ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Unearthing New Historical Narratives

Regional Dynasties in Medieval Bihar

Mughal Administration and the Zamindars of Bihar by Tahir Hussain Ansari, New Delhi: Manohar, 2019; pp 299, 1,595.

For those focusing on grand historical narratives, Bihar’s history, in its grandeur, peters out long before a semblance of such historical narratives even began for some other parts of the world. Bihar’s history appears to taper off towards the end of the ancient Magadha empires, leaving little to talk about beyond the era of the Kushans, much like a majestic overture without its subsequent movements. The heroic tales of conquest and civilisational grandeur from the days of Buddha, Ashoka and the Gupta empire crumble away like the torn pages of an old and revered tome. In modern-day Bihar, these grand themes have been reduced to clichés like “the land of Mahavir and Buddha” repeated ad nauseam in the media as well as political speeches, which serve as handy salves whenever the Bihari ego feels hurt and are excessively used.

During the Sher Shah regime (1486–1545), Bihar again attempts to occupy the north Indian centrestage in a manner that seems half-hearted at best. Although Sher Shah, a third generation Afghan, was born in Sasaram and began his journey from Bihar, he nevertheless aimed westwards at Malwa, Delhi and beyond. The next period of prominence occurs in the 18th–19th century with the East India Company’s commercial forays into the interiors of Bihar through its riverine stretches.

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Updated On : 18th Feb, 2021

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