The academia in the institutions of higher learning in India is obsessed with a particular style of history and cultural interpretation. India to them is a mix of diverse thoughts and life processes. They are right to a certain extent, but their adherence to Marxist interpretation of history is problematic and hides the real cultural lineage of the country. Most of them are hijacked by the colonial historical construct and often negate the existence of Hindu way of life beyond a certain point in history.
Anti-Hindu Agenda of Mill
James Mill, the British historian divided the history of India in three different compartments; the Hindus, Muslims and the British. Mill and his associates negate the existence of the Hindu religion in its antiquity and place it at par with modern Semitic religions like Islam and Christianity. The rich philosophical and literary wealth of ancient India, to them is only the accidental outpourings of a wandering people, who haven’t any particular lineage in matters of faith. Marxist historians perpetuated this argument without paying their attention to India’s richest sources emanating from the Vedas and the great Indian epics. A careful reading of the Mahabharata will reveal the hollowness of their argument.
Roots of the Hindu Faith
The Vedas were instrumental in formulating the Hindu faith. The Vedic people descended their glorious thoughts through generations and established the firm foundation of a sacred religion. During the time of the epics, especially Mahabharata, people of the sub-continent have settled and their religious life has become well defined. The doctrines of the faith have started to come up and the way of life of the people has become oriented. The irreligious life of the hunter-gatherer has changed into one of a well defined cultural and spiritual life and it became the founding podium of the Hindu faith.
The Vedas were instrumental in formulating the Hindu faith. The Vedic people descended their glorious thoughts through generations and established the firm foundation of a sacred religion
The Mahabharata cites this remarkable shift in many places. Burning of the forest of Khandava is one such incident. Indra was worshipped as Bhagwan by the people then. The wandering people worshipped Him as the god of rain. Their life was unsettled and their dependence on agriculture was scant. The people of the sub-continent then started clearing vast forest lands and started a settled life. The burning of Khandava represents the beginning of a settled life.
Articulation of Dharma
Krishna and Arjuna led the burning, heralding the defeat of Bhagwan Indra. Krishna becomes an icon of faith among the people of the land, signalling the onset of a well defined religious sect. The entire text of Mahabharata speaks of Dharma, which has become the founding stone of the Hindu faith. Cultural historians fail to understand its significance.
The rich philosophical and literary wealth of ancient India, to them (Mill and his associates) is only the accidental outpourings of a wandering people, who haven’t any particular lineage in matters of faith. Marxist historians perpetuated this argument without paying their attention to India’s richest sources emanating from the Vedas and the great Indian epics
Though it is unnamed, the faith has started to influence the life of the people. The spiritual teaching of the Vedas augmented their new life. This coupled with the concept of Dharma as propounded by the Mahabharata became the cornerstone of Hindu religion.
The concept of dharma as we see in the Mahabharata is an extrapolation of the Vedic thought. Vedas were the first text in which the questions of dharma were raised and offered brilliant answers to them. The influence of the Vedic thoughts crystallised into a particular lifestyle by the time of the epics. The Ramayana exemplifies the subtle questions of dharma through the life of the Bhagwan Rama. It was Krishna who taught Arjuna about the various aspects of dharma through the Bhagavad Gita. In Bhishma Parva of Mahabharata, Bhishma gives elaborate descriptions of dharma a King should follow to Yudhishtira.
Present day historians negate the existence of the Hindu faith at this particular juncture of time. They attribute the genesis of the term to the Persians owing to their voicing of the Sindhu river. Here the etymology differs from the cultural facts. History as narrative construct, should make an overhaul to incorporate the philosophical and cultural context into which the Hindu religion formed. It is high time to free it from the colonial and Marxist perspectives in order to give a real picture of the genesis of the world’s oldest and prominent religion.