Rewriting Indian history Hindutva-way

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June 4, 2019

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By M J Aslam

History is recorded in writing for enabling people know their past & the events that took place in the past. Sometimes, however, need is felt to rewrite it, also, but strictly subject to revelation of new “evidence” about the recorded events coming to the knowledge of a rewriter during his “objective investigation” of the historical events. “Genuine” revisionist, as he is called, re-interprets, thus, the given historical facts when there is “strong evidence” against them. But the relativism, subjective perspectives, long cherished beliefs and “subjective investigation” dictated by lusty goals of “palengenetic nationalism” & “cultural myths” render revisionism mere attempting at concocting & fabricating the already received & admitted authentic historical facts. Politically motivated revisionist, if at all, every Tom, Dick and Harry, like BJP-RSS ideologues, could be paraphased, is accorded with the “epithet” of historian, will, obviously, be interpreting it according to his own ulterior purposes that cause more potential threat to the well recorded accounts of history, then. George Orwell in 1949, in his masterpiece novel Nineteen-Eighty-Four, saw this “insidious danger” of destroying recorded historical facts by inventing & spreading lies about them that ultimately obliterate people’s understanding of their own history by the totalitarian and repressive regimes.

History, rewritten with political motives, just serves the desires of a politically controlled centralized party. It is incitement to ignorance. It is indoctrination of children when history text books are sanitized & a highly communal view of history is implanted there in place of recorded historical truths, whether bitter or sweet, to the taste of the reader. This is done by “deleting chapters or passages from public school textbooks that contradicted their ideology, while adding their own make-believe versions of the past”. I In the present day ever-changing world, such incitement & indoctrination should not be allowed to the detriment of a nation itself. II

The people & parties in power can re-name places, markets & roads to re-write history to their personal-gratification. Allahabad to Prayagraj, Gurgaon to Gurugram, Bangalore to Bengaluru, Madras to Chennai, Calcutta to Kolkotta, Aurangzeb Road to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Road are few examples III & there was also a proposal initiated by the ring-wing organisations of India and vociferously supported by a BJP Parlimentarian & ex-Army Chief of India, Gen Rtd VK Singh, to change famous Akbar Road of Delhi to the name of “great son of India”, Maharana Pratap, IV who had purportedly defeated in the battle of Haldighati (Mewar) , the Muslim Mughal Emperor , Akbar the great, a title conferred upon him by all historians of India & beyond. The authentic history, nevertheless, is that in 1568 Akbar had conquered entire Rajasthan, present day Pakistan, Punjab, Haryana, HP, Bihar, UP upto Bengal. Some Rajputs in Mewar area had not accepted suzerainty of Akbar & preferred putting resistance to his rule. But Mewar , Haldighati was ultimately lost by Maharana Pratap after some days war-tricks & camouflages . He didn’t surrender to the Mughal Army is equally a historical fact & but why is altogether a different question. It is an unequivocal fact that the Maharana Pratap lost the battle of Haldighati to Mughal Army hat was led by another Rajput Man Singh. And, to suggest otherwise is sheer revisionism. V A BJP leader also wanted Modi government to change the name of one of the oldest markets of Delhi, Khan Market, to Valmikhi Market. VI

A step further towards revisionism, Yogi Aditiyanath, a “well known” extremist Hindu Sadhu who is presently CM of UP, has been openly denigrating all 900 years old Muslim symbols of India & damning Muslim Rulers as simply “invaders & foreigners”. Then, by the same logic, one is within one’s rights to ask, what Indian-rulers are to JK Muslims? 70 years “rule” by India over JK is comparatively nothing before 900 years rule of India by Muslims. In pre-Medieval times, people without strict demarcations of geographical boundaries or territories used to travel from one place to another & most of the times settle in the “foreign” lands where they found chances of their habitation & survival much better. The Aryans who were Central Asians had migrated from Central Asian States & settled in Indian subcontinent on banks of Indus River wherefrom spread Indus Valley Civilization which is present day entire North & West of India, Pakistan & Afghanistan. The Aryans invaded Dravidian parts of (South) India & settled there. These migrations, wars, invasions & above all settlements in different lands were not confined to India alone. It happened everywhere in the world. But no one after thousands of years is chest beating like pan-Hindu ideologues. “The history of man is the record of a hungry creature in search of food. Wherever food was plentiful, thither man has travelled to make his home”. VII

This was also case with kings in the past. Wars were fought across geographical territories & the kingdoms established in so called foreign lands. And, over centuries, those kings & their successors became part of the soil they had conquered. They resided and lived there till their death.

