TORTURED SOULS CREATE TWISTED HISTORY
Navaratna S. Rajaram
Background: origins of distortions-
It is now widely recognized that Indian history has been distorted. The public too is gradually becoming aware of this fact. At first, it was blamed on the British rulers, who distorted Indian history to divide the people of India so it would be easy to rule. There is truth in this. Lord Macaulay who created the modern Indian education system, explicitly stated that he wanted Indians to turn against their own history and tradition and take pride in being loyal subjects of their British masters. In effect, what he envisaged was a form of conversion almost like religious conversion. It was entirely natural that Christian missionaries should have jumped at the opportunity of converting the people of India in the guise of educating the natives. So education was a principal tool of missionary activity also. This produced a breed of secular converts who are proving to be as fanatical as any religious fundamentalist. We call them secularists.
Macaulay made no secret of his intentions. In a famous letter to his father he wrote: Our English schools are flourishing wonderfully. The effect of this education on the Hindus is prodigious. …It is my belief that if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolator among the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence. And this will be effected without any efforts to proselytise, without the smallest interference with religious liberty, by natural operation of knowledge and reflection. I heartily rejoice in the project.
Macaulay, and British authorities in general, did not stop at this. They recognized that a conquered people are not fully defeated unless their history is destroyed. It is best if this destruction takes place at their own hands: British scholars would assist it of course, but ultimately, the Indians themselves should be made to destroy their past. So the plan envisaged cultural suicide rather than cultural genocide. To this end, a new discipline called Indology, and whole new tribe of scholarship called Indologists were created and supported by the British. The most famous of them all was a German by name Friedrich Max Muller who saw the opportunity and made a grand success of it by working for the British according to Macaulays plan. The plan was to translate, edit and publish Indian classicsespecially the Vedasin such a manner that it would turn the educated people of India against their history and tradition and make them take pride in being ruled by the British. It was hoped that with this, many would also give up Hinduism and opt for Christianity.
Max Muller is still regarded as a great lover of India and her civilization but the reality is that he was a British agent paid to give a derogatory interpretation of the Vedas. We have his word for it. There can be no doubt at all regarding Max Muller’s commitment to the conversion of Indians to Christianity through his scholarly activity. Writing to his wife in 1866 he observed: It [the Rigveda] is the root of their religion and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last three thousand years. Two years later he also wrote the Duke of Argyle, then acting Secretary of State for India: “The ancient religion of India is doomed. And if Christianity does not take its place, whose fault will it be?”
The facts therefore are clear: like Lawrence of Arabia in the twentieth century, Max Muller, though a scholar was an agent of the British government paid to advance its colonial and Christian missionary interests. He was by no means the only one, but only the most successful. Bishop Robert Caldwell who created the Dravidian language theory once admitted his theory was not only of considerable moment from a philological [linguistic] point of view but of vast moral and political importance. By moral and political, he meant Christian missionary and British colonial interests. He was the founder of the Dravidian movement, which has proven to be highly disruptive. It is no accident that even today the field of Dravidian linguistics continues be dominated by Christian missionaries. Bishop Caldwell was the pioneer of this brand of political-missionary agenda masquerading as scholarship.
It is entirely understandable that the British authorities should have engaged in such tactics. They were only trying to make their own life as rulers easy, for no imperialism can work without native collaborators. Even Aurangazeb had to recruit Rajputs to run the Moghul Empire. The question today is why do these so-called secularist scholars, born and brought up in India, continue to work within the framework handed down to them by their former colonial masters? And many of these scholars were not even born when the British left.
To understand this we need to see them as converted people who transfer their loyalties from the land of their birth to the land of their masters. This is compounded by their lack of confidence in their own generally weak scholarship a state of mind that constantly seeks both patronage and protection. Before we examine this conversion phenomenon, it is worth looking at the nature and the magnitude of distortion that these men and women are engaged in.
