Notes from the Designer #26

An Annotated Bibliography … and some parting words

For this last installment we’ll return to the beginning of “Notes from the Designer.” As you will recall back in Notes #2, one of the initial challenges in researching Chandragupta was finding sources of research on ancient Indian military history and in particular the Mauryan Empire.

Fortunately, the sources were there. Many of them are the products of Indian academics; others, while authored by Westerners, have been fortuitously kept in print by Indian printing houses. Though some come more recommended than others, all were a fascinating read and provided a piece of information or a viewpoint that proved helpful in some way to the development of the game. I offer an annotated version of the bibliography (the non-annotated version appears in the game’s Playbook) for those of you who are interested.

So at last, on the “eve” of GMT’s publication of the game, I bring these “Notes from the Designer” to a close. I’ve enjoyed writing them and receiving your feedback. But most importantly, I am truly indebted to all of you whose unflagging enthusiasm and interest has made Chandragupta a reality. To you I give my heartfelt thanks.

This is not the last that the Great Battles of History will see of ancient India … and beyond … so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the game! I’ll see you soon on ConsimWorld.

- Steve Welch

Chandragupta: An Annotated Bibliography

Bhargava, P.L. Chandragupta Maurya : A Gem of Indian History (New Delhi: DK Printworld, 1996). This monograph, originally Bhargava’s doctoral dissertation, traces Chandragupta’s origins and his rise to power. Bhargava relates Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Greek legends and folklore to knit together his narrative.

Chakravarti, P.C. The Art of War in Ancient India (New Delhi: Low Price Publications, 1993). Despite the “low price” publication, Chakravarti’s work is the seminal modern study of ancient Indian warfare, first published in 1941. Providing excellent descriptions of the elements of the four-fold Indian army, Indian encampments, fortification and siegecraft, and arms and armor, the work also contains an excellent bibliography of period sources. Highly recommended. This and Majumdar’s work formed the basis of research for the game Chandragupta.

Das, H.C., Military History of Kalinga (Calcutta: Punthi Pustak, 1986). A good treatment of military history focused on Orissa and southern India, from ancient times to Kalinga’s conquest by the Muslims in 1586.

Dikshitar, V.R. Ramachandra. War in Ancient India (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1987). Dikshitar opens his work with a long discourse on the psychological factors of war in ancient India and ends with a history of Indian diplomacy. Though there are relatively good sections on weaponry, the laws of war (“Dharmayuddha”), and interesting appendices on war music, flags, and manuscripts of the era, Dikshitar’s work is tarnished by an uncritical acceptance of the claims of religious texts – including magical weapons and “aerial chariots.”

Kautilya, Arthashastra. Translated by S. Sastri, Mysore, 1923. The Arthashastra (meaning, “the science of polity”) is the period source on Mauryan-era military organization, tactics, encampments, espionage, as well as a general treatise on statecraft and economic policy. Though named as Kautilya and/or Vishnugupta, the author is traditionally identified as Chanakya (ca 350-283 BCE), the Takshashila scholar who became Chandragupta’s Prime Minister. Several decent translations are available on the web.

Majumdar, Bimal Kanti. The Military System in Ancient India (Calcutta: Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay, 1960). This work traces the evolution military ideas and practices in ancient India, from the earliest times to the conquest of the Turks. Treated chronologically, Majumdar also appends a critical analysis of the breakdown of the Indian military system. Highly recommended.

Marshall, Sir John Hubert. A Guide to Taxila (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960). Marshall provides a topographical and historical background for the three cities that over time were all incarnations of the famous Takshashila. The highly detailed fold-out topographical map was used for the Khashas and Takshashila map in the game Chandragupta.

McCrindle, John W. Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 2000). Another good period resource, McCrindle’s translation of the original works provides a fascinating window into ancient India as perceived by contemporary Greeks.

Narain, A.K., The Indo-Greeks (Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corporation, 2003). Narain’s “revisited and supplemented” work is thorough and fairly comprehensive, and marked by an erudition that equals that of Tarn. Narain benefits from newer research, including numismatic and archeological evidence that was not available to the British scholar.

Sastrik, K.A. Nilakanta, The Age of the Nandas and Mauryas (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1988). Very good history of the two dynasties, including polity, religion, and trade.

Scullard, Elephant in Greek and Roman World (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974). An in-depth and definitive study of the pachyderm and its use in the classical world by the prolific and respected Scullard.

Tarn, W.W., The Greeks in Bactria and India (Edinburgh: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1980). Originally published in 1938, Tarn’s history of the Euthydemids and Hellenism in eastern Iran and northern India provides the Greek point of view for this otherwise neglected area of history. Though long noted for his erudition, Tarn has been criticized for his idealistic treatment (some would say “hero-worship”) of Alexander the Great and Demetrius II. Some Indian scholars, notably A.K. Narain, have challenged a number of Tarn’s assumptions.

Thaplyal, Kiran Kumar and Shive Nandan Misra eds, Select Battles in Indian History (Delhi: AgamKala Prakashan, 2002). 2 vols. An excellent starting point for any game designer interested in India, the two volumes describe battles from Vedic times to 2000 CE, each battle given a chapter with its own bibliography. One flaw, however, is that the editors do not attribute the chapters to their respective authors. Otherwise, very useful.

Waddell, L.A., Report on the Excavations at Pataliputra (Patna) (New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1996). A reprint of the original 1903 report on the excavations of the ruins of the ancient city, previously thought to have been swept away by the Ganges. Many interesting plates, including a handy fold-out map.