Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Discovery of India” as Want to Read:
The Discovery of India
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Discovery of India

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  3,184 ratings  ·  128 reviews

In conjunction with the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund in New Delhi, Oxford proudly announces the reissue of Glimpses of World History and The Discovery of India, two famous works by Jawaharlal Nehru. One of modern day's most articulate statesmen, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote a on a wide variety of subjects. Describing himself as "a dabbler in many things," he committed his life

Paperback, 656 pages
Published November 8th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published September 1946)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyA Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryThe White Tiger by Aravind AdigaMidnight's Children by Salman RushdieThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Best Indian Books
32nd out of 569 books — 1,636 voters
Te Amo... I LOVE YOU by Rohit  SharmaCircle of Five by Jan RaymondLife of Pi by Yann Martel12 Hours by Rohit  SharmaLife... Love... Kumbh... by Aporva Kala
The India Reading List
8th out of 227 books — 249 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Riku Sayuj

It is but folly for me to attempt to review a book so close to my heart. But, on my third reading of this book, it is time to finally go beyond the beauty of the prose and the elegance of Nehru’s presentation. It is time to see if the book achieves the objectives it sets out to achieve and judge it thus. I will let my earlier one-line review stand. Here goes…

The following passage reflects the objective of the book.

To know and understand India one has to travel far in time and space, to forget
Riku Sayuj
Still the best history book I have read in my life. Ah, the wonders we loose when geniuses go into politics.
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 upbr ...more
The only history book about India I recommend to anyone who asks for one. For one, it's beautifully written, and, though Nehru comes from his own perspective about India, it's a perspective well-worth noting. Nehru, who was India's first Prime Minister, wrote most of it while imprisoned by the British between 1942 and 1945, so the book's history is tied intimately to the subject matter. If you know nothing about India or even if you think you know everything, this is a history book that deserves ...more
Undoubtedly one of the finest pieces of non-fiction I've ever read. If not for the author's vivid knowledge of India's heritage, culture, social life, history and a first-hand account of events constituting our freedom movement, this must be read for the literary richness of Nehru's writing style.
This is a very beautiful nationalistic treatise written by Jawaharlal Nehru while he was imprisoned in Ahmednagar fort. An impressionistic and romanticised work. The title “Discovery of India” reveals the orientalist nature of the work. Nehru approaches India’s past like an outsider. He wrote this book as his own attempt to “discover” India. What Nehru here was trying to do is to romanticise some part of the past as “the quintessential India”. To determine a cultural identity and identify himsel ...more
If I had to name the most beautifully written book that I've ever read, I would choose this book in a second. When a man gifted with such intelligence and a writing style so eloquent and romantic that it enchants both the young and the old writes a book on a topic that is extensively over analyzed but barely understood, you have The Discovery of India. Unburdened with facts and figures, it offers a perspective of the history, culture and philosophy of India that, even after half a century, is re ...more
A must read for every Indian.....
Dhara Mehta
Jawaharlal Nehru’s Discovery of India is his perspective of Indian history from primitive times. The time course of the novel is from the Indus valley civilization to the brink of Independence. India ancient wealth is extolled, yet he describes modern India with a bit more trepidation. Overall is an amazing work, written mostly when he was in prison without the luxury of a research library. It almost seems that the forefathers of the Indian nation were apt to be history professors than president ...more
gave a good insight into some ideas... I quite find it interesting that he is so much for internationalism and he gave a good insight on india ... though take the history with a pinch of salt ... the flow of events may be right but the history is tainted with a liberal level of optimisim...

Otherwise it is a knowledgable view of India and gives a very good insight into british raj, the political atmosphere of the 1940s and why India is as impoverished as it is now...

