Dialogue  April-June, 2006, Volume 7  No. 4

The Battlefield of Indian History

Michel Danino

Varying interpretations, even controversies, are common in the history of every nation, but India seems to have more than her fair share of them. In fact, Indian history appears to be as much a battlefield as the bygone wars it describes. In a 1942 article entitled “ ‘Histories’ of India,” K. M. Munshi wrote, “Most of our histories of India suffer from a lack of perspective. They deal with certain events and periods not from the Indian point of view, but from that of some source to which they are partial and which by its very nature is loaded against India.”1

Paradoxically, this statement remains largely true today. There are good reasons for this peculiar situation, among them:

          1.   India is a country of unparalleled complexity, with a bewildering social, linguistic and spiritual diversity, and an ancient cultural heritage acting as overall cement. This diversity naturally allows a variety of historical perspectives.

`         2.   The destruction of important centres of learning (such as Taxila and Nalanda, other universities and countless temples) erased many indigenous sources of Indian history. Almost every ancient text (e.g. Yaska’s Nighantu, Panini’s Ashtadhyayi, the Sulba Sutras, the Tolkappiam, etc.) refers to older treatises on the same themes, but those have disappeared. Such gaps in our sources have naturally increased dependence on Greek, Chinese, Arabic and European sources, creating a pattern for Indian history to be seen through foreign eyes.

          3.   Archaeology in Independent India has not received the attention it deserved, both as regards exploration and preservation. Excavations have been relatively few and often quite partial, with insufficient funds and lack of systematic dating. Modern techniques (e.g. aerial and marine archaeologies) have yet to be exploited, despite their great potential in the Indian context. Similarly, thousands of old manuscripts remain to be copied or even read in several parts of India (especially in the South), and injuries of time coupled with human neglect are relentlessly erasing what should have been religiously documented decades ago. In comparison, smaller Western countries have done far more to explore and preserve their heritage.

          4.   In colonial times, even as Indian philosophy, spirituality and literature enthralled many Western thinkers, poets and writers, the colonial powers and a whole class of scholars and missionaries belittled Indian civilization in order to legitimize the colonial rule (the “white man’s burden”). India was stereotyped as barbaric, stagnant, idolatrous, or at best otherworldly and therefore effete. This imprint persists subconsciously among some Indologists in the West, but also in India where Macaulayan education has effectively colonized the Indian mind and produced a class of scholars who are basically hostile to the idea and fundamentals of Indian civilization.

The best way to understand the depth of the issue is to look at important distortions in the standard reading of Indian history. By “standard” is meant here the reading found, for instance, in the previous generation of NCERT textbooks (i.e., before

the NDA government attempted to change them), and in most State textbooks at school and college levels. It soon becomes clear that distortions are of two kinds: factual distortions in what is claimed to have happened, or what is claimed not to have happened; however, more subtle and underlying them are model distortions, which affect our way of looking at Indian history, and ultimately at India.

I. Seven major factual distortions in Indian history

From earliest to recent times, let us highlight just seven major factual distortions in Indian history.

(1) The Aryan invasion theory : This now discredited theory attempted to place the origin of India civilization outside the subcontinent and to divide North and South Indians, high and low castes etc. According to it, Aryans entered India around 1500 BC and subjugated the “indigenous” inhabitants, including the Harappans or their descendants (since the Indus-Sarasvati civilization had collapsed around 1900 BC), often assumed to have been Dravidians. The conquering Aryans, in horse-drawn chariots, then imposed their Vedic culture, caste system and Sanskrit language on all of India in stages.

