The author and his colleagues were discussing issues between the two major
cammunities in India. The conversation was progressing smoothly when a leftist friend,
Sitaram Ghoshal, appeared and hijacked the discussion towards autonomy in Kashmir. Was it
not desirable that a nationalist, and a valley Muslim could see eye to eye on several
issues? On some others they were going to agree to disagree. Yet with the entry of
Ghoshal, the dialogue snapped. He was hell bent on giving flee valley complete autonomy
except for two or three subjects. Little did he seem to realise that he was falling
straight into the Pakistani trap. What, they claim, they wanted was self-determination for
If you hear the leftists uncritically, they sound so sweet and reasonable. After all, they
are only pleading for the will of the Kashmiris to be allowed a free run. The
Pakistanis themselves, as it were, were looking for nothing. Little did it dawn on Ghoshal
that in case autonomy was granted, the next step would be the opening of the Line of
Control (LoC) due to the supposed demand of the people of the two sides of the line to
meet and mingle. There would then be a loud outcry for amalgamation between Pakistan
occupied Kashmir and the Valley. Islamabad would be pleased. What would New Delhi or
Srinagar say or do at that stage? The next step would be an orchestrated public outcry for
the status of a protectorate under Pakistan.
The author cannot help but share with the reader what he has come across recently.Ms
Romila Thapar has written:
Mahmud of Ghazni is primarily associated in most standard histories as the despoiler of
temples and the breaker of idols. The explanation for this activity is readily provided by
the fact that he was a Muslim - the assumption being that only a Muslim would despoil
temples and break idols since the Islamic religion is opposed to idol worship. There is
the further assumption in this that all Muslim rulers could be potential idol-breakers
unless some other factors prevented them from doing so. Little attempt is made to search
for further explanations regarding Mahmud's behaviour. Other reasons can be found when one
turns to the tradition of Hindu kings and enquire whether any of them were
despoilers of temples and idol-breakers.
That Mahmud Ghazni was both an idol breaker and a robber is confirmed
by Ms Thapar herself. By providing further explanations regarding Mahmud's behaviour, she
has alleged that he was a robber and not primarily an idol breaker. The ichoclast had an
ulterior motive. Later on she goes on to allege that King Harsh Vardhan also used tto
desecrate temples in order to appropriate wealth. The author wonders what relationship
MsThapar had with Mahmud Ghazni, that she should take such extraordinary pains to
ostensibly defend his crimes. The author would not defend him even if he was
his own blood brother.
Here is how a fellow Muslim praises Mahmud Ghazni. Prof. Muhammad Nazim
has observed: the destruction of the temple of Somnath was looked upon as the crowning
glory of Islam over idolatry, and Sultan Mahmud as the champion of the Faith, received the
applause of all the Muslim world. One poet has outdone another in extolling the iconoclasm
of Mahmud. Shykh Faridu'd Din Attar said that the Sultan preferred to be an idol breaker
rather than an idol seller. While rejecting the offer of the Hindus to ransom the idol of
Somnath with its weight in goId, Mahmud is supposed to have said I am afraid that on the
Day of Judgement when all the idolaters are brought into the presence of Allah He would
say: bring Adhar and Mahmud together, one was idol maker, the other idol breaker.
Adhar or Ezra' the uncle of Abraham, according to the Quran, made his living by carving
idols. The former would go to heaven while the latter be condemned to hell.
If nothing else, one cannot help contrasting the forthrightness of
Nazim and the perversion of Thapar.
In Gargi Chakravartty, we have another lady, also sold on the good
intentions of Mahmud Ghazni. She has said: Mahmud of Ghazni's activities on this score
have built a negative impression about the role of Muslims in general. But he was not a
religious fanatic which is amply proved from the fact that he never forced the people whom
he looted to accept the creed, which they did not believe. A piece of historical
information is important to note in this context: His Indian soldiers were flee to blow
sankh and bow before their idols in imperial Ghazni.
Her sympathy was not confined to Mahmud Ghazni but extended much beyond. She did not
even ignore Timur Lang. She justified the barbaric massacre by the Muslim invaders with
the argument that they were equally cruel to the Muslims people of Central Asia. To quote
Muslim invaders are being accused of being fanatic and barbaric towards the Hindus,
leaving a trail of destruction of Hindu temples, of plunder and loot. Some of the invaders
were no doubt plunderers and their sole obsession was loot and plunder of the
invaded land, no matter what the,faith of those who inhabited it. For example, Mahmud of
Ghazni, Muhammad of Ghor and Timur of Samarkand in their unchecked barbarism massacred the
Muslim masses and rulers too of Centra! Asia. The history writers of the Sangh Parivar
evade this very important fact of his tory. The principal objective of those plunderers
was to enrich their treasury. When, they invaded India there was hardly any Muslin?
population in those areas. Had there been, they too would not have been spared, as is
proved by the fact that people of the whole Central Asia who were their
coreligionists were not spared from their brutal atrocities. The intensity of their
barbarism in Central Asia was no less than in North India. In fact Timur was more
cruel in Central Asia on its Muslim population than what he did in India. At a later
period plunderers like Nadirshah and Ahmedshah Abdali massacred Muslims as well.