Interesting to know he does n
Harsh Dutta
The Discovery of India, despite its phases of random exhilaration, left me disappointed, and I think I know the reasons. The book was never really supposed to be a book, but random thoughts put together in a series and order best known to Mr Nehru. Secondly, I found it hard to connect, though I feel that I am well-acquainted with Indian history, is that Nehru's personal views and contemporary/regional politics take away quite a few leaves in the magnum opus. The shift from UP to Turkey, from Tur ...more
Abhishek Kumar
As an Indian, I consider myself fortunate to be born in a country with a long and illustrious history (Harappan civilization started at around 3300 BC) and it would be sad not to know that history. I read somewhere "Knowing our history frees us from its bonds and enables us to think freely". So be it.

Jawahar Lal Nehru begins by explaining his value system and philosophical leanings and how he derives them(this can be boring for some). He comments on India's history right from the Harappan Civili
Palahalli Rajesh
India’s past; her glory, her victory, her shock, her reminiscence, her philosophy, her geography, her fate, and her everything… This is a compelling read from the man who lead India in her darkest hour; the man who was chosen by destiny to enlighten the Indians, proves himself to be an enlighten soul when it comes to know her. The history is nothing like a research material as it was intended to, primarily; ignite curiosity in a nine year old girl to know about her motherland. If you find the bo ...more
Jul 11, 2007 Radhika rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Indophiles
I loved reading this book when I was a teenager. I am hoping to re-read it again to experience it again. Nehru has a very engaging style and he was a very intelligent man who felt quite passionately about India. He was a freedom-fighter before India gained its independence from the British empire. He eventually became the first Prime Minister of independent India. This tome was written when he was in prison for fighting the British Raj before India was independent.

His presentation of India's pa
A good review of where India came from and the history that shapes the psyche of our parents. Towards the end, it got a bit long because all you read about his how the British set back India 100s of years. Does make you angry; however you also realize the importance of being united and self sacrifice for the common good. Because one person's gain can cause a 100 losses. If you read, there were many selfish Indians in our past that significantly contributed to the down fall of the working class, ...more
Ajitabh Pandey
An excellent book which gives an overview and understanding of the glorious intellectual and spiritual tradition of India and how the British forced the economic, moral and intellectual decline of India by vicious exploitation of the Indian people.

The content of this book shows the depth of knowledge Mr Nehru possess. He has referred numerous texts and books in this work, all of these references was not possible to be arranged inside the prison. He wrote this book entirely in a prison and wrote
"Unlike other books on history, Discovery of India provides an interpretation of India's historical events and their impact, of course, from Nehru's perspective. But what is most interesting is the peek that this book gives into the mind of the person who shaped India's course post independence. It gives an insight into the various considerations, opinions, views and events which shaped India policy, economic, social as well as international.
Would recommend that one reads a comprehensive histor
Indian history, culture and philosophy right from Indus valley till 1946.A peek into the strategy of Indian National Congress during the freedom struggle.

If you haven't already read 'India After Gandhi' by R.Guha, this book is a perfect background setting for it. Nehru's understanding of India and her problems is just amazing.