In reality, this nineteenth-century theory was put forth in the background of triumphant colonialism. But as archaeology developed in the twentieth century, especially in the Indus and Sarasvati valleys, it became clear that no people invaded or migrated to India around the proposed date: the picture that emerged was one of transition in continuity, with no external disruption. Anthropology, too, through the examination of hundreds of skeletons, rejected the possibility of a new human type entering India around 1500 BC. Many elements of Harappan culture (arbitrarily supposed to be “pre-Aryan”) turned out to be quite compatible with Vedic culture: worship of fire, mother-goddess, trees and animals, the use of oil lamps, red pigment, conch shells, ritual purification through water, and most importantly, yoga and meditation. Therefore, there was also no cultural break of the sort implied by the Aryan invasion theory. Finally, the Sarasvati river was shown to have dried up around 1900 BC, at least 400 years before the supposed arrival of the Aryans, even though their Vedic hymns lavishly worship the Sarasvati as a “mighty, impetuous river flowing from the mountain to the sea”!2

Despite such overwhelming material evidence against it, we continue to teach this divisive theory in most textbooks. Worse, various ideologies and political groups (self-styled Dalit leaders, Christian missionaries, Marxists, “Dravidian” parties, etc.) have made the theory one of their pillars, and are most unwilling to let go of it: rather than look straight at the evidence, they prefer to continue the pathetic game of “divide and rule” in the name of outdated and spurious scholarship.

(2) The myth of “Dravidian,” Dalit or tribal separateness : A consequence of the Aryan invasion theory was the myth of a “separate” Dravidian identity and culture. While the South and especially the Tamil land does have a stamp of its own, from the beginning we see it wholly harmonized with Vedic and Puranic elements. Nowhere in the Sangam literature (the most ancient in Tamil) do we find any hint of a cultural clash with the North or with Vedic culture. Quite the contrary, Vedic gods such as Indra and Agni and all major gods of the Hindu pantheon figure in Tamil poems and epics, along with many concepts and legends drawn from the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Bhagavatam etc. Archaeological and numismatic evidence also supports an ancient integration of Vedic culture in the South, as is visible from cultural artefacts found in the earliest cities (about third century BC).

Nowhere can we spot a separate “Dravidian” culture, much less civilization. On the other hand, the South has contributed much of great value to Indian culture in terms of music, dance, literature, poetry, etc., and the important Bhakti movement arose there. The South forms an integral part of India’s cultural continuum in time and space: distinctiveness is not separateness.3

In much the same way, the so-called “Dalits” are sought to be separated from the overall stream of Indian culture, although even today many of them are more staunchly Hindu than many Brahmins; indeed if Hinduism has survived at all in India, it is not only thanks to the remarkable transmission of scriptures and other texts by Brahmins, but also to the deep attachment to the Hindu religion found in the lowest strata of Indian society, a fact which can easily be noted even today through the mushrooming of village temples, rural and tribal pilgrimages and festivals.

A third prong consists in claiming that India’s tribes never had anything to do with Hinduism until it was “imposed” upon them by Brahmin “missionaries.” Not only is there no trace of any such “imposition,” what is loosely called Hinduism is in reality the result of a long and fruitful interaction between Vedic culture and tribal cults, with many tribal deities enriching the Hindu pantheon and tribal practices, rituals and art forms getting absorbed.4

(3) St. Thomas’s visit to India and martyrdom : To push back Christianity’s presence in India and create an “Indian martyr,” the myth of St. Thomas’s visit to India was created, for which there is no historical evidence whatsoever. In fact, there is much evidence from Christian sources that St. Thomas never stepped on Indian soil; it was another Thomas, a trader, who led his group of refugees to Kerala’s shores in the fourth century AD. Voltaire himself wrote to that effect over 200 years ago, but we continue to mindlessly propagate this imagined martyrdom, while the killing of Hindu priests and devotees and the demolition of temples by Jesuits and others (especially in Goa and Pondicherry) are not considered important enough to be remembered.5

