
1969: US astronaut Neil Armstrong sets foot on the moon.
1970: Kauai Aadheenam, Hindu monastery, site of Kadavul Hindu Temple, Saiva Siddhanta Church headquarters, San Marga Sanctuary and editorial offices of Hinduism Today is founded February 5 on Hawaii’s Garden Island.
1971: Rebellion in East Pakistan (formerly Bengal). Ten million Bengalis, mainly Hindus, flee to India. Indo-Pak border clashes escalate to war. India defeats West Pakistan. E. Pakistan becomes independent Bangladesh.
1972: A Historical Atlas of South Asia is produced by Joseph E. Schwartzberg, Siva G. Bajpai, Raj B. Mathur, et al.
1972: Muslim dictator Idi Amin expels Indians from Uganda.
1973: Neem Karoli Baba, Hindu mystic and siddha, dies.
1974: India detonates a “nuclear device.”
1974: Watergate scandal. US President Nixon resigns.
1975: Netherlands gives independence to Dutch Guyana, which becomes Suriname; one third of Hindus (descendants of Indian plantation workers) emigrate to Netherlands for better social and economic conditions.
1977: One hundred thousand Tamil Hindu tea-pickers expatriated from Sri Lanka are shipped to Madras, South India.
1979: Sivaya Subramuniyaswami founds Hinduism Today international newspaper to promote Hindu solidarity.
1980: Grand South Indian counterpart to Kumbha Mela of Prayag, the Mahamagham festival, held every 12 years in Kumbhakonam, on the river Kaveri, two million attend.
1981: India has one-half world’s cattle: 8 cows for every 10 Indians.
1981: Deadly AIDS disease is conclusively identified.
1981: First bharata natyam dance in a temple since 1947 Christian-British ban on Devadasis is arranged by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami at Chidambaram; 100,000 attend.
1983: Violence between Hindu Tamils and Buddhist Singhalese in Sri Lanka marks beginning of Tamil rebellion by Tiger freedom fighters demanding an independent nation called Eelam. Prolonged civil war results.
1984: Balasarasvati, eminent classical Karnatic singer and bharata natyam dancer of worldwide acclaim, dies.
1984: Since 1980, Asians have made up 48% of immigrants to the US, with the European portion shrinking to 12%.
1984: Indian soldiers under orders from Prime Minister Indira Gandhi storm Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar to crush rebellion. She is assassinated this year by her Sikh bodyguards in retaliation. Her son Rajiv takes office.
1986: Swami Satchidananda dedicates Light of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS) at Yogaville in Virginia, USA.
1986: Jiddha Krishnamurti, anti-guru guru, semi-existentialist philosophical Indian lecturer and author, dies.
1986: World Religious Parliament in New Delhi bestows the title Jagadacharya, “world teacher,” on five spiritual leaders outside India: Swami Chinmayananda of Chinmaya Mission (Bombay, India); Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami of Saiva Siddhanta Church and Himalayan Academy (Hawaii-California, USA); Yogiraj Amrit Desai of Kripalu Yoga Center (New York, USA); Pandit Tej Ramji Sharma of Nepali Baba (Kathmandu, Nepal); Swami Jagpurnadas Maharaj (Port Louis, Mauritius).
1987: Colonel S. Rabuka, a Methodist, leads coup deposing Fiji’s Indian-dominated government and instituting military rule. July, 1990, constitution guarantees political majority to ethnic (mostly Christian) Fijians.
1988: General Ershad declares Islam state religion of Bangladesh, outraging 12-million (11%) Hindu population.
1988: US allows annual influx of 270,000 Asian immigrants.
1988: First Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival is held at Oxford University, England. Hindus discuss international cooperation with 100 religious leaders and 100 parliamentarians.
1989: Christian missionaries are spending US%165 million per year to convert Hindus.
1990: The Berlin Wall is taken down February 12. Germany is reunited over the next year. Warsaw Pact is dissolved.
1990: Under its new democratic constitution, Nepal remains the world’s only Hindu country.
1990: Hindus flee Muslim persecution in Kashmir Valley.
1990: Foundation stones are laid in Ayodhya for new temple at the birthplace of Lord Rama, as Hindu nationalism rises.
