The Discovery of India was written by India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru during his imprisonment in 1942–1946 at Ahmednagar fort in Maharashtra, India by the British during the British Raj before the independence of India. Some claim that The Discovery of India is an honour paid to the rich cultural heritage of India, its history and its philosophy as seen through the eyes of a patriot fighting for the independence of his country. The book was written in 1944 but published in 1946 as per ground sources. It is considered to be a classic in Indian literature, as established aptly as 'a book is essentially a monologue and at most exposes one to the writer's mind. But even that monologue can resonate with your inner intimate questions and then the book becomes a dialogue. Discovery of India is one such book.
The journey in The Discovery of India begins from ancient history, leading up to the last years of the British Raj. Nehru uses his knowledge of the Upanishads, Vedas, and text books on ancient history to introduce to the reader the development of India from the Indus Valley Civilization, through the changes in socio-political scenario every foreign invader brought, to the present day conditions.
Nehru was jailed for his participation in the [Quit India] movement along with other Indian leaders, and he used this time to write down his thoughts and knowledge about India's history. The book provides a broad view of Indian history, philosophy and culture, as viewed from the eyes of an Indian fighting for the independence of his country.
In The Discovery of India, Nehru argued that India was a historic nation with a right to sovereignty. This book also analyses in depth the philosophy of Indian life. It has 10 chapters. Nehru attributes some of the content of the book to his fellow prisoners at Ahmednagar jail. He gives special mention to four of them namely, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Govind Ballabh Pant, Narendra Deva and Asaf Ali. All his fellow prisoners (eleven of them) were political prisoners from various parts of the country, having deep knowledge about the various aspects of India which the book discusses. They also participated in proofreading Nehru's work and providing him with creative suggestions.
The book is presently published by the 'Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund' and the copyright for the book is held by his grand daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi.
The Discovery of India by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, ISBN 0-670-05801-7
The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru (paperback, thirteenth edition), ISBN 0-19-562359-2
The book became the basis of the 53-episode Indian television series Bharat Ek Khoj (1988), directed by Shyam Benegal, first broadcast in 1988 on state-run Doordarshan channel.