When it comes to the contemporary era, most history textbooks leave out numerous key figures who contributed to India’s war for independence. It is high time that we must put our acts together to know about our civilisational roots. Until and unless we know about the past, we cannot build a bright future for all citizens
There is a need to rewrite history primarily because of various important reasons. The first reason is that history is interpreted or periodised communally. The colonial administration commissioned a team to interpret our shastras and dharma shastras to learn more about our country’s history and, to build a narrative that would aid them in better managing the country. This is why they decided to divide India’s past along communal lines. The ancient period was referred to as the Hindu period, the medieval period as the Muslim period, and the modern period as the British period. However, this periodisation was incorrect, even based on religion, as the contemporary period was referred to as the British period rather than the Christian period.
The work by the Marxist writers can be cited as a second important reason. To some extent, Euro-centric biases impacted Marxist texts, with the belief that the state was not just safeguarding exploitative arms but was also the primary instrument of exploitation. Third, examining the sources utilised by either European or Marxist researchers reveals that they were selective in selecting sources. For example, most of the ancient scriptures or literature have been termed as mere mythology, and they have not been taken into consideration while writing historical accounts. Fourth, it is obvious how the myth of the Aryan Invasion has been debunked in recent works and studies. This is an example of how, over the years, a false narrative was produced to serve the vested interests. Another important example is how specific facts have been twisted by a particular group of scholars. The use of selective sources and their interpretation has deprived the students and scholars of knowing about the past.
The most important reason for writing or reworking the syllabus and theme included in the textbook is the missing essential themes and areas.
If we consider the ancient past, the splendid dominance of the Muktapida dynasty comes to mind. Laltaditya Mutkapida, for example, ruled over the whole of the subcontinent during his time and had regular interactions with the Chinese State. The great ruler Laltaditya, his rule, and his influence are mentioned in the Annals of the Tang dynasty. The mention of Abhinavgupta and Shaivism has not been a part of the ancient history textbook. Abhinav Gupta was the one who preached and promoted Shaiv Darshan across India and the world. There is just a passing reference to the dynasties of Pandyas, Cholas, Cheras, Satvahans, etc. The Cholas ruled for 400 years more than the sultans of Delhi, but it has only one small rubric in the in the textbooks. The Cholas were not only limited to the land, but they were also successful in creating a maritime Empire too.
When it comes to India’s early medieval and medieval periods, many prejudices are present, and some events and significant issues are overlooked. The history of the region beyond the Deccan, for example, is not covered in history textbooks. For instance, the dynasties are just mentioned in passing references.
The Vijaynagar Empire ruled for almost 400 years and even survived for 80 years after the famous battle of Talikota in 1565. However, it has been denied justice and a proper position in history textbooks. The Vijaynagar kingdom defeated the powerful Portuguese empire in 1558, and India’s political situation might have been different if they had won the battle of Talikota.
Similarly, a false story about the Rajputs has been constructed. For example, the battle of Haldighati between Akbar and Maharana Pratap was declared as the battle where Maharana faced defeat. But the fact is that the Mughals had to retreat, which is how this battle ended. In the same way, Akbar has been portrayed as a secular ruler who represented a syncretic culture. However, he used to refer to his military operation as jihad. He has admitted to butchering more than 30000 people, including innocent women, Senior citizens and children, at Chittor’s fort. It is mentioned in Fateh Nama Chittor, which was written at Ajmer just after Akbar’s Chittor campaign.
Have we ever wondered why we do not read about who killed Chhatrapati Sambhaji? Only because he refused to give up his Hindu Dharma and get converted to Islam Aurangzeb unleashed a barrage of savagery on him. Aurangzeb’s biography Maasir-i-alamgiri written by Muammad Sāqī Mustaidd Khān, mentions this gory act and the pride which Aurangzeb took in this act still we portray him as a benevolent king in our history books. Delhi University’s history syllabus has a section on the religious policies of Aurangzeb; not surprising we were taught that he was a compassionate king and Somnath Temple demolition was a political act and not a religious act. The whole debate about rewriting history textbooks becomes all the more relevant because we have to do away with the teaching of fabricated and distorted history written by Marxist historians.
We have museums dedicated to the magnificent history of the Sikh Gurus and their courageous resistance to the atrocious Mughal rule. But why are we so hesitant to incorporate Sikh history, as well as the Islamic persecution of its Gurus, in our textbooks? It’s time to recount our Indian history through the eyes of Indians. The younger generation should be aware that this was a recurring attempt to demolish the ethos of ‘Hinduism’ and that the pattern was identical to that which their forefathers and predecessors followed. On Jahangir’s instructions, Guru Arjan Singh was tortured to death. Aurangzeb executed Guru Tegh Bahadur for taking up the cause of Kashmiri Pandits and refusing to convert to Islam. When Guru Gobind Singh’s minor sons, Sahibzada Baba Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Baba Fateh Singh, refused to convert to Islam, the tyrant Aurangzeb bricked them alive. What is so fantastic about the Mughals, and why should we read about them if such horrible acts were carried out on their orders? The youth must be informed of both false and fictitious history. History is deceptive, and facts that are made up to conceal heinous deeds and occurrences by the Leftist historians.
Few geographical areas and their history are entirely missing from history textbooks—for example, North-East India and South India. There is no mention of the Ahom Kingdom and its great rulers. Lachit Borphukan and his military exploits at the Battle of Saraighat are hardly known to any of the students at the secondary and higher secondary level. There is no mention of Marthanda Varma and the Battle of Colachel in 1741, which was fought against the Dutch. After the tremendous victory of Marthand Varma, the Dutch were routed entirely from the South. Such courageous ruler’s legacies should be taught in schools to dispel the notion that we never challenged European powers and that they were superior to us.
When it comes to the contemporary era, most history textbooks leave out numerous key figures who contributed to India’s war for independence.
As a result, it is critical to rewrite history so that we are aware of historical facts. It must not be seen from any ideological or religious perspective. It is high time that we must put our acts together to know about our civilisational roots. Until and unless we know about the past, we cannot build a bright future for all citizens.