Chapter 2

 

Western Studies of the Indic Civilization

Since Independence in 1947, it is this question of reconstruction of self and society on the foundation of our priorities, values, tradition and culture that seems to have completely eluded us, particularly our scholars, administrators and politicians. We appear to have forgotten that we can look back and learn from our own past. And based on that experience, construct our own unique identity within the context of our own affairs as well as that of the rest of the world. What do we as a nation - without leaning on others' ideological and material crutches - want? Do we have ingenuity or not? Can we make our points-as against aligning with one sort or another? I have a point to make as Indians? “

Dharampal[1] on the Uses of History

All histories are elaborate efforts at mythmaking. Therefore, when we submit to histories about us written by others, we submit to their myths about us as well. Mythmaking, like naming, is a token of having power. Submitting to others' myths about us is a sign that we are without power. After the historical work of Dharampal, the scope for mythmaking about the past of Indian society is now considerably reduced.

If we must continue to live by myths, however, it is far better we choose to live by those of our own making rather than by those invented by others for their own purposes, whether English or Japanese. That much at least we owe ourselves as an independent society and nation.[2]

Eurocentric study of Indian History

The first histories of India in the English language were written by officials of the British Raj. In the 20th century,'' administrator-historians' gave way to academics, but with The British Conquest and Dominion of India[3] by Sir Penderel Moon, himself a senior civil service officer, they return for a swan song. It tells the story of the British in India from 1748 (when the French showed the English the path to power over Indian rulers, and hence to trading privileges) to independence in 1947. The book has no central argument, but there are several themes. The dominant one is the part played by Indians in supporting the British Raj, established by Indian soldiers, saved by them during early disasters and the Mutiny of 1857, and run until 1947 by Indian officials, whose efficiency belied British claims that Indians could not rule themselves. To quote Sir Moon”The British conquered the country with the assistance and connivance of Indians themselves, and then ruled it for over a century with their collaboration and tacit consent. The empire was from start to finish far more of a joint Anglo-Indian enterprise than either party has usually been inclined to admit. As early as 1795 one of the company’s servants, Sir John Shore, wrote ‘Our dominion of India has been established and is maintained by the natives themselves’ “.  The story of the Indian Civil Service (ICS), the part they played in facilitating the administration of this vast land, and the motivations of the Indian members of this elite group makes for interesting reading[4] but would require a book of its own to do justice to the subject. The point to be made here is that without the able participation of the British Indian army and the tacit consent of the Indian members of the ICS, and later the Indian members of the Judiciary, the British would have been unable to rule India in as facile a manner as they did,

 

Another theme that recurs in the book is the change that occurred in British goals in India: first it was the unabashed aim of getting rich, then it was transformed into the idea of ruling well, and then finally it was thought judicious to settle on the ennobling concept of civilizing the unwashed and uncouth hordes of the subcontinent. The Mutiny changed all this, and whatever excuses were thereafter offered, the truth was simply that Britain kept India because it made her a world power. The main theme in the latter part of the history is the Indian demand for self-government, and ''the cautious, tardy British response' with grudging reforms that only alienated Indians. Moon rescues from obscurity such men as Thomas Adams[5], who really won Bengal for the British. He shows that expansion was not always profitable for the East India Company (under Wellesley, who conquered more territory than any other governor general, the company's debts almost doubled). He explains that in 1917 conservative ministers in Britain agreed to promise India ''responsible government' because, ignorant of dominion history, they thought they would be able to interpret the phrase to mean whatever they wished.

 

However we are getting ahead of ourselves. We need to look at the manner in which the ancient period of Indian History has been treated. The remarkable fact is the cursory manner in which this period has been dealt with by most English authors. The reasonably comprehensive treatment by A. L. Basham[6] leaves us asking for more. To get a complete picture of ancient India one has little choice but to study the Puranic literature[7] in its original

 

The study of India in the West has long been overshadowed by the concerns of Euro-centric historians, who, to the extent that they studied India at all, did so in a manner that gave a privileged position to Europe as the motivating force of world history. India has, ever since the classical Greeks make contact with the Persians to the East, been an object of curiosity for Europeans, although until recently their knowledge of India was largely second-hand and imprecise. As Europeans gained greater access to India, it was under the context of the British conquest and colonization, and this significantly affected the resulting portrayal.

 

India has been represented as lacking historical agency, and serving a role in history that is subservient to the agenda of Europeans. Despite the many recent critiques of colonial orientalist historiography, elements of this tradition linger on in contemporary studies of India. India, so characterized, makes the Western colonial aggression and resultant theft of resources appear as an essential and inevitable stage of history; this indeed is the ulterior motive, conscious or unconscious, in constructing what we would term as an essentialized version of Indian history. The conclusion of this passage, which portrays the colonization of India as something practically every "great nation" has done, is also clearly an attempt at the legitimization of the colonial enterprise. It is now widely recognized that such theories of history are basically ethnocentric justifications of European colonialism.

