Why ‘eminent historians’ still swear by the debunked Aryan theory – Makkhan Lal

Image depicting the imaginary Aryan invasion of India from the Caspian Sea.

“It is difficult to say that all the earliest Aryans belonged to one race, but their culture was more or less the same type. Originally the Aryans seem to have lived somewhere in the steppes stretching from Southern Russia to Central Asia. On their way to India the Aryans first appeared in Central Asia and Iran. A little earlier than 1500 BC the Aryans appeared in India.” – R.S. Sharma

“By 1500 BC when the Aryans began to arrive in India, the Harappan culture had collapsed. We do not know where they came from; perhaps they came from north-eastern Iran or the region near the Caspian Sea or Central Asia.” – Romila Thapar

Prof. Dr. Makkhan LalThe two quotations from India’s two “eminent historians” sum up their approach to the Aryan Invasion Theory. Just look at expressions “difficult to say”, “seems to have”, “somewhere in steppes”, “we do not know where they come from”, “perhaps they came from north-eastern Iran or the region near Caspian Sea or Central Asia”. Despite so many probabilities, they are certain that Aryans came from outside. When and from where? No idea!

Despite all evidence to the contrary, why does the Aryan invasion/migration theory (AIT) continue to remain the lifeline of Indian Marxist historians? Let us now look at the AIT in historical perspectives.

Linguistic Evidence

Florentine merchant, Filippo Sassetti, who lived in Goa from AD 1583 to 1588, was struck by similarities between Sanskrit and European languages, especially Latin and Greek. Later, the relationship between Sanskrit and European languages was further elaborated by William Jones and many other scholars in the service of the East India Company. The efforts made towards understanding these linguistic similarities between Sanskrit on the one hand and Greek, Latin and some other modern European languages on the other gave rise to a new discipline called ‘comparative linguistics’. Its birth had questionably motivated considerations and in the last 200 years the discipline (if at all it is a discipline) of ‘Comparative Linguistics’ has shown a far greater variety of gymnastic exercises than the sport of gymnastics itself.

Since the earliest books (i.e. the Vedas) of the Aryans and so also all human beings are written in Sanskrit, it came to be recognised as the language of the Aryans. In the beginning, all European languages, along with Sanskrit, came to be clubbed as Aryan languages, and Sanskrit got identified as not only the oldest of all but also the mother of all European languages. Lord Monboddo was convinced that “Greek was derived from Sanskrit”. Frederick Schlegel, a highly respected German linguist wrote, “The Indian language is older and others [European languages] younger and derived from it.” Thus, Sanskrit came to be recognised as the mother of “all the less ancient Indo-European languages, as well as the modern European tongues and dialects”.

But these opinions did not last very long. Local pride, racial complexes and Evangelical considerations overshadowed everything as a part of a shift from ‘Indo-mania’ to ‘Indo-phobia’.

Though William Jones could not accept the earlier view that Sanskrit is the ‘mother’ of all Aryan languages. He advocated that Sanskrit is just a ‘sister’, i.e. a co-descendant of an earlier ancestor language. Following the lead provided by Jones, F. Bopp wrote: “I do not believe that Greek, Latin and other European languages are to be considered as derived from Sanskrit. I feel rather inclined to consider them together as subsequent variations of one original tongue, which however, the Sanskrit has preserved more perfect than its kindred dialects.”

So, a search for the original homeland of a language, namely ‘Proto-Indo-European’, led different scholars to different places. This search for the imagined original language homeland also meant the search for the ‘Original Homeland of Aryans’. This also gave rise to forging labels such as the ‘Indo-Aryan’, ‘Indo-European’, ‘Aryan languages’, ‘Indo-Aryan languages’, and the ‘Indo-European languages’. Sometime around the 1820s, the word ‘Aryan’ began to be dropped and it simply became ‘Indo-European’. Some German scholars even started using the term ‘Indo-German’ on the presumption that the Sanskrit and German languages, between them, covered the entire Indo-European speaking area—the farthest language to the east being Indic and German to the west.

Sanskrit, even today, may be “the greatest language of the world” or even if it “is of a wonderful structure, more perfect than Greek, more copious than Latin and more exquisitely refined” but so what? How could a language spoken by ‘niggers’ have been once the mother of languages today spoken by Europeans, i.e. white people? This position could not be accepted even by William Jones and Max Mueller, who have been so wholesome in their praise for Sanskrit.

Sanskrit was first demoted from mother to the position of a mere sister of all the ancient and modern European languages, but later on, with further building-up of the language tree, it came to be demoted to the position of grand-daughter, when it got linked to the so-called Indo-Iranian family. Thus, the position is: Proto-Indo-European language gave birth to the Indo-Iranian, which in turn produced Sanskrit. It’s already almost 200 years and the search for the grand-mother of Sanskrit (i.e. the Proto-Indo-European) is still on. We still do not know what she (the Proto-Indo-European Language) may have looked like, of what colour she may have been, or what may have been her physical and metaphysical structure. She still remains formless even in dreams. Quite often, these practitioners of philology were so illogical, so incoherent, so absurd, so adamant and arrogant, but, indeed, their impact has been so devastating that it has aptly been termed as ‘linguistic tyranny’.

Central Place Argument and Aryan Invasion

Once Sanskrit was demoted from the honoured status of being mother to all Indo-European languages and made a mere sister or niece of the European languages, a search started for the ‘original tongue’ i.e. the ‘Proto-Indo-European’. This cleared the deck also for legitimising the Aryan invasion of India; a theory which suggested that Sanskrit was brought here from the place where this imaginary language called ‘Proto-Indo-European’ was spoken. In 1842, A.W. von Schlegel claimed: “It is completely unlikely that the migrations which had peopled such a large part of the globe would have begun at its southern extremity (i.e. India) and would have continually directed themselves from there towards the northwest. On the contrary everything compels us to believe that the colonies set out in diverging directions from a central region.”

And for Schlegel this central region consisted of the areas around the Caspian Sea.

With the increasing hold of the British on India, the colonial and the Evangelical interests soon became a force in shaping Indian history for the rest of the academic world. Following the lead provided by A.W. von Schlegel, Max Mueller reiterated his position on the issue of the Aryan invasion and said in 1887: “If an answer must be given as to the place where our Aryan ancestors dwelt before their separation … I should still say, as I said forty years ago, ‘somewhere in Central Asia’ and no more.”

However, Srinivas Ayengar wrote in 1914: “The Aryans [in their entire literature] do not refer to any foreign country as their original home, do not refer to themselves as coming from beyond India, do not name any place in India after the names of places in their original land as conquerors and colonisers do, but speak of themselves exactly as sons of the soil would do. If they had been foreign invaders, it would have been humanly impossible for all memory of such invasion to have been utterly obliterated from memory in such a short time as represents the differences between the Vedic and Avestan dialects.”

It must be reiterated that it does not refer to a single name of flora and fauna found in Central Asia, Russia and Europe. If Rig Vedic people came from Central Asia how come they have no memory of it. Historically, linguistically and as per the oral traditions it is simply impossible.

The fallacy of this central-place theory as the origin of an imaginary language and then spreading all around can be explained with a contemporary example—English. Consider a situation wherein after a couple of thousand years, people forget that England was the place where the English language developed and spread from, and start looking for the place of its origin. The Central Place Theory will exclude England in the very first instance, as it is located on the outskirts of the world of the English language. The United States of America would be the natural choice from where it spread to Europe and Asia in the east, and Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, etc, in the west and Canada in the north.

Lexicographic Evidence

Lexicography (the vocabulary of spoken/written words) is another area which was pressed in the service. Besides collecting a large number of the common words in various languages to prove their affinity, a number of words were chosen to prove the location of the language. For example, it has been argued that since there is no common word for the ocean in the Indo-European language, we can safely conclude that the Indo-European people were not aware of the ocean.

Varadpande rightly presses the points: “If we carry this reasoning further we shall have to suppose that ‘Indo-Europeans’ were living in a region where there was no air and no water, since there are no common words for air and water in all the ‘Indo-European’ Languages.”

The whole situation is that first a conjecture is turned into a hypothesis; to be later treated as a fact to be used in support of a new theory. For instance, language like Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Indo-Iranian and Proto-Dravidian are no more than hypothetical constructions, which may or may not have really existed; and yet these modern creations are often imposed on populations that lived thousands of years ago, to prove migrations theories.

Shaffer writes: “The Indo-Aryan invasion(s) as an academic concept in 18th-19th century Europe reflected the cultural milieu of that period. Linguistic data was used to validate the concept, which in turn, was used to interpret archaeological and anthropological data. What was theory, became an unquestioned fact that was used to interpret and organise all subsequent data. It is time to end the ‘linguistic tyranny’ that has prescribed interpretative frameworks of pre-and proto-historic cultural development in South Asia.”

The question of Aryan invasion/Aryan migration vis-a-vis philology has always been questioned. In the beginning of the last century, Aurobindo, while commenting on the philology, wrote: “Comparative philology has hardly moved a step beyond its origins; all the rest has been a mass of conjectural and ingenious learning of which the brilliance is equalled only by the uncertainty and unsoundness. … The very idea of the science of language is chimera.”

It is important to point out that in the last 30 years renowned linguists like Ram Bilash Sharma, S.S. Misra, S.G. Talgeri, N.S. Rajaram and Koenraad Elst have proved, on the basis of linguistic evidence itself, that this whole theory of Aryan invasion/migration is a fallacy.

Aryans, Racialism and Rig Veda

Subjugation of India by the British filled the masters with a desire to prove their all-round superiority. Racialism was one angle of it. Writings of Grant, Mill, Marx, Macaulay and their accomplices denigrated Indian people, culture, civilisation, society, history and religion.

Trautmann has traced the emergence of racialism and the development of physical anthropology as a resolution of the inescapable philological reality with the colonial need for cultural superiority over the natives of India. One of the most striking types of evidence of such an attitude is best seen in the writings of ACL Carlleyle. In 1879 he wrote: “We, British Europeans are Aryans, and far more pure and genuine Aryans than the Hindus, and no talk of the Hindus can alter our race, or make us any less or any different from what we are. It is the Hindus who have altered and deteriorated, and not we. The Hindus have become the coffee dregs, while we have remained the cream of the Aryan race. The Hindus are like the monkey.”

Some scholars think that the linguistic affinities of Indians and Europeans were also responsible for the development of physical anthropology leading the whole debate towards racialism. Most of the European scholars could not accept the view that Indians (‘niggers’, that is how most of the time Indians have been referred to in those writings) could have been once related to them and could have, indeed, been their forefathers, a conclusion which comparative linguistics was suggesting.

Edwin Bryant expresses it in the following words: “Even during the earlier phase of the homeland quest, when India was still a popular candidate, many scholars were uncomfortable about moving the Indo-Europeans too far from their biblical origins somewhere in the Near East. There were those among the British, in particular, whose colonial sensibilities made them reluctant to acknowledge any potential cultural indebtedness to the forefathers of the rickshaw pullers of Calcutta, and who preferred to hang on to the biblical Adam far more than their European contemporaries.”

Max Mueller himself was sad to note the mood of the day: “They would not have it, they would not believe that there could be any community origin between the people of Athens and Rome, and the so-called niggers of India.”

The newly developing science of physical anthropology was pressed into service to project Aryans as tall, white-skinned, blue-eyed, with sharp and high nose, and dolichocephalic. The non-Aryans came to be identified as natives with dark skin, flat nose, short stature, and so on. The dasas mentioned in the Rigveda were made to represent non-Aryans, i.e., the indigenous local population of India. Thus, the frame of the invasion of Aryans and the subjugation of the non-Aryan local population got corroborated with the evidence from Physical Anthropology.

The racial theory had a devastating impact on European polity. Each nation/state started claiming to be the real descendent of the Aryan race and considered others as inferiors. Max Mueller tried to intervene by declaring again and again: “If I say Aryans, I mean neither blood nor bones, nor hair nor skull. … How many misunderstandings and how many controversies are due to what is deduced by arguing from language to blood-relationship or from blood-relationship to language. … An ethnologist who speaks of an Aryan race, Aryan eyes and hair, and Aryan blood is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or brachycephalic grammar.”

Alas! It was too late. The djinn created by Max Mueller had now grown up and was no longer under Mueller’s command. In the twilight years of his life, Max Mueller realised the devastating impact of distortions that he had made in Indian history in order to please his employers and the newly acquired faith. He died a sad man, preaching at the end of his career things like India: What Can It Teach Us.

He described India as: “The country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow, … a very paradise on earth, … [a place where] human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life.”

Racialism and DNA Evidence

In this context it will be useful to recall the studies carried out by K.A.R. Kennedy and his colleagues. For almost five decades they carried out a detailed study of a large number of pre- and proto-historic skeletons found in excavations from a large number of archaeological sites from all over the Indian sub-continent.

On the basis of their research, Kennedy and his colleagues concluded: “As for the question of biological continuity within the Indus valley, two discontinuities appear to exist. The first occurs between 6,000 and 4,500 B.C. The second occurs at some point after 800 B.C. but before 200 B.C.”

