De-secularizing Indian History: Why the UGC Deserves our Kudos

The University Grants Commission, which issued a new draft syllabus of Indian History needs to be congratulated. The time for writing the true history of India was long overdue and this first step is a step in the right direction.
De-secularizing Indian History: Why the UGC Deserves our Kudos

Saffronisation of Indian history is an airy, three-legged cot that continues to stand, tottering, on Karl Marx, the White Man’s Burden and Nawab Nehru. It is an implicit evil relic that has outlived its expiry date.

The implicit evil is in the very term, “saffronisation,” a Nehruvian-Marxist politico-linguistic strawman that endured for at least half a century. Because no academic or lexical definition is available for “saffronisation,” it can mean all things to all people depending on whether you are in an election season or on the wrong side of the fence. But from verifiable experience, it simply means RSS, BJP, and Hindutva, all of which are of course, inherently evil.

Another simple definition of Saffronisation of Indian history is this: any history not approved by the high priests and priestesses of the Indian Marxist politburo is saffron.

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Saffronisation also took on another meaning especially after the political ascendancy of the BJP and the nationwide embrace of the RSS since the mid and late 1990s: it became the war-cry of the losers of the assorted tribes of the Extreme Left. Today, its behavior eerily resembles that of the parched, baulking Bedouin tribes of the seventh and eighth century Arabia.

In a farsighted essay dated June 26, 1998, Arun Shourie had predicted the current funeral of these Extreme Left tribalists, a funeral that would be lit by the dried wood of their own fabrications. His piece remains a classic and will be relevant till the last remnants of these tribes disappear. Here is an excerpt:

For fifty years this bunch has been suppressing facts and inventing lies. How concerned they are about that objective of the ICHR -- to promote objective and rational research into events of our past. How does this square with the guidelines issued by their West Bengal Government in 1989…"Muslim rule should never attract any criticism. Destruction of temples by Muslim rulers and invaders should not be mentioned"? But their wholesale fabrications of the destruction of Buddhist vihars, about the non-existent "Aryan invasion" -- to question these is to be communal, chauvinist! It is this which has been the major crime of these "historians". But these are not just partisan "historians". They are nepotists of the worst kind... they are ones who have used State patronage to help each other in many, many ways.

The outcome of this essay was the majestic Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud, a ready-reckoner of the crimes against Indian history committed by the Extreme Left in India.

And so, it is both rich and odious that the disgraced distortionist inheritors of these Left(over) tribes are now complaining about “saffronisation” in the new draft of the undergraduate history syllabus issued by the UGC. A heavily editorialized news “report” in The Telegraph gives a nine-point laundry list of objections against this draft.

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We shall rebut in kind.

the first paper in the new syllabus is on the “Idea of Bharat”, and includes topics such as “Eternity of Synonyms Bharat” and religious literature like the Vedas, Vedangas, Upanishads, Smritis and Puranas.

Which is as it should be though I have a minor quibble over the phrase, “Idea of Bharat” because Bharat or Bharatavarsha is not merely an idea but a Darshana. Regarding the inclusion of Vedas, etc, it is bang on dot. How accurate will a study of Greek history be sans Illiad and Odyssey? How truthful will a study of England’s or French history be minus its Christian roots? Indeed, the very fact the inclusion of Vedas etc is treated as an objection is the best proof of how low we have fallen. An iconic history scholar like Dr. S. Srikanta Sastri has devoted four full pages to list the synonymns of Bharatavarsha, tracing their etymology and significance, and has provided at least twenty primary citations in support of it. In fact, till the Marxist mafia monopolized Indian history, every pre-mafia history scholar tested his scholarly mettle at the altar of these primary sources of Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, and the Sanskrit language.

the third paper, "From Earliest Times to 550 CE", includes features of the "Indus-Saraswati Civilisation" and its continuity, fall and survival. The Saraswati is mentioned in the Vedas but its provenance is disputed. The Sangh parivar insists that the Saraswati existed and symbolised continuity from the Harappan era to later Hindu periods, in contradistinction to the theory of the Aryan invasion. "No such term as the 'Saraswati civilisation', which has been introduced here, existed before," Meena said.