 

While such theories are rooted in the very real hegemony achieved by the Europeans of most of the world during the nineteenth century, they err in assuming this achievement was due to an intrinsic superiority of the Europeans.  Euro-centric historians have presented Indian history in a manner that portrays a privileged Europe as the motivating force. India has been considered as a passive, unchanging entity ("nothing of consequence happened in India" argument) that underwent historical changes only when motivated by outside forces (read invaders – the Turks, the Mongols, the Afghans, the Persians, the Arabs, and the British). Typical of the view of Europeans of his era was that of Hegel[8]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the overt Euro-centric  bias has become somewhat diminished, it nevertheless persists in attenuated and subtle manner even in contemporary history writing (and that includes the writings in last 40-50 years). The colonial perspective lingers on today in what might be termed the "invasion theory" of Indian history. This narrative assumes (usually implicitly) Hegel's idea that India is an intrinsically static, passive civilization, incapable on its own of having a history. Indian history then is taken as the result of a long series of invasions, beginning with the mythical "Aryans" and culminating in the invasion by the British. While there was at times warfare between India and her neighbors, sometimes culminating in invasion, India here is no exception to the general trends of ancient and medieval history. To assume that invasions are the motivating force in Indian history is to fall into the self-justifying theory of Indian history developed by the British to legitimate their exploitive colonization of India.

 

 

The questions that arise and the resulting anomalies are enumerated by Feuerstein, Kak, and Frawley[9].  First and foremost, is the fact that there never has been any archaeological evidence of any invasion among the ruins of the Saraswati Sindhu Civilization. Such invasions were posited based on highly ambiguous passages in the Rig-Veda. There are passages in the Rig-Veda referring to internecine warfare between various tribes with known affiliations, such as the Battle of the Ten Kings, but these can hardly be construed as invasions by the mythical Aryans arriving from the Russian steppe. The arguments against the AIT can be summarized as follows[10]


 

1. The Aryan invasion model is largely based on linguistic conjectures, which are unjustified (and wrong). Languages develop much more slowly than assumed by nineteenth century scholars. According to Renfrew[11] speakers of Indo-European languages may have lived in Anatolia as early as 7000 BCE


2. The supposed large-scale migrations of Aryan people in the second millennium BCE first into Western Asia and then into northern India (by 1500 BCE) cannot be maintained in view of the fact that the Hittites were in Anatolia already by 2200 BCE and the Kassites and Mitanni had kings and dynasties by 1600 BCE

3. There is no memory of an invasion or of large-scale migration in the records of Ancient India-neither in the Vedas, Buddhist or Jain writings, nor in Tamil literature. Neither is there any record of such an invasion in the historical narrative of the kingdoms of the Middle East or any region of the world for that matter. The fauna and flora, the geography and the climate described in the Rigveda are that of Northern India.
4. There is a striking cultural continuity between the archaeological artifacts of the Indus-Saraswati civilization and subsequent Indian society and culture: a continuity of religious ideas, arts, crafts, architecture, system of weights and measures.
5. The archaeological finds of Mehrgarh (copper, cattle, and barley) reveal a culture similar to that of the Vedic Indians. Contrary to former interpretations, the Rigveda shows not a nomadic but an urban culture (purusa as derived from pur vasa = town-dweller).
6. The Aryan invasion theory was based on the assumption that a nomadic people in possession of horses and chariots defeated an urban civilization that did not know horses, and that horses are depicted only from the middle of the second millennium onwards. Meanwhile archaeological evidence for horses has been found in Harappan and pre-Harappan sites; drawings of horses have been found in paleolithic caves in India; drawings of riders on horses dated c. 4300 BCE have been found in Ukraina. Horsedrawn war chariots are not typical for nomadic breeders but for urban civilizations.

7. The racial diversity found in skeletons in the cities of the Indus civilization is the same as in India today; there is no evidence of the migration of a new race. 

8. The Rig-Veda (Rg) describes a river system in North India that is pre-1900 BCE in the case of the Saraswati River, and pre-2600 BCE in the case of the Drishadvati River. Vedic literature shows a population shift from the Saraswati (Rigveda) to the Ganges (Brahmanas and Puranas), also evidenced by archaeological finds.

9. The astronomical references in the Rg are based on a Pleiades-Krittika (Taurean) calendar of c. 2500 BCE when Vedic astronomy and mathematics were well-developed sciences (again, not a feature of a nomadic people).

 10. The Indus cities were not destroyed by invaders but deserted by their inhabitants because of desertification of the area. Strabo (Geography XV.1.19) reports that Aristobulos had seen thousands of villages and towns deserted because the Indus had changed its course.

 
11. The battles described in the Rigveda such as for instance the Battle of the Ten Kings were not fought between invaders and natives but between people belonging to the same culture.


12. Excavations in Dwaraka have lead to the discovery of a site larger than Mohenjodaro, dated c. 1500 BCE with architectural structures, use of iron, a script halfway between Harappan and Brahmi. Dwarka has been associated with Krishna and the end of the Vedic period.


13. There is continuity in the morphology of scripts: Harappan, Brahmi, Devanagari.


14. Vedic ayas, formerly translated as 'iron,' probably meant copper or bronze. Iron was found in India before 1500 BCE in Kashmir and Dwaraka.

 
15. The Puranic dynastic lists with over 120 kings in one Vedic dynasty alone fit well into the 'new chronology'. They date back to the third millennium BCE. Greek accounts tell of Indian royal lists going back to the seventh millennium BCE. There are now comprehensive and objective historical analyses of the Vedic Age, of the Vedas and in particular the Rig. . Typical of such expositions are those by Srikant Talageri[12] , P.L. Bhargava[13] and by David Frawley[14].