Both discontinuities exclude any adjustment for Aryan Invasion.

Besides the studies of Kennedy and his colleagues on ancient skeletons, an important study has come out recently on modern humans. Keeping in mind the AIT, Kivishield and his colleagues carried out a detailed study on gene pools of Western Eurasians and people of the Indian subcontinent. They studied the ‘genetic inheritance aspect’ of genes through the Mitochondrial DNA Test. It may be mentioned here that the mitochondrial DNA test can reveal the whole history of genetic changes and mutations that may have taken place even in the remote past i.e. several thousand years ago.

Kivishield and his colleagues have reached the conclusion that the Mitochondrial DNA, typical of Western Eurasians, is present among Europeans up to 70 percent whereas among Indians it is only up to 5.2 percent. The DNA gene pool of Western Europeans is very different from that of Indians. It has been very clearly stated that if there was any Aryan invasion of India a few thousand years ago, it must be visible in the mitochondrial DNA tests in terms of a splash in percentage of Western Eurasian genes. But this is not so. Further, the percentage and types of Western Eurasian genes present among south Indians and north Indians are almost the same. This fact establishes that there is no difference between the south Indian and north Indian gene pools, and the same goes against the Aryan invasion theory.

Conclusions

Now over a period of 200 years, the meaning of ‘Aryans’ has been constructed and reconstructed as being nomadic, pastoralists, sedentary agriculturists, dolichocephalic, brachycephalic, blond and fair, and from brown-haired to dark-haired. The Aryan homeland has been located and relocated everywhere, virtually from the North Pole to the South Pole, and from the shores of the Atlantic to Chinese deserts—South India, North India, Central India, Tibet, Bactria, Iran, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, Lithuania, the Caucasus, the Urals, the Volga Mountains, South Russia, the Steppes of Central Asia, Western Asia, Palestine, Anatolia, Scandinavia, Finland, Sweden, the Baltic, western Europe, northern Europe, central Europe, and eastern Europe.

The Aryan homeland, however, still remains elusive. J.P. Mallory has put the whole thing very succinctly: “One does not ask, ‘Where is the Indo-European homeland?’ but rather ‘where they put it now?’”

Anthropologist Edmund Leach of Cambridge University has most aptly summed up the whole question of the Aryan Invasion Theory. In 1990 in his article, Aryan Invasions over Four Millennia, Leach wrote: “Why do serious scholars persist in believing in the Aryan invasion? Why is this sort of thing attractive? Who finds it attractive? Why has the development of Sanskrit come so dogmatically associated with the Aryan invasion? The details of this theory fit in with this racist framework. … The origin myth of British imperialism helped the elite administrators in the Indian Civil Service to see themselves as bringing ‘pure’ civilisation to a country in which civilisation of the most sophisticated kind was already nearly 6,000 years old. Here, I will only remark that the hold of this myth on the British middle-class imagination is so strong that even today, 44 years after the death of Hitler and 43 years after the creation of an independent India and independent Pakistan, the Aryan invasions of the second millennium BC are still treated as if they were an established fact of history. … The Aryan invasion never happened at all.” – Firstpost, 20 July 2022

  Prof. Dr. Makkhan Lal is a well-known historian and the founder director of the Delhi Institute of Heritage Research and Management.

Rig Veda

Time to reclaim India’s history – David Frawley

Greater India Map (US 1864)

David FrawleyThe existing historical accounts of India starting with the Aryan Invasion Theory, reflect political and religious biases by groups who have sought to politically control or convert India, exploit it commercially, or divide India into smaller countries they can more easily dominate. – Dr. David Frawley

There remains a crucial need to correct the history of India from distorted accounts that have prevailed since the British era. As a New India arises with confidence in its own civilisation and global stature, this reductionist view of India as primitive, divided, politically incorrect and lacking in continuity is suspect and appears as India seen through the shadow of foreign rule and hostile ideologies.

India so far has not adequately reclaimed its history in the post-Independence era in a way that shows the true stature, duration and influence. Even after 75 years of Independence, the main history of India taught is coloured by derogatory interpretations of those with little respect for India’s great traditions, though a new movement to counter it is steadily rising.

The history of India as commonly given in textbooks and media accounts worldwide is the view of scholars who have little direct knowledge of India’s way of thought and view of culture, who prefer to interpret India according to their own cultural biases as if these were unquestioned truths.

Such a view of India’s history reduces India’s profound 5,000-year dharmic civilisation and its vast cultural, yogic and intellectual traditions to a mere footnote to Western culture and politics of the last few centuries, in which India has little relevance, and is often a subject of abuse and hoped for reformation.

The new reduction of India to South Asia

Recent views of India’s history add a new negationism. For them there was no India, but only a few temporary, disjointed cultures and kingdoms, with outside dominated empires like the Mughals or the British, and no enduring or characteristic Indic civilisation behind these.

Such scholars see only a nebulous South Asia region, without much cohesion or contribution to world civilisation, so no separate or unique place in history is required for India apart from the diverse groups and cultures of the region. This is a contrary position as compared to China, which is given its historical identity and cultural continuity, even though China borrowed much of its philosophy and spirituality from India through Buddhism.

The Greek author Megasthenes at the time of Alexander over two thousand years ago wrote a book called Indika about India, which the Greeks honoured. There was extensive trade between Rome, the Middle East and China with a land called India for many centuries. Note terms like Hindusthan for the region, or Bharat Varsha and its sixteen regions or Janapadas found in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain texts. Geographical terms like Indian Ocean, Indo-Pacific, Indochina and Indonesia have long been used and show the importance of India but are similarly now being rejected.

India’s contribution to science, medicine and philosophy, for example, though India gave much more than just decimal mathematics to the world, is similarly seldom highlighted. Rather the British view of Macaulay, who tried to destroy India’s extensive educational system, or the communist views of Karl Marx, are given precedence, as if India’s contribution to world civilization was minimal in all respects.

Contrary to such views, India in its Sanskrit and regional dialects has produced the largest and oldest literature in the world, replete with historical references, names of kings, kingdoms, peoples, geographical regions, sages and cultural practices. Note the many Vedas, Agamas, Puranas, Jatakas, Sutras, and local accounts for such literature.

The influence of modern India

In addition to this negation of ancient India is an attempt to negate modern India and its influence. Since Swami Vivekananda, Indic-based traditions of Yoga, Vedanta, Ayurveda, Tantra, Sanskrit, Indian music and dance have spread globally and gained a dedicated following in almost every major country and region of the world. Great yogis and gurus from India have travelled and gained followers globally

Yet in accounts of modern India the role of Indic civilisation in spiritualising the world, is hardly mentioned. Nor is the fact that Indian immigrants to the US or UK have wonderful temples and a thriving community contributing to the peace and welfare of the countries where they now arise. The youth in the West after their studies of history can scarcely name any figures of civilisational importance from ancient or modern India.

The contrary idea is given that India as a nation was created by the British and only gained its identity with India’s Independence in 1947, which can be attributed largely to Jawaharlal Nehru who was an Anglophile. Meanwhile India’s history books have largely been written by Marxists and reflect their political agenda. The idea of a superior Socialist/Nehruvian India arose to counter or even erase ancient Bharat Varsha.

The effort to reclaim India’s history

Yet sadly today, when Indian thinkers try to correct this slanted history, they are accused of political, nationalistic and religious biases, as if they had no credibility. The fact is that existing historical accounts of India starting with the Aryan Invasion Theory, reflect political and religious biases, but coming from outside of India, by groups who have sought to politically control or convert India, exploit it commercially, or divide India into smaller countries they can more easily dominate.

Certainly, independent India, for its 75th anniversary, needs to reclaim its history, just as many countries free of colonial influence are doing. An Indic criticism of Western civilisational influences should also have its place in the discussion. There should be no monopoly on history by one group or another, though efforts to control history have long occurred among colonial, communist, leftist and fascist regimes.

The fact is that a history of India without an Indian voice or point of view, given India as one the cradles of civilisation, remains incomplete and presents a distorted view not only of India but also of the history of humanity, which has an inner yogic dimension, not simply an outer political expression.

India’s textbooks need major changes providing an Indic/Bharatiya view of its place of respect. This is part of an open pursuit of truth, in which all sides must be heard. Today there seems to be an apartheid in academia and the media in which an Indic view, particularly a Hindu view, will not be given a voice.

India’s view of civilisation as the pursuit of dharma and higher consciousness, cannot be reduced to materialist concerns or to those of exclusivist beliefs. Indology has perhaps been the worst aspect of Orientalism. Time for it to be put in the dustbin of history. India’s civilisation has the most in depth cosmic dimension to its view of world and Self, which transcends all such outer historical theories, and must be examined accordingly.

Howsoever we view history, it is clear that the human race remains an unevolved species in terms of consciousness, still caught in massive violence and prejudices, which we find throughout the world.

Honouring the sages of India can help all humanity. But to truly appreciate these great yogis, rishis and gurus, we must recognise their enduring role in India’s civilisation and history, and their influence on the whole of Asia and beyond that is spreading globally today to the entire planet.

Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is the director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies and the author of more than 30 books on yoga and Vedic traditions. He recieved of the prestigious Padma Bhushan award in 2015.

Indian History Timeline

Sita Ram Goel Vindicated: ‘Eminent historians’ no longer deny Islamic iconoclasm – R. Jagannathan

Sita Ram Goel

R. JagannathanIf the “eminent historians” now can acknowledge the reality of Islamic iconoclasm, surely they can promote Hindu-Muslim amity by getting Muslim groups to accept that damage was done in the past, and some remedy is called for in the present to let bygones become bygones. – R. Jagannathan

Our “eminent historians”, mostly from the Left, are showing signs that they are not beyond all education when hit repeatedly on their heads with facts and evidence. The late Sita Ram Goel, who was among the first to debunk the whitewashed versions of India’s Islamic history, stands vindicated.

Before the Babri was demolished, they repeatedly asserted that there was no temple below the mosque. Once the archaeological survey ordered by the Allahabad High Court established beyond doubt that there indeed was a temple below the Babri, their story-line changed from “no temple below the mosque”, to bland assertions that what was under the Babri was another mosque or even a Buddhist stupa. (Read some of what they said then here.)

When evidence kept surfacing of multiple temple demolitions under Islamic rule, the party line was that this was done not for religious reasons but political reasons. False equivalences were drawn between consistent and bigoted Islamic iconoclasm and the occasional damage done to temples or Buddhist and Jain places of worship. The latter were aberrations rather than the norm.

Now, with a survey seeking to establish the presence of Hindu carvings (and possibly a Shiv Linga) inside the Gyanvapi Mosque, these eminences are slowly abandoning the claim that no temples were destroyed.

In The Times of India today (24 May), there is a clear acceptance that Mughal rulers destroyed temples, though the argument has changed.

Irfan Habib, professor emeritus at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), is quoted thus: “Mughal emperor Aurangzeb destroyed temples in Varanasi and Mathura to raise mosques. However, the question today is whether what was done in 1670 should be repeated, despite the existence of the Indian Monuments Act. Should we do the same things as Mughal emperors did in the past?” (Read the details here.)

This is progress. Big progress. If we should not do what Aurangzeb did, it is an indirect admission that the Mughal emperor was a bigot. Facts are no longer denied, or conveniently misinterpreted as mere political acts of rulers in the past, though that is not entirely gone.

Shalin Jani of the Delhi University department of history is quoted as saying: “As far as Mughal India is concerned, we know about the politics of temple desecration during those times. We can’t resolve our contemporary problems by looking at the past.”

Well, maybe the Germans got it wrong when they refused to airbrush history or deny Hitler and the Nazi past. Without acknowledging the past, and making some amends, we cannot move forward.

The unwillingness to see religious bigotry behind temple desecration is not entirely gone, but the facts are no longer disputed.

Nadeem Rezavi, professor of mediaeval history at AMU, is clearer. “No one can justify what Aurangzeb did. However, we can’t behave like him and keep demolishing mosques to restore temples. What difference remains then between the Mughal ruler and rulers of today?”

Clearly, Audrey Truschke, who has tried to whitewash Aurangzeb’s reign in her book Aurangzeb: The Man and The Myth, clearly needs to hear what Habib and Rezavi now have to say. Aurangzeb was a bigot. Full stop. His temple desecrations were real, not just political fallout.

Clearly, the work done by Sita Ram Goel in volume two of his two-volume work on Hindu Temples: What Happened To Them  (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2), which examines both the Hindu and Muslim evidence, should now be required reading in all history departments, including AMU.

Later books by Meenakshi Jain (Rama & AyodhyaThe Battle For RamaFlight of Deities & Rebirth of Temples, Vasudeva Krishna and Mathura, have also completely sealed the evidence in favour of the Hindu version of Islamic destruction of key temples. It is also time to revisit the older historical works of R.C. Majumdar and Sir Jadunath Sarkar and not just junk them as “communal historians”.

The only way forward from here is not to live in the past, but to acknowledge it, and negotiate a deal to hand over the Kashi and Mathura temples back to Hindus fully in return for Hindus allowing the rest of the temple desecrations to remain as acknowledged facts of history with no recompense due.

