Dark Stories History

How the British Ravaged India

Table of Contents


The British colonial rule lasted for over 200 years. During this time, the British extracted vast amounts of wealth from India, while leaving the country’s economy in shambles. The de-industrialization of India, the impoverishment of the peasantry, policy induced famines and the death + displacement of millions of people are all legacies of the British Raj. They ravaged India’s ancient economy, society, and culture. The British Raj was a system of exploitation and oppression that caused immense suffering for the Indian people. It left India impoverished and underdeveloped, and it created a legacy of inequality and injustice that persists to this day.

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Abundance to Abject Poverty

In the year 1700, India’s share in the world’s economy was a staggering 27 percent, more than all of Europe combined. But 250 years later, India’s share had plummeted to less than 3 percent, and its people were left impoverished.

Yes, that is correct. According to Angus Maddison, an economist who compiled historical data on the world economy, India’s share of the world economy in 1700 was 27.0%, while Europe’s share was 23.3%. This means that India’s economy was larger than the combined economies of all of Europe at that time.

Here is a table of the top 10 countries by share of world economy in 1700, according to Maddison:

RankCountryShare in world economy (1700)
5Ottoman Empire6.4%
6Great Britain5.4%
Top 9 Economies in 1700

It is important to note that these figures are estimates but they provide a general indication of the relative sizes of the economies of different countries in the early 1700s.

World’s economy:

1700 CE India’s share 27% (Europe’s share – 23%)

250 years later – India’s share: less than 3 percent

Impact of British Rule

The fact that India’s economy was so large in 1700 is a testament to the country’s long history of economic development. India was a major center of trade and commerce for centuries, and its economy was based on a diverse range of industries, including agriculture, textiles, and manufacturing.

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India in the 18th Century

In 1707 CE, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb died, and the empire went into a spiral of instability. The Mughal Empire was on the brink of collapse, and regional powers started fighting for supremacy. India was vulnerable.

The British saw this as an opportunity. They bribed and barged their way into a dominant position in the subcontinent. The British were different from other foreign powers who had come before them. They didn’t just want to loot and leave. They wanted to extract India’s resources forever. And they succeeded.

By the time India won its independence in 1947, the British had destroyed India’s native institutions, de-industrialized its economy, severed its trade networks, and divided its people along religious, regional and cultural differences. In just 200 years of colonial rule, the India that once inspired the world was unmade.

The deliberate bleeding of India by the British as the greatest crime in all of history.

American scholar, Will Durant

Before colonialism, India was a great industrial and manufacturing nation. Its textile goods, jewelry, precious stones, pottery, porcelains, and metalwork were renowned worldwide.

India was a far greater industrial and manufacturing nation than any in Europe or Asia. Its textile goods, exquisite jewelry, precious stones, pottery, porcelains, fine metalwork were renowned worldwide.

From the writings of JT Sunderland

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Ancient Indian Industries

Textile Industry

India was a textile superpower for most of its long history. The textile industry was a major driver of economic growth and prosperity in India for centuries. It helped to create jobs, boost economic activity, and spread Indian culture around the world.

There were many textile centers in the subcontinent, each with its own unique specialty. Coastal Andhra Pradesh was a block printing hub, while Gujarat and Bengal were known for their high-end woven products. These items were in high demand all over the world, and India enjoyed a 25–30% share of the global textile trade by the mid-18th century.

The thriving textile trade had a significant effect for the entire economy. The popularity of Indian textiles led to the creation of stable international distribution networks. By piggybacking on these networks, other Indian artisans could sell their goods worldwide at a reduced cost. As a result, many different industries flourished alongside the Indian textile industry.

For example, the demand for Indian textiles led to the development of a thriving dyeing and finishing industry. This industry employed millions of people and helped to create a vibrant and diverse textile market.

The textile industry also helped to promote economic growth in other sectors. The demand for Indian textiles created a need for new infrastructure, such as roads, canals, and ports. This infrastructure helped to boost economic activity in other sectors, such as agriculture and manufacturing.

The textile industry also helped to spread Indian culture and influence around the world. Indian textiles were highly prized for their quality and craftsmanship. This helped to introduce Indian culture to people all over the world.

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Shipbuilding Industry

India’s shipbuilding industry was also a behemoth, with several ports engaged in constructing elaborate ships with fine workmanship. Indian vessels combined elegance and utility and were known for their durability, outlasting English ships by far.

In the early 17th century, the Bengali merchant fleet was one of the largest and most powerful in the world. It consisted of nearly 5,000 ships, each capable of carrying up to 500 tons of goods. These ships were built in Bengali ports by skilled artisans who had the knowledge and expertise to craft elaborate wooden, iron, and brass fittings.

One British maritime observer noted that Indian vessels “combine elegance and utility and are models of fine workmanship.” Merchant contracts indicate that Bengali ships were much more durable than English ships. Bengali ships had an average lifespan of over 20 years, while English ships were not known to last more than 12.