16. The Rig-Veda itself shows an advanced and sophisticated culture, the product of a long development, 'a civilization that could not have been delivered to India on horseback' (p.160) by warlike nomads who in turn transformed themselves into rishis, sages who composed the highly introspective discourses to be found in  the Upanishads .

17. Painted Gray Ware culture in the western Gangetic plains, dated circa 1100 BCE has been found connected to (earlier) Black and Red Ware etc.

There is also one other interesting remark to be made. The Saraswati Sindhu civilization is a civilization with archaeology but no literature while the Vedics were representative of a people with a vast literature but ostensibly no archaeology. It would therefore be a reasonable deduction to make that the two were contemporaneous or that the Saraswati Sindhu Civilization was simply a continuation of the Vedic era.

Following the Greeks, the invasion theory timeline moves on to the Mauryan dynasty, and then to the invasions of the Kushans and Scythians. The Gupta dynasty is then covered, only to move on to the devastation caused by the invasion of the Huns. Following the Huns, India is usually portrayed as undergoing a political decline characterized by fragmentation and decentralization, as well as a cultural decline, resulting in the rise of "unorthodox" religious traditions such as the Tantric schools of Buddhism and Hinduism. India was then purified by the violence of the Islamic invasions, resulting in the re-establishment of centralized rule under the Moghals.

 

 

This narrative framework is found in many histories of India, including some quite modern ones. The classic version of this history is Vincent Smith's[15] The Oxford History of India (1919),, which has been duly deconstructed by Inden[16], who makes quite clear the ideology underpinning the "invasion" narrative. Inden wrote that “To have represented the kingdoms of India as relatively autonomous agents, as complex, interrelated polities that could unite through pacts as well as 'force' within a single imperial formation and create new centers not determined by a fixed military topography, would have undermined this whole orientalist project.” So Smith dispatched cruel Huns to prepare the way for the still worse advent of Islam, which would in turn, clear the way for the miraculous arrival by sea of the better Aryan, the Western or European. He could clip the Dravidian jungle and prevent the Russians setting fire to the whole green expanse. The history of medieval decline did not stop, however, by preparing for the modern. If Smith's history of ancient India was, in effect, a history of its present, his narrative of medieval India was really a parable of the future, of what would happen in India if the British withdrew.

 

The first comprehensive history of India entitled History of British India [17](1818), was attempted by James Mill. He believed in the superiority of the British people over the Indians. But there were other scholars thinking on different lines. The work of Sir William Jones and other European scholars unearthed a volume of evidence on India’s glorious past. However, despite the European discovery of India’s past greatness and well-developed civilization, the British, having become the paramount power in India, remained generally convinced of their own superiority over Indians, and continued to feed themselves on Mill and Macaulay. They held Indians and their literature in low esteem, insisting on accepting the degenerate conditions of the eighteenth century Muslim India as its normal condition.

 

Seeley[18] declared that nothing as great was ever done by Englishmen as the conquest of India, which was “not in the ordinary sense a conquest at all”, and which he put on par “with the Greek conquest of the East”, pointing out that the British who had a “higher and more vigorous civilization than the native races” founded the Indian Empire “partly out of a philanthropic desire to put an end to enormous evils” of the “robber-states of India”. European philologists "discovered" the rich literary Sanskrit tradition at the end of the eighteenth century; and during the nineteenth century constructed the theory of the Aryan Invasion based on their study of the etymology of common roots of words, which they claim came from a Proto-Indo-European (PIE) parent language. Indologists mined Vedic literature looking for clues that could prove the Aryans originally came from outside of the Subcontinent. It was reasoned that such a sophisticated language, related to but more refined than Latin, must have come into India from a common PIE source or to put it in more stark terms, could have originated anywhere but from India itself. According to this line of thinking, from its pristine Vedic form, Sanskritic culture gradually degenerated into Hindu idolatry and ritual. Conveniently, the Aryan Invasion provided a pattern of conquests by outsiders, which helped to justify colonial rule over a land that had always been subjugated by foreigners – first the Central Asian Aryans followed by the Turks and Afghans, and finally the Europeans. In this way, India was seen as a derivative civilization, always in need of stimulation from outsiders to progress.

 

Professor D. P. Singhal[19] asserts that, contrary to the general belief, Indians in ancient times did not neglect the important discipline of historiography. On the contrary, they were good writers of history. He states: “Ancient India did not produce a Thucydides, but there is considerable evidence to suggest that every important Hindu court maintained archives and genealogies of its rulers. And Kalhana’s Rajatarangini, written in twelfth century Kashmir, is a remarkable piece of historical literature. Despite his lapses into myths and legends, Kalhana had an unbiased approach to historical facts and history writing. He held that a true historian, while recounting the events of the past, must discard love (raga) and hatred (dvesha). Indeed, his well-developed concept of history and the technique of historical investigation have given rise to some speculation that there existed at the time a powerful tradition of historiography in which Kalhana must have received his training.”

 

To understand what has led to the current portrayal of India, one has to examine and expose various intellectual agendas, which are a grim reminder to Indians not to abandon the field of the humanities to others;

 

German nationalism was based on the Aryanization of its identity, by combining (i) the appropriation of India's civilization and (ii) the rejection of Indians as inferior.

