The toxin afflicting some Hindus that makes them anti-Hindu can be seen at various
levels of the intelligentsia. Let us look at what our Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has felt
and expressed.The author realises that he is a champion of what he considers to be
secularism. The author is not sure which definition of the word he might choose if he was
pressed. Whether the Indian idea of equality among faiths or the Marxist conception of
abolishing worship? Or, would he believe in the medieval European definition of the
concept of secularism? It represents the separation of the church from the state. Or, in
simple terms, the opposite of theocracy? What ever be Sen's choice, the fact is that since
being awarded the Nobel prize, the author has read again and again in the press Sen's
criticism of what he has termed as Hindu fundamentalists. In his inaugural address at the
Indian History Congress held in Calcutta University in January 2001, he said:
This is especially so if the writing of history is manoeuvred to
suit a slanted agenda in contemporary politics. There are organised attempts in our
country, at this time, to do just that, with arbitrary augmentation of a narrowly
sectarian view of India's past, along with undermining its magnificently multireligious
and heterodox history. Among other distortions, there is also a systematic confounding
here of mythology withhistory. An extraordinary example of this has been the
interpretation of the Ramayana, not as a great epic, but as documentary history, which can
be invoked to establish property rights over places and sites possessed and owned by
others. The Ramayana, which Rabindranath Tagore had seen as a wonderful legend (the story
of the Ramayana is to be interpreted, as Tagore put it, not as a
matter of historical fact but in the plane of ideas) and in fact as a marvellous parable
of "reconciliation, " is now made into a legally authentic account that gives
some members of one community an alleged entitlement to particular sites and land,
amounting to a license to tear down the religious places of other communities. Thomas de
Quincey has an interesting essay called "Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.
"Rewriting of history for bellicose use can also, presumably, be a very fine art.
The Nobel laureate has evidently, strayed into unknown territory. He
has condemned the Hindu claim to the site where stood the Babri edifice. Does he know how
many mandirs were summarily converted into masjids and dargahs
especially between the time Muhammad Ghauri installed Qutbuddin Aibak on the throne of
Delhi at the end of the12th century and the advent of the Lodis during the middle of the
15th century? Thereafter a large number were completely destroyed and on some of the
sites, masjids were designed afresh but built with the rubble of the desecrated
These contentions are not the author's but their desecrations have been
recorded at great length by archaeologists and architectural surveyors of the
stature of Cuningham and Fergusson. The former has left behind 23 volunmes of his survey
reports. Why is it that none of this material nor any of the evidence contained therein
finds a place in our history books? Is the author to understand that according to Sen it
was legitimate for anti-Hindus to distort history, but for Hindus to rewrite history and
include what was left out amounting to scholastic distortion?
The Nobel laureate is a philosopher and an economist, but his
scholarship in history is not widely known. His foray into the unknown is therefore not
difficult to forgive. Dr Sarvapalli Gopal, on the other hand, has for long years been
considered a prima donna among historians in India. He has made several
interesting points. For example, he has described the controversy over the Babri edifice
as contrived in recent times having no historical basis. Hegoes on: The identification
of present day Ayodhya with Ramjanmabhumi is a matter of faith and not of evidence. There
is again no conclusive proof that the mosque built at the time of Babur was on a
temple site or that a temple had been destroyed to buid it.
What appears to be intellectually strange is that Gopal rejects the evidence of
visitors to Ayodhya. Even a German visitor called Tieffenthaler's opinion is rejected as
based on a rather garbled version of a local story. He then proceeds to run down the
opinion of British individuals. To quote: British officials and writers began to give
wide circulation and lend authority to the story that on Babur's orders a temple had been
destroyed and a mosque built on the site. This fitted in with thee British understanding
of India. Later in the paragraph, Gopal offers a corny defence of the foreign
iconoclast in the words: Muslim rulers in India often acted on non-religious
grounds and, like all rulers everywhere, were primarily interested in the maintenance of
their political power.
In the following paragraph, he tries to divert attention by quoting an
economic historian, Amiya Bagchi, whose essay in the book stated that the phenomenon of
communalism had an economic basis. How this discovery of Bagchi helps Gopal to sure
himself that the Babri edifice was built on lend that was rightfully of Muslim, ownership
is beyond understanding. He continues to swing in a non-relevant by making statements
such as: considering that the main attack on secular objectives in free India
has come from the ranks of Hindu bigotry, it is worth mentioning that the teachings
of Hinduism, at their best are in full accordance with such secular practices ....It is a
religion without circumference.
Not satisfied with the effect of his argument, Gopal finally resorts to
quoting historian Romila Thapar whose anti-Hindu views are legend. She felt: Our media today
is replete with myth wearing the mask of history and myth carefully chosen to project
particular obscurantist versions that help to glorify aggressive fundamentalism.
The television versions of Ramayana and the Mahabharata and, in sharp contrast, the
failure to present a serious and nonpartisan discussion of the Ramjanmabhumi issue, have
all contributed to the heightened excitement which has led to the recent increase in
communal rioting, with over a thousand Muslims killed in the last few months.
