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History and Mythology

11th century Arab traveller’s Alberuni’s observation that Hindus (as Indians were then known) have no sense of history. Indeed, they can scarcely distinguish it from mythology. Whether it’s Akbar, Aurangzeb and Shivaji or Curzon, Gandhi and Nehru, history writing in India is aimed at upholding greatness or reinforcing villainy. Revisionism is invariably a law and order problem.

Romila Thapar in one her lectures noted that History is a continuos process. Everyday there are new clues via excavations and findings that challenge the staus quo for new interpretation. However in India any new finding leads to mobocracy in the form of riots, goondaism rather than dialogue and debate through existing channels of communication. When James Laine came with his version of Shivaji Maharaj, a mob ransacked the mecca of history in India, Bhandarkar Institute, and destroyed rare manuscripts. John Maynard Keynes once quoted “When facts change, I change my mind. What do you do sir?” We have no tolerance about change and get emotional when the status quo is challenged. This is the violent part of our behaviour. The next is about how stupid we are. Good example is  Nehru, who I always give due credit for the precarious state of many things in India, over population, illiteracy, poor human resource, dynastic rule, etc.

For a man who left the country ‘‘not better fed, clothed or housed, …more corruptly governed…with higher taxes, ever-rising prices, ever-acute foreign exchange difficulties, and more unemployment’’ than when he took charge, India has been too kind to Nehru. It’s time we took the mythology out of history. read more >>>

3 thoughts on “History and Mythology”

  1. The truth is important so far as to ensure the deserving gets credit. But perception is sometimes required for the masses to have examples to lead. The world requires to believe that a Jesus, a mahatma or a krishna are a part of history, regardless of whether they existed or their achievements and personalities matched with the perceptions created.

  2. Amar –
    Krishna is not the same as Jesus. Without a historical Jesus, Christianity falls apart because its his death that cleans some “sin” that we supposedly all carry.

    Krishna’s words in the Gita are timeless. Regardless of whether it was Krishna or Veda Vyaasa (or the Upanishads, where much of it comes), they can hold whether or not Krishna historically existed or didn’t.

    Please do not compare the two.

    Shrikant –
    History can be distorted, yes, but many personalities in Indian history are well documented and credible conclusions can be made about their character. One doesn’t have to mythologize or misrepresent Shivaji and Aurangzeb to understand the polarity between them.

    Aurangzeb, whether or not Muslims consider him a good Muslim or bad Muslim, incited war against the entire subcontinent. Surely he must fail simply as a human being? While Shivaji refrained from destroying mosques, Aurangzeb destroyed thousands of Mandirs. Aurangzeb tortured his own brother, imprisoned his own father, tortured Sambhaji and a Sikh guru because he refused to convert to Islam.

    On the other hand, have you ever gone to Mahrasthra and said anything critical of Shivaji? LOL.

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