(4) Negationism of Islamic record : Similarly, the actual record of Islamic rulers in India has been eclipsed. Whether it is Mahmud of Ghazni, Timur or Aurangzeb, Islamic sources recorded the slaughter of lakhs of Hindus, forcible conversions, massive captures of slaves inflicted on Indian population for several centuries, besides great plunder and the demolition of thousands of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples, universities etc. Historians from Will Durant, Alain Daniélou or Koenraad Elst6 in the West to K. S. Lal7 or Sita Ram Goel8 in India have documented this blood-soaked period of Indian history. Durant, for instance, wrote, “The Mohammedan Conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precarious thing, whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace may at any time be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.”9

There is a watertight case for a genocide of Hindus by Islamic invaders and rulers, and no more reason to sweep it under the carpet than to conceal the genocide of American Indians by the Spanish, Portuguese and British, or that of the Jews by Hitler. Strangely, if in India one draws attention to such chapters of Indian history, colourful accusations of “Hindu fundamentalism,” “chauvinism,” “jingoism” etc. are promptly hurled. Timur’s conquest of Baghdad in August 1401 and the 120 pyramids he built with 90,000 severed heads of its inhabitants are not the object of any controversy; but it becomes “communal propaganda” if we mention similar or worse slaughters by Mahmud of Ghazni at Bhimnagar, Mathura and Somnath, by Timur on his way to Delhi, by Alauddin and Tughlaq in Delhi, by Firoz Shah in Bengal, by countless sultans and their governors — all deeds documented in Islamic records with vivid phrases such as “the sword of Islam being washed in the blood of the infidels.”10 What is the criterion? When is a fact a fact?

Muslim invasions of India are often glorified by Marxist scholars, such as M. N. Roy who claimed that Islam brought a welcome “message of hope and freedom.”11 If at all a few instances of destruction are acknowledged, we are told that temples were plundered only because they were centres of wealth, or sometimes for “political motives.”12 A clumsy excuse to avoid facing Islamic fanaticism, the driving force behind the above depredations, apparently for fear of offending today’s Muslim Indians — who are, however, no more responsible for them than today’s Germans are responsible for Nazi atrocities. The difference is that Germany has fully accepted this dark phase of its history (and made reparations for it) while in India we use every device to deflect attention from a similar phase, even inventing Hindu atrocities on Jains or Buddhists if need be.

It is only by acknowledging the past, with all its horrors, that it can be healed; clumsily trying to deny it will only ensure that wounds continue to fester. No self-respecting nation would want its victims to be denied remembrance.

(5) British rule–denigration of Indian civilization : Britain needed to portray India as uncivilized in order to justify its “civilizing mission.” Ancient accomplishments were therefore obscured or, at best, portrayed as the result of Greece’s influence. Even more recent, pre-colonial advances, such as India’s remarkably developed indigenous educational system,13 extensive medical traditions or efficient village administration, although somewhat documented, were systematically undermined.

We have not been able to fully shake off this framework, despite the accumulation of much valuable material on pre-colonial India. In particular, India’s remarkable advances in many fields, her social and economic stability, her contributions to world civilization in science, technology, art, philosophy, religion, spirituality, literature, scripts, and much else continue to be underemphasized: the average Indian student, for instance, learns almost nothing of them, and so is unable to form a proper idea of Indian civilization and its role in the history of humanity.14

(6) British rule–concealment of colonial barbarity : In the early nineteenth century, Britain declared that “India must be bled” and inflicted a more severe wealth drain than even Islamic invaders had. Europe’s industrial revolution was largely fuelled by India’s wealth (the “Bengal plunder”). But taxes were imposed so cruelly that, according to British sources, 30 to 50 million deaths were caused by famines between the late 18th century and the 1940s, mostly in the peasantry. Respected Indian figures such as Dadabhai Naoroji,15 Romesh Dutt16 or S. G. Deuskar17 added their voices to British historians like William Digby18 in recording this large-scale tragedy. Its full extent, however, finds no place in our textbooks. Similarly, the systematic destruction by the British of India’s crafts and her indigenous systems of education, administration and medicine, is not highlighted.

