Problems of Historiography of Bharat

Dr. Mahavir Prasad Jain

About a century and a half back Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838-1894) had posed a question When shall we write our own history”. This is a sad fact that we are still away from writing our own history. The narrative about our culture and society, since the European contact with Bharat represented evangelical, commercial or political interest of these aliens. After this our nationalist historians tried to set the narrative straight. But at this very time a jarring note emerged because of separatist interest of Muslim elites. A section of Hindu historians mingled their voice with Islamic interpretation of history because of supposed political needs of freedom struggle in second decade of the 20 the century. Yet country was partitioned on religious lines. After independence the effort to misrepresent our history got a new lease of life under new political leadership which thought that to accommodate minority communities special efforts will have to be made and that set the tone of history writing.
The left academia made common cause with the ‘seccular’ school of history for their own needs. Pandit Nehru who held sway on the political firmament of the country till his demise in1964 provided space to this Islamo-leftist school of history.

Creation of a powerful nation, which is in symbiotic relations with the world, is need of the time and accords perfectly with our ethos. History is about remembrance. But it should be neither about revenge nor about vainglory.

History is concerned with the present and future. Thousands of years back our nation had had the most constructive period. The present has umbilical connection with the past. In spite of all the vagaries of history, the essence of our past still survives.

Our historiography is beset with certain problems. There is need to clear the decks for its revision. Unfortunately, the aliens who took interest in the study of our culture and society since 17th century created a narrative in accordance with their fancy and interests. This is a stark reality that no account given by others of a country’s history can be useful. The other problem is bringing about national integration among people professing different religions. Still other is problem is creation of social equality and lessening economic disparities. The biggest problem is inspiring our youths for nation building.

The early stage of European contact with Bharat:

French Missionaries were the first to take interest in our culture. Jyoti Mohan of Morgan state University has detailed French fascination with Bharat in her “Claiming India” (2017) and her essay French Jesuits in India and the Lettres Edifiantes et curieuces. She informs in her works that Indology as a science resulted from collaboration between Bharatiya traditional scholars and Franch Missionaries. The letters written by some French Missionaries towards the last years of 17th century represented an image of Bharat to the west till about 1750.

According to her, the French were the first to praise our culture enthusiastically. Voltaire (1694-1778) on the basis of information given by missionaries wrote  “I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges, - astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis, etc”.1

Guillaume le Gentil (1725-1792) and Jean Silvain Bailly (1736-93),  wrote on mathematics and astronomy of Bharat between 1775 and 1787. Bailly was astounded by prediction of exact duration of lunar eclipse by a Tamil astronomer in 1765 on the basis of work of Aryabhatt. 

Duperron (1731-1805) worked in French east India Company for some years after 1755. He was deeply interested in culture and society of Bharat. A French military officer gathered a copy of the 51 Upanishads translated into Persian by Dara with the help of Sanskrit Pandits. He later translated it by 1802. This created excitement in Europe.

Jyoti Mohan informs that A Missionary at Pondicherry was in Touch with Voltaire, Duperron etc. This is to be remembered that at this time the Brahmins were to be targeted and Sanskrit and local languages learnt for conversion to Christianity. Antoine de Chézy (1773-18320, the first professor of Sanskrit appointed in the Collège de France (1815).

German scholars got interested in Indology after the French but soon these scholars overtook the French in this field. Friedrich Schlegel (1772-1829), who translated the Geeta in German had a belief that Bharat was the source of all languages, thoughts and poems, and said that "everything" came from Bharat. Arriving in Paris in 1802, He studied Sanskrit under the tutelage of Antoine de Chézy and British linguist Alexander Hamilton (1762-1824) in Paris. On reading Shakuntala Goethe (1749-1832) was made to declare: “I should like to live in India myself…Sakontala, Nala, they have to be kissed." Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), was one of the greatest philosophers of the 19th century who was charmed by the Upnishads.  Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803), a pioneer in the Romantic Movement, initiated a new awareness and passion for Bharat. German tradition of Indology is still most vibrant. It is significant that they do not have missionary or political interest.

British Colonial Historiography:

The case of the British is much different. Theirs was a state sponsored Orientalism which did not last long. Their interest in Indology had purely pragmatic needs of evangelism and administrative requirements. Till the mid 8th decade of 18th century only interest of the company officials was to make private fortune. Warren Hastings was first to realize that longevity of the British power in Bharat required understanding of its culture and religious practices. He employed officers who reached Bharat around 1770 and afterwards. Charles Wilkins (1749-1836) prepared grammar of Sanskrit  (1779), translated Bhagvadgita (1784) and Hitopdesh  (1787). Halhed prepared digest of Hindu Laws  (1773-75).

