Marxvaad aur Bharatiya Itihaas Lekhan (in Hindi) by Shankar Sharan, India First Foundation, 283 pp, Rs 400.00
The writer, who has completed his doctorate from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi is of the view that in 1853-1857, Karl Marx wrote 23 essays while Engels wrote eight on India with the prime aim of highlighting the futility of British rule over India, though their views towards India were as objectionable and adverse as that of any intellectual of the European world.
The 19th-century Europe was touching new heights of glory in science and technology which had made this part of the world believe that Europe was the most advanced civilisation in the world with its roots in Christianity, higher than all other religions and which had to be imposed upon rest of the backward world to make it civilised. This has been called the ?white man'sburden?.
The author tries to show that Marx had knowledge equivalent to nil about the India that existed prior to the 7th-8th century, though he never admitted it openly; he referred to that period as useless and steeped in superstitions. For him only the history of the Middle Ages which had been extended due to Muslim rule, was the complete history of India. Hence, for Marx, the only history was that pertaining to the period of the invaders who had entered India from the western borders.
According to Marx, every nation passes through four high periods which one after another are more progressive and on this basis he concluded that since the Middle Ages or that since Muslim rule came after the ancient period, it had necessarily got to be more advanced.
Thus, for him, India's10,000 years of history was ?zero? despite the archaeologists having described the period as the ?greatest?.
The author says that the irony of history was that British imperialism, Muslim fundamentalism and Russian Marxism under their military policy combined together to attack the Indian civilisation?some from left, some from right, some from behind and others from the sides. ?Who was a friend and who was the foe in such a situation, none could tell. Some were dancing at London'sbehest, others at Moscow?s, while still others at Aligarh?s. Delhi stood like a mute spectator to it all.? Hence, according to the author, it is necessary to view the writing on Marxist history against the background of the ?unholy alliance? reached between British imperialism, Muslim fundamentalism and Marxist communism. This unholy alliance believed that India'sancient ?Hindu age? or ? ancient age? was rotten which had to be put to an end by some greater civilisation, which according to them was the Muslim conqueror, very conveniently forgetting the Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Gita, Abhijnana Shakuntalam which were being praised unanimously by indologists from Russia, Holland, France, Germany and England. The author very aptly questions, ?Were the civilisations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece or Rome so rotten that they were destroyed?? Most historians have found that in a battle, in a civilised society, it is the barbarian who overpowers the civilised, hence the defeat of Hindu rulers in the wars should not be looked upon as the defeat of Hinduism.
The author then refers to the controversy raised by Marx over nationalism through his ?nation-state theory? in the 18th-19th century. Marx'stheory gave rise to the class struggle and Marx'sthesis?the problem of the world'sworking class is one and if they rise together, then social and economic balance can be achieved. He then talks of Lenin'sstrategy to arouse the communists in every country to ask for national independence and to take over power. But in India this strategy failed as the Congress became the chief party of independent India and the communists, in desperation, began to malign the Congress leaders.
Dr Shankar Sharan has revealed some very pertinent aspects of Marxist politics and policies. This book divided into 11 parts is a deep study and revelation of Marxism.
(India First Foundation, G-3, Dhavandeep Building, 6 Jantar Mantar Road, New Delhi-110 001.)