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Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM) rainfall has a direct effect on the livelihoods of two billion people in the Indian-subcontinent. Yet, our understanding of the drivers of multi-decadal variability of the ISM is far from being complete. In this context, large-scale forcing of ISM rainfall variability with multi-decadal resolution over the last two millennia is investigated using new records of sea surface salinity (δ18Ow) and sea surface temperatures (SSTs) from the Bay of Bengal (BoB). Higher δ18Ow values during the Dark Age Cold Period (1550 to 1250 years BP) and the Little Ice Age (700 to 200 years BP) are suggestive of reduced ISM rainfall, whereas lower δ18Ow values during the Medieval Warm Period (1200 to 800 years BP) and the major portion of the Roman Warm Period (1950 to 1550 years BP) indicate a wetter ISM. This variability in ISM rainfall appears to be modulated by the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) via changes in large-scale thermal contrast between the Asian land mass and the Indian Ocean, a relationship that is also identifiable in the observational data of the last century. Therefore, we suggest that inter-hemispheric scale interactions between such extra tropical forcing mechanisms and global warming are likely to be influential in determining future trends in ISM rainfall.