In mankind's history, India's is the longest literary tradition -- "so ancient that it cannot be illustrated either by con- temporary books or from monuments". The Rigveda, indisputably the oldest literary work, was written at a time when many a great, old-world civilization lay in the wombs of futurity. And almost equal is the antiquity of the Puranas which, considered as "the fifth Veda", figure distinguishedly among the traditional sources: Vedic Samhitas, Brahmanas, Srutis and Smritis, Dharmashastras, epics (the Ramayana and the Mahabharata), tantra manuals, and myriad Buddhist and Jaina texts, -- that have helped historiographers unravel the landmarks in the subcontinental civilization.
Bulky and often crowded with legendary, religious and philosophical matters of various kinds, the PURANAS record the genealogies of Hindu deities, the reigns of the Manus, and chronicles of Solar, Lunar and other ancient dynasties. Professor G.P. Singh tries afresh to establish their historicity, surveying the whole extent of Itihasa-Purana: the early Indian historical tradition, founded on the Puranic literature.
Meticulously sifting facts from myths, legends, and philosophic reflections in this monumental corpus of yore, the book reconstructs millennia of ancient India's political and cultural history: from the pre-Bhrata War days to about 1200 ad (the post-Harsha period) -- with both genealogical and chronological details of all dynasties/ kingdoms that rose and fell in different regions of the Indian subcontinent. Contextually, the author analyses threadbare the Puranic evidence to also review the "date" of the Mahabharata War.
In thematically exploring the historicity of all different Puranas, Dr. Singh is at pains to show how far the Puranic accounts are validated by other traditional writings on the one hand, and archaeological evidence on the other. With prolific bibliographic references and a number of chronological genealogical tables, his book will interest the scholars/ researchers of Indology, ancient Indian history and archaeology.