Britain's agenda to control a population one thousand times more than its own men based in India was through mental subjugation - the well-known Macaulay plan.

India's own post-independence intellectuals turned to the leftist model, partly out of the success with Macaulayization by inculcating a inferiority complex in their own heritage, thereby worsening this self-image. From copying the colonial West it became copying Soviet and Chinese socialist models, in each case at the expense of indigenous heritage.

 

Many Western thinkers have gone through four stages of scholarship: (1) Learn, respect and appropriate from India;  (2) Distance oneself from the Indic source to 'clean up the know how'; (3) Rename it as Western and/or Christian; (4) Trash the source as world negating, primitive and backward in comparison to the 'scientific and progressive' west, thereby justifying the appropriation. Skillful use of cultural language can and is used routinely to define a belief, subtly denigrate a community, appropriate another's ideas by clever renaming and re-mapping, and assert cultural hegemony over others. Indian historiography in the post-independence phase has been characterized by the remarkable similarity between Western scholarship on India and the works of Indian historians, whether Marxist, secular or liberal. Writings of this genre present Hindustan as the aggregationist story par excellence namely a patchwork of communities, dialects and religion from time immemorial. This view of history, largely uncontested so far, is now facing its first serious challenge.

 

One typical piece of western analysis, which found fertile ground in Indian historiography, reads..."within the one society and culture there are ... alternative representations, each pretending to universality... Intra-culture translation therefore becomes a central problem for anthropological investigation, because it is a central problem within the Hindu world itself. To ignore this by privileging one representation at the expense of the others is to reduce complex multiplicity to misconstrued uniformity to reduce the sociologies of India to a single sociology." Colonial scholars reinforced the missionary attack by providing their own self serving rationale. They taught that India was not one country that it was a miscellany of people that it had never known independence that it had always been under the rule of foreign invaders. The colonial rulers had a clear motive, a clear goal. They wanted an India, which had no identity, no vision of its own, and no native class of people respected for their leadership. They were to be replaced as far as it lay in their power by a new class of intellectual compradores. Meanwhile, the concerted attacks succeeded. They were internalized and Indians made them their own. There was a crop of "reformers" who wanted India to change to the satisfaction of its critics. Above all, there appeared a class of Hindu-hating Hindus who knew all the bad things about Hinduism. Earlier invaders ruled through the sword. The British ruled through "Indology". The British took over Indian education and taught Indians to look at themselves through their eyes. Original Indian narration of Indian history was discarded. They created a class Indian in blood and color, but anti-Hindu in its intellectual and emotional orientation. This is the biggest problem that a rejuvenated and revitalized India faces today, namely the problem of self-alienated Hindus. Even today in Post Independence India , the worst detractors of the Indic traditions are the Macaulayized Indians themselves.

 

There has been a significant sprouting of South Asian studies in many American and European/UK universities after 1971 after separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan. The reason being that after the split of the Pakistan there was concern among the western policy makers that the political center of Islam in the subcontinent was going to be split and weaken and get merged into the Indian statehood and eventually into a Hindu nationality. One of the main aims of the academic chairs after 1971 was to recreate a Muslim political history and to negate and undermine non-Muslim history and studies in the sub-continent. The emphasis was more on revising the Mughal rule and whitewashing their rule in the South Asia.

 

The other goal of academia in the West was to determine the weakness in the Indian political structure and society in term of dissent and local revolution. After the 1971 war and the subsequent Pokhran atomic test in 1975, containing India was subcontracted to Pakistan and every effort was made to help it support itself. Cold War exigencies helped in the transfer of nuclear weapons to Pakistan, which was transforming itself to a Islamized state. A major fear after 1971 was that Punjab, Sindh and (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) POK would merge with India, NWFP with Afghanistan and Baluchistan would merge with the Shah’s Iran. Islamization was undertaken to prevent this. Another fear of Pakistan was that it would be culturally assimilated in India just as the 500 other states had been. Once again a new culture was propagated and new history was created. So, the Pakistan of present times is not that created at Partition. The west just started what they were working on for the last 150 years to negate the Hindu/Indic civilization and replace it with Islamic history and country.

 

Dr. Hoernle, thern Profesor of Sanskrit at Benares Hindu Uiversity met Swami Dayananda in 1926 and remarked[20] - He (Dayananda) may possibly convince the Hindus that their modern Hinduism is altogether in the opposition to the Vedas....... If once they became thoroughly convinced of this radical error, they will no doubt abandon Hinduism at once...... They cannot go back to the Vedic state; that is dead and gone, and will never revive; something more or less new must follow. We hope it may be Christianity,.....

 

It is no accident that Michael Witzel was offered the Prince of Wales chair in Harvard for Sanskrit studies. In fact Witzel is not half as egregious as some of the others such as Wendy's children named after Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. These universities were indulging in extrinsic trivialization of Hinduism and were attempting to reduce its hold on the Indian masses through the propaganda of the secularists and the leftists. This is pernicious to India, because however much one may try to deny it and no matter how controversial the view, the real fabric of India's unity lies in its Hindu ethos and Indic traditions. In fact, destruction of the Hindu ethos of India is an appropriate means to employ should the goal be the dismantling of the Indian republic as it stands today.