Bengali ships were much more durable than English ships. Bengali ships had an average lifespan of over 20 years, while English ships were not known to last more than 12.

Merchant contracts from that time period

The Bengali merchant fleet played a vital role in the Indian economy. It transported goods all over the world, including spices, textiles, and raw materials. The fleet also helped to spread Indian culture and influence to other parts of the world.

The decline of the Bengali merchant fleet began in the late 17th century, as the British East India Company began to assert its dominance over the Indian economy. The British company imposed high taxes on Indian ships and forced them to use British ports. This made it difficult for the Bengali merchant fleet to compete, and it eventually declined.

The decline of the Bengali merchant fleet was a major blow to the Indian economy. It deprived India of a valuable source of revenue and trade, and it contributed to the country’s economic decline. The loss of the fleet also had a cultural impact, as it limited India’s ability to interact with other parts of the world.

Since the 6th century CE India was a pioneer in the global steel industry, producing Crucible formed steel known as wootz or Damascus steel.

Historical Records

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Steel Industry

India was a longtime pioneer in the global steel industry. As early as the 6th century CE, crucible-formed steel, which came to be known as wootz or Damascus steel in the West, was being produced for export by Indian blacksmiths, particularly along the Malabar coast and in the Deccan.

Arab and European officers regularly imported blades from India. While these blades were purchased as wartime implements, they were so robust and beautifully crafted that they also served as a mark of high status in times of peace.

The production of wootz steel was a complex and time-consuming process. The steel was made by mixing together iron and carbon in a crucible, and then heating the mixture to a very high temperature. This process created a steel that was incredibly strong and flexible, and it also had a distinctive wavy pattern.

Wootz steel was in high demand throughout the world, and it was used to make a variety of weapons and tools. It was also used to make decorative items, such as jewelry and daggers.

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Side Effects of British Rule

The British came in and destroyed all of that. They established a legal monopoly over Indian textiles, disrupted trade links, dismantled native industries, and imposed harsh tariffs. As a result, India’s economy stagnated, and skilled artisans and workers were impoverished.

Exploitation by Taxation

Peasants also faced unimaginable hardships under British rule. If they couldn’t pay their taxes, they were subjected to physical torture, and their farmland was often confiscated by the British. This exploitative system created tens of millions of landless peasants for the first time in Indian history.

Impacts of British Raj – NYCU

By the end of the 19th century, India had become Britain’s largest source of revenue, its biggest buyer of exports, and a provider of highly paid employment for British civil servants and soldiers. All of this was funded by Indian taxes.

The British were open about their exploitative intentions. The UK’s Prime Minister, the Marquess of Salisbury, even said, “India is to be bled of money; the Lancet should be directed to those parts where the blood is congested.”

The British refused to integrate with India or consider it their home. They saw India as eternally foreign, which justified their creation and maintenance of an extractive colony.

“India is to be bled of money; the Lancet should be directed to those parts where the blood is congested”

The UK’s Prime Minister, the Marquess of Salisbury

In contrast, the Turkic peoples who invaded India and established empires such as the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire did not repatriate India’s wealth to their original homelands. India became their new home, and their loyalties and energies were directed toward its prosperity.

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The cost to India

The British, on the other hand, ruled India as disconnected tyrants, with most of the revenue extracted from India flowing back to their distant homeland. Modern economists estimate that the total amount of wealth extracted from India by the British is around a staggering $43 trillion.

Total amount of wealth extracted from India by the British is around a staggering $43 trillion

Modern economists

British built overpriced Indian Railways

The British built railways in India, but they were not a sign of good intentions. The railways were built to benefit British businesses, not the Indian people. The British government guaranteed high profits for British investors, and when the railways didn’t make enough money, Indian taxpayers had to cover the losses.

Every mile of Indian rail cost 18,000 pounds to construct, compared to only 2,000 pounds for the same mile built in the United States.

Inflated costs of the Indian Railways

Initially, the Indian railways were positioned as a grand investment scheme for British shareholders. The government guaranteed substantial returns of at least five percent per year, and when the revenues fell short, Indian taxpayers covered all the losses. These taxpayer-backed guarantees made railway construction extremely inefficient. Here’s a fun stat: every mile of Indian rail cost 18,000 pounds to construct, compared to only 2,000 pounds for the same mile built in the United States.

The railways were also built to help the British exploit India’s natural resources. The railways made it easier to transport grain and other agricultural products out of India, which led to famines.

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British Policy induced Famines

Over the course of British rule in India, an estimated 35 million preventable deaths were caused by famines, which is millions more than those killed under Stalin or Mao and five times more than the Holocaust. The British were directly responsible for this tragic loss of life.

Over the course of British rule in India, an estimated 35 million people died in famines. The British were directly responsible for this tragic loss of life.

Historical Records

They exported Indian foodstuffs to Britain and other European countries, even during drought periods. As a result, food in India became too expensive for people to afford.


Dr. Charles Hall aptly summarized the situation: “India starves so that its annual tax revenue to England may not be diminished by a dollar” .