The author would have hesitated to call the lady anti-Hindu, had it not been for
the bankruptcy of her reasoning and the profligacy of her prejudice. How can a thousand
Muslims be killed merely because the great epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata were
serialised on television? There were no Muslims or, in fact, no non-Hindus in India at the
time when the epics were written. In any case the author has watched many episodes and
found nothing provocative in any of them. Thapar needs to be reminded that these epics
were written centuries before the emergence of either Islam or even Christianity.
Quoting Thapar did not gratify Gopal. He therefore went on to make a
sweeping statement on the nature of communalism. To quote: The test of success was not
what the Hindus thought but how the Muslims and other communities felt, just as, while
minorities might turn communal out of a sense of grievances, communalism of the majority
community was dangerous and, masquerading as nationalism, was in fact a form of Fascism.
There could sometimes be justification for the minorities to be communal, there was none
for the majority. He has implied elsewhere that it was Hindu majoritarianism that led
to the partition of India. It is for the followers of the majority to assuage the feelings
of the Muslim minority.
As far as is known in the years preceding partition, it was the Congress led by Mahatma
Gandhi that led Hindu opinion and, above all, Jawaharlal Nehru and his February 1946
statement in Bombay which is alleged to have put the last nail int the coffin of India's
oneness. Surely, even his worst detractors have never described Nehru as either a
majoritarian or a communalist. Incidentally, has Gopal ever defined fascism or even come
across an explanation of that ideology? Had he done so, he would have known that fascism
represents class collaboration, as distinct from communism which symbolises class conflict
and capitalism which is accused of causing class exploitation. Surely, a scholar of the
stature of Gopal would not like to sit on the same bench as a lumpen leftist, who accuses
almost anyone he hates as a fascist.
Here is another example of an ahti-Hindu Hindu. His name was Susobhan Sarkar who was a
professor of history and taught for long years at the Presidency College in Calcutta. He
I shall end the discussion by drawing attention to two particular conclusions of Mr
Majumdar. The first conclusion is that Muslim rule was a foreign rule in India because
theHindus were perpetually oppressed and were fully conscious of the fact. Even if the two
'proofs' are admitted, the conclusion does not follow. Is there no room for oppression
under native, as distinct from foreign, rule? In the 16th century, the German Anabaptists
or Spanish Protestants were almost rooted out, the English Catholics for ages had "no
rights at all in religious or social matters." Were those countries under foreign
rule at the time? was the exploitation of the people impossible under native Hindu rule?
Is interference with religion the one undeniable evidence of oppression and servitude?
Muslim rule, we believe, was no alien government like the British. This means merely that
the Indian Mussalmans had no other country of their own; they did not send their plunder
abroad; the policy of Muslim rulers was not governed by the interests of any foreign
country; a large part of the inhabitants of the land were the coreligionists of the kings.
Though of foreign origin, the Muslim leaders very soon had no other country of their own.
True, Islam arose outside India and had universal pretensions - but then no one would hold
that under medieval Christianity with similar characteristics the peoples of Europe lived
under foreign rule. The equation-Hindu culture = Indian culture - is nothing more than the
expression of a particular judgement and point of view.
Dr Majumdar's second conclusion is that:
,..the Hindu-Muslim antagonism in India "was perpetual"
that Jinnah's "two nations theory" is nearer historical truth than any amity
"between the two communities." There is no point in denying Hindu-Mus/im
differences. But are the two terms, difference and antagonism, coterminous? It is
obviously true that because of the differences conflicts often did break out. But how can
one hold that conflict was here the only truth? In certain reigns,
or particular regions, conflicts did flare up; but at other times, or elsewhere, conflict
would die down. Is this not the more correct picture of things? Even in those days it was
also quite possible and natural that, in spite of the differences, antagonism would be
submerged in many matters under the pressure of common economic interests. If we come
across such instances in medieval times, surely it would not be improper today to lay some
emphasis on such trends. The totality of historical events everywhere does reveal a
quantum of mutual strife and the quest after petty interests. Surely this does not prevent
us from holding up to view the brighter aspect of old societies. In other words, here also
we cannot avoid the evaluation of events and the influence of associated points of view.
To deny the Hindu Muslim differencesis tantamount to a denial of facts; but to stress the
instances of mutual cooperation rather than conflicts is a question of historical
evaluation. Of course, the historian must not invent events, for ignoring primary
"facts " can only produce imaginative history.
The anathema about infidels pronounced by Muslim theoreticians cannot
of course be the final word. We have also to consider how far it was possible
forMuslim rulers to enforce such theories. The outpourings of scholars must, like.~
courtiers' eulogies, be taken with a grain of salt. Who would take the denunciatory verses
of Manusamhita, directed against Sudras and women, as literal expressions of state policy
That is why one does demur to the protest against the festival
commemorating Amir Khasru. The celebration must have been in honour of his literary
talent; it must be meaningless only if such talent was non-existent. But surely we cannot
ignore talent on the ground of militant religious zeal of the person concemed. Do we
dismiss today the spokesmen of medieval European culture on the ground of their religious
narrowness? Amir Khasru might have been an anti-Hindu bigot, but he also did write about
royal treasures drenched in the tears of the subjects.