If the “eminent historians” now can acknowledge the reality of Islamic iconoclasm, surely they can promote Hindu-Muslim amity by getting Muslim groups to accept that damage was done in the past, and some remedy is called for in the present to let bygones become bygones. – Swarajya, 4 May 2022

› R. Jagannathan is a senior journalist and editor and the Editorial Director of Swarajya Magazine.

Gyanvapi Mosque back wall being the front wall of the ancient Vishwanath Temple.

Gyanvapi Mosque: A lesson in history that should lead to justice – Praful Goradia

Kashi Viswanath Temple replaced by Gyanvapi Mosque ( James Princep 1834).

Praful GoradiaShould not a crime be punished commensurately? If the criminal had got away at the time of commission of the crime, should he not be apprehended and punished when it is possible to do so later? If the wrongdoer has passed away, at least the act of crime should be reversed. What is the meaning of justice otherwise? – Praful Goradia

It was 1927; one Abdul Rashid murdered Swami Shradhanand, the successor of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, in his sickbed. The killer was arrested and tried. The British Government then had no qualms about the religions of the two men. Jawaharlal Nehru’s friend Asaf Ali, a distinguished advocate, took up Rashid’s brief. The court, nevertheless, sentenced him to death as it was a cold-blooded murder. The janaza (funeral) was attended by thousands of Rashid’s sympathisers but there was no riot or communal disturbance. Had any riot taken place, the Government would not have flinched from suppressing it. If the British were inclined to be soft, they could not have ruled an Empire for 190 years. That Empire had 40 crore Indians, with the white men from the British Isles being never more than one lakh.

Take the case of Ayodhya. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board eventually lost its long litigation in the Supreme Court; not a single Muslim stabbed a Hindu. In Ayodhya itself, everyone favoured the temple, including the local Muslims, on the grounds that it would vastly increase the number of inbound pilgrims and the city’s economy would flourish. If at all any violence took place, it was because of the firing earlier by Mulayam Singh’s police in 1990. The Mulayam regime resorted to indiscriminate shooting, not sparing even boys. No violence occurred owing to any mischief by a Muslim. It has been my consistent experience that when confronted with facts, most Muslims are willing to accept them. A member of the AIMPLB confided to me that the Board contested the Ayodhya issue in the courts for so long merely to stall the Hindus’ demands on other temples-turned-mosques.

Some years ago, the chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami visited Delhi for a few days and happened to spend a couple of hours at my place. His explanation for Islamic conquerors replacing temples with mosques was that they wished to declare to the area that a change of regime had taken place. A Hindu raja had been replaced by a Muslim sultan or badshah. In response, I asked that when a Hindu prime minister takes over in a Hindu-majority country, would it be fair to reverse the situation? Should not the mosque be replaced by a temple? Again, as a true Muslim, the Jamaat chief promptly replied that if it was the prime minister’s and his people’s desire, so be it.

In 1961, while delivering the Azad Memorial Lecture, British historian Arnold Toynbee, especially invited by Jawaharlal Nehru, said: “In the course of the first Russian occupation of Warsaw, the Russians had built an Eastern Orthodox Christian Cathedral in the city that had been the capital of the once-independent Roman Catholic Christian country, Poland. The Russians had done this to give the Poles a continuous ocular demonstration that the Russians were now the masters. After the re-establishment of Poland’s independence in 1918, about 100 years later, the Poles pulled down this cathedral. I do not blame the Polish government for having pulled down the Russian church. The purpose for which the Russians had built it had been not religious but political, and the purpose had also been intentionally offensive.” Before reaching Delhi, Sir Arnold had taken a boat ride on the Ganga and had noticed Aurangzeb’s mosque on the bank with two tall minarets. He said at his lecture that he was surprised that this mosque was standing even after the partition of India.

Gyanvapi Mosque as seen from the Ganga (1909).

To come back to the point, should not a crime be punished commensurately? If the criminal had got away at the time of commission of the crime, should he not be apprehended and punished when it is possible to do so later? If the wrongdoer has passed away, at least the act of crime should be reversed. What is the meaning of justice otherwise? And where would be the rule of law? Since 2014, quite a few intellectuals have been protesting that democracy in India is in danger and that liberals have no future here. Well, here is their opportunity to firm up democracy whose first foundation is the rule of law. One only has to read the Magna Carta of English King John, 1215 AD.

Some scholars have expressed the fears of communal riots. How many riots have taken place since 2014? It is true that recently there have been a few skirmishes in Bangalore and there was a major riot in northeast Delhi when President Trump was on a visit to India. Otherwise, the score book as far as riots are concerned has been negative over the last seven years. In any case, how can a court of law or a government shun the enforcement of justice merely due to the fear of riots?

It is well recorded that the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir was destroyed on the orders of Aurangzeb after his crowning. Fortunately, a portion of its front has survived as part of the masjid (see image below). Where people now worship Lord Shiva was built by the great Holkar Queen Ahilyabai in the 18th century. If, therefore, the Gyanvapi Mosque underwent some changes according to historical facts, no Muslim would have any objection. – The Pioneer, 30 April 2021

› Praful Goradia is an author, columnist, and a former member of the Parliament of India representing Gujarat in the Rajya Sabha.

Emperor Aurangzeb reading the Quran.

Auranzeb's firman ordering the destruction of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple (Sept. 1669).

 Maasir-i-Alamgiri: A History of the Emperor Arangzeb-i-Alamgiri by Saqi Mustaʻidd Khan.

What the Maasir-i-Alamgiri Says

The book Maasir-i-Alamgiri was written in Persian by Saqi Musta’idd Khan and was translated by historian Jadunath Sarkar during British era.

According to the book, on April 8, 1669, the Emperor came to know about the teachings by “misbelievers” in Benaras (See Ch. XII, Pg. 57).

“The Lord Cherisher of Faith learnt that in the provinces of Tetta, Multan and specially in Benaras the Brahman misbelievers used to teach their false book in their established schools and that admirers and students of both Hindu and Muslim used to come from great distances to these misguided men to acquire this vile learning,” a passage in the book reads.

“His Majesty eager to establish Islam orders to the governor of all the provinces to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels and with the utmost urgency to put down the teachings and public practice of the religion of these misbelievers,” reads the book.

On September 2, 1669, it was reported that according to Emperor’s command, his officials had demolished the Temple of Vishwanath at Varanasi, mentions the book. – Excerpted from India Today, 19 May 2022

Plan of the ancient Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Fine dotted line in the plan image indicates the Gyanvapi Mosque build over the temple's foundation (James Prinsep 1832).

Gyanvapi Mosque Area Plan (1936).

Gyanvapi Mosque

Lost rights and setting it right – S. Mukherji

Junípero Serra

Dr. Saradindu MukherjiWe would like to ask how a process of historical truth-telling set into motion in the US is applicable to India, which was brutalised over a millennium by a long line of ruthless foreign invaders, rulers and their local collaborators? – Dr. Saradindu Mukherji

Driving by the township of Camden in north-eastern America, I saw the banner headline, “Enslaved Africans Once Sold Here”. Drawn by this nugget of history, I came closer and found the following description: “African slavery in New Jersey began with early European settlement. By 1766, circa 800 captive people had been sold here at the Federal Street Ferry and two other nearby ferry landings. In Africa, approximately 24 million captured men, women and children marched to coastal prisons. Only half survived the journey. These 12 million survivors then endured deplorable conditions on the Middle Passage ocean crossings, where an additional 2 million died from disease, malnutrition, dehydration, drowning, suicide and abuse.”

It is an impressive way of informing people about some of the most tragic episodes in American history—a message from the later generations about the brutalities and irreparable damage inflicted on their ancestors. This gesture, it is felt, might act as a balm for the descendants of the victims!

Robert E. Lee

In recent times, there have been several well-publicised events around such issues in the US related to various types of gross injustices committed in the past. From the signages standing in front of well-known historical monuments, museums, seaports and vast stretches of farm land to political-cultural narratives, one can notice this. There is no escape from such much-needed reminders. Well-publicised photographs depicting the removal of the equestrian statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee from its high pedestal in Richmond Va in September 2021 was a major milestone in this process of looking back at such acts of gross injustice and atoning, even if symbolically a perversity. The ongoing practice as pursued by some American institutions—local governments to universities, to name the native people deprived of their landed properties by force—called “land acknowledgements”, is a sign of sagacity and maturity that call for appreciation and emulation by all the right-thinking people cutting across national/racial boundaries. Every passing day, more skeletons tumble out of the cupboard. Hence, people were not surprised when the name of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th US president (1913-1921), famous for his 14+4 points, and his stellar role in facilitating the end of World War I was dropped from Princeton University’s International Affairs Department for his racist past. Even the iconic George Washington was found to be a slaveholder owning 317 black slaves. It is indeed a pretty long list.

Be that as it may, one is likely to ask as to how it is relevant for other countries? The underlying principle is certainly applicable to various countries with a similar past. Here, we would like to ask how such a process set into motion in the US is applicable to India, which was brutalised over a millennium by a long line of ruthless foreign invaders, rulers and their local collaborators?

Beginning with the Arab invasion of Sind in the 7th century, Indian society was pulverised by these religious zealots seeking to impose by savagery a different world order—establishing a dar-ul-Islam on a polytheistic India they tauntingly called dar-ul-harb. It is most regrettable that Jawaharlal Nehru described Babar, an alien invader, as “renaissance prince”, a man of culture, in his Discovery of India! In a vivid description, famous historian Arnold Toynbee said, “The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history.”

In recent times, the movement for the liberation of Ramjanmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya was one such example of claiming back a holy piece of land/temple from illegal occupiers, who were also guilty of desecrating a sacred spot. That thousands of such desecrated temples over which mosques had been erected still remain under illegal occupation is not a classified secret. Several scholarly studies have been done on this aspect (Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them, Vol. I & Vol. II). Much, if not most, of what goes on in the name of Wakf property happens to be located on such landed properties now under unauthorised occupation [as are some Christian churches built on temple lands – Ed]. It is perhaps time to ponder over it, and set right such blatant cases of gross historical injustice!

From desecrated temples, marketplaces for selling Hindu slaves and their export, places of conversion to Islam, Jihadi battles won by “holy” ghazis, museums, political-cultural narratives and finally the all-important history books are now very much expected to see some drastic changes regarding how society must look back at the past. Victims of history from Kandahar to Khulna, Kashi to Kohat and Kashmir Valley, Mathura to Multan to Malabar want more than an acknowledgement of the sufferings: They seek immediate restoration of their habitat and holy places. The victims have waited far too long.

For any society claiming to be civilised, genuinely secular and democratic that wants to avoid the pitfalls of the past, such a moment of reckoning has to come. This generation is expected to witness many healthy debates and acrimonious battles over many such historical experiences people have gone through. It is high time to heal their wounds. – The Pioneer, 13 April 2022

Dr. Saradindu Mukherji is a historian and a member of the Indian Council of Historical Research. His most recent publication is The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019: Some Reflections.

Francis Xavier

What value is ‘genetic evidence’ for Aryan Invasion Theory vs. Out-of-India Theory? – Shrikant G. Talageri

Rigveda

Shrikant G. TalageriThe Rigveda proves incontrovertibly that the oldest parts of the text hark back to a period around 3000 BCE, and certainly long before 2000 BCE, and that the Vedic beginnings were in Haryana. – Shrikant G. Talageri

Every few months, in the last few years, different groups of “scientists” announce “results” of some “new genetic/genomic study”, “proving” the old colonial theory of an Aryan invasion of India. It is often cloaked in ambiguous terms, but not ambiguous enough for its target audience — political and academic groups committed to the theory that India was invaded by a race of people, popularly known as “Aryans”, who brought the Indo-European languages into India.

The latest study, “The genomic formation of South and Central Asia”, co-directed by Dr David Reich and an “international team of geneticists” is the latest in this series, which has enthused supporters of the Aryan Invasion of India Theory (AIT) and galvanised them into action in the media and social media in India. This latest paper echoes and substantiates with military precision the exact points enunciated by AIT scholars and activists since two centuries, especially on the chronological angle.

The very concept of an “Aryan” people—even as an entity, let alone as an invading race from outside India—arose from the revolutionary discovery by colonial scholars that Sanskrit and the languages of northern India and the languages of Europe, Iran and Central Asia, are related to each other and given the name “Indo-European” (formerly also “Aryan”). This led to the academic quest for the “Original Homeland” of this family of languages.

This was a question which arose solely from a linguistic fact (the linguistic relationship between all these languages), and three fields or disciplines of academic study have been involved for over two centuries in the elucidation of this problem: linguistics, archaeology and textual/inscriptional data (mainly the Rigveda and the oldest recorded Indo-European language inscriptions and documents from West Asia). The latest entrant in this field is genetics/genomics. The central factor in the debate is the date of the Rigveda, a text which the invading people are supposed to have composed in their first settlements in the northwest:

1. The Rigveda is the oldest recorded major text in any Indo-European language. As Ralph T. H. Griffith puts it in the preface to the first edition of his translation of the Rigveda: “in its original language we see the roots and shoots of the languages of Greek and Latin, of Kelt, Teuton and Slavonian, so the deities, the myths, and the religious beliefs and practices of the Veda throw a flood of light upon the religions of all European countries before the introduction of Christianity.”

