The Aryan Invasion Theory: The Final Nail in its Coffin, by Stephen Knapp

(From a Chapter in “Advancements of Ancient India’s Vedic Culture’)

        The Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) is the idea that the Vedic people were not indigenous to the area of northern India, but were invaders from the Caucasus Mountain region that descended on India around 1500 BCE, and then wrote the Vedic literature and forced the natives to accept their culture. In writing this chapter I want to emphasize that this book is not about the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), but we should at least include one chapter on it to show its place in discovering the real history of the development of ancient India and the origins of Vedic culture. In doing so, I acknowledge there have already been volumes written on this controversial topic, and on where the original homeland of the Indo Aryans might be. So anyone can read any of those books until one is nauseated with various viewpoints, but that is not what we are going to do here. Going into a long dissertation about how all the theories were developed and what evidence they found is the last thing I want to do. For all but the specialist researchers and readers, it would make for an extremely tedious book, at least more so than some may feel it is already. So, we are only going to summarize some of the most recent and concluding research that is available today.

Let us remember that the idea that the Vedic Aryans came from outside of ancient India and entered the region to start what became the Vedic civilization is a foreign idea. There was never any record, either historical, textual or archeological, that supports this premise for an Aryan invasion. There also is no record of who would have been the invaders. The fact is that it is a theory that came from mere linguistic speculation which happened during the nineteenth century when very little archeological excavation had yet been done around India.

There have been many researchers who have tried to study the linguistics of the people to gather an indication of where the original homeland of the Vedic Aryans was actually located. This was done to either try to uphold or refute the idea of the Aryan Invasion Theory. In my book, Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence, I dealt with linguistics and word similarities to a degree, but this topic, in spite of all the research, study, and books written on whatever findings were made, has done little to absolutely establish with clarity the original home of the Vedic Aryans.

Some scholars have always felt that the linguistic evidence is not sufficient to draw definite conclusions where the homeland of the Vedic Aryans was located.

Linguistics amongst some scholars have always been a speculative process, at best arriving at various conjectures about the origins of particular cultures and languages. Others have been even more dismissive of the idea of reconstructing a hypothetical language based on words that remain present in spoken languages thousands of years later. Thus, in trying to understand the Vedic Aryans and where their homeland may have been by analyzing some hypothetical Proto-Indo-European language that still has not been identified seems rather doubtful. At best, it may provide some basic hypothesis, which in reality may be most misleading. This also seems to say that there is little reason to hold the field of linguistics in such a high degree of respect, considering all the books that have been written that seem to use this process to determine so many conclusions, or conjectures, on the homeland of the Vedic Aryans.

As a further comment to this issue, G. P. Singh relates, “They (proponents of the Aryan Invasion Theory) are divided in their opinion regarding the exact location of the said common home, the reason for which is not far to discover. The speakers of Aryan languages have been clubbed together as an Aryan race which never existed as such. The philological and ethnological explanations regarding the identification of an Aryan language with an Aryan race are conflicting. The similarities of a few words do not necessarily constitute a proof of common origin of their speakers, rather they indicate commingling and sociocultural contacts and fellowship. The theory of a common home of members of a so-called Aryan family whether in Asia or Europe cannot be accepted merely on the evidence of linguistic paleontology… The Aryan invasion of India is a myth and not the truth. The Aryans were neither invaders nor conquerors. They were not the destroyers of the Harappan civilization but one of its authors.” 1

This does not mean, however, that we cannot still use linguistics to help recognize the many similarities of cultures by the closeness of words, in both spelling and meaning, that are used in the languages of various traditions, or where and how far the Vedic and Sanskrit influence has traveled, and how various cultures may have shared traditions with each other. But to supply proof of where the Vedic people originated, that is not possible. Plus, today we have so much more research and archeological evidence that tells far more than the study of linguistics, which will certainly lead us to the correct conclusion about this matter.

Up till today, there is still no culture from the time of ancient India that can be said to have originated outside and then invaded or brought the Vedic culture to the interior of India. More evidence will be given as we discuss this topic. But for now, what this means is that if we look at the ancient ruins, or agricultural practices, artifacts, or social activities, it can be recognized that they were all based on indigenous techniques and traditions. They are not linked to anything that would have come from outside of India, although just the opposite is the case. Moreover, we can see a migration from India to the west or even eastward.

Traditionally, as we find in the Manu-samhita (2.17-18), Vedic culture was founded by the sage Manu between the banks of the Sarasvati and Drishadvati Rivers. And the Sarasvati River was the main river in the Rig Veda, which, according to modern land studies, was a massive and important river at the time (before 1900 BCE). Only after this did the emphasis shift to the sacred Ganga (Ganges) River. This would indicate that the Vedic tradition is indeed a product of the area of ancient India.

There was also no real divide between north and south India in terms of the so-called invading Aryans in the north and the Dravidians of the south. As explained by David Frawley, “Dravidian history does not contradict Vedic history either. It credits the invention of the Tamil language, the oldest Dravidian tongue, to the rishi Agastya, one of the most prominent sages in the Rig Veda. Dravidian kings historically have called themselves Aryans and trace their descent through Manu (who in the Matsya Purana is regarded as originally a south Indian king). Apart from language, moreover, both north and south India share a common religion and culture.” 2

A recent landmark global study in population genetics by a team of internationally reputed scientists (as reported in The History and Geography of Human Genes, by Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi and Alberta Piazzo, Princeton University Press) reveals that the people who inhabited the Indian subcontinent, including Europe, concludes that all belong to one single race of Caucasian type. This confirms once again that there really is no racial difference between north Indians and south Indian Dravidians.

Other scholars and researchers are also giving up the idea of the Aryan Invasion Theory. As further explained in the book Origin of Indian Civilization, based on the results of the conference of the same name, it was described that, “While not in complete agreement, yet for Professor Witzel and Eltsov to acknowledge that the Harappan and Vedic civilizations were concurrent, is an important landmark in the debate on the Indic civilization. Prof. Witzel also stated for the first time to many in the audience that he and his colleagues no longer subscribe to the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT). Prof. Witzel of Harvard agreed with the scholars present that the Aryan invasion theory is a nineteenth-century concept and a spent force today. He said, ‘nobody in the right mind believes in something like Aryan Invasion Theory.’” 3

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ARYAN INVASION THEORY

        Before the 1857 uprising it was recognized that British rule in India could not be sustained without a large number of supporters and collaborators from within the Indian population. Recognizing this, it was influential men like Thomas Babbington Macaulay, who, as Chairman of the Education Board, sought to set up an educational system modeled after the British system, which, in the case of India, would serve to undermine the Hindu tradition. While not a missionary himself, Macaulay came from a deeply religious family steeped in the Protestant Christian faith. His father was a Presbyterian minister and his mother a Quaker. He believed that the conversion of Hindus to Christianity held the answer to the problems of administering India. His idea was to create a class of English educated elite that would repudiate its tradition and become British collaborators. In 1836, while serving as chairman of the Education Board in India, he enthusiastically wrote his father about his idea and how it was proceeding:

“Our English schools are flourishing wonderfully. The effect of this education on the Hindus is prodigious… It is my belief that if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolator among the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence. And this will be effected without any efforts to proselytise, without the smallest interference with religious liberty, by natural operation of knowledge and reflection. I heartily rejoice in the project.”

So the point was that religious conversion and colonialism were to go hand in hand. European Christian missions were an appendage of the colonial government, with missionaries working side by side with the government. In this case, we could ask if over the years much has really changed in the purpose of the Christian missions in India.

The key point here is Macaulay’s belief that “knowledge and reflection” on the part of the Hindus, especially the Brahmanas, would cause them to give up their age-old belief in anything Vedic in favor of Christianity. The purpose was to turn the strength of Hindu intellectuals against their own kind by utilizing their commitment to scholarship in uprooting their own tradition, which Macaulay viewed as nothing more than superstitions. His plan was to educate the Hindus to become Christians and turn them into collaborators. He persisted with this idea for fifteen years until he found the money and the right man for turning his utopian idea into reality.

He needed someone who would translate and interpret the Vedic texts in such a way that the newly educated Indian elite would see the superiority of the Bible and choose that over everything else. Upon his return to England, after a good deal of effort he found a talented but impoverished young German Vedic scholar by name Friedrich Max Muller who was willing to take on the arduous job. Macaulay used his influence with the East India Company to find funds for Max Muller’s translation of the Rig Veda. Though an ardent German nationalist, Max Muller agreed for the sake of Christianity to work for the East India Company, which in reality meant the British Government of India. He also badly needed a major sponsor for his ambitious plans, which he felt he had at last found.

The fact is that Max Muller was paid by the East India Company to further its colonial aims, and worked in cooperation with others who were motivated by the superiority of the German race through the white Aryan race theory.

This was the genesis of his great enterprise, translating the Rig Veda with Sayana’s commentary and the editing of the fifty-volume Sacred Books of the East. In this way, there can be no doubt regarding Max Muller’s initial aim and commitment to converting Indians to Christianity. Writing to his wife in 1866 he observed:

“It [the Rig Veda] is the root of their religion and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last three thousand years.”

Two years later he also wrote the Duke of Argyle, then acting Secretary of State for India: “The ancient religion of India is doomed. And if Christianity does not take its place, whose fault will it be?” This makes it very clear that Max Muller was an agent of the British government paid to advance its colonial interests. Nonetheless, he still remained an ardent German nationalist even while working in England. This helps explain why he used his position as a recognized Vedic and Sanskrit scholar to promote the idea of the “Aryan race” and the “Aryan nation,” a theory amongst a certain class of so-called scholars, which has maintained its influence even until today.

MAX MULLER DENIES HIS OWN THEORY

        It was in the nineteenth century when Max Muller tried to date the Vedas to 1200 BCE. Then he accepted the Sutra literature to the sixth century BCE and assigned a duration of just 200 years to each of the periods of Vedic literature, namely the Aranyakas, Brahmanas and Vedas. But when his contemporary scholars, like Goldstucker, Whitney and Wilson, raised a fuss about this, he had to regress and stated (in his Preface to the Rgveda): “I have repeatedly dwelt on the merely hypothetical character of the dates, which I have ventured to assign to the first periods of Vedic literature. All I have claimed for them has been that they are minimum dates, and that the literary productions of each period which either still exist or which formerly existed could hardly be accounted for within shorter limits of time than those suggested.” 4

This indicates his admission that he really did not know and he was expressing nothing but conjecture. This is not exactly a scholarly action. But still being pressed by his contemporaries, he finally admitted it in a publication in 1890 (Physical Religion) and reflected the responsibility by saying no one can figure it out: “If now we ask how we can fix the dates of these periods, it is quite clear that we cannot hope to fix a terminum a qua. Whether the Vedic hymns were composed [in] 1000 or 1500 or 2000 or 3000 BC, no power on earth will ever determine.” 5

Although Max Muller was the one who cleverly came up with the Aryan Invasion Theory, he later worked to bring out the Sacred Books of the East series, which helped promote the spiritual wisdom of the East to the general public in Europe. Later, though a German by birth, he was living comfortably in England when in 1872, after the German nationalists finally achieved unification, he marched into a university in German occupied France (Strasbourg) and denounced the German doctrine of the superior Aryan race. It was at this time that he began to clarify that by Aryan he meant language and not a race. This was in stark contrast with his previous views, which had all been well documented, and which kept following him since politicians and propagandists kept using his conclusions as authority for their own race ideas. At last, he stated clearly in 1888:

“I have declared again and again that if I say Aryan, I mean neither blood nor bones, nor skull nor hair; I mean simply those who speak the Aryan language… To me an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan blood, Aryan race, Aryan eyes and hair is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolicocephalic dictionary or of brachycephalic grammar.” 6

Just as he had previously been a proponent of the Aryan race theory for the first 20 years of his life, he remained an opponent of it for the remaining 30 years of his life. However, in spite of this fact, we still find Indian scholars who still hold onto Muller’s previous views, however inaccurate they may have been, in their own conclusions on India’s history.

THE DAMAGE DONE BY THE ARYAN INVASION THEORY

        The premise of the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) was used as a perfect tool, especially by the British, to divide the Hindu society and the state of India. The North Indian “Aryans” were then pit against the South Indian “Dravidians,” along with high-caste against low-caste, mainstream Hindus against tribals, Vedic orthodoxy against the indigenous orthodox sects, and later to neutralize Hindu criticism of the forced Islamic occupation of India, since “Hindus themselves entered India in the same way as Muslims did.” Even today, the theory has still been used as the basis for the growth of secularist and even Marxist forces.

The problem with all of this is that people of Indian descent, especially the youth, when they hear all of this Aryan Invasion theory nonsense, they begin to lose faith in their own country, culture and history, and especially in the Vedic tradition and epics. They think it is all just stories, fiction, or even a lie. But that is not the case at all, which is why it is important to show where this theory came from, what its purpose was, and why we should throw it away and take a second and much deeper look at what the Vedic tradition has to offer, and how it was actually the source of much of the world’s advancement in so many areas.

Even in India today it is often the case that schools teach the Western views of Indian history and even use European translations of the great Vedic texts. Children are taught that their culture is inherently inferior to the Western developments, and that Hinduism is archaic, outdated, with nothing to offer people today. Therefore, in this view, Indian students should no longer value their own culture and instead look toward the West for everything they need. But this notion is absolutely false. They do not known how much the Western youth looks toward India for its spiritual inspiration, and are using the ancient Indian and Vedic traditions, such as yoga, Jyotish, Vastu, Ayurveda, and the Vedic philosophy to reach their highest potential and well-being. They would not do that if they were not experiencing the benefits of it. In fact, it is all becoming increasingly popular because there is more curiosity, inquiry, and need to find something of substance rather than being content with the shallow nature of Western society and its values.

Part of the problem today is in the educational system of India, and everywhere for that matter, that still often projects the idea that the native Indians were undeveloped and pushed out of the area that was taken over by the invading Aryans, who then pushed their language, culture, and religion onto the people who remained. Those who went south to avoid the invading Aryans were called the Dravidians. The British missionaries, even as early as 1840, went on to use this theory as a means to persuade people of South India to reject the Vedic tradition, since it had been forced on them by invaders, and accept Christianity. By using the typical “divide and rule” policy that the British were known for, they helped create a schism in the people of India which gave them better means to control and manipulate them under the guise of giving them back the respect they had always deserved. Of course, if they became Christian they would deserve even more respect, as portrayed by the missionaries. So, the Aryan Invasion Theory, which had originally been developed by a Christian certainly continued to serve the Christian interests well, unbeknownst to the people who falsely accepted the Dravidian identity. In this regard, Chandrasekharendra Saraswati summed it up very nicely: “Their conclusions would permit them to regard the ancient rishis as primitive men inferior to the moderns… their analysis of our religious texts was motivated by the desire to show Christianity as a better religion.” 7

Thus, the real truth was kept hidden so their agenda could be served. But was not that the whole purpose behind the Aryan Invasion Theory from the start? After all, as N. S. Rajaram has succinctly related, “English translations of the Rigveda… represent a massive misinterpretation built on the preconception that the Vedas are the primitive poetry of the nomadic barbarians. Nothing could be further from the truth.” 8

Even of late, there have been leaders in Tamil Nadu who have promoted this Dravidian identity, and gave reasons why they should reject Hinduism, which is but an imposition on the natives. Of course, now, through the use of genetics, it has been proven that there never was any division, except in name only, between the Vedic Aryans and the native Dravidians. They were all part of the same native and indigenous fabric of ancient Indian civilization. Any other divisions were all but hypothetical and theory only. But this was part of the damage that such mental speculation had caused. And it still goes on. That is why books and information such as this needs to be spread, so that the truth of the matter can finally be displayed for all to see, and the unity to help preserve and protect the truth of the depth and profound nature of the Vedic civilization can be properly understood.

OBJECTIONS TO THE ARYAN INVASION THEORY

        As archeologists B. B. Lal explains, it was Mortimer Wheeler who, after reporting a few skeletons being found at Mohenjodaro, said that the people of Mohenjodaro had been massacred in the invasion of the region. However, the skeletons had been found at different stratigraphic levels of the site–some from intermediate levels, late levels, and also from the deposits that had accumulated at the site after its desertion. This showed that Wheeler was wrong in his assessment. Recent skeletons would have been no where but the uppermost levels.

Thus, the conclusion would have to be that no evidence whatsoever of an invasion has been found at any of the hundreds of Harappan sites. Furthermore, at most of these sites, there is ample proof of continuity of habitation. An outside invasion also means the presence and entry of a new people, but no such evidence exists. A detailed study of human skeletal remains by Hemphill and his colleagues (1991) showed that no new people arrived between 4500–800 BCE, during which the “Aryan invasion” was said to have happened (around 1500 BCE). Therefore, no evidence for an invasion exists, and certainly not by any Aryans.

Furthermore, when new invaders arrive, place names of some towns and rivers remain from the previous people who occupied the area. But no Dravidian names exists for any such objects in the entire area once occupied by the Harappans. 9

Another point is that before the Vedas were written, it had been an oral tradition. However, an oral tradition of this kind of philosophy and culture cannot be maintained by a people in constant movement for decades if not centuries over many thousands of miles, which is what the Aryan Invasion Theory proposes. Such a tradition as the Vedic culture could be preserved only by a sedentary people where the older generation would have the necessary time to pass the communal lore to the younger generation. 10

In fact, as we have established in Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence, the Vedic texts make no mention of any migration at all. Surely, if that had happened there would have been some narration of it, or history of a previous location. But nothing exists like that, nor any language previous to the Vedic culture that existed in the Gangetic plains as would be expected.

There are many reasons why common sense can tell you that there could not have been any invasion into Aryavrata (India) by Vedic Aryans from outside. The question is that if the Aryans were supposed to be rambling barbarians, as viewed by some, yet were able to develop such a sophisticated language (Sanskrit) and compositions (the Vedas), then how did they not leave in the countries they left behind a rich culture that shows their previous developments? What happened to their descendants who should have kept the remnants of their culture and language? Why were not similar developments made by those who remained in Eastern Europe? And what happened to the pre-Sanskrit language and culture of the area that the Aryans invaded, if that is what happened? No answers have been found regarding these points.

Furthermore, as Dr. B. B. Lal relates, “Let it be squarely stated that the earliest book of the Aryans, the Rig Veda, does not mention any of the species of cold-climate trees enumerated. On the other hand, all the trees mentioned in the Rig Veda, such as the Ashvatha (Ficus religiosa L.), Khadira (Acadia catechu Wild), Nigrodhas (Ficus benghalenis L.), do not belong to a cold climate but to a tropical one. Likewise, the Rig Vedic fauna, comprising such species as the lion, elephant, peacock, also belong to a tropical climate. Further, during the Rig Vedic period the Sarasvati was a mighty river, but it gradually dried up. The evidence of archeology, hydrology and radiocarbon dates shows that the Sarasvati dried up around 2000 BCE. All this proves that the Rig Veda antedated the magic figure. Again, the Rig Vedic geography covers the area from the Ganga-Yamuna on the east to the west of the Indus. Likewise, the archeological evidence shows that prior to 2,000 BCE it was the Harappan Civilization that flourished in this region. Thus, the textual and archeological data combine to establish a perfect spatial-cum-chronological oneness between the Rig Vedic and Harappan cultures. And since, as demonstrated in this book, the Harappans were ‘the sons of the soil’, it squarely follows that the Rig Vedic people were indigenous.” 11

We also need to understand from what frivolous basis came the term ” Aryan race.” The people who created this term, and the Aryan Invasion Theory itself, were not biologists, archeologists, or scientists, though some of them later adopted this. But they were only linguists of questionable qualifications. Even in 1929, Sir Julian Huxley, one of the great natural scientists of the twentieth century related (in Oxford Pamphlet, No. 5, OUP: p.9):

“In 1848, the young German scholar Friederich Max Muller (1823-1900) settled in Oxford… About 1853 he introduced into the English language the unlucky term Aryan as applied to a large group of languages.

“Moreover, Max Muller threw another apple of discord. He introduced a proposition that is demonstrably false. He spoke not only of a definite Aryan language and its descendants, but also of a corresponding ‘Aryan race.’ The idea was rapidly taken up both in Germany and in England.” 12

Part of the problem was a misinterpretation of the word aryan. With the AIT, it was meaning a race of people, or even a separate language. But the word arya was always meant to be used as an honorific title for someone who lead a pure life, who was on the path for attaining a pure and spiritual consciousness. Arya actually means clear as in light consciousness, not as a light-skinned person of another separate race. An Aryan in this case meant an ethical, social and spiritual ideal of a well-governed life, for someone who was noble, straightforward in his dealings, was courageous, gentle, kind, compassionate, protector of the weak, eager for knowledge, and displayed respect for the wise and learned. Thus, everything that was opposite of this, such as mean, cruel, rude, false, ignoble, was considered non-aryan.

Huxley, regarding the scientific view at the time (1939), said the following: “In England and America the phrase ‘Aryan race’ has quite ceased to be used by writers with scientific knowledge, though it appears occasionally in political and propagandist literature… In Germany, the idea of the ‘Aryan race’ received no more scientific support than in England. Nevertheless, it found able and very persistent literary advocates who made it appear very flattering to local vanity. It therefore steadily spread, fostered by special interests.”

In this regard, N. S. Rajaram explains: “Those ‘special conditions’ were the rise of Nazism in Germany and British imperial interests in India. While both Germany and Britain took to the idea of the Aryan race, the courses taken by this racial theory in the two countries were quite different. Its perversion in Germany leading eventually to Nazism and its horrors is too well known to be repeated here. The British, however, put it to more creative use for imperial purposes, especially as a tool in making their rule acceptable to Indians. A BBC report admitted (6 October, 2005):

“It [AIT] gave a historical precedent to justify the role and status of the British Raj, who could argue that they were transforming India for the better in the same way that the Aryans had done thousands of years earlier.” 13

This was the way the British could justify their presence in India as a new and improved brand of Aryans that were doing the same thing that the present Indians who were the previous invading Aryans had done in the past. Thus, the Aryan Invasion Theory was perpetuated by special interests rather than by true historical evidence. In such a case, when the truth finally becomes apparent, such false notions have to dwindle and fade. That is why I have written about how those who believe in the false history of India are but a dying breed. The modern archeologists simply do not believe or see enough evidence to accept the Aryan Invasion Theory. Thus, it becomes self-evident that the Vedic culture was part of the indigenous tradition of India all along, and not brought to India by any outside invaders.

MISLEADING DATES OF THE ARYAN INVASION THEORY

        When the idea for the Aryan invasion was developed by Max Muller, he was formulating dates based on his familiarity and loyalty to the Biblical tradition, which tries to establish that the world was created in 4004 BCE. Therefore, whatever dates he came up with had to fit into this scheme of things. So, as we know, he decided that the Aryans had to have invaded India in 1500 BCE, and then developed the Rig Veda thereafter in 1200 BCE. This means that such calculations are based on faith in the Bible, and, accordingly, a group of linguistically unified people must have been existing around the Caspian Sea before invading India. It is this Biblical reference that formed the foundation of these dates of Max Muller’s for the Aryan Invasion Theory and when the Rig Veda may have been written. These were merely assumptions, many of which have been left uncontested, especially outside of India, up until a few decades ago.

Furthermore, Dr. Narahari Achar, a physicist from the University of Memphis clearly showed with astronomical analysis that the Mahabharata War took place in 3067 BCE, seriously challenging the outside “Aryan” origin of Vedic people. 14 Therefore, if we accept the year 3102 BCE as the date for the beginning of Kali-yuga, and 3067 BCE as the time for the Mahabharata war, this surely means that human society itself had been in existence for many, many years before the Christian date of 4004 BCE as the date for the creation of the world. This would make the 4004 BCE date of creation and the stories that go with it complete fiction.

The real problem with this is that these dates of 1500 BCE for the invasion of the Aryan forces and 1200 BCE for the creation of the Rig Veda have been propagated in both school and college books for many years as if they are the substantiated truth. However, even Muller admitted many times later in his life that these dates were arbitrary in nature, or merely guesses grounded on his own view of things, which were precarious opinions based on his allegiance to the Bible. He had written in admission, “I need hardly say that I agree with everyone of my critics. I have repeatedly dwelt on the entirely hypothetical character of the dates that I venture to assign [to the Vedic literature]. … Whether the Vedic hymns were composed 1000, 1500 or 2000 or 3000 BC, no power on earth will ever determine.”

As we have seen, it is the findings in archeology and the statements and history within the Rig Veda that have contradicted the dates of the fictional Aryan Invasion and the idea of an invasion itself. For example, the Rig Veda has described the ancient and glorious Sarasvati River, which is known to have dried up around 1900 BCE, and was probably already in the process of drying up back in 3000 BCE. This could not have been written by any invaders who entered India around 1500 BCE. How could they have described worshiping a river that had already ceased to exist 500 hundred years earlier? This is impossible. It would be like a haunting ghost story, still talking about things that had disappeared many generations ago.

This indicates that the Rig Veda had to have been in existence while the Sarasvati River was in her prime. This also means that the dates that many Western scholars have assigned for the formation of the Rig Veda are also in error by probably 2000 years or more. Of course, it was Max Muller who was paid by the British Government to write a negative interpretation of the Vedas to undermine the view Hindus themselves had for their own scripture, so he may have also been under pressure for his employment if he did not provide such viewpoints. Nonetheless, he had his own ambitions, as was outlined in a letter to his wife in 1866 about his edition of the Rig Veda having “a great extent on the fate of India and the growth of millions of souls in that country. It is the root of their religion and to show them what that root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it in the last three thousand years.”

Well, his purpose did not work, but certainly created a major distraction in finding the truth of the matter, which, fortunately, there have been many scholars that have now shown the inaccuracy of the views that had originated from Max Muller’s hypothesis and guesswork.

THE SARASVATI RIVER IN THE RIG VEDA

        The Sarasvati River is mentioned in the Rig Veda over 60 times, with three hymns that make Sarasvati the subject, namely in book 6, hymn 61, and book 7, hymns 95 & 96. The most noted verse from the Rig Veda that refers to the mighty Sarasvati river and its civilization is 7.95.1.1-2, which states:

pra kshodasa dhayada sasra

esha sarasvati dharunamayasi puh

prababadhana rathyeva yati

vishva apo mahina sindhuranyaha

        “Pure in her course from the mountains to the ocean, alone of streams Sarasvati hath listened.”

Thus, it stands to reason that the Sarasvati acquired this state of reverence during its prime and not after it started drying up. In other verses that describe her, we find it said in the Rig Veda (7.36.6) she is the holiest and greatest of all rivers, the best of the seven rivers, and Mother of the rivers and the Sindhu River. Then again she is the best of the seven rivers (6.61.9-10), and is fed by three, five or seven streams (6.61.12), and nourishes all of the Vedic people, and flows through the mountains and crushes boulders like the stems of lotus flowers (6.61.2), and that Sarasvati was the best of mothers, the best river and best goddess (6.41.16).

For further insight into this, we can see how the Rig Veda described the Sarasvati River. Some of the Sanskrit words used to describe the Sarasvati in the Rig Veda are naditama, ambitama, and devitama, which mean best river, best mother and best goddess (2.41.16); it is swollen and fed by three or more rivers pinvamana sindhubhih (6.52.6); it is endless, swift moving, roaring, most dear among her sister rivers; together with her divine aspect, it nourishes the tribes (6.61.8-13). In 7.95.2 it is said giribhyah a samudrat, it flows in a pure course from the mountains to the ocean. Then 7.96.2 and 10.177 mentions to pray to the river goddess for sustenance and good fortune, and 10.64.9 calls upon her (and Sarayu and Indus) as great and nourishing. Thus, the descriptions indicate a live and flowing river of great importance, flowing from the Himalayas to the ocean. 15

The Rig Veda (10.75.5) also indicates where the Sarasvati was located by listing the main northern rivers in order from the east, in which case places the Sarasvati between the Yamuna and the Shutudri (modern Sutlej), as found in the verse:

imam me gange yamune sarasvati shutudri stomam parushnya

asiknya marudvridhe vitastya arjikiye shrinuhya sushomaya

        “Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Shutudri (Sutlej) Parushni (Ravi) Asikni, Manuvridha, Vitasta, Arjikiye, Shrinuhya, and Sushomaya.”

Many great Vedic rishis were also mentioned in the Rig Veda as having a connection with the Sarasvati River, such as Vasistha and Jamadagni (7.96.3), Gritsamada (2.41.16), and Bharadvaj (6.61). Also kings like Divodas (6.61) and Bharatas such as Devavat and Devashravas (3.23) are mentioned in connection with the Sarasvati. Also of the Rig Veda are the clan of the Purus who resided along the Sarasvati, in which it says, “Sarasvati, on both whose plant-laden banks the Purus dwell.” (7.96.2) 16

The importance of the Sarasvati, as herein demonstrated, cannot go unnoticed. Besides references to the Sarasvati River in the Rig Veda, we can find some in the Atharva Veda as well. One reference (6.30.1) refers to Indra ploughing the banks of the Sarasvati to cultivate barley, which was not only one of the items for offering into the fire during the yajna ritual, but was also one of the earliest staple foods.

During sacrifices, we find (AV 5.27.9) Sarasvati as the goddess was invoked along with goddesses Ida, Mahi and Bharathi. Then in hymns (AV 7.68 and 18.1.41) she is called to accept oblations during the ritual. We also find (AV 7.57.1) where Vamadeva was shaken due to the apathy and derogatory words of the people, and invokes Sarasvati to reduce tension and cleanse the mind. In a similar way, we find (AV 19.40.1) where Sarasvati is praised in order to overcome frailties of the mind.

PROOF OF THE SARASVATI RIVER

        While surveying the course of the Sarasvati River, geologist Sir Auriel Stein (1862-1943) concluded that there was indeed such a river that had dried up when the course of the Sutlej changed, and discontinued being the main contributory of the Sarasvati River. Thus, as the Sarasvati began to dry, the cities and residents that depended on the river also had to move. With the satellite images made through earth sensing satellites from 1978 by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) that revealed the ancient river courses, these show that the Sarasvati was a channel that ranged from six to eight kilometers wide, and up to 14 kilometers in some parts. Thus, the greatness of the Sarasvati River, as described in the Rig Veda, was verified.

This was further confirmed by an aerial survey conducted by the American Landsat satellite in 1990 that showed a dried tract of 1000 miles where the Sarasvati would have flowed from the Himalayas to the Sourashtrian coast. This changed the way many researchers viewed this issue. This was later followed up in 1996 by the Indian remote sensing satellite of the Indian Space Research Organization, the color images of which also clearly showed marks of a palaeochannel as wide as 3 km to 12 km in the same stretch.

Furthermore, in 1998, there were 24 wells dug by the Central Ground Water Commission along the dry bed, all of which produced potable water but one. Also in 1998, after the Pokhran atomic test, the Baba Atomic Research Center (BARC) drilled down 70 meters for sub-soil water to confirm that the aquifers had not been affected by radioactive material and found that the water was of Himalayan origin from as far back as 14,000 years.

This discovery of the Sarasvati also solved the reason why there were alluvial deposits in the Gulf of Cambay, discovered in 1869 by archeologist Alex Rogue. It was odd because there was no known river that flowed from the Himalayas at the time. 17

THE DEMISE OF THE SARASVATI

        The Rig Veda describes the Sarasvati River as a mighty flowing river. So if we know that it dried up completely around 2000 BCE, and had to have been in the process of drying by 3000 BCE or before, then the Rig Veda had to have been written before it started to dry up. There is nothing in the Rig Veda about the Sarasvati diminishing in any way. However, we do find in the Mahabharata where the Sarasvati was decreasing to a shorter course, such as in 3.130.3; 6.7.47; 6.37.1-4; 9.34.81; and 9.36.1-2.

The Mahabharata (Shalya Parva, 36-55) also describes the Sarasvati in relation to Balarama’s pilgrimage, which He took to occupy Himself rather than participate in the war at Kurukshetra with His brother Lord Krishna. It states that the Sarasvati was still significant in its holiness, but from its origin it flowed only for a forty-day journey by horse into the desert where it disappeared. All that was left were the holy places that used to be on its banks (as also mentioned in 3.80.84; 3.88.2; & 9.34.15-8). The Mahabharata also describes the geographical location of the river, saying that it flows near Kurukshetra (3.81.125). Similar information along with the place where the Sarasvati disappears, Vinashana, is found in the Manu-samhita (2.21).

All of this also indicates that the Rig Veda had to have existed well before 2000 BCE because it is described therein that the Sarasvati was a mighty flowing river during the Rig Vedic times, before it finally dried in 2000 BCE. According to the Rig Veda (10.75.5-6), the Vedic people occupied the area from the Ganga in the east to the Indus in the west. And as we have established in Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence, the Harappan civilization was a part of the Vedic culture in the form of its continuance and diversity, or regional variations. In fact, the Rig Veda was already in existence before the Harappan Civilization came into its prime.

From other research we have found that the whole of the Sarasvati River had dried by about 2000 to 1800 BCE, and was at best a few small lakes. But the site of the Harappan Civilization called Kalibangan, that sits along the bank of the Sarasvati, after hydrological investigations (Raikes 1968), reveals that it was abandoned because of the drying up of the river. And this happened because of the rise of the Bata-Markanda Terrace in the Himalayas (Puri and Verma 1998). Even the Panchavimsha Brahmana (15.10.16) mentions the drying up of the Sarasvati. Radiocarbon dates also show that Kalibangan was abandoned around 2000 BCE. 18

Research explains that the demise of the Sarasvati River was caused by the lack of water it had previously received from the Yamuna, which had changed its course to flow eastward into the Ganga. Then the Sutlej also turned southwest, while the glacial melt also decreased, all of which greatly weakened the flow of the Sarasvati. This resulted in the Sarasvati disappearing into the desert at a place called Vinashana, or Samanta-panchaka in the Mahabharata, before it reached the sea. 19

This, along with the world drought that was known to have happened around 2200 to 1900 BCE, contributed to drying up the Sarasvati and Drishavati rivers and to the disappearance of the Harappan or Indus Valley Civilization. It also created the Thar desert. After this many people were forced to abandon this area and whatever towns and cities flourished there at that time. This massive worldwide drought not only impacted the Harappan civilization, but is also known to have affected or ended the civilizations of not only Egypt, but also of the Sumer-Akkad regions in Mesopotamia. All of this caused a deterioration of the Vedic bond in this area, and a rise in small political groups known as Janapadas, which is described in the Buddhist and Jain literature. Sanskrit also lost influence while Prakrits, regional languages, like Pali and Ardhamagadhi were used, as we find in the Buddhist and Jain texts of that era.