 

Ever since independence the focus of this effort starting with the India office in London has been to contain a resurgent India. It is unfortunate that so many Indians have succumbed rather comprehensively to this stratagem, so much so that a large educated mass has turned to the west for methodologies and hypothesis and even their assumptions while at the same time negating all Indian traditions. To assert anything good about Indian traditions is suspicious in the eyes of some in India, and is immediately denigrated as being saffron. It was a brilliant masterstroke on the part of Atlee and Mountbatten to co-opt the Congress as the most palatable of all the alternatives in India for independence, dominated as they were by England educated politicians and thereby delay the inevitable resurgence of the Indic civilization. But this tradition is slowly but surely asserting itself and one day it will be realized that a great portion of Asia from the Tarim basin to the Indonesian Islands owes its civilizational ethos to the ideas originating in the Indian subcontinent.

 

Methodology of False portrayal of India

 

In a recent article rebutting such a false portrayal of Indic traditions, Rajiv Malhotra[21] has identified some common techniques that have been brought into play. One such technique is selective branding. Whenever a person defends the Indic tradition, he/she is immediately branded as a Hindu activist or even worse a Hindu fundamentalist. It is almost never explained what they did to deserve such a sobriquet. At the same time, rarely is it mentioned that those making such charges are invariably from the left of the spectrum.  Second there is rarely any mention of the role of evangelism in the denigration of Hinduism. Third there is little mention of the large scale collusion between leftists and the Christian right when working towards their common goal of dismantling the Indic traditions of the Indian Republic.

 

After the Iran revolution and the Soviet attack on Afghanistan, Western capitals took the initiative and started extensive research on Sunni Islam. This initiative created university centers and a lobby for Islam in US with the money and support of Saudi Arabia and Pakistani Ashrafs. Such Chairs as the Quaid-e-Azam Chair of Pakistan Studies at the University  of California, Berkeley, endowed by the Ashrafs of Pakistan, are ubiquitous by their presence at several campuses across America. It is important to mention here that Ashrafs of the sub-continent are the descendents of the rulers of the Islamic Empire in the Indian sub-continent and they are of Turk, Mongol, Afghani and Iranian origin (anything but Indian) and have an exalted position among the Muslims of the sub-continent. Such caste distinctions are accentuated in Pakistan despite the fact that the Pakistani takes pride in the notion that caste is not part of the official Islamic theology. Caste is alive and well and thriving in Pakistan and it is here, rather than in India that Caste distinctions are not easily bridged

 

Getting back to our narrative, the policy makers in the West were working on a political center for Sunni Islam, which could oppose the Shia Islam in Iran. That policy undertook a larger study of Islam in the subcontinent including the Deobandi, Sufi, WaliUllah and others. The Indian sub-continent may have been a long-term choice for the Islamic political center but the non-Muslims and the Hindu religions posed a problem for this policy. Hence the notion of negating the non-Muslims of India was started with the final goal of creating a center of political Islam inside India. This was accelerated during the early 80s and with the help of leftists inside India it reached a crescendo in the early 90s. The CPI took a stand regarding the Ayodhya dispute before any other party took any notice of it and created a wedge in the society that in turn caused fissures in the polity and the society. It snowballed out of all proportion to its intrinsic importance to Indian society, and may have been intended that way by the western policymakers to watch the social and political splits inside India.

 

India has become a giant experimental laboratory for a small group of academics and policymakers in the west to play and tweak remotely for the last 50 odd years or more. Western academics are dismissive about Indian historians of the indigenous kind. Quote from Edwin Bryant (from Harvard University) : Some Indigenous Aryanists are professionals scholars and publish their research in professional publications in a professional manner. Quite commonly , however, their contributions are seized upon with great enthusiasm, taken out of context, and rearticulated-sometimes in ways that are quite comical from the perspective of critical scholarship-by nonprofessional people in publications that would be quite appropriate to label communalist( some blatantly so). Such publications abound in India. It is essential for scholars to point out and condemn such abuses of scholarships.

 

Most of the people of India are seen as object of study for these academics to analyze and come to conclusion (mostly wrong) just as the colonial Europeans did few centuries back. As objects of                        study Indics are not supposed to  talk back or argue with them about these matters and in fact become irate when some of us do indulge in debate with them. Finally when they are about to lose the argument, ridicule and scorn is poured upon them. They employ native informants to get information about subset of cultural behavior and negate or ridicule such behavior. Advertisements for native informants can yet be found in the Internet pages of universities, which have South Asian studies. They use the native informants for information and then groom them to be true Macaulayites who will look at fellow Indians as subject of study.

 

 

Force of History

 

This doctrine asserts that a certain evolution of history is always ongoing  in a particular direction and that there is a historical order of things. In the case of India and the sub-continent it means that the process of Islamization going on from 1000 years will continue to its logical end. Hindus do not pay much attention to the historical order of things," wrote Al Biruni in 1030 AD. "They are very careless in relating the chronological succession of things." The millennium-old censure of the Hindus' lack of historic sense by a medieval Muslim historian appears to still apply, particularly to the Indian historians of the present day.