History: Secularist Distortions
As just noted, these historians calling themselves secularists, are really colonial converts hostile to the land of their birth. As a result, the colonial (distorted) version of history continues to be taught in Indian schools and colleges. These distortions fall broadly under the following categories:
Distortion of ancient history through the Aryan invasion and the Aryan-Dravidian conflicts, presenting the Vedic Age as an age of conflict.
Distortion of medieval history, by whitewashing the Islamic record and presenting it as the ‘age of synthesis’.
Distortion of the period of the Freedom Struggle, by whitewashing Congress blunders and suppressing the contribution of the revolutionaries, Sardar Patel and Subhas Bose.
Distortion of post-independent India, by whitewashing the monumental blunders of Pandit Nehru and his successors to bring about dynastic rule under the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty at the cost of national interest.
We shall be looking mainly at the first two, and touch upon the third. The first point to note: it was the ancient period that gave India both its unity and its sense of the nation. The Medieval period was a Dark Age, during which the Hindu civilization was engaged in a desperate struggle for survival. In addition, the forces of medievalism contributed nothing to Indian nationalism. They acted as a negative force and held back progress, taking the country into a Dark Age. They continue to act as a check against progress by holding on to medieval ideas and practices.
The important point to note is that the ancient period was an age of synthesis, when people of different viewpoints like the Vedic, Tantric, Buddhistic, Jain and other sects lived in relative harmony. There was also free exchange of ideas and unfettered debate. The Medieval period was the age of conflict when Hindu society was engaged in a desperate struggle for survival against the onslaught of Jihad something like what is happening in Kashmir today.
What the Congress sponsored Leftist (secularist) historians have done is to exactly reverse this. They have said that the ancient period was an age of conflict between Aryans and non-Aryans, while trying to portray the Medieval perioddominated by Jihad (or religious wars)as a period of synthesis. Let us look at the record.
Ancient India: age of freedom and synthesis
History books today still begin with the Aryan invasion of India, which is said to have taken place in 1500 BC. Students are told that the ancient civilization of the Indus Valley or the Harappan Civilization was Dravidian that was destroyed by the invading Aryans. The truth now revealed by recent research from the discovery of the Vedic Sarasvati River to the reading of the Indus script is there was no Aryan invasion and no Aryan-Dravidian conflicts either. In Sanskrit, Aryan simply means cultured and not any race or language. As previously noted, the idea of Aryans and Dravidians as mutually hostile people was created during the colonial period, in which Christian missionaries like Bishop Caldwell played an active role.
Unity of India is of untold antiquity.
It was claimed by the British, and faithfully repeated by the secularist intellectuals, that the British unified India. This is completely false. The unity of India, rooted in her ancient culture, is of untold antiquity. It may have been divided at various times into smaller kingdoms, but the goal was always to be united under a Chakravartin or a Samrat. This unity was cultural though not always political. This cultural unity was seriously damaged during the Medieval period, when India was engaged in a struggle for survival like what is happening in Kashmir today. Going back thousands of years, India had been united under a single ruler many times. The earliest recorded emperor of India was Bharata, the son of Shakuntala and Dushyanta, but there were several others. I give below some examples from the Aitareya Brahmana.
“With this great anointing of Indra, Dirghatamas Mamateya anointed Bharata Daushanti. Therefore, Bharata Daushanti went round the earth completely, conquering on every side and offered the horse in sacrifice.
“With this great anointing of Indra, Tura Kavasheya anointed Janamejaya Parikshita. Therefore Janamejaya Parikshita went round the earth completely, conquering on every side and offered the horse in sacrifice.”
There are similar statements about Sudasa Paijavana anointed by Vasistha, Anga anointed by Udamaya Atreya, Durmukha Pancala anointed by Brihadukta and Atyarati Janampati anointed by Vasistha Satyahavya. Atyarati, though not born a king, became an emperor and went on conquer even the Uttara Kuru or the modern Sinkiang and Turkestan that lie north of Kashmir. There are others also mentioned in the Shathapatha Brahmana and also the Mahabharata. This shows that the unity of India is ancient. Also, the British did not rule over a unified India. They had treaties with the rulers of hereditary kingdoms like Mysore, Kashmir, Hyderabad and others that were more or less independent. The person who united all these was Sardar Patel, not the British. But this unification was possible only because India is culturally one. Pakistan, with no such identity or cultural unity, is falling apart.
