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History Of Punjab

  • Aryan Migrations

516 BC -- 321 AD

  • Persian Rule

516 BC -- 321 AD

  • Alexander's Invasion

321 AD

  • Muslim Invasions

713 AD -- 1300 AD

  • The Rise of Sikh Power

1700 AD -- 1849 AD

The state of Punjab got its name derived from the Book, ``Tarikh-e-Sher Shah'' in 1580 mentioning the building of Fort by a person named as ``Sher Khan of Punjab''. One more time, there was description of Punjab in ``Ain-e-Akbari'' in part 1 composed by Abul Fazal who mentioned the Punjab territory to be divisible into 2 provinces of Multan and Lahore. Again in the 2nd volume of ``Ain-e-Akbari'' there is a word entitled as ``Punjab'' in it. Besides, the Mughal emperor, Jahangir described the word, ``Punjab'' in his book, "Tuzk-i-Janhageeri" on page number 183.

According to Archeological studies, there had been human habitation long before the arrival of Mughals. The upper basin had one of the most ancient human civilizations called as the Indus valley civilization. The oldest symbols of human activity may be recorded back to 7000 B.C. This Indus valley civilization had grown from small settlements and village to a highly developed urban life. It also boasts of cities of Harappan culture dating back to 3000BC. The Mohenjo Daro could also be spotted to be in lower Indus valley. There are several evidences found in support of these civilizations.

The Punjab region at the time of Mahabharata was referred to as Panchanada. The Indus Valley Civilization had encompassed most of the region of Punjab and the cities like Harappa (current Punjab of Pakistan) came into being. Vedic Civilization also grew across river Saraswati for covering majority of the areas of Punjab and Northern India. Due to influence of these civilizations several cultures grew in the Indian subcontinent. The region of Punjab got conquered by several early empires which included the Gandharas, Nandas, Mahajanapadas, Mauryas, Kushans, Sungas, Guptas, Hindu shahis, Palas and Gurjara-Pratiharas. It is interesting to note that Alexander - the Great's extent of exploration was also found across the river Indus. The agriculture grew and the cities of trade like Ludhiana and Jalandhar also flourished in wealth.

Because of the location of Punjab, this region had come under continuous attack as well as influence from eastern and western parts. Punjab encountered invasions by Greeks, Persians, Scythians, Afghans and the Turks. Consequently, Punjab had been a witness of bitter bloodshed for centuries. The culture here is a blend of Islamic, Hindu, Afghan, Sikh, Buddhist as well as British influences.

The Taxila city of Pakistan was incorporated by Bharat, the son of Taksh, who was Ram’s brother. It had been known to house the most ancient university of the world, the Takshashila University. Chanakya was one of the great Vedic thinker as well as politician and a teacher here. At the time of Mauryan Empire, this Taxila had become a well known centre of intellectual negotiations and learnings. It has been regarded as UN World Heritage site today.

The significant parts were the contact periods between Punjab and several Empires of Persians when parts of it had either become integrated with empire or had been an autonomous region paying tributes to the king of Persia. Further, when Persian became the language of government of Mughals, poetry, Persian architecture, music and art became an integral part of culture of region. Punjab’s official language remained Persian before the British arrived in mid of 19th century where this language got abolished and Urdu became the administrative language of the region.

Aryan Migrations

There were several reasons for so many changes encountered by the region of Punjab such as weather patterns changes, urbanization taking place with no rural production base for agriculture and an array of raids or migrations by Aryans although on small scale from the North-West dating back to 1500-100 BC. There was a period of around thousand years, when Punjab was ruled by Aryans and was referred to as Arya-Varta, i.e. the land of Aryas and their interactions remained to be with the Indus basin natives. It was in this period when ancient book, the Rig-Vedas was written. The tongue of Aryans was Sanskrit which had become a sign of Aryan domination in this region.

Easternmost Satrapy of the Persians

Punjab fell at the outskirts of Persian empires and had come under their control for time and again. Darius, the great Persian King, attacked Punjab and conquered few parts. Punjab got occupied in 516 BC for the first time by the Persian King, Gustasp. This region came to be known as the wealthiest Satrapy, meaning the province of Persian kingdom.

Greeks were the rivals of Persians also acknowledged this area. Darius, the great Persian king, had appointed Skylax for exploring the area across the Indus River for the purpose of commercial expeditions providing an account of voyage in the book, ‘Peripulus’. The Hectaeus as well as Herodotus also mentioned ‘Indian Satrapy’ of Persians. Expeditions of Alexander have also been documented in Strabo, Pliny, Ptolemy, Arrian etc.

Formation of Current Punjab

The capital of undivided Punjab province, Lahore, was located in the West Punjab of Pakistan during the British Partition in 1947, therefore, a new capital for Punjab belonging to India was marked at Chandigarh. Shimla became a temporary capital of Punjab until Chandigarh got its construction done in 1960.

There were protests by Akali Dal as well as Sikh organizations which were encountered by Punjab making it being divided on linguistic basis in the year 1966. 1st November 1966, saw the Hindi-speaking southern part of Punjab becoming a separate state, called as Haryana whereas the Pahari speaking, in northern region, the hilly areas were referred to as Himachal Pradesh. Chandigarh lied on the border of 2 states and turned up to be a separate union territory serving as the capital of Haryana and Punjab both. In 1970s, Green Revolution developed the state economically mainly because of late Pratap Singh Kairon. There was a growth of polarization seen between Shiromani Akali Dal, the Sikh political party and the Indian National Congress, the central government then in 1970s. There was bitterness and hostility arising from the Akali Dal on a large scale and there were allegations of discriminatory attitudes towards the state of Punjab by the Indian Government. It led to the Shiromani Akali Dal passing the Anandpur Sahib Resolution and asking for being granted maximum autonomy in the Punjab region and limited powers and role of the Central Government here.

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