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The most bewildering part is that as per Hindutva chronology, the Enlightened Age (which spans from 5000-3000 BC) is immediately followed by the ‘Dark Ages’ of Muslim rule (which began in 1000 CE). Ask them what happened in the intervening 4000 years, and their lips often get sealed! [28]

The Golden Age of Ancient India:

The second most important view of these ‘historians’ is an extremely superfluous idea of ancient India’s Golden Age. Allow me to explain. They claim that India is the oldest civilization in the world. An extremely developed civilization has been flourishing here since 7000-8000 BC. The Vedas were also compiled during that period [22]. In those days, India was a single unit and the nation of Aryans. This developed civilization possessed such advanced technology and amenities that could put most developed nations of the 21st Century to shame [23]. In order to prove that ancient India was a single unit, it became necessary for them to link the Aryan civilization with the Indus Valley Civilization. Hence, they challenged the near-unanimous opinion of historians that the Indus Valley Civilization has existed here since much before the Aryans stepped foot in India; and that Dravidian elements had a key role in that civilization. Sangh historians refer to that civilization as the Sarasvati Sindhu civilization to give an impression that that unrelated civilization was actually part of the Aryan’s Vedic and Sanskrit civilization [24].

Those legends which are nothing more than tales and folklore have been accorded the status of historical facts. It is said that the alphabet was invented and writing had commenced in India as early as 4000 BC [25]. Even serious research scholars belonging to the Sangh claim so, while some over-enthusiastic pracharaks go a step ahead and claim that plastic surgery, satellite communication, interstellar spaceships and many such technological marvels existed in that period [26].

Critics have raised a vital question in this regard – if the art of writing had been invented in India as early as 4000 BC, then why were the Vedas not written down? Why do we find no record of ancient copies? Why is it that the progress that had been made in that age could not be sustained, and no archaeological remains of those marvels have ever been found? [27] It is obvious that the champions of these fantastic theories have not been able to furnish any reasonable reply to these objections.
The most bewildering part is that as per Hindutva chronology, the Enlightened Age (which spans from 5000-3000 BC) is immediately followed by the ‘Dark Ages’ of Muslim rule (which began in 1000 CE). Ask them what happened in the intervening 4000 years, and their lips often get sealed! [28]

Historians believe that the Vedic period did not belong to 5000 BC; it can be traced to 1500-500 BC. It was in this period that the Vedas were compiled, the social hierarchical system based on four varnas was established and eventually small semi-tribal chiefdoms began to emerge, which were called Janpad [29]. Those chiefdoms gradually assumed the form of states. Kuru (12th Century BC to 9th Century BC), Panchal (11th Century BC to 400 CE), Kosal (7th Century BC to 5th Century BC) and Videh (12th Century BC to 6th Century BC) were some of those small states. In the 6th and 7th Century BC, we had the Shraman movement (Jainism and Buddhism), which challenged the Brahmin religious monopoly. During the same period, sixteen large kingdoms emerged in India; they are called Mahajan Pad. The most famous of these was the ‘Magadha’ Mahajan Pad, with Rajgir/Rajgriha (located in present-day Bihar) as its capital.

Soon, the great kingdoms of Nanda (5th Century BC to 322 BC), and Maurya (322 to 180 BC), with their capitals at Patliputra (present-day Patna) got established in India. During the Mauryan period, Ashoka had expanded his borders to include almost the entire Indian subcontinent till Afghanistan (except Tamil Nadu). Ashoka then accepted the Buddhist faith, ushering the rise of Buddhism in India. It was in this period that Brahmin religious hegemony was challenged. Prakrit languages began spreading instead of Sanskrit. The Sangam literature began flourishing in South India. The varnashram (Hindu caste hierarchy) was challenged and ahimsa (non-violence) was stressed upon. Apparently, the Hindutva idea of India that is based on the Sanskrit language, Vedant philosophy, Brahmin and Aryan race and a unique Brahmin culture seems extremely incongruent with this period. It is for this reason that it is conveniently ignored and swept under the carpet.