2. It shows absolutely no extra-territorial memories and shows ancestral attachment to the geographical area extending from Haryana to southern Afghanistan, and particularly and originally to Haryana.

3. It does not refer to any linguistically “non-Indo-European” entities at all.

4. Even the rivers and animals in this area have purely Indo-Aryan (Indo-European) Sanskrit names, which is unparalleled in world history in respect of any conquered or invaded area.

The AIT scholars are compelled to locate the Rigveda between two known dates: a) The linguistically determined date of 3000 BCE, which was the date when all the 12 Indo-European branches were together in their Original Homeland (which was assumed to be South Russia) and started dispersing around that time. b) The Buddhist period in Bihar from around 600 BCE, when it is definitely recorded that the whole of northern India was covered mainly by speakers of Indo-Aryan languages, and which definitely followed the periods of composition not only of the Rigveda but also of the three other Vedic Samhitas, the Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Upanishads and Sutras.

Therefore it is a life-and-death requirement for the AIT to date the Rigveda between 3000 BCE and 600 BCE, ideally around and after 1500 BCE.

If the Rigveda is proved to go beyond 2500 BCE or even 2000 BCE, the entire AIT structure collapses like a pack of cards. The archaeological consensus in western academia is totally against the AIT.

The text proves incontrovertibly that the oldest parts of the Rigveda hark back to a period around 3000 BCE, and certainly long before 2000 BCE, and that the Vedic beginnings were in Haryana in the east.

The unchallengeable evidence for this is given in the full version of this article on my blog. I challenge anyone to disprove this date, which is based on the Mitanni data, found in securely dated records in West Asia, and can be exactly dated: the Mitanni kingdom flourished from around 1500 BCE onwards in Syria and Iraq, and the Mitanni (and a related people, the Kassites), who were descendants of the Rigvedic Aryans, are found in West Asian records from around 1750 BCE.

In this circumstance, what is the value of these “genomic” claims by “scientists” who speak of an “expansion of pastoralist[s …] from the Steppe to Turan in the Middle Bronze Age (2300-1500 BCE)” and claim that these “Steppe communities integrated farther south throughout the 2nd millennium BCE” leading to “the formation of present-day South Asians” and identify these genomic ghosts with “the populations that almost certainly were responsible for spreading Indo-European languages across much of Eurasia”? By trying to fit in their “genomic” data into the now completely discredited chronology of outdated Indologists, this “genomic” evidence stands totally exposed.

Human beings have been migrating from every conceivable area. Certain areas, indeed, like Central Asia, are seething hotbeds of ethnic migrations. India has seen countless migrations and invasions in the last many thousand years: we have Scythians, Greeks, Kushanas, Hunas, Arabs, Turks, Afghans, Ethiopian slave-soldiers and Persians invading, and other Persians and Syrian Christians taking refuge in India, and none of them retained their language, all of them adopted the local languages, but their foreign genes remain in the genetic record.

The “scientists” have only released preliminary trailers of their “report”. The full report is yet to come. And it will be answered in full by the appropriate people. However, many new strands of different foreign “genes” are discovered to be embedded in the genetic structure of different sections of Indians. All this has nothing to do with the question of the “Aryan languages” in India, and of the Original Homeland and the migrations of the ancient Indo-European tribes, since all this has already been answered: the Original Homeland of the Indo-European languages was in northern India, and the migrations of the other eleven branches of Indo-European languages from India is a matter of recorded history. – The Asian Age, 22 April 2018

» Shrikant G. Talageri lives and works in Mumbai. He is a meticulous researcher of the Vedas and has authored four books to date: Aryan Invasion Theory and Indian Nationalism, Aryan Invasion Theory: A Reappraisal, Rigveda: A Historical Analysis and Rigveda and Avesta the Final Evidence.

Tipu Sultan: Villain or Hero – Sita Ram Goel

Tipu Sultan

Sita Ram GoelOne can conclude quite safely that Nehruvian Secularism is a magic formula for transmitting base metals into twenty-four carat gold. How else do we explain the fact of Islam becoming a religion, and that too a religion of tolerance, social equality, and human brotherhood; or the fact of Muslim rule in medieval India becoming an indigenous dispensation; or the fact of Sirajuddaula, Mir Qasim, Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan, and Bahadur Shah Zafar becoming the heroes of India’s freedom struggle against British imperialism? – Sita Ram Goel

Secularism per se is a doctrine which arose in the modem West as a revolt against the closed creed of Christianity. Its battle-cry was that the State should be freed from the stranglehold of the Church, and the citizen should be left to his own individual choice in matters of belief. And it met with great success in every Western democracy.

Had India borrowed this doctrine from the modem West, it would have meant a rejection of the closed creeds of Islam and Christianity, and a promotion of the Sanatana Dharma family of faiths which have been naturally secularist in the modern Western sense. But what happened actually was that Secularism in India became the greatest protector of closed creeds which had come here in the company of foreign invaders, and kept tormenting the national society for several centuries.

We should not, therefore, confuse India’s Secularism with its namesake in the modern West. The Secularism which Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru propounded and which has prospered in post-independence India, is a new concoction and should be recognized as such. We need not bother about its various definitions as put forward by its pandits. We shall do better if we have a close look at its concrete achievements.

Going by those achievements, one can conclude quite safely that Nehruvian Secularism is a magic formula for transmitting base metals into twenty-four carat gold. How else do we explain the fact of Islam becoming a religion, and that too a religion of tolerance, social equality, and human brotherhood; or the fact of Muslim rule in medieval India becoming an indigenous dispensation; or the fact of Muhammad bin Qasim becoming a liberator of the toiling masses in Sindh; or the fact of Mahmud Ghaznavi becoming the defreezer of productive wealth hoarded in Hindu temples; or the fact of Muhammad Ghuri becoming the harbinger of an urban revolution; or the fact of Muinuddin Chishti becoming the great Indian saint; or the fact of Amir Khusru becoming the pioneer of communal amity; or the fact of Alauddin Khilji becoming the first socialist in the annals of this country; or the fact of Akbar becoming the father of Indian nationalism; or the fact of Aurangzeb becoming the benefactor of Hindu temples; or the fact of Sirajuddaula, Mir Qasim, Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan, and Bahadur Shah Zafar becoming the heroes of India’s freedom struggle against British imperialism or the fact of the Faraizis, the Wahhabis, and the Moplahs becoming peasant revolutionaries and foremost freedom fighters?

One has only to go to the original sources in order to understand the true character of Islam and its above-mentioned luminaries. And one can see immediately that their true character has nothing to do with that with which they have been invested in our school and college text-books. No deeper probe is needed for unraveling the mysteries of Nehruvian Secularism.

This is not the occasion to go into the implications of this Secularism vis-a-vis India’s own spiritual vision, India’s own cultural wealth, India’s own national society, and India’s own native nationalism. I have dealt with this theme elsewhere. Suffice it to say that the other face of this Secularism is Hindu-baiting, which profession has been perfected by many scholars, scribes, and politicians, and has so far proved immensely profitable. I need not give the names. The stalwarts in this field are very well known.

The Bombay Malayalee Samajam has, therefore, rendered a great service in providing a test case, that of Tipu Sultan, for exposing the true character of Nehruvian Secularism. To the best of my knowledge, this Secularism has never faced a challenge such as was posed before it by the scholars and men of public spirit whom we meet in the pages of this book, Tipu Sultan: Villain or Hero? The wealth of first-hand source materials presented in the articles that comprise this book, portray not only the base metal that was Tipu Sultan but also the components of that alchemy which has transmuted him into twenty-four carat gold. VOICE OF INDIA is proud that it should have the privilege of publishing this study of an arch villain being sold as a great hero.

The fight for truth which is described in this book, has proved fruitful. The Statesman dated May 24, 1993 reports: “Once again Tipu Sultan has become a controversial topic in Karnataka. First it was the serial produced by Sanjay Khan which attracted criticism and protests from people, now it is the bicentenary of his death which has created quite a stir. … The Karnataka Board of Wakfs has organized the bicentenary, Urs-e-Sharif, of Hazrat Tipu Sultan Shaheed (R.A.), from May 21 to May 23 this year…. This has led to speculation that the Government will again spend several lakhs of rupees in 1999 to observe the 200th death anniversary of Tipu. The State Government has, however, remained tight-lipped over the issue and left the Board of Wakfs to answer these questions.” Had there been no challenge to the serial, the State Government would not have remained tight-lipped. It would have immediately untied its purse strings, and joined hands with the Board of Wakfs for singing hymns of praise to the Hazrat and the Shaheed.

What the Hazrat and the Shaheed stood for is described by Mir Hussain Ali Kirmani in his book, Nishan-i-Haidari, which he completed in AD 1802, three years after Tipu’s death. Kirmani writes: “It happened one day that a fakir (a religious mendicant), a man of saint-like mind, passed that way, and seeing the Sultan gave him a life-bestowing benediction, saying to him, ‘Fortunate child, at a future time thou will be the king of this country, and when thy time comes, remember my words—take this temple and destroy it, and build a masjid in its place, and for ages it will remain a memorial of thee.’ The Sultan smiled, and in reply told him that ‘whenever, by his blessings, he should become a padishah, or king, he would do as he (the fakir) directed’. When, therefore, after a short time, his father became a prince, the possessor of wealth and territory, he remembered his promise, and after his return from Nagar and Gorial Bunder, he purchased the temple from the adorers of the image in it (which after all was nothing but the figure of a bull, made of brick and mortar) with their goodwill, and the Brahmins, therefore, taking away their image, placed it in the Deorhi Peenth, and the temple was pulled down, and the foundations of a new masjid raised on the site….” That is the Masjid-i-Ala or Jama Masjid standing in Srirangapatanam on the site of a Shiva temple. One need not comment on Kirmani’s statement that Tipu “purchased the temple from the adorers of the image … with their goodwill”. It is not unoften that terror has produced this sort of goodwill in the minds of its helpless victims. – Preface to Tipu Sultan: Villain or Hero

1. The Sword of Tipu Sultan – V.M. Korath

Tipu Sultan who succeeded his father, considered it his primary duty to continue this unfinished jîhâd started by Hyder Ali Khan. However, the Islamic fanaticism of Tipu Sultan was much worse than that of his father. His war-cry of jîhâd was “Sword” (death) or “Cap” (forcible conversion). This makes very clear the character of Tipu Sultan’s military operations started in 1783. The intensity and nature of sufferings which the Hindu population had to bear during the nightmarish days of Padayottakkalam (military regime) were vividly described in many historical records preserved in the royal houses of Zamorin and Kottayam (Pazhassi), Palghat Fort and East India Company’s office. There is no apparent reason to disbelieve them. It is absurd and against reason to describe all this evidence as being forged for the purpose of creating enmity between Hindus and Muslims. READ MORE HERE …

2. Religious Intolerance of Tipu Sultan – P.C.N. Raja

When that Brahmin Prime Minister, Purnaiyya, presented to Tipu Sultan 90,000 soldiers, three crore rupees, and invaluable ornaments made of precious stones, he was tempted to rule as the Emperor of the South India. Tipu did not consider the Hindu rulers of Maharashtra, Coorg and Travancore or the Muslim ruler Nizam as impediments. He was afraid of only the British. He had convinced himself that he could easily become the Emperor of South India if he could somehow vanquish the British. Because of his intense and-British attitude, the so-called progressive and secular historians have made a vain attempt to paint Tipu Sultan as a great national hero. … Opposition to foreign powers need not always be due to love for one’s country. To achieve his selfish goal and to face the British forces, Tipu Sultan sought the assistance of another foreign power, the French, who were manoeuvring to establish their own domination in the country. How is it possible, therefore, for Tipu Sultan to be an enemy of foreign forces when he himself had sought help from Napoleon who was then a prisoner in St. Helena Island and also the French King, Louis XVI? READ MORE HERE …

3. Tipu’s Own Testimony – C. Nandagopalan Menon

William Kirkpatrick, who compiled many of Tipu’s letters, writes in his book, Selected Letters of Tipoo Sultan (published in 1811): “Tipoo knew his will to be a law the propriety of which … would never be questioned or doubted by any of his slaves…. He probably measured the sentiments in question by a different standard from that with which we estimate them. Thus the various murders and acts of treachery which we see him directing to be carried into execution, were not criminal, but on the contrary just, and even meritorious, in his eyes.” … “The Koran taught him that it was not necessary to keep faith with infidels, or the enemies of the true religion, in which case it was not difficult for him to persuade himself that it was right to include all who opposed or refused to cooperate in his views for the extension of that religion; or, in other words, for his own aggrandisement.” … This observation of Kirkpatrick is found to be valid when one goes through the letter of January 19, 1790, sent to Budruz Zuman Khan by Tipu himself. It says: “Don’t you know I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over four lakh Hindus were converted to Islam? I am determined to march against that cursed “Raman Nair” very soon (reference is to Rama Varma Raja of Travancore State who was popularly known as Dharma Raja). Since I am overjoyed at the prospect of converting him and his subjects to Islam, I have happily abandoned the idea of going back to Srirangapatnam now” (K.M. Panicker, Bhasha Poshini, August, 1923). READ MORE HERE …