As further explained by N.S. Rajaram, it was sometime around 3000 BCE when the Yamuna River changed its course and started its flow into the Ganga River. This may have been due to earthquakes or something similar. That, of course, weakened the flow of the Sarasvati River, wherein it soon disappeared into the desert at a place called Vinashana. Some archeologists have identified this place as Kalibangan in Rajasthan, which is also where Harappan and pre-Harappan settlements have been found, as well as signs of possible earthquakes in the area. This corresponds to descriptions found in the Jaiminiya Brahmana and the Mahabharata.

The lower part of the Sarasvati River was still fed by the Sutlej and other rivers for some time, which continued to flow through the Thar desert and support some of the Harappan settlements in Rajasthan, Sindh and Cholistan to the Rann of Kutch. However, the Sutlej later also changed course, so this stretch of the river also dried up in stages from 2200 to 1900, when it is known to have disappeared completely, putting an end to whatever was left of the Harappan society in that area. This means that the Harappan civilization came to an end by natural causes, not any invaders, and then moved farther east into the Gangetic plains. Some Harappan people may have also moved westward into West Asia where the contributed to the growing tribes there. Some of the Kassite rulers seemed to have been of Indian origin who established an empire there.

Since Mohenjodaro and Harappa were first discovered in 1922, numerous other settlements have been uncovered, which now number over 2500, which stretches from Baluchistan to the Ganga and beyond, and down to the Tapti Valley. All of this covers nearly a million and a half square miles, all of which have been researched by archeologists. And 75% of all of these are concentrated around the dried up Sarasvati River bed. However, this also means that it was not an invasion that forced the abandonment of these towns and cities, but it was the drying up of the Sarasvati River, which was a catastrophe that lead to an outflow of people going in different directions from here to resettle elsewhere, especially into the Gangetic plain, but also including westward into Iran, Mesopotamia and other areas.

Even a most recent study, as reported in The Daily Mail in London, combining the latest archaeological evidence with state-of-the-art geoscience technologies provides evidence that climate change was a key ingredient in the collapse of the great Indus or Harappan Civilization almost 4000 years ago.

Liviu Giosan, a geologist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and lead author of the study published the week of May 28, 2012, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “We reconstructed the dynamic landscape of the plain where the Indus civilization developed 5200 years ago, built its cities, and slowly disintegrated between 3900 and 3000 years ago. Until now, speculations abounded about the links between this mysterious ancient culture and its life-giving mighty rivers… We considered that it is high time for a team of interdisciplinary scientists to contribute to the debate about the enigmatic fate of these people,” Giosan explained.

As the report related, the research was conducted between 2003 and 2008 in Pakistan, from the coast of the Arabian Sea into the fertile irrigated valleys of Punjab and the northern Thar Desert. The international team included scientists from the U.S., U.K., Pakistan, India, and Romania with specialties in geology, geomorphology, archaeology, and mathematics. By combining satellite photos and topographic data collected by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), the researchers prepared and analyzed digital maps of landforms constructed by the Indus and neighboring rivers, which were then probed in the field by drilling, coring, and even manually-dug trenches. Collected samples were used to determine the sediments’ origins, whether brought in and shaped by rivers or wind, and their age, in order to develop a chronology of landscape changes.

The new study suggests the same conclusions as had previously been arrived at by other researchers, that the decline in monsoon rains led to weakened river dynamics, and played a critical role both in the development and the collapse of the Harappan culture, which relied on river floods to fuel their agricultural surpluses.

From the new research, a compelling picture of 10,000 years of changing landscapes emerges. Before the plain was massively settled, the wild and forceful Indus and its tributaries flowing from the Himalaya cut valleys into their own deposits and left high “interfluvial” stretches of land between them. In the east, reliable monsoon rains sustained perennial rivers that crisscrossed the desert leaving behind their sedimentary deposits across a broad region.

The new research argues that the Sarasvati (Ghaggar-Hakra) was primarily a perennial monsoon-supported watercourse, and that aridification reduced it to short seasonal flows. Therefore, the conclusion of their research, in this regard, is that the slow drying of the Sarasvati River was the primary reason for the movement of the Indus Valley Civilization from the region, not invaders who took over the area. By 3900 years ago, their rivers drying, the Harappans had an escape route to the east toward the Ganges basin, where monsoon rains remained reliable. 20

LOCATION OF VINASHANA

        It is said that the place of Vinashana is where the Sarasvati River stopped flowing. However, not everyone is sure of exactly where it was located. Some historians and archaeologists locate it near Bharner, others near Kalibanga, and others in Rajasthan. But the popular convention of the lists of holy places in the Puranas locates it in the Kurukshetra region, Samanta-panchaka. Whereas the Padma Purana (18.247) seems to locate the site of Vinashana as far downstream as Pushkaranya. The Skanda Purana (Nagara Khanda, 164.39) appears to say that the flow of the Sarasvati went underground after it reached Pushkararanya in her westward flow.

As related in New Discoveries About Vedic Sarasvati, “Pushkararanya of Kurukshetra was the forest area located close to present Jind or Jayantika. Still this place is famous as Pokharan. There is a pond, which is known even today as a pond where Duryodhana hid himself after being defeated by Bhima in mace fighting. So it is crystal clear from this reference that Vinashana is located in Haryana itself and not Rajasthan.”

“Sridharasvani (c1400 AD) cited by C. Rayachaudhuri 21 in his gloss on Bhagavata Purana (1.9.1) locates Vinashana in Kurukshetra itself. The fact is that during the age of composition of the Brahmanas and Sutras, when the sacrificial cult was at its climax, the name of Vinashana stuck to one particular locality, which almost constantly remained humming with all sorts of sacrificial activity. As we have already described, Beri, close to Bisan, being such a holy place, the geographical identification of Vinashana of the Kurukshetra region with the area of Bisan near Beri of Rohtak will not be a farfetched one.” 22

The Bhagavata Purana (10.79.23) further describes Vinashana as the place where Balarama went to forestall the mace duel between Bhima and Durodhana, which gives more credence to the whereabouts of Vinashana, since the mace duel took place in the region of Kurukshetra. Plus, modern Bisan in Rohtak is a place close to Pokaran in Jind where Duryodhana, according to tradition, is said to have hid himself after his defeat in the duel. This is also in the region where Bhisma fell after the 18 days of battle in the war of Kurukshetra, which is a famous place near Kurukshetra.

THE ARGUMENT OF NO HORSE IN HARAPPA

        In analyzing the culture of the Harappans, one of the arguments has been that there was no horse, and that no horse bones have been found there. This is to justify the idea that the horse was not indigenous to the region and was brought into the area by invading Aryans. However, when we research the Harappan seals, we find what is called the Horse Seal, which means the horse had been a part of the Harappan culture. Furthermore, horse bones have been found at all levels at several Harappan sites. Furthermore, when deciphering the seals, the word ashva (a Sanskrit word for horse) is a commonly occurring word on the seals. Therefore, the idea of a horseless Harappan culture is a fallacy that has been proved wrong by evidence. 23 Horse remains have also been found in places like Koldihwa and Mahagara in the interior of India dating back to 6500 BCE.

As further elaborated by B. B. Lal: “A study of the horse anatomy shows that there were two types of horses in the ancient world that we still find today. There is an Indian type that has seventeen ribs and a West and Central Asian horse that has eighteen ribs. The Rig Vedic horse, as described in the Ashwamedha or horse offering of the Rig Veda, has thirty-four ribs (seventeen times two for the right and left side). (Rig Veda 1.162.18) This shows that the Rig Vedic horse did not come from Central Asia but was the South Asian breed. The Rig Vedic horse is born of the ocean, which indicates southern connections. (Rig Veda 1.163.1)”

As further explained, “Relative to the idea some people have that there are no horse remains at Harappa, Sir John Marshall who excavated Harappa and Mohenjodaro gave measurements of the horse remains he had found at Mohenjodaro (see his Mohenjodaro Indus Civilization, Vol.II, pages 653-4). Clay horse figurines, like the terracotta horse, have also been found from Lothal. In this regard, noted archeologist B. B. Lal states 24 :

“Even the much touted argument about the absence of the horse from the Harappan Civilization has no validity in the light of the new evidence regarding its presence. The noted international authority on the palaeontology of the horse, Sandor Bokonyi of the Archaeological Institute, Budapest, after duly examining the faunal remains concerned, had declared as far back as 1993 that ‘the domestic nature of Surkotada horse (a Harappan site in Kachchh) is undoubtful’” 25

Furthermore, Sir John Marshall, Director General of the Archaeological Survey, when excavating Harappa and Mohenjodaro, recorded the presence of what he called the “Mohenjodaro horse”:

“It will be seen that there is a considerable degree of similarity between these various examples, and it is probable the Anau horse, the Mohenjo-daro horse, and the example of Equus caballus of the Zoological Survery of India, are all of the type of the ‘Indian country bred,’ a small breed of a horse, the Anau horse being slightly smaller than the others.” 26

This is quite prominent evidence for the existence of the horse. However, the idea that if the horse was not already present in the Harappan area, that it was brought into ancient India by invading Aryans, then it would have to be proved, which is not actually possible because the Rig Veda (1.162.18) also describes the horse as having 34 ribs, with a similar description in the Yajur Veda, while the Central Asian horse as 36 ribs. This shows that the native Indian horse has been in India for many hundreds of years. This should clearly nullify the whole argument of no horse in the Harappa region, along with another factor used to try to justify the Aryan Invasion Theory.

The thing about the horse is that it was a greatly prized and valuable animal. So, there may not be many circumstances that would allow for horse bones to be found. However, the Sanskrit word for horse, ashva, is found 215 times in the Rig Veda. Also, many personalities had names connected with the word as well. Thus, the horse was highly valued.

The conclusions of whether the inhabitants of Harappa were Vedic Aryans or not were based on excavations in 1930-40 when they were not so complete, and when they found few remains of horses at the Harappan Indus sites, which gave way for the argument of no horse in Harappa. However, now that numerous sites along the Indus and the dried Sarasvati River have been excavated more thoroughly, bones of domesticated horses have been found at various locations. Dr. S. R. Rao, the renown archeologist, informs us that horse bones have been found from the “Mature Harappan” and “Late Harappan” levels of these sites. Many other scholars have also unearthed numerous bones of horses of both domesticated and combatant types. Thus, if any scholar still clings to the idea that the Indus Valley inhabitants can not be connected to or were not a part of the Vedic Aryan culture because of no horse remains, then they have not updated their research. This also clarifies the fact that this civilization was indeed a part of the Vedic culture.

Besides the evidence for horse bones being found at places already mentioned, Edwin Bryant describes additional places where the bones of horses have been found. “The report claiming the earliest date for the domesticated horse in India, ca. 4500 BCE, comes from a find from Bagor, Rajasthan, at the base of the Aravalli Hills (Ghosh, 1989). In Rana Ghundai, Baluchistan, excavated by E. J. Ross, equine teeth were reported from a pre-Harappan level (Guha and Chatterjee 1946, 315-316). Interestingly, equine bones have been reported from Mahagara, near Allahabad, where six sample absolute carbon 14 tests have given dates ranging from 2265 BCE to 1480 BCE. (Sharma et al. 1980, 220-221). Even more significantly, horse bones from the Neolithic site Hallur in Karnataka (1500-1300 BCE) have also been identified by the archaeozoologist K. R. Alur (1971, 123). These findings of the domestic horse from Mahagara in the east, and Hallur in the south, are significant because they would seem inconsistent with the axiom that the Aryans introduced the domesticated horse into the Northwest of the subcontinent in the later part of the second millennium BCE…

“In the Indus Valley and its environs, Sewell and Guha, as early as 1931, had reported the existence of the true horse, Equua caballus Linn from Mohenjo-Daro itself, and Bholanath (1963) reported the same from Harappa, Ropar, and Lothal. Even Mortimer Wheeler (1953) identified a horse figurine and accepted that ‘it is likely enough that camel, horse and ass were in fact all a familiar feature of the Indus caravan.’ Another early evidence of the horse in the Indus Valley was reported by Mackay, in 1938, who identified a clay model of the animal at Mohenjo-Daro, Piggott (1952, 126, 130) reports a horse figurine from Periano Ghundai in the Indus Valley, dated somewhere between Early Dynastic and Akkadian times. Bones from Harappa, previously thought to have belonged to the domestic ass, have been reportedly critically reexamined and attributed to a small horse (Sharma 1992-93, 31). Additional evidence of the horse in the form of bones, teeth, or figurines has been reported in other Indus sites such as Kalibangan (Sharma 1992-93, 31); Lothal (Rao 1979), Surkotada (Sharma 1974), and Malvan (Sharma 1992-93, 32). Other later sites include the Swat Valley (Stacul 1969); Gumla (Sankalia 1974, 330); Pirak (Jarrige 1985); Kuntasi (Sharma 1995, 24); and Rangpur (Rao 1979, 219).” 27

In spite of these considerable findings of the horse in ancient India, many archeologists ignored them and kept pointing back to the idea that the true domesticated horse was never known to the Harappans. This only kept the confusion of the real date for the Harappans and history of the Indus Valley Civilization in circulation, when actually it was something that would help show that it was an indigenous society.

THE URBAN OR RURAL ARGUMENT

        Another argument had been that the Harappan society was not part of the Aryan Civilization because Harappa was urban while the Aryans were rural pastoralists. Therefore, they had to be two separate societies. However, B. B. Lal explains: “Just as there were cities, towns and villages in the Harappan ensemble (as there are even today in any society) there were both rural and urban components in the Vedic times.” 28

S. P. Gupta also shares a similar thought on this that helps make it more clear that the Harappan or Indus Civilization was merely an outgrowth and a part of the Vedic culture: “Once it becomes reasonably clear that the Vedas do contain enough material which shows that the authors of the hymns were fully aware of the cities, city life, long-distance overseas and overland trade, etc… it becomes easier for us to appreciate the theory that the Indus-Sarasvati and Vedic civilizations may have been just the two complementary elements of one and the same civilization. And this, it is important to note, is not a presupposition against the cattle-keeping image of the Vedic Aryans. After all, ancient civilizations had both the components, the village and the city, and numerically villages were many times more than the cities. In India presently there are around 6.5 lakhs of villages but hardly 600 towns and cities put together…. Plainly, if the Vedic literature reflects primarily the village life and not the urban life, it does not at all surprise us.” 29

DECIPHERING THE INDUS SEALS

        Many scholars have suggested that the final clue in understanding the location of the Indo-Aryans would be if and when the Indus Seals could be deciphered. With the book of N. Jha and N. S. Rajaram, The Deciphered Indus Script: Methodology, Readings, Interpretations, it would seem that a big step in that direction has been made, if not completed.

With this new information, it would seem to corroborate the notion that in reality the Vedic Age was developed before the Indus Valley Civilization. Many scholars previously have tried to separate the two completely, saying that the Indus Valley Civilization, such as places like Harappa and Mohenjodaro were not a part of the Vedic culture, but that is not accurate. They indeed were a part of it, and their seals represented a form of the Vedic language. This would also indicate that a largely indigenous civilization must have been flourishing a thousand years before what became the development of Dynastic Egypt and Mesopotamia.

The Sarasvati-Indus Valley Civilization was probably in its prime about 3100 to 1900 BCE. But if we accept the dates that were given by Muller and his followers, that Vedic culture did not start until 1500 BCE, then that is why many are those that say Harappa and Mohenjodaro could not have been part of the Vedic Aryans. This brings us to what is called ” Frawley’s Paradox”, for as David Frawley points out, it gives us a history without a literature for the Harappans, and a literature without history, archeology or geography for the Aryans. This makes no sense. How can there be one without the other for any developed civilization?

Therefore, it becomes more apparent that the Vedic literature is far older than most thought, and the Harappans were a part of the Vedic culture. And the Indus seals help make that clear. It is generally accepted that the year 3067 is when the war at Kurukshetra took place. The Vedic Aryans were already well established and were a part of that war. This means that most if not all of the Rig Veda hymns had already been developed by 3500 BCE, not later, though they may have been written or compiled later. The Harappans had to have participated to some degree in that war. This was also about the time when the Indus seals had been formed. In fact, as N. S. Rajaram explains, “the Mahabharata, in the Shanti Parva, contains a description of the etymological texts whose contents are recorded on the seals, as well as the Vedic symbolism relating to the images on them… This is what holds the key not only to the decipherment [of the seals], but also to an understanding of the culture and civilization of the Harappans.” 30

In the deciphering of the Indus script, it was found that there are close connections between the structure of the Indus script and the rules of grammar and phonetics described in such primary works on Vedic Sanskrit as the Rik-Pratishakhya of Shaunaka, and the Nighantu by Yaska. This helped pave the way for understanding the seals. Many of the words on the seals can be traced back to the Nighantu.

Actually, several investigators before the publication of the work of N. Jha in 1996 recognized that the language on the Indus script had to be Vedic Sanskrit. N. S. Rajaram himself had concluded the writings were connected with the Sutras, based on short statements or meanings. In this way, the Indus seals have provided further insights into the original location and time period of the Vedic culture.

GENETICS SHOW AN EAST TO WEST MOVEMENT

        From the scientific perspective, Dr. Chandrakant Panse presented a paper that explained that the tissue antigens of the north and south Indians were completely distinct from those of the Europeans. “The stark lack of similarities in the gene pools of the Indian subcontinent and Europe, vividly evident in the mtDNA and the MHC complex, destroys any Aryan invasion notions, and confirms the genetic uniformity of people of the Indian subcontinent.” 31

Another aspect for the dismissal of the Aryan Invasion Theory based on genetics was reported in The Hindu newspaper on June 24, 2006. The report was that Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research, D. N. Tripathi, in Bangalore explained that geneticists from Pakistan had collected samples for genetics analysis of the people of the Indian subcontinent and sent them to cellular and molecular biology laboratories in the U.S. From the DNA tests of the blood samples from the people in the Indian subcontinent, the scientists concluded that the human race spread out of Africa 60,000 years before Christ. They had settled in the subcontinent region. However, from these tests, the geneticists concluded that people living in both the northern and southern regions of India, and those in the West Asian region were from the same gene pool. This indicated that the human race had its origins in Africa and not Europe or Central Asia, as claimed by a few historians, and then went primarily to and spread out from ancient India. 32

When asked about the argument of many historians that the lineage of people in north India is traced to the Aryans outside of India who later entered or invaded India, Professor Tripathi said that test results had proved this wrong. “We have the results of studies. The conclusion of some historians that Aryans came here 1500 years before Christ does not hold water.”

As further explained in this regard by N. S. Rajaram, “A particular trait that we choose as characterizing a population group is called a genetic marker. One such marker that has proven useful is the M17 genetic marker. It is common in India and in adjacent regions, but becomes increasingly rare as we move westward into Europe. This, combined with the fact that Indian carriers of M17 are genetically more diverse than European carriers shows that the Indian population is older than the European.” 33

“Noting that the mtDNA is carried by the female line, while Y-chromosome is passed on through the male line, what this means is that the Indian population is largely indigenous in origin and has received negligible external input (gene flow) since the end of the last Ice Age (Holocene). This means that various migration theories like the Aryan invasion in 1500 BCE simply cannot be true.” 34

Furthermore, the Oxford geneticist Stephen Oppenheimer is quite clear on this and, while focusing on the M17 marker, explains: “… South Asia is logically the ultimate origin of M17 and his ancestors; and sure enough we find highest rates and greatest diversity of the M17 line in Pakistan, India and eastern Iran, and low rates in the Caucasus. M17 is not only more diverse in South Asia than in Central Asia, but diversity characterizes its presence in isolated tribal groups in the south, thus undermining any theory of M17 as a marker of a ‘male Aryan invasion’ of India.”

“One age estimate for the origin of this line in India is as much as 51,000 years. All this suggests that M17 could have found his way initially from India or Pakistan, through Kashmir, then via Central Asia and Russia, before finally coming to Europe.” 35

He also explains that the eastward movement of those people with the M17 marker traveled from India westward through Kashmir, Central Asia, up into Russia and then into Europe after 40,000 BP (38,000 BCE). Thus, as we have been saying, all migration in this regard has been from the east westward. 36

So the conclusion is that there could have been no thing called the Aryan Invasion as some propose, and that the tribal people of India are ancestrally no different than the rest of the Indian population. Therefore, anyone saying something different is only proposing such for some special interest or divisive purpose, and, thus, they should not be trusted. There are many of us who have known this, but it can take a long time to continue gathering enough evidence to present it in a way that establishes the truth. Furthermore, the divisions in India known as the northern Aryans and the southern Dravidians is also a fallacy based on conjecture, used now only to facilitate “special interests” that need to divide people for political, financial or other reasons.

In this way, we can understand that the idea that the Vedic culture and people of the area now called India have not developed out of invaders who are said to have brought the culture to the region. The idea that the Vedic and Dharmic culture was brought out of the Caucasus and into ancient India cannot be taken seriously without losing one’s credibility. If anything, it is the Europeans who are descendants of the migrants from India, going back as far as 40,000 years, making them a younger population than the much older Indian population.

All of this also pushes the dates back much farther by several thousand years than the foolishly proposed guestimate of 1500 BCE.

CONCLUSION:

THERE NEVER WAS ANY ARYAN INVASION

        Though there have been many scholars and researchers who have written and provided evidence that establishes that there never was an Aryan invasion, and that the Vedic people and its culture were indeed originally from the area of India, Nicholas Kazanas, the Greek professor, was the most recent to provide evidence and articles that were published in academic journals, thus forcing the academics to take another look at this issue. The theory of the Aryan invasion still has held much influence, if not bias and prejudice, at the way academics view the history of India, which is something that should have changed and been corrected years ago. Thus, after years of promoting the Aryan Invasion Theory, and then rejecting it after having done his own research, Kazanas concludes:

“The Aryan Invasion Theory, despite its 150-year-long life, has no real support anywhere except continued prejudice. It has now been substituted in a similar shameless frame of mind, by ‘migration’ of an alleged complex and, to the archaeologist or anthropologist, incomprehensible nature; this is a deception, since the aryanisation of North India on so an enormous a scale could not possibly have been effected without conquest and coercion–for which there is no testimony of any sort. Why this preposterous proposition should have acquired the status of historical fact among serious Indologists is for me a mystery. There may have been racist prejudice as many writers aver (Shaffer 1984; Leach 1990; Frawley 1991, 1994; Feuerstein 1995; Trautman 1997; Bryant chs 1-2, 13; many Indian writers like Talageri 2000, and Indian-American Kak 2000); this was perpetuated by mechanical repetition rather than logical consideration. Renfrew too was right perhaps in seeing nothing in the Rig Veda demonstrating that the Indoaryans ‘were intrusive to the area: this comes rather from a historical assumption about the ‘coming of the Indoeuropeans’ (1989: 182)…

“In sharp contrast, all the primary materials of a historian agree in showing no evidence at all for any entry. On the contrary, such testimony as had been preserved, early historical documentation and later traditions testify that Indoaryans are indigenous to Saptasindhu [land of seven rivers in Northern India]. These traditions (corroborated by foreign writers of the 4th cent BC) affirm that the Indoaryans have been in Saptasindhu since at least the 4th millennium [BCE]; this is now fully supported by Archaeoastronomy which places the great Bharata war at 3067, a Brahmana text c 3000 – 2900 and the Vedanga Jyotish c 1800. Given that archaeologists, anthropologists et all, specializing in the prehistory of that area, affirm unequivocally since 1980 that the local culture has an uninterrupted continuity since c 7000 (except for a break in the skeletal record c 4500), we can say that the Indoaryans have been in North India since that time. There is also the fact that the Rig Veda knows nothing of elements in the Indus-Sarasvati-Civilization whereas the later texts have these elements; moreover even in very late hymns the Sarasvati is a large river supporting the Aryans on its banks: therefore the Rig Veda must belong to a period before 3000.” 37

This is an important point, that the Vedic texts make no mention of any entry into the region by outside invaders, or that they were a part of a culture of invaders. Plus, due to their content, it can be discerned that they had to have been existing before 3000 BCE.

In the Rig Veda (and later Indic texts) there is no hint of any invading Aryas coming into the Sarasvati or Saptasindhu, the area of the seven rivers in North India and Pakistan. A. B. Keith 38 wrote, “It is certain… that the Rig Veda offers no assistance in determining the mode in which the Vedic Aryans entered India… the bulk at least [of the Rig Veda] seems to have been composed rather in the country round the Sarasvati River.” 39

The Vedic texts further refer to people being exiled or driven away from the area of northern India, such as in the Aitareya Brahmana (8.33.6 or 8.18) which tells of how the sage Vishvamitra exiled his 50 disobedient sons so that, in later periods, most of those people called the Dasyus are known as the descendants of Vishvamitra. Therefore, the Rig Veda provides no reference for an Aryan entry or displacement of the natives, but points out how Aryans and Dasyus went westward from the area of Northern India. 40

Therefore, the idea that the Indoaryans migrated into the vast area of the Sarasvati region, including the Punjab, Gujarat, Haryana, and so on, back in 1700 to 1500 BCE at which time the local natives learned the complicated language of the Vedic Aryans, after which numerous mountains, rivers, etc., suddenly had Sanskrit names is something you might find in a fairy tale rather than real history. There is no real explanation for this to have happened [except that they were an indigenous people]. 41

Because of these factors, there have been those who always spoke against the idea of an Aryan Invasion. Vivekananda was one such strong opponent of the Aryan Invasion Theory. He boldly challenged in this way (5:534-535): “And what your European pundits say about the Aryans swooping down from some foreign land, snatching away the lands of the aborigines and settling in India by exterminating them, is all pure nonsense, foolish talk! In what Veda, in what Sukta do you find that the Aryans came into India from a foreign country? Where do you get the idea that they slaughtered the wild aborigines? What do you gain by talking such nonsense? Strange that our Indian scholars, too, say amen to them; and all these monstrous lies are being taught to our boys!… Whenever the Europeans find an opportunity, they exterminate the aborigines and settle down with ease and comfort on their lands; and therefore they think the Aryans must have done the same!… But where is your proof? Guess work? Then keep your fanciful ideas to yourself. I strongly protested against these ideas at the Paris Congress. I have been talking with the Indian and European savants on the subject, and hope to raise many objections to this theory in detail, when time permits. And this I say to you–to our pundits–also, ‘You are learned men, hunt up your old books and scriptures, please, and draw your own conclusions.’”

Dayananda Sarasvati (February 12, 1824 to September 26, 1883), the founder of the Arya Samaj (1875), was another who had strong words against it: “No Sanskrit book or history records that the Aryas came here from Iran… How then can the writings of foreigners be worth believing in the teeth of this testimony.”

We cannot forget Aurobindo who had voiced his opinion about this many times, such as: “The indications in the Veda on which this theory of a recent Aryan invasion is built are very scanty in quantity and uncertain in significance. There is no actual mention of any such invasion.” 42

Jim Shaffer, a western archeologist, was another to strongly protest the idea of an Aryan invasion. In his article, The Indo-Aryan Invasions: Cultural Myth and Archaeological Reality, he explains how he thinks after all of his work and research: “Current archaeological data do not support the existence of an Indo-Aryan or European invasion into South Asia at any time in the pre- or protohistoric periods. Instead, it is possible to document archaeologically a series of cultural changes reflecting indigenous cultural development from prehistoric or historic periods… The Indo-Aryan invasion as an academic concept in 18th– and 19th-century Europe reflected the cultural milieu of that period. Linguistic data were used to validate the concept that in turn was used to interpret archaeological and anthropological data. What was theory became unquestioned fact that was used to interpret and organize all subsequent data. It is time to end the ‘linguistic tyranny’ that has prescribed interpretive frameworks of pre- and protohistoric cultural development in South Asia.” 43

After having done extensive research into the issue at hand, Nicholas Kazanas explains how he came to his own conclusions: “Having held and taught for more than 18 years, but without investigating, the received doctrine that the Indo-European branches dispersed from the South Russian or Pontic Steppe (as per Mallory 1997, 1989; Gimbutas 1985, 1970; and others), and that the Indo Aryans had entered Saptasindhu c1500 [BCE], I began to examine these mainstream notions thoroughly and in c1997 abandoned them. I decided that no evidence of any kind supported them; on the contrary, the evidence showed that by 1500 [BCE] the Indo Aryans were wholly indigenous and that the elusive Indo-European homeland was very probably Saptasindhu and the adjacent area–the Land of Seven Rivers in what is today N-W India and Pakistan; this area could well have extended as far northwest as the Steppe.

“Apart from the recent genetic studies, which at the time were not so well-known nor so secure, the decisive evidence for me now is the antiquity of Sanskrit, indicated by its inner coherence and its preservation of apparently original PIE [Proto-Indo-European] linguistic features (like the dhatu, five families of phonemes, etc) and cultural elements. The Vedic language as seen in the RV alone, despite much obvious attrition and several innovations, has preserved many more features from the putative PIE [Proto-Indo-European] language and wider culture. This was due to its well attested and incomparable system of oral tradition which preserved the ancient texts fairly intact and continued even into the 20th century. An oral tradition of this kind cannot be maintained by a people on the move for decades if not centuries over many thousands of miles, as the AIT proproses. Such a tradition could be preserved only by a sedentary people where the older generation would have the necessary leisure to pass the communal lore to the younger one.” 44

Kazanas also brings up the argument that even if the Vedic Aryans had been maintaining their language and literacy during an invasion or migration into the Saptasindhu region, why then is there no mention of it in any of the Vedic literature? Why was there no mention of their travels, mishaps, dangers in meeting alien people, etc? The reason is simple: they did not migrate, but were the original inhabitants of the area.

The only reason that has kept this defective and deformed doctrine alive is the personal and political interests that had an agenda to fulfill for their own purposes. There have been those, as there still are, who have a purpose in demeaning and belittling the Indian Vedic tradition and its early history. Even, as odd as it may seem, many Indian scholars also dumb-down the profound history and nature and the early advanced developments that came out of ancient India. Hopefully they will stop doing this and actually take a deep interest and research into their own culture to see what it really had to offer, and still does offer the world of today. Why not? What do they have to lose? That is the telltale question.

Therefore, as Nicholas Kazanas summarizes, which I quote because I could not say it better than he does, “Let us hope that the noxious AIT and all notions rooted in it will sooner than later end up in the only place they should be–the dustbin of history.” 45

SCHOLARS WHO BELIEVE IN THE FALSE HISTORY OF INDIA ARE A DYING BREED

        Now that India has been free for a number of decades from British rule, researchers, historians, and archeologists can all begin to take a new look at the true history of India. We can have a more unbiased view of the numerous new findings that keep cropping up that give an increasingly accurate understanding of how ancient and how advanced was the Indian Vedic civilization. Now more than ever there is a serious lack of support and opposing evidence for the theories that were made popular by the British, such as the Aryan Invasion Theory, or that it was the invading Muslims who gave India the great contributions to Indian art, music, or even architecture. With the newer and more accurate historical findings, many of these ideas are falling apart like a house of cards.

These days there is much more evidence being presented by newer, younger and bolder researchers that show the falsity of these antiquated ideas. Furthermore, there are also more questions that are no longer answered by the old beliefs about India’s history and the Aryan Invasion Theory. The theories of the old scholars are being overturned.

We also see that new students of archeology and history are hesitant to accept these ideas in the face of the newer findings and evidence that keep being discovered, such as the latest discovery (January, 2002) that ancient Indian civilization could date back to 9,000 years ago.

I have even talked to some students who are informed about the truth of Indian history and archeology who confronted their professors about the outdated inaccuracies and overtly misleading information that they were teaching in schools and universities. One professor admitted that it was wrong, but she had to teach it because it was in the book the college was using and that is what she had to teach.

I have even had friends discuss with educated Muslims the idea that many ancient buildings of India were not built by the Muslim invaders who have been given the credit, but were only captured them, and they readily agreed that anyone who really knew their history would admit this was the case. There was no argument with this. India had the mathematics (Shulba Shastras) and architectural treatises and abilities, along with knowledgeable craftsmen, to have built such structures, while the invading Muslims did not bring such knowledge and facility. In fact, the chronicle of Al Biruni, who accompanied Mahmoud Ghazni, relates the surprise and awe of the Muslim invaders to see such buildings. Thus, such structures had to have already been in existence.

It is interesting that the common laypersons are quicker to see the logic in the new research findings and in considering these new architectural discoveries than the academic scholars. The academicians who cling to such old ideas tend not to write more books justifying what they teach, but seem to spend more time on trying to debunk, criticize or discredit the new findings or theories that seem more relevant and able to answer or put to rest the age-old questions. Just a few of these questions include: Where is the pre-Aryan language that existed if the people of India were not part of the Vedic culture? What existed in India before the Vedic culture, if it was brought by invaders? If the Vedic Aryans invaded the Indus region after 1500 BCE, then how is it that the Vedas glorify the greatness of the Sarasvati River which is known to have dried up no later than 1800 BCE? How did the Vedic Aryans know of the Sarasvati River at all, unless they were already there and a part of the advanced Vedic culture from thousands of years ago? How is it that Arabic and European countries were able to make advancements in mathematics only after they learned the numeric system that originated in India, now called the Arabic numerals, with its unique symbol of zero? Why, when we seriously look at the way the area of India, the Middle East and Europe developed, it appears that the advanced nature of society came from India rather than from outside? When we read in the Puranas of the advanced organizational nature of the Vedic cities and their fabulous palaces and buildings such as in Dwaraka as found in the Bhagavata Purana, why should we think that India had no amazing structures before the Muslim invaders entered the country? Should we think that ancient Indians only lived in forests and tents? That is what it seems many academicians would have us believe. Anyway, these and other questions have not and can not be answered by the old ideas on India’s history such as the Aryan Invasion Theory.

