Historians vs. History (by Ram Swarup)

(An article on the plague afflicting the study of Indian history, by the profound scholar, Ram Swarup: http://voiceofdharma.org/books/htemples1/ch6.htm.)

Wole Soyinka, African Nobel Laureate, delivering the 20th Nehru Memorial Lecture on November 13, 1988, made an important though by no means a new observation – that the colonial histories have been written from the European viewpoint.  Speaking about Indian histories, he said that “there is a big question mark on everything that the British historians have written”.  He added that serious efforts are being made by historians back home “to rewrite African history.”

We do not know what this project involves and how it is faring in Africa, but in India efforts in this direction have yielded meagre results.  Not that there has been a dearth of rewriters, but their talent has not been equal to their zeal.

The phrase “re-writing of history” leaves a bad taste in the mouth and it is offensive to our sense of truth.  Recent instances of rewriting have not helped to improve the image of the task and they inspired little confidence.  In most cases one did not know where legitimate rewriting ended and forgery began.  In practical terms, it has meant that history is written to support the latest party line, or the latest dictator.

What does, therefore, the rewriting of history mean? How far can we go in that direction? Does it mean saying good-bye to all sense of truth and objectivity, or does it mean only restoring some neglected truths and perspective? Some have looked at our present through the eyes of the past, but will it be any better to look at our past through the eyes of the present, or even go further and write about our past and present-in the spirit of “socialist realism”-in terms of the future, in terms of tasks conceived and planned by our avante garde for the future of the country?

There are other related questions.  Is the European history of Asia and Africa all wrong and does it need wholesale replacement? Or does it also have some valuable elements, particularly in its methodology if not in its conclusions, which should be retained and even further developed? In the Indian context, is the British history of India monolithic, all painted black by motivated historians? Or, is it also pluralistic and contains many views, some of them highly appreciative of the country’s culture, philosophy and artistic creations?

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Learning from Mahatma Gandhi’s mistakes (by Dr. Koenraad Elst)

(An article written by the eminent scholar, Koenraad Elst: http://koenraadelst.voiceofdharma.com/articles/fascism/gandhimistake.html.)

Mahatma Gandhi is often praised as the man who defeated British imperialism with non-violent agitation. It is still a delicate and unfashionable thing to discuss his mistakes and failures, a criticism hitherto mostly confined to Communist and Hindutva publications. But at this distance in time, we shouldn’t be inhibited by a taboo on criticizing official India’s patron saint.

Gandhiji’s mistakes

Without attempting to approach completeness, we may sum up as Gandhi’s biggest political failures the following events:

(1) Recruiting Indian soldiers for the British war effort in 1914-18 without setting any conditions, in the vain hope that this unilateral gift to Britain would bring about sufficient goodwill in London for conceding to India the status of a self-ruling dominion within the British Empire, on a par with Canada or Australia. While it was already off line for a pacifist to cooperate in such a wasteful war (as contrasted with World War 2, to both sides a kind of holy war where fundamental principles were at stake), Gandhiji’s stance was also a glaring failure of political skill, since he neglected to extract any tangible gains for India in return for the thousands of Indian lives which he sacrificed to British imperial interests.

(2) Committing the mobilisation potential of the freedom movement to the Khilâfat agitation in 1920-22, again a non-negotiated unilateral gift. The Khilafat movement was a tragicomical mistake, aiming at the restoration of the Ottoman Caliphate against which the Arabs had risen in revolt and which the Turks were dissolving, a process completed with the final abolition of the institution of the Caliphate in 1924. It was a purely retrograde and reactionary movement, and more importantly for Indian nationalism, it was an intrinsically anti-nationalist movement pitting specifically Islamic interests against secular and non-Muslim interests. Gandhi made the mistake of hubris by thinking he could reconcile Khilafatism and Indian nationalism, and he also offended his Muslim allies (who didn’t share his commitment to non-violence) by calling off the agitation when it turned violent. The result was even more violence, with massive Hindu-Muslim riots replacing the limited instances of anti-British attacks, just as many level-headed freedom fighters had predicted. Gandhiji failed to take the Khilafat movement seriously whether at the level of principle or of practical politics, and substituted his own imagined and idealized reading of the Khilafat doctrine for reality.

