24 thoughts on “Urbanization in the 21st-century”

  1. It’s crazy to think that my “hometown” of greater Los Angeles is bigger than any city in Western Europe.

  2. Paris first became a major city in the Middle Ages, London was a major city before the Iron Age. Shanghai has continuously been a major city for longer than London. Cairo has been a major world city continuously for at least 5000 years.

    Most of the big cities in South Asia are less than 3500 years old, and most have been major cities only since the Iron Age.

    But, does anyone know if Lahore or Karachi or any other major modern cities in South Asia have continuously been major cities since the Harappan period?

    1. Karachi is British-

      A lot of the urban centres attained prominence in British or Islamic era.

      Delhi has 7 capital but it seems the really “urban centres” of Hindudom are deep in UP-Bihar heartlands.

      Steeling myself for a flood of angry comments

    2. Lahore is near Lavapuri. This city is believed to have been founded by Lava, son of Rama. In the Hindu timeline this places it more than 8,000 years ago. However perhaps Lavapuri was mostly abandoned?

      I think Cairo is well over 8,000 years old. I would check with Robert M. Schoch to be sure. He believes that there were advances urban areas in Egypt before the last great global flood circa 9700 BC. I don’t know if Cairo was one of them, however.

      “but it seems the really “urban centres” of Hindudom are deep in UP-Bihar heartlands”

      Xerxes, why would you think this? Why not Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Assam?

        1. Razib, I don’t understand what Xerxes meant. I think the largest concentration of living Hinduism and the extant great spiritual lineages are now in South India. Obviously there are other centers. Mahayana in Tibet (including Nepal, Sikhim, Bhutan). Assam. Bengal. Maharashtra (including Sufis). Kashmir. Rajasthan (including Sufis), Punjab, etc.

          Is he not referring to living spiritual orders? Does he mean pre Buddha history?

          1. Is he not referring to living spiritual orders?

            look back to what i said to you once, zach is interested in sikhs, not sikhism.

            hindu is a word referring to a religio-philosophical system. but it also brackets south asian civilization/geography broadly. i bet zach means the second.

          2. Razib, I still don’t get what Zach means.

            The most religious large city I have seen in the world is Chennai (Madras). The place where I see the deepest popular engagement with temples and sampradayas is Tamil Nadu (followed by AP). Anecdotally the place where the largest percentage of young kids (girls more than boys) memorize and chant large parts of the Vedas is Tamil Nadu (followed by AP). Tamil Nadu (followed by AP) is where Yajnas, Pujas, rituals, dance, music, Sanskrit are popular among the young.

            Little girls (always girls more than boys) stop at temples all the time on their own . . . hug the deities, kiss them, and express emotion. It might happen in other places too. Anecdotally I have seen this more in Tamil Nadu.

            Tamil Nadu children (again mostly girls) try to learn Sanskrit at a higher rate than any other place I have anecdotally seen. And strictly adhere to their spiritual practice.

            Another big difference that surprises me on every visit is how many young people think about and have an understanding of what they are doing. In other parts of India a lot of stuff happens by rote or inertia.

          3. Could Zach mean that South Indian mother tongues are rapidly becoming rich and have low birth rates? That their share of India’s population is dropping fast? That they are deviating from the rest of India? If so, I get what Zach means.

  3. Oldest continuously inhabited city in India is Varanasi. However, its antiquity is still limited to Iron Age (~ 3000 BP).

    Evidently it was a major city in Buddha’s times, as it is frequently mentioned in Buddhist texts.

    Had IVC not declined before the Indo-Aryan phase began, we probably would have had a city matching or even surpassing in antiquity middle-eastern cities.

    1. Varanasi claims to be much older than that Scorpion Eater. These claims need to be tested with more analysis.

      Kashi (Sarnath) remains one of the main Buddhist centers in the world.

    2. Dwarka in Gujarat is the location of a confirmed late IVC archeological site (Bet-Dwarka), it is mentioned as Krishana’s capital in the Mahabharat, and it is still inhabited.

      Bharuch / Barygaza is probably another candidate.

  4. The most religious large city I have seen in the world is Chennai (Madras).

    i told you, you miss the point when you focus on religion.

    1. “really “urban centres” of Hindudom are deep in UP-Bihar heartlands.”

      Obviously I am missing the point. What does Xerxes mean by “Hindudom”? I ask this because many of my friends have asked me this same question. Why do Xerxes and others at BP assume that UP is a large part of Hindudom?