So it is unfortunate that many of these academics still hold on to these ideas as the basis of their views. The reason why some of these academics take this so personally is that they have the most to lose. The basis of their job, or their own identity, and their value to society and the whole basis of everything they thought they knew about history becomes threatened if it is proved that what they have been teaching is false.

The fact of the matter is, unfortunately, and as we can plainly see, much historical analysis is but a big ego trip; theories and opinions meant to do little more than support the premise of the superiority of one culture over another. There is a need to take a new look at reason and cultural development without this sort of interference of ego.

Now more than ever before truth is prevailing, and the corruption of the British and Muslim theories and stories that have been put forth to demean India and the Indian race and its Vedic culture is being recognized on an increasing scale. For this reason, the academics that still cling to such theories as the Aryan invasion are a dying breed. Maybe then we can be free from their closed-minded prejudice that came from the theories and attempted validations meant to do nothing but support the premise of the superiority of the European and Caucasian races over the darker skinned Indian people.

Eventually, truth prevails. And after a few hundred years of ideas that were purposely contrived to demean the culture and history of India, we are now learning that the truth is quite different, and India was more advanced than the old British theories give it credit. And we can see that these old theories are falling by the way side.

The threat to the Aryan Invasion Theory is coming as a surprise only to those who have not kept up with, or outrightly rejected, all the new evidence that is continually being uncovered, and all the new questions that cannot be substantiated by such concepts as the Aryan Invasion Theory. Thus, it is a revolution that is going in like a needle and out like a plow to propose that the Aryan Invasion is but a fictional account, and that the Muslims who invaded India merely captured the major monuments of India without really building them.

As time goes on, more and more evidence will accumulate to show the truth of India’s Vedic history. As the evidence mounts, the old theories will slip away and anyone still clinging to such ideas as the Aryan invasion or the false history of India’s architectural wonders will only look foolish. It is taking some time to reveal this truth, but out of all the cultures of the world, it is India that has best withstood the tests of time and remains the oldest living culture in the world. And this is not due to remaining dependent on the views of outsiders who think they know India’s culture and history better than Indians, or those who still are influenced by the stories of India from invaders and dominators who disliked or even despised India and its people.

Now is the time for those of us connected with, or who appreciate India’s historical and Vedic culture to unite and work to reveal the true and advanced nature of India’s timeless Dharmic tradition, and its advancements, which were already in existence before the credits of its wonders were attempted to be taken by outsiders.

NOTES

1. G. P. Singh, Facets of Ancient Indian History and Culture.

2. David Frawley, The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India, Voice of India, New Delhi, 2002, p. 43.

3. Bal Ram Singh, Editor, Origin of Indian Civilization, Center for Indic Studies, Dartmouth, USA, 2010, p. 15.

4. B. B. Lal, Origin of Indian Civilization, Edited by Bal Ram Singh, Center for Indic Studies, Dartmouth, USA, 2010. p. 23-24.

5. Ibid., p. 24.

6. Max Muller, Biographies of Words and the Home of the Aryas, by London, 1888, p. 120.

7. Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, The Vedas, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1988, p. 16.

8. N. S. Rajaram, The Politics of History, Voice of India, New Delhi, 1995, p. xvi.

9. B. B. Lal, Origin of Indian Civilization, Edited by Bal Ram Singh, Center for Indic Studies, Dartmouth, USA, 2010. p. 26.

10. Kazanas, Origin of Indian Civilization, Edited by Bal Ram Singh, Center for Indic Studies, Dartmouth, USA, 2010, p. 57.

11. B. B. Lal, The Home land of the Aryans, Evidence of Rig Vedic Flora and Fauna and Archeology, Aryan Books International, Delhi, pp. 85-88.

12. N. S. Rajaram, Origin of Indian Civilization, Edited by Bal Ram Singh, Center for Indic Studies, Dartmouth, USA, 2010, p. 166-67.

13. Ibid., p. 167.

14. Origin of Indian Civilization, Edited by Bal Ram Singh, Center for Indic Studies, Dartmouth, USA, 2010, p. 17.

15. Kazanas, Origin of Indian Civilization, Edited by Bal Ram Singh, Center for Indic Studies, Dartmouth, USA, 2010, p. 54.

16. Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Navaratna S. Rajaram, Hidden Horizons, Unearthing 10,000 Years of Indian Culture, Swaminarayan Aksharpith, Ahmedabad, India, 2006, p. 64-65.

17. Pride of India: A Glimpse into India’s Scientific Heritage, Samskriti Bharati, New Delhi, 2006, p. 78-79.

18. B. B. Lal, Origin of Indian Civilization, Edited by Bal Ram Singh, Center for Indic Studies, Dartmouth, USA, 2010, p. 34.

19. Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Navaratna S. Rajaram, Hidden Horizons, Unearthing 10,000 Years of Indian Culture, Swaminarayan Aksharpith, Ahmedabad, India, 2006, p70-71)

20. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2151143/Climate-change-wiped-worlds-great-civilisations-4-000-years-ago.html.

21. C. Rayachaudhuri, Studies in Indian Antiquities, Calcutta, 1958, p. 134.

22. Dr. Ravi Prakash Arya, New Discoveries About Vedic Sarasvati, Indian Foundation for Vedic Science, Rohtak, Haryana, India, 2005, p. 26.

23. N. Jha and N. S. Rajaram, The Deciphered Indus Script, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 2000, p. 162.

24. Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Navaratna S. Rajaram, Hidden Horizons, Unearthing 10,000 Years of Indian Culture, Swaminarayan Aksharpith, Ahmedabad, India, 2006, p.106.

25. B. B. Lal, Homeland of the Aryans: Evidence of Rig Vedic Flora and Fauna and Archaeology, pp. 80-81.

26. Sir John Marshall, Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilization, Vol. II, p. 654.

27. Edwin Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 170-171.

28. B. B. Lal, Colonialism, Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Archaeology, Parts 1 and 2, Review of Archaeology 18, no. 2:1-14 and 35-47, 1997, p. 285.

29. S. P. Gupta, The Indus Sarasvati Civilization, Pratibha Prakashan, 1996, p. 147.

30. N. Jha and N. S. Rajaram, The Deciphered Indus Script, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 2000, p. 31.

31. Chandrakant Panse, DNA, Genetics and Population Dynamics: Debunking the Aryan Invasion Propaganda, Professor of Biotechnology, Newton, Massachusetts. Paper presented at the Third Annual Human Empowerment Conference at Houston, Texas, September, 2005.

32. http://www.thehindu.com/2006/06/24/stories/2006062412870400.htm.

33. N. S. Rajaram, Origin of Indian Civilization, Edited by Bal Ram Singh, Center for Indic Studies, Dartmouth, USA, 2010, p. 171.

34. Ibid., p. 173.

35. Stephen Oppenheimer, Out of Eden: The Peopling of the World, Constable, London, 2003, p. 152.

36. Stephen Oppenheimer, The Real Eve: Modern Man’s Journey Out of Africa, Carroll & Graf, 2003, p. 152.

37. Nicholas Kazanas, Indo-Aryan Origins and Other Vedic Issues, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 2009, p. 62-3.

38. A. B. Keith, The Age of the Rigveda, Cambridge History of India, Vol. I, 1922, pp. 77-113.

39. Nicholas Kazanas, Indo-Aryan Origins and Other Vedic Issues, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 2009. p. 9.

40. Nicholas Kazanas, Indo-Aryan Origins and Other Vedic Issues, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 2009, p. 10-11.

41. Ibid., p. 243.

42. Shri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda, Shri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1971, p. 24.

43. Jim Shaffer, The Indo-Aryan Invasions: Cultural Myth and Archaeological Reality (in The People of South Asia, 77-90. Ed. John Lukacs, Plenum Press, New York, 1984, p. 88.

44. Nicholas Kazanas, Indo-Aryan Origins and Other Vedic Issues, by Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 2009, p. 302.

45. Ibid., p. 328.

This is now available as a Amazon.com Kindle Ebook for $2.99 at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AEIHF2Y and at all Amazon.com international outlets.

Using Proper Vocabulary to Describe Vedic Concepts, by Stephen Knapp

            Time and time again I see and hear the most improper words used to describe various concepts of the Vedic tradition. The peculiar thing is that this happens not only amongst non-Indians, as you might expect, but also amongst Indian Hindus, even scholars who should know better, and even amongst Indian gurus and teachers. Why should we surrender to the use of words given by foreigners and non-Dharmists that often so inaccurately describe the specific concepts found within the Vedic tradition? Some Vedic writers have written about this before, but it is still an issue that does not seem to be resolved, or people simply don’t understand the damage it can do. So let us take a few examples.

            MYTH OR MYTHOLOGY: This is a word that I see used on a regular basis when describing what some people call the “Hindu or Vedic mythology.” Don’t people understand what they do when they use this word? When you say mythology you immediately take away all reason for taking the Vedic texts seriously, such as the Puranas, Mahabharata and Ramayana. When you describe them as myths, you are indicating that they are just fiction, nothing more. They may convey some ideas or principles in them, but the events that they describe have no other purpose. Or that the stories have nothing to do with history or actual events that have taken place.

            The dictionary describes the meaning of the word myth as a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation. This is especially the case when the story is concerned with deities or demigods and includes some practice, rite, or supernatural aspect of nature, all of which are in the realm of myth. Thus, such stories are accepted as invented ideas to include some concept, but it basically imaginary or fictitious. Thus, all places, persons, things, and events in the story have no basis in fact but is a false collection of mere beliefs.

Even the Sanskrit root of the word “myth” means fiction. So why should we use this word? Or is this all the credit we intend to give to the Itihasas and other Vedic texts? 

The fact of the matter is that many scholars of Vedic literature and its traditions have discovered that the stories found therein are filled with historical events and descriptions. They are not fiction. So, naturally, the point is that the word myth or mythology, when using it in connection with the Vedic stories, is completely incorrect. Therefore, we should simply stop using it in connection with our Vedic tradition and its ancient texts.  

             IDOLS AND STATUES: Here are another few words that I hear people use all the time, even India gurus and spiritual teachers, in relation to the deities in the temple. The deities in Sanskrit are called murtis. And when the murtis or deities have undergone the Prani Pratishta ceremony, which calls and invites the Divinity to accept the form of the deity and the service that we can offer to Him or Her, the deities are then accepted as having the life force of the particular Divinity residing within. Thus, they are no longer mere idols or statues, but are indeed worshipable. But as soon as you say idol or statue, you are again taking away all credibility from the image and indicating that it is merely stone, paint, or wood, and nothing more. This is a complete misrepresentation of the true meaning of the deity. Therefore, we should stop using these words in relation to the deities in the temples. 

             RELIGION: This word is also easily used in connection with Hindu or Vedic Dharma, as if it is just another religion. So why shouldn’t we call it a religion?

            The word yoga, based on yuj, the root of the word, means to “link up” or “unite.” Interestingly enough, the word religion is based on the Latin word religio, which means to “bring back” or “to bind.” What is to unite with or to bind to is the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. This involves uniting one’s body, mind, will, emotions, and intellect to God while becoming detached or less attracted to the material world. Thus, the ultimate aim of yoga and religion is the same, which is to spiritualize our consciousness, transcend all forms of temporary material happiness and distress, and increase our understanding and realization of the Supreme.

            However, religion is usually accepted to mean that we establish our relationship with God through the church or some institution or church authority, and in that way we attain salvation, or are “saved” from our sinful ways. And if we do not have a proper or approved connection with the church, mosque, or some authority in the religion, then we have no relationship with God. Whereas dharma means to reawaken what is already there, and act according to our duty as a spiritual being. This means that we are not necessarily “saved” from our sins and brought to God, but we merely reawaken our spiritual identity and then, with proper guidance, we learn how to act in that way. In other words, we are already a spiritual being with a connection with God. It only has to be reawakened. This is the path of dharma, which brings us to the state of dharma, or spiritual balance and realization. The premise is that we are always a spiritual being and are connected with God, and we merely use whatever tools the Vedic tradition provides to act in that way and to realize and perceive our spiritual identity and connection with God. By such guidance, knowledge and realization, we begin to perceive the spiritual dimension and our existence in it. It is not that someone or some institution is the via media between us and God and give us the means to be “saved”, but we have to do the work ourselves but with the assistance of God and the Vedic system. It depends on us. We cannot simply sit back and think we can do whatever we want because we are “saved.” But we must still work to spiritualize our consciousness to reach moksha, liberation from material existence by entering the spiritual domain.

            Furthermore, when it comes to understanding the meaning of Sanatana-dharma, we have to be aware of its Sanskrit definition. The root of the word dharma comes from dhri, which means to uphold or maintain. The Sanskrit says dharayati iti dharmaha, which translates as dharma is that which upholds. However, not only what is supported is dharma, but that which does the supporting is also dharma, dhriyate iti dharmaha. So dharma consists of both the force that sustains as well as what is sustained. It can also be said that there is the path of dharma as well as its conclusion, the object of dharma, or what we are seeking, the goal of life. So dharma is the means as well as the goal.

Dharma is also said to be the force which maintains the universe. Where there is dharma there is harmony and balance individually, socially, and inter-galactically. So the path of dharma brings about the harmony and contentment that is also another aspect of what we are seeking. In this way, we want harmony inwardly, in our own consciousness, but we also cannot have individual peace unless there is harmony or cooperation socially, amongst the masses. So where there is no dharma, there is disharmony and a state of being that is out of balance. And socially it means that without dharma, there is a lack of cooperation, along with escalating quarrel and fighting. When we act against the law of dharma, we disrupt the very harmony and cooperation that we want.

Doing what should not be done is called vidharma, which is a type of adharma or nondharmic activity. The conclusion, therefore, is that if we want happiness and peace we must learn how to live according to the path of dharma.

The practice of dharma should be done not out of compulsion but out of love due to the perception of the Supreme in all living beings. With this motivation, dharma can assist in preventing injury to others and treating each other respectfully. Dharma also means righteous conduct. This includes following social laws and proper moral activity and behavior. It encourages truthfulness of thought, word and deed. The point of which is to reach the goal of dharma.

Dharma also means truth. So we follow the path of dharma to free ourselves from illusion and reach the ultimate Truth, which is the topmost reality, the spiritual strata. The Absolute Truth means the final philosophical goal and end of all knowledge, or Vedanta, which is God, the Supreme Being. So when we want to attain liberation from material existence, after realizing the futility of its temporary nature, and wish to reach God, then it becomes much easier to follow the path of dharma and overcome the temptations of the temporary material world. Then we can let go of the illusory objects that are, in fact, hurdles on the path to Truth and God, and happiness in general.

On a national, ethnic, or racial level, dharma is an instrument of unity, not divisiveness. That which helps unite everyone and develop love and universal brotherhood is dharma. That which causes discord or disharmony or provokes hatred is adharma. And we can plainly see that many religions, being based on the idea that they are the only way to God, actually perpetuate differences between us all, especially with such ideas that say some are “saved”, and those who are not are going to eternal damnation. Thus, it becomes obvious that the basis for many quarrels in the world is the differences in religions.

That which works against or tries to destroy dharma is adharma. With this understanding we can perceive that certain religions that exist on this planet actually encourage divisiveness between those that are “saved” and those that are supposedly going to hell, or those which primarily focus on differences between their sect and others. This is actually adharmic. Those religions that do not teach that we are all spiritual beings, all children of the same God, all equal in the eyes of God, are adharmic. They may merely be limited in their depth of knowledge and awareness, but until they adopt the dharmic principles they will continue to produce disagreements, restlessness, harsh attitudes and even hatred amongst people in the name of religion. The reason is that they are absent of real transcendental knowledge and deep spiritual insights. Since such religions lack dharma, they will not be able to deliver one to dharma, or to the Absolute Truth. They remain too much absorbed in the bodily condition of life. Thus, lack of peace and harmony amongst various religions will be commonplace until this is remedied. In this way, the path of dharma is more than a religion or belief system. It is the means to directly perceive and live according to that higher reality and spiritual unity between us all. Therefore, the Vedic path is not merely a religion, it is Sanatana-dharma.

 HINDU: This is another word that has been given to the people who practice the Vedic tradition by outsiders and which does no justice for expressing any concept or idea about the Vedic tradition. It is odd that in some circles if you use the word Hindu, you are frowned upon, while in other circles if you do not use the word, they feel you are offensive. There is much that has been discussed about this label, and I have fully written about it elsewhere. But for the above reasons in regard to Sanatana-dharma, we should also consider how accurate or inaccurate the name Hindu really is, and why we should continue to use it, except due to over-familiarity with it by most people. Otherwise, I would prefer, as a follower of Sanatana-dharma, to be called a Dharmist or something like that. At least that label is certainly connected with the actual Sanskrit upon which the Vedic practice is based.

             CASTE: This is another word that carries much baggage with it, and as soon as you mention it, you get people who want nothing to do with it, or who require a long explanation about what it really is. Here again is a word that comes from outsiders that give a misconception about what should be called by its proper Sanskrit term, varna, and not caste.

            Caste is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as “an endogamous and hereditary social group limited to persons of the same rank, occupation, and economic position.” The word caste is derived from the Romance word casta (seen in Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian), which (in addition to representing the same concept as English caste) can mean “lineage” or “race.” It comes from Romance casto, which can mean “pure” or “chaste.” Casto in Latin means “chaste,” which is derived from castus, meaning “pure, cut off, separated.”

            What is also explained is “What remains, however, and is common to many cultures is the “outcaste,” the people considered below the level of common humanity of all the others, “untouchable.” They and their descendants, the dalit in India, the burakumin in Japan, the baekjeong in Korea, all have faced discrimination, and some continue to do so today.” [http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Caste_system]

            The problem with this is that in the Vedic tradition, no one was considered an untouchable or something sub-human. In the Vedic system, outcastes were those who were so materialistic, or evil, or barbaric that they would not follow any portion of the progressive Vedic principles. So where do you put them?  

            So this should make the foreign origins of the word obvious, and make us ask again why we have surrendered to using a term that immediately misrepresents the real concept of varna and varnashrama dharma. As we have written elsewhere, the system of Vedic varna was never to restrict the upward progress of a person, but was meant to encourage it as a social design for the growing progress of a individual, the contentment of one in their occupation and contributions to society, while still making proper spiritual advancement. One’s varna as judged by birth alone, which is the way things seem to be in the modern caste system, was never established in the Vedic system. In fact, there are shastric injunctions and rules that establish the direct opposite of that. However, once one’s varna was established by their talents, abilities, interests, level of intelligence, etc., than that was considered the best classification for an occupation for that person to reach perfection in life. Thus, again, we should use the word varna and not caste to help establish what was really meant by the social design for humanity in the Vedic tradition. 

            HINDU MONKEY GOD: This is another demeaning label when describing Hanuman. But I have even heard Indian gurus use this term. If you cannot say Hanuman, then it may be better to just keep quiet. The point is that it indicates that Dharmists worship monkeys as gods, without understanding that Hanuman was not merely a monkey. He was part of a specific race of beings that existed and helped Lord Rama in His pastimes of rescuing Sita, as explained in the Ramayana. Hanuman was also known as the son of Vayu, the god of the winds. This is why Hanuman was so strong, could jump fantastic distances, and was able to live so long. He was an extraordinary being, and people still worship him as the most exemplary devotee of Lord Rama, and who can give blessings for us to increase our own devotion to God. So to call him the “monkey god” is a complete disregard and misrepresentation of what and who he really is.

            However, this could also be said when we refer to Lord Ganesh as the “elephant god.” He was far more than an elephant. Plus, saying that he is “the Hindu elephant god” again creates demeaning and inaccurate impressions in the minds of people that we worship elephants as gods, when the respect and admiration for Lord Ganesh is far more specific than that. Therefore, once again, to more accurately describe who and what they really are, we should use the correct terminology and title for the Divinities in the Vedic tradition. 

            HINDU TERRORISTS: This is another phrase that is a contradiction in terms. I have always said that Hindus make lousy terrorists, which means they just don’t have it in their hearts to do such things. They are generally the most tolerant of all people. And I have seen so many times when there has been some terrorist activity that is blamed on Hindus, it usually comes out, after proper investigation, that someone else was the cause, yet the media does little to apologize for improper information, or to correct the report, or change public opinion. So whenever Hindus try to provide the proper information, or defend themselves from those who try to demean or criticize them, or who try to defame their culture, they are immediately called communalists or “saffronites,” as if they are simply trying to “saffronize” the nation, which means make everything a part of Vedic culture.

            So when the term Hindu Terrorism, or saffronization, or communalists comes up, you can be pretty sure that it is merely for the convenience of politicians trying to blame an easy target to get the votes of non-Hindus in India. Or it is because of the secular (meaning the non-Hindu) media who try to show their impartiality by being anti-Vedic and anti anyone who is following Vedic Dharma. All this needs to change. But Dharmists / Hindus in general need to be less apathetic when it comes to speaking out against such things, or for voting good politicians into office in India, if there are any good politicians in India.

For example, I once gave a lecture at a temple in Mumbai to a crowd of about 1500 people. As I was talking about the politicians in India who actually work against the Vedic tradition and Hindu population, I asked how many people voted in the last election. Not one hand went up. This is another of those things that need to change. Politicians will never care about the Hindu people if they won’t vote. They will always cater to those who will support them. And, meanwhile, the anti-Vedic people will gain more power and control at the expense of the Dharmists who will become overruled by those who participate in politics and the electoral process. This means that gradually Dharmists will continue to watch as more and more of their freedoms are taken away. Yet, if they do not do anything about it, what else can they expect?

            Therefore, it is time for people who follow Sanatana-dharma to unite and make a stand for what they want in their own future. Otherwise, as the generations unfold, the new youth will be increasingly less loyal or interested to participate in or preserve whatever remains of the Vedic tradition. Using the above points and changing our vocabulary in regard to the words that are mentioned herein and many others will help at least a little to change that scenario.

Prophet Mohammed: Is He Really Predicted in the Vedas

 The Bhavishya Purana has a reference regarding someone named Mahamada, which some people are very eager to make the claim that it means Prophet Mohammed, thus saying that the Prophet is predicted in the Vedic literature. But before we come to that conclusion, with additional research, let us take a closer look to see what the full reference to Mahamada really says.

It is explained in the Bhavishya Purana (Parva 3, Khand 3, Adhya 3, verses 5-6) that “An illiterate mleccha [foreigner] teacher will appear, Mahamada is his name, and he will give religion to his fifth-class companions.” This does not describe much in regard to his life, but it does mention someone by the name of Mahamada, and what he was expected to do, which was to give his own form of religion to the lower classes of his region. Some people suggest this person to be Prophet Mohammed, and are, thus, most willing to accept that Prophet Mohammed was predicted in the Bhavishya Purana. Some Muslims then suggest that if he was predicted in this way by a Vedic text, then Hindus should all accept Mohammed and become Muslims. However, on the other hand, it would seem odd that Muslims would accept a Vedic text to try to convince Hindus to become Muslims. But if we look at the full translation of this story, they may not want to jump to the conclusion that this story represents Prophet Mohammed.
So here is the Roman transliteration of the Sanskrit in the Bhavishya Purana, however accurate it may be (Prati Sarga: Part III, 3.3.5-27).
mahamadh ithi khayat, shishya-sakha-samniviyath 5
……. mahadev marusthal nivasinam.
mahadevthe snanya-pya punch-gavua samnivithya
tripurarsur-nashav bahu-maya pravathiney 7
malech-dharma shav shudhaya sat-chit-anandaya swarupye,
thva ma hei kinkare vidhii sharanaghatham 8
suta uvacha: ithi shurthiya sthav deva shabadh-mah nupaya tam,
gath-vaya bhojraj-ney mahakhaleshwar-sthale 9
malech-shu dhushita bhumi-vahika nam-vishritha
arya dharma hi nav-vathra vahike desh-darunya 10
vamu-vatra maha-mayi yo-sav dagdho myaa pura
tripuro bali-daithyane proshith punaragath 11
ayoni sa varo math prasava daithyo-vrudhan
mahamadh ithi khayath , paishacha-kruthi thathpar 12
nagathvaya thvya bhup paisachae desh-vartake
math prasadhayane bhupal tav shudhii prajayathe 13

thi shruthva nupshav svadesha-napu maragmath
mahamadh toi sdhav sindhu-thir mupaye-yav 14
uchav bhupati premane mahamadh-virshad
tva deva maharaja das-tva magath 15
mamo-chit sabhu jiya-dhatha tatpashya bho nup
ithi shruthya ththa hata para vismaya-magath16

malechdhano mathi-shasi-tatsaya bhupasaya darutho17
tucha tva kalidas-sthu rusha praah mahamadham
maya-thei nirmithi dhutharya nush-mohan-hethvei 18
hanishyami-duravara vahik purusha-dhamum
ityak va sa jidh shrimanava-raja-tathpar 19
japthya dush-sah-trayach tah-sahansh juhav sa
bhasm mutva sa mayavi malech-dev-tva-magath 20
maybhithashtu tachya-shyaa desh vahii-kamayuuah
guhitva svaguro-bhasm madaheen tva-magatham 21
swapiit tav bhu-ghyot-thro-shrumadh-tathpara
madaheen puro jath thosha trith sayam smurthaum 22

rathri sa dev-roop-shav bahu-maya-virshad
paisacha deha-marathaya bhojraj hi so trivith 23
arya-dharmo hei to raja-sarvoutham smurth
ishapraya karinayami paishacha dharma darunbhu 24
linga-chedri shikhaheen shamshu dhaari sa dhushak
yukhalapi sarva bhakshi bhavishyat jano maum 25
vina kaul cha pashav-thosha bhakshava matha maum
muslanav sanskar kushariv bhavishyat 26
tasman-musal-vanto hi jathiyo dharma dhushika
ithi pishacha-dharma mya kruth 27

 

To set the scene, in this section of the Bhavishya Purana, Shri Suta Gosvami first explained that previously, in the dynasty of King Shalivahana, there were ten kings who went to the heavenly planets after ruling for over 500 years. [This gives these kings roughly 50 years of rule for each one.] Then gradually the morality declined on the planet. At that time, Bhojaraja was the tenth of the kings on the earth [who would have ruled about 450 years after King Shalivahana]. When he saw that the moral law of conduct was declining, he went to conquer all the directions of his country with ten-thousand soldiers commanded by Kalidasa. He crossed the river Sindhu [modern Indus River] going northward and conquered over the gandharas [the area of Afghanistan], mlecchas [present-day region of Turkey], shakas, Kashmiris [Kashmir and present-day Pakistan], naravas, and sathas. Crossing the Sindhu, he conquered the mlecchas in Gandhar and the shaths in Kashmir. King Bhoj grabbed their treasure and then punished them.
Then, as verses 7-8 relate, the Aryan King Bhojaraja, who had already left India for the lands across the Sindhu River and to the west, meets Mahamada [some say this is Mohammed], the preceptor of the mleccha-dharma [religion of the mlecchas], who had arrived with his followers. Thereafter, however, the King went to worship the image of Lord Mahadev, the great god Shiva, situated in the marusthal, desert. King Bhoj bathed the image of Shiva with Ganges water and worshiped him in his mind with panchagavya (the five purificatory elements from the cow, consisting of milk, ghee, yogurt, cow dung, and cow urine), along with sandalwood paste, etc., and offered him, the image of Shiva, sincere prayers and devotion. King Bhoj prayed to Lord Mahadev, “O Girijanath who stays in the marusthal (land of deserts), I offer my prayers to you. You have forced maya [the illusory energy] to destroy Tripurasur [the demon Tripura]; but the mlecchas are now worshiping you. You are pure and sat-chit-anand swaroop [eternal knowledge and bliss]. I am your sevak [servant]. I have come under your protection.”

Verses 10-27 relates next that Suta Goswami explained: After hearing the king’s prayers and being pleased with him, Lord Shiva said: “Let the King go to Mahakaleshwar (Ujjain) in the land of Vahika, which is now contaminated by mlecchas. O King, the land where you are standing, that is popular by the name of Bahik, has been polluted by the mlecchas. In that terrible country there no longer exists Dharma. There was a mystic demon named Tripura (Tripurasura), whom I have already burnt to ashes once before, he has come again by the order of Bali. He has no origin but he achieved a benediction from me. His name is Mahamada and his deeds are like that of a ghost. Therefore, O king, you should not go to this land of the evil ghost. By my mercy your intelligence will be purified.” [This would seem to indicate that this Mahamada was an incarnation of the demon Tripura.] So hearing this, the king came back to his country and Mahamada came with them, but only to the bank of the river Sindhu. He was expert in expanding illusion, so he said to the king very pleasingly, “O great king, your god has become my servant. Just see, as he eats my remnants, so I will show you.”

The king became surprised when he saw this happening before them. Then in anger Kalidasa, the king’s commander, rebuked Mahamada, “O rascal, you have created an illusion to bewilder the king, I will kill you, you are the lowest…” Then the king left that area.

Later, in the form of a ghostly presence, the expert illusionist Mahamada appeared at night in front of King Bhojaraja and said: “O King, your religion is of course known as the best religion among all. Still, by the order of the Lord, I am going to establish a terrible and demoniac religion and enforce a strong creed over the meat-eaters [mlecchas]. My followers will be known by their cut [circumcised] genitals, they will have no shikha [tuft of hair on their head, like Brahmanas], but will have a beard, make noise loudly, and eat all kinds of animals except swine without observing any rituals. They will perform purificatory acts with the musala, and thus be called musalman, and not purify their things with kusha grass [one of the Vedic customs]. Thus, I will be the originator of this adharmic [opposed to Vedic or Aryan Dharma] and demoniac religion of the meat-eating nations.” After having heard all this, the Bhavishya Purana goes on to relate that King Bhojaraja returned to his land and palace, and that ghost of the man also went back to his own place.

It is lastly described how the intelligent king, Bhojaraja, established the language of Sanskrit amongst the three varnas — the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas — and for the Shudras he established prakrita-bhasha, the ordinary language spoken by common men. After ruling his kingdom for another 50 years, he went to the heavenly planets. The moral laws established by him were honored even by the demigods. The arya-varta, the pious land is situated between Vindhyachala and Himachala, or the mountains known as Vindhya and Himalaya. The Aryans reside there, but the varna-sankaras reside on the lower part of Vindhya. The musalman people were kept on the other [northwestern] side of the river Sindhu.

* * *

Thus, from the interpretations of the present editions of the Bhavishya Purana that are available, it seems to say there was someone named Mahamada that King Bhojaraja met in the desert, who was supposedly a reappearance of the Tripura demon, who would start his own religion for those mlecchas who are unable to follow the spiritual codes of the deeper aspects of spiritual culture, or Vedic Dharma, and who would also spread adharma, or that religion that would be opposed to Vedic Dharma. Plus, Mahamada knew and accepted the depth of the Vedic spiritual path and admitted to its superiority. But is Mahamada really Prophet Mohammed?

Let me assure everyone that this section is not a commentary on Prophet Mohammed or Islam, and is only an explanation of what is said in the Bhavishya Purana. But since some people accept this to be a prediction, we need to take a closer look at it.

So, the first few lines of this translation does seem to hold a possibility of referring to the Prophet. But after that, it could be questionable whether a person would really want to accept this story to be about Prophet Mohammed or not.

Historically, however, we know that Prophet Mohammed was born between 570-580 CE, became interested in religion at age 40, preached in Mecca for 10 years, and then went to Medina in 621 CE at age 51 when he finally established a following. He started engaging in armed conflict in 624 CE, gained possession of Mecca in 630, and died in 632 CE at age 62. So, he would have had to have met King Bhojaraja only after he had a following, between the years of 621 and 632. That is an extremely narrow eleven-year window of time. However, herein it also says that Mahamada went with King Bhojaraja to the Sindhu River, but there is never any historical record that Prophet Mohammed personally went to that area, which establishes another doubt of whether this could have been the Prophet.

Furthermore, even though it is described how King Bhojaraja conquered over the gandharas [the area of Afghanistan], mlecchas [present-day region of Turkey], shakas, Kashmiris [Kashmir and present-day Pakistan], naravas, and sathas, it never mentions that he went into the area of central Saudi Arabia where he would have had to go in order to meet the Prophet at the particular time when the Prophet had a following.

Plus, if King Bhojaraja was the tenth king after Shalivahana, who was supposed to have existed about the time of Jesus Christ, according to the evidence provided in the previous section, that would mean that this king lived about 450 to 500 CE. This is too early to allow for a possibility to have met the Prophet. However, there are a few King Bhojaraja’s that are recorded in history. The one in the Bhavishya Purana is noted as intelligent, and who “established the language of Sanskrit amongst the three varnas — the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas — and for the Shudras he established prakrita-bhasha, the ordinary language spoken by common men.” The King Bhojaraja who was known for being a Sanskrit scholar is credited with being the author of two books, the Saraswatikanthabharana, and the Shringaraprakasha. Of these, the first is a compendious volume in five chapters, dealing with the merits and defects of poetry, figures of speech, language, etc. However, this scholar King Bhojaraja is said to have lived from 1018 to 1054 CE. This is way too late to have enabled him to personally have met the Prophet.

Therefore, at least with the present information that is available, we are left to conclude that, though King Bhojaraja may have indeed met a person named Mahamada, the meeting between the king and Prophet Mohammed as an accurate historical event is extremely unlikely. Thus, in this description from the Bhavishya Purana, Mahamada is not the Prophet. Beyond this point of view, is this a later interpolation? Who can say? Or is this is a prophecy in an allegorical form? That would be left to one’s own opinions or sentiments.

*  *  *

Was Prophet Muhammad in the Vedas?

Starting With the Rig-Veda

In this article we will take a look at some of the verses in the Vedas that some people, such as Dr. Zakir Naik, say that Mohammed is mentioned or foretold in them. This is a summary based on the research by Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari and others, and shows that these verses in fact do not speak of Prophet Mohammed, but are used in a way that is based on mistranslations to justify that idea.