Right-wing-hate does not end here. World famous Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan on a Shiva Temple, Aditiyatanath-RSS claim, has been rebuffed by Archeological Survey of India by deposing before Agra Court recently in August 2017 that there is no proof to prove right wing claim. VIII

It is a reality that the men in political power can demolish old statutes & monuments to pave a way for their own political ideologies. This has happened during former USSR rule when the Communist Rulers endeavoured hard to twist & turn the history of hundreds of years of provinces to suit their Marxist political theory. The official version of history was to be accepted as authentic one & any deviation from it was harshly punishable under Communist Laws of the country. The antebellum slavery & war against it are undeniable facts of the American history. There are statues, monuments & flags of Confederate in seven American States that held African-American-slaves & that, however, represent the American national leaders & constitution-givers who themselves owned slaves including George Washington. Some left-parties are attempting now to demolish those statues, monuments & flags of Confederacy to get rid of American Slave-history which is simply impossible to obliterate from the recorded annals of the American history. And, there is a generally accepted notion in American society that history is recorded version of facts, so, by demolishing or rewriting it, the underlying reality never gets displaced nor changed.

The people in power can demean the historical contributions of leaders & rulers of the past. They can re-write text books of children to disconnect them to real & connect them to an artificial past. BJP-RSS ruled States of India like Rajasthan, MP, Maharashtra & Gujarat in recent past are instances at hand where references to Muslim rulers who ruled India for 900 years & who were invariably born, lived & buried sons of Indian soil, in school text books are scantly, one or two lines, negligible while Hindu Kings like Maharana Pratap are shown as heroes in chapters merely because they were Hindus. IX Indeed, all this is climax of religious bigotry & just desperate attempts of the rewriters of Indian history that debunk the very reality of their religious-political thought since in modern era of technology & science people cannot be disconnected with their past by ill-intent of politically & religiously controlled & motivated groups like Sangh Parivar . After all, it is not Joseph Goebbels time to hold and say that a lie repeatedly spoken becomes truth. It could be reversed by saying that if a lie is repeated million times, still it is a lie.

The right-wing groups that presently & overwhelmingly rule & control Indian political landscape forget certain facts: First, nationalism is a newest concept in the history of mankind that came in prominence post-colonial rules of many parts of the world during twentieth century just to maintain hegemony of more powerful nations or countries on small provinces & communities of the world. India was no exception to this world scene. At the time of partition, India including Pakistan & Bangladesh was divided into hundreds of small entities or provinces. No particular nationalism, nothing like that, was followed by those erstwhile provinces of undivided India. Each province had a ruler or a king who was named differently & many among them were interlocked into mutual battles & infighting since years. Each province had different traditions, customs, values, religious practices, ethnicity & language. Second, during & before Muslim rule of India, nothing like Indian Nationalism existed. Thirdly, it was during early part of twentieth century when some Hindu ultra- nationalists like V D Savarkar in 1923 tried to find “revival” of so called lost-Hindu Nationalism which they termed Hindutva —-lost to foreign rule not of the British but Muslims. British were not bad people like Muslims and it was for this reason that RSS did not choose to fight them. According to this RSS ideology, Hitler too was not a bad guy as he simply wanted to preserve his culture & race from the influence of other-bad Semitic races like Jews. “Admiration for Nazism—– often reframed with a genocidal hatred for Muslims—- is rampant in the Hindu nationalist camp, which has never been as mainstream as it is now”. X M S Golwalkar in his book, We or Our Nationhood Defined, gives a vent to this racist ideology in these recorded words: “Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by”. ” XI He then vents his spleen to Muslims in these harshest words: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening. The lion was not dead, only sleeping. He is rousing himself up again and the world has to see the might of the regenerated Hindu Nation strike down the enemy’s hosts with its mighty arm’. XII