Why Independent India should be so shy in projecting the atrocities and ravages perpetrated during the colonial rule is hard to understand, unless it is due to the continued colonization of the Indian mind.

(7) Freedom struggle : Official histories of the freedom movement lay emphasis mostly on Gandhi and the Congress, at the expense of those who really prepared the ground, such as Tilak, Sri Aurobindo, Bepin Pal, and many others. Indeed, the latter are still called “extremists” in most books, while some of their followers, who advocated violence to overthrow the British rulers, continue to be called “terrorists.”19 Moreover, other factors leading to the end of the Raj, such as a world trend towards decolonization, the impact of World War II on Britain, or U. S. pressure on Britain, are overlooked.

On the other hand, Gandhi’s tragic blunders, such as the Khilafat movement which in effect strengthened Muslim demands, including the first calls for India’s partition, have been sanitized, or are sometimes portrayed as great successes! This amounts to saying that the numerous Hindu lives lost in the process (for instance in Kerala’s Moplah rebellion) must be disregarded to avoiding critiquing Gandhi.

Historians such as R. C. Majumdar,20 who showed in a glaring light the considerable shortcomings of Gandhi and the Congress and attempted to give due place to other freedom fighters, suffered discrimination and were labelled “communal.” Historical truth once again became a casualty. As a result, India’s Communists, who actually collaborated with the British, now claim to have been at the forefront of the struggle for Independence. The Congress, which fiercely opposed early demands for independence (made by Tilak and Sri Aurobindo21 before anyone else between 1905 and 1907) has of late been building a new myth that Nehru was the first, in 1929, to voice such a demand. Worse, the whole spirit of the Independence movement, which was to restore India’s greatness and revivify Indian culture on a spiritual basis, is obscured and the fight for freedom “secularised”: looking at India as the Mother, which was initially regarded as a supreme virtue, is now portrayed as unacceptably “communal”22 — of course by ideologies that opposed the very idea of Independence in the first place.

II. Model distortions in Indian History

More examples of factual distortions could easily be listed. By now, it should be clear that they do not follow a random pattern but are a consequence of a distorted approach to Indian history. Tagore, in a brilliant essay titled The History of Bharatavarsha, summarized the issue in these words: “Our real ties are with the Bharatavarsha that lies outside our textbooks. If the history of this tie for a substantially long period gets lost, our soul loses its anchorage. After all, we are no weeds or parasitical plants in India. Over many hundreds of years, it is our roots, hundreds and thousands of them, that have occupied the very heart of Bharatavarsha. But, unfortunately, we are obliged to learn a brand of history that makes our children forget this very fact. It appears as if we are nobody in India; as if those who came from outside alone matter.”23

Some of the features of this “brand of history” are:

(1) Misleading terminologies : The division of Indian history into Hindu / Muslim / British periods, still followed in many textbooks, is wrong and ignores considerable overlapping: for example, there was never a time when Muslims ruled over the whole of India without any Hindu kingdom putting up some resistance. The phrase “Muslim period” is now often replaced by “medieval period,” but that is hardly better as it implies the same pre-rational, pre-scientific mind as in medieval Europe: there, the Middle Ages, sometimes referred to as the “Dark Ages,” were an era afflicted by much obscurantism, intellectual and cultural stagnation deriving from the dogmatism and cruelty of Christianity. We have no such situation in India, no “Dark Ages” or pre-rational phase: India used reason long before the Greek and has had a long tradition of debate, free inquiry and criticism. Indeed, unlike the Semitic religions, her spirituality has always been compatible with the principles of science, promoting scientific inquiry rather than shackling it as happened in Europe.