At one stroke, this wholly ignores the findings of and the ongoing research on the ancient Vedic civilization, Saraswati, and allied topics. Quite obviously, it continues to hold the discredited Aryan Invasion Theory as sacrosanct. For an exposition on the latest findings at Rakhigarhi that actually proves the continuity of the Saraswati civilization, do read Dr. David Frawley’s fine essay on The Dharma Dispatch. If this is the academic side to it, the mischief in The Telgraph article lies in claiming that the Saraswati civilization, the origin of the Sanatana civilization all the way up to the present is a mere belief of the Sangh Parivar. This is once again, the familiar Far Left tactic of inventing an enemy and then preventing the public from examining the truth simply because the enemy is saying it.

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The 12th paper, on "Cultural Heritage of India", includes topics such as "Ramayana and Mahabharat: Tradition of cultural heritage." The St Stephen's student said some class discussion of the two epics did take place under the current DU syllabus, but the new syllabus's formal coverage of the two books under a separate head sounded ominous. "There's nothing wrong with the teaching of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata as 'sources' of history, but to uncritically valorise them for their own sake will be problematic," the student said.

This is beneath contempt. Whether the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are histories in the sense that we understand it today is a separate discussion. However, to approvingly cite a St. Stephen’s student to make a case against including these works is truly mind-boggling. If The Telegraph has to cite, let it also cite from at least fifty students drawn randomly from various colleges across the country. This is not journalism but political subterfuge. An alleged journalist quoting an unnamed student without bothering to mention such prerequisites as his credentials and unbiased understanding of Indian history. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata may or may not be history books or religious books but they undoubtedly continue to shape the national culture in profoundly elevating ways.

The existing DU syllabus has three papers…devoted to the period from the 13th century to the 18th. But the new syllabus has just one paper…covering this period, reducing the importance of Muslim rule. "Mughal history has in a way been sidelined," Meena said.

Perhaps K.M. Munshi gives the best rebuttal to this and few can improve upon it. In fact, he foresaw the dangers of this sort of “history writing” more than seventy-five years ago.

Readers were regaled with Alexander’s short-lived and unfructuous invasion of India; they were left in ignorance of the magnificent empire and still more enduring culture which the Gangetic Valley had built up by the time. Lurid details of intrigues in the palaces of the Sultans of Delhi…are given, but little light is thrown on the exploits of the…heroes and heroines who for centuries resisted the Central Asiatic barbarians… The role of alien invasions in the history of India, hitherto exaggerated, deserves to be reduced to its appropriate proportions…But during all this period, the vitality of the race and culture…expressed itself with unabated vigour. The history of India is not the story of how she underwent foreign invasions, but how she resisted them and eventually triumphed over them.

De-secularizing Indian History: Why the UGC Deserves our Kudos
Revisiting K.M. Munshi's Majestic Vision for Writing India's History
The new syllabus uses the word "invasion" in connection with several Muslim rulers such as Babar - a term the current DU syllabus shuns. "In the draft syllabus, the term 'invasion' has been used only in the case of Muslim rulers, not even against the East India Company," Meena said.

In other words, truth will be told truthfully. How would you describe Babar’s barbarism, which he—like his predecessor-invaders—has himself gloated about in Babarnama? Oh wait! It was not an invasion but “arrival” according to Mohammad Habib’s “school” of distory. The current DU syllabus shuns the term “invasion” because it follows Habib’s template. For a detailed explanation of this template and its Leftist institutionalization, read the Shuddho-Ashuddho section in Arun Shourie’s Eminent Historians. For the record, notwithstanding the horrors the East India Company inflicted on India, they came to India primarily as traders, and not as conquerors unlike Muslim invaders beginning with Muhammad bin Qasim.

Works by several prominent historians have been dropped from the reading lists, such as R.S. Sharma's book on ancient India and Irfan Habib's book on mediaeval India. On the other hand, books by little-known authors, some of them believed to be pro-Sangh, have been included.

