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Who took away Vedic history from Indian students?

Revisions in text books on Mughal invaders painted as preparation for a ‘muslims’ genocide’ by a few foreign media outlets

Vinod Kumar Shukla

Brouhaha has been made ever since India announced changes to History and Political Sciences textbooks prescribed for tenth and twelfth standard students.


India’s designated agency, National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) removed or tweaked few lines relating to invaders Mughals. Rationalizing content for students in high school students has interestingly become a talking point internationally especially the western media.

Several despatches filed by US and European media representatives attributed motives and an agenda to the revision in text books that NCERT termed as ‘minor’.

These reports accused Indian government of pursuing an agenda and the latter faced flak from all across. Interestingly enough, individuals and organizations that have stridently taken anti-India stand and questioned Hindutva forces were found flagging their apprehensions on textbooks revision that happens periodically.

These people have unabashedly termed revisions in text books as precursor to genocide of 210-odd million Muslims.  What’s all the more surprising is that known global media outlets on-boarding such views that seem to have no basis.

Aditya Mukherjee, a JNU professor has been quoted as saying that changes in textbooks were precursor to muslims genocide in ‘The Guardian’ of UK. Peddling such myth, falsehood and misinformation in the name of history definitely cannot be part of curriculum for students brimming with energy. Eulogising Mughal invasion of India is definitely unfit to be part of History chapters.

‘Time’ magazine published from US and UK justified its report with the contention, “…hyper nationalist Bollywood films and politicians fusing Hindu mythology with history; and open calls for genocide of Muslims from religious leaders (was) going unpunished.” Well, this narrative is so misleading about Bollywood industry which is arguably one of the largest after Hollywood and staple diet of citizens’ world over. Time’s antipathy to Hindutva, India or Prime Minister Modi seems to have been extended to Bollywood as well.

Besides, ‘Time’ writers have conveniently forgotten that the reference to ‘Garam Hawa’ of M S Sathyu in the Political Science book also comes from Bollywood only. Time’s criticism on lines either amended or deleted is again completely off the mark.

Let’s examine what opening sentence of the removed chapter ‘Kings and Chronicles, referring to courts of invaders Mughals say. “The rulers of the Mughal Empire saw themselves as appointed by Divine Will to rule over a large and heterogeneous populace.” Can this form part of Indian history?

What were the books pre-revision teaching kids? Population is heterogeneous but rulers will only be Mughals. It doesn’t stop here as in the same chapter under sub-head ‘The Ideal Kingdom’ suggests, “…the power of Mughal kings came directly from God.

One of the legends narrated to justify this was Mongol queen Alanqua who was reportedly impregnated by the ‘ray of sunshine’ while resting in her tent. The offspring she bore carried this divine light and passed it on from generation to generation.” Mughals draw their ancestry from Mongols. So a section of historians is objecting to removal of this myth.

Hindu hate monger Audrey Truschke also an associate professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University claimed, “You cannot understand modern India without the Mughals—so it seems to be a silly and self-defeating embrace of ignorance about one’s own origin.”

Similar arguments were posed by naysayers in India but people with the same ideological moorings had silently let Vedic history chapters deleted in 2007 without blinking an eyelid. It means, students would be deprived of the country’s long history of almost 1200 years. Students will never know that the decimal system, tables, 360 degree in a circle, Ayurveda and Yoga were invented during Vedic era besides lots of other things that were deleted as part of a larger game plan.

Self-proclaimed historians, a few hardnosed social media enthusiasts and foreign media argued that one can erase history but not Taj Mahal, Lal Quila and other iconic landmarks.

‘Time’ wrote that Mughals helped make biryani and many everyday use spices popular. Traditional dress such as men’s kurta, pajama and women’s salwar kameez became common during the empire. Under Mughal rule, Kathak dance flourished and so did Indian classical music. Many Indian languages including Urdu and Hindi evolved.

There’s no evidence to prove that these claims were even half true.  Historian Meenakshi Jain argued that Mughals never patronised Indian languages or anything Indian. It was Akbar who imposed Persian by making it the court language and imported many Iranians to his court.