Other terms such “barbarism” and “feudalism,” often used in the context of ancient or “medieval” Indian society, were also introduced by Marxist scholars to make Indian history appear to follow the same phases as Europe. Ancient Indian society, as any other, might not have been perfect, but it reached enviable heights in many fields and was certainly not “barbaric.” Several scholars (such as U.S. historian André Wink recently) have also objected to the insistence by Marxist historians on finding “feudalism” in the pre-Muslim period (seventh to tenth centuries AD) and shown how they bungled their data to reach foregone conclusions.24

(2) Eclipse of India’s achievements : We have already pointed to the eclipse of India’s considerable achievements and contributions to world culture. But India’s greatest feat is certainly her cultural integration, made possible by a long organic interaction between Vedic culture and local traditions, based on mutual respect, the syncretic result of which is Hinduism as we know it. In fact, this cultural cement went beyond India and shaped much of Asia into one broad cultural entity. It is this cement, and not some haphazard chemistry, that made possible the “unity in diversity” we are fond of mouthing — while turning our eyes away from what constitutes this “unity.” Similarly the unparalleled cultural continuity of Indian civilization, going back to pre-Harappan days, is not acknowledged.

Most Western scholars have no problem with India’s cultural integration and continuity, without which India could obviously not survive as a nation; it is only in India that we hesitate to call a spade a spade. Cultural nationalism is increasingly demonized here instead of being seen as the natural foundation of the Indian identity — India’s historical strength and her best hope for the future.

(3) Marxist models of Indian history : The current models of Indian history, responsible for most of the above distortions, are broadly Marxist and tend to look upon India’s history as nothing but a history of invasions, which was Marx’s express view. The invaders thus receive more attention than the invaded, or than the military, social and cultural ways in which India resisted the invasions sufficiently to preserve something of her original genius.

The whole problem with the Marxist view is that it is based on a purely materialistic, social and economic definition of man. The Vedic religion thus becomes “primitive animism” (Romila Thapar25), the Gita promotes “feudalism”26 (again!) and its “fundamental defect” is to attempt “to reconcile the irreconcilable” (D. D. Kosambi27). Marxist dialectics cannot comprehend the supra-intellectual synthetic spirituality peculiar to the Indian genius. It omits all deeper cultural and spiritual elements, replacing them at best by psychoanalysis (e.g. recently of Sri Ramakrishna or Lord Ganesha), or giving a grotesque overemphasis to caste: Indian history is worth studying only to understand the “gross social injustice” of the caste system and to stop those who “clamour for the restoration of ancient culture and civilization” because they want “to prevent [India’s] progress,” a progress based of course on “the achievements of modern science and technology.”28

This simply erases the inherent progressiveness and adaptability of the Hindu worldview. Moreover, while the appalling record of Semitic religions is dealt with indulgently, defects of Indian society are magnified and invariably put down to Hinduism—even as the more serious defects of Western society are not imputed to Christianity or Islam.

The result is a de-Indianized academic teaching of Indian history, from which the foundations of Indian civilization are simply missing. Indian society is presented as basically retrograde, afflicted by a constant “class struggle” between castes, with no binding cement and no common identity: the logical outcome can only be the atomization of India, which some Marxist historians occasionally predict publicly.29

Marxist historiography of India claims be “objective” and to follow a “scientific” approach based on the writings of Karl Marx — but it has never established the suitability of Marx’s theories to India in the first place, including dialectical materialism, the class struggle, the supremacy of economic forces etc. Nor has it explained how a “scientific approach” can result in crude factual distortions such as those highlighted above. In reality, it is the inheritor and continuer of the colonial, Eurocentric view of India, although in a new garb. It finds no intrinsic or enduring value in Indian civilization or in its contributions to humanity, and has no use for the thoughts and vision of India’s Rishis and saints, including recent figures such as Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, or Tagore. It wants to study a skeleton, or at best a corpse, and is upset to find it alive.