4. Tipu Sultan: As Known in Kerala – Ravi Varma

The ruins of hundreds of Hindu temples destroyed, and heavy concentration of Mappilas, all along the invasion routes of Tipu’s army, are standing and conclusive proofs of the brutalities and atrocities committed by the fanatic Tipu Sultan in Kerala. He was, all through, waging a cruel Islamic war against the Hindu population of Kerala, with a large Muslim army under Muslim field commanders ably assisted by the French, and with powerful field-guns and European troops. The period of Tipu Sultan and his father Hyder Ali Khan from 1766 to 1792 is the darkest period in Kerala history for all types of Islamic atrocities including forcible conversions. In spite of all these, historical documents and records are being deliberately suppressed, distorted and falsified in order to project this fanatic Tipu Sultan of Mysore as a liberal and magnanimous Muslim king. Worse still, this Muslim tyrant from Mysore is being glorified and projected as a national hero like Chhatrapati Shivaji, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Rana Pratap Singh, and Pazhassi Raja of Kerala. To perpetuate the memory of this tyrant Tipu Sultan, the Central Government has released a postal stamp. Doordarshan has sanctioned a video serial to glorify the deeds and life of Tipu Sultan. And a special rehabilitation programme is being worked out for the benefit of the descendants of Tipu Sultan in Calcutta. It is an insult to our national pride and also to the Hindus of Kerala. At this rate, who knows that tomorrow our secular Government and the motivated Muslim and Marxist historians of Jawaharlal Nehru, Aligarh and Islamia universities will not project as national heroes villains like Mahmud Ghaznavi who destroyed the Somnath Temple, Babar who destroyed the Sri Rama Temple at Ayodhya, and Aurangzeb who destroyed the Vishwanath Temple at Kashi and the Sri Krishna Temple at Mathura? What a shame! What a degradation! READ MORE  HERE …

5. Scandalous Tele-Serial of Tipu Sultan – Prakash Chandra Asdhir

The secularist tribe in this country must realise that no useful purpose will be served by putting secular garbs on these barbaric rulers who were only usurpers. Such actions only revive the centuries-old wounds and embitter the relations between Hindus and Muslims. The whole exercise, it should be realised, runs against the process of National Integration envisaged by the Government and the people of this country. Ghaznavis, Ghuris, Baburs, Aurangzebs, Hyder Alis and Tipu Sultans can only carry the coffin of secularism and nothing more. Let the souls of these tyrants lie in their graves and be raised only on the day of “Qiamat” (Doomsday) when Allah will put them on trial for their crimes against humanity. READ MORE HERE …

6. Tipu Sultan: A Fanatic Muslim – Ravi Varma

It was Tipu Sultan and his fanatic Muslim army who converted thousands of Hindus—Thiyyas, Nairs and tribals—to Islam all along the invasion route, and occupied areas in North Kerala, Coorg, Mangalore and other parts of Karnataka. Besides, over 8,000 Hindu temples were desecrated and/or destroyed by his Muslim army in Malabar, Cochin, Coorg, Mysore and Tamil Nadu. … Tipu Sultan was only a usurper. He fought a war of expansion against Cochin and Travancore after running over the lands of a weak Zamorin. He could not succeed in his ambition and became a cripple because of the joint resistance by Cochin and Travancore armies. Simply because Tipu Sultan died in Srirangapatnam while escaping in the night from the fort which had been surrounded by the British army, does not make him a national hero. He fought an imperialist war in South India seeking the help of the French Army. … To project Tipu Sultan as a national hero is not only a distortion of South Indian history, but also an insult to the seventy crore Hindus, especially of South India. READ MORE HERE …

7.  Tipu Sultan and Doordarshan – K. Govindan Kutty

Some years later—well before Gidwani came out with his eulogy [of Tipu Sultan]—there was a still more breathtaking re-evaluation of Tipu’s exploits in Malabar. Its author, C.K. Kareem, a former editor of the Kerala State Gazetteer, went so far as to show Tipu as a philosopher and a great sufi, who viewed the whole cosmos as a mosque! Kareem’s “finding” was that Tipu came to be painted black just because those who wrote history in Kerala were the descendants of people who had to suffer hardships after his advent. His argument was that the repression represented by Tipu was not for the sake of Islam but to govern a newly-conquered territory. … The Hindu view of Tipu’s conquest of Malabar has not changed in spite of Balakrishnan’s and Kareem’s attempt to make him out as a sufi and a reformer. The historical view taken by K.M. Panicker and K.P. Padmanabha Menon and showing Tipu as a tormentor, continues to hold sway. READ MORE HERE …

8. The Tele-Serial of Tipu Sultan – P. Parameswaran

Tipu Sultan had not only given some financial assistance to a few temples including Sringeri Mutt, but he had also destroyed hundreds of temples and carried out forcible mass conversions as well. He had also indulged in mass murders. Letters and orders directing to do such horrible things were also issued by Tipu Sultan. If such things are deliberately suppressed, that will amount to injustice to the population who were the victims of his cruel atrocities. Even if it is only for promoting communal harmony, blatant lies should not be deliberately propagated. For the promotion of communal harmony, let people produce novel, poetry or even cinema. In the case of history, acknowledging the mistakes would be the best way to correct the mistakes; and not to whitewash the mistakes. If it is not done, that will result in emotional outbursts. READ MORE HERE …

9. A Letter to Shri P. Upendra – P.C.C. Raja

As a member of the Zamorin’s family my blood gets boiled even today when I hear the very mention of Tipu’s name because the worst crimes and the worst sort of atrocities were really perpetrated by him on the Hindus of Malabar. In fact the Zamorin of Calicut and the members of his family are well known for their religious tolerance and catholicity of outlook as would be seen from recorded history. But wholesale conversion of all people into Islam was indulged in by Tipu Sultan at gun point. Those who did not obey had either to flee away from the country or to face the bayonet. No other option was available according to recorded history. It will be useful if you will kindly refer to the writings of Prof K.V. Kristina Iyer as well as Malayalam Encyclopedia (Volume 7, published by Sahithyaka Pravasthaka Sahakarna Sangham Ltd., Kottayam, p. 996, para 3, column 1). The several inhuman, barbarous, and brutal acts done at the behest of Tipu Sultan cannot be summarised even in a thousand printed pages. In the circumstances, a cryptic statement that Tipu’s controversial roles are not purported to be dealt with in the serial can hardly assuage the feelings of the victims and would hardly render justice to the injured, their families, and their successors. Kindly also refer to the report of a joint Commission of Bengal and Bombay appointed to inspect the state and conditions of the province of Malabar in the years 1792 and 1793 (Volume 1, paras 52, 64, 67) kept in the National Archives of India, Janpath, New Delhi. A bare perusal of the above report will convince anyone that Tipu Sultan, far from being a benevolent ruler, was one of the worst fanatics, and more inhuman than even the Nazis. READ MORE HERE …

10. The Agitation Against the Tipu Sultan Serial – B.N. Jog

Three years back, one news item which appeared on the pages of many dailies attracted my attention. The news item was about a big studio-fire in Bangalore, where shooting of Shri Sanjay Khan’s tele-serial, “The Sword of Tipu Sultan” was in progress. Scores of young artistes died and many others were injured in the studio-fire. While going through the press report, I was amazed to read that “in this TV serial Tipu Sultan is being depicted as a great warrior and secular benevolent ruler”. Tipu Sultan who forcibly converted thousands of Hindus and Christians to Islam, hanged to death hundreds of innocent women and children, and destroyed and looted scores of temples and churches in Malabar, Cochin, Coorg, Dindigal, Mangalore and Coimbatore, a secular, fair-minded ruler! Hypocrisy also must have some limit. READ MORE  HERE …

11. History of Legal Battle Against the TV Serial The Sword of Tipu Sultan – Madhavrao D. Pathak

The legal fight against the shameful and motivated attempt of Doordarshan and the Government of India to project the usurper king of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, as a national hero, was a long, expensive and frustrating ordeal. According to authentic and documented history of the period, Tipu Sultan had hanged to death and sold as slaves a large number of innocent men, women, and children; looted and destroyed and burnt down hundreds of Hindu temples and Christian churches; and circumcised and converted to Muhammadanism thousands of Hindus and Christians in Mangalore, Coorg, Coimbatore, Dindigal, and Kerala. He had made territorial concessions to the French whose help he sought to fight the British. He had also sent emissaries to Islamic countries – Afghanistan, Iran, and Turky – inviting them to conquer the whole of North India for the glory and spread of Islam. But the Doordarshan serial on Tipu Sultan, based on a novel entitled The Sword of Tipu Sultan by Bhagwan Gidwani, was full of deliberate distortion, fabrication, and suppression of recorded facts of history with the object of glorifying a villain as a national hero, a benevolent ruler, and a paragon of all virtues. READ MORE HERE …

» Sita Ram Goel  (1921–2003) was a historian, author and publisher who founded the Hindu publishing house Voice of India. He along with philosopher Ram Swarup, sought to correct the warped and distorted histories of India and Hinduism that had been put out by European indologists, Christian missionaries and their secular Indian Marxist camp-followers.

Tipu and Mistress

VIDEO: The Story of India – Will Durant

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Remembering Karmayogi Sita Ram Goel – Virendra Parekh

Sita Ram Goel

Virerndra ParekhThis is the original article which appeared in a commemorative volume on Sita Ram Goel many years ago. It is well worth reading as author Virendra Parekh has faithfully recorded in detail Sita Ramji’s views on Islam, Christianity, Communism, Secularism, Hinduism, his own work and Voice of India. – Editor 

“How old are you?” Sita Ramji asked me. “Forty.” “You are younger than my younger son”, he said affectionately. Thus began my first and only meeting with Sita Ramji in November 1993. I was on my way to Manali along with my family and had happily foregone sightseeing in Delhi in order to be able to meet him. As a bonus, Sita Ramji had offered to take me to Ram Swarupji.

For years, his writings had just mesmerized me. Even a few paragraphs were enough to bring out his originality of approach (more about it later), incisive analysis, fiery style and a stubborn refusal to be tamed by considerations of political correctness imposed by the Mullah-Marxist-Missionary-Macaulayite combine. If style is the man, then the picture that Sita Ramjis writings threw up was that of a sterling patriot who happened to be a great scholar and a fearless fighter. Brahmakshatriya is the only word that comes to the mind to describe him.

However, what put him in a class apart from angry pamphleteers was his reverence for truth, a breadth of vision combined with an eye for detail and accuracy, and a willingness to go wherever his search for truth led him. If he had only contempt for Indian secularists, he had no burning desire to be counted among the officially recognized champions of Bharatiyata. He was a seeker of truth, not a camp follower. He would not spare Hindu kings for their myopia, disunity and strategic failures. He would praise Gandhiji for arousing Hindu society by stirring its heart like the Savarkars and Hedgewars never could, because his commitment was to the ideal of truth, goodness and beauty, not to any individual or group.

Our conversation was brief and informal, but Sita Ramji did make a few perceptive remarks. “Where Brahmins are blind, Kshatriyas are lame”, he said. “Intellectuals (Brahmins) are the eyes of the society, and the ruling class its arm. Hindu society, which is not lacking in numbers, valour or devotion to its culture, is kicked around in its own land, because Hindu intellectuals lack vision”, he explained. He referred to the fateful decision of the Vijayanagar King Ramaraya to have two battalions of Muslim archers who could shoot from the horseback. In the critical battle of Rakshasi-Tangadi, widely though erroneously known as the battle of Talikota (1565), these battalions deserted their employer and joined the invaders. Ramaraya lost the battle and his life. The great Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar which had kept the saffron flag aflutter in the South for over two centuries, suffered a terrible blow from which it could never recover. “Look at the irony, Parekh. In this land of Lord Ram and Arjun, the idea of having our own archers did not occur to the king”, commented Sita Ramji.

He went on to say that there should be a Catalogue of National Mistakes which must be taught to all children in the schools with a view to avoiding their repetition. History which does not provide an insight into our weaknesses and mistakes, which is merely a source of false pride through glorification of a mythical past, is no history at all. Secularists would readily accept this, but their definition of India and Indianness would be suspect.

In the afternoon, Sita Ramji drove me from his residence in Shakti Nagar to Maharani Bagh where Ram Swarupji was staying. It was one more act of kind affection from a great person who had over the years replied to each of my letters, enlightened me by answering every question I asked, communicated his candid views on several issues, and sent me for free all the publications of Voice of India, some of them beyond my means.