Medieval India: Dark Age and conflict
Harshavardhana was the last great Indian ruler of North India. Several empires continued in the south like the Chalukya, the Rashtrakuta and finally Vijayanagara. Islamic invasions into India began in the 8th century or about a century after Harshas death. Iran (or Persia) collapsed within a single generation to the Islamic armies, as did the eastern part of the Byzantine Empire of Constantinople. Arabs intruded into Sind, but their hold did not last. It took the Islamic forces more than 300 years before they could defeat the Hindu kingdom of Afghanistan. Then the invasion of India began in earnest with the Mahmud of Ghazni in the 10th 11th centuries.
It should be understood that what Islam brought to Indiaand other parts of the worldwas a new kind of warfare that was unknown in ancient times. It was called Jihad. The idea was not merely to conquer a country but to totally destroy its history and civilization. Iran and Egypt had great civilizations going back thousands of years, but they have been totally wiped out. This is what is happening to Afghanistan today and also what the Jihadists are trying to do to Kashmir.
This is the true picture of Medieval India, which was a long Dark Age. As the distinguished American historian Will Durant says, “The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history.” Fortunately, Hindu learning survived in places like Sringeri, Benares, Kanchi and a few other places. Also, Indian rulers, especially in Vijayanagara, Mysore and several others protected scholars and artists.
The problem today is that Leftist historians (secularists) claim that none of this happened even though there are literally thousands of ruined temples and monasteries all over India to prove it. One has only to go to Hampi, the former capital of Vijayanagara to see the evidence. Even Akbar allowed Rajputs and other Hindus into his administration only because he could not find enough foreigners. Otherwise, the policy of the Delhi Sultans and the Moghuls was to import officials from outside the country just as the British did. All this is whitewashed in Indian history books written by the secularists. For example, students are taught that Babar was a tolerant ruler who loved India. But here is what Babar himself says in his autobiography, the Baburnama.
Chanderi had been in the daru’l-harb [Hindu rule] for some years and held by Sanga’s highest-ranking officer Meidini Rao, with four or five thousand infidels, but in 934 [1527-28], through the grace of God, I took it by force within a ghari or two, massacred the infidels, and brought it into the bosom of Islam.
And what did he find interesting in India? “Hindustan,” he wrote, “is a place of little charm. … The one nice aspect of Hindustan is it is a large country with lots of gold and money.” In other words, he came to India attracted by loot. For the better part of three hundred years, the Moghuls ruled North India as foreign occupiers, using a foreign language Persian in their administration.
This record of Medieval India has been whitewashed in history books in use today. One of the clearest examples of history distortion can be seen in the Ayodhya-Ramjanmabhumi controversy. Secularist historians repeatedly asserted that no Ram Temple had been destroyed at the site of Babri Masjid. The first point is that Muslim writers have made no secret of the fact that they destroyed the temple. Here is what Aurangazebs granddaughter wrote in 1707, in her Persian work Sahifah-i-Chihal Nasa’ih Bahadurshahi:
… keeping the triumph of Islam in view, devout Muslim rulers should keep all idolaters in subjection to Islam, brook no laxity in realization of Jizyah, grant no exceptions to Hindu Rajahs from dancing attendance on ‘Id days and waiting on foot outside mosques till end of prayer … and ‘keep in constant use for Friday and congregational prayer the mosques built up after demolishing the temples of the idolatrous Hindus situated at Mathura, Banaras and Avadh.
In addition to the matter of fact admission of the destruction, what is striking is the fiery tone of intolerance. She was after all Aurangazebs granddaughter. In addition, we have archaeological evidence showing that a temple existed at the site. After the demolition of the Babari Masjid by karsevaks on December 6, 1992, archaeologists found a temple under it and also a stone inscription. Here is what an important part of the inscription has to say:
“Line 15 of this inscription, for example, clearly tells us that a beautiful temple of Vishnu-Hari, built with heaps of stones… , and beautified with a golden spire … unparalleled by any other temple built by earlier kings … This wonderful temple … was built in the temple-city of Ayodhya situated in Saketamandala. … Line 19 describes god Vishnu as destroying king Bali … and the ten-headed personage (Dashanana, or Ravana).”
