Hail Secular Writers of History!
WHAT are the differences between makers of history and writers of history? Simple. Makers of history do not write history, but writers of history can (and do) make history the way they want to write it. And that, of course, is a much more difficult task than merely making history. Take Aurangzeb. Being a Hindu-cum-communal cuss, Satiricus thought he hated Hindus. But a few years ago, he read an article by a learned historian-cum-columnist which informed him that Aurangzeb did not “hate” Hindus, he just did not “like” them. So Satiricus was wrong. Then again, Satiricus was sure Aurangzeb destroyed Hindu temples. But was that the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the secular truth? Of course not. For the Encyclopaedia of Islam has expressed the view that the charge of breaking Hindu temples brought against Aurangzeb is a disputed point. See? This is the indisputable secular truth.
This being so, Satiricus cannot but be impressed by the spate of articles currently appearing in the esteemed columns of esteemed newspapers in defence of Aurangzeb and his oh-so-generous grants to Hindu temples. That of course proves that Aurangzeb was as secular as latter-day secular historians certify him to be. Unfortunately for this maker of history, not all writers of his history were as secular as those equipped with Islamic encyclopedic knowledge. They include Jadunath Sarkar, who wretchedly wrote of Aurangzeb’s “religious intolerance” and SD Kulkarni, who described Aurangzeb’s bigotry as “the gift of his religion”.
Another horrid historian, SR Sharma, wrote, “that his bigoted policy was….deliberate and relentlessly systematic will be borne out by the following collection of facts.” And what are these foully fanciful facts that are stranger than secular fiction? They include: “Wholesale destruction of Hindu temples…. Re-imposition of the hated jaziya….Prohibition of celebration of Diwali and Holi….Prohibition of bearing arms, wearing fine dresses, and riding on horseback by Hindus….and prohibition of “Hindu learning”.
Good God! Surely what this abominable anti-secularist posing as a historian has written must be a foul figment of his imagination! Alas, no. For Aurangzeb’s own loyal courtier Bakhtawar Khan writes in his pen-portrait of “this most virtuous monarch”—“With the object of curbing the infidel and distinguishing the land of the faithful from an infidel land, jaziya was imposed on Hindus throughout all provinces.” And what happened when large crowds of Hindus protested against it? Orders were given to bring out the elephants, and many of the protesting Hindus were crushed under their feat.
And as if this eye-witness account of a contemporary Muslim was not anti-secular enough, what a contemporary Hindu wrote was far worse. For Swami Samarth Ramdas, Shivaji’s mentor, wrote : Aurangya pāpi budālā, udanda jāhalé pāni snān sandhyā karāvayā—“The sinner Aurangya is no more; now Hindus can practise their religion in peace.”
Hey, Ram(das)! What can Satiricus say? He can only say that the makers of history of the communal past should have learnt how to make it from the writers of history of the secular present.