Military Flags of India : From the Earliest Times

U.P. Thapliyal, B.R. Pub, 2011, xx, 188 p, 64 plates, ISBN : 8176467421, $75.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Military Flags of India : From the Earliest Times

Contents: Abbreviations. Transliteration table. Preface. 1. The evolution of Dhvaja. 2. Dhvaja in ancient India - A survey. 3. Dhvaja and region. 4. Components of Dhvaja. 5. Importance of Dhvaja.

The flag, a sacred symbol, has played a significant role in the life of man since the earliest times. This book explores the institution of flag (Dhvaja) in India since the earliest times. The inhabitants of Indus Valley used Dhvaja in the third millennium B.C. Their contemporaries in Western Asia, living around the Nile, the Euphrates and the Tigris also used standards. The Vedic Indians carried Dhvajas in war and in a combat every effort was made to pull down the Dhvaja of the adversary.

In the Nanda-Maurya period the custom of erecting Dhvajas-stambha started, as a mark of reverence to the deity it symbolized. King Asoka erected many pillars mounted with motifs like lion, elephant, bull, etc. as symbolic of Buddha. Gupta rulers also raised stambhas surmounted by the Garuda-Dhvaja.

This research effort leads to the conclusion that the Dhvaja originated form a totem and that despite some changes in the shape its basic symbolism remained the same over the centuries.

The first six chapters describe the Dhvaja, its evolution, use, make, etc. in ancient India. Chapter VII deals with the flags in medieval India covering the Rajput, Sultanate and Mughal dynasties. This period is also marked by the introduction of new symbols in line with Islamic tenets. Chapter VIII to X cover the modern period and describe the flags of the British Indian Army, Army of the Indian Republic and the Indian Para Military Forces. The book attempts to give a complete sequence of the military flags of India from the earliest times.

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