The British had no interest in provisioning for Indian lives. Famine non-intervention was official government policy, despite the fact that heavy-handed British intervention and market manipulation sparked the famines in the first place.

“India starves so that its annual tax revenue to England may not be diminished by a dollar”

Dr. Charles Hall

Even when good people, Indians, and foreigners worked together to help famine-affected peasants, the British government made efforts to stop them. They were furious that their own failures were being highlighted.

Scores of corpses were tumbled into old wells because deaths were too numerous for proper funeral rites. Mothers sold their children for a single meal, and husbands flung their wives into ponds to escape the torment of seeing them perish from hunger.

Account of the British official

Amid these scenes of death, the British government in India remained unmoved. Newspapers were persuaded into silence, and orders were given to civilians not to acknowledge that civilians were dying of hunger.

Since British rule ended, there hasn’t been a single large-scale Indian famine. Independent India has its flaws, but it has been overwhelmingly better at providing for the care, safety, and prosperity of its own people.

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History Stories

The Dental Health Story

Table of Contents


Below is an overview of the history of dental health and hygiene, tracing its development from ancient times to the modern era. It explores various cultural practices and beliefs about dental health, as well as the evolution of scientific understanding and technological advancements in dentistry.

The post highlights the importance of dental hygiene in preventing oral diseases and maintaining overall health.

The post also highlights the history of dental health from across the world from ancient to modern times and the adoption of dental hygiene practices and how some had to overcome cultural resistance.

Why is dental health or hygiene important?
  1. Prevention of Tooth Decay: Good dental hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing help to remove plaque and bacteria from the teeth and gums, preventing the formation of cavities and tooth decay.
  2. Prevention of Gum Disease: Poor dental hygiene can lead to the buildup of plaque and bacteria, which can cause gum disease. Gum disease can cause gum recession, bone loss, and eventually tooth loss.
  3. Fresh Breath: Good dental hygiene helps to prevent bad breath, which can be caused by the buildup of bacteria in the mouth.
  4. Overall Health: Poor dental hygiene has been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Good dental hygiene helps to reduce the risk of these and other health problems.

What about the people in ancient times? How did they manage to take care of their dental health? Let’s take a quick look at different practices around the world.

Dental hygiene in ancient times – around the world

Dental hygiene practices using natural ingredients have been found in several parts of the world, including:


Indigenous peoples across Africa had their own traditional methods for maintaining dental health. For example, the Maasai tribe in Kenya and Tanzania used sticks from the arbor tree to clean their teeth, while the Himba people in Namibia used a mixture of crushed tree bark and charcoal to brush their teeth.

Some African tribes also used natural remedies to treat toothaches, such as chewing on garlic or using a paste made from ginger and salt.

Ancient Egypt

Egyptians used a mixture of salt, pepper, and mint to clean their teeth, and they also used twigs from the Salvadora persica tree (also known as the “toothbrush tree”) to clean their teeth.

China and Southeast Asia

Traditional dental health practices in China and Southeast Asia include the use of natural remedies such as herbs and roots.

For example, people in China have used ginseng and green tea to promote dental health and fresh breath for centuries.

In Southeast Asia, the use of betel leaf, which contains antiseptic properties, was a common practice for cleaning teeth and freshening breath.

Additionally, traditional Chinese medicine includes acupuncture and acupressure points that can be used to relieve tooth pain and other dental problems.

Ancient india

Ancient Indians used various methods to take care of their dental hygiene. One such method was the use of twigs from specific trees, such as neem, banyan, and mango, which were chewed on one end to create a brush-like tip. These twigs were believed to have antibacterial properties and were used to clean teeth and freshen breath.

Another method was the use of herbal tooth powders made from ingredients such as cinnamon, salt, and alum. These powders were applied to the teeth and gums using a finger or brush.
More information about dental health in India

Additionally, oil pulling, or swishing oil (such as sesame or coconut) in the mouth for several minutes, was also a common practice for oral hygiene.

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Ancient Greece and Rome

The Greeks and Romans used a variety of natural ingredients for dental hygiene, including charcoal, myrrh, and frankincense.

Ancient Romans used urine as a mouthwash

Source 1 & Source 2

People in ancient Greece also used a mixture of alum and honey to clean their teeth and freshen their breath, while ancient Romans used urine as a mouthwash (due to its high ammonia content).

Yes, that is a historical fact. The ancient Romans did use urine as a mouthwash, among other uses, due to its high ammonia content. This may seem strange to us today, but it was a common practice in ancient times when people had limited knowledge and resources for maintaining oral health.

The Greeks and Egyptians, also used various substances for dental hygiene, including crushed bones, eggshells, and ashes. It’s important to note that while these practices may seem strange or unappealing to us now, they were based on the limited knowledge and resources available at the time, and were considered effective by the people who used them.


In ancient Europe, dental hygiene practices were limited, and tooth decay was a common problem.

During the Middle Ages, people in Europe used a variety of natural remedies to treat toothaches and other dental problems, such as using a mixture of salt and pepper or placing a piece of raw onion on the affected tooth.