Hindutva historians speak of this period as that of peace and security, and an exceedingly ideal period of social harmony under a single religious tradition. However, the fact remains that the atrocities unleashed by Brahmin rulers upon followers of Buddhism and Jainism were at their peak. The picture renowned historian DN Jha has painted in his recent book tells us that there was large-scale demolition of Shraman (Jainism and Buddhism) places of worship, and Hindu temples were constructed upon their ruins. Booties were announced on the heads of Shramans. [30]

Dark Middle Ages:

Hindutva historiography accords special importance to a skewed perspective while viewing the Middle Ages (Medieval Period). When viewed from this perspective, Muslims entered this country as foreign invaders. The battles of this period were extremely violent, claiming a lot of lives. The Hindus were massacred in those battles. The battles fought by Muslim rulers were not merely political conflicts with neighbouring kings, but a planned conspiracy to destroy the rich culture of this land. These savage invaders devastated India’s glorious civilization and pushed this country into the abyss of the Dark Ages. [31]
Probably the most noteworthy name, when it comes to sketching the picture of the Middle Ages from the Hindutva perspective, is that of KS Lal (1920-2002), who had been appointed Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research by the Vajpayee government, and also a member of the school history syllabus drafting committee of NCERT. At the beginning of his career, he had carved out an image for himself as that of a reliable historian, but later, under the influence of political and ideological biases, his research became extremely disputed and controversial. Without any sound reference or reliable data whatsoever, he had claimed that between the 13th and 16th Century CE, during the rule of the Delhi Sultanate, the population of the country shrunk from 19 crore to 12 crore. He attributed this incredulous event to the mass murder of Hindus at the hands of Muslim rulers, thus alleging that 37% of the population was massacred [32]. Many such blatantly false statements are craftily being inserted into history syllabi as part of a larger conspiracy.

One more important aspect of this historiography is that the vanities which could be seen in all the kings and kingdoms of the Middle Ages are attributed exclusively to Muslim rulers. One prime example

of this tactic is KS Lal’s book, Mughal Harem [33], in which the sexual exploits of Muslim rulers have been narrated in a most disgusting manner. Some of those perversions could be seen in all the kings of the Middle Ages, the Hindu kings of India being no exception. But they have been attributed exclusively to Muslim rulers and depicted in such a manner that the Muslim rule of that period appears extremely grotesque and unnerving.

In the books of these historians, Muslim rulers are depicted as savage foreign bandits who were far from being cultured or civilized, who have played no part in nation-building or the development of this country, who ruined a glorious civilization, who put the brakes on all progress, unleashed a wave of cruelty and tyranny and who took the country back by several centuries.

Mass murders, abducting and raping women, demolishing temples, forcibly converting people to Islam, plundering the resources of the nation to lead lavish lives – these are some of those recurring topics which have been used as foundations to fabricate false narratives about the Muslims rulers, nawabs, estate owners, religious leaders (mullas) and other Muslim elites of the Middle Ages. Those incidents which were true are either blown out of proportion in terms of intensity and numbers, or narrated out of context, giving them a new meaning altogether. At the same time, those true events and historical facts which do not align with their narrative are summarily ignored.

Urdu and Persian literature, and the academic and cultural heritage we have received in those languages, furnish strong testimonies to refute these false narratives. Hence, attempts are being made to obliterate all those academic records along with these languages too.

Monuments like the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort, their enchanting architecture and rich and delicate artwork act as living testimonies against their hypothetical claims, and showcase the civilized, sophisticated and educated persona of Muslim rulers. PN Oak (a self professed historian who lived between 1917 and 2007) tried to overcome his hurdle by launching the Institute for Rewriting Indian History. ‘Research’ emanating from this institute claimed that all these beautiful monuments had actually been constructed by Hindu kings. Taj Mahal was originally a Shiv temple called Tejo Mahalaya [34] and the Red Fort was Lal Kot [35].
He went a step further and even made the ludicrous claims that the Holy Kaaba was a Shiv temple of Vedic times [36] and that Christianity is actually Crishn-niti [37].