In the face of this, no one can argue that no temple was destroyed. The distinguished archaeologist Professor B.B. Lal who carried out the excavation at Ayodhya wrote a sixty-page report on his findings. But this was suppressed, thanks to influential secularist historians like Irfan Habib, Romila Thapar and R.S. Sharma. These secularists then put out a propaganda pamphlet on Ayodhya denying that there ever was a temple at Ramjanmabhumi.
The Freedom Movement
Just as ancient and medieval history has been distorted under Congress patronage, the history of the Freedom Movement has also been dressed up to favor the Congress and the Communists. This distortion has the following parts: (1) Building up the role of Gandhi and Nehru while suppressing the contribution of others, notably Subhas Bose. (2) Whitewashing Gandhis terrible blunder of supporting the Khilafat Movement and the atrocities of the Mopla Rebellion that followed. There are others like the Nehru family dynastic blunders that need not detain us here.
History books in use today tell us that it was the Congress Party through its various movements like the Quit India Movement of 1942 that brought freedom to India. This fails to explain the fact that the British granted independence only in 1947 while the Quit India Movement had collapsed by the end of 1942. The question is why did the British leave in such great hurry in August 1947? Clement Attlee, the British Prime Minister at the time of Indian independence provided the answer. Here is the story.
When B.P. Chakravarti was acting as Governor of West Bengal, Lord Attlee visited India and stayed as his guest for three days at the Raj Bhavan. Chakravarti asked Attlee about the real grounds for granting independence to India. Specifically, his question was, when the Quit India movement lay in ruins years before 1947, where was the need for the British to leave in such a hurry. Attlees response (given below) is most illuminating and important for history.
In reply Attlee cited several reasons, the most important were the activities of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose which weakened the very foundation of the attachment of the Indian land and naval forces to the British Government. Towards the end, I asked Lord Attlee about the extent to which the British decision to quit India was influenced by Gandhis activities. On hearing this question Attlees lips widened in a smile of disdain and he uttered, slowly, putting emphasis on each single letter “mi-ni-mal.”
The crucial point to note is that thanks to Subhas Boses activities, the Indian Armed Forces began to see themselves as defenders of India rather than of the British Empire. This, more than anything else, was what led to Indias freedom. This is also the reason why the British Empire disappeared from the face of the earth within an astonishingly short space of twenty years. Indian soldiers, who were the main prop of the Empire, were no longer willing to fight for the British. What influenced the British decision was the mutiny of the Indian Navy following the INA trials in 1946. While the British wanted to try Subhas Boses INA as traitors, Indian soldiers saw them as nationalists and patriots. This scared the British. They decided to get out in a hurry.
Why distort history?
The secularist historians are enjoying a privileged life in India. Unlike Indian scientists, engineers and other professionals, there is little interest in their work outside India. They owe everything to India. Why do they go to such lengths to demean and distort everything about Indias past so there is nothing left for Indians, Hindus in particular, to take pride in their heritage? Now that their version of history is beginning to unravel, the state of mind that led these privileged members of society to turn against their country and their ancestors is beginning to attract the attention of scholars.
Part of the hatred can be attributed to the Macaulayite system of education that was specifically designed to turn the English educated Indians into loyal servants of the British rulers. If it meant accepting a second class citizenship in their own country, there were compensations enough to satisfy their material and emotional needs: they could always look down upon their brethren as beneath them. This privileged class continued and expanded after independence thanks to a succession of Congress Governments that patronized them for political reasons.