1990: Vatican condemns Eastern mysticism as false doctrine in letter by Cardinal Ratzinger approved by Pope Paul II, to purge Catholic monasteries, convents and clergy of involvement in Eastern meditation, yoga and Zen.
1990: Second Global Forum of Spiritual Leaders and Parliamentarians for Human Survival, in Moscow, cosponsored by Supreme Soviet, gives stage for Hindu thinking. Shringeri sannyasin Swami Paramananda Bharati concludes Forum with Vedic peace prayer in Kremlin Hall, leading 2,500 world leaders in chanting Aum three times.
1990: Communist leadership of USSR collapses, to be replaced by 12 independent democratic nations.
1991: Hindu Renaissance Award is founded by Hinduism Today and declares Swami Paramananda Bharati of Shringeri Matha “1990 Hindu of the Year.”
1991: Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated in Tamil Nadu in May. India blames Sri Lankan Tamil separatists.
1991: Indian tribals, adivasis, are 45 million strong.
1991: In Bangalore, India, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami authorizes renowned architect V. Ganapati Sthapati to begin carving the Chola-style, white-granite, moksha Iraivan Temple in a project guided by Shri Shri Trichy Swami, Shri Shri Balagangadaranathaswami and Shri Sivapuriswami. Shipped to Hawaii’s Garden Island of Kauai and erected on San Marga, Iraivan will be the Western Hemisphere’s first all-stone Agamic temple.The world’s largest single-pointed, six-sided crystal (700 lbs.), known as the Earthkeeper, will be enshrined as its Sivalinga.
1992: Swami Chidananda Saraswati, spiritual head of Parmarth Niketan Trust, with 26 ashramas, is named Hinduism Today’s 1991 Hindu of the Year for founding historic Encyclopedia of Hinduism Indian Heritage project.
1992: World population is 5.2 billion; 17% or 895 million, live in India. Of these, 85%, or 760 million, are Hindu.
1992: Third Global Forum of Spiritual Leaders and Parliamentarians for Human Survival meets in Rio de Janeiro in conjunction with Earth Summit (UNCED). Hindu views of nature, environment and traditional values help inform the 70,000 delegates planning global future.
1992: Hindu radicals demolish Babri Masjid built in 1548 on Rama’s birthplace in Ayodhya by Muslim conqueror Babar after he destroyed a Hindu temple marking the site. The monument was a central icon of Hindu resentment toward Muslim destruction of 60,000 temples.
1993: Fourth Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival meets in Kyoto, Japan. Green Cross is founded for environmental protection.
1993: Swami Chinmayananda is named 1992 Hindu of the Year, for lifetime of dynamic service to Sanatana Dharma worldwide-attains mahasamadhi July 26, at age 77.
1993: Swami Brahmananda Sarasvati, renowned yoga scholar, and Swami Vishnu-devananda, author of world’s most popular manual on hatha yoga, reach parinirvana.
1993: Chicago’s historic centenary Parliament of the World’s Religions convenes in September. Presidents’ Assembly, a core group of 25 men and women representing the world’s faiths, is formed to perpetuate Parliament goals.
1994: Harvard University research identifies over 800 Hindu temples open for worship in the United States.
1994: Mata Amritanandamayi (1953-) charismatic woman saint of Kerala, is named 1993 Hindu of the Year.
1994: All India pays homage to Kanchi’s beloved peripatetic tapasvin sage, Shri la Shri Shankaracharya Chandrashekharendra, who passes away January 7, during his 100th year.
1994: Hindu Heritage Endowment, first Hindu international trust, founded by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami.
2000: World population is 6.2 billion. India population is 1.2 billion: 20% of world (projection by World Watch).
2050: British historian Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) predicted that at the close of the 20th century the world would still be dominated by the West, but during the 21st century India will conquer her conquerors, preempting the place formerly held by technology. Religion worldwide will be restored to its earlier importance, and the center of world happenings will wander back from the shores of the Atlantic to the East where civilization originated.
2094: Bharat (formerly India) is world’s most populous nation. Sanatana Dharma, finding new expressions through interactive electronic tools, guides humankind’s future. Time flows on. Live long and prosper.
Aum. Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Aum.