My meeting with Ram Swarupji was brief, lasting about an hour. I told him that measured against the depth and vastness of his knowledge, he had written very little. He smiled and said that it may be true in some sense, but he did not like to be repetitive. Around 9 p.m., Sita Ramji dropped me at the hotel where my family and friends were waiting for me. I could not have asked for more. My purpose of coming to Delhi was fulfilled.

His mission

During our conversation, Ram Swarupji made an important point about the work of Voice of India. It deserves greater attention. For long, Hinduism has been defined for Hindus by its enemies. They denigrated whatever hindered their designs on us. They told us that Brahmins were a class of deceitful exploiters and oppressors, that Sanskrit was a dead language, that Hinduism was a mumbo-jumbo of silly superstitions, puerile priest craft and meaningless mysticism, and that the caste system was the root of all evils afflicting Indian society. They even taught us that the Vedic Aryans had come to India from outside (so why cavil at Muslim or Christian invaders?), that the history of India was actually a series of India’s conquests by one invader after another.

Their praise was motivated, too. The missionaries and mullahs always praise Hindu society for its tolerance and generosity (something that they have never shown to it or other rival creeds) and expect the Hindus to look the other way when they themselves malign Hinduism and convert its weaker sections through force, fraud and allurements. The missionaries always praise Hindus for their religiosity, but never for their religion. The pope praises Hinduism for its secondaries, while hiding his contempt for its primaries.

The enemies of Hinduism floated false notions about their own creeds, too. We were told that Islam is a religion of peace and brotherhood; that Christianity has nothing but love and mercy for non-believers, that Marxism has the master-key to the “ascent of mankind from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom.”

The greater tragedy is that the Hindus have gone along with this con game, slavishly or foolishly. What the enemies of Hinduism found wrong with us, we found wrong with ourselves. Even today, few Hindus can see through these mischievous canards. Hindus feel flattered by the motivated praise of their tolerance by the missionaries, little realizing that it is a ploy for their moral disarmament against a ruthless, systematic onslaught on their culture and tradition; that it is akin to a sermon on detachment and renunciation by a pickpocket while he is relieving you of your wallet.

Centuries of cultural and political enslavement have led Hindus to look at themselves and others through the tinted spectacles forged by the inveterate enemies of their religion and culture. Voice of India, said Sita Ramji, wanted Hindus to use their own eyes for looking at themselves and at others. All its efforts were directed at equipping them for doing so. The means of achieving this end was a detailed and objective first-hand study of the rival ideologies (Islam, Christianity and Marxism) from their primary sources. It meant a study of their scriptures, their sources of inspiration, their worldview, their objectives and methods and their historical record. It also meant studying Indian history from primary sources and interpreting it, on the basis of undisputable and recorded facts, from the perspective of Indians rather than that of invaders and conquerors.

Perhaps for the first time in its long and chequered history did Hindu society take up this Herculean task. Ordinary Hindus had long regarded Islam as barbarism masquerading as religion, at least for non-Muslims. They had not regarded Christian missionaries as anything more than wily, cunning, arrogant fanatics who were hand in gloves with India’s foreign masters. And for all their skills in sophisticated slander and manipulation of the mind, the Communists have not been able to expand their influence (or whatever is left of it) beyond the two corners (Bengal/Tripura and Kerala) of India. However, Hindu scholars had by and large neglected to examine critically the tall claims made by these ideologies. This was at par with the failure of the Hindu rulers to keep abreast of developments in the neighbouring lands, even those developments that had a direct bearing on national security.

The consequences of both these failures have been heavy. The myopic refusal of the Hindu rulers to look beyond their nose led to the political enslavement of the country whereas the failure of the Hindu scholars to examine critically the doctrines of Islam and Christianity, not to speak of Communism, left the ideological field open to the enemies of Hinduism. Whatever they said about their own creeds went uncontested.

Sita Ramji and Ram Swarupji moved in to fill this vital gap. In the nineteenth century, Swami Dayanand Sarawati, founder of the Arya Samaj, had subjected the Quran and the Bible to the test of traditional Hindu polemics. Before him, Brahmins from Tamil Nadu had asked a few pertinent questions to Christian missionaries. But the task before the duo was truly daunting. As Sita Ramji wrote to me in a personal letter: “My heart sinks when I think of the organizational, financial and political resources at the command of our adversaries. Voice of India is not even a drop in the ocean.”

Sita Ramji went about his lifework in the spirit of a true Karmayogi. Calculations of personal cost and benefit never mattered to him. His detachment (anasakti) afforded him tenacity, fearlessness and independence of judgment. He sat at the feet of great masters like Vyasa, Valmiki, the Buddha, Vivekananda and Aurobindo and recaptured a vision of India that was dazzling in its brilliance. This vision defined for him the mission of Voice of India.

National vision

As Sita Ramji himself pointed out, his vision of India is nothing new. It is only a restatement in modern language, in a modern setting, of the ancient Vedic vision as enshrined in the Vedas, in the Upanishads, in the Jainagama, in the Tripitaka, in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, in the Puranas, in the Dharmashastras and in the latter-day poetry of saints and siddhas. We have had countless spokesmen of that vision throughout our history.

The first dimension of that vision is that India is the land of Sanatana Dharma. India’s national identity is coterminous with Sanatana Dharma. As Sri Aurobindo said in his Uttarpara Speech, India would rise with the rise of Sanatana Dharma, India would sink if Sanatana Dharma sank and India would die if it were at all possible for Sanatana Dharma to die. The second dimension of that vision is that of a vast and variegated culture. According to adhara and adhikara, various sections of our population, various segments of our society, various regions of our country, developed their own culture, their own art, their own literature. It is a vast fabric, this art and literature. But its spirit is the spirit of Sanatana Dharma. It is informed by Sanatana Dharma in all its details.

The third dimension of that vision was that this great society, the society which we describe as Hindu Society today, was reared on the basis of spirituality and a great culture created by Sanatana Dharma. The Hindu social system, epitomized in the phrase varnashrama dharma, has degenerated under the onslaught of foreign invasions and is the subject of severe criticism today. It was originally, and it has been for centuries, a harmony model which enabled people of various abilities and inclinations to live together as an organic whole. As Dr. S. Radhakrishnan pointed out, the varna vyavastha was founded on two ideals: firstly, society should be based on cooperation and accommodation, not competition and exclusion; secondly, the highest place in society should go to the men of learning and character, not to the men of wealth and power. As for ashrama dharma, the division of life into four stages of brahmacharya (period of celibacy and learning), garhasthya (period of householding), vanaprastha (period of retirement) and sannyasa (period of renunciation), indicates that this life is a pilgrimage to the eternal life through different stages. For all its weaknesses and distortions, varnashrama dharma has saved Hindu society from the destruction which overtook so many societies outside India at the hands of Christianity, Islam and Communism.

The fourth dimension of that national vision is that the history of India is the history of the Hindu society, of Hindu culture, of Hindu spirituality. In short, it is the history of the Hindu nation and not the history of foreign invaders as we are being taught today.

The last dimension which India’s great men have stressed, which they have affirmed again and again, is that this land of Bharatvarsha is one indivisible whole; that it is the cradle of Hindu society, of Hindu culture, of Hindu spirituality; that it is the homeland of the Hindu nation. Other communities are welcome to live in this land provided they come to terms with Hindu society and Hindu culture. Today, Bharatavarsha stands divided into several countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, which are not only politically but also culturally hostile to each other; and we seem to have become reconciled to that division. But the vision that was given to us by our great men was that of Bharatvarsha as an indivisible whole, not only geographically but also culturally.

It was from this perspective that Sita Ramji judged ideologies like Islam, Christianity, Communism and their united front, which in India is called secularism, as well as Indian history and contemporary developments. Thus, about the demolition of the Babri Masjid, he wrote to me in a personal letter: “My only grievance is that the Hindus had to do it surreptitiously. I never thought that the Hindus would assert themselves or that the Communist empire would disintegrate. I have fought for both. I am fulfilled.”

One has only to look around to realize how far we have moved away from this pristine vision of India shining in its natural glory. We are taught that even today’s truncated India is a multi-religious, multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-many-other-things entity struggling to evolve some principle of unity that can hold together its disparate components; that it is a nation in the making, to use a phrase dear to the secularist elite. Indian history has been massively perverted. Stalinist activists masquerading as historians have thoroughly and systematically distorted and falsified every period of Indian history with the malicious intention of cleansing it of all Hindu influences, to negate every dimension of the national vision outlined above. The very idea of India is adulterated to suit the designs of invading ideologies.

Sita Ramji made it his lifework to defend this national vision of India as it has existed through millennia. He has set out the problem and its solution in the books Hindu Society Under Siege and Defence of Hindu Society. His books relating to Indian history (Story of Islamic Imperialism in India; Heroic Hindu Resistance to Muslim Invaders; and Muslim Separatism, Causes and Consequences) convincingly nail the secularist propaganda. In Perversion of India’s Political Parlance, he traced and exposed the secularist sleight of hand whereby Muslim communalism became respectable as “secularism” while Indian nationalism was reviled as “communalism”. When he handled the works of others, Sita Ramji brought out the depth, perspective and relevance of the original work in bold relief. His publication of The Calcutta Quran Petition, the Niyogi Committee Report on the Activities of Christian Missionaries, and, to some extent, Catholic Ashrams: Sannyasins or Swindlers? provides examples of this. His two major contributions, Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them (Vol. I & Vol. II) and History of Hindu-Christian Encounters are classics of original research and will stand the test of time.

Sita Ramji’s works (and VOI publications in general) are characterized by a depth and an intellectual honesty that are rare in secularist writings on Hindutva. The views and arguments of the other side are rendered faithfully and then answered cogently by setting out an alternative perspective backed by facts and reasoning. Ancient India had this tradition of scholarly debate. It is said of Shankara, the great philosopher, that he formulated the arguments of his opponents better than they themselves could. Indeed, these are elementary features of public debate in a civilized society, but Indian debate on issues like (what passes for) secularism, the cultural content of Indian nationalism, the nature of Indian society, the interpretation of Indian history and the role and direction of the Indian State leaves much to be desired on this count.

Much of Hindutva writing is characterized by whining and self-pity, dwelling on the atrocities and injustices heaped on Hindus by others. Sita Ramji carried the battle to the enemy camp, taking on the adversaries in a frontal attack. Instead of calling himself secular and others pseudo-secular, as the BJP is doing, he discussed secularism—of the Indian variety—threadbare and showed that it was far from being a noble idea. Instead of presenting Hinduism as a monotheistic religion, he showed that monotheism as extolled in the Abrahamic religions was a monstrous idea responsible for a great deal of strife and bloodshed in the name of God.

Critique of India’s secularism

Sita Ramji’s critique of what passes for secularism in India is epitomized in the title of his book India’s Secularism: New Name for National Subversion. Jawaharlal Nehru, who had not used the term in his pre-Independence writings or speeches, picked up a prestigious word from Western political parlance and made it mean the opposite of what it meant in the West. In the West, secularism stood for rationalism, universalism and humanism. In India, it is a united front of all anti-Hindu ideologies: Islam, Christianity and Communism. Each of these is an intolerant, aggressive and violent ideology. Each of them aims at conquest of the world by rooting out other religions. Each of them has a history soaked in the blood of the innocent. All over the world, they are enemies of one another; but in India, they are always found on the same side against their common enemy: Hinduism.

In the West, secularism was directed against Christianity, which spurned reason, suspected science, punished doubt and claimed absolute monopoly of truth in all matters, secular and spiritual. In India, secularism is ranged against Hinduism which respects reason and experience, which imposes no belief system but enjoins everyone to realize the spiritual truths in the cave of his heart through his own effort in his own way.

It is the ultimate irony of Indian politics that those who masterminded this subversion of the national psyche have positioned themselves as guardians of democracy and secularism in the country, and that votaries of authoritarian ideologies lecture the Hindus on the virtues of pluralism. And the Hindu society, which is the national society, which has borne the brunt of all foreign invasions and fought all freedom struggles, is driven into a corner and made to shout that it is secular, that it regards Islam and Christianity as noble religions, that it regards Islamic heroes as its own.

In pre-Independence days, the Muslim minority had a veto on what was national. Only that leader, that party, that programme was national which was approved by the Muslim leaders. The rest were, by definition, communal. In the post-Independence period, the same game is played in the name of secularism: only that leader, party, organization, or programme is secular which is approved by Muslim leaders. Whatever they disapprove of is, for that very reason, communal. Sita Ramji showed that this deliberate and malicious perversion of thought has thoroughly distorted the national perspective. Love for one’s country and its world-renowned ancient culture has been turned into a cardinal sin. Foreign invaders and tyrants have become lawful rulers while national heroes are downgraded as petty rebels fighting for personal gain. The catchword “secularism” provides a smokescreen behind which several types of imperialism (Islamic, Christian, Communist and Consumerist) are stealing a march over Hinduism.

Sitaramji urged Hindu intellectuals to see through this con game perpetrated on them by the residues of imperialist ideologies with the help of a self-alienated denationalized elite, and to counter it by conducting the public debate in the proper language. Such a language, he said, would substitute “Indian nationalism” for “Hindu communalism”; and “national subversion” for “secularism”; and “Islam” for “Muslim communalism” or “Islamic fundamentalism”.