Famous William Jones founded Asiatic society of Bengal  (1784), translated the Shākuntala (1789) and Gita Govind (1792).

This is significant that  Jones wanted important British politicians to understand that the people of Bharat were inherently good, but simply uninformed about the Gospel of Christ. This idea that gave rise to the concept of “civilizing mission"(Christianization) and a duty to bring the Word of God to the "heathens" of Bharat.

The Bodin Chair and Pseudo Indology: Boden Professorship of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford was established in 1832  for the express purpose of assisting in the conversion of people of Bharat. The chair was first held by H.H. Wilson (till 1860) then by Monier Williams (till 1882) in preference to Max Muller although he claimed that his work will assist the missionaries. He wrote to the Duke of Argyll, Secretary of State of India (December 16, 1868) “India has been conquered once, but India must be conquered again and that second conquest should be a conquest by education”.2

A greatest Orientalist’s achievements was the 51 volume “The Sacred Books of the East”, a translation by scholars from many countries edited by Prof. Max Muller (1823- 1900). It consists of Indic, Islamic and Chinese religious literature of which thirty volumes are devoted to Bharatiya texts.

British Evangelists Rev Chales Grant (1746-1823) and Claudius Buchanan (1766–1815) : Grant occupied high position in East India Company and British politics for 36 years. He wrote a vituperative tract to induce the British to exert for spreading Christianity in Bharat. Buchanan,  Vice Principal of the fort William College, Calcutta, instituted in British universities prize essays, on The Best Means of Civilizing (Christianizing) the Subjects of the British Empire in India and Diffusing the Light of the Christian Religion throughout the Eastern World (1803-1805). A large number of participants were awarded prizes and these were published in 1806, 7 and 8. Number of pages of the prize essays ranged from over 200 to about 400.

A little later, James Mill set the tone for Indian history writing with his History of British India, 1817. This work grossly misrepresented our culture. He divided Bharatiya history into Hindu, Muslim and British. Macaulay praised it in the Commons as “the greatest historical work which has appeared in our language since that of Gibbon”. Macaulay’s Minute on Education bore its mark. This work was very popular in England and went to the press many times. Mill’s History remained textbook for company civil servants for long.  In it he wrote "under the glossing exterior of the Hindu, lies a general disposition to deceit and perfidy."3and that  “the Hindu like the eunuch excels in the qualities of a slave4.

Mountstuart Elphinston’s History of Hindu and Muhammedan India (1841) became a standard text in Indian universities (founded from 1857 onwards) and was reprintedfor many decades. About this work Majumdar stated, it contained passages similar to James Mill such as: “The prominent vice of the Hindus is want of veracity, in which they outdo most nations even of the east”.5 History of India by Vincent Smith is successor to Elphinstone’s work as an influential text book. All the three historians were servants of the British government in India.

Talboys Wheeler wrote a comprehensive History of India in five volumes, published between 1867 and 1876, and followed it up with a survey of India Under British Rule (1886).

Edward Thompson and G.T. Garratt’a, Rise and Fulfillment of British Rule in India  (1934)  is more accommodative to national movement of Bharat. Sir Henry Maine (1822-88) wrote  Ancient Law: Its Connection with the Early History of Society, and Its Relation to Modern Ideas (1861).  Another  work was on Indian village communities. These  were path-breaking works.

William Wilson Hunter edited ‘The Rulers of India  Series’. Of 28, 21 in it were British and these were mostly hard core imperialists. Sir Alfred Lyall’ wrote, Rise and Expansion of British Dominion in India (1894). He begins the story from 300 B.C.

E.B.Havel (1861-1934)  pioneered study of Indian art. His History of Aryan Rule in India (1918) presents a narrative that Aryans were responsible for all that is good in India.

Economic history: during early decades of the twentieth century explorations in economic history began. W. H. Moreland (1868-1936) in his India at the Death of Akbar and other works critiques the Mughal administrative system.

In all the British historians’ work on British India in the volume in the Cambridge History of India (1929) edited by David Dodwell as well as P E Roberts’ textbook, ‘History of British India’ (reprinted often since 1907), neither economic and social conditions of Bharat nor its people were in focus. These formed a part of  history of the British empire whose focus was British interest.

Colonial Historiography: it was characterized by colonialist ideology. In most such historical works there was criticism of Indian society and culture and glorification of the individuals who established the empire in Bharat. Even now it survives in the form of criticism of Hindu. History by British historians, writes K.M Panikkar “was more a history of British involvement in India rather than a history of Indian people”.6

Rebuttal of by the Bharatiya Scholars: Bharatiya historians began to give reply to the British authors. Since early decades of 19th century. Raja Rammohan Roy (1772-1833) was among the earliest scholars to translate Shankaracharya’s Vedanta and then Kena and Isa Upanishads into English (1816).