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North America

Sage was used by several Indigenous groups in North America, such as the Navajo and Pueblo tribes, as a natural antiseptic to clean their teeth and gums. Chamomile was also used by some groups, such as the Cherokee, as a natural remedy for toothaches and gum inflammation.

Indigenous groups in North America, such as the Inuit (Eskimo) and First Nations tribes in Canada, had their own unique dental health practices. The Inuit, who lived in the Arctic region, did not have access to plants for cleaning their teeth, so they used a traditional method of chewing on animal hides or sinews to keep their teeth clean.

It is important to note that the use of specific plants for dental health varied depending on the region and cultural practices of each group.

South America

Dental hygiene practices in South America vary by country and region.

In some areas, natural remedies like herbs and bark are still used, while in others, modern dental hygiene products are more common.

The Indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforest also had their own methods for maintaining dental health. For example, the Yanomami tribe in Brazil and Venezuela used a mixture of crushed tree bark and charcoal to clean their teeth, while the Matsés tribe used a type of vine with antiseptic properties to rinse their mouths and promote oral health.

In ancient Peru, people used to chew on coca leaves to clean their teeth.

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Caribbean Islands

The Indigenous peoples of the Caribbean Islands, such as the Taíno and Carib, used various natural methods to maintain their dental health. For example, the Taíno used a mixture of crushed seashells and plant ashes to clean their teeth, while the Carib chewed on guava leaves to freshen their breath and promote dental health.


Aboriginal people in Australia traditionally used chew sticks made from twigs of the tea tree plant, which contains antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. They also used clay from termite mounds as a toothpaste, which helped to remove plaque and bacteria. In addition, some Aboriginal groups used eucalyptus leaves to freshen breath and as an antiseptic.

New Zealand

The Māori people of New Zealand used a variety of natural materials to maintain their dental health, such as horopito leaves, which have antibacterial properties, and the roots of the kūmarahou plant, which were used as a natural toothbrush. The sap of the kawakawa tree was also used to treat toothaches and other dental problems.

Other Pacific Islands

Indigenous peoples on other Pacific Islands, such as Fiji and Samoa, also had their own traditional dental health practices. For example, in Samoa, coconut oil was used for oil pulling, which involves swishing oil in the mouth to remove bacteria and improve oral health. In Fiji, the bark of the Dilo tree was used to treat toothaches and gum infections.

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How did modern toothpaste evolve?

Toothpaste as we know it today was first developed in the 19th century.

The earliest recorded recipe for a modern toothpaste was created by a British physician named Dr. Washington Wentworth Sheffield in the 1850s.

Dr. Sheffield’s toothpaste was a powdery substance made from chalk and soap, and it was sold in a jar. Other early toothpaste formulations included a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, which was used as a tooth powder.

In the early 20th century, toothpaste began to be sold in tubes, which made it more convenient and hygienic to use. In the 1950s, the first fluoride toothpaste was introduced, which helped to reduce tooth decay.

The widespread adoption of toothpaste was initially slow, due to several factors. One was the cost – early toothpaste formulations were expensive and not accessible to everyone.

Another factor was the lack of education around dental hygiene – many people didn’t understand the importance of brushing their teeth regularly.

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Brushing teeth in the USA

Let us take a look at how dental hygiene was practiced in the US of A for more context, as it is a country well known to be one of the most technological advances but a relatively new nation.

During the recruitment of soldiers for World War I in the US army, it was found that many potential recruits had poor dental hygiene. This was a concern for the army because soldiers with bad teeth were more likely to develop infections and other health problems.

In the early 1900s barely 7% of the US population brushed their teeth. Thanks to an innovative campaign by a start adverting executive, it went up to 65% within a decade – and a star Pepsodent was born!

Pepsodent Vintage Ad
Pepsodent Advertisement – from an old newspaper

Read more about it below:


Read more about the Pepsodent Ad Campaign and how it has an important lesson on The Power Of Habit!

However, as dental health education campaigns became more widespread and toothpaste became more affordable, the use of toothpaste and toothbrushes became more common.

Today, toothpaste is widely used around the world, and there are many different brands and formulations available to suit different needs and preferences.

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Image at the top –

Photo by Loren Joseph on Unsplash

Dark Stories Did You Know History

Portuguese Inquisition In India

Table of Contents


The Portuguese Inquisition in India was a brutal and horrific period of religious persecution that began in the 16th century and lasted for over 250 years. The Inquisition was established to enforce religious conformity among the population and was modeled after the Spanish Inquisition.

The Inquisition targeted Jews, Muslims, and Hindus, forcing them to convert to Christianity or face severe punishments, including unspeakable torture and cruel death sentences.

Many people were accused of being heretics or secret Jews and were subjected to brutal interrogations and trials.

The Inquisition had a profound impact on Indian society and culture, as it also included the destruction of many ancient temples and religious sites, and forced many people to flee their homes and communities. It also resulted in the loss of many important historical and cultural artifacts.