        1. Hindudom is sort of like Christendom – up for debate but I imagine it’s centred on the Gangetic plain and has a periphery all around. At its greatest extent I imagine it *weakly* includes Afghanistan and SE Asia..

          But depends on what definition of Hindu one uses; geographic or cultural/religious..

          1. \ it’s centred on the Gangetic plain\

            Hindudom is polycentric. Some old Hindu lore came from Gangetic plain/ Punjab. It has roots in other places and they can exist even in the absence of Gangetic Plain or Punjab . Hinduism has no Mecca. It has number of local Meccas.

          2. HD is like CD in the sense you have western Christian, Greek orthodox, Russian orthodox, Abyssinian, Nestorian , Arrian and so on. Each CD considered itself unique. In HD you have regional flavours.

          3. Xerxes and Saurav, I never came across the idea that the Gangetic plain is central to Hinduism before reading Brown Pundits. I don’t understand why you think this.

            Would you agree that eight rivers are equally important?:
            —Brahma Putra

            Why don’t you consider Tamil Nadu, AP and Karnataka to be central? Is it because of their falling share of India’s population?


            Saurav, I have not previously heard the perspective that the Ganga is central to Sanskriti history.

            Ganga is recent by Sanskrit text narrative stories. According to them, Ganga only began flowing south recently during the life time of the Surya Vamsha (from Ishvaku) king Bhagirata. Many of the ancient stories narratively precede the Ganga.

            Afghan rivers feature prominently in many ancient Sanskrit texts:

            One of the most important ancient sources of Sanskriti was the Sharada civilization. It is believed to have prospered for thousands of years in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Turin, Xinjiang and some parts of western and Northern Tibet.

            However this is in the distant past.

            Java is mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayana and was another foci. Until 1947 so was Sindh.

            Today I would argue that the following are the main centers of Dharmic culture (Zach’s Hindudom):
            —South India {there is no central nexus . . . but if there were one it would be South India}
            —West India (Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan)
            —Greater Tibet (including Sikhim, Kashmir, Nepal, Bhutan) or the Himalayan belt or North {Tibetan Buddhism is closely intertwined with other Dharmic sampradayas}
            —East (Bengal and Assam)

            Some might add greater Thailand (including Cambodia/Laos/Burma/Sumatra/Java). But the Western Dharmics (Deshis) don’t respect and learn from them enough I think. Which is a terrible tragedy.

            The Chan (one subset of which is Zen) of China and Japan interact with greater Tibet or the greater Himalayan area.

            In general the Tibetans are deeply respected by and influential among Hindus (especially Shaivites and Mahanirvani Akhara {inspired by Kapila}). The Dalai Lama says that Tibetan Buddhism is part of Hinduism (or more precisely Sanathana Dharma).

            The other Buddhists (excluding organic ones inside SAARC such as Sarnath–which itself is heavily Tibetan tilted), not as much.

  5. In spite of very busy period at the moment, having received two emails, I will dedicate 1 h/w to skim BP and occasionally write comments related to the links btw. Euro & SA history (especially falsifications), sometimes on global geopolitical events or general culture topics like this one.

    Briefly, (wiki says) Lepenski Vir, 11.000+ years old, is considered ‘the first city of Europe’. Belgrade is 7000 years old. Vinca (i.e. Vinča – pronunciation: Vincha), 7700 years old with its paved streets, is a Belgrade’s suburb.

    Brief references on others comments:

    >Aryans in Japan > true, I have some data but I leave the originator to comment
    >Chinese came from somewhere > true, I again leave the originator to expand (btw, who named them?)
    >Aryans vs. Mongols & Chinese > true, I have data about this, 1000 years struggle, with specific names (e.g. Karan) but again I’ll leave someone to provide more details
    >Caste – came with Aryans or already were in India? > a genuine dilemma, first must be known who Aryans were, where they come from, did they have caste-like system before they came and many other things beyond the own nose and the nearest field (i.e. steppe).
    >Ship of Theseus – later I will provide a link with SA

    1. Thanks Milan. Always learn a ton from your comments.

      Look forward to learning more about ancient Serbian Jati and Varna.

      And meditation in ancient Serbia.

      1. Hope it will not be of lower quality. Sometimes, takes me days/weeks to produce couple lines. See how MMK is been struggling for 3 months to produce one line (the previous name of the river Ind). I would accept this line without formal report structure. Let all pundits give him support and cheer him up to endure this effort. Any wikireader can try to take any of above topics to produce non-erroneous (or any) statement and we will see how much time he/she needs.

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