R.C. Dutt (1848-1909) translated the great Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata in English.  He was a prolific writer. His works included Economic History of India in two volumes (1902 and 1904) and biographies of Pratap and shivaji.

The first graduate of an Indian University, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838-1894), repeatedly reviled the British interpretation of history and posed the question, ‘When shall we write our own history’? He wrote 13 novels and several other works.

Lies propagated by the British

They refuted the history of our country contained in our literature. E.B. Cowell, the first professor of Sanskrit at Cambridge, wrote in his introductory note to Elphinston’s History of India (1841) called it “almost exclusively mythic and legendary”.

From Indo-European language family discovered by William Jones Max Muller, postulated an original homeland for all Aryans in Central Asia on the basis of philology. The term Aryan Race was first used by Max Muller in 1861 and Aryan invasion theory was propagated with political motives.

In the colonial historical works, Bharat is portrayed as the land “conquered” first by the ‘Dravidians’, then by the ‘Aryans’, later by Muslims, and finally by the British. All else was said to be mythical.

John Starchy wrote There is not and never was an India.”7 John Seeley pronounced India a “geographical expression”.8  

John Wilson, a Christian missionary in Maharashtra wrote Evangelization of India in (1849), Aboriginal Tribes of the Bombay Presidency in (1876) and Indian Caste in 1877making much of the plight of lower castes and tribal people, who he said were oppressed by the upper castes “since the Aryan invasions”.

The accounts given in Kaye and Malleson's 'History of the Mutiny' and Thompson and Garrett's 'Rise and Fulfilment of British Rule in India' about war of 1857, writes Nehru, ‘make one sick with horror.’9 British version of  Jallianwala Bagh massacre is  a travesty of truth.

Nationalist School:

Nationalist approach to Indian history may be described as one which tends to contribute to the growth of nationalist feeling and to unify people in the face of religious, caste, or linguistic differences or class differentiation.

Our nationalist historiography developed as a response to and in confrontation with colonial historiography and as an effort to build national self-respect in the face of colonial denigration of Indian people and their historical record.

The acme of Indian historical writing on the ancient period of Indian history was reached around early 1930s.

Historiography of so called Medieval period of Bharatiya history became a subject of acrimonious debate for one school of history insisted on telling the truth of atrocities committed by foreign invaders and Muslim rulers and the other tried to hide the reality or explain away monstruous crimes on Bharatiya people.

Modern historians have also been divided between those, who held that Bharat has been a nation-in-the-making since the 19th century and those who argue that it has been a nation since the ancient times.

With R.G.Bhandarkar (1837-1925) Bharatiya historiography enters into a new phase. He was the first to apply critical and analytical principles to the writing of history, to utilize different kinds of sources after intense scrutiny. He was a genius with thorough command over Sanskrit and Prakrit.

Radha Kumud Mukherjee wrote The Fundamental Unity of India (1914) and Indian Shipping: A History of Seaborne Trade and Maritime Activity of the traders of Bharat from the Earliest Times in 1912.

Haraprasad Shastri’s first research article was "Bharat Mahila". Shastri helped in preparing Catalogue of the Asiatic Society's thousand s of manuscripts. His Short History of India of just 136 pages (1907) led the way to text book writing.

Jadunath Sarkar (1870-1958) was known as ‘Indian Ranke’ as he stressed presentation of facts faithfully. His creative period spread over a long and active term of nearly sixty years. His works on Aurangzib, The Fall of the Mughal Empire, House of Shivaji and Shivaji and his Times (1919) are inimitable. He was greatly distressed by the colonial version of history and the kind of historical works that Aligarh and Allahabad Historians were producing.  He was highly critical of R. P. Tripathi and Shaffat Ahmed Khan since 1920s.  In 1937 Bhartuya Itihas Parishad was founded by him in collaboration with Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Jay Chandra Vidyalankar with the aim of organizing all the studies made from the national point of view and to develop literature of high standard in all the languages ​​of BharatA plan was formulated by the Parishad for writing a 20 volume New History of India. 10 Incarceration of Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Jay Chandra Vidyalnakar in 1942 stalled the project. By 1946 two volumes, IV and VI, were ready for the press and were ultimately published. After this Rajendrababu, mainstay of the project got involved with constituent assembly and became President of the Indian Republic.  Even after request from Rajendra Prasad to Abul Kalm Azad for a Government assistance of just 2-3 lakhs for the projected of writing of comprehensive history of India, the later did not oblige.11 Sarkar was wedded to truth. Basham calls him “Probably the greatest Indian historian of his generation.”12 He lauds him for his sound historical judgment unprejudiced by communal, religious or national sentiments.13 But Allahabad, Aligarh and Oxford historians denounced him after soon his death.  Satish Chandra made nuanced talk of ‘causes’for Aurangzeb’s policies. Habib argued that agrarian crisis plagued the Mughal empire. Sarkar’s proposition of Aurangzeb’s responsibility was simply ignored. Consensus in denouncing Sarkar reflects the dominance of historiography established by the Aligarh and Allahabad schools. 14 He was unhappy that the Mughals lost opportunity by not learning from the Europeans. They never thought in terms of nationalism. He was of a view that National history and Human history “must connect somewhere”. 15