 

Such a cavalier approach to History has been exploited by the Islamists, British and modern day communists in India for the last 200 years and continued by the western academics. The Islamist believes in this doctrine of history since it is part of the Islamic history as represented by Islam and is read by all the students who train under the ulema and madrassas. Islamic history has been preserved for a long time with accuracy and also has been presented with a sense of the inevitability of the force of history. This makes the faithful believe that faith alone will take them to the destination that they strive for. This is the reason why the Pakistan army and the Islamic parties are confident in the long run of changing the history of South Asia to their advantage. By projecting Islam as a winning religion in the sub-continent, the non-Muslim tradition could be totally wiped out of the sub-continent or made a minority. According to such a doctrine of the force of history, creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh is part of the evolution from the Middle Ages (a third phase of expansion of Islam) and the entire sub-continent will also one day will be a Islamic country. During the cold war the US and Pakistan forced this history upon the subcontinent as the final destiny of south Asia. The hatred of Hindus and in particular the Brahmanas amongst the Ashrafs and sections of the Anglo Saxon world (the British credited the independence of India in 1947 to the Brahmana community) created a powerful pact between them along with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which resulted in a cold war plan to change the history of South Asia forever to their advantage.

 

The protection of Pakistan by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), US and China for so many decades, a strategy that is otherwise inexplicable to the average Indian Ashok, begins to make sense when viewed in the light of the force of history. Such a policy can then be rationalized as being consonant with the geo-political goals of the hyper power. The reason is that by supporting and protecting the center of Islam inside the sub-continent the force of history will work its own way to force change with the population. This process of evolution is still going on for the last 35 years even after 1971 and the collapse of the FSU. The US with its vast resources and control of the world media is providing the powerful push to this force of history to become a reality. The latest development in US Pakistan relations as we write this chapter in the spring of 2004, namely the designation of Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally by the Secretary of State Colin Powell is consonant with the scenario that we have hypothesized. It is clear that the aim of the US continues to remain the creation of a Islamic political center in the subcontinent. What is particularly galling from the Indian point of view is that the US seems to imagine that India will be happy with purely symbolic acts of friendship designed merely to salve the ego, while the US is busily aiding and abetting those who would dismantle India.[22]

 

The US with the help of proxies inside India is also engaging in social re-engineering and religious conversion to break the Indian society (kinship and old traditions) and accept an Islamic government. The US policy to treat the entire Indian subcontinent as one consisting primarily of Muslims and non-Muslims is to ensure that non-Muslims do not gain dominance, both from a cultural standpoint as well as in a leadership sense over the Muslims. In due time over the course of history the expectation is that all the people will be of the same religious ethnicity.

 

The communists have been a willing and enthusiastic partner in this process, since they believe in this doctrine and since they consider revolution as the modern version of the process of the evolution of history. Revolution in the communist world is similar to Jihad in the Islamic world and employs the same vocabulary and much the same metaphor. Hence Indian leftists and communists have a similar weltanschauung as do the Islamists when it comes to the future destiny of India and are collaborating with various external organizations to bring about such a change.

 

Why do such disparate groups as the foreign policy establishment (by no means monolithic) of the US and the leftists of India desire the demise of the multi-ethnic and multi-religious Indian Republic with such fervor and single minded purpose? The answer to this question is multifaceted and one can only speculate, listing the obvious reasons. We have already alluded to some of these reasons. There is the commonality of the Abrahamic faith. Much of the weltanschauung of the western world is one that they share with the Islamic Ummah namely the concept of a monotheistic ideology, the aggressive proselytization of their belief systems, and the facile resort to violence, crusades and Jihad for purely religious reasons.  In contrast, the Sanatana Dharma is regarded as a pagan and moribund faith bedeviled by exotic forms of idolatry and steeped in superstition or worse. Politics makes for strange bedfellows and in this instance the Indian left, under the tutelage of China, has made common cause with influential sections of the media, church, and the State Department in the US in undermining and preventing the maturation of democratic institutions in the Indian Republic. It is difficult at this point in time to gage the depth of this relationship. Writes Rajiv Malhotra, alluding to the analogy of the Stockholm Syndrome in the link mentioned earlier “Hinduism is squeezed both from the American right and from the Indian and American left. The right backs the Christian fundamentalist goals of converting India and targets Hinduism as the last remaining and most resilient bastion of pagan culture in the world. The intelligentsia of the left is more complex and diverse in its reasons for the thoroughgoing bias against Hinduism and Hindus: (i) there is a holdover from an era of allegiance to pro-Communist movements; (ii) there are fifth-column opportunist double agents; (iii) there is a fundamental discomfort due to misunderstandings that Hinduism runs counter to modernity; and (iv) there are social stigmas that article's such as the Post's promulgate. The net effect of this is that many Hindus are intimidated into accepting every insult that is hurled at them, for fear of being subjected to further harassment. This may be viewed as a sort of societal Stockholm Syndrome.