(3) His autocratic decision to call off the mass agitation for complete independence in 1931, imposed upon his mass following and his close lieutenants against their wishes and better judgment, in exchange for a few puny British concessions falling far short of the movement’s demands. His reputation abroad didn’t suffer, but to informed observers, he had thrown away his aura as an idealist leader standing above petty politics; the Pact between Gandhi and Viceroy Lord Irwin amounted to the sacrifice of a high national goal in favour of a petty rise in status for the Congress. Also, every delay in the declaration of Independence gave the emerging separatist forces the time to organize and to strengthen their position.

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Demise of the Aryan Invasion Theory (Dinesh Agrawal)

An excellent article on “Demise of the Aryan Invasion Theory” by Dr. Dinesh Agrawal. (Taken from http://www.hindunet.org/hindu_history/ancient/aryan/aryan_agrawal.html.)

Demise of the Aryan Invasion Theory

By Dr.Dinesh Agrawal

Aryan Race and Invasion Theory is not a subject of academic interest only, rather it conditions our perception of India’s historical evolution, the sources of her ancient glorious heritage, and indigenous socio-economic-political institutions which have been developed over the millennia. Consequently, the validity or invalidity of this theory has an obvious and strong bearing on the contemporary Indian political and social landscape as well as the future of Indian nationalism. The subject matter is as relevant today as it was a hundred years ago when it was cleverly introduced in the school text books by British rulers. The last couple of decades have witnessed a growing interest among scholars, social scientists, and many nationalist Indians in this some what vapid and prosaic subject due to their aunguish on the great damage this theory has wrought on the psyche of the Indian society, and its tremendous contribution in creating apparently lasting schism between the different sections of the Hindu society. This subject must especially and urgently interest to all those people who are committed to the ideology of Hindutva, for one of the primary and fundamental premises of Hindutva philosophy lies in the fact that the Indian cultural nationalism has been evolved and fostered over the millenia by our ancient rishis who at the banks of holy rivers of Saptasindhu had composed the Vedic literature – the very foundation of Indian civilization, and realised the eternal truth about the Creator, His creation, and means to preserve it. The fact that these pioneers of the ancient Vedic culture and hence the Hinduism were indigenous people of mother India, is mendaciously denied by the Aryan Invasion theory which professes their foreign origin. If such a false theory is allowed to perpetuate and given credence without any tenable and reliable basis, the very raison d’etre of Hindutva is endangered. In this essay, an attempt has been made to expose the myth of Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) based on scriptural, archaeological evidences and proper interpretation of Vedic verses, and present the factual situation of the ancient Vedic society and how it progressed and evolved into all-embracing and catholic principle, now known as Hindusim.

The Aryan issue is quite controversial and has been the focus of historians, archaeologists, Indologists, and sociologists for over a century. AIT is merely a proposed ‘theory’, and not a factual event. And theories keep modifying, are discredited, nay even rejected with the emergence of new knowledge and data pertaining to the subject matter of the theories. The AIT can not be accepted as Gospel truth knowing fully well its shaky and dubious foundations, and now with the emergence of new information and an objective analysis of the archaeological data and scriptures, the validity of AIT is seriously challenged and it stands totally untenable. The most weird aspect of the AIT is that it has its origin not in any Indian records (no where in any of the ancient Indian scriptures or epics or Puranas, etc. is there any mention of this AIT, sounds really incredible!), but in European politics and German nationalism of 19th century. AIT has no support either in Indian literature, tradition, science, or not even in any of the south Indian (Dravidians, inhabitants of south India, who were supposed to be the victims of the so-called Aryan invasion) literature and tradition. So a product of European politics of the 19th century was forced on Indian history only to serve the imperialist policy of British colonialists to divide the Indian society on ethnic and religious lines in order to continue their reign on the one hand and accentuate the religious aims of Christian missionaries on the other. There is absolutely no reference in Indian traditions and literature of an Aryan Invasion of Northern India, until the British imperialists imposed this theory on an unsuspecting and gullible Indian society and introduced it to the school curriculum. The irony is that this is still taught in our schools as an unmitigated truth, and the authorities who set the curriculum of Indian history books are not yet prepared to accept the verdict, and make the amends. This is truly a shame! Now, more and more evidence is emerging which not only challenges the old myth of Aryan Invasion, but also is destroying all the pillars on which the entire edifice of AIT had been assiduously but cleverly built.

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