Two traditions of worship

A major contribution of Sita Ramji and other VOI scholars, especially Ram Swarup and David Frawley, is a clear enunciation of two types of religious traditions. One may be called the Biblical or Abrahamic tradition and the other, Vedic or Indic tradition. The Bible-derived creeds are founded on a central figure—Jehovah, Allah, God or History—who commands the exclusive and overriding allegiance of the believers. He is jealous, cruel, and brooks no rival. He deals with his people through an intermediary, messenger, prophet, or the sole saviour. His teachings are contained in the Book. The Book is the sole repository of Ultimate Truth.

Thus in these creeds, there is only one Truth; there is only one way to it; the God has given it to us, the Chosen People, and us alone; it is contained in our Book and in our Book alone. Since the Book is authored by God himself, every word in it is true, excellent, immutable and binding. The Book, al-Kitab, is beyond the comprehension of most of even the believers, and certainly the non-believers. We must therefore heed the Church, the Priest.

The faith in the Book is the overriding duty, as is the duty of making others to see the light. Since this is the absolute Truth, since it alone can lead to Heaven or permanent bliss, mankind must be awakened to it for its own good at any cost in whatever way. No sacrifice is too great for holding on to it; no means are impermissible for converting others to it. The very idea of an absolute monopoly of ultimate truth contains within it the seeds of intolerance, aggression, strife and authoritarianism. It is a charter for killing, destruction and subversion with a clean conscience. There will always be more than one claimant to this monopoly while there are bound to be others who refuse to acknowledge the authority of the Church or the Party.

The Vedic tradition, on the other hand, is founded on very different premises. The starting point of this tradition is human consciousness, which can be explored, which can be purified progressively and which can be transcended till it attains the highest heights of knowledge and creativity. At this summit, the Self becomes one with the Universe and sees all things, animate and inanimate, as its own symbols and sequences. In this vast vision, sanctity attaches not only to human life but to the whole of creation. This is the summum bonum of spiritual humanism, which has always been India’s message to mankind.

The Vedic tradition teaches us that spiritual truths are not of the nature of a revelation received by a historical prophet from an extra-cosmic God or some other supernatural source. Nor are those truths contained in or confined to a Book. On the contrary, these truths lie secretly in every human heart and have always been accessible to those who seek for them. These truths are never in need of a crusade for their spread and propagation. On the contrary, these truths are self-propagating due to their own inner strength. The only defence they need is the dedication they inspire spontaneously in all those who invoke them.

Sita Ramji pointed out that the Vedic tradition advises people to be busy with themselves, that is, their own moral and spiritual improvement. Several disciplines have been evolved for this purpose: tapas (austerity), yoga (meditation), jnana (reflection), bhakti (devotion), etc. A seeker can take to whichever discipline (adhara) suits his adhikara (stage of moral-spiritual preparation). There is no uniform prescription for everybody, no coercion or allurement into a belief system, and no claim of merit for aggression against others.

The Biblical tradition, on the other hand, teaches people to be busy with others. One is supposed to have become a superior human being as soon as one confesses the “only true faith”. Thenceforward one stands qualified to “save” others. The only training one needs thereafter is how to man a mission or military expedition, how to convert others by all available means including force and fraud, and how to kill or ruin or blacken those who refuse to come around.

The Vedic tradition has given to the world schools of Sanatana Dharma, which have practised peace among their own followers as well as towards the followers of other paths. On the other hand, the Biblical tradition has spawned criminal cults such as Christianity, Islam, Communism and Nazism, which have always produced violent conflicts as much within their own camps as with one another and the rest of mankind. As Sita Ramji pointed out, the syrupy slogan of sarvadharma-samabhava glosses over the basic difference between these two traditions. This has caused an enormous amount of confusion.

Critique of Islam

The magnitude of crimes credited to Muslim monarchs by the medieval Muslim historians was beyond measure. In his book The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India, Sita Ramji has devoted two long chapters to the magnitude of the Muslim atrocities. He showed with the help of detailed documentation that with a few exceptions, Muslim kings and commanders were monsters who stopped at no crime when it came to their Hindu subjects. He showed that there was a broad pattern to those crimes. The pattern is that of a jihad in which the ghazis of Islam 1) invade infidel lands; 2) massacre as many infidel men, women, and children, particularly Brahmins, as they like after winning a victory; 3) capture the survivors to be sold as slaves; 4) plunder every place and person; 5) demolish idolatrous places of worship and build mosques in their places; and 6) defile idols which are flung into public squares or made into steps leading to mosques.

Hindus were long familiar with this “behaviour pattern patented by Islam”. Sita Ramji’s distinct contribution was to trace this behaviour pattern to the tenets of Islam. Apologists of Islam, from Mahatma Gandhi to Mohammad Habib, regarded the atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on Hindus as aberrations and deviations from true Islam; they attributed it to greed, political compulsions, inherent barbarism of certain tribes etc. Sita Ramji showed that far from being aberrations or deviations from the true faith of Islam, these atrocities were the logical outcome of the teachings of Islam. Far from being a slur on the fair name of Islam, the behaviour of Muslim rulers towards the Hindus was the true face of Islam, it is what Islam had in store for non-believers. He showed that this is exactly the pattern 1) revealed by Allah in the Quran; 2) practised, perfected and prescribed by the Prophet in his own life-time; 3) followed by the pious khalifas of Islam in the first 35 years of Islamic imperialism; 4) elaborated in the hadiths and hundreds of commentaries with meticulous attention to detail; 5) certified by the ulama and the sufis of Islam in all ages including our own; and 6) followed by all Muslim monarchs and chieftains who aspired for name and fame in this life, and houris and beardless boys hereafter. It is, therefore, poor apologetics to blame the Islamized Turks alone of being barbarous. Islamic barbarism was shared in equal measure by all races and communities who were forced or lured into the fold of Islam—the Arabs, the Turks, the Persians, the Pathans, the Hindu converts. The conclusion is inescapable that Islam brutalizes all those who embrace it. And that is where the blame should be laid in all reason and justice.

“Islam in India is still suffering from the high fever of self-righteousness, though lately it has shifted its claim from the ‘only true religion’ to the ‘only human brotherhood’. Powered by petro-dollars, it is again dreaming of an empire in India. Hindus, on the other hand, have learnt no lesson from history as is evident from their slogan of sarva-dharma-samabhava vis-à-vis Islam, which is only a totalitarian and terrorist ideology of imperialism. And now the Hindu secularists are bent upon perverting the historical record in order to prove that Islam never intended any harm to Hindus or Hinduism!” (Story of Islamic Imperialism, p. 87) And he added a warning: “Will Hindu society have to pay the price again? It is highly doubtful if Hindu society will survive another determined assault from Islam, such is the mental, moral and spiritual health of this society. A society which has no self-confidence, which suffers from self-pity, which indulges in breast-beating at the behest of every Hindu-baiter, and which stands in daily need of certificates of good conduct from its sworn enemies, has not the ghost of a chance in a world which is becoming deadlier with the passing of every day. Can such a society make any creative contribution to the greater good of mankind? Let every Hindu search his heart, and seek the answer.” (ibid.)

Critique of Christianity

Sita Ramji’s views on Christianity are equally clear and instructive. “Hindus, from early-seventeenth-century Pandits of Tamil Nadu to Arun Shourie in the closing years of the twentieth, have spent no end of ink and breath to demolish the dogma of Christianity and denounce missionary methods. But it has hardly made any difference to the arrogance of Christian theologians and aggressiveness of Christian missionaries. That is because the dogma was never meant for discussion. It is an axiom of logic that that which has not been proved cannot and need not be disproved. And who has ever proved that the nondescript Jew who is supposed to have been crucified by a Roman governor of Judaea in AD 33 atoned for the sins of all humans for all time to come? Who has ever proved that those who accept that man as the Only Saviour, will ascend to a heaven of everlasting bliss, and those who do not, will burn forever in the blazing fire of hell? Nor can the proclamation or the promise or the threat be disproved.

“High-sounding theological blah blah notwithstanding, the fact remains that the dogma is no more than a subterfuge for forging and wielding an organizational weapon for mounting unprovoked aggression against other people. It is high time for Hindus to dismiss the dogma of Christianity with the contempt it deserves, and pay attention to the Christian missionary apparatus planted in their midst.

“The sole aim of this apparatus is to ruin Hindu society and culture, and take over the Hindu homeland. It goes on devising strategies for every situation, favourable and unfavourable. It trains and employs a large number of intellectual criminals ready to prostitute their talents in the service of their paymasters, and adept at dressing up dark designs in high-sounding language. The fact that every design is advertised as a theology in the Indian context and every criminal euphemized as an Indian theologian, should not hoodwink Hindus about the real intentions of this gangster game.” (Pseudo-Secularism, Christian Missions and Hindu Resistance, pp. 1-2)

Sita Ramji said time and again that Hindu society was committing a blunder in regarding Christianity and Islam as religions at par with Sanatana Dharma. These are ideologies of power, masquerading as religions. They proceed from very different premises and have very different objectives: “Hindus are committing a grave mistake in regarding the encounter between Hinduism and Christianity as a dialogue between two religions. Christianity has never been a religion; its long history tells us that it has always been a predatory imperialism par excellence. The encounter, therefore, should be viewed as a battle between two totally opposed and mutually exclusive ways of thought and behaviour. In the language of the Gita (ch. 16), it is war between daivi (divine) and asuri (demonic) sampads (propensities). In the mundane context of history, it can also be described as war between the Vedic and the Biblical traditions.” (op. cit., p. 2)

Focus on ideas, not people

Notice that the focus is on the ideas, not on people; it is on Islam, not Muslims; on Christianity, not Christians. In his prolific writings, Sita Ramji always took care to distinguish between Islam and Muslims, between Christianity and Christians. At the end of his discussion of the two traditions of worship, he clarified that this analysis cannot be applied mechanically to all persons born and brought up in these two opposite traditions. The head and heart of a person can be smaller or larger than any thought pattern. Therefore, ordinary men born and brought up in both these patterns are found to be of good as well as bad behaviour.

This distinction between ideas and people marks out VOI from many other pro-Hindu organizations. Many Hindus sincerely believe that Islam is good, but Muslims are wicked; Christianity is good, but Christians are crooked. As a result, they are baffled by the behaviour pattern of Muslim leaders or missionaries and harbour prejudices against them. The VOI approach removes prejudices against people, while providing a proper basis for understanding their behaviour: “It has long been a Hindu habit to resent the behaviour pattern of Muslims and Christians, while praising Islam and Christianity as revealed religions. We are asking Hindus to reverse this process, to study Christianity and Islam to see for themselves that Christian and Muslim behaviour patterns follow from the belief system of Christianity and Islam.” (History of Hindu-Christian Encounters, pp. 453-454)

The whole approach to the communal problem is redefined. “Muslims are not to be hated”, Sita Ramji said to me, “they are our own people alienated from their ancestral society and culture by a divisive doctrine masquerading as religion”. So, target the ideas, not the people.

It also imparts a wider dimension to the noble endeavour of VOI. By speaking up for Hinduism as an ancient, pagan religion that has survived the onslaughts of monotheistic creeds, VOI is speaking up for pagan America and Africa, and also for the pagan past of Egypt, Iraq, Persia, Arabia, Greece, Rome and Europe in general. As Ram Swarup put it in the preface to his Hindu View of Christianity and Islam, “Today, there is an awakening in many parts of the world. Many people are coming to know what they have gone through and what they have lost. They have also begun to realize that their present religions are impositions on them, that they once belonged to a different spiritual culture which had a different orientation and was built on a deeper and wider base. As this realization becomes more acute, many of them are trying to break form their present confines and recover their lost identity. They are also seeking a more satisfying spirituality. Probably Hinduism can help them. It has survived many physical and ideological onslaughts and it still retains in its bosom layers of spiritual traditions, intuitions and knowledge which other nations have lost; it can therefore help these nations recover their lost religious roots and identity.”

Conclusion

Sita Ramji was a karmayogi whose personality was a lively synthesis of jnana (knowledge), karma (action) and bhakti (devotion). This brave son of Hindu society took up cudgels in its defence on a frontier that was left largely unmanned for ages. He showed the difference that an individual can make with dedicated efforts. In any history of the Hindu renaissance, the contribution of Sita Ram Goel and Voice of India will be acknowledged in golden letters.

» Virendra Parekh is a senior journalist based in Mumbai. He writes in English and Gujarati on issues and developments related to Indian nationalism, economy and politics.