Although these things appear laughable and outright ridiculous, the fact remains that concerted attempts are being made to grant them historical status.

The history of independence and post-independence India:

As far as the freedom struggle is concerned, these gentlemen believe that it was all a result of Hindu revivalism. After a millennium of slavery, the Hindus had awakened like never before. They had risen to free the country of ‘foreign invaders’ [38] and revive the ancient glory of Aryavarta. The 1857 War of Independence was an outcome of the ideological movements of Swami Vivekanada, Ramana Maharshi and others of their ilk [39]. The most interesting part is that these gurus had not even been born at that time; Vivekananda was born in 1863, while Ramana in 1879. Also, Nehru and Gandhi had no major role to play in the freedom struggle. The real role was that of Sardar Patel and revolutionary freedom fighters [40]. Under the influence of the Khilafat Movement, Gandhiji sabotaged and misguided the Swaraj movement. He lent his support to the cause of Muslim separatism, which eventually split Bharat Mata into two [41].
Accordingly, the outcome of this line of thought is that the role of Muslims in India’s freedom struggle is entirely dismissed. Tipu Sultan, in their version of history, was an anti-Hindu ruler [42]. The 1921 Moplah rebellion of Malabar was a manifestation of Muslim sectarianism, and more so, ‘the first manifestation of Talibani ideology in India’. Hence, rigorous attempts have been made to remove the names of the martyrs of Moplah from the list of martyrs [43].

The Hindutva version of post-independence history tells us that following the exit of the British, Hindus had received an opportunity to revive Bharat’s pracheen sabhyata (India’s ancient civilization), and to segregate those cultural elements which had harmed that sabhyata. However, the policy of minority appeasement was adopted for the sake of vote bank politics and pseudo-secularism. Under the profound influence of the West and the ensuing liberal thought process, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty veered the country’s policy in an opposite direction, and despite political independence, our legacy of mental and cultural slavery continued unabated. Hence, these leaders are not the heroes but the villains of independent India. Now, the time has come to reverse these flawed policies and frame correct policies instead.

To be continued in Part III in the August Issue.

REFERENCES

1.Subhash Kak (1987) On the Chronology of Ancient India, in Indian Journal of History of Science.

2.In order to understand the views of Hindutva historians, please refer Subhash Kak et al (1999). In Search of the Cradle of Civilization: New Light on Ancient India. India: Motilal Banarasidass.
The review published in Science journal on these attempts can be read on www.science.org ‘Hindu Nationalists Claim Ancient Indians had Airplanes, Stem Cell Technology….’

3.For details, please read renowned archaeologist, Suresh Bhan’s article. This article also carries an interesting account of the seminar that was held in 1993 at the Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute, New Delhi, in which the blueprint for this distortion of history was conceptionalized.
Suraj Bhan (1997) ‘Recent Trends in Indian Archaeology’ Social Scientist 25 (1/2) pages 3-15
4.Navaratna S. Rajaram (1994) in Puratattva, Number 24; Indian Archaeological Society pages 1-11

5.blogs.soas.ac.uk/ssai-notes… ‘The futures of India…’ by Subir Sinha

6.Irfan Habib (2022) ‘The Rewriting of History’ in Outlook, available online

7.Ibid

8.Sudama Misra (2013) Janapada States in Ancient India; Bharatiya Vidya Prakashana; Varanasi; pages 7-23

9.DN Jha (2019) Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History, Manohar, New Delhi

10.KS Lal (1993) The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India, Aditya Prakashana

11.KS Lal (1973) Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India, Research Publications, New Delhi. Pages 211-217

12.KS Lal (1993) The Mughal Harem, Aditya Prakashana

13.PN Oak (1965) Taj Mahal was a Rajput Palace, Institute for Rewriting Indian History, New Delhi

14.PN Oak (1976) Delhi’s Red Fort is Hindu Lalkot, Jaico Publishers, Mumbai

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