S. K. Aiyangar wrote many works on ancient Southern Bharatiya history and history of Bharat. Kashi Prasad Jayaswal is famed for his Hindu Polity (1918) and History of India, 150 A.D. to 350 A.D. (1933) Anant Sadashiv Altekar wrote his The Position of Women in Hindu Civilization From Prehistoric Times to the Present Day (1938). His other books include The Vakataka-Gupta Age, State and Government in Ancient IndiaRashtrakutas and their timesHistory of Benares, and several books on Gupta coinage.

Hem Chandra Raychaudhuri (1892-1957) wrote Political History of Ancient India From the Accession of Parikshit to the Extinction of the Gupta Dynasty, (1923) "Studies in Indian Antiquities"  and  An Advanced History of India,  (1946), with R.C. Majumdar and Kalikinkar Datta.

R.C Majumdar was truly the doyen of Indian historians. He is known for “History and Culture of the Indian People” edited by him. In Production of this work, KM Munshi assisted him. He wrote Suvarnadwip: Ancient Indian colonies, (1927) Historiography in Modern India (1970), Corporate Life in Ancient India  (1918) and History of the Freedom Movement in India 1962. His work on Vakatak Guptas (ed) is very significant.

Bindeshwari Prasad Sinha was a renowned archaeologist. He authored several works dealing with archaeology and Dynastic History of Magadha, Cir. 450-1200 A.D., (1977), and Comprehensive History of Bihar (two volumes, with Syed Hasan Askari and Kalikinkar Datta), in 1983. He authored a document that presented archaeological evidence in support of Ayodhya as Ram Janmabhoomi which VHP presented to the government in 1990.

G S Sardesai’s 3 volume New History of the Marathas (1946) is the most reliable work on Maratha History. Iswari Prasad wrote a History of the Qaraunah Turks in India in 1936. After this many valuable works were produced by him. His books were most popular among the students. A L Shrivastava’s The Sultanate of Delhi, 711-1526, (1964) that came out after his retirement in 1962 is still most prestigious work on Delhi Sultanate.  

Savarkar is known for The Indian War of Independence, 1857 (1908) and   Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History (English Edition, 1971). 

Muslim Politics and Bharatiya Historiography:

Principal purpose of Aligarh movement was to serve political and economic interest of the Muslim elite. For this reason they wanted to glorify Islamist invasion and Muslim rulers, belittle legacy of ancient Bharatiya civilization and politicize the Muslim youth (but, not against the British). This process began with a poetical work of 294 stanzas , the Musaddas written by Altaf Husain Hali (1837-1914) at the instance of sir syed in 1879 16 It has “perhaps remained” writes Alex Padamsee, an agnostic Muslim literati  “the single most powerful point in Indo-Muslim cultural revivalists, ever since its first publication in 1879”.17 In early twenties of twentieth century, historians of Aligarh University launched a structured programme of producing historical works which completely condoned the record of atrocities committed by the jihadi invaders since early 8th century. These historians belittled the contribution of India to world culture in various fields and glorified the achievements made during Muslim rule in superlative language.

Mohammad Habib tried to present Gazanavi favourably which does not accord with the assertion of Albaruni’ (973-1039A.D)  that  “Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, …by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions. This is the reason, too, why Hindu sciences have retired far away from the country conquered by us, and have fled to places which our hand cannot yet reach, to Kashmir, Benares, and other places” 18. Ibn Sina (980-137), a respected physician and biologist, refused to come to Bharat with Mahmud and fled into the interior of the Buwahid Empire, for he felt that his plunder and loot was destroying Bharatiya science. These facts were ignored by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya while commenting on the decline of Bharatiya science.

The Aligarh historiography denies what was written by the contemporary Muslim historians.  Sir Syed is presented as a symbol of Hindu Muslim Unity. He is not held responsible for what the Aligarhians did for creation of Pakistan. 19

Habib is a bitter critic of the History and Culture of the Indian People edited by Majumdar. He laments “Though after Majumdar's death (1980), there has not appeared on the scene a historian of similar calibre in the Hindutva (or even the 'soft Hindutva') camp, the often unproven hypotheses and inferences that he bequeathed have all become firm truths for a very large number of educated people in India”.