The Inquisition was finally abolished in 1821, but its legacy continues to impact India to this day.

The Portuguese In India

The Portuguese Empire conquered the province of Goa in 1510 CE, and made it the capital of Portuguese India.

The video with an overview

The Portuguese Inquisition – The atrocities in Goa, India – Source OddCompass
Video with more details – a descendant’s account
The Goan Inquisition – a descendant’s account

The Inquisition – a high level summary

In 1560 CE, the Portuguese brought their Catholic Inquisition to Goa to establish a Catholic stronghold in Asia where religious laws would be strictly enforced.
Goa Inquisition – Source

What we know about the inquisition has been lost due to the destruction of records by the Portuguese government in 1821 when the inquisition was abolished

Everyone is affected

Both natives and Portuguese settlers were subject to extreme punishment, including imprisonment, torture, and even death by immolation. The Goan Inquisition created a persecution hell, and many people fled for India hoping to escape persecution.

The Portuguese inquisition became a theocratic arm of the state subject to the authority of the king, and it served a political function as well, censoring books, attacking political dissidents, banning non-standard cultural practices, and more.

Policies regarding Indian Muslims were oppressive, though mosques were not outright destroyed in the pre-inquisition era.

The Portuguese also established an inquisition in Goa which lasted for nearly three centuries and was characterized by oppression and bloodshed.

Hidden History
The Inquisitor

The Goan Inquisition was jump-started in 1543 CE with the arrival of Saint Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Jesuits. The Inquisition had an influence on colonial administration, and Portuguese religious and secular infrastructure was deployed to destroy the enemies of the Inquisition.
A saint to some – but not to those he tortured – Source

The Goan Inquisition was a period of intense religious persecution in which the Portuguese targeted Jews, Hindu and Muslim converts to Christianity, and Hindus in an effort to expunge native culture and religion and incentivize conversion to Christianity.

Those convicted of religious crimes were subject to fines, public whipping, imprisonment, torture, execution, and burning alive at the stake. The Portuguese even banned Jews from Goa outright, causing an exodus of Jewish new Christians to the Malabar coast and the Middle East.

The target of the Inquisition

The Inquisition’s primary target was Hindus, and sweeping anti-Hindu laws were imposed by the colonial administration, including the outlawing of open practice of Hinduism and prohibitions against constructing new temples or repairing damaged ones.

The oppression led to a mass exodus of non-Christians out of Goa, and even those who converted to Christianity faced restrictions from maintaining their old customs.

The persecution resulted in the loss of well-connected merchants, formerly Jewish new Christians, and Hindus, which ultimately crippled the competitive ability of the Portuguese in India.

Warning – this section has graphic information about the tortures

Some of the the documented atrocities from the article above:

Conversion method

M. D. David, author of Western Colonialism in Asia and Christianity, writes: “…A particularly grave abuse was practiced in Goa in the form of ‘mass baptism’ and what went before it. The practice was begun by the Jesuits and was initiated by the Franciscans also. The Jesuits staged an annual mass baptism on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25), and in order to secure as many neophytes as possible, a few days before the ceremony the Jesuits would go through the streets of the Hindu quarter in pairs, accompanied by their African slaves, whom they would urge to seize the Hindus. When the blacks caught up a fugitive, they would smear his lips with a piece of beef, making him an ‘untouchable’ among his people. Conversion to Christianity was then his only option.

The below examples do not include seizure of lands, property, destruction of temples, banning of local religion, books, traditional customs and what would be considered run of the mill sexual assault, torture & executions. So read with caution.

Unspeakable atrocities

The Archbishop living on the banks of the Ethora said in a lecture that, “The post of Inquiry Commission in Goa is regarded as holy.” Thus, the Indian ladies who opposed or resisted the sexual advances of the assistants of the commission were put behind bars and then forcibly used by them to satisfy their carnal desires. Then they were burnt alive as opponents or heretics of the established tenets of the Catholic Church.

Mentions in Literature

Also, the famous writer of the 19th century, Alexandre Herculano, wrote in his book, Fragment about the Inquisition, how no one was excused from the tortures of the Inquisition: “… the terrors inflicted on pregnant women made them abort… Neither the beauty nor decorousness of the flower of youth, nor the old age, so worthy of compassion in a woman, exempted the weaker sex from the brutal ferocity of the supposed defenders of the religion… There were days when seven or eight were submitted torture.”

Paul William Roberts, in Empire of the Soul, Some Journeys in India, writes about the methods of the Portuguese Inquisition: “Children were flogged and slowly dismembered in front of their parents whose eyelids had been sliced off to make sure they missed nothing. Extremities were amputated carefully, so that a person could remain conscious even when all that remained was a torso and a head… Those subjected to other diabolical tortures could also be counted in the thousands and the abominations continued until a brief respite in 1774… The evil resumed, continuing, almost incredibly, until June 16, 1812. At that point, British pressure put an end to terror (with) the presence of British troops stationed in Goa.”