It appears that the journalist “reporting” this piece either forgot to or hesitated to use the term “eminent” instead of “prominent.” There’s a good reason these works were deservedly dropped. They were precisely the works that destroyed three generations of Indian children, and especially instilled self-hatred and national hatred in the psyches of Hindu children. On the subject of R.S. Sharma, we have some fine eviscerations done by the sharp pen of Dr. Shankar Saran. And then, we have dedicated a four-part series to document the distortionist eminence of Irfan Habib. There’s another side to the dropping of their books, once again, unearthed by Arun Shourie to whom we owe an incredible debt of gratitude.

Not only are these "historians" partisan, not only are they nepotists, they are ones who have used State patronage to help each other in many, many ways… By a brain-wave a milch-cow was thought up: it is no use having books only in English, these worthies…argued; we must have the works of leading historians translated into our regional languages. And which were the "historians" whose books got selected…? R. S. Sharma: five books. Romila Thapar: three books. Irfan Habib: two books… Bipan Chandra: two books. Muhammad Habib: three books. D. N. Jha: two books. S. Gopal: four books. Nurul Hasan: two books… Even sundry leaders of the Communist parties got the honour -- E. M. S. Namboodripad, P. C. Joshi, even Rajni Palme Dutt, the leader of the British Communist Party who functioned as the controller and director of the Indian Communists… AS A RESULT, THE BOOKS AND PAMPHLETS OF THESE FELLOWS ARE AVAILABLE IN ALL REGIONAL LANGUAGES, BUT THE WORKS OF EVEN LOKMANYA TILAK ARE NOT AVAILABLE EXCEPT IN MARATHI!

The implication is clear: apart from being works of criminal vandalism of Indian history, this vandalism was funded by the Indian taxpayer without his knowledge. As to The Telegraph’s insinuation that “books by little-known authors, some of them believed to be pro-Sangh, have been included,” it is par for the course. After all, there is only one history of India. Everything else is saffronisation and pro-Sangh.

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The draft syllabus describes the 1857 uprising against the British as the "First War of Independence", a term coined by Sangh ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. However, it makes no mention of the uprisings that took place before 1857, such as the Sanyasi Rebellion in Bengal, Paika Rebellion in Odisha and the Polygar Rebellion in Tamil Nadu. The new syllabus is also silent on the 1905 partition of Bengal and the resistance to it.

The characterization of the momentous event of 1857 is still open to interpretation and Veer Savarkar’s interpretation too, has enough merit. By all accounts, it is hair-splitting. If the Sanyasi Rebellion, etc have been excluded, they should be included.

But the partition of Bengal deserves special mention because it was one of the pioneering acts of encouraging Muslim communalism by the British. It was a prospect the Muslim leadership led by Nawab Salimullah embraced with great joy: Hindu genocide at the hands of Muslims in Bengal was the price paid for it. For the full gory details, read the Lal Ishtahar essay published on The Dharma Dispatch.

De-secularizing Indian History: Why the UGC Deserves our Kudos
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Leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and Bhim Rao Ambedkar receive less attention compared with the current syllabuses, and there is little content on the spread of communalism in the early 20th century.

Going by this report, there are two parts to this. The first, for seven decades and still counting, Mohandas Gandhi remains a sprawling one-man economy that is immune to downturns. The greatest proof of this fact is Ramachandra Guha. Regarding Nawab Nehru, the volume of literature documenting his sins is happily showing signs of outnumbering the volume of his hagiographies. Then, there is a substantial body of work on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Ambedkar still in circulation, which does justice to these illustrious leaders.

And I fully agree with the second: content on the spread of communalism in the early 20th century should be enlarged. The findings won’t be particularly heart-warming or flattering for the purveyors of The Telegraph-tinted narratives. If anything, it will prove just the opposite: that the Muslim religious and political leadership bore the mantle of communalism. But for Nawab Nehru’s usurpation of political power and his addiction to communists, this historical truth would have been part of our history textbooks. As I said, this content should be enlarged in the revised UGC syllabus.

Although seven years late, what the UGC has done signals a much-needed welcome augury. And it deserves national congratulations and support. But to put it in proper context, what was badly required all these decades was the de-secularisation of Indian history. If that effort is tinged in saffron as the secularists allege, it is all the more welcome because saffron is the colour of auspiciousness. There’s a profound reason Lokamanya Tilak titled his paper as Kesari.

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