First of all, the Rig-Veda is globally recognized and accepted as the oldest book created by man and hence if it could be shown that there is mentioning of Prophet Mohammed in that text, it will be immensely helpful to paint the Arabian Prophet as a divine personality. Not only that, it will be helpful to deceive the Hindus and convert them to Islam. So, it does not become difficult to understand what has inspired Dr Zakir Naik and others to discover the mentioning of Mohammed in the Rig-Veda and in other Vedic texts. But as his investigation culminated into a failure, he had no other way but to apply stupid arguments to befool the kafirs and infidels but to twist the meanings and translations into something different, all the while acting most scholarly and convincing.

First of all, we should see what the Rig-Veda actually says about Prophet Muhammad. It should also be mentioned at the outset that two Sanskrit words śaṃsata and narāśaṃsa play the central role in these arguments of such people as Zakir Naik. According to him, the word śaṃsata stands for an individual who praises. In Arabic, such an individual is called Ahammad, the other name of Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, wherever he could find the word śaṃsata, he took it as the mentioning of their Prophet.

According to him, the second word narāśaṃsa means an individual who is to be praised or who is praiseworthy. The Arabic word Muhammad means a man who is praiseworthy. So, wherever he could have found the word narāśaṃsa in any Sanskrit texts, he took it to be a mentioning of Muhammad.

In fact, both the Sanskrit words śaṃsata and narāśaṃsa stand for a deity or God, who is praiseworthy. According to Sāyana, the most reputed commentator of the Vedas, the word narāśaṃsa means a deity or a respectable entity (not a man) that deserves to be praised by man.

However, we should have a closer look to see what Zakir Naik has to say. According to him, the verses (1/13/3), (1/18/9), (1/106/4), (1/142/3), (2/3/2), (5/5/2), (7/2/2), (10/64/3) and (10/182/2) of the Rig-Veda contain the word narāśaṃsa, and hence mention Muhammad, and the verse (8/1/1) of the Rig-Veda contains the word śaṃsata (Ahmmad), or the other name of Muhammad. So here he begins with another blatant lie and says that the word śaṃsata stands for a man who praises, the Arabic equivalent of Ahammad and hence mentions Muhammad. The said verse (8/1/1) of the Rig-Veda reads:

Mā cidanyadvi śaṃsata sakhāyo mā riṣṇyata l
Indramitstot ā vṛṣaṇaṃ sacā sute muhurukthā ca śaṃsata ll (8/1/1)

“Glorify naught besides, O friends; so shall no sorrow trouble you. Praise only mighty Indra when the juice is shed, and say your lauds repeatedly.” (Translation: R T H Griffith; The Hymns of the Ṛgveda, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi; 1995, p-388). So the word śaṃsata (praiseworthy) in the above verse refers to deity Indra, and not a man who praises (Ahammad) as claimed by Dr Zakir Naik.

We shall now see what the verses containing the word narāśaṃsa say. In Rig-Veda, a verse is refered as (x/y/z), where x stands for Mandala, y stands for Sukta and z stands for the Verse or Ṛk. The verse (1/13/3) of Rig-Veda, as mentioned above, belongs to 13th Sukta of the 1st Mandala. It should also be noted here that every Sukta of the Rig-Veda is dedicated to a deity. The presiding deity of the 13th Sukta of the 1st Mandala is Agni (the God of Fire). The verse says:

Narāśaṃsamiha priyamasminajña upahvaye l
Madhujihvat haviṣkṛtam ll (1/13/3)

“Dear Narāśaṃsa, sweet of tongue, the giver of oblations, I invoke to this our sacrifice.” (tr: ibid, p-7)

As Agni is the deity of the entire 13th Sukta, there is no doubt that the word narāśaṃsa (praiseworthy to man) in the verse refers to Agni. One should also note that the word narāśaṃsa does not signify a man who is praiseworthy, as some people claim.

The verse (1/18/9) of the Rig-Veda says:
Narāśaṃsaṃ sudhṛṣṭamamapaśyam saprathastam l
Divo na sadmakhasam ll (1/18/9)

“I have seen Narāśaṃsa, him most resolute, most widely famed, as ‘twere the Household Priest of heaven.” (tr: ibid, p-11)

The 18th Sukta, to which the verse belongs, is dedicated to Brahmaṇaspati, the Priest of heaven and hence the word narāśaṃsa (praiseworthy to man) in this verse refers to Brahmaṇaspati, the Priest of heaven.

The verse (1/106/4) of the Rig-Veda says:
Narāśaṃsaṃ vajinṃ vajayinniha kṣayadvīraṃ pūṣaṇaṃ summairī mahe l
Rathaṃ na durgādvasava sudānavo viśvasmānno ahaṃso niṣpipartana ll (1/106/4)

“To mighty Narāśaṃsa, strengthening his might, to Pūṣaṇa, ruler over men, we pray with hymns. Even as a chariot from a difficult ravine, bountiful Vasus, rescue us from all distress.” (tr: ibid, p-69)

The 106th Sukta of 1st Mandala, to which the verse belongs, is dedicated to the Viśvadevas, and hence the word narāśaṃsa (praiseworthy to man) in this verse refers to the Viśvadevas, again not to Mohammed.

The verse (1/142/3) of the Rig-Veda says:
śuci pāvako adbhuto madhvā yajñaṃ mimikṣati l
narāśaṃsasthrirā divo devo deveṣu yajñiyaḥ ll (1/142/3)

“He wondrous, sanctifying, bright, sprinkles the sacrifice with mead, thrice, Narāśaṃsa from the heavens, a God amid Gods adorable.” (tr: ibid, p-98)

The 142nd Sukta, to which the verse belongs, is dedicated to the deity Āprī, and hence the word narāśaṃsa in this verse refers to Āprī. Most of the scholars agree that Āprī is the other name of Agni and hence the word narāśaṃsa in this verse refers to Agni, the god of fire.

The verse (2/3/2) of the Rig-Veda says:
Narāśaṃsaḥ prati dhāmānyañjan tisro div prati mahṇā svarciḥ l
Ghṛtapruṣā manasā havyamundanmūrdhanyajñasya sanamaktu devān ll (2/3/2)

“May Narāśaṃsa lighting up the chambers, bright in his majesty through threefold heaven, steeping the gift with oil diffusing purpose, bedew the Gods at chiefest time of worship.” (tr: ibid, p- 132)

Like the earlier one, 142nd Sukta of 1st Mandal, this present 3rd Sukta of 2nd Mandala, is dedicated to the deity Āprī or Agni and hence the word narāśaṃsa in this verse refers to Agni the Fire God.

The Verse (5/5/2) of Rig-Veda says:
Narāśaṃsaḥ suṣūdatīmṃ yajñamadābhyaḥ l
Kavirhi madhūhastāḥ ll (5/5/2)

“He, Narāśaṃsa, ne’er beguiled, inspireth this sacrifice; for sage is he, with sweets in hand.” (tr: ibid, p- 240)

This 5th Sukta of 5th Mandala is also dedicated to Āprī or Agni and hence the word narāśaṃsa in this verse refers to Agni the Fire God.

The verse (7/2/2) of Rig-Veda says:
Narāśaṃsasya mahimānameṣamupa stoṣāma yajatasya yajñaiḥ l
Ye sukratavaḥ śucayo dhiyandhāḥ svadanti devā ubhayāni havyā ll (7/2/2)

“With sacrifice to these we men will honor the majesty of holy Narāśaṃsa – to these the pure, most wise, the thought-inspires, Gods who enjoy both sorts of our oblations.” (tr: ibid, p- 334)

Again this 2nd Sukta of 7th Mandala is dedicated to Āprī or Agni, and hence the word narāśaṃsa in this verse refers to Agni the Fire God.

The verse (10/64/3) of the Rig-Veda says:
Narā vā śaṃsaṃ pūṣṇamagohyamagni deveddhamabhyarcase girā l
Sūryāmāsā candramasā yamaṃ divi tritaṃ vātamuṣasamaktumaśvinā ll (10/64/3)

“To Narāśaṃsa and Pūṣaṇ I sing forth, unconcealable Agni kindled by the Gods. To Sun and Moon, two Moons, to Yama in the heaven, to Trita, Vāta, Dawn, Night and Aśvins Twain.” (tr: ibid, p- 578)

This 64th Sukta of 10th Mandala is dedicated to the Viśvadevas, and the word narāśaṃsa in this verse refers to the Viśvadevas.

The verse (10/182/2) of Rig-Veda says:
Narāśaṃso na avatu prayāje śaṃ no astvanuyajo habeṣu l
Kṣipadaśtimapa durmati hannathā karadyajamānāya śam ṣoḥ ll (10/182/2).

“May Narāśaṃsa aid us at Prayāja; blest be out Anuyāja at invokings. May he repel the curse, and chase ill-feeling, and give the sacrificer peace and comfort.” (tr: ibid, p- 650)

The 182nd Sukta of 10th Mandala, to which the above verse belongs, is dedicated to Vṛhaspati, and hence the word narāśaṃsa refers to Vṛhaspati, the Priest of the Gods.

Another verse (1/53/9) of the Rig-Veda says,
Tvametāñjanarājño dvirdaśābandhunā suśravasopajagmaṣaḥ l
ṣaṣtiṃ sahasrā navatiṃ nava śruto ni cakreṇa rathyā duṣpadā vṛṇak ll (1/53/9)

“With all-outstripping chariot-wheel, O Indra, thou far-famed, hast overthrown the twice ten Kings of men, with sixty thousand nine-and-ninety followers, who came in arms to fight with friendless Suśravas.” (tr: ibid, p-36)

To narrate the incident, Sayana, the renowned commentator of the Rig-Veda, says that twenty kings with a force, 60,099 strong, attacked the King Suśrava (Prajapati) and Indra alone defeated them and frustrated their ambition (the Vayu-Purana also narrates the incident).

Most of the scholars agree that the Rig-Veda was composed more than 5000 years BCE, and hence the incident narrated in the verse (1/53/9) took place more than 7000 years ago. And Muhammad conquered Mecca in 630 AD. But Zakir Naik has proceeded to link the incident with Muhammad’s capturing Mecca, which any sane man, except a Muslim, would feel shy to undertake. To give his mischief a shape, he has, firstly replaced the word Suśrava with Suśrama and says that the word Suśrama stands for one who praises, and hence equivalent to Ahammad in Arabic, the other name of Muhammad. And he claims that the verse narrates Muhammad’s conquering Mecca, as the then population of the city was about 60,000 and Muhammad had invaded Mecca with 20 of his closest followers. It is not difficult for the reader to discover the absurdity of this claim and the deceit involved with making it.

The verse (8/6/10) of the Rig-Veda says,
Ahamiddhi pituṣpari medhamṛtasya jagrabha l
Ahaṃ sūrya ivājrani ll (8/6/10)

“I from my Father have received deep knowledge of the Holy Law: I was born like unto the Sun.” (Tr: ibid, p- 396).
In this verse the word ahamiddhi stands for “I have received.” But as the word spells like Ahammad, the other name of Muhammad, Zakir Naik claims that the verse mentions Muhammad, which shows how he is prone to error on account of his Islamic bias.

Thus we have studied all the verses of the Rig-Veda which, according to Naik, mention Muhammad. It has been said above that the Sanskrit word narāśaṃsa stands for a deity or God who is praiseworthy to man, but not a man who is praiseworthy to other men, which is what Naik claims. So, according to this kind of childish logic, whenever someone uses the word “praiseworthy,” it should be taken granted that he mentions Prophet Muhammad. But that is far from the truth.

However, the intellectual level of those who try to use these techniques of mistranslations are revealed when they try to do the same thing with the word narāśaṃsa in other Vedas, like Atharva-Veda and Yajur-Veda and is again projecting them to be mentioning Prophet Muhammad. Though it is sheer wastage of time to deal with the utterances of such insane people as this, we may discuss these matters more thoroughly in the future. In the meantime, many are those who are realizing the confusing and inaccurate conclusions such as these and are losing confidence in such people who depend on this kind of tactic, as they also become an embarrassment to the religion they represent.

Debunking the Atharva-Veda Connection
Atharva-Veda, HYMN CXXVII

A hymn in praise of the good Government of King Kaurama

1 Listen to this, ye men, a laud of glorious bounty shall be sung. Thousands sixty, and ninety we, O Kaurama, among the Rusamas have received.
2 Camels twice-ten that draw the car, with females by their side, he gave.
Fain would the chariot’s top bow down escaping from the stroke of heaven.
3 A hundred chains of gold, ten wreaths, upon thee Rishi he bestowed,
And thrice-a-hundred mettled steeds, ten-times-a-thousand cows he gave.
4 Glut thee, O Singer, glut thee like a bird on a ripe-fruited tree.
Thy lips and tongue move swiftly like the sharp blades of a pair of shears.
5 Quickly and willingly like kine forth come the singers and their hymns:
Their little maidens are at home, at home they wait upon the cows.
6 O Singer, bring thou forth the hymn that findeth cattle, findeth wealth. p. 364
Even as an archer aims his shaft address this prayer unto the Gods.
7 List to Pariksit’s eulogy, the sovran whom all people love,
The King who ruleth over all, excelling mortals as a God.
8 ‘Mounting his throne, Pariksit, best of all, hath given us peace and rest,’
Saith a Kauravya to his wife as he is ordering his house.
9 ‘Which shall I set before thee, curds, gruel of milk, or barley-brew?’
Thus the wife asks her husband in the realm which King Pariksit rules.
10 Up as it were to heavenly light springs the ripe corn above the cleft.
Happily thrive the people in the land where King Pariksit reigns.
11 Indra hath waked the bard and said, Rise, wander singing here and there.
Praise me, the strong: each pious man will give thee riches in return,
12 Here, cows! increase and multiply, here ye, O horses, here, O men.
Here, with a thousand rich rewards, doth Pūshan also seat him-self.
13 O Indra, let these cows be safe, their master free from injury.
Let not the hostile-hearted or the robber have control of them.
14 Oft and again we glorify the hero with our hymn of praise, with prayer, with our auspicious prayer.
Take pleasure in the songs we sing: let evil never fall on us.

This hymn is merely a praise of King Kaurama (probably of Rajasthani origin). Some people, like Zakir Naik, have tried to twist this to mean that the first 13 verses tell the story of Mohammed! “Kaurama” actually means “born of a noble family” and has nothing to do with referring to Mohammed. It is closely related with the term Kaurava. And “Kuntapa” merely means the internal organs in the belly and has no alternate meaning as “safe journey” or as such. Sanskrit words aren’t as multi-layered as Arab words. All the verses in the Atharva-Veda from 126-133 are considered Kuntapa, but only one mentions a desert.

The Sama-Veda Connection

Some people (and you can guess who) think that the Sama-Veda, Book II, Hymn 6, verse 8, refers to Mohammed.

The verse –

1. Indra whose jaws are strong hath drunk of worshipping Sudaksha’s draught,
The Soma juice with barley brew.
2. O Lord of ample wealth, these songs of praise have called aloud to thee,
Like milch-kine lowing to their calves!
3. Then straight they recognized the mystic name of the creative Steer,
There in the mansion of the Moon.
4. When Indra, strongest hero, brought the streams, the mighty waters down,
Pushan was standing by his side.
5. The Cow, the streaming mother of the liberal Maruts, pours her milk,
Harnessed to draw their chariots on.
6. Come, Lord of rapturous joys, to our libation with thy bay steeds, come
With bay steeds to the flowing juice
7. Presented strengthening gifts have sent Indra away at sacrifice,
With night, unto the cleansing bath.
8. I from my Father have received deep knowledge of eternal Law:
I was born like unto the Sun.
9. With Indra splendid feasts be ours, rich in all strengthening things, wherewith,
Wealthy in food, we may rejoice
10. Soma and Pushan, kind to him who travels to the Gods, provide
Dwellings all happy and secure.

So some people say that verse eight says “Ahmed acquired from his Lord the knowledge of eternal law. I received light from him just as from the sun.” Then they associate the word as Ahmed to be Mohammed. But let us understand the verse accurately.

In these verses, Indra is strengthened with Soma sacrifice and the Priests cry out for Indra’s arrival. The priests recognize the name of the creative Seer – the personification Soma, there in the mansion of the moon – which in Vedic symbolism, resembles a drop of Soma. Next, Indra’s legendary battle with Viritra the dragon who holds back the waters of the Earth is reflected and it is seen how Indra brings the streams towards Earth with Pushan by his side. The description of a cow pouring forth her milk is also given and is thought akin to Indra’s action. Then, the priests once again call to Indra as the lord of joy to give his strengthening gifts to Soma and Indra doing so, fades away. The Priests partake in the Soma and receive knowledge of the eternal law – the law that governs nature (no Law in the ‘Jurisdiction’ sense) and share a feeling of warmth as if they were born unto the Sun. Once again, the Soma is praised for its strengthening qualities. Soma the personification and Pushan thus travel to the Gods.

Soma is a non-intoxicant juice from a certain vine that is burnt in Vedic rituals and the leftover remnants are eaten. This is not done anymore because nobody knows what the Soma plant is (presumed extinct). The Soma plant is renown for its strengthening properties and is drunk before war. Indra is a deity especially fond of Soma.

So the conclusion for this verse from the Sama-Veda is that there is no place for any “Ahmed” in this verse either storywise or literarywise. Adding “Ahmed” here is saying the grammatically incorrect (the Veda is gramatically perfect) – “Ahmed have received.” And besides, it is akin to saying Mohammed himself did the ritual to Indra’s glory, and partook in the leftovers and knew the Sharia – which is once again akin to idolatry for Muslims. The phrase “I from my father” seems second most likely (it refers to the Priests receiving knowledge from “Soma” about the Eternal Law) but the most likely seems to be Aham + Atha. It would translate the sentence to – “I now have received the eternal law.”

*  *  *

We could go on like this, and other people have, and compare additional verses from the Vedas to show how by mistranslations, people have tried to place references to Prophet Mohammed in them, thus misleading the public into thinking that the Vedic literature was advocating and giving credence or even prophecies to the Prophet Mohammed, but no such honest references can be found therein. It is another trick, the type of which is becoming increasingly common in order to persuade people to drop out of the Dharmic spiritual path and to convert to something else.

Such trickery is only successful with those who are under-educated in the Vedic philosophy, and are used by those who still lack genuine spiritual depth that can itself attract people. When that is missing, then they have to resort to all kinds of deceit and trickery, or worse, such as types of violence and attacks, to show the superiority of their religion. This is a pathetic technique but seems to be the last resort of those religions who especially want to gain popularity without showing a truly deep and sacred and enlightening spiritual path that is meant solely for the upliftment of the individual and society in general, rather than control through dogma and peer pressure and status from a growing congregation.

 

Why All Religions Are Not the Same, by Stephen Knapp

Why All Religions Are Not the Same

By Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa)

              It is often said by some Hindu gurus and leaders that all religions are the same. But is this really the case? Naturally, anyone who studies religion can see many similarities between them. And if we are talking about getting closer to God and increasing our understanding and love for God, then what religion is not trying to do that? Who cannot go to a church, mosque, or temple and worship and bow to God in prayer? It is what many of us do no matter where we may be. So, what is the difference? Are not all religions the same?

SIMILAR FACTORS IN ALL RELIGIONS 

            We can all recognize how many of the moral principles that we follow are observed and recommended by all religions. For example: no matter whether we talk about Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, or Zoroastrianism, they all recommend daily prayer. In Islam they are regulated to pray five times a day, while in Hinduism they chant the gayatri mantra three times a day. And in all religions they pray any time of day. All of these religions believe that God or the Absolute Truth is ultimately one, except Buddhism in which some sects do not except the soul or a God. They also believe that we are spiritual beings, and that we should become sincerely devoted to and develop love for God. They also recommend giving alms and doing welfare work for society. They also accept the idea of meditating or calling out the holy names of God, fasting, and remembering God, especially on their holy days.

All of these religions also advise pilgrimage, going to the holy places that are important to them. They also advise that followers be humble, honest, and tolerant in their religious practice, and compassionate to all living beings. Thus, several of these religions outline the ideal of being vegetarian. They all recommend, or at least advise the decrease of the consumption of alcohol and intoxicants, as well as the restriction of gambling. Monogamy in marriage is often considered the highest standard, and divorce is never recommended or is discouraged. Thus, there are many principles that are common amongst all religions. So, what is the difficulty?

The point is that it is often soothing to try to show how we could all live peacefully if we all focused on our similarities. Who in their right mind would not want that? It is certainly much easier than focusing on our differences. The core of each religion, meaning its ultimate purpose, is similar to others in that they all promote the increase in one’s devotion to God, being kind and compassionate to all, and give the principles to follow to live a good and moral existence. And for those who recognize these similarities, they all can easily come together and worship God in unity, and respect one another and their traditions. Yet, to actually find this kind of a situation with mutual respect seems quite rare. Not only do those of various religions separate themselves from others, but even within the same religion there can be many different sects that do not agree, or even fight to the death with one another. So, it seems that many religions do not agree with each other on the finer details, and at best may succeed at only tolerating one another while being quick to criticize the other. Quite honestly, it can be said that some of the most unsettling and warring factors created in this world are caused by religions and their attitudes and views toward one another. History has shown that the major focus of most wars has been the differences people perceive in one another’s religion. For example, the blood that has been spilt in the name of Jesus or Allah is inestimable. So, is there any chance that real harmony can exist between the various religions of the world?

             Two factors that keep the world from being united is the presumption of racial superiority, and the desire to conquer and convert. This means that often times the status of religions is viewed by how much territory it controls, and how many converts it has made. If this is how religions view their success, then there is no way in hell that harmony will ever be created by religion. In fact, it turns them into nothing different than political parties vying for influence. Thus, they create hell on earth rather than being able to bring in the Kingdom of God, as some of them say they can.

The only way to breakthrough the barriers of distinction that seem to exist between us is with love. However, that love cannot be love of the body or one’s own society. It has to be better and higher than that. It has to be a spiritual love for all beings. The Dammapada (5-6) explains: “For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule. The world does not know that we must all come to an end here; but those who know it, their quarrels cease at once.”

Therefore, it is only the path of genuine spirituality that can bring us to a level higher than what ordinary religion offers. It has to be based on the transcendental principles of spiritual realization, not merely on the basics of moral foundations. And if you look into the teachings of most religions, such a lofty view of spirituality is not easily found. Thus, there is no question that they are not all the same.

SARVA DHARMA SAMBHAVA 

            Another part of this issue, at least amongst the Hindus, is the phrase “Sarva Dharma Sambhava,” which many people take to mean that all Dharmas or religions are the same, or are equal, or that they all are merely different paths that lead to the same goal. Thus, with this line of thought, any religion is as good as any other. When viewing the essence of religions, we may find this to be a fair assumption, with differences only in their outer superficialities. So, while using this form of logic, it should not matter if one is a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew, etc. But this is also a mistranslation if we analyze the phrase carefully.

            We could say the same thing in regard to foods—that they are all the same. But are they really? Are they the same in every way? They are the same in that they are food, and the goal of food is to satisfy and nourish the body. So, are they all the same? Some food is Chinese, Italian, Mexican, French, Indian, etc. Plus, they are made using different ingredients, they come from different cultures, they have different tastes, and different effects on the body, and so on. There are specific variations which distinguish them in ways that make some people prefer certain foods over others. Thus, there is no way they are all exactly the same.

            So, when it comes to understanding the meaning of Dharma, we have to be aware of its Sanskrit definition. The root of the word dharma comes from dhri, which means to uphold or maintain. The Sanskrit says dharayati iti dharmaha, which translates as “dharma is that which upholds.” However, not only what is supported is Dharma, but that which does the supporting is also Dharma, dhriyate iti dharmaha. So, Dharma consists of both the force that sustains as well as what is sustained. It can also be said that there is the path of Dharma as well as its conclusion, the object of Dharma, or what we are seeking, meaning the ultimate goal of life. So, Dharma is the means or path as well as the goal.

            Dharma is also said to be the force which maintains the universe. Where there is Dharma there is harmony and balance individually, socially, and inter-galactically. Therefore, the path of Dharma brings about the harmony and contentment that is also another aspect of what we are seeking. In this way, we want harmony inwardly, in our own consciousness, but we also cannot have individual peace unless there is harmony or cooperation socially, amongst the masses. Without that, no one can have peace, unless you are completely outside the effects of society.

The practice of Dharma should be done not out of compulsion but out of love due to the perception of the Supreme in all living beings. With this motivation, Dharma can assist in preventing injury to others and treating each other respectfully. Dharma also means righteous conduct. This includes following social laws and proper moral activity and behavior. It encourages truthfulness of thought, word and deed. The point of which is to reach the goal of Dharma.

            Dharma also means truth. So, we follow the path of Dharma to free ourselves from illusion and reach the ultimate Truth, which is the topmost reality, the spiritual strata. The Absolute Truth means the final philosophical goal and end of all knowledge, or Vedanta, which is God, the Supreme Being. So, when we want to attain liberation from material existence, then it becomes much easier to follow the path of Dharma and overcome the temptations of the temporary material world. Then we can let go of the illusory objects that are, in fact, hurdles on the path to Truth and God, and happiness in general.

Furthermore, doing what should not be done is called vidharma, which is a type of adharma or nondharmic activity. The conclusion, therefore, is that if we want happiness and peace we must learn how to live according to the path of Dharma. So, where there is no Dharma, there is disharmony and a state of being that is out of balance. And socially it means that without Dharma, there is a lack of cooperation, along with escalating quarrel and fighting. When we act against the law of Dharma, we disrupt the very harmony and cooperation that we want. In other words, we create a life for ourselves in which there is stress, confusion, discontent, and frustration, and even war. And when we feel this way, that becomes our contribution to the general social condition. It is the exact opposite of what we wish to attain. Thus, to live a life outside of Dharma means to work against ourselves. Therefore, we can conclude that if each and every religion really had Dharma as the basis of its teachings, and helped spread Dharma, there would be no conflict. But as we can plainly see, this is not the case. 

            With this analysis in mind, there are a few questions we should ask. For example:

1.      How many religions really offer true Dharma to its followers?

2.      How many really uphold the principle of Dharma within its teachings?

3.      How many truly offer mutual respect for others, even those who are outside their own religion?

4.      How many actually teach the ways to provide balance and harmony throughout society, rather than dividing people into false classifications, such as those who are “saved” and those who are hell-bound, kafirs, infidels, disbelievers, etc?

5.      How many so-called religions actually spread adharma or nondharmic activities, such as the needless killing of useful animals like cows and bulls, or the Brahman class of society who help preserve the Dharmic traditions, or who try to unnecessarily criticize other religions in their attempt to gain converts?

            This makes it more obvious that not all religions promote Dharma, nor live up to the saying of  “Sarva Dharma Sambhava.” And understanding this should cut down on the confusion that makes some people think that all religions are the same, or are equal.

            What this phrase actually refers to are the other sects within the Vedic fold. Sanatana-dharma or the Vedic path has various schools of Vedanta; including Vaishnavism, Saivism, Saktism, etc. It has various creeds, and the Vedic path accommodates all types of men. This is the glory and liberality of the Dharmic process which provides spiritual guidance for all. Thus, no one is considered a non-believer or hell-bound when they are only taking up different levels of their spiritual quest through some aspect of the Vedic teachings. Therefore, Dharma means an inclusive spiritual process, not an exclusive system which considers only certain people being eligible to participate, or that only those who follow the dogma of a certain religion are eligible for heaven or the promised land. Therefore, Dharma in the phrase of “Sarva Dharma Sambhava” really means the different schools of thought, lineages, or paramparas within the Vedic fold, those that actually know and contain the principles of true Dharma. It does not mean that every religion throughout the world is the same or propagates true Dharma or deep spirituality. This is something we need to clearly understand.

            A religion may indeed have some level of Dharma in it, and similarities they all should share, as we have previously analyzed. But you may have to cut through so many layers of externals before you reach it. These layers may include forms of politics, prejudice toward outsiders or “nonbelievers” of other religions, or ethnic superiority, or the feeling that they are the only true followers of the only true faith, the only ones who are really saved or who understand the teachings given by God at the exclusion of everyone else, and so on. Somewhere in all that there may be some genuine Dharma, but by the time you reach it, and many never do, there may already be too many corruptions or perversions in the teachings to see the core of what it was meant to be, unless you have been educated in a system that allows you to know and recognize genuine spirituality beforehand, which also is rarely the case. Thus, the differences between religions can be glaringly obvious, and are what many people cling to, and are held more firmly than some people would care to admit.

            Furthermore, if a religion has too much rajo-guna or tamo-guna, meaning too much of the mode of passion and ignorance in it, then it keeps a person bound to that level of consciousness, imprisoned by the dictates of a mere belief system or a rigid dogma rather than a spiritual process that can bring a person to the ultimate freedom of spiritual self-realization. This is the danger. In this case, such a religion certainly cannot bring one to the level of sattva-guna or to the mode of goodness from which one can progress to the level of sudha-sattva, or the quality of pure goodness of the spiritual dimension. It is no longer a process for reaching total freedom up to and including moksha, or liberation from all material existence, but instead keeps one bound to the realm of samsara, repeated births and deaths in the material creation regardless of how pious that person may be.

ALL RELIGIONS ARE REALLY NOT THE SAME 

So, let’s face the truth, in spite of many similarities in their core purpose, each religion offers very different views of themselves, of other religions, of those who do not follow their particular path, as well as different views of God and the purpose of life. Plus, they are often quick to create and show deep boundaries between each other at the slightest provocation.

One of the most important points is that if we look closely, we can easily recognize that each religion certainly brings their followers to different levels of understanding and consciousness, both materially and spiritually. Which level of consciousness they attain will make a great deal of difference in how they perceive themselves in relation to others. They will have different ideas on what is their spiritual identity, on who or what is God, how to please Him, and what His attitude is toward His followers and who are not considered to be His followers, at least according to the dictates of that particular religion.

Furthermore, like I said, some Hindu gurus say that all religions are the same, but you really never hear the authorities of other religions say that. Who among the Christians, Muslims, Jews, or even the Buddhists say that all religions are the same? Some big preachers from non-Hindu religions even vehemently disagree with that point and not only disrespect those of other religions, but say they are all condemned to hell in the eyes of their God. Well, isn’t that a soothing thought? This is also why an increasing number of people are giving up the conventional forms of religion and taking up what can be called spirituality, which can be more personal and not tied to the dictates of a dogma. Why would someone do this? Obviously, they want to continue in their own development without being a part of all the trouble, divisiveness, and quarrel that comes from holding an allegiance toward one particular religion. Freedom to think, ask, inquire, investigate, and experience what we want in our spiritual quest certainly begins to make more sense than to be tied to the obligation of accepting a dogma in order to be accepted by the church or mosque or institution for getting to heaven, if you believe in such a thing.  

Another point is that some people think the Hindu sages of old said that truth is one, but the paths to it are many. So, again we have a misunderstanding that keeps some Hindus thinking all religions are equal. However, once again that is not accurate. The real saying is “ekam sat, vipra bahuda vadanti,” that truth is one, but the names for it are many. This means something else entirely. Thus, it becomes obvious that different religions also prescribe different ways to reach God, or attain heaven, or whatever it is they promise people. And each religion thinks that they offer the one true and only way, as if they have a patent or copyright on the process and teachings, as if God spoke only one time to one person and no one else, and now that person is the only representative of God that we must all follow, or go to eternal damnation. Here again is only mankind projecting their own weaknesses into their conception of God. And when that is the case, there is no end to the variations or differences in religions.

To get a better idea, let us compare some of the differences in religions that we can easily recognize.

 DIFFERENT FACTORS IN VARIOUS RELIGIONS 

  • One book or many. Here we can start with the fact that the Christians have their Bible, composed of a variety of books, divided into the Old and New Testament. Then we have the Koran for the Muslims, and a few other books for the Jews. While in the Vedic system we practically have a whole library that takes a person through many levels of understanding the Absolute Truth. These include the Vedas, like the Rig, Atharva, Yajur, and Atharva, then the Upanishads, Vedantasutras, Ramayana, Mahabharata of which the classic Bhagavad-gita is a chapter, then the 18 major and 18 minor Puranas, the various Agamas, and others. Thus, there are differences in the religions from the start.
  • One savior or many. Again we see that the Vedic system provides a variety of teachers, gurus, prophets, as well as avataras of God to help guide humanity at different times throughout history. While in the conventional religions there is one God, one savior, one main messenger and no one else, and you either believe in him, or you are as good as condemned.
  • One God or many forms. In the Vedic tradition there are many forms of God, many descensions or avataras of God, all of whom show the pastimes, characteristics and qualities of the one Supreme Being. But in other religions, they do not accept this. In fact, they do not even know any descriptive form of God. You ask them what God looks like, and they are not sure. They may say something about His character, but even very little of that. And Christianity says that God appears only as Jesus, or maybe a great cloud over a mountain, a dove, or something in a figurative sense. Islam, on the other hand, does not present any form of God, nor does Judaism.

      ·    One God, or Brahman, Paramatama and Bhagavan. In the Vedic system, these are the three aspects of God, namely the all pervasive Brahman, spiritual energy; the Paramatma or localized expansion known as the Lord in the Heart or Supersoul; then Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality. Whereas in Christianity they are known as the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, though the meanings of which are not as profound or specific as that given in the Vedic descriptions. So, from the start, the concept of God is not the same. In this way, the Vedic culture establishes one Absolute Truth that appears in many forms, whereas the western and middle eastern religions say there is only one personal God with only one form, of which they are not sure what that is.          

      ·    In the Vedic system God can expand and appear in the localized form of the Deity in the temple, whereas the western and middle-eastern religions condemn Deity worship.   

      ·   Dharmists (those who follow Sanatana-dharma, the Vedic path) are usually very tolerant of other religions and can recognize the spiritual truths wherever they may be, in whatever form. Many Christians and Muslims may also be tolerant, but many are not, and are quick to criticize those of other religions since they cannot recognize spiritual truth so easily in other forms. One of their criticisms they often use is that if it is not of their religion, then it must be of the devil. Where is the logic in this?