Dr. Trasta Breganka Kunha, a Catholic citizen of Goa, had written: “In spite of all the mutilations and concealment of history, it remains an undoubted fact that religious conversion of Goans is due to methods of force by the Portuguese to establish their rule. As a result of this violence the character of our people was destroyed. The propagation of Christian sect in Goa came about not by religious preaching but through methods of violence and pressure. If any evidence is needed for this fact, we can obtain it through law books, orders and reports of the local rulers of that time and also from the most dependable documents of the Christian sect.”

The article linked above has more sources in it.

The top image is also from that article

A more detailed article

Translation of the book by a French Doctor written during the Inquisition in India

A recap of the Portuguese Inquisition

The Portuguese arrived in Goa in the early 16th century and established a trading post. They also brought with them their religion, which eventually made Goa less attractive as a trade center.

The Dutch were able to take advantage of this and became the dominant European trading force in the subcontinent.

The Portuguese also established an inquisition in Goa which lasted for nearly three centuries and was characterized by oppression and bloodshed.

Sadly, much of what we know about the inquisition has been lost due to the destruction of records by the Portuguese government in 1821 when the inquisition was abolished. The terror and oppression brought by the inquisition will never be forgotten.

History Stories

The Chola Empire

Table of Contents


Southern India’s ancient history is quite interesting but literally unknown and deserves a closer look.

This post provides an informative look into the history and cultural legacy of the Chola Empire, highlighting its lasting impact on South India and Southeast Asia.

It delves into the Cholas’ impressive military and economic power, which allowed them to expand their influence beyond South India and establish a vast maritime trade network throughout Southeast Asia.

The Cholas

The Cholas were a dynasty with a medieval empire from the southern part of India that dominated their contemporaries in India and Southeast Asia and established extensive intercontinental trade networks.

The Chola dynasty was established in the Kaveri River Delta around 300 BCE, and the empire was reliant on the sea for its wealth from the beginning.

Here is a video which gives a quick overview about one of the greatest Southern Empires – The Cholas!

The Video Story

The South Indian Dynasty with Ambition – The Cholas – Source OddCompass

Governance and Administration

The Cholas underwent a Golden Age in the medieval era, with Tamil arts, culture, and language flourishing. Their government administration was centralized and improved, and the Cholas kept copious records from administrative reports to legal disputes to internal reviews of official misconduct. The Cholas also introduced elected councils, whose officials were subject to regular auditing, undercutting the role of local feudatories, consolidating Chola power, and creating the infrastructure necessary to maintain a large, well-run empire.

Raja Raja Chola
Raja Raja Chola

Raja Raja Chola

Raja Raja Chola I was the third ruler of the Chola dynasty, which ruled over a significant part of southern India from the 9th to the 13th century. He reigned from 985 to 1014 CE and is considered one of the greatest monarchs in Indian history.

During his reign, Raja Raja Chola expanded the Chola Empire’s boundaries and brought many new territories under his rule. He is credited with building a powerful navy and creating a strong standing army, which allowed him to conquer and control territories beyond the southern region of India.

Raja Raja Chola was a patron of the arts and culture, and his reign saw a flourishing of Tamil literature, architecture, and temple construction. He commissioned the construction of the famous Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an iconic symbol of Chola architecture.

Additionally, Raja Raja Chola is known for his administrative reforms, including improvements to irrigation systems, trade and commerce, and the establishment of a strong and efficient bureaucracy. His reign was marked by stability, prosperity, and cultural achievements, making him a revered figure in Tamil history and culture.

Rajendra Chola

Rajendra Chola
Rajendra Chola

It was Rajendra Chola I, who put the Cholas on the world stage as Crown Prince. Rajendra led campaigns against neighboring rivals under the command of his father Raja Raja Chola, and together they extended the boundaries of the empire over much of South India and Sri Lanka, defeating their enemies in 14 deep political and familial alliances with the developers of Bengi.

By the time Rajendra Chola I ascended to the throne in 1014 CE, he had inherited an empire on the precipice of historical greatness.
Campaigns in Southern India

Rajendra was a busy man, using his navy to blockade and subdue rebellious lords along the Malabar Coast, carving out territories belonging to the western Chalukyas, supporting his nephew’s succession claims in Telugu country, finishing his father’s conquest of Sri Lanka, occupying the Maldives, and establishing Chola dominance over the Andaman Islands, thus securing a forward base into Southeast Asia. He also installed his sons as regional viceroys to further entrench central control over these dominions.

What’s a Thalassocracy?

The term thalassocracy can also simply refer to naval supremacy, in either military or commercial sense.
Campaigns in Northern ndia

In 1023 CE, Rajendra decided to raid northern India. He marched with his armies to the northeast all the way up to the banks of the river Ganges. On the way, he defeated the forces of Kalinga, and with the path clear to Bengal, he descended upon the Pala Kingdom and defeated them too.

Rajendra was so pleased with himself that he filled up large tanks with water from the river Ganges and transported them all the way back to the Chola heartland to commemorate the victory.