The same book by People's Publishing House is embellished with the contribution of
another apologist of the Muslim iconoclast. In his essay, Harbans Mukhia says:
Interestingly the orthodox Hindu historians today revel no less in describing with great
fanfare the temples demolished by the sultans than the orthodox Muslim contemporary
historians did in their own time. It is obvious that the demolition of temples could not
have been meant for winning over the Hindus to Islam. For, how can one imagine that the
way of winning over the heart of a people is to go and demolish its temples? The
demolition could at best have created a hatred, if anything, certainly not love, for Islam
in the hearts of the Hindu subjects. Therefore it could not have been meant for converting
them, but for Some other objective. It is significant that generally the temples are
demolished only in the territory of an enemy; they are not demolished within the sultan's
own empire, unless the temples became centres of a conspiracy or a rebellion against the
state as they did during Aurangzeb's reign. Thus the demolition of temples in
enemy-territory was symbolic of conquest by the sultan.
The author has come across another Hindu historian who delights in
describing temple demolition by the Sultan. Many a writer does complain but no Hindu feels
happy. An anti-Hindu like Mukhia may well do so. Who has ever told him that Muslim
invaders and many of the rulers provoked the hatred of Hindus? Most Hindus might not carry
hatred on their lips, but in their heart of hearts make no mistake, most Hindus hate
Vrindavan was very much a part of Aurangzeb's empire. Can Mukhia tell us who in that
temple town, which is dedicated to Krishna, conspired or rebelled against the empire which
provoked Aurangzeb to have Gobind Dev mandir cut into half and build a mehrab on
the roof of the lower portion? According to an article in the Calcutta Review quoted
by Growse: Aurangzeb had often remarked about a very bright light
shining in the far distant south east horizon and in reply to his enquiries regarding it,
was told that it was a light burning in a temple of great wealth and magnificence at
Vrindavan. He accordingly resolved that it should be out out and soon after sent some
troops to the place who plundered and threw down as much of the temple as they could and
then erected on the top of the ruins a mosque wall where, in order to complete the
desecration, the emperor is said to, have offered his prayers.
Yet another distinguished historian Bipin Chandra, in his essay
published in the same book has pleaded for downgrading our national leaders. In his words:
We live in cliches so far as Raja Rant Mohan Roy, Swami Dnyananda,
Vivekananda, Aurobindo Ghose, Lokamanya Tilak, Lajpat Rat, Gandhi and others are
concerned. It has become a tradition with our mass media, school text-books, All India
Radio, etc. to uncritically praise them. Consequently, the communalists, and others can
exploit their negative features. We never tell the people, especially the young, that
these great men, being men, had inperfect understanding and also imperfect actions
The hero-myths-all of the major heroes: Rana Pratap, Shivaji and Guru
Gobind Singh, belonged to medieval India and had fought against Mughal authority - have
done as much to underline secularism and national integration as any other ideological
factor. At one stroke, and in a sort of imanenet fashion, these hero-myths proved the case
for the two-nation theory or the basic communal approach. By what definition are they
'national ' heroes struggle and their struggle 'national'? Because they were fighting
against foreigners? How were the Mughals foreigners? Because they wereMuslims. What was
the uniting principle in the 'nationalism' of Rana Pratap, Shivaji and Guru Gohind Singh'?
Their being Hindus or non Muslims. Thus, the hero-myths spontaneously generated
Not satisfied by denigrating national leaders by a step or two, Bipin Chandra proceeds
to attack the luminaries of the medieval period. He blames Rana Pratap, Shivaji and Guru
Gobind Singh for the two-nation theory that emerged during middle of the 20th century. How
objective or lair Chandra was, is best lefit to reader to decide.
N.E. Balaram writing on Hindutva has propounded an unusual thesis. In his words: Any careful
examination will show that there were no Hindu and Muslim labels till the thirteenth
century. They were two different faiths and they did not quarrel. The term Hindu was
used by the Muslim rulers in early days to denote the zamindars, landlords and the
Brahmin priests. The common people were not referred to as Hindus. Officers under the
Delhi Sultanate in 14th century AD called the zamindars Hindus to denote more their
aristocracy than their religion. Zia Barani, a historian of the period in his book
Fatwa-i-Jahandari uses the term Hindu in several places, mostly to desirable zamindars.
The Hindu-Muslim identities came only gradually.
Perhaps Balaram is contused. It is possible that in the 13th century, Hindus did not
quarrel with the Muslims for the simple reason that they were the traumatised subjects.
They had been conquered by the sword of Islam and they harboured feelings of hatred
for what had been done to them and their mandirs.
In the 20th century, it is true that in the USA all Indians from the subcontinet were
described as Hindu; Hindu-Hindus, Hindu-Muslims, Hindu-Christian, Hindu-Parsis and even
Hindu-Jews. The word 'Hindu' was synonymous with Indian for the simple reason that in
America an Indian was the Red Indian. Even in Spain today, all Indians are identified as
Hindu for the same reason as in the USA.
During the author's visit to China in April 2001, no Chinese that his family came
across registered what they meant when they said they were Indians. Thereafter they
spontaneously asked the Indian team whether we meant that we we Hindu. The author does not
think that any of the Chinese had our religion on their mind when they asked this