      ·    Dharmists often welcome other religions, as in the way we have seen so many that have settled in India and made it their home, such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, the Parsis, Jews, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Baha’i, etc. While Christians and Muslims, on the other hand, have a vast history of destroying any other culture or people in whichever land they invaded. This is a profound difference that history cannot deny. Intolerance kills.

  • So, we can see the liberality, kindness and openness of Dharmists, yet in any Muslim country, they allow but one religion to flourish, and any other religion must practice undercover, or they are persecuted and driven out or even thrown into prison, just as we are seeing many Hindus and Christians being driven out of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, etc.
  • The Vedic system says there are various ways to progress toward God, but the western and middle-eastern monotheistic religions generally say there is only their way to God.
  • The Vedic system says that all is God, while other religions say God is far away and takes great endeavor and approval through the church to reach God.       
  • The Vedic tradition says that one can take many lifetimes to attain the spiritual dimension or reach God, while others says there is but one life to reach perfection or go to eternal hell.
  • This brings us to the point wherein the Vedic system says there are numerous temporary heavenly or hellish realms that we may have to work through, based on our pious or impious deeds, while western religions says there is but one heaven or one eternal hell.
  • Vedic Dharma says that a person can ask many and any questions to understand spiritual truths, while the western religions curb many questions regarding its dogma, and say you are a doubting person if you ask too many questions.
  • Eastern religions explain that one’s situations in life are due to karma for which a person has to take responsibility, while the western religions have little philosophy to clarify one’s good or bad circumstances in life.         

      ·    The Vedic spiritual path explains that all beings have souls, while the western religions say that only humans have souls.

      ·    The Vedic tradition has always accommodated diversity, while western religions say that you must fit in or face excommunication, and another says even death.

      ·    The Vedic Dharmists have always spread their culture through the use of philosophy and spiritual purity, while the western religions have often spread through the use of force, fear, intimidation, and by criticizing and threatening all other religions, which is but materialism and ego (“my religion is best”). We can especially see this when Muslims have demonstrated in London in their campaign for ruling the world over everyone else, with signs that said death to non-Muslims and that Islam will rule the world, and so on. Or when some fanatics try to commit suicide while blowing up themselves and as many people of other religions as possible, or even other sects of their own religion, thinking that is a way to get to heaven. Thus, we can see different views within each religion and the numerous sects.

      ·    Another difference is how Dharmists use the Sanskrit phrase “Vasudhaiva Kutumbukam”, which means the whole universe is all one family. This shows the spirituality of each other and how it is important that we all cooperate and work together. Yet, we can see that Dharmists have rarely received the same respect from those of other religions, even those who have settled in India. How is this an example of all religions being one? Yet, if Hindus stand up and defend themselves and their culture in their own homeland against the conversion tactics of Christians, or the violence of Muslims with similar strength, they are often labeled as saffron communalists or extremists. It is as if to be a good Dharmist or Hindu, you must lay your head down so others may cut it off, while those of other religions can do as they like.

      ·    The fact is that Christianity and Islam will never agree that they are one with Vedic culture, Hinduism, or that they are the same, or even part of the same family. They say they are the only one true faith, and all others, especially Hindus, worship Satan and devils, and are in darkness and must be “saved”.     

      ·    Thus, in what other religion do you find the “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” concept? Where do you find that any other religion tries to offer the spiritual vision of seeing the unity between us all? They may promote that there is unity between all those of the same faith, but they do not value those of other faiths, unless they are seen as potential converts. In fact, Christians and Muslims often disdain those who worship differently, even when in the different sects of the same religion. What kind of religions are these? Why do they not also advocate seeing the Divine or spiritual identity within all regardless of religion?

      ·    Vedic tradition does not have a particular founder of the culture. Whereas there is a specific founder in most conventional religions with a clear history of how it developed and from where it originated.       

      ·    The origins of Vedic culture predates recorded history and certainly predates any other of the prominent religions that exist today, such as Christianity (2000 years old) and Islam (almost 1400 years old), and is not a response to some issue or quarrel. It has stood on its own for many centuries before the ones that now say they are the only way, or that you are lost and going to hell if you do not convert to their way of thinking. Since when do they have the audacity to say such a thing? Since when do they justify their hostility toward any other religion? They are but recent inventions compared to Vedic culture and the many older indigenous traditions around the world.

      ·    How is it that western religions, which are all relatively new, all think nonbelievers will go to hell? Or think that Hinduism came from the Bible, when it is obvious that Hinduism predates Christianity by hundreds if not thousands of years? Dharmists / Hindus do not think like this.        

      ·    All religions have validity by what they offer, but how many are ready to admit that? How many are ready to show respect to other traditions? If they really did, it would take away from their reason for conversion campaigns. For example, when will Christianity or Islam admit that they are not the exclusive religion, the only one authorized or approved by God? When will they admit that other religions also have validity and spiritual knowledge to offer? If they cannot, then their view is but an immature form of egotistical materialism. 

      ·    Hindus/Dharmists are always seeking higher levels of spiritual truth, either by knowledge or realization and experience, whereas the monotheistic religions say they already have the truth.  

      ·    Vedic knowledge is often in harmony with science, whereas the western and middle-eastern religions are often contrary to science, keeping their own dogma no matter what.              

      ·    Vedic culture accepts reincarnation and karma, but western and middle-eastern religions do not accept it and say that we all have but one life to attain spiritual perfection by faith, or meet our place in eternal hell.

      ·    Vedic tradition says you were born divine and must merely awaken to that divinity, while western religions say we were born sinners or “in sin” and must work to be rectified and saved from our sins. 

      ·    Vedic followers accept responsibility for their actions as part of their own karma, while the western religions say it is the devil that tempts them to do evil things. Or even if they succumb to their temptations they are saved by the blood of Jesus, who is their savior, or they are saved by their faith in Allah. 

      ·    In the Vedic tradition there is no supreme evil force or devil, or prince of darkness, though there are certainly evil beings that exist in both the gross material realm and the subtle realm. Whereas in conventional western religions there is a devil or Satan that is the cause of the evil in the world, and who in this way fights with God. 

      ·    Vedic Dharmists accept that the means for liberation or freedom from continued material life is by education, following a spiritual path, and reaching spiritual or God realization, while conventional western religions feel that their savior and faith in him is the only way to reach heaven, which may include baptism, going to church, reading the Bible, etc. Therein, liberation is promised by Jesus, while in the Vedic premise, liberation must be earned by the individual.

      ·    Dharmists can view everything as spiritual. Thus, their path becomes more than a religion but a way of life. While conventional western religions often divide what is religious and what is secular.

      ·    Vedic Dharmists often try to work in unity with nature, but the West and western religions often want to control nature and take whatever they want from her in whatever way they want, often causing trouble and imbalance in the process.

      ·    The Vedic tradition offers many, many names of God, such as found in the Vishnu-sahasranama or “Thousand Names of Vishnu” which are based on His activities, pastimes and many characteristics. Whereas in other religions His name is only a title, or is limited to Jehovah, Yaweh, or Allah, or the unnamable. This shows a most limited understanding of the real character and nature of the Supreme.

      ·    The philosophical purview of the Vedic tradition is wide, and can include the Purva Mimamsa of Jaimini, the Uttara Mimamsa of Vyasa, Vaisheshika of Kanada, Nyaya of Gotama, Samkhya of Kapila, Yoga of Patanjali, Vedanta of Vyasa, and others such as Vaishnavas, Shaivites, Tantrics, and Brahmanandis. Though these are all schools of thought with their own followers, they are all still part of the Vedic and Dharmic fold. While in Christianity or Islam there is only a rigid view or dogma to be followed, whether it makes clear sense or not, and if there is any difference of opinion, then that person or persons become forced out or become a separate sect that disagrees with everyone else.    

      ·    Dharmists believe that hellish punishment can exist after death if one is too evil, but that it is temporary after one becomes rehabilitated. However, in Christianity or Islam they feel a person has but one chance to reach heaven or hell, and that is also eternal with no chance of rehabilitation. This seems to give a harsh view of God and fly in the face of any idea that God is merciful and full of unconditional love.

CONCLUSION

             We could go on describing such differences, but this should be enough to make our point clear. You could also say that these differences listed above are but rifts between the ways of religion as we know it today and spirituality. The core purpose of each is meant to be the same, which is to help a person connect with the spiritual dimension or bind themselves to God. But conventional religion seems to have taken a different route, based on the desire to conquer, convert and control. This is much like a political movement that gives the people just enough information to make them think they are making progress in the right direction, but still withholds the most essential knowledge in order to keep them under the influence of the institution. Religion, thus, seems to expect people to blindly accept whatever is given or forced on them without question. Spirituality, on the other hand, is the freedom a person can exercise in his or her search for the spiritual path that provides the lessons, knowledge and experience that is most suitable for that person’s inner development in this particular lifetime.

Spirituality is basically an internal process, which is emphasized in yoga and meditation. Spirituality is often more personal and individual then the way we see religion today, though it is sometimes shared in groups such as on holy days when large gatherings may take place. Nonetheless, it does not depend so much on outer customs, although external rituals may be done for the development of internal changes or other benefits. Furthermore, anyone practicing religion is usually considered a religious person, but is not necessarily spiritual if he or she is not able to recognize the spiritual essence within that is shared by one and all. If a person cannot recognize the spiritual identity of oneself and others, then he is not spiritual, no matter how religious he may pose himself to be. This is one of the main differences between ordinary religious practice and genuine spirituality. And this is something that should be kept in mind. 

In conclusion, it is a great disservice and a misjudgment to say that all religions are equal, or are the same. Actually, they all take you to different levels of consciousness, different views of God, varying levels of understanding, assorted reasons for life, and dissimilar views of each other or of ethnic groups. In fact, in this way, some religions perpetuate what is really a materialistic view, the bodily concept of life, which also emphasizes the ego and one’s status or position compared with others. This gives way to views such as “I’m better than you, my religion is superior to yours, my God is better than yours.” This latter point certainly leads to disharmony between us. It leads to quarrel, friction, persecution of others who are different, and even religious wars, which the world has seen so much of, and which is not the purpose of real religion. This is not the way to reach the goal of life.

Thus, the reality is that religions and spiritual paths are not all the same, and it behooves us to understand and distinguish what is genuine spirituality or Dharma, and learn how to follow it to attain the inner realizations that make all the difference between mundane or faith-based religion and that which will take us to a higher consciousness and perception of who and what we really are. This is the real purpose, rather than merely being sold a level of self-glorification or pride for considering ourselves to belong to a particular religion that gives us the favor from who or what we think is God, and, thus, privileging ourselves to think that we are automatically “saved” simply because we “believe”, and are above all others who are not “delivered” in such a way. That is another egotistical conception that should have been overcome and left behind long ago if and when we follow a real spiritual path that uplifts us above and beyond such a view. It is only at that time when we might have the possibility for genuine religious harmony.

Islamic Destruction of Hindu Temples

Islamic Destruction of Hindu Temples

 

            For those who don’t believe or do not know of the amount of destruction that took place in India at the hands of the Muslim invaders and Islamic rulers who established themselves in parts of India, we can review the Islamic chronicles of the deeds of these rulers of the day, as written by the Muslim contemporary writers or historians. So what follows is a review of some of the books and their authors who recorded the histories of the Islamic rulers, and quotes from some of the descriptions within them about the cities they attacked and the temples they destroyed. It really shows how demoniac and cruel these rulers were.

          The evidence of destruction of thousands of Hindu temples can be primarily found from two different sources:
            1. Literary Evidence from the work of renowned Islamic historians
            2. Epigraphic Evidence from the inscriptions on numerous Mosques all over India.
            This article deals with only the literary evidence.

            Hundreds of Muslim historians have glorified the deeds of their Muslim heroes all over India.  This by no means is an exhaustive list! To learn more about this, please read both volumes of, Hindu Temples: What Happened To Them? by Sita Ram Goel.
            There is elaborate literary evidence from the Islamic sources which glorify the crimes committed by the Muslims in India. Crimes such as the desecration of the Hindu idols, looting of the temples, killing devotees and raping have been well documented by the Muslim historians themselves. They have done so because according to them these Muslim rulers by doing such deeds were following the tenets of Islam and Sunnah of the prophet Mohammed. The literary evidence stated below is in chronological order with reference to the time at which a particular work was written.

          1. Name Of The Book: Hindustan Islami Ahad Mein (India under Islamic Rule)
          Name Of The Historian: Maulana Abdul Hai.
          About The Author: He is a highly respected scholar and taken as an authority on Islamic history. Because of his scholarship and his services to Islam, Maulana Abdul Hai was appointed as the Rector of the Darul Nadwa Ullum Nadwatal-Ulama. He continued in that post till his death in February 1923.

          The following section is taken from the chapter Hindustan ki Masjidein (The mosques of India) of the above mentioned book. Here we can see a brief description of few important mosques in India and how each one of them was built upon plundered Hindu temples.
              a. Qawwat al-Islam Mosque at Delhi: “According to my findings the first mosque of Delhi is Qubbat al-Islam or Quwwat al-Islam which, Qutubud-Din Aibak constructed in H. 587 after demolishing the Hindu temple built by Prithvi Raj and leaving certain parts of the temple outside the mosque proper; and when he returned from Ghazni in H. 592 he started building, under orders from Shihabud-Din Ghori, a huge mosque of inimitable red stones, and certain parts of the temple were included in the mosque…”
              b. The Mosque at Jaunpur: “This was built by Sultan Ibrahim Sharqi with chiseled stones. Originally it was a Hindu temple after demolishing which he constructed the mosque. It is known as the Atala Masjid.”
              c. The Mosque at Qanauj: “It is well known that this mosque was built on the foundations of some Hindu temple that stood here. The mosque was built by Ibrahim Sharqi in H. 809 as is recorded in Gharbat Nigar.”
              d. Jami Masjid at Etwah: “This mosque stands on the bank of the Jamuna at Etawah. There was a Hindu temple at this place, on the site of which this mosque was constructed. .”
              e. Babri Masjid at Ayodhya: “This mosque was constructed by Babar at Ayodhya which Hindus call the birth place of Ramchandraji… Sita had a temple here in which she lived and cooked for her husband. On that very site Babar constructed this mosque in H.963 ”
              f. Mosque at Benaras: “Mosque of Benares was built by Alamgir Aurangzeb on the site of Bisheshwar Temple. That temple was very tall and held as holy among Hindus. On this very site and with those very stones he constructed a lofty mosque, and its ancient stones were rearranged after being embedded in the walls of the mosque. It is one of the renowned mosques of Hindustan.”
              g. Mosque at Mathura: “Alamgir Aurangzeb built a mosque at Mathura. This mosque was built on site of the Govind Dev Temple which was very strong and beautiful as well as exquisite.”

            2. Name Of The Book: Futuhu’l-Buldan
            Name Of The Historian: Ahmed bin Yahya bin Jabir
            About The Author: This author is also known as al-Biladhuri. He lived at the court of Khalifa Al-Mutawakkal (AD 847-861) and died in AD 893. His history is one of the major Arab chronicles.
            The Muslim Rulers He Wrote About:
              a. Ibn Samurah (AD 653)
              Siestan (Iran)
              “On reaching Dawar, he surrounded the enemy in the mountain of Zur, where there was a famous Hindu temple.” “…Their idol of Zur was of gold, and its eyes were two rubies. The zealous Musalmans cut off its hands and plucked out its eyes, and then remarked to the Marzaban how powerless was his idol…”

              b. Qutaibah bin Muslim al-Bahili (AD 705-715)
              Samarkand (Farghana)
              “Other authorities say that Kutaibah granted peace for 700,000 dirhams and entertainment for the Moslems for three days. The terms of surrender included also the houses of the idols and the fire temples. The idols were thrown out, plundered of their ornaments and burned…”

              c. Mohammed bin Qasim (AD 712-715)
              Debal (Sindh)
              “…The town was thus taken by assault, and the carnage endured for three days. The governor of the town, appointed by Dahir, fled and the priests of the temple were massacred. Muhammad marked a place for the Musalmans to dwell in, built a mosque, and left 4,000 Musalmans to garrison the place…”
              “…Ambissa son of Ishak Az Zabbi, the governor of Sindh, in the Khilafat of Mu’tasim billah knocked down the upper part of the minaret of the temple and converted it into a prison…”

              Multan (Punjab)
              “…He then crossed the Biyas, and went towards Multan…Muhammad destroyed the water-course; upon which the inhabitants, oppressed with thirst, surrendered at discretion. He massacred the men capable of bearing arms, but the children were taken captive, as well as ministers of the temple, to the number of 6,000. The Musalmans found there much gold in a chamber ten cubits long by eight broad…”

              d. Hasham bin ‘Amru al-Taghlabi
              Khandahar (Maharashtra)
              “He then went to Khandahar in boats and conquered it. He destroyed the Budd (idol) there, and built in its place a mosque.”

            3. Name Of The Book: Tarikh-i-Tabari
            Name Of The Historian: Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Jarir at-Tabari
            About The Author: This author is considered to be the foremost historian of Islam. The above mentioned book written by him is regarded as the mother of histories.
            The Muslim Rulers He Wrote About:

              a. Qutaibah bin Muslim al-Bahili (AD 705-715)
              Beykund (Khurasan)
              “The ultimate capture of Beykund (in AD 706) rewarded him with an incalculable booty; even more than had hitherto fallen into the hands of the Mohammedans by the conquest of the entire province of Khorassaun; and the unfortunate merchants of the town, having been absent on a trading excursion while their country was assailed by the enemy, and finding their habitations desolate on their return contributed further to enrich the invaders, by the ransom which they paid for the recovery of their wives and children. The ornaments alone, of which these women had been plundered, being melted down, produce, in gold, 150,000 meskals; of a dram and a half each. Among the articles of the booty, is also described an image of gold, of 50,000 meskals, of which the eyes were two pearls, the exquisite beauty and magnitude of which excited the surprise and admiration of Kateibah. They were transmitted by him, with a fifth of the spoil to Hejauje, together with a request that he might be permitted to distribute, to the troops, the arms which had been found in the palace in great profusion.”

              Samarkand (Farghana)
              “A breach was, however, at last effected in the walls of the city in AD 712 by the warlike machines of Kateibah; and some of the most daring of its defenders having fallen by the skill of his archers, the besieged demanded a cessation of arms to the following day, when they promised to capitulate. The request was acceded to the Kateibah; and a treaty was the next day accordingly concluded between him and the prince of Samarkand, by which the latter engaged for the annual payment of ten million of dhirems, and a supply of three thousand slaves; of whom it was particularly stipulated, that none should either be in a state of infancy, or ineffective from old age and debility. He further contracted that the ministers of his religion should be expelled from their temples and their idols destroyed and burnt; that Kateibah should be allowed to establish a mosque in the place of the principal temple….”
              “…Kateibah accordingly set set fire to the whole collection with his own hands; it was soon consumed to ashes, and 50,000 meskals of gold and silver, collected from the nails which had been used in the workmanship of the images.”

              b.. Yaqub bin Laith (AD 870-871)
              Balkh and Kabul (Afghanistan)
              “He took Bamian, which he probably reached by way of Herat, and then marched on Balkh where he ruined (the temple) Naushad. On his way back from Balkh he attacked Kabul…”
              “Starting from Panjhir, the place he is known to have visited, he must have passed through the capital city of the Hindu Sahis to rob the sacred temple — the reputed place of coronation of the Sahi rulers — of its sculptural wealth…”
              “The exact details of the spoil collected from Kabul valley are lacking. The Tarikh [-i-Sistan] records 50 idols of gold and silver and Mas’udi mentions elephants. The wonder excited in Baghdad by baghdad by elephants and pagan idols forwarded to the Caliph by Ya’qub also speaks for their high value.”

            4. Name Of The Book: Tarikhu’l-Hind
            Name Of The Historian: Abu Rihan Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Biruni al-Khwarizmi.
            About The Author: This author spent 40 years in India during the reign of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (AD 997 – 1030). His history treats of the literature and learning of the Hindus at the commencement of the 11th century.
            The Muslim Rulers He Wrote About:

              a. Jalam ibn Shaiban (9th century AD)
              Multan (Punjab)
              “A famous idol of theirs was that of Multan, dedicated to the sun, and therefore called Aditya. It was of wood and covered with red Cordovan leather; in its two eyes were two red rubies. It is said to have been made in the last Kritayuga …..When Muhammad Ibn Alkasim Ibn Almunaibh conquered Multan, he inquired how the town had become so very flourishing and so many treasures had there been accumulated, and then he found out that this idol was the cause, for there came pilgrims from all sides to visit it. Therefore he thought it best to have the idol where it was, but he hung a piece of cow’s flesh on its neck by way of mockery. On the same place a mosque was built. When the Karmatians occupied Multan, Jalam Ibn Shaiban, the usurper, broke the idol into pieces and killed its priests…”

              b. Sultan Mahmud of Gazni (AD 997-1030)
              Thanesar (Haryana)
              “The city of Taneshar is highly venerated by Hindus. The idol of that place is called Cakrasvamin, i.e. the owner of the chakra, a weapon which we have already described. It is of bronze, and is nearly the size of a man. It is now lying in the hippodrome in Ghazna, together with the Lord of Somnath, which is a representation of the penis of the Mahadeva, called Linga.”

              Somnath (Gujrat)
              “The linga he raised was the stone of Somnath, for soma means the moon and natan means master, so that the whole word means master of the moon. The image was destroyed by the Prince Mahmud, may God be merciful to him! –AH 416. He ordered the upper part to be broken and the remainder to be transported to his residence, Ghaznin, with all its coverings and trappings of gold, jewels, and embroidered garments. Part of it has been thrown into the hippodrome of the town, together with Cakrasvamin, an idol of bronze, that had been brought from Taneshar. Another part of the idol from Somnath lies before the door of the mosque of Ghaznin, on which people rub their feet to clean them from dirt and wet.”

            5. Name Of The Book: Kitabu’l-Yamini
            Name Of The Historian: Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn Muhammad al Jabbaru’l-Utbi.
            About The Author: This author’s work comprises the whole of the reign of Subuktigin and that of Sultan Mahmud down to the year AD 1020.
            The Muslim Rulers He Wrote About:

              a. Amir Sbuktigin Of Ghazni
              Lamghan (Afghanistan)
              “The Amir marched out towards Lamghan, which is a city celebrated for its great strength and abounding wealth. He conquered it and set fire to the places in its vicinity which were inhabited by infidels, and demolishing idol temples, he established Islam in them. He marched and captured other cities and killed the polluted wretches, destroying the idolaters and gratifying the Musulmans.”

              b. Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (AD 997-1030)
              Narain (Rajasthan)
             “The Sultan again resolved on an expedition to Hind, and marched towards Narain, urging his horses and moving over ground, hard and soft, until he came to the middle of Hind, where he reduced chiefs, who, up to that time obeyed no master, overturned their idols, put to the sword the vagabonds of that country, and with delay and circumspection proceeded to accomplish his design…”

              Nardin (Punjab)
              “After the Sultan had purified Hind from idolatry, and raised mosques therein, he determined to invade the capital of Hind to punish those who kept idols and would not acknowledge the unity of God…He marched with a large army in the year AH 404 (AD 1013) during a dark night…”
              “A stone was found there in the temple of the great Budda on which an inscription was written purporting that the temple had been founded 50,000 years ago. The Sultan was surprised at the ignorance of these people, because those who believe in the true faith represent that only seven hundred years have elapsed since the creation of the world, and the signs of resurrection are even now approaching. The Sultan asked his wise men the meaning of this inscription and they all concurred in saying that it was false, and no faith was to be put in the evidence of a stone.”

              Thanesar (Haryana)
              “The chief of Tanesar was…obstinate in his infidelity and denial of God. So the Sultan marched against him with his valiant warriors, for the purpose of planting the standards of Islam and extirpating idolatry..”
              “The blood of the infidels flowed so copiously, that the stream was discoloured, not withstanding its purity, and people were unable to drink it…The victory gained by God’s grace, who has established Islam for ever as the best religions, notwithstanding that idolaters revolt against it…Praise be to God, the protector of the world, for the honour he bestows upon Islam and Musulmans.”

              Mathura (Uttar Pradesh)
              “The Sultan then departed from the environs of the city, in which was a temple of the Hindus. The name of this place was Mahartul Hind… On both sides of the city there were a thousand houses, to which idol temples were attached, all strengthened from top to bottom by rivets of iron, and all made of masonry work…”
              “In the middle of the city there was a temple larger and firmer than the rest, which can neither be described nor painted. The Sultan thus wrote respecting it: –‘If any should wish to construct a building equal to this, he would not be able to do it without expending an 100,000,000 red dinars, and it would occupy 200 years even though the most experience and able workmen were employed’… The Sultan gave orders that all temples should be burnt with naptha and fire, and levelled with the ground.”

              Kanauj (Uttar Pradesh)
              “In Kanauj there were nearly 10,000 temples, which the idolaters falsely and absurdly represented to have been founded by their ancestors two or three hundred thousand years ago…Many of the inhabitants of the place fled and were scattered abroad like so many wretched widows and orphans, from the fear which oppressed them, in consequence of witnessing the fate of their deaf and dumb idols. Many of them thus effected their escape, and those who did not fly were put to death.”

          6. Name Of The Book: Diwan-i-Salman
          Name Of The Historian: Khawajah Masud bin Sa’d bin Salman
          About The Author: Khawajah Masud bin Sa’d bin Salman was a poet. He wrote poems in praise of the Ghaznavid Sultans-Masu’d, Ibrahim and Bahram Shah. He died sometime between AD 1126 and 1131.
          The Muslim Rulers He Wrote About:

                a. Sultan Abu’l Muzaffar Ibrahim (AD 1059-1099)
                “As power and the strength of a lion was bestowed upon Ibrahim by the Almighty, he made over to him the well-populated country of Hindustan and gave him 40,000 valiant horsemen to take the country, in which there were more than 1000 rais…The army of the king destroyed at one time a thousand temples of idols, which had each been built for more than a thousand years. How can I describe the victories of the King…”

                Jalandhar (Punjab)
                “The narrative of any battles eclipses the stories of Rustam and Isfandiyar… By morning meal, not one soldier, not one Brahmin remained unkilled or uncaptured. Their heads were levelled with the ground with flaming fire… Thou has secured the victory to the country and to religion, for amongst the Hindus this achievement will be remembered till the day of resurrection. ”

                Malwa (Madhya Pradesh)
                “…On this journey, the army destroyed a thousand idol-temples and thy elephants trampled over more than a hundred strongholds. Thou didst march thy army to Ujjain… The lip of infidelity became dry through fear of thee, the eye of plural-worship became blind…”

              7. Name Of The Book: Chach-Namah
              Name Of The Historian: Mohammed Al bin Hamid bin Abu Bakr Kufi
              About The Author: The Persian history was translated from Arabic by the above mentioned author in the time of Nasiruddin Qabacha, a slave of Mohammed Ghori.
              The Muslim Rulers He Wrote About:

                a. Mohammed bin Qasim (AD 712-715)
                Siwistan and Sisam (Sindh)
                Mohammed bin Qasem wrote to al-Hajjaj, the governor of Iraq:
                “The forts of Siwistan and Sism have been already taken. The nephew of Dahir, his warriors and principal officers have been dispatched, and infidels converted to Islam or destroyed. Instead of idol temples, mosques and other places of worship have been built, pulpits have been erected, the Khutba is read, the call to prayers is raised so that devotions are performed at sacred hours.”

                Multan (Punjab)
                “Mohammed Qasem arose and with his counselors, guards and attendants, went to the temple. He saw there an idol made of gold, and its two eye were bright red rubies… Muhammed Qasem ordered the idol to be taken up. Two hundred and thirty ‘mans’ of gold were brought to the treasury together with the gems and pearls and treasures which were obtained from the plunder of Multan.”

              8. Name Of The Book: Jamiu’l-Hikayat
              Name Of The Historian: Maulana Nuruddin Muhammed `Ufi
              About The Author: The author was born in or near the city of Bukhara in Transoxiana. He came to India and lived in Delhi for some time in the reign of Shamsu’d-Din Iltutmish (AD 1210-1236)
              The Muslim Rulers He Wrote About:

                a. Amru bin Laith (AD 879-900)
                Sakawand (Afghanistan)
                “It is related that Amru Lais conferred the governorship of Zabulistan on Fardaghan and sent him there at the head of four thousand horses. There was a large Hindu place of worship in that country, which was called Sakawand and people used to come on pilgrimage from the most remote parts of Hindustan to the idols of that place. When Fardaghan arrived in Zabulistan he led his army against it, took the temple, broke the idols in pieces and overthrew the idolaters… ”

              9. Name Of The Book: Taju’l-Ma’sir
              Name Of The Historian: Sadru’d-Din Muhammed Hasan Nizamii
              About The Author: The author was born at Nishapur in Khurusan. He had to leave his ancestral place because of the Mongol invasion. He came to India and started writing his history in AD 1205.
              The Muslim Rulers He Wrote About:

                a. Sultan Muhammed Ghuri (AD 1175-1206)
                Ajmer (Rajasthan)
                “He destroyed the pillars and foundations of the idol temples and built in their stead mosques and colleges, and the precepts of Islam, and the customs of the law were divulged and established. ..”

                Kuhram and Samana (Punjab)
                “The Government of the fort of Kohram and Samana were made over by the Sultan to Kutuu-din. He purged by his sword the land of Hind from the filth of infidelity and vice, and freed it from the thorn of God-plurality, and the impurity of idol-worship and by his royal vigor and intrepidity, left not one temple standing…”

                Meerut (Uttar Pradesh)
                “Kutub-d din marched from Kohran and when he arrived at Meerut which is one of the celebrated forts of the country of Hind, for the strength of its foundations and superstructure, and its ditch, which was as broad as the ocean and fathomless- an army joined him, sent by the dependent chiefs of the country. The fort was captured, and a Kotwal was appointed to take up his station in the fort, and all the idol temples were converted into mosques.”

                Delhi
                “He then marched and encamped under the fort of Delhi…The city and its vicinity were freed from idols and idol-worship, and in the sanctuaries of the images of the Gods, nosques were raised by the worshippers of one God. Kutub-d din built the Jami Masjid at Delhi and adorned it with stones and gold obtained from the temples which had been demolished by the elephants, and covered it with inscriptions in Toghra, containing the divine commands.”

                Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)
                “From that place (Asni) the royal armi proceeded towards Benares which is the center of the country of Hind and here they destroyed nearly 1000 temples, and raised mosques on their foundations and the knowledge of the law became promulgated, and the foundations of religion were established. .”

                Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh)
                “There was a certain tribe in the neighbourhood of Kol which had occasioned much trouble. Three bastions were raised as high as heaven with their heads, and their carcasses became the food of beasts of prey. That tract was freed from idols and idol-worship and the foundation of infidelity were destroyed.”

                Bayana (Rajasthan)
                “When Kutub-d din heard of Sultan’s march from Ghazna, he was much rejoiced and advanced as far as Hansi to meet him. In the year AH 592 (AD 1196), they marched towards Thangar, and the center of idolatry and perdition became the abode of glory and splendour..”

                Kalinjar (Uttar Pradesh)
                “In the year AH 599 (Ad 1202), Kutub-d din proceeded to the investment Kalinjar, on which expedition he was accompanied by the Sahib-Kiran, Shamsu-d din Altmash… The temples were converted into mosques and abodes of goodness, and the ejaculations of bead counters and voices of summoners to prayer ascended to high heaven, and the very name of idolatry was annihilated. .”

                b. Sultan Shamsu’d-Din Iltutmish (AD 1210-1236)
                Delhi
                “The Sultan then returned from Jalor to Delhi..and after his arrival ‘not a vestige or name remained of idol temples which had raised their heads on high; and the light of faith shone out from the darkness of infidelity.. and the moon of religion and the state became resplendent from the heaven of prosperity and glory.”

              10. Name Of The Book: Kamilu’t-Tawarikh
              Name Of The Historian: Ibn Asir
              About The Author: The author was born in AD 1160 in the Jazirat ibn Umar, an island on the Tigris above Mosul.
              The Muslim Rulers he Wrote About:

                a. Khalifa Al-Mahdi (AD 775-785)
                Barada (Gujrat)
                “In the year 159 (AD 776) Al Mahdi sent an army by sea under Abdul Malik bin Shahabu’l Musamma’i to India. They proceeded on their way and at length disembarked at Barada. When they reached the place they laid siege on it. The town was reduced to extremities and God prevailed over it in the same year. The people were forbidden to worship the Budd, which the Muhammadans burned.”

              11. Name Of The Book: Tarikh-i-Jahan-Kusha
              Name Of The Historian: Alaud-Din Malik ibn Bahaud-Din Muhammed Juwaini
              About The Author: The author was born a native of Juwain in Khurasan near Nishapur. He was the Halaku during the Mongol campaign against the Ismai’lians and was later appointed the governor of Baghdad. He fell from grace and was imprisoned at Hamadan.
              The Muslim Rulers he Wrote About:

                a. Sultan Jalalud-Din Mankbarni (AD 1222-1231)
                Debal (Sindh)
                “The Sultan then went towards Dewal and Darbela and Jaisi… The Sultan raised Masjid at Dewal, on the spot where an idol temple stood.”

              12. Name Of The Book: Mifathu’l-Futuh
              Name Of The Historian: Amir Khusru
              About The Author: The author, Amir Khusru was born at Delhi in 1253. His father occupied high positions in the reigns of Sultan Shamsu’d Din Iltutmish (AD 1210-1236) and his successors. Reputed to be the dearest disciple of Shykh Nizamuddin Auliya, he became the lick-spittle of whoever came out victorious in the contest for the throne at Delhi. He became the court poet of Balban’s successor, Sultan Kaiqbad.
              The Muslim Rulers he wrote About:

                a. Sultan Jajalu’d-Din Khalji (AD 1290-1296)
                Jhain (Rajasthan)
                “The Sultan reached Jhain in the afternoon of the third day and stayed in the palace of the Raya he greatly enjoyed his stay for some time. Coming out, he took a round of gardens and temples. The idols he saw amazed him. Next day he got those idols of gold smashed with stones. The pillars of wood were burnt down by his order. A cry rose from the temples as if a second Mahmud has taken birth. Two idols were made of brass, one of which weighed nearly thousand ‘mans’. He got both of them broken, and the pieces were distributed among his people so that they may throw them at the door of Masjid on their return to Delhi.”

                b. Sultan Alaud-Din Khilji (AD 1296-1316)
                Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh)
                “When he advanced from the capital of Karra, the Hindus, in alarm, descended into the earth like ants. He departed towards the garden of Behar to dye that soil with blood as red as tulip. He cleared the road to Ujjain of vile wretches, and created consternation in Bhilsan. When he affected his conquests in that country, he drew out of the river the idols which had been concealed in it.