He constructed a formidable temple at the center of a new capital city, Gangaikondacholapuram, meaning conqueror of the Ganges, and blessed it with his pillaged holy water.

The Maritime Silk Road

The Cholas’ control over the maritime Silk Road was invaluable, and their military and administrative dominance gave them the ability to position their economic machinery more favorably in the global markets. The Chola military offensives were part of the strategy to suppress rivals that might otherwise compromise their supremacy over the maritime Silk Road trade. It is hardly a coincidence that nearly a half-century of conflict led to Chola domination over Southeast Asian trade networks.

Conquests in South East Asia

The Chola Dynasty was one of the most dominant powers in South India during the medieval period. Their influence extended beyond their mainland borders and reached the Southeast Asian region. The Cholas were renowned for their naval power, and they had established their dominance over the maritime Silk Road trade routes.

However, in the early 11th century, a powerful kingdom called Srivijaya emerged in the Malay Archipelago. This kingdom started interfering with Chola interests by disrupting their trade and engaging in piracy.

This caused competition between the Cholas and Srivijaya for control over the central region of the maritime Silk Road.

To counter this threat, the Cholas decided to launch a naval campaign against Srivijaya . This campaign involved three major Southeast Asian players: Srivijaya , Tambralinga, a Malay Kingdom based in what is now southern Thailand, and Angkor, an ambitious Peninsular Kingdom based out of what is now Cambodia.

The Cholas were allied with Angkor, while Srivijaya was allied with Tambralinga. Religion may have played a role in this diplomatic arrangement, as Tambralinga and Srivijaya were Buddhist kingdoms, while Angkor and the Chola Empire were Hindu Shaivite.

The Cholas were well-prepared for the war, having imported the talents of Chinese shipbuilders to work on research and development for their navy.

They had implemented critical naval technologies, including watertight hull innovations that allowed their fleet to traverse rougher seas, a Mariners compass, and further advancements in a flamethrower weapon, not unlike the legendary Greek fire utilized by the Byzantine fleets.

When the war began, Srivijaya was the main target of the Chola navy. Rajendra Chola, the leader of the Cholas, split his fleet into two groups – the main invasion fleet and an auxiliary force. The auxiliary force was sent to the entrance of the Straits of Malacca, where the Srivijaya fleet was waiting, positioned to take on what they assumed would be the bulk of the Chola fleet.

However, the Cholas had a surprise in store for Srivijaya. They sent their main invasion fleet south of Sumatra, positioned behind the island, and used the element of surprise to circle around the island and attack the southern capital of Palembang. The Cholas successfully sacked the city and defeated the Srivijay fleet in the Straits of Malacca, which led to their dominance over the central region of the maritime Silk Road.

The aftermath of the campaigns

In the aftermath of the war, the Cholas established a colony in Sumatra, which became an important center for trade and culture. The Cholas also expanded their influence over the other Southeast Asian kingdoms, such as Kambuja (present-day Cambodia) and Champa (present-day Vietnam), through political alliances and marriage ties.

The Chola Empire continued to flourish until the end of the 13th century, when it began to decline due to external invasions and internal conflicts. However, the legacy of the Cholas lives on through their remarkable achievements in art, literature, architecture, and technology.

The Cholas left behind an impressive body of literature in the Tamil language, including epic poems such as the Silappatikaram and the Manimekalai, which are considered among the finest works of classical Tamil literature. They also built magnificent temples, such as the Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Trade ages ago

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Trade with Ancient Rome

There is evidence that the Romans had trade relations with India as early as the 1st century BCE, as documented in the writings of the Roman historian Pliny the Elder.

Pepper and ginger grow wild in their country, yet here we buy them by weight, using so much gold and silver!

Pliny the Elder

Pliny the Elder was a Roman author and naturalist who lived during the 1st century AD. In his work “Naturalis Historia,” he wrote extensively about the trade between Rome and India. He described the Indian Ocean as “the most peaceful of all seas” and wrote about the trade winds that facilitated travel between India and the Red Sea.

Pliny also wrote about the high value of Indian spices and the Roman empire’s demand for them. He noted that the Romans had to pay in gold and silver to acquire Indian spices, which were highly prized for their taste and medicinal properties.

He also wrote about Indian textiles, pearls, and precious stones that were highly prized by the Romans.

Pliny’s accounts provide valuable insight into the economic and cultural exchange between Rome and India during the ancient period.

According to historical accounts, the Roman trade with India was primarily conducted by Indian merchants who traveled by sea along the Red Sea and Indian Ocean trade routes. The trade was driven by a demand for spices and other luxury goods that were not available in the Mediterranean region.

Some notable examples of Roman figures who were known to have been interested in spices and Indian goods include Julius Caesar, who is said to have been a fan of Indian pepper, and Cleopatra, who was known to have imported large quantities of spices into Egypt.

The Roman trade with India is believed to have continued for several centuries, although the exact duration of the trading partnership is not known. Indian spices and other goods were highly sought after in Rome, and the trade was likely a major source of income for Indian merchants.