There was a heavy onslaught on reason and philosophy in which Ghazali  played an important role. Abul Fazl at the end of the 16th had this misgiving ‘the blowing of the heavy wind of taqlid (tradition) and the dimming of the lamp of wisdom. Of old the door of ‘how’ and ‘why’ has been closed; and questioning and enquiry have been deemed fruitless and tantamount to paganism’. 20

History has much to do how we look at things. Iqbal, a great admirers of Sheikh Ahmed Sarhindi, Shah Waliullah and Aurangzeb and a pan-Islamist and greatly responsible for radicalizing the Muslims of Indian subcontinent, is an iconic figure in Aligarh University.  He described Aurangzeb as “the last arrow in our quiver left, in the affray of faith with unbelief, an Abraham in India’s idol house21 Iqbal disavowed the much touted Tarana-e-Hindi, written in 1904, by writing Tarana-e-Milli in 1910 and other later poetic works, of which most important are Shiqwa and Jabab-e Shiqwa, which according to a former Pakistani diplomat capture the modern Muslim malaise and mood.22

Habib’s first major work Sultan Mahmud of Ghaznain published in 1927, did not see Mahmud as a propagator of the faith who came to India for the sake of Islam.23 To Habib, the Ghorian conquest of India meant: (a) substitution of the Ghorian Turks for the Thakurs as the Governing class and (b) the enfranchisement of the Indian city workers, accompanied by a considerable landslide among them towards the new faith.24 

Historians of this school sought to denigrate India’s glorious past and whitewash the horrors of medieval era. They exonerated Muslim invaders and rulers of bigotry, mass killing, conversion, temple destruction etc. They argued that conversion took place in a peaceful manner. According to them killing of masses, destruction of temples and desecration of idols, reported by contemporary Muslim historians was a shear exaggeration for endearment of such invaders and rulers in the eyes of the Muslim masses. He prepared future generations of historians who wrote with the sole purpose of presenting history from an Islamist point of view. He set the trend for communal history writing in the guise of secular writing in Bharat. As opposed to prevalent notion about the Islamist invasion and Delhi sultanate he presented them in a favourable light.

Allahabad School of historians

Sir Shaffat Ahmed Khan, R.P. Tripath, Beni Prasad, Banarasiprasad Saxena, Ibn Hasan, Parmatma Sharan, Tarachand  etc were  historians of the Allahabad School. Their historiography  was in agreement with that of Aligarh school. This school was greatly influenced by the views of political leaders of the dominant political party in post Lucknow Pact and  Khilafat movement scenario in the country.  Pragmatic consideration of presenting a united front to the British in our struggle for freedom led a large section of historians in interpreting history to bring Hindus and Muslims together. According to B R Ambedkar   Gandhi's comment on the Moplah marauders was: "They are brave and god-fearing people who were fighting for what they consider as religion, and in a manner which they consider as religion."25 He called Abdul Rashid, the killer of swami Shraddhanand in 1926, a brother and pleaded that his life be spared. The Aligarh and Allahabad historians combined to create Indian History Congress in 1937 at Puna with Sir Shaffat Khan in the chair.

S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar declared about futility of ‘detoxification of text books’ writing before Independence, about seven decades back “…we cannot hope to end fanaticism in character and convictions of the nation’s youth by omitting from history all that which tends to promote sectarian fanaticism, and telling the lying tale that there were no fanatics or acts of fanaticism before us. The right way to proceed is to register the fanatical acts and those influences which were responsible for the perpetration of fanatical deeds, and by pointing out the dire consequences to human society that such deeds entailed.”26

Majumdar claimed that the political motive of bringing Hindus and Muslims together against a common imperial enemy glossed over the intolerance and bigotry of Muslim rulers.” 27

Post Independence Period Skewed History Writing:

 Aligarh University had grown into a center of Muslim League activity in the 1940s and contributed vitally to the victory of the League in the elections of 1945-46. It is alleged that this University, “the arsenal of Muslim League28 created Pakistan. History department of this university has been responsible for the Islamic narrative of history. It historians aligned with the Marxists for tactical reasons.

Marxist Interpretation:

Marxist Interpretation: of ancient history is purely conjectural hypothetical and of a critical nature.

D.D. Kosambi (1907-66) : argued that history should be viewed in terms of conflict between classes but he rejected two key Marxist concepts-the Asiatic Mode of Production and Slavery- as inapplicable to ancient Bharatiya society. He preferred to view the early Bharatiya society in terms of the transition from tribe to caste. Kosambi writes: “The entire course of Indian history shows tribal elements being fused into a general society”. 29  Thapar agreed with Kosambi that the Aryans destroyed the agricultural system of non Aryans by breaking the embankments.30

Ram Sharan Sharma: (1919-2011) was picked up by Nurul Hasan as chairman for the ICHR. Prof. Sharma did not like  the series launched under the auspices of the Bharatiya Itihas Parishad  and The History and Culture of the Indian People of the 1950s and the 1960s. According to Sharma These series failed to bring ‘people’ into the focus.

