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HISTORY - The way it should be

Vinod Kumar

In his article "History's Cunning Passage" (The Telegraph  Nov.18, 1998) Achin Vanaik accuses that the sangh parivar  is "out to transform popular understandings of Indian history by changing the content and manner of history teaching at the level of schools and colleges so as to accord with its own Hindutva version of that history".

What is this "popular understanding of Indian history"? Is it the understanding that during the Mughal rule anyone could go and pull a rope hanging at the palace gate which would ring a bell and the emperor himself would immediately appear in person and render justice.  Sir VS Naipaul has called it "a serf fantasy about the mercy of the master", "the child's idea of history". No doubt, this is an absurd idea of history. To continue such fantasies is not "secular" history; it is "communal" history. It is nothing more than sheer fiction.

Is "popular understanding of Indian history" the continuation of teaching (as Nehru wrote) "Mahmud (of Ghazni) was far more a warrior than a man of faith and like other conquerors he used and exploited the name of religion for his conquests." Anyone who has read history knows that Mahmud did not only loot and plunder the treasures of India, he broke and defaced the features of Hindu idols, even those of stone and shipped their broken pieces all the way to Ghazni and Baghdad to be put in front of mosques so that the faithful could tread upon them. The Caliph al-Qadir Billah awarded the titles of "Yamin-ud-Daulah" and "Amin-ul-Millah" and invested him with a robe of honor.

Why would a Caliph - the highest authority of Islam -- honor a murderer, looter and plunderer? Muslim historians regard Mahmud as one of the greatest Muslims of all times -second only to Prophet Muhammad. Mahmud in his own words had taken a vow to "remove infidelity from Hind". "Secular" conquerors and plunderers have no reason to convert the vanquished people to their own faith. Mahmud did not use "the name of religion" for his conquests, he was a devout man of religion, started his campaign with a prayer to Allah and did his conquests to spread his religion and in accordance with the basic principle of his religion to wipe off infidelity.

Is "popular understanding of Indian history" the myth that Muslim invaders and rulers were "peaceful and tolerant" and ushered in "era of great prosperity and understanding" and developed a "composite" culture? Reading history written by Muslim historians themselves would convince even a casual reader that each and every one of the Muslim rulers almost without exception was a tyrant.

There is much talk about the "composite" culture. In reality, there has never been a "composite" culture. Hindus and Muslims have always lived in their separate cocoons. Muslims even today hate the Hindus as they have always done - a quick visit to Pakistan and glance at their school and history books will convince even the most avid supporter of the "secularism" in India of the truth and the fallacy of the "composite culture".  One does not even has to go that far, a visit to a local mosque and listening to the Friday sermon would also do the trick.

The concept of "composite" culture is only one-way phenomenon, the child of the slavish mind and the "secular myopia" of the Indian leftist "intellectuals" born out of their hatred of any thing that has any thing to do with India. Had there been a composite" culture, there would have been no demand for Pakistan and such overwhelming support for it much less would there have been a Pakistan. Had there been a "composite" culture living and thriving in India, there would have been no demand and subsequent terrorism for the secession of Kashmir.

Ever since Nehru distorted history and got away with it, it has gotten into the minds of other leftists, they too can do the same; and they have.

What is history? History according to Webster dictionary means:

1. an account of what has happened; narrative story; tale;

2. (a) what has happened in the life or development of a people, country, institution, etc. (b) a systematic account of this, usually with an explanation

3. all recorded events of the past

4. the branch of knowledge that deals systematically with the past; a recording, analyzing, coordinating, and explaining of the past events.

Thus from the very definition of history - it is neither secular nor communal - history is just a record of the events as they happened and events are events they are neither secular nor communal. Events have no religion or bias. History is "no respecter of persons or communities and must always strive to tell the truth, so far as it can be deduced from reliable evidence".  Reliable evidence is the key to history not its distortion.

History does not mean falsifying or ignoring the facts or events to suit one's pre-ordained conclusions. History as recorded by Nehru and the modern leftist-Islamist clique is not even history much less secular - it is "communal" representation of a fantasy. If any thing the  sangh parivar can be accused of is their attempt to present history as it should be and should have been written.

Vanaik agrees that "certainly, Marxism has had considerable influence on history writing and understanding" and he wonders "can history writing, research, understanding and teaching be separated from the passions of politics?"

Before I go any further let me congratulate Vanaik that he accepts that the history so far written in India is not "true" history as it should be or should have been; it has been "considerably influenced by Marxism".

Actually, it has been completely distorted by the Marxists. To understand the extent of its distortion, one only has to read the instructions issued by the leftist West Bengal government to its educational board on what and how to teach as history. And on the question "can history writing, research, understanding and teaching be separated from the passions of politics?"

Therein lies the problem the Leftists face in India.  They can not believe and accept the fact that history can be written and should be written "separated from the passions of politics". To them the very concept of truth in history is blasphemous and incomprehensible. For them what has truth got to do with history?

To their utter amazement, the sangh parivar has been trying "to present history separated from the passions of politics". Not only that the sangh parivar wants to go a step further - they want to separate it from the passions of religion also. Let history stand as it is - the good and the bad.

Let historians remove all "communal" bias from history. The sangh parivar has no interest in "communal" history, whatsoever. RC Majumdar while writing "The History and Culture of the Indian People" faced a similar problem whether history should be a record of events as they happened or should it be distorted to suit some pre-conceived notions.

"Additional difficulties are created" he wrote in preface to vol. 11 (Struggle for Freedom), "by the necessity of dealing with the activities of men like Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru who are looked upon by a large section of Indians with veneration, incompatible with dispassionate judgment. A regular propaganda has been kept up to preserve untarnished the halo of glory which contemporaries, in the first flush of enthusiasm, put round their heads."

"In dealing with these and other difficult and delicate questions or problems of individual or communal character" he went on to write, " the editor has tried to follow the three fundamental principles."

What are these three fundamental principles:

"Firstly, that history is no respecter of persons or communities; secondly, that its sole aim is to find out the truth by following the cannons commonly accepted as sound by all historians; and thirdly, to express the truth, without fear, envy, malice, passion, or prejudice, and irrespective of all extraneous considerations, both political and humane."

"In judging any remark or opinion expressed in such a history, the question to be asked is not whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, mild or strong, impolitic or imprudent, and favourable or unfavourable to national interest or national policy as conceived by the ruling group, but simply whether it is true or false, just or unjust, and above all, whether it is or not supported by evidence at our disposal."

I believe it is fair judgment and right guidelines for writing history, and had Nehru and other leftists (Marxists) followed this axiom in writing history, there would have been no need for the sangh parivar to present the history as it should have been or should be - based on truth and unassailable evidence and nothing else.

Vanaik wonders why "not only the sangh, but disturbingly large sections of the Indian elite think they are justified in doing so"? The leftists living in their own fantasy land are unable to fathom that the entire society can not be fooled by lies forever.

Much as Mr. Vanaik and the leftists would like us to continue to present fantasies in the name of history to the future generations of India as has been done in the past fifty years, their game is up. Not only the elite but even the masses are learning slowly but surely what has been sold to them in the name of history - they have been sold a crow in the garb of a swan.