 

 

There is one other point to be made. The relationship between the Hindu and Muslim during the insurrection of 1857 was by and large amicable.  Immediately after the quelling of the rebellion in 1857 and the initial orgy of recrimination and revenge against the Muslims of Delhi and other urban centers, the British realized that a unified India, with a harmonious relationship between Hindus and Muslims would make their job of holding on to their ill gotten gains and conquest, that much more difficult. There was also the tacit assumption that the educated Hindu was far from being as malleable and pliable as the inhabitants of some of their other possessions, or even the reputedly aggressive Muslim. Ergo, if there were no differences to be found, they would have to be manufactured. It was imperative that the cultural unity of the subcontinent be ridiculed and the differences accentuated. The plan to institutionalize a ‘divide and rule’ strategy was therefore executed with efficiency and a single-minded focus. The completion of the 1881 census with the extensive enumeration of the Schedule of Castes and Tribes was the first step among many to diminish and trash the cultural unity of the subcontinent, and to replace her Puranic Itihasa (History) with one that was more consonant with the notion that there was no indigenous civilization in the Indian subcontinent. Max Mueller was hired by Macaulay with the express intent of devaluing the Vedic tradition and to invent a chronology for the Vedas in order to dethrone them from their premier position as the source of Indic traditions. Max Mueller was a student of Roth, who was one of the first Germans to study the Vedas. Besides his teacher's stamp on him, Max Muller's interview with Lord Macaulay on the 28th December, 1855 A.D. also played a great part in his anti-Indian views.  Max Mueller had to sit silent for an hour while the historian poured out his diametrically opposite views and then dismissed his visitor who tried in vain to utter a simple word : "I went back to Oxford", writes Max Muller, "a sadder man and a wiser man."

 

The second major decision the British made during the later half of the nineteenth century, was to systematically appease the Indian Muslim to discourage him from being absorbed into the Indian cultural ethos. This was the beginning of the conscious policy of preferentially recruiting Indian Muslims, especially from the Punjab, for the Indian Army. Simultaneously, the British manufactured the myth of the martial races, in order to emphasize that the vast majority of the people in the subcontinent did not fall into this category.

 

The perception of the leftists and communists about non-Muslims in the subcontinent is the same as that of their earlier colonial masters. The force of history is believed to change the non-Muslims and reconcile them to their final destiny.

 

Doctrine of Phases

This doctrine proposes that a series of events and sequence in time will lead to a course of history. It may take few days or many months and years even decades but the course of events (history) is such that it will move in a particular direction.  One example is that used by the Palestinians in their sequence of actions against the Israeli state. The ultimate goal is to make the state a Palestine one and the Jews second-class citizens of that state. There is an analogy to events in Kashmir. First the protests, next the killings, next the political dialog and then the international attention. The killings transformed the society into a nizam-e-Mustafa, which implies supremacy of Islam in the Kashmir valley, a supremacy to be imposed on the non-Muslims. So every action was constructed as a jihad and for the benefit for Islam.

 

When the population in a predominant Islamic society gets radicalized they opt for jihad to change the status quo and this is done in stages. In Kashmir the madrassas were radicalized in the 70’s. So by early 80’s many Kashmiri youths were fighting in Afghanistan as mujahideens. This gave them sufficient support to start a jihad for their old nationalistic grievances in their hometown. By 1989 the jihadis had started the jihad in Kashmir and reached the peak by 1994. Pakistan increased the scope of this jihad after 1992 for the entire country with the intent of radicalizing the entire Muslim population within India and start a bigger phase in its doctrine. The aim was to weaken the state and make it easy to spread Islam throughout India.

 

 

What should be the principles on which a History of India be based ?

 

There is no single answer to this question. But some ideas for such a historiography suggest themselves.

 

Primary among such considerations is the notion that the Indic civilization not unlike other civilizations characterized by longevity, was a substantial net exporter of ideas and values in addition to being a recipient of ideas originating elsewhere. Cultural influences should be regarded as the result of a complex interplay of ideas, languages and religions. For example, instead of concentrating on migrations to India, one can ask how the Indo-European languages spread over such a vast area of Europe and Asia with a common substratum of words. Could it have been the result of significant commerce and/or academic exchanges, such as occurs today? It is important to remind oneself that unlike the India of the 19th century, the Ancients of the Indian subcontinent were in the top rungs of the Maslow hierarchy of needs, and had the time and inclination to pursue what they believed to be essential ontological issues  in relation to the human species. It is conceivable therefore that such academic exchange was more than likely over vast regions even considering the more primitive modes of travel prevalent during that period.  After all, Adi Sankara was able to traverse the entire subcontinent more than once on foot without much difficulty

 

Another principle in developing a historical narrative for India that suggests itself is the notion that Indian History should not be subject to reductionist arguments and be boxed in or essentialized into a watertight compartment such as South or South East Asia. India has much in common with various disparate cultures and is in fact the quintessential melting pot of cultures and the Indic civilization is one with a Universal Weltanschauung. The reason that Indic philosophies have appeal is because of the Universalist principles on which they are based and the resort to ontological arguments. It is in this context that Indians find exhortations to secularism to be particularly incongruous. The secularist imperative of Indian society is merely a subset of ontological principles celebrating the universality of the human spirit. The Indic civilization has always welcomed a catholicity of views and ideologies as alternate paths suitable for human beings at different stages of their development. Reminding the Indian to be secular is as redundant as reminding the Chinese to revere their ancestors.

 

Grammar School education in India in general and the teaching of History in particular must be undertaken with a great degree of deliberation and seriousness, comparable to that which is done in most European countries. A history of an entire nation should never be relegated for the most part to the subjects of another power or nation, much less a colonial power.  In developing a curriculum for History education in India, we must be far more accepting of our oral tradition of transmitting knowledge which predates the development of scripts by several millennia

 

Last but not least the Indian must once again be encouraged to have pride in his/her historical tradition, regardless of religious affiliation. The current practice where all activities remotely considered nationalistic are immediately ridiculed, as jingoism is a practice that appears peculiarly Indian. Under no circumstances should the modern Indian let the History of India be driven and directed by a small group of people alien to the traditions of the subcontinent and who are accountable to no one in the subcontinent.