This brought tangible material benefits also. Just as the British rewarded their loyal Indian servants with titles like knighthoods, Rao Bahadur, Khan Saheb and so forth, the present day West rewards also these anti-Hindu, pro-West scholars willing to pander to the sense of superiority of their chosen masters. Racism may be illegal in most Western countries, but the racist impulse still lurks in the breasts of some Western academics, especially in the humanities. This is what has kept alive such overtly racist creations like the Aryan invasion theory in various guises. Naturally, Indian scholars who are willing serve them are rewarded with fellowships, travel or even an occasional visiting professorship. While Sanskrit illiterates like Romila Thapar have been showered with invitations from prestigious centers, has anyone heard of a Western university inviting a truly great Vedic scholar from India? In fact, Western Sanskritists avoid real scholars like the plague. It was the fear of facing scholars like Dayananda Sarasvati that made Max Muller avoid visiting India.
(Maharshi Dayananda said of Max Muller: In a desert where nothing grows, a castor plant looks like an oak. And of his Sanskrit and Vedic scholarship: He is like a toddler trying to walk.)
To comprehend the state of mind that animates these people it helps to recognize that they still behave like imperial subjects with an almost religious attachment to their beliefs. Just as many Muslims still live in an Islamic Empire of their imagination, these secularist scholars also live in an imaginary world of permanent inferiority ruled over by masters they always have to please. When faced with a problem, like the revision of history books that is currently taking placeand which they dub saffronizationthey dont take their complaints to the people of India. They run to Europe or America to cry about it. They still believe that the West can or at least should solve their problems.
This kind of behavior is typical of converted peoples. Speaking of converted Muslims in non-Arab lands V.S. Naipaul noted in his book Beyond Belief that Islam does not just require a different form of worship. It makes imperial demands. In his words:
A convert’s world view alters. His holy places are in Arab lands; his sacred language is Arabic. His idea of history alters. Naipaul might also have said that this is accompanied by an inveterate hatred of one’s ancestors and the culture into which they were born. A hatred deep enough to want to destroy one’s own land and join the ranks of the violators of the ancestral land and culture, at least in spirit. Pakistan is an example. Its heroes are not the Vedic kings and sages who walked the land, but invading vandals like Ghaznavi and Ghori who ravaged them. Again as Naipaul puts it: “Only the sands of Arabia are sacred.”
It is no different with the secularists. They have succumbed to the imperial demands of Macaulayism, even though the empire that created and sustained it has disappeared. They must be loyal to their empire and destroy everything sacred about their past. This idea of the destruction of the sense of the sacred is not widely recognized. The pagan spirit, especially the Hindu, attaches great significance to his sense of punya-bhumi, to tirthas made sacred by association with heroes and sages from the hoary past. Conversion entails giving up this attachment to one’s sacred land and symbols and even turning against it with destructive zeal. This is movingly chronicled in Naipaul’s Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples. (Naipaul, whose ancestors were from India, was born and grew up in Trinidad.) Its original pagan inhabitants along with their sacred places had been obliterated by European invaders. It was only after he had left the island, some forty years later, that he began to notice this lack. What brought this realization was his coming into contact with India, the original punya-bhumi.
It is this sense of sacredness that Christianity and Islam have destroyed wherever they have gone. This anti-sacred feeling is particularly virulent in lands converted to Islam. Again, as Naipaul observes: “…in the converted Muslim countriesIran, Pakistan, Indonesiathe fundamentalist rage is against the past, against history, and the impossible dream is of true faith growing out of a spiritual vacancy.” I have noticed the same rage, though perhaps more subdued and certainly less violent, among the converted Christians in India, many of who have never reconciled to the loss of colonial patronage. They are blind to sacredness around them, still clinging the impossible dream of Western ‘Christendom’ coming to their aid in their hopeless, unnecessary struggle against the pagan Hindus who they deride as heathens.
It is the same with the secularist converts the remaining loyal servants of European imperialism. The result is rage without end. Having lost one’s own identity, the convert must destroy everyone else’s. Secular converts, like every other convert, can never be at peace with themselves or with the world. This feeling has been made all the worse by the rising tide of Indian nationalism, which their imagined masters in the West are doing nothing to stop. The result is men and women with tortured, twisted souls who can only distort and destroy as much as they can before eventually destroying themselves.