Romilla Thapper (1931)

Thapar is critical of what she calls a "communal interpretation" of Indian history, in which events in the last thousand years are interpreted solely in terms of a notional continual conflict between monolithic Hindu and Muslim communities. Thapar says this communal history is "extremely selective" in choosing facts, "deliberately partisan" in interpretation and does not follow current methods of analysis using multiple, prioritized causes.  

Partition of India:The separatism preached by their religious leaders like Sheikh Sarhaindi, Mian Masum and Shah Waliullah continued to be adhered to by the Muslim Leaders of 19th and 20th century which resulted in the polarization of our society. Historiography of partition of Bharat does not takes into account only the history that began in the growth of Ashari and Maturdi  ideology in Arab in 10 th century that had its votaries in al Gazhali, Ibn Taimiyyah, Suyuti etc. This tradition was imported in our country by the naqshbandi Baqi Billa (died in 16030 .

Irfan Habib: (born 1931)

Irfan Habib, an alumni of AMU is a diehard Marxist and always maintains a garb of secularism. He is a bitter critic of R.C. Majumdar and Jadunath Sarkar. Under his father’s tutelage he devoted himself to the study of “Agrarian System of Mughal India” and rose to professorship at an early age. His contention that the Naqshbandi tradition did not influence Mughal polity does not stand scrutiny.

R.P. Dutt took Marx’s articles of 1853 as his starting point and made extensive use of the grievances against British rule in the economic and political spheres raised by nationalist spokesmen. He has drawn on Dadabhai Naoroji for drawing a detailed picture of Britain’s exploitation of Bharat.

Impact of Pandit Nehru: S. Gopal, author of three volume pro–Nehru biography of Pandit Nehru writes “As before 1947, Nehru as the Prime Minister was more concerned with Hindu than with Muslim communalism. The Hindu faith, preaching, hospitality to all forms of belief, was ideal on paper; but the practice was rigid and narrow. The Muslim outlook might often be worse, but it could not make much difference to the future of India. So the destruction of Hindu communalism was indispensable for India’s survival31

Pandit Nehru tried to tilt history writing in Aligarh-Allahabad direction while Rajendra Prasad, K.M. Munshi  Sarkar and Majumdar etc wanted history that did not cover-up things in the name of secularism.

For the said “destruction of Hindu communalismGreat historians like Sarkar and Majumdar were disowned by the left-secularists aided by Nehru. Historians of Aligarh and Allahabad tradition were given all encouragement. Nehru had a leaning towards the left. Principal Aligarh historian Mohammad Habib also leaned purposely towards Marxism. They drew selectively from the colonial narrative for Hindu bashing and bitterly criticized works like those of Elliot and Dowson who was only a translator of what came from the horse’s mouth. The three streams got combined. The political dispensation was at their back. Majumdar was eased out of the project for writing a history of freedom struggle. Sarkar could not pursue his dream project of bringing out News History of India.

The Central Bureau of Textbook Research was founded in 1954. It was merged in NCERT in 1961 which gave a new direction to textbook production. Particularly with respect to Social Sciences, the writing of history became tied to the perception of the party in power. Many of the academics who were wholly in consonance with the government views were invited to write textbooks in the mid-1960s. The NCERT launched a comprehensive programme of textbook production from the late 1960s. The National Board of School Textbooks in its first meeting in 1969 suggested that the NCERT should work out a general framework in the form of principles and criteria for preparing textbooks for different school subjects. History books held prime importance  among all subjects.

In post independence years need for national unity by bringing Muslims in national main stream haunted Pandit Nehru. The Hindus had bent in pre-independence period to accommodate Muslim susceptibilities. They could be made to bend again. History writing had to play a role in it. He asked the people on July 26, 1960: that “Political integration has already taken place, but what I am after is much deeper than that, i.e. an emotional integration of the Indian people so that we may be welded into one strong national unit maintaining at the same time all wonderful diversity.”32 Told Nehru on January 1st 1961, in an address to the AICC When minority communities are communal you can see that and understand it. But the communalism of a majority is apt to be taken for nationalism”.