                Devagiri (Maharshtra)
                “But see the mercy with which he regarded the broken-hearted, for, after seizing the rai, he set him free again. He destroyed the temples of the idolaters, and erected pulpits and arches for mosques

          13. Name Of The Book: Nuh Siphir
          Name of the Historian: Amir Khusru
          About the Author: The above mentioned book is the fourth historical mathnavi which Amir Khusru wrote when he was 67 years old. It celebrates the reign of Sultan Mubarak Shah Khalji.
          The Muslim Rulers he wrote About:

            a.. Sultan Mubarak Shah Khalji (AD 1315-1320)
            Warrangal (Andhra Pradesh)
            “They pursued the enemy to the gates and set everything on fire. They burnt down all those gardens and groves. That paradise of idol-worshippers became like hell. The fire-worshippers of ‘Bud’ were in alarm and flocked round their idols…”

          14. Name of the Book: Siyaru’l-Auliya
          Name of the Historian: Sayyed Muhammed bin Mubarak bin Muhammed
          About the Author: He was the grandson of an Iranian merchant who traded between Kirman in Iran and Lahore. The family traveled to Delhi after Shykh Farid’s death and became devoted to Shykh Nizamu’d-din Auliya.
          The Muslim Rulers he wrote About:

            a.. Shykh Mu’in al-Din Chisti Ajmer (AD 1236)
            Ajmer (Rajasthan)
            “..Because of his Sword, instead of idols and temples in the land of unbelief now there are mosques, mihrab and mimbar. In the land where there were the sayings of the idol-worshippers, there is the sound of ‘Allahu Akbar’…The descendants of those who were converted to Islam in this land will live until Day of Judgement; so too will those who bring others into the fold of Islam by the sword of Islam. Until the Day of Judgment these converts will be in debt of Shaykh al-Islam Mu’in al-din Hasam Sijzi…”

          15. Name of the Book: Masalik’ul Absar fi Mamalik’ul Amsar
          Name of the Historian: Shihabu’d-Din ‘Abu’l Abbas Ahmed bin Yahya.
          About the Author: He was born in AD 1301. He was educated in Damascus and Cairo. He is considered to be a great man and scholar of his time and author of many books. He occupied high positions in Syria and Egypt.
          The Muslim Rulers he wrote About:

            a. Sultan Muhammed bin Tughlaq (AD 1325-1351)
            “The Sultan is not slack in Jihad. He never lets go of his spear or bridle in pursuing jihad by land and sea routes. This is his main occupation which engages his eyes and ears. Five temples have been destroyed and the images and idols of ‘Budd’ have been broken, and the lands have been freed from those who were not included in the daru’l Islam that is, those who had refused to become zimmis. Thereafter he got mosques and places of worship erected, and music replaced by call to prayers to Allah… The Sultan who is ruling at present has achieved that which had not been achieved so far by any king. He has achieved victory, supremacy, conquest of countries, destruction of the infidels, and exposure of magicians. He has destroyed idols by which the people of Hindustan were deceived in vain…”

          16. Name of the Book: Rehala of Ibn Battuta
          Name of the Historian: Shykh Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Lawatt at-Tanji al-Maruf be Ibn Battuta.
          About the Author: He belonged to an Arab family which was settled in Spain since AD 1312. His grandfather and father enjoyed the reputation of scholars and theologians. He himself was a great scholar who traveled extensively and over many lands. He came to India in 1325 and visited many places. He was very fond of sampling Hindu girls from different parts of India. They were presented to him by the Sultan Mohammed bin-Tughlaq with whom Ibn Battuta came in close contact. He also married Muslim women wherever he stayed and divorced them before his departure.

            a. His Travel description:
            (Delhi)
            “Near the eastern gate of the mosque, lie two very big idols of copper connected together by stones. Every one who comes in and goes out of the mosque treads over them. On the site of this mosque was a bud Khana that is an idol-house. After the conquest of Delhi, it was turned into a mosque…”

          17. Name of the Book: Tarikh-i-Firuz
          Name of the Historian: Shams Siraj Alif
          About the Author: The author became a courtier of Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq and undertook to complete the aforementioned history of Barani who had stopped at the sixth year of Firuz Shah’s reign.
          The Muslim Rulers he wrote About:

            a. Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq (AD 1351-1388)
            Puri (Orissa)
            “The Sultan left Banarasi with the intention of pursuing the Rani of Jajnagar, who had fled to an island in the river…News was then brought that in the jangal were seven elephants, and one old shoe-elephant, which was very fierce. The Sultan resolved upon endeavoring to capture these elephants before continuing the pursuit of the Rai… After the hunt was over, the Sultan directed his attention to the Rai of Jajnagar, and entering the palace where he dwelt he found many fine buildings. It is reported that inside the Rai’s fort, there was a stone idol which the infidels called Jagannath, and to which they paid their devotions. Sultan Firoz, in emulation of Mahmud Subuktign, having rooted up the idol, carried it away to Delhi where he placed it in an ignominious position.”

            b. Nagarkot Kangra(Himachal Pradesh)
            “..Sultan Muhammed Shah bin Tughlaq and Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq were sovereigns especially chosen by Almighty from among the faithful, and in their whole course of their reigns, wherever they took an idol temple they broke and destroyed it.”

            Delhi
            “A report was brought to the Sultan that there was in Delhi an old Brahmin who persisted in publicly performing the worship of idols in his house; and that people of the city, both Musalmans and Hindus, used to resort to his house to worship the idol. The Brahmin had constructed a wooden tablet which was covered within and without with paintings of demons and other objects. An order was accordingly given that the Brahmin, with his tablet, should be brought into the presence of the Sultan at Firozabad. The judges and doctors and elders and lawyers were summoned, and the case of the Brahmin was submitted for their opinion. Their reply was that the provisions of the Law were clear: the Brahmin must either become a Musalman or be burned. The true faith was declared to the Brahmin, and the right course pointed out, but he refused to accept it. Orders were given for raising a pile of faggots before the door of the darbar (court). The Brahmin was tied hand and foot and cast into it; the tablet was thrown on top and the pile was lighted. The writer of this book was present at the darbar and witnessed the execution. The tablet of the Brahmin was lighted in two places, at his head and at his feet; the wood was dry and the fire first reached his feet, and drew him a cry, but the flames quickly enveloped his head and consumed him. Behold the Sultan’s strict adherence to law and rectitude, how he would not deviate in the least from its decrees!”
          Here Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq glorifies his own criminal acts in Bharat as sanctioned by the “holy” Koran.

          18. Name of the Book: Futuhat-i-Firuz Shahi
          Name of the Historian: Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq
          About the Author: Sultan had got the eight chapters of his work inscribed on eight slabs of stone which were fixed on eight sides of the octagonal dome of a building near the Jami Masjid at Firuzabad.

            a. Prayers of Temple-destroyers in this Book
            “The next matter which by God’s help I accomplished, was the repetition of names and titles of former sovereigns which had been omitted from the prayers of Sabbaths and Feasts. The names of those sovereigns of Islam, under whose happy fortune and favour infidel countries had been conquered, whose banners had waved over many a land, under whom idol-temples had been demolished, and mosques and pulpits built and exalted…”

            Delhi and Evirons
            “The Hindus and idol-worshippers had agreed to pay the money for toleration (zar-i zimmiya) and had consented to the poll-tax(jiziya) in return for which they and their families enjoyed security. These people now erected new idol-temples in the city and the enviorns in opposition to the law of the Prophet which declares that such temples are not to be tolerated. Under divine guidance I destroyed these edifices and I killed those leaders of infidelity who seduced others into error, and the lower orders I subjected to stripes and chastisement, until this abuse was entirely abolished. The following is an instance: In the vilalge of Maluh, there is a tank which they call kund (tank). Here they had built idol-temples and on certain days the Hindus were accustomed to proceed thither on horseback, and wearing arms. Their women and children also went out in palankins and carts. Then they assembled in thousands and performed idol-worship. …when intelligence of this came to my ears my religious feelings prompted me at once to put a stop to this scandal and offence to the religion of Islam. On the day of the assembly I went there in person and I ordered that the leaders of these people and the promoters of this abominations should be put to death. I destroyed their idol-temples and instead thereof raised mosques.”

            Gohana (Haryana)
            “Some Hindus had erected a new idol-temple in the village of Kohana and the idolators used to assemble there and perform their idolatrous rites. These people were seized and brought before me. I ordered that the perverse conduct of the leaders of this wickedness should be publicly proclaimed, and that they should be put to death before the gate of the palace. I also ordered that the infidel books, the idols and the vessels used in their worship, which had been taken with idols, should all be publicly burnt. The others were restrained by threats and punishments, as a warning to all men, that no zimmi could follow such wicked practices in a Muslaman country.”

          19. Name of the Book: Tarikh-i-Mubarak Shahi
          Name of the Historian: Yahya Ammad bin Abdullah Sirhindi
          About the Author: The author lived in the reign of Sultan Muizu’d-Din Abu’l Fath Mubarak Shah (AD 1421-1434) of the Sayyid dynasty which ruled at Delhi from AD 1414-1451.
          The Muslim Rulers he wrote About:

            a. Sultan Shamsu’d-Din Iltutmish (AD 1210-1236)
            Vidisha and Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh)
            “In AH 631 he invaded Malwah, and after suppressing the rebels of that place, he destroyed that idol-temple which had existed there for the past three hundred years. Next he turned towards Ujjain and conquered it, and after demolishing the idol-temple of Mahakal, he uprooted the statue of Bikramajit together with all other statues and images which were placed on pedestals, and brought them to the capital where they were laid before the Jami Masjid for being trodden under foot by the people

          20. Name of the Book: Tarikh-i-Muhammadi
          Name of the Historian: Muhammed Bihamad Khani
          About the Author: The author was the son of the governor of Irich in Bundelkhand. He was a soldier who participated in several wars. His history covers a long period – from Prophet Mohammed to AD 1438-39
          The Muslim Rulers he wrote About:

            a. Sultan Ghiyasu’d-Din Tughlaq Shah II (AD 1388-89)
            Kalpi (Uttar Pradesh)
            “In the meanwhile Delhi received news of the defeat of the armies of Islam which were with Malikzada Mahmud bin Firuz Khan…This Malikzada reached the bank of the Yamuna via Shahpur and renamed Kalpi which was the abode and center of the infidels and the wicked, as Muhammadabad, after the name of Prophet Muhammed. He got mosques erected for the worship of Allah in places occupied by temples, and made that city his capital. ”

            b. Sultan Nasiru’d-Din Mahmud Shah Tughlaq (AD 1389-1412)
            Prayag and Kara (Uttar Pradesh)
            “The Sultan moved with the armies of Islam towards Prayag and Arail with the aim of destroying the infidels, and he laid waste both those places. The vast crowd which had collected at Prayag for worshipping false gods was made captive. The inhabitants of Kara were freed from the mischief of rebels on account of this aid from King and the name of this king of Islam became famous by this reason.”
          Another Moghul ruler by the name of Babur who was in love with a young boy named Baburi glorifies his lecherously Islamic deeds in the Babur-Nama.

          21. Name of the Book: Babur-Nama

 Name of the Author: Zahiru’d-Din Muhammed Babur

About the Author: The author of this book was the founder of Mughal dynasty in India who proclaimed himself a Padshah (Ruler) after his victory in the First Battle of Panipat (AD 1526), and a Ghazi (killer of kafirs) after the defeat of Rana Sanga in the Battle of Khanwa (AD 1528) While presenting himself as an indefatigable warrior and drug-addict he does not hide the cruelties he committed on the defeated people, particularly his fondness for building towers of the heads of those he captured as prisoners of war or killed in battle. He is very liberal in citing appropriate verses from the Quran on the eve of the battle with Rana Sanga. In order to ensure his victory, he makes a covenant with Allah by breaking the vessels containing wine as also the cups for drinking it, swearing at the same time that “he would break the idols of the idol-worshippers in a similar manner”. In the Fath-Nama (prayer for victory) composed for him by Shykh Zain, Allah is described as “destroyers of idols from their foundations” The language he uses for his Hindu adversaries is typically Islamic.

   a. Zahirud-Din Muhammed Babur Padshah Ghazi (AD 1526-1530)
            Chanderi (Madhya Pradesh)
            “In AH 934 (AD 1528), I attacked Chanderi and, by the grace of Allah, captured it in a few hours. We got the infidels slaughtered and the place which had been a daru’l-harb for years, was made into daru’l-Islam. ”

            Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh)
            “Next day, at the time of the noon prayer, we went out for seeing those places in Gwalior which we had not seen yet. Going out of the Hathipole Gate of the fort, we arrived at a place called Urwa. Urwa is not a bad place It is an enclosed space. Its biggest blemish is its statues. I ordered that they should be destroyed… ”

            a. Name of the structure: Quwwat al-Islam Masjid
            Location: Delhi in Uttar Pradesh
            Inscription:
              “This fort was conquered and the Jami Masjid built in the year 587 by the Amir(*), the great, the glorious commander of the Army, Qutub-ud-daula wad-din, the Amir-ul-umara Aibeg, the slave of the Sultan, may Allah strengthen his helpers. The materials of 27 idol temples, on each of which 2,000,000 Delhiwals(** ) had been spent were used in the construction of the mosque.”
            *The Amir mentioned above was Qutubud-Din Aibak, slave of Muhammed Ghori.
            **”Delhiwal” was a high denomination coin current at that time in Delhi.

            b. Name of the structure: Mansuri Masjid
            Location: Vijapur in Gujrat
            Inscription:
              “The Blessed and Exalted Allah says, ‘And verily, mosques are for Allah only; hence invoke not anyone else with Allah.’ This edifice was originally built by the infidels. After the advent of Islam, it was converted into a mosque. Sermon was delivered here for sixty-seven years. Due to the sedition of the infidels, it was again destroyed. When during the reign of the Sultan of the time, Ahmad, the affairs of each Iqta attained magnificence, Bahadur, the Sarkhail, once again carried out repairs. Through the generosity of Divine munificence, it became like new.”

            c. Name of the structure: Masjid at Manvi
            Location: Manvi in Karnataka
            Inscription:
              “Praise be to Allah that by the decree of the Parvardigar, a mosque has been converted out of a temple as a sign of religion in the reign of the world-conquering emperor, the Sultan who is the asylum of the Faith and the possessor of the crown, who’s kingdom is young, viz. Firuz Shah Bahmani, who is the cause of Exuberant spring in the garden of religion, Adu’l-Fath the king who conquered. After the victory of the emperor, the chief of chiefs, Safdar (the valiant commander) of the age, received the fort. The builder of this noble place of prayer is Muhammad Zahir Aqchi, the pivot of the Faith. He constructed in the year 809 from the Migration of the Chosen (prophet Muhammdad) this Ka’ba like momento.”

            d. Name of the structure: Mausoleum of Shykh ‘Abdullah Shah Changal
            Location: Dhar in Madhya Pradesh
            Inscription:
              “The centre became Muhammadan first by him(*) (and) all the banners of religion were spread… This lion-man came from the centre of religion to this old temple with a large force. He broke the images of the false deities, and turned the idol temple into a mosque. When Rai Bhoj saw this, through wisdom he embraced Islam with the family of his brave warriors(**). This quarter became illuminated by the light of the Muhammadan law, and the customs of the infidels became obsolete and abolished.”
            *Shykh ‘Abdullah Shah Changal
            **In this case the Hindu King was Bhoj II and during his reign Jalalu’d-Din Khalji (AD 1290-1296) of Delhi invaded Malwa. Changal was the Muslim missionary who accompanied Khalji’s army. This army after plundering and looting the kingdom of Bhoj II converted a Hindu temple into a mosque and forced the ruler and his subjects to accept Islam.

            e. Name of the structure: Jami’ Masjid
            Location: Malan in Gujrat
            Inscription:
              “…(The Prophet), on him be peace, says ‘He who builds a mosque in the world, the Exalted Allah builds for him a palace in Paradise.’ In the auspicious time of the government and peaceful time of Mahmud Shah, son of Muhammad Shah, the sultan, the Jami’, mosque was constructed on the hill of the fort of Malun (or Malwan) by Khan-i-Azam Ulugh Khan…at the request of the thandar Kabir, (son of Diya), the building was constructed by the son of Ulugh Khan who is magnanimous, just, generous, brave and who suppressed the wretched infidels. He eradicated the idol-houses and mine of infidelity, along with the idols… with the edge of his sword, and made ready this edifice… He made its walls and doors out of the idols; the back of every stone became the place for prostration of the believer…”

            f. Name of the structure: Jami’ Masjid
            Location: Amod in Gujrat
            Inscription:
              “Allah and His grace. When divine favour was bestowed on Khalil Shah, he constructed the Jami’ Masjid for the decoration of Islam; he ruined the idol-house and temple of the polytheists, (and) completed the Masjid and pulpit in its place. Without doubt, his building was accepted by Allah.”

            g.. Name of the structure: Shrine of Shah Madar
            Location: Narwar in Mdhya pradesh
            Inscription:
              “Dilawar Khan, the chief among the king’s viceroys, caused this mosque to built which is like a place of shelter for the favourites. Infidelity has been subdued, and Islam has triumphed because of him. The idols have bowed to him and the temples have been razed to the ground along with their foundations, and mosques and worship houses are flowing with riches.”

            h. Name of structure: Hamman Darwaza Masjid
            Location: Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh
            Inscription:
              “Thanks by the guidance of Everlasting and the Living Allah, this house of infidelity became the niche of prayer. As a reward for that, the Generous Lord constructed an abode for the builder in paradise…”

            i. Name of structure: Jami Masjid
            Location: Ghoda in Maharashtra
            Inscription:
              “O Allah O Muhammed ! O Ali ! When Mir Muhammed Zaman made up his mind, he opened the door of prosperity on himself by his own hand. He demolished thirty-three idol temples and by divine grace laid the foundation of a building in the abode of perdition.”

            j. Name of structure: Gachinala Masjid
            Location: Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh
            Inscription:
              “He is Allah, may be glorified. During the august rule of…Muhammed Shah, there was a well established idol-house in Kuhmum…Muhammed Salih…razed to the ground, the edifice of the idol-house and broke the idols in a manly fashion. He constructed on its site a suitable mosque, towering above the building of all.”

   Note: Works of Arun Shourie, Harsh Narain, Jay Dubashi and Sita Ram Goel have been used in this article.

A Short History of India–It’s Heroes and Invaders

A SHORT HISTORY OF INDIA—ITS HEROES AND INVADERS

This relates the invasions, challenges, massacres, and struggles of India’s people and heroes against the criminals who tried to destroy India and its culture. This is presented to preserve the real history of India.

 

 

Contents

 

ALEXANDER AND THE GREEKS

THE ARAB INVASIONS

THE TURKISH INVASION

THE MAMLUK (SLAVE) DYNASTY

THE KHILJIS

THE TUGHLAQS

THE SAYYID & LODHI DYNASTIES

THE BAHAMANIS

THE MUGHALS

THE PORTUGUESE

THE BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY

THE INITIAL STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE

THE BRITISH RAJ

CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI

HEROES AFTER SHIVAJI

ADDITIONAL HEROES WHO WORKED FOR PROTECTING INDIA AND ITS CULTURE

HALL OF SHAME (Muslim Rulers and Criminals Against India)

 

  

For more than two millennia, India has suffered one bloody invasion after another, leaving a Holocaust of millions of lives and a civilization and culture left in near ruins.  Through it all, India is the only one of the great ancient civilizations that has survived today.  Hinduism is the most ancient and only continuously surviving religion and culture that has successfully maintained itself while so many other cultures and civilizations have vanished. No other ancient civilization has retained its ancient religion and culture under the onslaught of the western Abrahamic monotheist religions.

The first of the major invasions came from Alexander of Macedonia.  His invasion of India was intended to bring Greek culture to India and to encourage cultural exchange between the Indic and Hellenic worlds.  This invasion was mild compared to the savage invasions of Islam, which continue even today, attempting to decimate the Indian religions of Dharma and the Culture of Bhaaratvarsha (India).  The contemporary French writer François Gautier has said, “The massacres perpetuated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the Holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis; or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native populations by the invading Spanish and Portuguese.”

Just as India was about to successfully throw off the yoke of Islamic barbarism after nearly 1000 years of slaughter, the British and Portuguese came with their missionaries.  They tried to finish what Islam had begun, beginning centuries more of colonial strangulation of the great Vedic Culture of India, until finally India won her Independence in 1947.  By then, so much damage had been done that India was forced to accept partition along religious lines and give up much of her northern territories to what are today the Islamic States of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

What is left of modern India is still rife with a growing population of Muslims and the continuing threat of Christian missionaries, openly seeking to wipe out Hinduism, which is not only the majority religion of India, but more than that, the Indian way of life and her very culture. Here we present a brief overview of the history of the foreign invasions and occupations of India.

 

 

ALEXANDER AND THE GREEKS

336 B.C.E.  – 323 B.C.E.

Alexander was the King of Macedonia, a nation north of the city-states of ancient Greece, which was heavily influenced by the Hellenic (Greek) culture.  Alexander was just 21 years old in the year 336 B.C.E., when he decided to invade India, after having conquered much of Asia Minor and the Middle East. At the time, King Taxiles ruled a large area in India.  When he heard that Alexander was coming, Taxiles did not wait, but went in person to meet him in peace.  “Why should we make war on each other,” Taxiles said, “if the reason for your coming is not to rob us of our water and our food?  Those are the only things that a wise man has no choice but to fight for.  As for any other riches or possessions, if I have more than you I am ready to share.  But if fortune has been better to you than to me, then I have no objection to being in your debt.”

These courteous words pleased Alexander, and he replied: “Do you think your kind words and courteous conduct will avoid a contest between us?  No, I will not let you off so easily.  I will do battle with you on these terms: no matter how much you give me, I will give more in return.”  

Thereupon Taxiles made many fine presents to Alexander, but Alexander responded with presents of even greater value and topped them off with a thousand talents in gold coins.  This generosity displeased Alexander’s old friends but won the hearts of many of the Indians.

King Porus, however, refused to submit, and he took up a position to prevent Alexander from crossing the Hydaspes River.  Porus was a huge man, and when mounted on his war elephant he looked in the same proportion as an ordinary man on a horse.  After a long fight, Alexander won the victory, and Porus came to him as a prisoner.  Alexander asked him how he expected to be treated, and Porus replied: “As a king.”  When Alexander asked a second time, Porus explained that in those words was included everything that a man could possibly want.   Alexander not only allowed Porus to keep his kingdom as a satrap, but he also gave him more territory.

This was a costly victory, however.  Many Macedonians died, and so did Alexander’s old war horse, Bucephalus.  This grieved Alexander so much that it seemed as though he had lost an old friend.  On that spot he ordered a city to be built, named Bucephalia after his beloved horse, Bucephalus.

Such a difficult victory over only 22,000 Indians [May 326 B.C.] took the edge off the courage of the Macedonians.  They had no enthusiasm for Alexander’s proposed crossing of the Ganges, a river said to be four miles wide and six hundred feet deep, to encounter an army on the other side consisting of 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots, and 6,000 war elephants. 

Alexander was so angry at their reluctance that he shut himself up in his tent, saying that if they would not cross the Ganges, he owed them no thanks for anything they had done so far.  But finally the persuasions of his friends, and the pleas of his soldiers, got Alexander to agree to turn back.

To exaggerate his reputation, Alexander left bridles and armor that were much bigger than normal, and huge altars to the gods.  On a flotilla of rafts and barges, Alexander’s army floated down the Indus River.

Along the way, they stopped to take some fortified cities, and at one of them Alexander came very close to losing his life.  Alexander was the first one up the ladders onto the wall of the city of the Mallians, and then he jumped down into the town with only two of his guards behind him.

Before the rest of the Macedonians could catch up and save him, Alexander had taken an arrow in the ribs and had been knocked dizzy by a club.  He was unconscious when they carried him away, and he fainted when the doctors cut out the arrow.  Rumors spread that Alexander was dead.

While in India, Alexander took ten of the Brahmins  prisoner.  These men had a great reputation for intelligence, so Alexander decided to give them a test.  He announced that the one who gave the worst answer would be the first to die, and he made the oldest Brahmin the judge of the competition.

Which are more numerous, Alexander asked the first one, the living or the dead?  “The living,” said the Brahmin, “because the dead no longer count.”

Which produces more creatures, the sea or the land? Alexander asked the second.  “The land,” was his answer, “because the sea is only a part of it.”

The third was asked which animal was the smartest of all, and the Brahmin replied: “The one we have not found yet.”

Alexander asked the fourth what argument he had used to stir up the Indians to fight, and he answered:  “Only that one should either live nobly or die nobly.”

Which is older: day or night? was Alexander’s question to the fifth, and the answer he got was:  “Day is older, by one day at least.”  When he saw that Alexander was not satisfied with this answer, the Brahmin added: “Strange questions get strange answers.”

What should a man do to make himself loved? asked Alexander, and the sixth Brahmin replied: “Be powerful without being frightening.”

What does a man have to do to become a god? he asked the seventh, who responded: “Do what is impossible for a man.”

The question to the eighth was whether death or life was stronger, and his answer: “Life is stronger than death, because it bears so many miseries.”

The ninth Brahmin was asked how long it was proper for a man to live, and he said: “Until it seems better to die.”

Then Alexander turned to the judge, who decided that each one had answered worse than another.  “You will die first, then, for giving such a decision,” said Alexander.  “Not so, mighty king,” said the Brahmin, “if you want to remain a man of your word.  You said that you would kill first the one who made the worst answer.”  Alexander gave all of the Brahmins presents and set them free, even though they had persuaded the Indians to fight him.

Alexander’s voyage down the Indus took seven months.   When he finally arrived at the Indian Ocean, he decided not to take the army home by ship but to march them through the Gedrosian Desert.   After sixty miserable days, they arrived at Gedrosia, where they finally found enough to eat and drink.  Many died in that desert: out of the 120,000 infantry and 15,000 cavalry that Alexander took with him into India, only one in four came back.

 

 

THE ARAB INVASIONS

636 C.E. – 850 C.E.

In one of the Hadiths (Muslim scripture) the Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying “Two groups of my Ummah, Allah has protected from the hellfire: a group that will conquer India and a group that will be with Isa ibnu Maryam (Jesus, son of Mary).”  The first attempted invasion of India by Muslims occurred in 636 CE — under Caliph Umar, within four years of Muhammad’s death. The first 16 invasion attempts utterly failed.  But the 17th attempt to invade India by Muhammad bin Qâsim, which was carried out against the wishes of the Kalifate, was successful. Muhammad bin Qâsim marched to Sindh with 15,000 men. He arrived at Debal, a port city near the modern Karachi, in 711. There he was bolstered by the arrival of his artillery by sea, and took the town. This was followed by his conquest of Alor, located north of Hyderabad in June 712. In the fighting before Aror the Raja Dâhir was slain. The next year he also conquered the important city of Multan.

Following the rapid conquest of Sindh, Arab progress was checked. In part this was caused by internal division. In 714 Hajjâj died, and in 715 the Calif Walid I (705-715) took interest in the campaign and recalled the conquering general, Muhammad bi Qâsim. Arab control thereafter rapidly disintegrated, leading many local rulers to repudiate their allegiance to the Arabs. The Arabs also met stiff resistance from neighboring Indian kings. When an Arab governor of Sindh, Junaid, sought to seize Kacch and Malwa, he was foiled by the Pratihara and Gurjara kings. The Arabs were thus unable to expand beyond Sindh, but they were able to maintain their hold on the province.  In 985 an Ismaili Fatamid dynasty declared its independence in Multan.

 

 

THE TURKISH INVASION

1000 C.E. – 1206 C.E.

The break-up of the Gurjara-Pratihara empire led to a phase of political uncertainty in north India. As a result, little attention was paid to the emergence of the aggressive and expansionist Turks from north-west. 

 

Rajputana States

The three most important of the Rajput states in north India were the Gahrwals of Kanauj, the Paramaras of Malwa and the Chauhans of Ajmer. 

            There were other smaller dynasties in different parts of the country, such as the Kalachuris in the area around Jabalpur, the Chandellas in Bundelkhand, the Chalukyas of Gujarat, the Tomars of Delhi, etc. Bengal remained under the control of the Palas and later, the Senas.

There was a continuous struggle and warfare between the various Rajput states. It was these rivalries which made it impossible for the Rajput rulers to join hands to oust the Ghaznavids from the Punjab. In fact, the Ghaznavids felt strong enough to make raids even up to Ujjain.

Most of the Rajput rulers of the time were champions of Hinduism, though some of them also patronized Jainism. The Rajput rulers protected the privileges of the brahmanas and of the caste system. Between the tenth and the twelfth century, temple-building activity in north India reached it’s climax.

            The most representative temples of this type are the group of temples at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh. Most of these temples were built by the Chandellas, who ruled in the area from the beginning of the ninth to the end of the thirteenth century. In Orissa, magnificent examples of temple architecture are the Lingaraja temple (11th century) and the Sun temple of Konark (13th century). The famous Jagannath temple at Puri also belongs to this period.

 

Mahmud of Ghazni

Mahmud of Ghazni raided the country in 1000 AD, with his first great victory against the Hindushahi kings of Peshawar. The muslim rulers of Multan were the second targets. In a short period of 25 years, he is said to have made 17 raids into India. From the Punjab, Mahmud raided Nagarkot in the Punjab hills and Thanesar near Delhi.

            His most daring raids, however, were against Kanauj in 1018 and against the fabulously rich Somnath temple in Gujarat. No attempt was made to annex any of these areas. The rich spoils from the temples, which were repositories of wealth, helped him to consolidate his rule and embellish Ghazni with palaces and mosques. He died in Ghazni in 1030.

 

Muhammad of Ghur

The second Turkish attack was led by Mu’izzu’d-Din Muhammad (also known as Muhammad Ghuri), who conquered Sindh and Lahore in 1182. Soon after, he commenced his attack on the Rajput kingdoms. Prithviraj Chauhan successfully led the Rajputs against Ghuri at the first battle of Tarain in 1191 AD. However, at the second battle of Tarain in 1192 AD, Prithviraj was defeated and the kingdom of Delhi fell to Muhammad Ghuri. Before Ghuri’s assassination in 1206, Turkish control had been established along the whole length of the Ganga. Bihar and Bengal were also overrun.

            Ghuri’s conquests started a new era in Indian history…  The Delhi Sultanate

 

 

THE MAMLUK (SLAVE) DYNASTY

1206 C.E. – 1290 C.E

Ghuri’s conquest became the nucleus of a new political entity of India – the Delhi Sultanate. For almost one hundred years after that, the Delhi Sultanate was involved in foreign invasions, internal conflicts among the Turkish leaders and the dispossessed Rajput rulers and chiefs to regain their independence.

            Ghuri left his Indian possessions in the care of his former slave, General Qutb-ud- din Aibak. He played an important part in the expansion of the Turkish sultanate in India after the battle of Tarrain.

            On the death of his master, Aibak severed his links with Ghazni and asserted his

independence, and founded the Slave Dynasty (mamluks). This helped to prevent India being drawn into central asian politics and enabled the Delhi Sultanate to develop independently.

Iltutmish (1210 AD – 1236 AD), son-in-law of Aibak – succeeded Aibak as the sultan by defeating Aibak’s son. Thus, the principle of heredity, of son succeeding his father was checked at the outset. Iltutmish must be regarded as the real consolidator of the Turkish conquests in north India.

            He gave the new state capital, Delhi, a monarchical form of government and governing class. He introduced Iqta – grant of revenue from a territory in lieu of salary. He maintained a central army and introduced coins of Tanka (silver) and Jital (copper). The famous Qutub Minar was completed during his reign. He despatched an expedition against the Chalukyas of Gujarat but it was repelled with losses.

            Around this time, Mongols under the leadership of Ghinghiz Khan, swept across central Asia and mercilessly sacked the kingdoms. They periodically crossed river Indus to attack Punjab and Iltutmish had to keep constant check on this side.

During his last years, Iltutmish finally nominated his daughter Raziya (1236 AD – 1239 AD) to the throne. Raziya was the First and only Muslim lady to sit on Delhi Throne. In order to assert her claim, Raziya had to contend against her brothers as well as against powerful Turkish nobles, and could rule only for three years.

            Though brief, her rule had a number of interesting features like the beginning of the struggle for power between the monarchy and the Turkish chiefs, sometimes called as the forty or Chahalgami. She sent an expedition against Ranthambhor to control the Rajputs, and successfully established law and order in the length and breadth of her kingdom. In 1239 AD, an internal rebellion broke out in which Raziya was imprisoned and killed by bandits.

            The struggle between the monarchy and the Turkish chiefs continued till one of the Turkish chiefs Balban (Ulugh khan) (1265 AD – 1285 AD) ascended the throne. During the earlier period he held the position of naib or deputy to Nasiruddin Mahmud, a younger son of Iltultmish. He broke the Chahalgami and made the Sultan all important.

            After Balban’s death, there was again confusion in Delhi for some times. In 1290, the Khilji’s, under the leadership of Jalaluddin Khilji, wrested power from the incompetent successor of Balban.

 

 

THE KHILJIS

1290 C.E. – 1320 C.E.

The Khiljis used their Afghan descent to win the loyalties of the discontented nobles, who felt that they had been neglected by earlier Slave sultans.

            Jalaluddin Khilji (1290 AD – 1296 AD) tried to mitigate some of the harsh aspects of Balban’s rule. He was the first ruler to put forward the view that the state should be based on the willing support of the governed and that since the majority of Indians were Hindus, the state cannot be truly Islamic.

