By V. Sundaram IAS (Rtd.)
The massacres perpetrated by Muslim emperors in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis; or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native populations by the invading Spanish and Portuguese.
A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which in truth are but one, constitute this soul or spiritual principle. One lies in the past, one in the present. One is the rich legacy of memories; the other is present-day consent, the desire to live together, the will to perpetuate the value of the heritage that one has received in an undivided form.
The tide of Hindutva was inaugurated by Raj Narain Bose and Nav Gopal Mitra. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee offered the next milestone for those marching on the road of Hindutva by the publication of his novel Anand Math in 1882. Swami Vivekananda awakened the Indians and the western world to the glorious wisdom of Hindutva. Swami Dayananda Saraswati made us aware of our glorious Vedic heritage. Aurobindo Gosh was another sage whose thinking enriched the philosophy of Hindutva. In 1909 he wrote: ?An Indian nationalism is largely Hindu in its spirit and traditions, because the Hindu made the land and the people and persists, by the greatness of his past, his civilisation and his culture, and his invincible virility. The ?Nation Idea? India never had. By this I mean the political idea of the Nation. It is a modern growth. But we had in India the cultural and spiritual idea of the Nation. This is the quintessence of Hindutva. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Vir Savarkar, Dr. Hedgewar, Guruji Golwalkar have all built up this great edifice of Hindutva. Hindutva is not a word but a history. Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction or a part of Hindutva or Hinduness.?
Will Durant wrote in his Oriental Heritage. ?The Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history.?
The massacres perpetrated by Muslims emperors in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis; or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native popula-tions by the invading Spanish and Portuguese.
My extensive reading of Indian History has made me aware of the fact that hundreds of thousands of Hindu men, women and children were killed or were captured or converted by force to Islam over a period of 14 centuries in India.
All medieval Muslim historians credit their heroes with desecration of Hindu idols or destruction of Hindu temples or both.
I am solely relying on Muslim historians, in India and abroad, who have written hundreds of glowing accounts of the devastation caused by the Islamic armies in different parts of India and across the world. As my focus is on India, I would like to look at only what happened in India during the days of Islamic invasion and the following struggle for Independence from Islamic rule that was waged by the Hindus in the past. A pronounced feature of these Muslim histories is a description?in smaller or greater detail but always with considerable pride?of how the Hindus were slaughtered en masse or converted by force, how hundreds of thousands of Hindu men and women and children were captured as booty and sold into slavery, how Hindu temples and monasteries were razed to the ground or burnt down, and how images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses were destroyed or desecrated.
Almost all medieval Muslim historians credit their heroes with desecration of Hindu idols or destruction of Hindu temples or both. The picture that emerges has the following components, depending upon whether the iconoclast was in a hurry on account of Hindu resistance or did his work at leisure after a decisive victory:
The idols were mutilated or smashed or burnt or melted down if they were made of precious metals. Sculptures on walls and pillars were disfigured or scraped away or torn down. Idols of stone and inferior metals or their pieces were taken away, sometimes by cartloads thrown down before the main mosque in (a) The metropolis of the ruling Muslim sultan and (b) The holy cities of Islam, particularly Mecca, Medina and Baghdad. There were instances of idols being turned into lavatory seats or handed over to butchers to be used as weights while selling meat. Brahmin priests and other holy men in and around the temple were molested or murdered. Sacred vessels and scriptures used in worship were defiled and scattered or burnt. Temples were damaged or despoiled or demolished or burnt down or converted into mosques with some structural alterations or entire mosques were raised on the same sites mostly with temple materials. Cows were slaughtered on the temple sites so that Hindus could not use them again.
It is the duty of all conscientious and patriotic Hindus today to remember the sacrifices of those Hindus who attained veergati (martyrdom) when faced against these forces of primordial darkness that represented religious bigotry?brutal forces that traumatised and tormented India for 1400 years. India has survived as a wounded civilization to tell the story of this chilling horror. After carefully going through the writings of a cross-section of historians such as Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Rizwan Salim, Sita Ram Goel, Ram Swarup, Arun Shourie, R.C. Mazumdar and a few others, anyone can clearly see that there is clinching and irrefutable epigraphic evidence of the construction of masjids by destroying Hindu temples in several parts of India.
According to the Archaeological Survey of India, there are many mosques all over India that have been built on the site of demolished Hindu temples and, quite frequently, from the desecrated materials of those temples. Most of them carry inscriptions invoking Allah and the Prophet, quoting the Koran and giving details of when, how and by whom they were constructed. The inscriptions have been deciphered and connected to their historical context by learned Muslim calligraphers. They have been published by the Archaeological Survey of India in its Epigraphica Indica Arabic and Persian Supplement.
Though sites of demolished Hindu temples were mostly used for building mosques and idgahs; temple materials were generally used in other Muslim monuments as well. Archaeologists have discovered such materials, architectural as well as sculptural, in quite a few forts, palaces, maqbaras, Sufi khanqahs, madrasas, etc. In Srinagar, temple materials can be seen in long stretches of the stone embankments on both sides of the Jhelum river.
The apologists for militant Islam?the most clogged among them are the officially-sponsored pseudo-secularist historians and politicians?have easily got away with the plea of Muslim court scribes having succumbed to poetic exaggeration in order to please their pious patrons and masters. Their case gets weakened when they cite the same sources in support of their speculations or when the question is asked as to why those patrons needed stories of bloodshed and wanton destruction of Hindu temples for quenching their spiritual fires of piety and self-righteousness.
Today after a gap of 1000 years, the innate spirit of humanness that is the basis of Hindu culture can again breathe freely and it is about time that we recollect it with swelling pride tinged with inner sorrow, nostalgia and affection.
There are, however, solid and time-defying monuments and artefacts which serve as vocal witnesses that can eloquently confirm that the Muslim court scribes were not at all foisting fables on their readers when they wrote their innumerable accounts. These are the hundreds of thousands of sculptural and architectural fragments which stand arrayed in museums and drawing rooms all over the world, or which are awaiting to be picked up by public and private collectors, or which stare at us from numerous Muslim monuments. There is no doubt that Medieval India until the Islamic invaders destroyed it, was indeed one of history'smost advanced cultures and one of the world'smost developed civilizations.
Thousands of Hindu temples and monuments were severely damaged or destroyed by the Muslim iconoclasts. The Hindus suffered immense psychic damage. The Muslims also plundered the wealth of the Hindu kingdoms, impoverished the Hindu populace, and destroyed the prosperity of India. The psychological damage to the Hindu mind, due to Muslim rule, was immense and unmeasurable.
Today after a gap of 1000 years, the innate spirit of humanness that is the basis of Hindu culture can again breathe freely and it is about time that we recollect it with swelling pride tinged with inner sorrow, nostalgia and affection. The human spirit in ancient India has given to the world, the values of non-violence, religious tolerance, renunciation together with many elements of knowledge in fields like production technology, mechanical engineering, ship-building, navigation, architecture, civil engineering, medical science, physics, chemistry, logic, astronomy, mathematics and so on. In short, the greatest civilisation known in history.
I conclude it in the inspiring words of Sudheer Birodkar: ?We have to live up to this legacy that can help human beings in all corners of our world to rejuvenate our spirit not to conquer one another, but to conquer oneself; not to destroy, but to build; not to hate, but to love; not to isolate oneself, but to integrate everyone into one global society and to achieve much more in the future to enrich human civilization to result in: ?The maximum welfare of the maximum number? or as in Sanskrit it is called: Loko samasto sukhino bhavantu and Samasta janaanaam sukhino bhavantu.