Everyone including a low rank official was forced to learn Persian and thereby erase anything that was Indian. Even when the Mughal Empire was on decline, Urdu was promoted with Arabic and Persian words along with Arabic script and not Hindawi with Indian language words in it. Sanskrit scholars during Mughals were designated more as singers and not scholars or linguists only to humiliate them.

A few Indian newspapers argued that Tulsidas wrote Ramcharitmanas during Mughal era while Mathura and Vrindavan were helped to emerge as key centres of Krishna Bhakti.  The fact is that temples were demolished and vandalised during the Mughal era.

Kesav Dev Temple (Krishnajanmabhoomi) was allowed to be rebuilt by Bir Singh Bundela only after he killed Abul Fazal on the instruction of Jahangir.  Only after that he was allowed to rebuild dozens of temples including Kashi Vishwanath. What Aurangzeb did to temples and statues of deities’ need no further explanation.

Howlers and humiliating posers like where would Indian Prime Minister deliver his customary Independence Day address on August 15 if Lal Quila were to meet the same fate of history chapter? These puerile arguments seem to be the biggest worry of historians?

India baiters and self-proclaimed historians have till date only depicted sunny side of Mughal invaders. These ‘historians’ maintain eloquent silence on Shah Jahan splurging on Taj Mahal while the entire Deccan plateau and millions of Indians living there were going through protracted famine.

‘The Guardian’ went completely off the mark when it made desperate attempt to corner the BJP-led Indian government on revisions in text books. “Since the BJP came to power in 2014, there have been multiple amendments to textbooks, with critics alleging a “saffronisation” of the curriculum…” it wrote.

On the contrary, revisions in text books for different classes of students have had happened beginning 1970 s. Simple google search would have thrown up the fact that the National Curriculum Framework is prepared after every 10 years. It was done in 2000 but changed again in just five years in 2005 with the change of the government. .

Now, the book on Medieval History states that Raja Todar Mal was from the Khatri community. The fact is that the renowned ruler was from a prominent business community designated as Vaishyas. His descendants still live in Delhi and Prayagraj.

Another myth propagated was that Mughals were as much Indians like others.  But, the fact is that Mughal nobility were largely from races like Arabs, Iranians, Turks, Tajiks, Kurds, Tatars, Russians, Abyssians and so on. Iranians gained high offices under kings, Akbar and Jahangir.

The book wrongly talked about discovery of sea route to India at the end of fifteenth century. But, the reality was that Chola kings much earlier had navy and even intrinsic techniques of shipbuilding was known to Indians for centuries.

Self-styled History professors claimed that revisions in text books were done to win elections. This is perhaps the most unfounded argument. In 1968, when books for school children and higher classes were being prepared for the first time, not many were consulted and the result was that Indian History was distorted and presented to suit ‘cultural marxist’ theology.

Academics and Historians involved in NCERT books writing process during1998 and 2004 say that selection of authors were done to suit a political thought that was alien to Indian ethos and evolution.

For instance, a project on history of freedom struggle was taken away from R C Majumdar and handed over to Tara Chand with the contention that Majumdar did not give enough space to the Congress contribution. In the process, the textbook propagated falsehoods like Hindu centric organization Rashtriaya Swayamsevak Sangh being held responsible for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.

On February 4, RSS was banned after Gandhi’s assassination on January 30, 1948. On February 27, Sardar Vallabhai Patel wrote to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru that RSS was not at all involved in this after information was gathered from intelligence agencies.

Even the verdict on Nathuram Godse and Kapoor Commission report suggest that not there’s no evidence to suggest RSS involvement in shoot out of Mahatma. But, this falsehood was propagated relentlessly. Historian Makhan Lal in his book ‘Gandhi’s Assassination: What Documents Say’ has every shred of paper recorded on it.

Self-styled historians that propagate myths on India are eloquently silent on Will Durant’s book on Oriental Civilization that begins with the claim that medieval History of India is the bloodiest history of the world.

Revisions and possible rewriting of Indian history will present the country’s evolution based on facts, not myths and half-truths to suit a particular ideology or political spectrum.

(author is a senior journalist and a contributing writer with Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies)

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