            Alauddin Khilji (1296 AD – 1316 AD) treacherously murdered his uncle and father-in-law, Jalaluddin. By harsh methods, he cowed down the nobles and made them completely subservient to the crown. He was ambitious and dreamt of an all India empire.

Over a twenty five years period, Malwa, Gujarat and Rajasthan was brought under his control. To solve the water problems in summer, he constructed lot of Baolis (Wells). His famous general Malik Kafur led the campaign (1308 AD – 1312 AD) to the south and defeated the Yadavas of Deogiri, the Kakityas of Warangal and the Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra.

Alauddin also repelled the Mongols successfully. His military success was because of the creation of a large standing army directly recruited and paid by the state. He revoked all grants made by previous sultans, introduced price control covering almost the entire market and rationed the grain.

            In order to effectively subordinate nobles, he banned drinking of intoxicants. The sultan’s permission was necessary before marriage could be arranged among the member of nobility, so that marriage alliances of a political nature could be prevented. No further rebellion took place during his life time, but in the long run his methods proved harmful to the dynasty. As the old nobility was destroyed, the new nobility was taught to accept any one who could ascend the throne of Delhi. 

            Kings followed in quick succession after his death, till in 1320, a group of officers led by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq raised the banner of revolt and put an end to the Khilji dynasty.

 

 

THE TUGHLAQS

1320 C.E. – 1412 C. E.

The Tughlaqs also wished to rule the whole of India. Ghyasuddin’s (1320 AD – 1325 AD) campaign to Warrangal, Orissa and Bengal were directed towards this end. He built the city Tughlaqabad near Delhi.

            By 1324 AD, the territories of the Delhi sultanate reached upto Madurai. However, his economic policy was not consistent with his political ambitions. As the Iqta holders were permitted their earlier perquisites, power gradually slipped back into the hands of nobles.

            Muhammad-Bin-Tughlaq (1325 AD – 1351 AD) succeeded his father and was referred to as an ill-starred idealist, whose experiments generally ended in failure. He extended the kingdom beyond India, into Central Asia.

To meet the expenses of the large army Muhammad increased the tax but the peasants refused and rebelled. Though the rebellion was suppressed, the taxation policy had to be revised. He decided to issue token coins in brass and copper which had the same value as silver coins. But due to the absence of a central mint, people began to forge the new coins, and the token coins had to be discontinued.

            Muhammad Bin-Tughlaq decided to move his capital from Delhi to Deogir (Daulatabad), in order to control the Deccan and extend the empire into the south. The plan ended in failure because of discontent amongst those who had been forced to move to Deogir and Muhammad also found that he could not keep a watch on the northern frontier.

In 1334 bubonic plague wiped out more than half his army, and the army ceased to be effective. Due to this, in 1334 the Pandyan kingdom (Madurai) rejected the authority of the sultanate and this was followed by Warangal. In 1336 the Vijayanagara empire and in 1337 the Bahamani kingdom were founded. They built magnificent capitals and cities with many splendid buildings, promoted arts and also provided law and order and the development of commerce and handicrafts. Thus while the forces of disintegration gradually triumphed in north India, south India and the Deccan had a long spell of stable government.

            Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351 AD – 1388 AD) succeeded Muhammad. Having become sultan with the support of the nobles and the theologians, he had to appease them. His death was followed by civil war among his descendants.

            The sultanate became weak and in 1398, the Mongols, under the leadership of Timur (Tamerlane), mercilessly sacked and plundered Delhi. Timur returned to central Asia leaving his nominee to rule in the Punjab.

 

 

THE SAYYID & LODHI DYNASTIES

1414 C.E. 1526 C.E.

The Tughlaq dynasty ended soon after the Timurs invasion but the sultanate survived, though it was merely a shadow of its former self. Timurs nominee captured Delhi and was proclaimed the new sultan and the first of Sayyid Dynasty (1414 AD – 1451 AD), which was to rule the earlier half of the fifteenth century.

            Their rule was short-lived and confined to a radius of some 200 miles around Delhi. They kept the machinery going until a more capable dynasty, the Lodhis, took over. The Lodhis were of pure Afghan origin, and brought an eclipses to the Turkish nobility. Bahlul Lodhi established himself in Punjab after the Timur’s invasion. The most important Lodhi Sultan was Sikandar Lodhi (1489 – 1517), who controlled the Ganga Valley as far as Bengal. He moved his capital from Delhi, to be able to control the kingdom better, to a new town which later become famous as the city of Agra.

The last, Lodhi Ibrahim, asserted his absolute power and did not consider the tribal feelings. This lead to his making enemies with them. Finally they plotted with Babar and succeeded in overthrowing him in 1526 at the first battle of Panipat.

            As the power of the Sultanate declined, a number of other kingdoms arose.

In Western India – Malwa and Gujarat,

In Eastern India – Jaunpur and Bengal,

In Northern India – Kashmir, and

In the Deccan and the south – The Vijayanagara and the Bahamani.

            As the Islamic population in India swelled, the identity of the Indian Moslem acquired a new definition. Islam now actively influenced most facets of life. The Hindu elite adopted the purdha system and their language began to be written in Arabic script, leading to a new language, Urdu. Calligraphy came into its own and was raised to the highest form of aesthetic expression.

            Around this time on the north-western part of India, especially around Punjab a new religion Sikhism started to gain popularity

 

 

THE BAHAMANIS

1346C.E. – 1689 C.E.

The Bahamani kingdom was founded by Hasan Gangu, who led a rebellion against Sultan Muhammad- Bin-Tughlaq and proclaimed the independence of the Bahamani kingdom (1346 AD).

            He took the title of Bahaman Shah and became the first ruler of the dynasty. This kingdom included the whole of the northern Deccan upto the river Krishna. South of the kingdom was the Vijayanagara Empire with which it had to fight continueous wars for various reasons.

            The most remarkable figure in the Bahamani kingdom was Firuz Shah Bahamani (1397 AD – 1422 AD), who fought three major battles with the Vijayanagara Empire without any major result. He was well acquainted with religious and natural sciences. He wanted to make the Deccan the cultural centre of India.

            Ferhishta – the court poet, calls him an orthodox Muslim, his only weakness being his fondness for drinking wine and listening to music. Firuz Shah was compelled to abdicate in favour of his brother Ahmad Shah I, who was called a saint (wali) on account of his association with the famous Sufi Gesu Daraz. He invaded Warangal and annexed most of its territories.

            The loss of Warangal changed the balance of power in south India. The Bahamani kingdom gradually extended and reached its climax under the prime ministership of Mahmud Gawan (1466 AD – 1481 AD). One of the most difficult problems which faced the Bahamanis was a strife among the nobles, who were divided into Deccanis (old-comers) and Afaqis or gharibs (new-comers).

Since, Gawan was a new-comer, it was hard for him to win the confidence of the Deccanis. His broad policy of conciliation, could not stop the party strife. In 1482, Gawan who was over seventy years, was executed by Sultan Muhammad Shah of the Deccan.

            After his death, the party strife became more intense and various governors became independent and were finally divided into five parts, namely, Adil Shahi of Bijapur, Qutub Shahi of Golconda, Nizam Shahi of Ahmadnagar, Barid Shahi of Bidar and Imad Shahi of Berar.

This kingdom together crusaded against Vijayanagara Empire and defeated it in 1565. Later on, Imad Shahi was conquered by Nizamshah (1574 AD) and Barid Shahi was annexed by Adilshah (1619 AD). These three kingdoms played a leading role in the Deccan politics till their absorption in the Mughal empire during the seventeenth century. It was Aurangzeb, the Mughal king, who after the death of Shivaji, marched towards the south and annexed Bijapur (1686 AD) and Golconda (1689 AD) and brought an end to the Bahamani kingdom.

One of the largest domes of the world, Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur and Charminar at Hyderabad were the fine examples of architecture of this time. The Bahamanis, in many respects were similar to the Delhi sultanate. Their income came almost entirely from land and the administration revolved around the assessment and collection of land revenue.

The Bahamani kingdom acted as a cultural bridge between the north and the south. The culture which developed as a result had its own specific features which were distinct from north India.

These cultural traditions were continued by the successors states and also influenced the development of Mughal culture during the period.

 

 

THE MUGHALS  

1526 C.E. – 1857 C.E.

The Mughal period can be called a second classical age in northern India. In this cultural development, the Indian traditions were amalgamated with the Turko-Iranian culture, brought to the country by the Mughals.

            The Mughal rulers of India kept up the closest of contacts with Iran and there was a stream of scholars and artists coming over the frontiers to seek fame and fortune at the brilliant court of the Great Mughal, Babar.

 

 

Babar (1526 AD – 1530 AD)

Babar founder of the Mughal dynasty, was the king of Kabul. He was invited to India to fight against Ibrahim Lodhi. He confronted and defeated Lodhi in 1526 at the first battle of Panipat.

Babar was the first king to bring artillery to India and succeeded because the cavalry that he had brought from central Asia, which was new to the Indian army, and the fact that he was a good general, with an easily moved army.

Before his death, he had made himself the master of the Punjab, Delhi and the Ganga plains as far as Bihar. He wrote Tuzuk-i-Babari an autobiography, containing a lively description of India, in Turkish.

 

 

Humayun (1530 AD – 1556 AD)

He inherited a vast unconsolidated empire and an empty treasury. He also had to deal with the growing power of the Afghan Sher Shah, from the east, who had Bihar and Bengal under him. Sher Shah defeated Humayun in Kannauj (1540 AD) and Humayun passed the next twelve years in exile. In 1555, after Sher Shah’s death, Humayun regained the throne from his weak successor.

            Akbar, his son, succeed him in 1556 AD, and consolidated the empire. He was such a good builder that the edifice he had erected lasted for another hundred years in spite of inadequate successors.

            There was great subversion of Indian culture, in an effort to Islamicize it. Indian music was adopted as a whole and with enthusiasm by the Muslim Courts and the nobility.  Literature and poetry were also encouraged and among the noted poets in Hindi some were Muslims. Ibrahim Adil Shah, the ruler of Bijapur, wrote a treatise in Hindi on Indian music.

 

 

Akbar (1556 AD – 1605 AD)

He consolidated the occupying Mughal empire. Daring and reckless, an able general, and ruthless. An idealist and a dreamer, and yet a man of action and a leader of men who roused the passionate loyalty of his followers.

            He was only thirteen, when he came to the throne. His first conflict was with Hemu, a general of Adil Shah, under whom the Afghan resistance had regrouped. King Hemu was the only one Hindu King who ever ruled the Delhi Throne in Indian History. At the second battle of Panipat (1556 AD), Hemu was defeated and Akbar reoccupied Delhi and Agra. Akbar annexed Malwa and brought a major part of Rajasthan under his control. He built the Buland Darwaza, after his successful campaign in dominating Gujarat. Most of the Rajputs were forced to recognise his suzerainty, except Mewar, which continued to resist under the great hero Rana Pratap and his son Amar Singh.

After his success in military activities and administration, Akbar’s insatiable quest and his personal need led him to build the Ibadat-Khana – Hall of prayer (1575 AD). Initially it was open only to the Sunnis but later in 1578, it was opened to people of all religions in an effort to win over those who refused to convert. However, in 1582, he discontinued the debates in the Ibadat-Khana.

Later the academic, spiritual and metaphysical aspects of it crystallized into Tauhid-i-Ilahi (Divine Monotheism). Akbar did not create a new religion but suggested a new religious path based on the common truths of all religions, which continued to place Islam in a supreme position. The word Din (Faith) of Din-i-Ilahi, was applied after eighty years.

            Akbar claimed to believe that a ruler was the guardian of his subjects and had to look after their welfare irrespective of their sect or creed. He claimed a policy of Sulh-i-kul (peace to all).

Because of his attempt to convince the native population that he was a generous and tolerant tyrant, he has come to be called by the gullible as one of the great rulers in Indian history, a lie still believed by many today.

 

 

Salim (1605 AD – 1627 AD)

Akbar’s son, Salim succeeded him as Jahangir after his death. He strengthened his control over Bengal and his four successive campaigns forced Amar Singh of Mewar to accept his suzerainty. The Mughal empire became more vulnerable to attacks from central and western Asia. Towards the end of his reign, he had to deal with the rebellion of his son Shah Jahan. Toward the end of his reign, the East India Company (1600 AD) was established in India. An important event of his reign was the active interest taken by Nur Jahan, his queen, in matters of the State and she also ruled the empire when he was ill.

 

 

Shah Jahan (1628 AD – 1658 AD)

On his succession to the throne, the first thing he had to face was revolts in Bhundelkhand and the Deccan. The former he put down easily and the latter came into control with difficulty. Meanwhile the Marathas also emerged as a major threat to the authority of the Mughals.

            The Famous peacock throne and the Red Fort were completed by him. He seized and remodeled a great Shiva Temple, the Tejo Mahila, and turned it into a graveyard for one of his dead wives and renamed it Taj Mahal.  His failing health started a war of succession amongst his four sons in 1657.

 

 

Aurangzeb (1658 AD – 1707 AD)

Aurangzeb, the third son treacherously emerged victorious by killing his brothers and imprisoned his father in Agra fort till his death. He ruled for almost 50 years. During his long reign the Mughal empire reached its territorial climax. At its height, it stretched from Kashmir in the north to Jinji in the south, and from the Hindu Kush in the west to Chittagong in the east.

            He was an orthodox in his outlook and kept himself within the narrow confines of the Islamic law. He discarded Akbar’s supposedly secular principles and vigorously enforced the Jaziya Tax on all non-muslims with severity and destroyed many temples. This did not make Muslims more loyal to the Islamic state, although, the vast native Hindu majority became even more alienated.

Most of his time was spent in trying to put down the revolts in different parts of his empire. While the empire was rent by strife and revolt, the new Maratha power was growing and consolidating itself in western India. Shivaji, the Maratha King, stopped Aurangzeb’s mission of expanding towards the south. However after Shivaji’s death Aurangzeb accomplished his mission of southward expansion. Apart from him, no one else, except the Britishers held India under a single rule.

Aurangzeb, the last of Mughals, tried to put the clock back, and in his attempt broke up the empire. After his death, the Mughal empire collapsed with internal conflicts among the successors and was reduced to the area around Delhi.

            The various provinces declared their independence and the Marathas under the leadership of Peshwas, gradually extended their hold in North India. Foreign invasion of Nadir Shah Abdali in 1729 AD and Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1747-61 AD further weakened the empire. The last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was imprisoned by the Britishers after the 1857 mutiny.

 

 

THE PORTUGUESE

India’s connection with the west has predominantly been related to trade. Amongst the modern Europeans, the Portuguese were the first to establish themselves in India and the last of the Europeans to leave. They arrived as early as 1498 via the ocean route discovered by Vasco-da-Gama.

            He was the first discoverer of sea route via Cape of Good Hope to India, when Constantinople came under Arab power. Portuguese left behind Roman Catholic Christianity with its Baroque churches, its musical liturgy and its great monastic order committed to education. What happened to India when the Portuguese arrived? 

            European interest in India has persisted since classical times and for very cogent reasons. Europe had much to steal from India such as spices, textiles and other oriental products. The best classical accounts are in fact the commercial ones. When direct contact was lost with the fall of Rome and the rise of the Muslims, the trade was carried on through middlemen. In the late Middle Ages it increased with the increasing prosperity of Europe. It should be remembered that the spice trade was not solely a luxury trade at that time. Spices were needed to preserve meat through the winter (cattle had to be slaughtered in late autumn through lack of winter fodder) and to combat the taste of decay. Wine, in the absence of ancient or modern methods of maturing, had to be ‘mulled’ with spices. This trade suffered two threats in the later Middle Ages. There was

the threat of Mongol and Turkish invasion which interfered with the land routes and threatened to engulf the sea route through Egypt, and there was the threat of monopoly shared between the Venetians and Egyptians. 

            In 1510 Affonso de Albuquerque captured the island of Goa on the west coast of India from the Sultan of Bijapur and made it the capital of the Portuguese eastern empire. Its strong points besides Goa were Socotra off the Red Sea (he could not take Aden), Ormuz in the Persian Gulf, Diu in Gujrat, Malacca, the entrepot for the Far East and the spice trade in the East Indies, and Macao in China. The function of Goa was to supervise Malabar, to control the pilgrim traffic to Mecca as well as the general trade to Egypt, Iraq and Persia, and of Malacca to control the East Indian spices at their source. 

However, the Portuguese irked some of the Mughal and preceding rulers because of the toll they took of the trade from the port of Surat and the pilgrim traffic. In seizing and retaining their strong points they acquired a reputation for cruelty and peridy because their practice on both these points was below the current Indian standard. They were deeply impregnated with the idea that no faith need be kept with an infidel. It was from this period that the word feringi (lit.farangi, frank) acquired the opprobrium of which echoes may still be heard today.

However, the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir admired their pictures and had them copied. Emperor Akbar listened with interest to Jesuit Father’s discourses. The New Testament was translated into Persian.  However, during the whole of the 16th century the Portuguese disputed with the Muslims the supremacy of the Indian seas, and the antagonism between Christianity and Islam became gradually more intense. In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese navigator commanded the first expedition to sail around the world. In the Collins Encyclopaedia it is written that Magellan set sail to check the power of Muslim navy and fleet that was dominant. In 1560, the Portuguese

being intolerant in religion, introduced the Inquisition with all its horrors. This was regarded as sub-standard from the Indian standpoint, advertising this trait in their rough handling of Syrian Christians of Malabar to secure their submission to the Catholic faith. 

Socially the policy of Albuquerque in encouraging mixed marriages had important results. His object was to rear a population possessing Portuguese blood and imbued with Portuguese Catholic culture who would be committed by race and taste to the Portuguese settlements and so form a permanent self-perpetuating garrison. The result was the race long known as Luso-Indians and now as Goansese or Goans. They are mainly Indian in blood, Catholic in religion, and partially western in outlook. In recent times, they have spread all over India as traders and professionals, a less successful version of the Parsis. (Of all the Asians in Britain, a majority of whom are Muslim, the first Asian MP had to be a Roman Catholic of Goanese descent, Keith Vaz). 

Some Portuguese words have even crept into the Urdu language such as the names of items for furniture (mayze for desk, almaari for cupboard/wardrobe). Also vindaloo (curry) is part Portuguese and part Urdu: vian is Portuguese for meat and aloo is the Urdu for potato – thus we have meat and potato curry. 

The Portuguese were soon followed by European rivals like the French, Dutch and British. Rivalry between the Dutch and English resulted in the Dutch East India Company “winning” Southeast Asia and Indonesia (known to Europeans as the East Indies); and the British East India Company having to settle for “second-best”, that is India.

 

 

THE BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY

The East India Company chartered by the British crown and ultimately responsible to the parliament, launched British rule in India. The British East India Company was established under a Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I for 15 years for spice trading on 31st December 1600 AD with the capital of £70,000.

            By the middle of the eighteenth century, the company succeeded in establishing power in Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and the east coast. After the battle of Plassey, in 1757, they secured permission from the Mughals to collect land revenue from these provinces in return for an annual tribute and maintaining of order and peace.

            They collected the land revenues through the local Nawab and took control of his army. This gave them power without responsibility. The Company took control of Mysore by defeating Tipu Sultan in 1792 and the Marathas were finally defeated in 1817 AD – 1819 AD. Further the company expanded its rule by defeating Nepal in 1814-16, Sind in 1843, Punjab in 1848-49 and Burma in 1886.

The cruel management of the company ultimately lead to the mutiny of 1857, after which its rule over India ended and the British Crown officially took over the administration in 1858.

 

 

THE INITIAL STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE

The many changes that Britain had brought about in the administration and the ways of life created considerable discontent; and there were many risings in various parts of the country from 1816 to 1857. This culminated in the Revolt of 1857, which shook the very foundation of the Company’s rule in India.

            After nearly a century of British rule, the spirit of revolt was growing, especially among the feudal chiefs and their followers. Even amongst the masses, discontent and an intense anti-British feeling was wide spread. In March 1857, the Indian army at Barrackpore mutinied and this spread rapidly like a wildfire and assumed the character of a popular rebellion and a war of Indian independence.

            By 1857 the material for mass upheaval was ready and required only a spark to set it afire. The episode of greased cartridges provided this spark and the revolt was started by Mangal Pande. The greased cartridges which were to be chewed before firing contained fats of cow and pig. The cow was holy for Hindus where as pig was the most unholy animal for muslims.

            Immediately the revolt engulfed North and Central India. On May 10, 1857 sepoys stationed at Meerut mutinied and marched to Delhi and proclaimed Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor, as the Emperor of India.

 

 

THE BRITISH RAJ

The Revolt of 1857 severely jolted the British administration in India and forced its reorganisation. By the act of 1858, the governing power was transferred from the East India company to the British crown. This power was to be exercised by the Secretary of State for India (member of the British cabinet and responsible to Parliament) aided by

an Indian Council, which had only advisory powers.

            For administrative purpose India was divided into three presidencies, namely, Bengal, Madras and Bombay Presidency. The interests of the British thus became paramount in the governance of India.  The policies and interests of the British in India were determined by the industrialists, the most powerful section in British society.

Indian resources were also utilized to serve the interests of the British empire in other parts of the world and in costly wars. The queen’s proclamations of 1858, promised not to extend British territories in India by annexing Princely

states and they were subordinated to the British government. By the act of 1876, Queen Victoria assumed the title of Empress of India. This implied that Britain would protect the Indian states from internal as well as external danger and get the unlimited powers to intervene in the internal affairs of the State.

            Thus after 1857, India was divided into two parts – British India, directly governed by the British government and the Indian states ruled by Indian princes. Britishers gradually stopped their support to the reforms which resulted in the

preservation of social evils. After 1857 mutiny, they followed the Divide and rule policy, in a aim to create a rift between the Indian Hindus and Muslims.

 

 

CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI

He founded the Hindu kingdom in the Deccan against all odds, fighting against the mighty Mughals. He inspired and united the common man to fight against the tyranny of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, by inculcating a sense of pride and nationality in them. At the age of 16, he took a pledge to establish a sovereign Hindu state. His life appears like a fairy tale to children.  He clearly outstands all the rulers and generals of India by the exemplary life he lived and is thus respected by the entire cross section of Indians.  Shivaji is to India what Napolean was to Europe.

He raised a strong army and navy, constructed and repaired forts, used guerilla warfare tactics, developed a strong intelligence network, gave equal treatment to the people from all religions and castes based on merit, and functioned like a seasoned Statesman and General. He appointed ministers with specific functions such as Internal security, Foreign affairs, Finance, Law and Justice, Religious matters, Defense etc. He introduced systems in revenue collection and warned the officials against harassment of subjects. He thought ahead of times and was a true visionary. In his private life, his moral virtues were exceptionally high. His thoughts and deeds were inspired by the teachings of his mother Jijabai, teacher Dadaji Konddev, great saints like Dnyaneshwar & Tukaram and the valiancy and ideals of the Lords Rama and Krishna.

The tiny kingdom established by Chhatrapati Shivaji known as “Hindavi Swaraja” (Sovereign Hindu state) grew and spread beyond Attock in Northwest India (now in Pakistan) and beyond Cuttack in East India in course of time, to become the strongest power in India. The Peshwas (Pune), Shindes Gwalior, Gaekwads (Baroda) & Holkars (Indore) contributed to its growth. The history of India is incomplete without the history of Marathas and Shivaji is the nucleus of Maratha history. Shivaji has been a source of inspiration and pride and will continue to inspire generations in future.

 

 

Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj 

and the National Revival under the Marathas 

by Sudheer Birodkar

 

The Marathas – Samurais from Western India

The Marathas are a proud and hardy race who are a sub-set of the wider Hindu Community. They are first mentioned in Indian history as the stout fighters in the army of the Chalukya King Pulikeshin who resisted the Southward march of Emperor Harsha in the 7th century C.E.

The Maratha dynasties of the ancient (pre-Muslim) period are the Chalukyas (500 C.E. to 750C.E.), the Rastrakutas (750 C.E. to 978 C.E. and the Yadavas or Jadhavs (1175 C.E. to 1318 C.E.).

The Marathas were the first who crossed Malik Kafur’s path, when he invaded the deccan in 1314 C.E. They were then led by the last scion of the Yadava dynasty – Ramdev Rai Yadava who ruled from Devagiri (today’s Daulatabad). In their first clash with the Muslims; the Marathas lost to the invaders and accepted the status of being vassals and mercenaries of their Muslim overlords.

The Marathas before Shivaji were Mercenaries and revenue Collectors for the Muslim Rulers. In keeping with the feudal tradition, the Maratha Sardars (Generals), before Shivaji kept shifting their loyalties from one Muslim ruler to another. And there were many Muslim rulers like the Adilshahis at Bijapur, the Nizamshahis at Ahmednagar (Berar), the Qutubshahis at Golkonda (Hyderabad), etc.

Shahji Bhosale, who was Shivaji’s father typified this practice of shifting loyalties from one Muslim overlord to another. He was from time-to-time in the service of the Mughals, the Adilshahis and the Nizamshahis. The thought of establishing an Independent Maratha-Hindu kingdom, does seem to have crossed his mind, but he never really got about to doing it successfully. The germ of this idea however seems to have got rubbed into Shivaji – his son by Jijabai.

 

Shivaji Maharaj – the Visionary Saint-Soldier

Shivaji was born in the year 1627 at the Fort of Shivneri in Maharashtra in Western India. Shivaji’s mother, Jijabai was a direct descendant of the erstwhile Yadav royal family of Devagiri. She seems to have nursed deep within her mind the idea of recovering independence from Muslim rule which her Yadav forebears had lost in the year 1318. Shivaji grew up with these ideas embedded into him. His childhood stories are those of playing games in which he and his friends attacked and captured forts held by the enemy.

 

The Oath of Independence – at Raireshwar

When Shivaji was seventeen, he decided to transform what were till then simply games to a reality. He and his friends encouraged by Jijabai and his Guru Dadoji Kondeo; decided to take a formal oath to free the country from the shackles of Muslim tyranny. This was done in the year 1645 in a dark cavern housing a small temple to the Hindu God Shiva (locally called Raireshwar).

At the cave temple of Raireshwar in the Sayhadris Shivaji and his select band of teenaged Maratha friends slit their thumbs and poured the blood oozing from it on the Shiva-linga (representing the Lord Shiva). By this act they declared a blood-feud against

Mughal tyranny.

This was the beginning of a long and arduous Maratha-Mughal struggle that went on for the next century and a half to culminate in the defeat of the Mughals and their replacement by the Marathas as the dominant power in India when the British came into the scene. (But more of the British later.)

 

Shivaji’s encounter with Afzal Khan

When Shivaji started his military career by capturing the fortress of Torana, it sent shockwaves in the Adilshshi court at Bijapur. Here was a local Hindu chieftain, daring to challenge the might of a Muslim ruler. The retribution was swift and Adil Shah sent in his most fearsome general named Afzal Khan to bring back Shivaji dead or alive to Bijapur. Afzal Khan who was reputed to be more than six feet tall and of a real massive built, set on his mission and in order to lure Shivaji down into the plains, he destroyed the Hindu temples at Tuljapur, Pandharpur and Shikhar Shenganapur.

 

Afzal Goes Up to Pratapgad

 

This ploy failed to work and Shivaji stuck to his Hill fastness in the Sahyadris. Shivaji even sent a letter to Afzal Khan praising the legendary strength of Afzal Khan’s powerful arms and his reputed fearlessness. Shivaji addressed him as his uncle and said that he was afraid to come down to meet Afzal Khan. Shivaji asked him to come up into the hills to meet him and on condition that Afzal Khan came with not more than few select soldiers. The proud Khan felt that the Dekkhan-Ka-Chuha (Rat of the Deccan as the Muslims scornfully addressed Shivaji) had really chickened out.

 

Afzal Meets his Nemesis in Shivaji

            Khan-Saheb agreed to go up the hills at Pratapgad to meet his nemesis. When the meeting took place, Afzal Khan embraced Shivaji and with his diminutive enemy (Shivaji was less than five feet in height) in his grip, Afzal suddenly pulled out his dagger and tried to stab Shivaji. When Afzal’s dagger could not plunge into Shivaji Maharaj due to the protective armour which Shivaji was wearing, Afzal tried to throttle him. But the wily Maratha was more than prepared for this as he had come down not only with full armour that was hidden by his thick satin robes, but he also had with him the ‘Wagh Nakh’ – a sharp weapon resembling tiger claws that could be hidden in the grip of one’s fist. In addition, he had the Bichhwa – curved dagger hidden in the pocket of his

waistcoat.

 

Jiwa Mahalaya

            On sensing that the Khan meant to throttle him, Shivaji pierced the tiger claws deep into Khan’s belly and pulled out his intestines. After which Shivaji repeatedly stabbed him with the bichhwa. The Khan bellowed “Daga” “Daga” and yelled for Syed Banda, his bodyguard to come to his rescue. When Syed Banda, also a burly Muslim was about to strike Shivaji with his sword, Shivaji’s bodyguard Jiva Mahalya struck off Banda’s upraised arm in the air itself.

 

Santaji Kawji

After this commotion, the bleeding Khan tried to make good his escape and rushed into his palanquin. As the palanquin bearers set off with the fleeing Khan, Santaji Kawji, another of Shivaji’s select warriors cut-off the feet of the bearers and Khans’ palanquin, with its load of Khansaab fell to the ground. Santaji Kawji, then finished off the task of sending Khan to his final resting place. Khan’s army which was waiting in the valley was ruthlessly massacred by the Marathas who were hiding behind every crevice and bush in the densely wooded jungles around the Pratapgad fort. At the place where this encounter took place on 10th November 1659 between Shivaji Maharaj and the Khan, there stands today a Kabar (grave) erected by Shivaji for the departed Khan’s soul to rest in peace.

 

Bijapur Stymied

The result of this dramatic encounter was that the Bijapur ruler panicked and after that never posed a serious threat to the growing Maratha power. The next Muslim power which Shivaji turned to was that of the Mughals. Here was the real challenge for Shivaji. The Bijapur rulers were a provincial power, while the Mughals were an power of imperial dimensions whose writ ran almost all over Northern India.

 

The Siege of Panhalgad

Despite this defeat, Bijapur’s Adil Shah made one last attempt to check Shivaji by sending another general named Siddhi Jouhar against him. Siddhi besiged Panhalgad where Shivaji was camping. The seige went on for some months, from summer till the monsoons. But Shivaji Maharaj slipped out of Panhalgad and reached safely at Vishalgad.

 

The Brave Deed of Baji Prabhu Deshpande

It is during this escape that Baji Prabhu Deshpande held the pursuing enemy troops at a narrow pass called Ghod Khind. Baji Prabhu immortalized himself by laying down his life but ensured that his Master reached safely at Vishalgad. This narrow pass is today known as Pawan Khind i.e. a Holy Pass. Made holy by Baji Prabhu’s memorably brave deed.

 

Encounter with Shaista Khan – Aurangzeb’s Uncle

The next Khan to come down ‘literally’ before Shivaji was Shaista Khan. On hearing Shivaji’s depredations, Aurangzeb was furious and wanted to desperately crush this infidel upstart. He sent his uncle maternal Shaista Khan with a large and powerful army to checkmate Shivaji.

He set an example of religious tolerance in an age when conversion at the point of the sword was the norm. He defended the honour of womenfolk in an age when captured women of the enemy were considered to be the rightful property by their Muslim captors

to be put in the Harem – concubine chamber. Shivaji Maharaj was way ahead of his times 

in his vision and mission.

But even this time the wily Maratha proved that brain was stronger than the brawn. Shaista Khan came into Maharashtra and started devstating towns, villages fields, temples, forts and everything that came in his path.

 

Shaista Establishes his Harem in Shivaji’s Devghar (Prayer Room)

To provoke Shivaji, Shaista Khan established his camp in Shivaji’s home in Pune called Lal-Mahal. And to top it up, he put up his Harem in Shivaji’s Devghar (prayer room).

 

Shaista is Lucky – He Only Loses His Fingers

Shivaji bided his time for many months and one on fine day (night), he with a select band of Maratha Samurais, sneaked into Pune and into the Lal-Mahal. He tracked down the sleeping Khan to his bed. The Khan sensing that his time was up tried jumping out of the window. At that point Shivaji cut off the Khan’s fingers with which he was holding on to the window sill.

On the Khan’s wife’s pleading before Shivaji to spare her husband’s life as she considered Shivaji to be her brother. And so killing her husband would mean making her a widow, Shivaji spared the Khan’s life. This was a mistake for which Shivaji was to pay dearly later. Shivaji made good his escape from the Khan’s lair, but not before the treacherous Khan ordered his troops to give chase and try to capture the fleeing Shivaji.

 

Shaista’s Retreat from Maharashtra

The Khan however, decided that enough was enough and returned to Delhi – without his fingers. This happened in April 1663 The failure of his uncle peeved Aurang to no end and he now sent another general to subjugate Shivaji. This was Mirza Raja Jai Singh, Aurangzeb’s Hindu general who was also the scion of the house of the Suryavanshi Kachhawaha’s who we saw earlier had ingratiated themselves to the Mughal rulers by giving away their daughters in marriage to the Mughal Padishah. (The Moghuls

incidentally never returned the favour by giving, or even offerring, their daughters to the Rajputs!).

This Mirza Raja Jaisingh who came with a powerful force was smarter than Shaista Khan sent earlier by Aurangzeb. Mirzaji laid siege to Purandar alongwith a systematic loot and destruction of rural Maharashtra.

 

The Brave Deed of Murar Baji

When Raja Jai Singh and his general Diler Khan laid siege to the Fort of Purandar. Murar Baji was the Maratha Fort Commandant at Purandar. To break the morale of the Maratha troops, Diler Khan launched a viscious attack on the fort and laid waste the surrounding countryside. The Mughals succeeded in forcing their way into the outer defenses of Purandar.