Textbook writing: The National Integration Conference was convened by Pandit Nehru in 1961 which set up a National Integration Council to review national integration issues and make recommendations. The NIC met for the first time in June 1962. After this it has met several times. During this time there was leadership contest between left and right wings of Congress. The communists took this opportunity to ingratiate themselves with Indira Gandhi. Congress performance in 1967 was dismal. The same year Congress lost control of six state Governments. A meeting of the National Integration Council was held at Srinagar in June 1968.  Indira Gandhi forged alliance with the Marxists and began to woo the Muslim leaders for vote. Issue of Presidential election and support of Indira Gandhi to unofficial candidate V.V Giri caused split in the congress. This was followed by establishment of   the National Board of School Text-books on 31st December 1968 under Union Minister of Education. In the late sixties left-secular lobby of historians came to have great clout with the powers that be. Aomila thapar had already written ancient and medieval text books for class VII and VI respectively. Writing of number of other NCERT text books was entrusted to  Ram Sharan Sharma's , Bipan Chandra's  and Arjun Dev

In 1969 Romila Thapar, Harbans Mukhia and Bipan Chandra authored “Communalism and the Writing of Indian History”.  In this work they dwelt on Aryan invasion, beef eating etc. They talked of ‘constructed character’ of communal conflict and held the British responsible for it.

RC Majumdar was anguished at these developments. In his presidential address at the sixth annual conference of the Institute of Historical Studies (registered in 1963), held in Srinagar in October, 1968, which he could not attend, wrote, “History divorced from truth does not help a nation. Its future should be laid on the stable foundations of truth and not on the quicksand of falsehoods, however alluring it may appear at present. India is now at the cross roads and I urge my friends to choose carefully the path they would like to tread upon.”  When Pandit Nehruunleashed programme of National Integration, Institute of Historical Studies was Set up by Dr. S.P. Sen in 1961. The Institute has also been serving as a centre for the promotion of socio-religious and cultural activities since then.

The secularists denigrate contribution of Indian civilization to the world. Ban has been imposed on calling Gupta period as golden period of Indian history. They are not prepared to accept existence of the Saraswati. They stick to Aryan Invasion or Aryan immigration theory. They disavow The History of India as Told by its own Historians of Elliot and Dowson. Quoting Richard Eaton of Arizona University, Harbans Mukhia makes a preposterous assertion that only 80 temples were destroyed between 712 and 1707 and those too were demolished only for political and financial purposes. Freedom Struggle by Bipanchandra, Amalesh Tripathi and Barun De (New Delhi, 1972) presents congress-left-secular version of Independence movement.  Sympathy of the communists for the demand for Pakistan and stab in the back of nationalist movement during Quit India Movement does not find any mention in this work. The role of Arvind Ghosh, Lal-Bal-Pal, Madan Mohan Malviya, Savarkar and the revolutionaries is not properly presented.

Irfan Habib a ‘doyen’ of so called mainstream historians declares "Intellectually, there is not much difference between RSS and ISIS". He calls Majumdar the “high priest” of “communalist camp”.33

Nationalist Historians of present generation

Dr Vakankar, Professor Shivaji singh, Professor Satishchandra Mittal, S Kalyanraman,  S R Rao, Prof. T P Thakur, N S Rajaram, Subhash Kak, Dilip K Chakrabarti, Prof. Dipak Basu, Dr Sharad Hebalkar, Koenraad Elst, Francois Goiter, Yvette Rosser, Stephen Knapp (his small monograph Islamic Destruction of Hindu Temples is worth reading), David Frawley, David Osborn (his Science of the Sacred: Ancient Perspective of Modern Science makes a good reading), Michel Danino (The Invasion that Never Was, 2000), JM Kenoyer,  Gregory Possehl, Thomas Trautman, Jim Shaffer and Rajiv Malhotra are some of the authors who have made significant contribution in the domain of Indian history. The Institute of Historical Studies centered in Kolkata was set up by a nationalist historian Dr. S.P. Sen in 1961. 

Arun Shorie’s Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud (1998) discusses the NCERT controversy in Indian politics and attacks Marxist historiography

Hindu Temples – What Happened to Them, a two-volume book by Sita Ram GoelArun ShourieHarsh NarainJay Dubashi and Ram Swarup provides irrefutable testimony about temple destruction and desecration by Muslim invaders and rulers. 

Conclusion

 The D.N.A. analysis of Rakhigarhi skeletan has completely demolished the foundation of false theory of Aryan invasion created by the British  which were enthusiastically accepted by the Islamo-left for political reasons.

