Should Distorted Indian History be Rewritten?
History is to a country what the Constitution is to a nation. India has a well-crafted Constitution while the same cannot be said about its history. The documented version of Indian history is patchy in parts and heavily loaded with prejudiced accounts, lies and fake narratives. That history is written by the victors is a dictum with special resonance to the Indian history.
The leaders of the Indian National Congress, who inherited the mantle of governance from the British, made it a point to fashion and design history books to suit their own lopsided perspectives and skewered ideology of secularism rather than give a straight and factual account of the past as it had actually unfolded. As a result, much of the country’s history taught in schools and colleges focuses on events from the viewpoint of the Muslim and European invaders.
Effectively, the ancient Vedic civilisation, the role of the medieval Hindu kingdoms and the reach and sway of the Hindu religious texts over the evolution of the sprawling subcontinent into a beneficiary of the homogenous Indian culture, were relegated to the background. Schools of indigenous spiritual thought, faith and philosophy that contributed to the temple and palace architecture, arts, science, medicine, space, astrology, etc which stood out as unique forms of knowledge were treated as a fading wallpaper at the worst and mere reference points at best.
Immeasurable indeed was the damage caused by the Indian historians who were preoccupied with presenting the country’s period of occupation and subjugation as the launching pad of the post-independence India. How bright could the future be for a nation that chose to forget the greatness of its past? Depiction of our country as the sorry survivor of a bygone era of invasions and subjugation by powerful alien kings, empire builders and foreign faiths which mandated proselytisation, trying to put the remnants of its pieces together to govern itself, does not augur well for the evolution of a spirited society with any degree of self-esteem.
In the power game, nothing succeeds like success. Indian historians were far too obsessed with the Mughal rulers like Akbar, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb to give due credit to the undaunted Indian kings like Chhatrapati Shivaji, Maharana Pratap, Krishnadevaraya and the countless brave regional rulers along the length and breadth of India that effectively challenged the might of the Mughals.
The Indian braves were confined to a brief paragraph or two in our history books, when not altogether ignored. Bravery and courage which prevailed in the face of battles in the course of history lost out in our history books to the squeamishness of the self-serving historians who worked to a narrow framework commissioned by the powers that be. To this day, we have Indian towns and streets named after the alien oppressors instead of the native bravehearts who valiantly fought them. Flagrant mark of a clear distortion of history!
Life and Times of the People
However, history is not all about kings, wars, victories and defeats. Besides conquests of alien lands and empire building, it gives one insights into the life and times of the laymen and women, scholars and artists, traders and tillers. Indians are the proud inheritors of an ancient civilisation, unique spiritual way of life, rich culture, unrivalled art forms and architecture as well as schools of higher learning and excellence. How deep does the Indian history delve into these segments of our country’s past?
From inventing the zero to reaching out to the sky by excelling in astronomy and astrology, our forefathers had been pioneers in the realms of the unknown; they never fought shy of daring to make inventions and raising the bar and pushing the frontiers of knowledge with bare minimal wherewithal. What sort of a nation would forget its doyens, nay giants, of the academic and scientific domains that made forays into the hitherto-unexplored fields and areas of mystique quality?
Romancing the Stone
The amazing Indian temple architecture has bedazzled the experts and tourists of the international community in terms of the engineering skill and ingenuity that have gone into the making of the temples that have survived the onslaught of time and invasions. After thousands of years of their construction, experts and authorities have given vent to their wonder as to whether such massive structures of mind-boggling nature could have been the result of the advanced and superior technological skill of aliens from a different planet. In that case, how and by what means were contacts made by those who commissioned the projects and those who executed them?
Did superior communication skill or divine intervention figure in the scheme of things? If, on the contrary, the constructions spread all over the vast sub-continent and the Far East (the biggest Hindu Temple in the world with massive stone art and intricate carvings at Angkor Vat, Cambodia and temples at Bali) were the products of the skill and talent of Indian architects, how advanced their knowledge of the subject must have been? And how industrious and diligent their construction crew should have been, given the limited range of the availability of tools and equipment, are grist to one’s imagination and unceasing wonder.
Has there been a missing link or two with the past that today’s India has failed to take note of? Was devotion or faith in the supernatural powers of the deities whom the temples were constructed to honour and celebrate the clinching factor that enabled the seemingly impossible? What caused the missing links and the yawning gap of knowledge and expertise that are not available to us today? Was the sudden and shocking disappearance of the knowledge and expertise on account of the wiping out of the flag bearers of this niche form architecture by foreign invaders who were more interested in amassing the treasures that the temples housed and spreading their own religions rather than patronising the native skill and talent?
Were the families and students of the architects silenced to death to prevent them from carrying on the family tradition and craft, which would rather help promote the ‘pagan’ religion and make it difficult to propagate the religion and agenda of the invaders? How many marvels of architecture have been ransacked, wrecked and demolished to make way for places of worship of foreign faiths, tombs and other monuments to honour the invaders? Who could answer these questions without credible evidence from impartial historians? It took no less than 70 odd years to have it decreed by a court of law that a Hindu temple had indeed existed at the same spot in Ayodhya where a later day Mughal structure was built.
Correcting a Historical Wrong
It would be easier for geological excavations to be commissioned for the purpose of unearthing more such buried archaeological wonders that had housed temples than on the basis of stories passed on by word of mouth by generations of survivors to a historical injustice. All this and more is possible only when the distorted Indian history is rewritten. This is necessary for correcting a historical wrong caused to our nation.
By Dr Sunil Gupta
(The author is a Chartered Accountant)