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Rewriting Indian History

Rewriting Indian History

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Published by Nalini

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Published by: Nalini on Aug 11, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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This book does not pretend to be a historicaltreaty, neither on India, nor on othercivilisations; it only fleetingly uses events andpeople, in an attempt to go beyond the superficialviews that have usually been held on India by manyhistorians.
Many historical books have been written about thegreatness of India's past. One of these books is ofcourse A.L. Basham's classic, "The Wonder that WASIndia". While there is no doubt that Mr Basham'sbook is a scholarly treatise, beautifully written,which casts a sympathetic and benevolent look atwhat he feels WERE some of the wonders of a bygoneIndia, my book differs totally from his for manyreasons.Firstly, he erroneously takes as final the biasedtheory of an Aryan invasion, subjugating the GoodHarappan (Dravidian) civilisation, a theory which Ipropose to dismantle in the next chapter. Then,like the majority of Western historians, he alsopost-dates most of the Vedic events - for then,their theory of, say Mohajan-daro being overrun bythe Barbarian Aryans, would stand no more. Thirdly,although Mr Basham is full of praise for Indian(pre-Muslim) culture, art, language, sciences,village life, his views of Hinduism seem to be alittle warped and reflect a strong Western bias. Heappears to have absolutely no understanding of thegreatness and importance of the Vedas, in which hesees only "a culture that bears a generic likenessto that of 'Beowulf', the earlier Icelandicsagas'...(nobody ever thought about that one)...'and was somehow less advanced than that depictedin the Iliad"...! (page 34, Wonder That was India).To flout such an ignorance and contempt for India'sculture and compare the visions of great sages wholived at least 5000 years ago, with the tales ofthe semi-barbarian Beowulf, is quite an
achievement! Mr Basham also puts forward theeternal clichés propagated by Christianmissionaries and "enlightened secularists" on theIndian caste system. "The Aryans anointedthemselves the ruling class (= Brahmins andKshatriyas), while the poor conquered Dravidians(Harappans), became the slaves, (= Vaishyas andShudras)". Or: "As they settled among darkeraboriginals, the Aryans seem to have laid greaterstress than before on purity of blood - and thusclass divisions hardened..." (36, Wonder that wasIndia). Or else this monstrosity: "...In the Vedicperiod, a situation arose rather like thatprevailing in South Africa today, with a dominantfair minority, striving to maintain its purity andits supremacy over a darker majority"... (138,Wonder). Poor India, being granted the honour by MrBasham, of being the founding father of racism! Butit is thus that Mr Basham lays the ground for hislater theories on what he calls 'Hinduimperialism'.He also seems to miss completely the point, when hetalks about Indian polity, or politics rather(always pre-Muslim of course). He sees Hindukingdoms and republics as "a hopelessly dividednation, inviting thereby future conquest by Muslimsand Europeans", a theory which I will attempt laterto show as completely false and misguided. But morethan that, he implies that Hindus were a cruel andwarlike (except for the goodie-goodie Ashoka, aconvenient hero) nation, even going as far assuggesting that India's sacred writings wereresponsible for that militant trait. In his chapteron Hindu militarism (page 123, Wonder), he goes onto say: "In several passages of the Mahabarata,notably in the famous Bhagavat Gita, the evil andcruelty of war are referred to, and it is suggestedthat the life of a soldier is sinful one. But sucharguments are only put forward to be demolished bycounter-arguments, most of which are based on thenecessities of this dark age of the world and onthe dangers of anarchy. Positive condemnations ofwar are rare in Indian literature..."! Not only isthis a rather contemptuous view of the Gita, one of

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