It is first required to mention that History of Bharat (i.e. India) does not begin with the invasion of Europeans or Islamic invasion or as many believe from August 15, 1947. Bharat was flourishing and comprehending the truths of the universe even before the concepts of civilization and polity took birth in many other parts of the world. It is not a civilisation that is dead like many other and which is required to be constrained in the cold walls of a museum for preservation of it in memory. It is a civilization that continues to be alive to this day and which has built upon the works of its ancestors, in the direction which is consistent with the vision of its ancestors. It is a civilization which to date practices the yagna rituals mentioned in Vedic age scriptures, which worships Pashupati Mahadeva mentioned in Indus Valley civilization, a great ancient civilization with underground drainage system, planned cities (consider the flooding in many metropolitan cities even today) and infrastructures like ports and highways etc.
The purpose of establishing the above statements are unfortunately required in this day because of the fact that our history textbooks begin with invasion and end with independence of India thanks to a couple of “peaceful leaders” with some side note about Ashoka or Mauryan Empire if possible. It is full of the history and works of the invaders who are often portrayed as saviors there to remove the evils despots who were exploiting the citizens. This has been the limit of history sadly thought in schools as post-independence responsibility was given to left leaning intellectuals and Islamic leaders who in the name of religious harmony not only white washed the subject that suited their narrative and world view.
“As long as hunters write the history, Lions are never glorified”.
The art of writing history text books is an important task for the building of a nation. It requires a command over the subject along with the sensibility to make judgements, so that the highly impressionable minds of children could be shown proper perspective to look at the history and to draw conclusions with much deliberation. In India, reading of history is constricted to mugging of dates and names. The discussion of this problem is a separate issue altogether.
There is a debate going on in India regarding the perceived reduction of Mughals in the NCERT history books. History of Mughals has been a major bone of contention in India, with extreme views on either sides. This along with continuation of false narrative which relates today’s Indian Muslims with Moghuls and somehow criticizing the latter would be like insulting the former. Babur who established the Moghul dynasty after defeating Lodi in the battle of Panipat, in Baburnama also mentions that he was fed up of the weather and infertile lands of Central Asia and so attracted to the fertile lands of India that he decided to move forward and form a proper base in India. It is also worth mentioning that there was also succession issue in his original home country which made him turn towards India.
The history books in its urge to glorify Mughals, depicts the them as a pan India kingdom. The truth is although only for a brief period it was able to capture more territories compared to its Islamic predecessors, much parts of India was free from its influence. Eventually because of unsustainability many broke away from Mughal rule starting their own empires like Bijapur Sultans. The Mughal history only derives its significance because of Delhi centric approach of post-independent Indian administration. Considering that there are many kingdoms which ruled India with bigger empires for longer periods of time for example: Mauryas, Rastrakutas, Chalukyas, the space Mughals has in our history books can be looked with a hint of pessimism. Samudragupta who reigned undefeated is not even mentioned, and our children grows up not knowing anything about the great warrior, whom we have agreed to call Indian Napoleon.
In their zeal towards defending the Mughals many point out the social reforms they brought in in their rule like Sati. Sati is also mentioned in Mahabharata. When Pandu dies, Madri his second wife performs Sati, but it is important to note that Kunti doesn’t go through with it, nor is there any mention of anyone or forcing her or banishing her for not performing it. It can be derived that other than some handful cases like Jauhar, it became a mainstream ritual for women to escape the atrocities done to women by Islamic invaders. The romantic history written of Mughals, where they respected women is all in the minds of an artists and not history. History of Ottoman Turks and Mongols are more appropriate to relate to Mughals in their treatment of women. According to some accounts Akbar had around 5000 women in his harem; Razia Sultna, an able ruler was never fully recognised by the clerics as a ruler and was assassinated in a short period just because she was a woman; There was a prominent place in Eastern markets for women slaves transported from India.
Architecture is one more point for the importance of Mughals. Qutub Minar, Gyan vapi mosque, red fort was built by them. It is important to note that throughout the Islamic invasion, 40,000 temples are reported to be destroyed. Bhaktiyar Khilji burnt Nalanda University, which according to many reports burnt for 3 days and night because of the amount of books in it. Destruction of Somnath temple is also another account, where it is reported that Khilji rejected the offer of the main priest to take all treasures but insisted on destroying the idol as a main motivation for his invasion.
The psychology of Mughals if seen closely is in continuation of other predecessing Islamic invaders. The wealth along with the suffering of “kafirs” seems to be evident in their actions. It can be seen in destruction of Mathura Krishna Temple or Ram janmabhoomi temple or Gyan vapi temple in whose cases it is blatantly evident that the structures of Hindu temple being used to building the architecture. The other buildings built like Taj mahal or gardens are more for the luxury of the king rather than the structures which are beneficial for the subjects like Kandambadi dam built by Krishnaraja Wodeyar which is remembered by every house even to this day.
A nation has to constantly be aware of the path it must travel and the future it must build for itself. The historical conscious of the citizens decides the path and so it is always the responsibility of the government to give the proper ideals for the next generation. It doesn’t mean complete discarding of Mughals in the history, but the prominence and the context with which they are depicted would be atmost importance. It is time for India that is Bharat to choose on whose ideals they are ready to build the nation; whether on Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj or Aurangzeb. Choice is yours.