 

Again the point here is not to concoct a history that speaks only of glowing terms of the past accomplishments of India while ignoring the inevitable blemishes which certainly India was not immune to. The purpose is to avoid broad generalizations and to accept as fact, events in history without any evidence whatsoever that they occurred and merely because it was asserted by a European.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 



[1]   Collected Works of Dharampal , The Other India Book store, Goa

[2]   Alvares, Claude. 2000. Preface: making history. In Dharampal (author), Indian Science & Technology in the Eigteenth Century. Mapusa: Other India Press.

 

[3] Sir Penderel Moon “The British Conquest and Dominion of India”, http://www.ivorcatt.com/3016.htm

[4] It's Personal Before It's Political: Ambition and Angst in the Lives of Indian Civil Servants, 1880-1950, http://www.screwschool.com/term/his111.htm

 

[5] Thomas Adams , http://www.regiments.org/milhist/southasia/biography/cinchief.htm

[6] A.L. Basham, The Wonder that was India, Sidgwick and Johnson, 3rd edition, London, 2000.

[7] Koenraad Elst, ‘Who is a Hindu’, VOI, Delhi, 2003. According to the Puranas, Manu Vaivasvata, patriarch of the present human race, or at least of the ‘Aryas’, had ten successors, one of them being Sudyumna, founder of the Prayag-based Lunar dynasty (another being Ikshvaku, founder of the Ayodhya-based Solar dynasty). His great-grandson Yayati left Prayag to conquer western India, and one of his five sons, Puru, acquired the metropolitan area (East Punjab and Haryana) of the Saraswati basin where the Vedic tradition was to develop. One of his descendants (23rd generation starting from Manu) was Bharata, after whom India is named Bhâratavarsha. A systematic table of dynastic lists given in the Puranas was prepared by P.L. Bhargava: India in the Vedic Age, reproduced in S. Talageri: Aryan Invasion Theory and Indian Nationalism, p.338-343. A cross-reference between these lists and the kings names appearing in the Vedas is given in Talageri: op.cit., p.345-347.

 

 

[8] “It allowed influential philosophers such as Hegel to posit ethnocentric and self-serving justifications of colonization. Arguing that Europe was "absolutely the end of universal history", he saw Asia as only the beginning of history, where history soon came to a standstill. "If we had formerly the satisfaction of believing in the antiquity of the Indian wisdom and holding it in respect, we now have ascertained through being acquainted with the great astronomical works of the Indians, the inaccuracy of all figures quoted. Nothing can be more confused, nothing more imperfect than the chronology of the Indians; no people which attained to culture in astronomy, mathematics, etc., is as incapable for history; in it they have neither stability nor coherence." With such distorted views of India, it was a small step to argue that "The British, or rather the East India Company, are the masters of India because it is the fatal destiny of Asian empires to subject themselves to the Europeans." Hegel's racist consciousness comes out most explicitly in his descriptions of Africans: "It is characteristic of the blacks that their consciousness has not yet even arrived at the intuition of any objectivity, as for example, of God or the law, in which humanity relates to the world and intuits its essence. ...He [the black person] is a human being in the rough” http://india_resource.tripod.com/britishedu.htm

[9] Feuerstein, Georg, Subhash Kak, and David Frawley, In Search of the Cradle of Civilization. Wheaton, Illinois: Quest Books, 1995.

[10] Klostermaier, Klaus, Questioning the Aryan Invasion Theory and Revising Ancient Indian History , ICJ Vol. 6, No 1 June 1998,http://www.iskcon.com/icj/6_1/6_1klostermaier.html

[11] Colin Renfrew “Archaeology and Language”, Cambridge Univ Press, ISBN 0521386756

 

[12] Srikant Talageri, “The RigVeda, a historical analysis”, Aditya Prakashan, 2000, http://www.bharatvani.org/books/rig

[13] P.L.Bhargava, “India in the Vedic Age”. D.K. Printworld P Ltd., New Delhi 110015

[14] David Frawley, “The Rig Veda, and the History of India (Rig Veda Bharata itihasa), Aditya Prakashan New Delhi, 2001, http://www.vedanet.com/Biography.htm

[15] Vincent Smith “The Oxford History of India”, 1919

[16] Inden, Ronald B. 1990. Imagining India. Cambridge: Blackwell

[17] James Mill, History of British India, http://www.bartleby.com/224/0241.html

[18] Seeley, Sir John Robert (1834-1895), Expansion of England (1883).

 

[19]  D P SinghalIndia and World Civilization”, Michigan State University Press,2003

[20] Purohit Bhagavan Dutt, Western Indologists: A Study in Motives  http://www.salagram.net/WesternIndologists-page.htm

[21] Rajiv Malhotra, “Washington Post and Hindu phobia”,

 http://www.sulekha.com/column.asp?cid=305924

[22] http://headlines.sify.com/2885news4.html?headline=Ambitious~India~spurns~US~sops