The book kinda makes you wonder how things went so terribly wrong in the first 40 years of independent India despite such detailed and flawless vision, which still kinda
Mar 26, 2012 Dipa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: indian
I cannot think of anyone more romantic than Nehru. The way he writes about India, you'd think he was having his biggest love affair of all with her. I loved this book. For anyone who'd like to have a historical tour of India by an Indian man who loves India, this book is it. He doesn't make apologies for aspects of India's history that are less than palatable, nor does he try to deny them. Nehru's book gives us an insight into the ideologies that were prevalent in pre-independence India. I highl ...more
Kusal Perera
An unbelievable book to have been written while in prison. It covers the historical growth and establishment of the nation which is truly a Maha Bharath.
The book written between August 09th 1942 and March 28th 1945, is dedicated to all of Nehru's colleagues and co-prisoners who were in the Ahmadnagar Fort prison with him, during that period.
The first edition had been published in March 1946 by Dilip Kumar Gupta of Signet Press. An immediate reprint was done again in the same month that year.
Jawaharlal Nehru's analysis on India. The story of Discovery of India begins from prehistory to the last years of British colonial rule; some of the greatest heroes of India are mentioned. Analyzing texts from the Vedas to the Upanishads, and epics such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, and personalities like the Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Nehru brings to life an ancient culture and land that has been the base and headquarters of some of the world’s great traditions of philosophy, science ...more
Hamid Shah
Well, this book was on my reading list for a long time but somehow i din't find time to read it. But I finally decided to read this at a time when I have spent a year traveling across India and have been pondering over its history and its heritage. The opening few lines of the book was a revelation to me " What is my inheritance? To what I am an heir? To all that humanity has achieved during tens of thousands of years, to all that it has thought and felt and suffered and taken pleasure in, to it ...more
I had read it a long time ago when I was a school going adoloscent gal..Its a treasure trove on India's ancient history...but even at that tender age...i felt his views on many things were colored...particularly it seemed he was seeing India from a foreigner's eyes...tho ofcourse I m no authority to comment on it...and one must read it to come to their own views ...
Anshul Porwal
There is so much about India that needs to be known, but is never taught in schools... I think the Indian Education Ministry need to ditch their old boring History textbooks in favor of this Nehru's classic. It encompasses the whole history of India not by reiterating dates and incidents, but in a way reader can relate to and feel it.
Vaishali Sati
Slightly scattered, jumping from one to another, but as the title suggests its glimpses. Fleeting look into the rich and vast past of the subcontinent India, Nehru achieves an impossible feat by compiling a sample of India's diverse roots. A book worth a read for culture and history enthusiasts.
Sandeep Srikanti
It made me fall in love with India all over again...Cant believe that this book was written when Nehru was in the jail...This should be included in the school curriculum...Though a bit disjointed in the end, It's the best book on history that i have ever read...
Sunil Banerjee
As a child I read it and was overwhelmed by the style , depth and feeling of a man who while having belonged to the aristocracy had been sucked into the rough and tumble of the Freedom Movement and chose, as if by destiny, to give his all.He narrates his view of India, its past, present and a future from behind the jails that he so often found himself to be in.
While so much has been written post independence,The serial Bharat Ek Khoj by Shyam Benegal based on this book further reconfirmed my ard
Makarand Hazarika
It's a good history book although I am not sure of the factual accuracy. Jawaharlal Nehru was a power hungry person with dastardly acts and meretricious character, but that doesn't mean he couldn't write good books.
Frank Ashe
Much more enjoyable than I expected.
Muna Ers
amazing book, beautifully written, i wish all leaders would have the same knowledge and the same level of analyzing the societies that they represent the way Nehru did, great leader with an extra ordinary ability in understanding India throughout the history and having this outstanding ability to make me as a reader feel like i flew to india, met the people, he actually illustrated scenes from the history only by using words, i love the way he summarized all those events in 400 pages- im talking ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Wonder That Was India: A Survey of the History and Culture of the Indian Sub-Continent before the coming of the Muslims
  • The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity
  • India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy
  • India: A History
  • India's Struggle for Independence
  • Freedom at Midnight
  • Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India's Poorest Districts
  • India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age
  • The Penguin History of Early India: From the Origins to Ad 1300: Volume 1
  • Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi
  • The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857
  • Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation
  • India: From Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond
  • In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India
  • The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian
  • The Idea of India
  • The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan
  • The Arthashastra
First prime minister of independent India (1947 – 64). Son of the independence advocate Motilal Nehru (1861 – 1931), Nehru was educated at home and in Britain and became a lawyer in 1912. More interested in politics than law, he was impressed by Mohandas K. Gandhi's approach to Indian independence. His close association with the Indian National Congress began in 1919; in 1929 he became its preside ...more
More about Jawaharlal Nehru...
Glimpses of World History Letters from a Father to his Daughter An Autobiography: Toward Freedom Nehru's India: Select Speeches A Bunch of Old Letters

Share This Book

“India has known the innocence and insouciance of childhood, the passion
and abandon of youth, and the ripe wisdom of maturity that comes from long experience of pain and pleasure; and over and over a gain she has renewed her childhood and youth and age”
“A language is something infinitely greater than grammar and philology. It is the poetic testament of the genius of a race and a culture, and the living embodiment of the thoughts and fancies
that have moulded them”
More quotes…