III. Towards an Indian view of Indian History

An Indian view of Indian history should not only be factual but also let “the world catch a glimpse of India’s soul as Indians see it.” In K. M. Munshi’s words, “The central purpose of a history must be to investigate and unfold the values which age after age have inspired the inhabitants of a country to develop their collective will and to express it through the manifold activities of their life. Such a history of India is still to be written.” R. C. Majumdar’s 11-volume series, The History and Culture of the Indian People, published a few decades ago by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan under Munshi’s impulsion, is what comes closest to this goal, but is now in need of extensive revision in view of much new material.

Some of the conditions for a fresh approach to Indian history are:

(1) A thorough mastery of sources, including scriptures and other texts (which implies a knowledge of ancient languages such as Sanskrit or Tamil), archaeological and epigraphic material, etc.

(2) Refraining from unnecessarily glorifying India’s past (or making the whole ancient world Hindu, as some overenthusiastic scholars tend to do): let ancient India stand on her own achievements as well as limitations. What is needed is a true picture, neither embellished nor dirtied.

(3) A familiarity with the modern academic language and concepts so as to confront scholars on their own ground whenever necessary. Also, a familiarity with Marxist methods the better to critique the Marxist approach in the Indian context and expose its limitations, distortions and incompetence. Some aspects of the Marxist approach are, however, valuable and can be useful (e.g. in the social and economic fields), but the prejudices that come with them are misleading and pernicious.

(4) A critical look at India’s past based on a deep understanding of the Indian genius. An external and mechanical perspective cannot, for example, explain the presence of Yoga and spirituality in the Indus-Sarasvati civilization, Ashoka’s conversion, the peaceful spread of Buddhism and Hinduism outside India, the Bhakti movement or the great artistic or literary efflorescence seen in India at different times. In other words, a genuine historian of India should be in sympathy with the wellsprings of India’s cultural heritage. As Sister Nivedita once put it, only one who loves India can write India’s history.

If we fail to meet the challenge, we are effectively abandoning the field to a scholarship inimical to India. To develop an Indian model of Indian history, we need a new school of Indian scholars conversant with the best sources and with Western models, while at the same time rooted in Indian culture.

The Indian mind is by nature supple and progressive; it has been crippled by centuries of stagnation, and now rootless education. To look at ourselves afresh, we first need to reintellectualize ourselves. “Our first necessity if India is to survive and do her appointed work in the world,” wrote Sri Aurobindo almost a hundred years ago, “is that the youth of India should learn to think — to think on all subjects, to think independently, fruitfully, going to the heart of things, not stopped by their surface, free of prejudgments, shearing sophism and prejudice asunder as with a sharp sword, smiting down obscurantism of all kinds as with the mace of Bhima.”30

References & Notes (Endnotes)

        1.   K. M. Munshi, Akhand Hindustan (Bombay: New Book Co., 1942),
p. 113.

        2.   On the Aryan invasion issue, see for instance Koenraad Elst, Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate (New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, 1999); Edwin Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002); Michel Danino, The Invasion That Never Was (2nd ed., 2000; 3rd ed. forthcoming).

        3.   For a more developed discussion of this point containing many important references, see Michel Danino, “Vedic Roots of Early Tamil Culture” available on my homepage.

        4.   See Sandhya Jain’s extensive study, Adi Deo Arya Devata: a Panoramic View of Tribal-Hindu Cultural Interface (New Delhi: Rupa, 2004).

        5.   See Ishwar Sharan, The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple (New Delhi: Voice of India, 2nd ed. 1995).

        6.   See Koenraad Elst, Negationism in India: Concealing the Record of Islam (New Delhi: Voice of India, 1993).

        7.   See for instance his Legacy of Muslim Rule in India (New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, 1992), Growth of Scheduled Tribes and Castes in Medieval India (New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, 1995), Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India (New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, 1999).

        8.   See in particular Sita Ram Goel Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them (New Delhi: Voice of India, 1998, two volumes).

        9.   Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, part I, Our Oriental Heritage (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954), p. 459.