Sita Ram Goel - THIE - 17-10-16 - Chennai

Porus’ defeat of Alexander at the Battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum) – N.S. Rajaram

Alexander taming Bucephalus by F. Schommer (late 19th century)

Navaratna S. RajaramIndian history has been distorted to meet the ideological needs of the ruling powers, a situation that continues to the present day. The pattern though is startling: just as the myth of the Aryan invasion was created to make Vedas and Sanskrit foreign imports, the myth of Greek superiority beginning with Alexander’s victory in India was concocted to make Greek learning superior to Indian. It was a claim the Greeks themselves never made. It was not for nothing that Napoleon called history “a fable agreed upon”. – Dr N. S. Rajaram

According to colonial British historians and their Indian followers, Alexander’s campaign in India (actually West Punjab now in Pakistan) was one of the most important episodes in Indian history. The reasons given are two. First it allowed scholars to establish a chronological marker for Indian history by identifying Sandracottos of Greek records with Chandragupta the founder of the Maurya Empire. This made him a contemporary of Alexander whose dates are known from other sources. This equation, known  the “Greek Synchronism“, is hailed as the sheet anchor of Indian history and chronology. All other dates are derived assuming it to be correct.

No less importantly, Alexander’s ‘victory’ has been used as evidence of European superiority over Indians even in ancient times. This soon led to the claim that all Indian achievements from astronomy and mathematics to Sanskrit drama and epic poetry must have been borrowed from the Greeks. (like: Ramayana was a copy of the Iliad!) It is commonplace among Western Indologists to claim that all Indian science and mathematics were borrowed from the Greeks after Alexander. (If so why didn’t the Greeks have the decimal place value system for another thousand years, which they got from India?) Some even claim that Indian writing was borrowed from the Greeks. Anyone who questions this is immediately denounced as a chauvinist incapable of logic.

The idea is fantastic. Alexander entered India in the winter of 327—326 BC and left when a mutiny of his soldiers forced him to retreat with heavy losses. As we shall see later his stay was brief and troubled. Philip, the satrap he left in charge of the garrisons was murdered by the locals and his garrisons swiftly overrun. Seleucus who tried to recover them was defeated and driven out. But to go by the accounts of colonial scholars, Alexander must have brought an army not of soldiers but scholars and scientists who taught Indians everything from writing to astronomy—all in a matter of months!

Contrast this with the British experience. Their rule lasted two centuries, and at its height included all of India. And yet India retained its identity and knowledge, learning from the British of course but adapting them to Indian conditions. The Greeks were in control, if at all of a remote corner of India for a few months. How could they achieve so great a transformation in so short a time that the British couldn’t in centuries? But such questions are dismissed as chauvinistic and unworthy of debate. So it is best to leave these claims alone and look at what the records have to say.

Greek and Indian records

Before we examine these claims, especially Alexander’s supposed military success against the Indians a few facts should be kept in mind. No Greek records from the period survive; we know about them only from later, much later accounts that refer to them. This includes the Indica of Megasthenes which is only known from references in later works by writers like Strabo, Diodorus, Plutarch and a few others. And none of them mention the word Maurya. Several scholars have suggested that Sandrocottos of the Greek records could have been Samudragupta of the later Gupta dynasty. This would topple the Greek synchronism and place the Maurya dynasty including Chandragupta and Ashoka several centuries before Alexander.

The point to note here is that the whole of Indian chronology rests on the correctness of this linguistic similarity between Sandrakottos and Chandragupta (Maurya). There is no technical or inscriptional evidence to support it. Ashoka’s inscriptions don’t mention Alexander even though other kings are mentioned by name. Nonetheless historians for the most part have taken it as proven although a few dissident scholars are questioning it citing some recent archaeological finds. It is important to note that Ashoka’s date, as well as the dates of his inscriptions are deduced from this Greek Synchronism and not based on any scientific grounds like radiocarbon tests. (Recent archaeological data relating to stratification seem to cast doubt on it, but this line is not pursued here.)

In all this there is an implicit assumption that Western sources are always reliable and objective and should be accepted without question. But the trustworthiness of Greek accounts on which much of this version of history is based, including those of Megasthenes and his successor Deimachus, has been questioned from the earliest time. The late R. C. Majumdar pointed out that we must give up any notion that they were somehow more reliable than others—a view propagated by colonial historians. Even the ancient Strabo (c. 65 BC—c. 24 AD) wrote: “Generally speaking, the men who hitherto have written on the affairs of India were a set of liars. Deimachus holds the first place in the list, Megasthenes comes next…. Of this we became the more convinced whilst writing the history of Alexander. No faith whatever can be placed in Deimachus and Megasthenes.”

In contrast to the paucity of Greek records, we have ample records from Indian sources—Hindu, Buddhist and Jain—from the periods before and after Alexander. The most famous of these is the Arthashastra of Kautilya who was a contemporary of Chandragupta Maurya and hence of Alexander if his identification with Sandrakottos is correct. While they know nothing of Alexander, they do note invasions by others like the Scythians (Shaka), Huns (Huna), Persians (Parasika), Parthians (Prithu-Parthava) and others. The word “Yavana” (Yona in Prakrit) is fairly common in the late ancient age, but does not always mean the Greeks (or Ionians) much less Macedonians.

The first identifiable reference to Alexander in an Indian work is found in Banabhatta’s Harshacarita written almost a thousand years after Alexander’s invasion. In this Bana refers to an Alikasundara and his campaign against a country ruled by women (stree-rajya) or “Amazons“. They are probably the same as the Massagetae whose warrior queen Tomyris defeated and killed the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great around 535 BC. Their country corresponds to modern Kazakhstan, so Alexander would have encountered them on his march towards Afghanistan (or Bactria).

This suggests that the impact of Alexander’s march on India has been exaggerated out of all proportion to reality by historians of the colonial era. In order to get a truer picture it is necessary to have some idea of the historical and political background to Alexander’s campaign which was part of Macedonia’s expansionist policy and not just a bolt from the blue. Alexander was the son of King Philip II of Macedonia and Olympias, the fourth of Philip’s seven (or eight) wives. As Macedonians, they were looked down upon by the Greeks as half-barbarians. Probably to counter this, Philip engaged Aristotle to tutor Alexander in Greek learning.

It was Philip who initiated an expansionist policy by invading and occupying Athens and other parts of Greece proper. To this end Philip introduced a military innovation known as the “phalanx“—a compact and disciplined infantry formation that could fight as a unit. This proved successful against the tribes of Asia Minor and Central Asia, as well as the once mighty but now disintegrating Persian Empire. These were pitched battles in which Alexander’s disciplined phalanxes proved superior. They proved less effective in India where he needed to move against large formations over vast areas.

Philip was assassinated in 336 BC, plotted by Alexander’s mother Olympias according to some historians. Alexander III (to give his official name) inherited his father’s kingdom as well as the powerful army that he had created. He continued Philip’s policy of subduing the Greek states, which they intensely disliked, and expanded east and south until his forces were in Asia Minor (East Turkey). Egypt, which was chafing under Persian rule threw off its yoke and greeted Alexander as liberator. In 334 BC, he turned his attention to the wealthy but decaying Persian Empire.

Alexander’s campaign against the Persian Empire consisted of a series of raids in which he plundered wealthy cities like Issus, Susa and Persepolis, the last of which he reduced to ashes. They were not unlike Mahmud of Ghazni’s raids into India 1300 years later. Darius III, the unworthy bearer of a great name, proved both incompetent and unpopular. He was captured and killed by one of his own subordinate rulers, Bessus of Bactria. In his Persian campaigns Alexander was greatly helped by his general Parmenion (c. 400—330 BC) who had loyally served his father also. Alexander repaid his loyalty by having the seventy year-old general executed on false charges of disloyalty. (This shows that Alexander was not the kind of man to reward a defeated adversary like Porus.)

By 330 BC, Alexander found himself in Central Asia and Bactria (Afghanistan), trying to consolidate his hold over what were once parts of the Persian Empire. He was now near the border of India. He, like his contemporaries had heard a great deal about the country and its legendary wealth. Whether it was his love of plunder or imperial ambition that attracted him, he descended into the plains of Punjab in the winter of 327 BC.

This shows that Alexander was not the first foreigner to take an interest in India. There were others—traders, mercenary soldiers and adventurers before and after Alexander. Some even set up kingdoms, or tried to until uprooted or assimilated into in the region of the northwest. They are referred to as the Indo-Greeks. They should be seen as part and parcel of long-standing encounters between India and the people to the west though most of them were not military in nature. We need to have some idea of this to get a truer picture of Alexander’s campaign and its impact.

“History—a fable agreed upon”

Links between India and the West, including the Mediterranean world of Greece, Ionia, Egypt and Rome is of untold antiquity. It is important to recognize that the ancient Greeks did not see themselves as Europeans, but as one with other people of the Mediterranean region that included Egypt, Babylonia and Persia. To them Europe and its people were barbarian. As previously observed, Alexander and his fellow Macedonians were seen by the Greek elite as barely a step removed from being barbarians.

Other than a few questionable references in the Old Testament, the earliest Western work to mention India appears to be the Histories of Herodotus (c. 484—425 BC). His writings indicate that there were others before him who had visited India including possibly Pythagoras (c. 570—495 BC). It is not known if Herodotus himself was ever in India. His writings (or those ascribed to him) do not suggest any great familiarity with India of the time. But they do show that India and its people were already familiar to the Greeks centuries before Alexander.

Until the campaigns of Alexander, there was no large-scale Greek presence in India though a few Greek colonies did exist in the northwestern regions of the subcontinent. Following his failure to gain a position in India and the defeat of his successor Seleucus Nikator, relationships between the Indians and the Greeks and the Romans later, was mainly through trade and diplomacy. Also the Greeks and other ancient peoples did not see themselves as in any way superior, only different. Herodotus in fact is full of admiration for Egyptians, Persians and the Ethiopians (Africans). The notion of Greeks as superior to Indians and other non-Europeans was a conceit introduced by Europeans of the colonial period.

To preserve this conceit of “European” superiority, colonial officials made the Greeks all but the bringers of knowledge to India—a claim the Greeks themselves never made. As a first step, these “scholars” turned what was Alexander’s disastrous defeat into a victory that somehow resulted in his “defeated” opponent ending up with more territory! Alexander also had to face a mutiny by his supposedly “victorious” army and forced to beat a hasty retreat that resulted in the near destruction of his army and his own premature death. Further, his position became so weak that Alexander dared not return by the northern route by which he had come but took the forbiddingly inhospitable southern desert route where water is very scarce. (This is reflected in the legend of how Alexander on his deathbed gave the last cup of water he was about to drink to a thirsty soldier.)

This historically realistic picture was first brought to light—to Indians at least—by the famous Russian general and military thinker Marshal Georgy Zhukov. In his convocation address delivered at the Indian Military Academy in Dehra Dun, Zhukov stated that Alexander’s conduct in the aftermath of his battle with Porus showed that he had suffered a catastrophic defeat. According to Zhukov, Alexander in his Indian campaign had fared far worse than Napoleon in Russia. A careful examination of Greek and Roman sources like Plutarch reinforces Zhukov’s analysis who was undoubtedly familiar with them. In particular it shows that his supposed victory over Porus was a later fabrication.

Here is how Plutarch described Alexander’s “victory”: “This last combat with Porus took off the edge of the Macedonians’ courage and stayed their further progress in India…. Alexander not only offered to Porus to govern his own kingdom as satrap under himself but gave him also the additional territory of various independent tribes whom he had subdued.” So Porus emerged from his war with his territory doubled and his gold stock augmented. This can only mean that Alexander had to buy peace with Porus to ensure a safe passage for himself and his troops. How this constitutes victory is known only to colonial historians and their gullible Indian followers.

Worse fate awaited Alexander and his army on their way south. As he was trying to withdraw, Alexander nearly lost his life in a battle near Mulasthana (the modern Multan), and managed to escape thanks to the bravery of his friend Peucestas who sacrificed his life to save Alexander. Alexander and what was left of his army beat a hasty retreat towards Babylon through Sind only to be decimated. The “world conqueror” died in Babylon—a shadow of his arrogant self. All this is recorded by Plutarch who goes on to add, “Alexander left deceptive monuments to exaggerate the scale of his successes in India.”

This should give an idea of how seriously Indian history has been distorted to meet the ideological needs of the ruling powers, a situation that continues to the present day. The pattern though is startling: just as the myth of the Aryan invasion was created to make Vedas and Sanskrit foreign imports, the myth of Greek superiority beginning with Alexander’s victory in India was concocted to make Greek learning superior to Indian. It was a claim the Greeks themselves never made. It was not for nothing that Napoleon called history a “fable agreed upon.”

(To balance this it should be added that the 1941 movie Sikander with Sohrab Modi as the brave but defeated Porus and Prithviraj Kapoor as the victorious Alexander chivalrously restoring the defeated Porus to his kingdom did as much to seal the myth of Alexander and his nobility as any colonial era history book. It was released at the height of World War II when the nationalist sentiment was running high. It captured the mood of the people.)

In conclusion we may say that while ancient records may not give us a full picture of the Battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum River) between Alexander and Porus, they certainly tell us it was far from being a victory. Of one thing we can be sure: like Napoleon’s march on Moscow, it was the beginning of the end of Alexander’s career as world conqueror. After a disastrous retreat through Sindh and Makran, Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC, broken in health and spirit. – Folks Magazine, 2 March 2012

» Dr. Navaratna Srinivasa Rajaram is a mathematician and historian who publishes with Voice of India.

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