The Discovery of India is a non-fiction book penned by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India. He wrote the book when he was imprisoned in the Ahmednagar Fort by the British, from 1942 to 1946, in an attempt to keep him from gaining political support from common people across India. Written in the seclusion of his prison accommodation, the book presents Nehru's love for the country and its rich cultural heritage, through a collection of essays and prose, liberally garnished with historical facts and figures. A celebrated author, Jawaharlal Nehru was awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour in India, in 1955.
The Discovery of India pays respect to the history, culture and philosophy, as viewed by Jawaharlal Nehru. He uses his knowledge of the Vedas, the Upanishads and other textbooks of Indian history and mythology to describe the development of Indian civilisation from the Indus Valley civilisation all the way to the last days of the rule of the British Empire. The book is not considered to be historical evidence per se, but an account of the observations made by an individual about his experience of living in the great country. It focuses on the altruistic and philosophical aspects of the history of India, analysing how it establishes the foundation for the nation to build a glorious future. Nehru dedicated the book to his fellow inmates in Ahmednagar Fort.
This edition of The Discovery of India was published by Penguin India on February 1, 2008. It is available in the English language and can be ordered online in India. The book was reviewed by legendary scientist Albert Einstein, who commented that it helped readers gain an understanding of the magnificent "intellectual and spiritual tradition" of India. This paperback edition of The Discovery of India has 656 pages. Its ISBN 10 number is 0143031031 and its ISBN 13 number is 978-0143031031.
I had heard quite a bit about this book, but never had a chance to read it until very recently. I must say I was highly impressed by it. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India was a thorough intellectual. His narration of history and knowledge about India is excellent. Since he was a nationalist, and also because this book was written while he was in prison, the author's intense dislike for the British do come out oftentimes in his narration of history. However the author himself is aware of it and acknowledges it. Though western educated, Jawaharlal Nehru had an intense love and hope for India. An extremely well read man, this book while giving a very good outline of India's history and past, also serves to provide the readers with Nehru's own philosophy of life and is thus autobiographical at times. This lends it an unique flavour and makes its reading even more enjoyable. While Nehru took intense pride in India's rich heritage, he always emphasised that we cannot live in the past. His dreams and hopes for India as a forward looking, modern and tolerant nation fostering peace and co operation in the world are pretty well brought out in the book. Intensely nationalistic, he was always careful that nationalism does not degenerate into the narrow variety, the type which inevitably does more harm than good. Whether one agrees with his views or not, one can't help admiring the man and developing a respect for him. Overall this book is in many ways a very enjoyable, informative and profound read. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about India. --By Pratip Mitra on November 19, 2000
A number of reviewers have noted that Discovery of India and Glimpses of World History were written during the years Nehru languished in British custody for sedition and civil disobedience. What none of them, nor the publisher, have pointed out is that these books were culled from hundreds of letters that Nehru wrote to his daughter, Indira (Gandhi), then in her teens and early twenties. As a forcibly absentee father, Nehru wanted both to explain his absences and play a role in her life and upbringing. The letters were his gift to her - an indication of his love and caring and a way to educate her in his world view. If the books seem romanticized, that is why. If they seem personal, that is why. And if they seem subjective, that is also why. They were not intended for publication. These were love letters from a father to his daughter to explain the world to her and her place in it, as he saw it. They imparted to the future Prime Minister of India a sense of nationalism, love for country and a belief in democracy, as well as an intimate understanding of politics and working the levers of power. These books are far more than an intellectual exploration of Indian and world history; they were the seeds from which modern Indian history grew. A precious gift, indeed. --By S. Chakravarty on August 24, 2004
I wrote this review a couple of days ago. I noticed a grammatical error. I have corrected it in this version. If you can, please re-post this. Review: Henry Ford should have read this book. He might not have said "History is bunk!" Nehru narrates the history of the world in this gripping story of India from ancient times of the Vedas to the on-going second world war at the time this book was written. Nehru's pragmatism brings home the relevance of history without ever letting the reader take refuge in it to blame the shortcomings of the present. Nehru's scholarly views of the world are a pleasure to read because they are always interspersed with his fascinating experiences of the real world of politics. How many men can write about why he declined an invitation "from Signor Mussolini" and discuss the Upanishads in the same book? Quoting extensively, from Plato to Emerson, Nehru comes across as a brilliant friend from India who has dropped in for a chat in your living room. Reading this book makes you wish for such scholars to succeed in the world of politics. It is especially relevant to us in America where the level of public discussion has reached an all time low with talk-radio and TV. Reading Nehru is a great exercise in understanding how not be boring when discussing esoteric subjects like the Persian civilization, or how the Greeks managed to hold on to thier tradition and at the same time embrace Christianity. Reading 'The Discovery Of India' is sure to make you a very wise person, and at the same time very interesting. Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No --By A Customer on October 23, 1998
About the Author
About the Author: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is the first Prime Minister of India. He is one of the prominent political figures and freedom fighters in the country. Nehru was born on 14 November 1889 and died on 27 May 1964. His birthday was announced as Children's day in India, due to his love for children. He is the son of Motilal Nehru.