Amit Agarwal’s book is a collection of five stories that are almost forgotten. This assortment of erased slices of history provides a multi-faceted account of Bharat’s history from 326 BCE, beginning with Alexander and concluding with the creation of Bangladesh.
After the success of a well-researched book on Bharatiya medieval history, Swift Horses, Sharp Swords: Mediaeval Battles which Shook India, author Amit Agarwal has launched his second book, A Never-Ending Conflict. An engineer from the prestigious IIT-Roorkee, he is part of a new generation of writers eager to change the way history has been written in the past.
His new book is a collection of five stories that are almost forgotten. This assortment of erased slices of history provides a multi-faceted account of Bharat’s history.
In 1971, even when Bharat won the war comprehensively, Pakistan’s 94,000 soldiers were released with no strings attached. The Indira Gandhi Government did not make any efforts to get our soldiers released from their jails
The first story is about the interaction of Alexander with the sadhus. The author could build excitement when the men with diametrically opposite mentalities interact. The contrast between sheer power and spiritual strength was played up. Alexander understood the lessons but did not apply them. The author also opines that Alexander was not “great” and could barely win the war against Porus, a brave king of the small province of Punjab, if he indeed won. The second story is of the Vijayanagar Empire, which depicts the best and worst of our political acumen as well as certain errors that we, as a Dharmic culture, continue to make today.
The narrative of Assam’s victorious commander, Lachit Barphukon, is a wonderful one that deserves to be recounted but is hardly known outside the State.
The horrific Eram massacre in Odisha on September 28, 1942, was worse than Jallianwala Bagh since a Bharatiya commander directed the fire. Despite being a part of the Quit India campaign, this occurrence has been completely erased. The last and longest story pertains to the tragic Khilafat agitation, whose cancerous growth established Pakistan.
Two stories, Kohinoor and Khilafat, include a whole microcosm of Bharat’s history as well as the seeds of its impending collapse. The book is all about the unceasing conflict between Hindus and Muslims for the past thousand years. You get the impression that the conditions that existed a hundred or thousand years ago still exist.
We, like the Muslims, did not change our ways. In any other scenario, defeating an opponent who does not change his strategy will be easy. But not here, as one is perpetually armed with the sword while the other is more intent on looking good. In 1971, even
when Bharat won the war comprehensively, we could not capitalise on it. Bharat released its 94,000 soldiers with no strings attached. The Indira Gandhi Government did not make any efforts to get our soldiers released from their jails. We even gifted many ancient artefacts to them. All in the name of looking magnanimous.
Like his first book, this one is not just a linear view of history but an integrated look at history with several sociological, scientific, and strategic observations. For a new writer to develop such a book is commendable. It is an unconventional way of narrating history, and happily so. The book pulsates with life. It has a microscopic analysis of history without overlooking the larger worldview, and as a historian, it stays truthful.
As the author mentioned in the preface, most of the history books he has come across were written in a Left-liberal narrative, which, more often than not, failed to depict an accurate picture of Bharatiya history.
Hence, he was driven to author a book that aptly described events from a Hindu perspective in an engaging manner. Bharatiya history has been intentionally depicted with its fulcrum on the Arabs, Turks, and Mughals in the mediaeval period.
Incidentally, this has become a very controversial topic of late, as the people are demanding the modification of NCERT history books to correct the glorification of the invaders. It was always portrayed that the invasions were a cakewalk for them, but the book reveals in no uncertain terms that Hindu warriors—of Vijayanagara and Assam, among others—were not easy prey. You can deduce why our religion and culture are still intact despite such a horrific onslaught over the centuries. The book has stories from all the regions of Bharat, a big plus point as people accuse Bharatiya history of being Delhi-centric.
The book’s key takeaway is to make the current Bharatiya generation proud of their brave ancestors. The book also has an epic sweep of the ecosystem, and almost every story starts with a Puranic tale and then descends into the realm of not-so-distant history. In this way, the book becomes unique.
The book is crisp, concise, fast-paced, and targeted towards those who know little about these dreadful chapters of Bharatiya history but want to know the complete record in a nutshell. It is also littered with intriguing historical anecdotes, making it a light read. This trait makes the book, I must say, pleasingly different compared to other history books.
The author loves the battlefield’s strategy and tactics, which is quite visible throughout the book. Both in the Battle of Talikota and in Guwahati, he described the battle formation and the strategy in detail with maps and diagrams. It is in these pages that the book comes alive, and it often feels as if a reader is in the middle of the battlefield.
After reading it, I could conclude that the two main reasons for our defeats in the mediaeval era were a lack of unity and poor military strategy. The author mentions that these weaknesses persist, and that is exactly the takeaway from any history book.
The author has given quite a lot of references, and that makes it authentic. As an engineer, the author is fond of statistics, maps, tables, and visuals, which adorn the book throughout. The cover is catchy, and the title is apt. The book has a lot of artsy illustrations too. On the whole, the book is a complete package. Garuda Prakashan, a reputed publisher, has published it, and I hope it will garner a lot of traction.
Overall, the book has the potential to make Hindus proud of their roots, traditions and culture. It brings out the bravery of Hindu warriors, and this characteristic of the book will go a long way toward apprising our young generation of our glorious past. I recommend giving it a patient read and hope that people who think history is boring will reconsider after reading this truthful perspective of Bharatiya history.