In terms of the goods that were imported from India to Italy and Greece, spices were certainly among the most highly valued items. Other Indian goods that were popular in Rome included textiles, ivory, and precious stones.

It is not clear what the Indians were taking back from Italy and Greece, as there are few records of the goods that were exported from Rome to India during this period. However, it is likely that the Romans would have exported a range of goods to India, including metals, wine, and olive oil, which were highly prized in the Mediterranean region.

Trade with Ancient Greeks

There is evidence of trade between ancient Greeks and Indians, particularly in the Hellenistic period (323 BCE-31 BCE) when Alexander the Great’s conquests brought the Greeks in contact with various Indian kingdoms.

The Greeks were interested in Indian goods such as textiles, precious stones, ivory, and spices, and Indian exports to Greece included goods such as indigo, pepper, ginger, and cinnamon. The Greek historian Megasthenes, who lived in India during the 4th century BCE, wrote about the Indian exports in his book “Indika.” Greek historian Strabo also mentioned Indian spices in his work “Geographica,” describing their uses in cooking and medicine.

The Greeks also exported their own goods to India, such as wine, olive oil, and textiles. Some Greek colonies were established in northwest India, and archaeological evidence suggests that there was trade between the two regions, with Greek coins and pottery found in India and Indian goods found in Greek settlements.

The Greek-Indian trade relationship was not as significant as the Roman-Indian trade, but there is evidence of cultural and economic exchange between the two regions.

Trade with Ancient Egypt

There is evidence of trade between India and Egypt dating back to ancient times. The Egyptians were known to trade with India for spices, aromatic woods, textiles, and other luxury goods. The ancient Egyptians were also known to have used Indian spices in their embalming practices.

Archaeological excavations at several sites in Egypt have revealed the presence of Indian spices, including black pepper, ginger, and cardamom, which were imported from India. These spices were highly prized by the Egyptians, who used them not only for culinary purposes but also for medicinal and religious purposes.

One of the most significant pieces of evidence for Indian-Egyptian trade is the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a Greek manuscript that dates back to the 1st century CE. The Periplus describes the trade routes between India and the Red Sea, and provides a detailed account of the commodities traded between India and Egypt, including spices, precious stones, ivory, and textiles.

In addition, several ancient Egyptian texts and inscriptions have been found that mention the importation of Indian spices. For example, the temple of Kom Ombo, which dates back to the Ptolemaic era, contains a relief that depicts the transport of Indian spices, including cinnamon and cassia, from the Red Sea to the temple.

Records or artifacts from those times
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Source – In addition to a Buddha statue, Sanskrit inscriptions from 2000 years ago were found, as were coins from the Satavahana empire from Southern India.

There have been several archaeological findings that indicate the trade relationship between India and the ancient Roman and Greek civilizations.

One example of such a finding is the discovery of Roman coins in India, particularly in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. These coins, dating back to the 1st century BCE, suggest that Roman traders were present in India during that time.

Another important archaeological discovery is the ancient port of Muziris, located in present-day Kerala, which was a major trading center for the Romans and Greeks. Excavations at the site have uncovered several artifacts, including amphorae (a type of container used to transport goods), pottery, and coins, all of which point to a thriving trade relationship between India and the ancient world.

Additionally, the discovery of a Roman glass bowl in Pompeii, Italy, that was made in India is further evidence of the trade relationship between the two civilizations.

In terms of written records, the ancient Greek historian Herodotus mentions the trade relationship between India and the Greeks in his writings, specifically in his book “The Histories.” He writes about the various goods that were traded, including spices, textiles, and precious stones.

Coins from India, Egypt, Greece and Rome

Coins from ancient India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome provide evidence of trade between these regions. For example, Indian coins from the Kushan period (1st-3rd centuries CE) have been found in archaeological excavations in Egypt, suggesting that there was direct trade between the two regions during this time.

Similarly, Greek coins have been found in archaeological sites in India, particularly in the northwestern region, which was once part of the Hellenistic world. These coins indicate that there was some level of trade and exchange between the two regions during the Hellenistic period (4th-1st centuries BCE).

Coins from the Roman period also provide evidence of trade with India. Roman coins have been found in southern India, particularly in the region of Tamil Nadu. These coins suggest that there was direct trade between Rome and India during the early centuries CE, with Indian spices being one of the major commodities exchanged.

The symbols and inscriptions on these coins also provide insights into the political and economic conditions of these regions at the time. For example, some Indian coins from the Kushan period depict rulers such as Kanishka and Vasudeva, who were known for their patronage of Buddhism and the arts.

There is no direct evidence on the costs of spices in these regions at the time, as there are no surviving records or accounts of the prices.

However, we can infer from the fact that spices were traded over long distances that they were valuable commodities that commanded a high price in these regions. It is likely that spices were exchanged for other goods, such as precious metals, textiles, and other luxury items, or simply being directly purchased with gold or silver.