This is a brazen lie that there was no coercion and temple destruction and mass killing in India on the part of jihadi invaders and that there was mostly peaceful propagation of Islam in India. To quote Will Durant: “The Islamic historians and scholars have recorded with utmost glee and pride of the slaughters of Hindus, forced conversions, abduction of Hindu women and children to slave- markets and the destruction of temples carried out by the warriors of Islam during 800 AD to 1700 AD. Millions of Hindus were converted to Islam by the sword during this period. 34

 

Bharat is a secular (non-Panthik) democracy not because of the Islamo-left but thanks to our vedic tradition. Radhakrishnan had discerned organic relation between the rigvedic liberalism and the Cong resolution of 1951, which stressed commitment to secular democratic ethos.35

The left-secularists have thrived and swelled in post independence period because of over bearing personality of Nehru, whose overly concern about communalism of the majority combined with a leaning towards Marxism gave them a springboard. Aligarh University, a den of Muslim League, till the very eve of independence came to be pampered under new dispensation with Maulana Azad as the education minister. The left-secular combine came to have big presence in organizations like NCERT, Indian council of Social Science Research, Indian council of Historical Research, Indian Council of Philosophical Research etc. Presence in such bodies gave them opportunity to fund research and other academic activities. Jawahar Lal Nehru University established in 1969 became their citadel.  They came to influence selections in universities. All this has resulted in proliferation of their number. The print and electronic media supported them. Now the eco system between party in power and Islamo-left has crumbled. We can well understand the reason for recent hue and cry about intolerance.

Unless the Muslim leaders can disown enemies of science, reason and philosophy like al Ashari al Gazhali, how can learn to live in peace with others. To be able to reason is an essential condition for living with others in peace and harmony.

References:

  1. Quoted in Sanskrit Reader 1: A Reader in Sanskrit Literature by Heiko Kretschmer
  2. the Life and Letter of F. Max Muller, edited by Mrs. Max Muller, 1902, vol. 1, p. 357.
  3. Q. Saree Makdisi, Romantic Imperialism , p. 114.
  4. James Mill, History of British India vol I, p. 646.
  5. R.C. Majumdar,  Historiography in Modern India, 1970, pp 37-57.
  6. K M Panikkar,  A Survey of Indian History,  1963, p viii.
  7. John stretchy, India, its Administration and Progress, 1888, quoted by I P Massey Nehruvian Constitutional Vision, p 64.
  8. John Seeley, Expansion of England, 1883 Quoted by Hoveyda Abbas and others, Indian government and Politics on p. 32.
  9. Nehru, Discovery of India, 1946,  p.325.
  10. In Forward by Jadunath Sarkar to The Vakatak-Gupta Age Circa 200-550 AD, Ramesh Chandra MajumdarAnant Sadashiv Altekar.
  11. Letter of Rajendra Prasad to Abul Kalam Azad, January 14, 1948, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, correspondence and select documents. vol. 8. Refers to a letter written in this regard.
  12. Journal of Royal Asitic Society, 90 (1958) p.222.
  13. Journal of Royal Asitic Society, 90 (1958) p.223.
  14. Deepesh Chakravarti, The Calling of History- Sir Jadunath Sarkar and His Empire of Truth, 2015.
  15.  Ibid, p. 278-81.
  16. S.M. Ikram, Indian Muslims and Partition of India, 1992, P 66.
  17. Alex Padamsee in  Post Colonialism And Islam, 2013, Geoffrey Nash, Kathleen Kerr-Koch, Sarah Hackett  (ed) , p. 108.
  18. Eduard Sachau, Albaruni’s India , p.22
  19.  M J Warsi, Asian age 11 Oct 2017.
  20.  Ani-i-Akbari, Vol II, p.3.
  21.  Q. by Rajmoham Gandhi, Understanding the Muslim Mind, 2000, p. 58
  22.  Akbar S. Ahmad, former High Commissioner from Pakistan to the UK,  Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identiry 1997, P 73.
  23. Mohammad Habib, Sultan Mahmud of Ghaznain, 1927, Second edition 1951, p, 77.
  24.  Introduction to Vol ii, H.M.Elliot & J.F.Dowson 1952,  p.  37.
  25.  B.R Ambedkar,  Pakistan, or Patition of India p.  148.
  26.  Quoted by E. Sreedharan in A Textbook of Historiography, 500 BC to 2000 AD, 2004 p.449
  27. Majumdar in C H Phillips (ed), Nationalist Historians of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, 1961, p 425.).
  28. Jay Naranyan Sharma, The Political thought of Jinnah, 2008, p. 82.
  29. G.P. Singh, Researches into the Hitory of the Kiritas, 2008.
  30. Kosambi q. in Thapar ,Recent Perspectives in History1995, p. 101

 

  1.  From Nehru’s biographer, Dr S. Gopalpublished in Mainstream November 12, 1988, republished on November 22, 2014.

 

  1. Quoted by R.P.Pathak, Philosophical and sociological Perspective of Education, 2007, p 131.
  2. An article by Irfan Habib Communalism and problems of historiography.
  3. Will Durant, 1999, The Story of Civilization: Our Orietal Heritage. P.459.
  4. Donald Eugene Smith, India as a Secular State, 1963, p. 148

 

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