     10.   From Timur’s autobiography, quoted in Meenakshi Jain’s Medieval India, textbook for Class XI (New Delhi: NCERT, 2002), p. 100. (Note that this textbook is part of the new series brought out by the NCERT during the NDA regime.)

      11   Quoted by Ram Swarup in “Historians Versus History,” in Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them, ed. Sita Ram Goel (New Delhi: Voice of India, 1998), vol. 1, p. 286.

     12.   Satish Chandra, Medieval India, textbook for Class XI (New Delhi: NCERT, 1990, 9 reprints till 2001), p. 231. See also Romila Thapar, Medieval India, textbook for Class VII (NCERT, 1989, 13 reprints till 2001), p. 108.

     13.   See Dharampal, The Beautiful Tree (2nd ed., Coimbatore: Keerthi Publishing House with AVP Printers & Publishers, 1995; also Mapusa: Other India Press) and Joseph Dibona, One Teacher One School - the Adam Reports on Indigenous Education in 19th Century India (New Delhi: Biblia Impex, 1983).

     14.   See India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture (Madras: Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee, 1970, reprinted 2003), and D. P. Singhal’s India and World Civilization (Michigan State University Press, 1969). See also my paper India’s Gifts to the World, soon on my homepage.

     15.   Dadabhai Naoroji, Poverty and Un-British Rule in India (London: 1901, republished New Delhi: Publications Division, Government of India, 1962 & 1996).

     16.   Romesh Dutt, The Economic History of India under Early British Rule (London, 1901, 2nd revised ed. 1906) and The Economic History of India in the Victorian Age (London, 1903, 3rd revised ed. 1908).

     17.   Sakharam Ganesh Deuskar, Desher Katha (1904, in Bengali).

     18.   William Digby, ‘Prosperous’ British India (London: 1901).

     19.   See for instance Marxist historian Bipin Chandra, Modern India – A History Textbook for Class XII (New Delhi: NCERT, 1990-2000), p. 200, 201, 207.

     20.   R. C. Majumdar, History of the Freedom Movement in India (Calcutta: Firma KLM, 1971, 3 volumes). See in the preface and appendix to vol. 1 and the preface to vol. 3 the edifying tale of how Independent India’s first government withdrew from R. C. Majumdar the direction of the project in an attempt to stifle its publication.

     21.   See India’s Rebirth, a compilation from Sri Aurobindo’s works (Mysore: Mira Aditi, 3rd ed., 2000).

     22.   Bipin Chandra, in his textbook on Modern India (op. cit., p. 207), held Sri Aurobindo’s “concept of India as mother and nationalism as religion” to be a “step back” because it had “a strong religious and Hindu tinge.” In 1972, India’s Minister for Education, Nurul Hasan, described Sri Aurobindo as “communal.” Clearly, any Hindu concept of India is unacceptable.

     23.   The full text of this remarkable essay is available on the website of the International Forum for India’s Heritage at http://www.ifih.org/articles/bharatavarsha.html.

     24.   See Sandhya Jain, “A history of impotent rage” (The Daily Pioneer, 4th December 2001).

     25.   Romila Thapar, A History of India (London: Penguin Books, 1987), vol. 1, p. 43.

     26.   D. D. Kosambi, quoted by Romila Thapar in Interpreting Early India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 93.

     27.   Kunal Chakrabarti, “Recent Approaches to the History of Religion in Ancient India,” in Recent Perspectives of Early Indian History, ed. Romila Thapar (Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, 1998), p. 193.

     28.   The last few quotes are from R. S. Sharma, Ancient India – A History Textbook for Class XI (New Delhi: NCERT, 1999), p. 3-6.

     29.   For instance Romila Thapar in an interview in Le Monde (11 May 1993): “[In India’s case] what one can foresee, perhaps, for the end of the next century [i.e. the twenty-first], is a series of small states federated within a more viable single economic space on the scale of the subcontinent.”

     30.   Written between 1910 and 1912, in Essays Divine and Human (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1994), p. 43.


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