Why India known as Golden Bird (Sone ki Chidiya) before British colonization?

by | History |

Why India known as Golden Bird?

India was the wealthiest land in the ancient times and hence it was called ‘ Sone Ki Chidiya’. India was the world’s richest region for 12 out of the past 20 centuries, and the second richest region after China in the remaining 8 centuries. Only in the 19th and 20th centuries and now, has India not been among the top two nations in the world.

As one of the world’s premier trading nations and industrial manufacturers, India was a capitalist economic powerhouse, with the economies of its various kingdoms based on manufacturing, agriculture, free markets, and free trade.

This country exported spices, textiles, raw materials, luxury items, agricultural produce, and natural resources such as precious stones and metals, to the rest of the world.

India was a country which had everything, from money to gold to animals to beauty.

India thus became the final destination of most of the world’s gold and silver; receiving the nickname “The Golden Bird”. Until the early 19th century, our share of world trade alternated variously between 25% and 30%, compared to 20% for all of Western Europe.

India’s philosophical heritage is also rich with the traditions of rationalism and skepticism, such as Buddhism, Charvaka, Ajivika, and Samkhya. Indian rationalist thought even made its way to Greece, and influenced sophist philosophers like Socrates; thus becoming the harbinger of world liberty and creating the foundations of modern Western civilization.

India’s cultural ethos has always been remarkably tolerant and pluralistic, accepting people of all religions and ethnicities into its societal milieu. As such, Classical liberalism and Capitalism have deep roots in Indian culture.

For most of the history, India along with China was the most advanced nation in the fields of science, medicine, and philosophy. This is common knowledge, but it would surprise one to discover that this chronically mis-governed country was historically also the most advanced in economics and public administration. It was therefore inevitably the best-governed.


By the time of independence, India was battered, bruised and left wounded. The British used the divide & rule to cross us out too. The weakest point and the strongest point remains the same in our case, DIVERSITY. We are a diverse nation, full of cultures, rituals, languages, food but we could not handle it. We are still fighting for our identities while we ignore the fact that this is our identity.


But, there is no denying that India was a global powerhouse with an evolved construct. It just subsequently lost its position. The declining wealth of India owing to countless invasions leads one to think that the "Golden Bird or Golden Sparrow" could have been a sarcastic coinage.  India was a land of wealth, but also a nation that divided and weak. The vulnerability to attack could have led to the coinage of "Sone ki Chidiya" or "Golden Sparrow", Sparrow being a weak bird.

Some other reasons that show - why India was known as "The Golden Bird".

Sir Osman Ali Khan

He was declared the world’s richest man in 1937. He ruled over Hyderabad which then comprised of today’s Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. He was often called His Exalted Highness or in mocking style His Exhausted Highness. This was so because he had seven wives and 42 concubines, giving birth to a population of at least 149 children. He gifted No. 110 Squadron RAF complement of DH.9A aircraft to British Empire during world war one and each aircraft had an inscription of the Hyderabad Kingdom. The State Bank of Hyderabad belonged to him. In 1947, a tiara and necklace made of diamonds were gifted to Princess Elizabeth by this last Nizam of Hyderabad on the occasion of Princess’ marriage. This gift is still adorned by the Queen. He was a firm believer of education, thus donated a huge sum of money for institutions in India and abroad. He is the man who bought 50 Rolls Royce and used them to dump his garbage just to show off the wealth Indians possessed when a British official who made fun of his capacity to buy one Royce!

Kohinoor diamond

Kohinoor is 106 carats diamond and was once the largest diamond of the world. It is said that the diamond is 5000 years, called Syamantaka jewel. But the early reference of Kohinoor diamond is in 1526 when Babur conquered Gwalior. The Raja of Gwalior owned this diamond in the 13th century. Kohinoor is 106 carats diamond and was once the largest diamond of the world. It got transferred to the hands of many Indian and Persian rulers. It was mounted on the Peacock Throne on the commands of Shah Jahan. The diamond is still in possession of British Government.

Peacock Throne

This piece of ancient India’s artifact was made up of 1150 kg of gold and 230kg of precious stones. There were 10 jeweled recesses for cushions and in the middle, a 185 carats Kohinoor was to be the seat of Emperor. The back of the throne had a design of a peacock’s tail made up of sapphires, turquoises, and pearls. In 1999 it was estimated that this throne would have cost $804million dollars or roughly Rs 4.5 billion. Its construction cost was twice as much as that of Taj Mahal. Its construction was initiated by Shah Jahan in the early 17th century. The idea was to give a God-like image of the emperor by building stairs which led to the throne giving an impression of ruler floating above ground and closer to heaven. The throne was to be situated between two pillars each having two peacocks with a set of trees laden of rubies and diamond, emeralds and pearls.

Ancient Business Practices

India was the first one to do away with traditional practices of barter system. It introduced various currencies. The early form of currency is said to be the silver coins. There existed a form of early constitution in the Mauryan period where Chanakya laid down principles of law, politics, defense, and economy. One of the famous practices was ‘Sreni’ which dated back to 800 BC, although many claim it to be even older than that.