This Hindutva ideology has been adopted by BJP in 1989 as its official political ideology & other Ultra Hindu Nationalist parties VHP, HMS, SS, etc. It has to be noted here that expression “Hindutva “ was first time in 1925 coined & propagated by three-times-banned right-wing-Hindu Organisation called RSS. Though it had very little role in Indian Freedom Struggle for its open “communal” policies, since demolition of 464- years old Babri Masjid on 6th December, 1992, its rise with gloomy forebodings for future of India’s secular democracy became clearly noticeable. XIII Landslide win in Parliamentary elections of 2019 for BJP which is undoubtedly political face of all right wing Hindu organisations of India has emboldened the right wing groups to openly intimidate, threaten & even physically assault & sometimes kill or lynch minority members especially Indian Muslims, though governments in power “disown their actions” but without bringing culprits to book. The Parliamentary election sweep of BJP-RSS has been viewed by world media as “bad for India & world”, XIV India’s soul “lost to dark politics” XV and as re-election won on “tide of violence, fake news & resentment”. XVI

As its avowed policy is to “officially” declare India a Hindu Rashtra, BJP-RSS ruling elite are also investing on re-writing Indian history, as mentioned above, as it believes that by re-writing history of India by saffron pen & ink, it can pursue its political agenda of Hindu Rashtra conveniently. Hundreds of years recorded history cannot be replaced by blizzard of lies & concoctions. Fabricating history saffron-way is bound to boomerang because Indian history is not recorded in India only. All historical facts of Indian subcontinent are preserved in history books of the world. And, so, re-writing Indian history to simply hindunise or saffronise it, to augment political agenda of Sangh Parivar, is not-so-easy as it is erroneously presumed to be. The difference between history & myth is & shall always be there. Muslims including now those living in Pakistan & Bangladesh, 600 million odd, their rule, their contribution to Indian culture, art & its development cannot be lost sight of while reading & writing history of India. For conventional & convincing defeats of Hindu Rajas by Mughals & other Muslim Rulers of the past, the present day Muslims of India cannot be put to collective punishment, socially, psychologically, politically & financially. Present scenario of India adequately highlights the agonies the Indian Muslims are facing at the hands of right wing Hindu organisations of India continuously.

References:

I. The New York Times dated 17-05-2019 , They Peddle Myths & Call it History by Historian Romila Thapar;

II. Website thehill.com: blog “Rewriting history & the pursuit of ignorance” dated 26-02-2015 by Michael Rosenbaum;

III. See Indian Express dated 16-10-2018 : 20 Cities that changed their names;

IV. The Indian Express dated 09-05-2018 & 10-05-2018;

V. daily O dated 28-07-2017: Akbar v/s Maharana Pratap by Sudharshan R Garg;

VI. India Today Megazine, online, dated 27-05-2019[No proposal received from Delhi Government to change name];

VII. Hendrik Willem Van Loon, The Story of Mankind (Pocket Books, New York, 1954), page 20;

VIII. Hindustan Times dated 25-08-2017 [Taj Mahal is a tomb , not a temple]; see also Financial Times dated27-03-2015; India Today dated 20-04-2018 [Agra Court imposes fine] ; the Times of India dated 10-07-2018 [Only local Muslims & not non-local Muslims of Agra can offer Nimaz in Taj Mahal Masjid, SC];

IX. The New York Times dated 17-05-2019, They Peddle Myths & Call it History by Historian Romila Thapar;

X. Haaretz ( Israeli Newspaper) dated 14-12-2017 [Hitler’s Hindus , article by Shrenik Rao];

XI. M S Golwalkar, WE or Our Nationhood Defined (Bharat Publications Nagpur, 1939, pdf) pages 87-88;

XII. Ibid at pages 51-52; see also The Hindu, Business Line, dated 27-11-2015 [Golwalkar drew lessons from history]; The Dawn dated 02-08-2016[From Golwalkar to Trump];

XIII. India After Gandhi, Ramchandra Guha, (Picador India, 2008) page 658; Sayed Naqvi, Being the other: Muslim in India (Aleph Book Company, Daryagunj, New Delhi 2016) pages 116[Babri Masjid demolition left a permanent scar on Indian Muslim’s psyche destroying their confidence in the Indian political system].

XIV. The Guardian editorial dated 23-05-2019[Guardian view on Narendra Modi’s landslide];

XV. Scroll.in dated 24-05-2019 [Modi’s win will see];

XVI. The New York Times dated 23-05-2019 [How Narendra Modi seduced India, opinion by Pankaj Mishra].

M J Aslam is Author, academic, story-teller & freelance columnist.

1 June 2019

Source: countercurrents.org

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