Jawaharlal Nehru went far ahead of even Susobhan Sarkar. While speaking
on the future of Goa at Panjim, now Panji, he said: The conflicts with Islam in north
India specially were not religious conflicts, but political conflicts of kings wanting tto
conquer ludia. Religious conflicts were hardly any and Islam also settled down as a
religion of India.
If there was no religious conflict, why was it that thousands of temples
were desecrated and many of them were either converted or recycled into mosques? Did Nehru
know that there is hardly any significant mandir in north India which is older than
1939,when the Birla temple was inaugurated in New Delhi by Gandhiji Every significant
temple built before the Islamic invasion was destroyed. That there were many large temples
which were built in ancient times can be seen by looking at the Quwwatul Islam mosque near
Qutb Minar, Adhai Din Ka Jhopra at Ajmer, by visiting the Atala Devi masjid at Jaunpur,
Bhojshala and the Lat masjids at Dhar, Bijamandal mosque at Vidisha in Madhya
Pradesh, and so on.
After having himself led the Indian side for signing partition in 1947, how could
Nehru, in1963, make such an assertion; that religious conflicts were hardly any and
Islam also settled down as a religion of India? Would anyone deny that the desire for
partition was to have a Dar-ul-lslam? Nehru was reluctant to concede that religion was the
basis of politics after having repeatedly ridiculed the idea of Muslims being a separate
nation in his own writings especially in his autobiography.
Be it Amartya Sen, be he Sarvapalli Gopal, be he Sushobhan Sarkar, none of these gentlemen
was ever in politics. In fact, each of them was or is an academician. To that extent, they
can all be possibly excused for not being realistic. On the other hand, Rajmohan Gandhi
has thedistinction of the blood of the Mahatma as well as Chakravarti Rajagopalachari
flowing in his veins. Neither of these great men could ever be accused of being out of
touch with ground realities. Yet, he contends that the average Hindu accepted the invader
Muslim as his natural king because Bhishma Pitamah had in the Mahabharata said that the
king is appointed by (God)Vishnu himself and he partakes of his divinity and is,
therefore, to be obeyed. Such an extraordinary justification for accepting an invader
as a legitimate monarch has never been articulated before.
Gandhi proceeds to enumerate the causes of partition. One of them was
the insecurity experienced by the Muslims by living amongst majority Hindus. To quote: Fuelled
by the insecurities of Muslims living amidst Hindu majorities, the drive for
Pakistan had been led by men like Jinnah and Liaqat and by others in the Muslim
league who now were Muhajirs in Pakistan. If he was correct, how is it that most of
the Muslims stayed behind in India, and evidently still prefer to be here rather than go
across Pakistan? When one proceeds further and comes across what Matma Gandhi thought and
said on the Hindu Muslim question, one is ready to excuse his grand child for being naive.
Read what he told his secretary, Mahadev Desai in 1918. Though we do say that
Hindus and Muslims are brothers, I cannot conceive of their being brothers today...
Something within tells me that Hindus and Muslims are going to unite as brothers one day,
that there is no other course open to them and they have but to be
brothers. if we go on remembering old scores, would feel that unity is impossible but at
any cost we ought to forget the past. This is quoted by grandson Rajmohan.
As the president of the Khilafat movement, Gandhiji's closest associate
was Maulana Muhammad Ali. Yet to the surprise of many, he repeated to the audience at
Aligarh as well as Ajmer that however pure Mr. Gandhi's character may be, he must
appear to me from the point of view of Religion inferior to any Mussalman, even though
he be without character. When asked to clarify by members of another audience at
Aminabagh park in Lucknow, the Maulana asserted that yes, according to my religion and
creed, I do hold an adulterous and a fallen Mussalman to be better than Mr Gandhi, as
reported by Dr. B. R.Ambedkar. Dissatisfied with the progress at trying to retain the
decrepit Khalifa, who was also the Sultan of Turkey, on the throne, in the aftermath of
his defeat in World War I, the Moplahs of Malabar area of, whatis now Kerala, resorted to
butchering Hindus in 1921. In the words of Ambedkar the blood curdling atrocities
committed by the Moplas in Malabar against the Hindus were indescribable. To rub salt on
the Hindu wounds, several Khilafat leaders were so misguided as to pass resolutions of
congratulations to the Moplas on the brave fight conducted for the sake of religion.
Instead of condemning the Moplas, Gandhi complimented them as the brave God fearing Moplas
who were fighting for, what they considered as, religion and in a manner which they
considered as religious. This speaks volumes as to how far the great Mahatma went in
sounding anti-Hindu for the sake of forgiving criminals.