THE DISCOVERY OF INDIA
The go-to book for a modern reading of the history, culture, and the myriad of philosophies of one of the most complex civilizations to inhabit this Earth
J.N. Nehru was a philosopher, lawyer, freedom fighter, statesman and holds the distinction of being India’s first and arguably most studied Prime Minister.
Born to an affluent family of lawyers, Nehru was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, J.N. Nehru is the author of numerous critically acclaimed books, including Glimpses of World History(1934), Letters from a father to his daughter (1934), Towards Freedom (1936) and finally his Magnum Opus, The Discovery of India in 1944. It must be noted that most of his writing was done while incarcerated for his role in India’s freedom movement.
The book is an objective and modern reading about the history, culture and underlying philosophies that constitute the collective Indian psyche. The book follows the story of India through the ages interspersed with the author’s own takes on numerous specific historic events and trends. The author approaches Indian history not as an Indian but as an objective outsider who attempts to read and understand the chain of events that led up to the situation that India had found herself in around the time of the writing of the book.
To call the book a history, however, would be an incomplete assessment as the book underlines the socio-cultural and political highs and lows throughout its 10,000 odd-year history, analyses those trends through the lens of modernity, and attempts to reconcile the present at the time of penning and the past, in order to understand and chart out a possible agreeable future for the country in both social and economic philosophies.
Written at a time when India was at a historic crossroads, it is a fascinating reading into the thoughts of one of the architects of modern Indian thinking, while simultaneously being an informative read of India’s history, written in a fluid, narrative manner that allows the reader to enter into the mind of the author and see clearly his chain of thoughts.
To summarise, the book should not be seen as a literary read of history, and instead a read on the philosophy of history, wherein the analysis of the civilisation’s past and present, especially its heights and pitfalls are used by the author to construct a narrative for the future of the country in the coming years of political freedom, and serves as a foundation of modern Indian political and philosophical thought. The book has failings as well, as seen by instances of naivety on part of the author about India’ place in the world and its circle of friendly nations, and yet despite those subjective errors, the book remains a highly recommended read for the modern Indian reader.
Who is this book for?
The book is suited for individuals who have an interest in understanding the past and connecting it to the present socio-economic and cultural contexts.