Doctored history is a hothouse. Should we rear up our children in it? Or should we expose them to heat and cold, to wind and rain?
Do we want to reach children what we want them to learn? Or do we want them to learn the truth? And how do we know that what we teach is the truth? Many ?truths? have turned out to be false.
?Nature knows best??this is the line we take on many things. Why? Because of its vast experience. Then, why do we want a historian, with his limited knowledge, to tamper with history? Why do we take one as an ?authority?? Remember, even the Christian church allowed four Gospels to prevail out of the 200 or so Gospels submitted to the church, instead of suppressing all but one? That was some concession truth!
Why shouldn'tour children know that Vedic Aryans ate meat?That they enjoyed life? That they had few taboos on sex? That they had least concern for life after death? Will these in any way make them less worthy in our eyes? I do not think so.
Does the eating habits of the Chinese and Japanese Buddhists make them less Buddhistic? The Chinese ate rats during the great famines of China. Did it make them less worthy in our eyes?
The point is, few people want the real truth. Some Hindus want their heroes in larger dimension. And most Muslims want to prettify their history and make it less gory. These are dangerous follies, for what is there to prevent the SCs/STs (they form 25 per cent of our population) from rewriting India'shistory from their own point of view? They are angry. They little realise in their anger that Manu was an honourable man. And why not a new history from the point of view of the Dravidians?
Are those who are keen on rewriting India'shistory aware of these endless pitfalls? Perhaps not. This is a Pandora'sbox. Once we open it, we will not be able to control the disastrous consequences. We know that almost all scriptural documents, except the Rig Veda, have been tampered with. This is more true of Manu shastra.
Of the Brahmanas, R.C.Dutt, the eminent historian, says: ?These inane and verbose compositions reflect the enervation of the people and the dogmatic pretensions of the priests of this age.? Dr S. Radhakrishnan says that some of the interpolations made some scriptures ?laughable.? Even the Gita is not free from distortions D.D.Kosambi says that the Gita is the ?quintessence? of Brahmanism. The priests used it to legitimise their beliefs.
And during the process of Sanskritisation, the ancient (pre-Sanskrit) literatures of many peoples were either distorted or destroyed. Thus, the ancient literature of Karnataka, mostly on Saivism, is said to have disappeared. But the Tamils resisted this vandalism. Thus, an interpolation in the Gita says: ?Better one'sown duty (as per caste), though devoid of merit, than the duty of another (caste), well discharged.? Obviously, an absurd statement. Look at the contrast: Thiruvalluvar, the Tamil poet, says: ?Do whatever one can do in a praiseworthy manner.? Then, again, he says: All men are born equal, that a low-born beggar might be nearer to God than a Brahmin priest. Such ?blasphemies? were anathema to the Brahmin priests. Which is why they removed them and put their interpolations. What was worse, they called such non-Sanskrit literature paishachika (devilish). By the way, this is the exact expression the American missionaries use for Hinduism.
Similarly, the rivalry between the Saivites and Vaishnavites, which continued for centuries, did their worst to distort and vulgarise each other'sscriptures. Thus, the Bhagavat Purana (Vaishnavite) calls those who worship Shiva as Pashadins. Shiva is described as a God of the graveyard. But Sir John Marshall tells us that Shaivism was the most ancient living faith in the world.
It should be clear from these to the reader that the entire subject of rewriting our history should be taken out of the purview of passionate disputations and handed over to a supreme research organisation for its judgement. But only in the rarest of rare cases.
India is not conscious of its history as the Chinese are. Our history is more often in our literature. That is why our literature is precious. True our literature reflects the rivalries of an acrimonious age. But we should not undertake to correct its distortions. Why? Because there will be no end to this process. Let us remember what Gandhiji said: Just because something is written in Sanskrit, it need not be right. Let us use our judgement. And let us recall Dr Radhakrishnan too: He says just because something is old, it need not be sacred.