However, the Marathas were not easily intimidated, they withdrew to the inner fort (bali-killa) and kept on their attack on the besieging Mughals. One day, Murar Baji decided to rain hell on the enemy and the Marathas stormed out of the fort and fell upon the Mughals who were occupying the outer fort. In face of the Maratha attack, the Mughals broke ranks and fled to their main camp in the plains below, where Diler Khan was camping.

Seeing the ferocity of the Maratha attack, Diler Khan, decided to tempt Murar Baji with an offer of making him a general in the Mughal army if he betrayed Shivaji. When news of this offer reached Murar Baji, in the midst of the battle, his rage knew no bounds, and in a rash act he pushed into the ranks of the Mughal troops, hacking right, left and center towards Diler Khan and shouted at him that he would reply Diler’s offer by cutting off his head and taking it to Shivaji Maharaj.

Murar Baji had left his own troops behind and was now surrounded by Mughal troops on all sides, but he could only see Diler, whose head he wanted. This act was brave but rash and cost Murar Baji his life. Their leader dead, the Marathas withdrew into the fort. The news of this battle and the passing away of Murar Baji and the long drawn siege along with the destruction of the countryside forced Shivaji to reach out for a compromise with Jai Singh in the interests of the sufferring population of Maharashtra.

 

The Treaty of Purandar

The treaty of Purandar signed between Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Shivaji Maharaj had among many conditions, one condition that Shivaji accompany Mirzaji to Agra. Shivaji decided to go to Agra in 1666.

 

Shivaji’s Visit to Aurangzeb at Agra

At Agra, when Shivaji presented himself at the Moghul court, Aurangzeb deliberately insulted him by making him stand behind a lesser noble whom Shivaji has once defeated in battle. This was a calculated humiliation that Aurang had arranged for Shivaji. As a result Shivaji left the court in a huff. This gave Aurangzeb an excuse to declare Shivaji of having committed the offence of insulting the Mughal court.

 

Imprisonment of Shivaji

Aurangzeb detained Shivaji in Mirza Raja Jai Singh’s house where Shivaji had put up. Shivaji seems to have read Aurangzeb’s mind of having him put to death. Aurag had made plans to shift Shivaji into the proper Mughal dungeons.

 

Shivaji’s Escape from Aurang’s Clutches

Shivaji struck upon an idea and said that he wanted to make peace with God by sending fruit and sweetmeats to Brahmins and holy men. To this Aurangzeb consented. One fine day Shivaji and his son Sambhaji hid himself in two of the sizable baskets in which fruits and sweetmeats had been packed everyday and made good their escape from Aurnag’s custody. In doing this Shivaji must have had in mind what had happened to his general Netaji Palkar who after being captured by the Mughals had been forced to embrace Islam and change his name to Quli Mohammed Khan. Netaji was forced to serve as a Mughal soldier in Afghanistan, till he too made good his escape and returned to Shivaji to reconvert to Hinduism and join the forces of Swaraja once again. Others were not so lucky, they were made to convert to Islam and some others were simply tortured to death – as was to happen later with Shivaji’s son Shambhu Raje or Sambhaji, after

Shivaji’s death.

 

Shivaji Maharaj’s Seal

Shivaji Maharaj was the first Hindu King to ascend a throne after a long time. During the Dark Days of Muslim Tyranny, Shivaji Maharaj was one of the very few (along with the Ranas of Mewad), to issue his own coinage. Shivaji’s coinage was in

Sanskrit. The coins were in two main denominations, the Shivrai made of copper was a

lower denomination coin and the Hon was a gold coin of a higher denomination. To erase

the memory of Shivaji Maharaj, Aurangzeb issued an order after the passing away of

Shivaji Maharaj that all Hons were to be imponded and melted. That Aurang did not

succeed in erazing Shivaji Maharaj’s illustruous personality from our memory is another

matter.

 

Coronation of Shivaji as Chattrapati

After returning to the Deccan, Shivaji again raised an army and recaptured all the forts that he had been made to surrender to the Mughals as per the treaty of Purandar. In this phase we see the exploits of his brave general Tanaji Malusare who perished while recapturing the invincible fort of Kondana from Uday Bhan – the renegade Rajput who was the Mughal commandant of the fort.

After all the forts had been recaptured, Shivaji was pursuaded by Gaga Bhatt (a brahmin from Benaras) and his mother the ageing Jijabai to formally crown himself as the king of the Marathas. The coronation took place at Raigad on the 6th of June 1674.

 

Narvir Tanaji’s Impossibly Brave Deed

The fort of Kondana, which is today on the outskirts of Pune town was then an outpost overlooking Pune and the surrounding countryside. It was strategically placed in the center of a string of forts of Rajgad, Purandar, and Torna. The capture of Kondana was necessary if Shivaji Maharaj was to re-establish de facto control over the Pune region.

Recognizing the strategic importance of Kondana, the Mughals had maintained a battalion of 5000 troops led by Udai Bhan, a relative of Mirza Raja Jai Singh. The fort was built in such a way that all its approaches were covered by cannon-fire. Only on turret was not well defended as it was at the top of a vertical overhanging cliff.

Tanaji decided that this was the only way, he could enter the fort. He dressed himself as a Gondhali (devotee of the Goddess Bhavani of Tuljapur) and roamed the surrounding villages. He won the trust of one Mahadev Koli who was in the service of Udai Bhan. Koli presented the disguished Tanaji to Udai Bhan, who was suitably impressed by this “devotee” and allowed him free access to the fort.

Tanaji carried out a careful surveillance of the fort and at that very night when he was told that at the overhanging cliff Udai Bhan and all his senior commanders would be celebrating a usual party with an alcohol and dance orgy; Tanaji decided that he should seize this opportunity.

With almost all his troops, Udai Bhan had a roaring party on top of the overhanging cliff. Unknown to them after midnight, Tanaji and his brave followers who numbered 300 scaled the cliff using ropes tied to a reptile called Ghorpad. The Ghorpad can stick fast to any surface and a number of adults can use this force to scale a vertical cliff with the help of a rope, one end of which is tied to the Ghorpad. Silently Tanaji and his comrades slunk up to the top of the cliff.

On the other side his uncle Shelar Mama and his brother Suryaji had moved close to the other gates of the forts with another 300 Mavalas (Maratha Soldiers). On a signal from Tanaji, all his comrades who has taken up strategic position all round the celebrating Mughal army, broke into the party and mercilessly fell upon their enemies. They started slaughtering the surprised and ill-prepared and drunken Muslim soldiers.

When Udai Bhan saw that Tanaji – the leader of this invading band of Marathas was no other than the devotee whom he had given permission to visit the fort, he flew into a mad rage. On seeing Tanaji, Udai Bhan rushed at him and we are told that for a few fatal seconds, Tanaji started dancing in the same fashion as he had done as a Gondhali (devotee) when he had met Udai Bhan earlier in the day. The enraged Udai Bhan lunged at dancing Tanaji and cut off the arm with which Tanaji was holding his shield. But undaunted Tanaji used his turban to ward off further thrusts from the blade of Udai Bhan’s sword and continued fighting him for 2 hours in this state with his wristless left arm bleeding profusely. It is for this feat of Tanaji, that he is called Narvir – Brave amongst Men.

At the end of this ordeal, the exhausted Tanaji fell to a fatal swish of Udai

Bhan’s sword. But Udai Bhan too was throttled by Shelar Mama and thus lost his life.

Shivaji Maharaj is said to have said on this occasion “Gad aala, paan Simha gela” (We have won the fort but have lost the Lion – Tanaji). The fort of Kondana was renamed as “Sinhagad” in honour of Tanaji’s brave deed.

 

A “Nazarana” – The Daughter-in-law of the Muslim Subahdar of Kalyan

During the days after the coronation, many Maratha generals presented Nazaranas (tribute in kind) to the newly anointed King of Maharashtra. It was then a practice of the Muslims to abduct any fair maiden and to force her into the harem as a concubine. (A harem is a term for the living quarters of abducted women, nominally treated as wives.) On one such occasion, following the “illustrious” example set by the Muslim aggressors, a Maratha Sardar also (general) abducted a daughter-in-law of the Muslim Subahadar of Kalyan, near Mumbai (Kalyan was then under Mughal occupation).

This Sardar presented this “Nazarana” to Shivaji Maharaj, expecting to be patted on the back for such a “fair” tribute. Shivaji Maharaj’s reaction at this occasion, gives us an insight into the mind of the person who lived 300 years before us. Shivaji not only chided the general, but warned him and all the other Maratha generals that such a heinous offence would henceforth attract a penalty of the offender’s hands being chopped off. The dazed general was asked by Shivaji to return with full honours, the daughter-in-law of the Muslim Subahadar of Kalyan.

The Maratha ballads (Povadas) that describe this event say that on hearing Shivaji’s dialogue in Marathi the teenaged girl is said to have exclaimed “Ya Allah, yeh aadmi nahin farishta hai. Ees farishtey pe kamyaabi bahal karna.” (“O Lord, this is not an ordinary man but an angel. Bestow success on this angel.”) The Maratha balladeers, while narrating this event say that “Asseech amuchi aai asatee,sundar roopavati; amhi hee sundar zhalo asato – vadaley Chattrapati” (“If my mother had been as beautiful, I too would have been as beautiful – exclaimed Chattrapati”).

These dialogues might as well be a later romanticization of what actually happened. But it proves a point – Shivaji Maharaj had risen above the attitudes of religious bigotry, and beastly behaviour that had come to typify the Indian ruling class under Muslim rule.

 

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu Campaigns of Shivaji

After this Shivaji launched his campaign in Karnatak, which took him up to Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. The period from 1674 up his passing away in 1680 was a relatively peaceful period, as the Mughal made no more attempts to molest the Marathas. Only after the passing away of Shivaji Maharaj did Aurang again dared to venture into Maharashtra, and then too he did not entrust the task to any general. He came himself in 1682 and stayed on in the deccan till his death in 1707.

 

 

HEROES AFTER SHIVAJI

 

The Marathas After Shivaji Maharaj – Sambhaji

After the passing away of their illustrious leader, the marathas fell into relative disarray. Shivaji’s eldest son Sambhaji did not prove adequate to the responsibility of preserving the flame of independence to which his father had given the initial spark. Sambhaji was extremely fearless and brave. Maratha chronicles (Bakhars) refer to him as in fact more assertive and independent than his father. But in addition to all this Sambhaji also had vices like wine and women. In his eventful life, Shivaji Maharaj did not seem to have had enough time to groom his successor.

Sambhaji’s temper had a short fuse. During Shivaji’s life-time itself, he had once quarreled with his father and had gone over to join the Mughals as one of their Mansabdars. Subsequently, he realized his folly and came back to his father and repented. But this act of his deeply hurt his father nad also displayed his chimerical nature for which he was to pay later with a painful death.

After the death of Shivaji Maharaj, Sambhaji was crowned as Chattrapati. He brazenly followed policies detrimental to the fledgling Maratha power. In this he was given short-sighted advise by his friend Kavi Kalash.

 

Sambhaji’s Assassination

Sambhaji did not falter in battling the Mughals, as well as the Portuguese. In those days Aurnagzeb had come over to the Deccan. After subjugating the Bijapur and Golkonda kingdoms, he turned his attention on the Marathas. He carried on a ceaseless campaign against the Marathas. Sambhaji performed many daring acts in this guerrilla campaign especially in the Konkan region. But in spite of his bravery, his short temper and his vices went against him. One night, when he was passing thru Sangmeshwar with a small band of bodygaurds, he was waylaid by the Mughals and was brought in chains before Aurangzeb.

On being presented to Aurabgzeb, Sambhaji was asked to surrender all his forts, accept Islam and enter the service of the Mughal Emperor. To this affront, Sambhaji scronfully replied that he could consider this if Aurangzeb gave him his daughter in marriage and proclaimed him as the successor to the Mughal throne! On hearing this Aurang flew into a rage and decided to torture Sambhaji to death. Sambhaji’s eyes were gouged, his tongue was cut off, followed by his arms and legs. Sambhaji died an inhuman death, but till the agonizing end he never recanted his faith.

 

Rajaram, Tarabai and Shahu

After Sambhaji’s assassination, his step-brother Rajaram became the king. He was not especially brave and is said to have been physically weak. During his time Aurangzeb besieged and captured Raigad. Instead of fighting the enemy, Rajaram fled from Raigad when the fort was about to be besieged. Raigad fell into the hands of the Mughals in 1689 when a renegade Maratha called Suryaji Pisal betrayed the defences of the fort to the besieging Mughals. During the capture of Raigad, Sambhaji’ wife Yesubai and his son Shahu were taken captive by the Mughals. Rajaram’s life as Chattrapati was spent mostly in fleeing from the Mughal armies.

Nevertheless during his times, the generals like Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav carried out a whirlwind guerrilla campaign to harras the Mughal army and never let Aurangzeb rest in one place. Thus in spite of his presence in the Deccan for more than 25 years from 1680 to 1707, Aurang could not subsume the flame of independence lit by Shivaji Maharaj.

In 1700, Rajaram died of sickness and he was succeeded by his wife Tarabai. She was the nominal leader of the Marathas from 1700 to 1707, although the military activities were coordinated by the duo of Santaji and Dhanaji.

 

Aurang’s Death in 1707

When Aurang died in 1707, his son Azamshah who was with him at his deathbed, proclaimed himself the Mughal Emperor and prepared to battle his elder brother Muaazam, who was then in Kabul. To ensure that the Marathas came over to his side, Azamshah released Shahu who was till then held as a prisoner by the Mughals. Shahu had been a prisoner for 18 years from 1689 up to 1707. When Shahu staked his claim to the throne, Tarabi was ruling. A battle between the two was inevitable. This battle fought at Khed went in favour of Shahu and he became the Chattrapati. He was incidentally the last de facto Chattrapati of the Marathas.

 

Prime Ministers Peshwas become de facto Kings

During the days of Shahu, his general Dhanaji Jadhav had a very able accountant named Balaji Vishwanath Bhatt. This accountant rose in Dhanaji’s favour by dint of hard work. His successful track record brought him visibility in the eyes of Shahu.

On Dhanaji’s passing away, Shahu appointed him as his accountant. During this period, Shahu was attacked by forces loyal to Tarabai. To face this attack, Shahu appointed Balaji Viswanath Bhatt as a Senakarta (i.e. Commander). Balaji Viswanath proved to be an able soldier too. This increased the confidence Shahu had in him and he appointed Balaji Viswanath as his representative to negotiate with Kanhoji Angre, the Admiral of the Maratha Navy, who was at that time with Shahu’s rival Tarabai. Before, balaji Viswanath could take up this assignment, he asked Shahu to appoint him as a Prime Minister or Peshwa. To this request Shahu conceded and Balaji Vishwanath Bhatt became the Chattrapati’s first Peshwa.

Balaji negotiated with Kanhoji Angre and both consented to accept the other’s independent sphere of influence. With Balaji Vishwanath in charge of the Maratha military and Kanhoji in charge of the Marathas Navy. This agreement set the course for Balaji Viswanatha’s rise as a Peshwa during his subsequent visit to Delhi with an army of 12,000 Marathas. During this visit to Delhi, on an invitation from the Syed brothers in their struggle with the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyyar, the Maratha forces led by Balaji Viswanath clashed with the forces of Mughal Emperor and defeated them. This was the first Maratha victory over the Mughals in Delhi. This event marks the asendency of the Marathas in Delhi an asendency that was to last for almost a century till they were supplanted by the British in 1803.

 

The Peshwas – Baji Rao, Balaji Baji Rao, Madhav Rao

As we saw above, after Shahu, the de facto executive power passed into the hands of the hereditary Prime Ministers the Peshwas. Balaji Viawanath Bhatt was succeeded by his son Baji Rao the first. Baji Rao was a very able and ambitious soldier and he was the one who consolidated Maratha power in North India.

Baji Rao died at a relativey young age of 40 in the year 1740. His was succeeded by his son Balaji Baji Rao. Balaji Baji Rao played a tragic role in Maratha history and the fissiparous tendencies he let loose ultimately let to the downfall of the Maratha empire.

His first mistake was to go back on the agreement between his grandfather Balaji Viswanath Bhatt and Kanhoji Angre according to which the Peshwa was to have no direct control over the Maratha Navy. He attacked the his own navy and weakened one arm of the Maratha might.

During his rule, North India was invaded by Ahmed Shah Abdali first in 1756. Balaji Baji Rao then sent his brother Raghunath Rao along with Malharrao Holkar to defeat Abdali. Raghunath rao not only defeated Abdali but chased him up to the Khyber pass till Attock in Paktoonistan.

This success of Raghunath Rao aroused the jealousy of Balaji Baji Rao’s wife Gopikabai, who started conspiring against Raghunath Rao to undermine his influence. This led to corresponding jealousy from Anandibai who was Ragunath Rao’s wife. The unfortunate fallout of this court intrigue ws to end in the disastrous 3rd battle of Panipat in 1761.Let us see the event that led to this catastrophe at Panipat.

 

The Persian Invasion of 1740 by Nadir Shah

Some 80 years after Shivaji when the Mughal Empire had been weakened by repeated Maratha attacks, the Afghan raider Ahmed Shah Durrani (Abdali) invaded North India. As the Mughals were past their prime and were now living at the mercy of the Marathas, they did not dare oppose Ahmed Shah. The task of challenging him was left to the Marathas. The Marathas who then were on their ascendancy in North India had since the first Persian-Afghan invasion by Nadir Shah, the king of Persia in 1740, established themselves as a dominant power in Northern India. The 20 years from 1740 to 1760 saw a see-saw battle between the Afghans and the Marathas for the domination of North India.

With the defeat of Mohammed Shah, the Moghul Emperor in 1740 by Nadir Shah (in whose army Ahmed Shah Abdali was a general), the Mughal power steadily declined and its place was usurped by the Rohillas who were led by an ambitious and ruthless chieftain named Najib Khan. Najib’s ambition was to supplant the Moghal Emperor and crown himself as the ruler of India by capturing Delhi.

 

The Marathas Liberate Punjab

The growing power of the Marathas in their northward expansion, stood between Najib and his ambition. To overcome the Marathas, in 1755, Najib invited Ahmed Shah Abdali from Afghanistan to help him in defeating the Marathas and crown himself the ruler of India. In this, he was thwarted by the Marathas who decisively defeated the Rohillas and Afghans near Delhi in 1756.

The defeat was so decisive that Najib Khan surrendered to the Marathas and became their prisoner. The Maratha forces were led by Shrimant Raghunath Rao and Malhar Rao Holkar.

After defeating the Afghan-Rohilla forces, the Marathas pursued the Afghans into the Punjab and beyond up to the Khyber pass. The last frontier of the Marathas was at Attock in today’s NWFP (or Paktoonistan) on the Afghan border. (This campaign of the Marathas led by Shrimant Raghunath Rao is called as Raghu’s Bharari – i.e. whirlwind campaign.

Thus after nearly 800 after the last Punjabi King Tirlochan Pal Shahi had been defeated by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1020 C.E. did that part of India come under Indian rule in 1756 due to the liberation of Punjab by the Marathas.

Meanwhile with machinations and trickery, Najib Khan won over Malhar Rao Holkar and secured his release. On his release Najib started to undermine the Marathas once again and treacherously killed Dattaji Shinde (eldest brother of Mahadji Shinde). Najib continued to battle the Shindes in 1757-58 and with his newly found confidence again invited Ahmed Shah Abdali to invade India.

 

 

PANIPAT – A Result of Court Intrigues at Pune

The court intrigues at Shaniwarwada in Pune between Gopikabai (Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao’s wife) and Anandibai (Raghunath Rao’s wife) led to the sidetracking of Raghunath Rao in favour of the Peshwas cousin, Sadashiv Rao Bhau (along with Viswas Rao the Peshwa’s son and successor) as the Supreme commander of the Maratha forces that were to give battle to Abdali a second time. It was unfortunate for the Marathas, that due to rivalries, a successful commander like Raghunath Rao was bypassed in favour of another general.

 

The 3rd Battle of Panipat

When Abdali launched his second invasion in 1759 the Marathas who after their successes in 1756 had been hibernating in Maharashtra and Central India again woke up and in alliance with the Jat King Suraj Mal of Bharatpur formed an alliance. This alliance led by Shrimant Sadshiv Rao Bhau and Shrimant Vishwas Rao (the Peshwa Shrimant Balaji Baji Rao’s son) won spectacular victories and captured Delhi and Kunjapura (where the Afghan treasury and armoury was located). Here the alliance developed cracks due to the Maratha insistence on not allowing the Jats to loot Delhi. This ultimately split the alliance and Suraj Mal withdrew from the alliance.

The Marathas consequently marched upto Panipat, but instead of continuing their attacks to completely defeat the partly defeated Abdali and Najib Khan, they stayed put at Panipat, blocking the way of the Afghans back to Afghanistan. Seeing their way back to their homeland blocked, the Afghans now became restless. They in turn, decided to block the way of the Marathas back into the Deccan.

 

Stand-off for one year

This stand-off continued for one whole year from the 14th of January 1760 up to the 14th of January 1761. This led to the fall in the morale of the stranded Marathas and ultimatley led to their defeat at Panipat. The Marathi term “Sankrant Kosalali” meaing “Sankranth has befallen us” comes from this event. During this stand-off the Afghans cut-off all supplies to the huge Maratha army. The Afghans with Najib Khan meanwhile also recaptured Delhi and Kunjpura. On the decisive day of 14th January 1761 (Makar Sankranti), the Marathas decided to break-through the Afghan blockade and re-enter Deccan. The disastrous battle saw about one hundred thousand Maratha troops being slaughtered in a matter of eight hours. But the Afghans too suffered heavy losses and decided enough was enough and went back to Afghanistan never to return to India.

The defeat of the Marathas and the withdrawal of the Afghans created a power vacuum in North India in the period 1761-1790. It was this vacuum that was filled up by the rising British power.

The Sikhs meanwhile united under the leadership of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and carried on the unfinished task of the Marathas. The Sikh general Jussa Singh Ahluwalia invaded Abdali’s kingdom, defeated Abdali ignominiously and captured his capital city of Kabul. The saffron flag (Nishan Saheb) then fluttered over Kabul after a gap of 800 years after Raja Jaya Pal Shahi lost the city to Sabuktagin in 980 C.E.

 

 

ADDITIONAL HEROES WHO WORKED FOR PROTECTING INDIA AND ITS CULTURE

 

Mahadji Shinde

Meanwhile in India proper, in the period between 1761 and 1790, the Maratha power was consolidated by Mahadji Shinde, Nana Phadnavis and Shrimant Madhav Rao Peshwa. Mahadji Shinde took initiative in military matters and he successfully checked the British in the first Anglo-Maratha war. Later of course, the Marathas were to succcumb to the British in after the third Anglo-Maratha war of 1817.

Maratha Rule did not Change the Feudal Relations of Production and Distribution

But as far as changing the feudal economic relations were concerned, the Maratha rule did nothing. The feudal relations remained intact. Politically speaking too, the Maratha intermission from around 1720 to 1790 was too brief a period and though the writ of the Marathas ran in the whole of western India with parts of the north and south under their domination they could not bring the entire country uniformly under their rule. And in those parts of the country they ruled, the feudal relations did not undergo any fundamental change apart from the abolition of the Jazia penal tax levied on the Hindus by the Muslim rulers and general freedom from religious persecution of petty Muslim chieftains and representative of the Muslim monarchy based at Delhi.

 

Rani Laxmibhai

            Maharana Pratap was a great Rajput King. The Rajputs are a brave and a chivalrous race who were feudal kings in ancient India before the Mughals came. They were the first to resist the Mughal invaders and many wars were fought between the Rajputs and the Mughals. Though the Mughals captured the north of India they were unsuccessful in capturing central India where they faced tough opposition from the Rajput kings there.   Akbar wanted to control the whole of India and used a mix of tolerance, generosity, and force to over come the Rajput kings. One of the most gallant Rajput kings was Rana Pratap who did not want to give up his kingdom to the Mughals.  Rana Pratap was the Grandson of Raja Udai Singh (Udaipur is named after him), the king of Chittod.  Rana Pratap led the Rajputs against the army of Akbar to preserve the independence of Mewar. Rana Pratap not only had to face the mighty Mughals but also had to fight against other Rajput kings (Raja Todar Mal and Raja Man Singh) who aligned with the Mughals.  In the Battle of Haldighati (1576) fought between Maharana Pratap and the Mughals; the Rajputs were not able to overcome the combined strength of the Mughals and the renegade Rajput princes who had played the role of traitors.

            Maharana Pratap was badly hurt in the battle and was saved by his wise horse Chetak, who took him in an unconscious state away from the battle scene.   Rana Pratap died in 1597 when his son Amar Singh took over the kingdom.   Although Maharana Pratap was not able to thwart the Muslims successfully, the saga of Rajput resistance to Muslim rule continued till the 17th century when the baton of the struggle for Indian Independence from Mughals was taken up by the upcoming power of the Marathas, who brought about an end to Muslim domination of India.     

 

Tatia Tope

He was a hero of the fight for freedom in 1857. His very name made the mighty English generals tremble. Deceived by his friend, he faced death like a hero, for the sake of his country. The British troops had pitched their tents on the parade grounds near the fort of Shivpuri, 75 miles from Gwalior. The day was April 18, 1859. It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon. A smiling, charming prisoner was brought out of the prison.

His hands and feet were chained. Under guard he was taken to the hangman’s post. He had been condemned to death. The prisoner stepped towards the post fearlessly. There was no hesitation as he stepped upon the platform. It was the custom to cover the eyes of the condemned man with a scarf. When soldiers stepped forward with the scarf, he smiled and made signs to say, ‘I don’t need all this.’ Nor did he allow the hands and feet to be bound. He himself put the noose around his neck. The rope was tightened. Then, at last, there was a pull….  In a moment it was all over.

It was a heart-rending scene, which moved the whole country to tears. The man who was hanging lifeless on the gallows of the English was no criminal. He was not a thief, nor was he a cutthroat. He was the supreme commander in the War of Indian Independence, which in 1857, had challenged the hold of the British over India. It was he who, more than anybody else, shook the mighty British Empire to its foundations. Holding aloft the flag of freedom, he sought to break the chains of slavery and fought the military might of the English heroically. His name was Tatia Tope, a household word for bravery.

 

Guru Gobind Singh Ji  

He is one of the most radiant stars in the galaxy of religious leaders. Time cannot wither nor stale the luster of the sacrifices that he made for the cause of religious freedom. His transformation of senile and sloppy mentality of degraded and demoralized Hindu society of that time into militant and challenging fervor is a landmark in our history. It can be said, throughout the annals of history there was no other individual who could be a more inspiring personality than Guru Gobind Singh’s. But mankind has yet to know and appreciate and understand the height of his spiritual ideals and his own practical adherence to their dictates and the way in which they sprouted and blossomed in the hearts of his followers.

A study of his life and personality and all that he achieved in a span of forty two years that he lived, confirms that he has become a most eloquent symbol of all that is virile and positive in our religious traditions.

Govind was born at Patna (Bihar) in the year 1666 and was assassinated at Nandar (Deccan) in the year 1708 A.D. He was hardly nine years of age when Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred at Delhi. Guru Gobind Singh then assumed the Spiritual suzerainty and became Guru. He soon trained himself for fulfillment of his duties both in spiritual and temporal sense. He became a great poet, a mystic scholar, a fine soldier, a tactical General, and an astute politician. He was soon able to consolidate the Sikhs into a body of brave fighting people with common loyalty and common purpose. As he has his life’s mission: “Extend the region of righteousness on earth seize and destroy the evil and the sinful”

It reached a culmination point in 1699 when Guru originated baptism-Nectar-Amrit ceremony for the saint soldiers. They stood liberated, this information was verily a psychological miracle. Low born and untouchables shed their inborn and innate repression. The outstanding example of Guru Gobind Singh’s power to make the sparrow to hunt the hawk and one man fight a legion was the sovereign tested truth after the baptism. These liberated souls were Guru’s Khalsa – Guru in his tribute to the Khalsa records.

“All the battles I have won against tyranny I have fought with the devoted backing of these people.”

All baptized Sikhs must wear the five symbols which are bestowed on them – the five “K’s” KESH, KANGA, KARA, KIRPAN, KACHCHA – namely unshorn hair, a comb, a steel bangle, a sword and short underwear.

This uniform of unshorn hair and bearded appearance enjoined by the Guru for the baptized disciples was a bold step as one to feel that he has emerged from larval skin leaving behind chrysalis of a dead past. Guru Gobind Singh thus built on foundations so nobly laid by his predecessors an enduring nationality. He infused new enthusiasm for freedom, democracy, righteousness and self sacrifice in to the minds of vanquished people suppressed under the killing weight of Mughal despotism. He kindled an unextinguished passion for brave deeds in love of God and down trodden which made the Sikhs a distinct people a model of inspiration for all times.

In performance of divine mission his two sons were lost fighting the Mughal hordes while other two were bricked alive at Sirhind under orders of a Mughal Governor. Guru Gobind Singh retained equanimity in all circumstances whether he was at Anandpur riding his blue steed, with regal plume or in desert of Machivara barefoot and forlorn his heart was in constant harmony with the Supreme Being.

All the battles Guru fought had no personal ambitious or territorial aim. They depict man’s inner struggle against tyrannies, religious, social and otherwise. They vividly portray that spirit ultimately triumphs against all impediments. His life’s emblem of sacrifice, represents the price spirit has to offer to redeem freedom.

The other great thing in the career of Guru Gobind Singh is his self effacement in the domain of spiritual leadership. He abolished the office of earthly guru. He declared Guru Granth was to act as GURU henceforth and it will act as supreme leader and teacher while his personality will amalgamate with Khalsa.

Khalsa mera Roop-e-Khas Khalsa me ho Karu Nivas. Khalsa represents my facial appearance and I indwell with them. Thus he achieved his mission of life.

 

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

He was a great Sanskrit scholar and astronomer. He fixed the origin and date of Rigvedic Aryans, which was highly acclaimed and universally accepted by orientalists of his time. His role in Congress and advocating Home Rule for India were enormous. His newspaper (Kesari) founded in 1881 is going strong even today. He was Guru to V.D. Savarkar and hundreds of nationalists and thousands of Indians. He led the Indian Freedom Movement, till 1920, his death. After him Gandhiji took over. Although Gandhi accepted Gokhale as his mentor, in practice, he adopted all of Tilak’s ideas of Swadeshi and of social reform.

            His words, “Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it!” roused a sleeping nation to action, making Indian people aware of their political plight under a foreign rule. Tilak did not question the British Sovereignty nor his demands were rebellious or revolutionary. All he was asking was favorable conditions in India, to enable people to learn to govern themselves. May be all over the world, the separatist forces should follow his vision and define freedom as ability to govern one’s land. But the handful rulers who ruled India’s millions thought otherwise. They thought that Tilak was whipping a rebellion and he was imprisoned twice; two years for the first and six during the second. They said, he had committed treason.

            Born in Ratnagiri, a small coastal town in 1856 in a middle class family, Tilak had to feed himself for college education. At an early age he was convinced that the educational system the British provided for the Indians was not at all adequate. After graduation and a law degree, he helped found a school which laid emphasis on nationalism. He started a news paper ‘Kesari’ which tried to teach Indians of their glorious past and reminded them to be self reliant (Swadeshi).

            Tilak rightly calculated the attitude of the British towards the economic exploitation of the Indians. The British used the raw material from the Indian soil and produced finished products in their country, which in turn were sold in India. This made the Indians totally dependent on the British. In the process, all the self-employing industries of India like spinning, weaving, glass making, sugar ,dyeing, paper making were destroyed. People became destitute for no fault of theirs to help an empire become richer and stronger.To fight this situation, he gave four mantras called Chatuhsutri: (1). Boycott of foreign goods (2) National Education (3) Self Government (4) Swadeshi or self reliance. He realized that mere protest against British rule was not going to help and insisted on native production and reliance.

            He founded Deccan Education Society to give better education as per the country’s needs. He wrote articles over inhuman punishment meted out to the nationalist youth who protested the division of Bengal (VangaBhanga). Indian newspapers were not to criticize the British policy in those days and two articles titled “Has the Government lost its head ?” .and “To Rule is not to wreak vengeance” appearing in Kesari landed him in jail, after a namesake trial. For the first time in British history, intellectuals in England (including the great orientalist, Max Muller) were able to convince the Government that the trial was unfair. But the second time (1908) was no different. Tilak advocated his own case and when the judgment of six years of black-waters (kala pani) imprisonment was pronounced, he gave the famous statement :

            “All I wish to say is that in spite of the verdict of the jury, I maintain my innocence. There are higher powers that rule the destiny of men and nations. It may be the will of Providence that the cause I represent may prosper by suffering than by remaining free”.

            His trial and punishment led to national upheaval. But the British were careful enough to arrange everything in secret and the judgment was delivered at midnight and Tilak was taken under military vigil to be deported to Burma (present Myanmar, which was also under British control).

            At 52, Tilak wrote his famous commentary on Bhagavad-Gita, the sacred book of Hindus; Geeta-Rahasya in the jail. By the time Tilak completed his six year prison term, he was the unquestioned leader of the Indians – the uncrowned king. He was known as the Tilak Maharaj.

            There was unprecedented jubilation after Tilak was free and back in India. Civil resistance, the concept of Swaraj, and nationalism had taken deep roots. Tilak’s suffering did not go in vain. A band of leaders, full of zeal for nationalism and self-sacrifice was coming up. National schools were coming up in all corners of India. He paved the way for Khadi (hand woven cloth), picketing against foreign goods and alcoholism. His death in 1920 brought Mahatma Gandhi on the scene and Gandhiji gave a concrete shape to Tilak’s ideas of Swadeshi.

           

Bhagat Singh

He was born in September 27, 1907 in the village Banga of Layalpur to Mata Vidyavati and Sardar Kishan Singh. Bhagat Singh grew up in a patriotic atmosphere as his father and uncle, were great freedom fighters and were put in jail many times by the British.

            Bhagat Singh grew up at a time when the Freedom struggle was all around him. Since his young age he wondered why so many Indians could not get freedom from a few British invaders, he dreamed of a free India. The massacre at Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919 drove him to go to Amritsar, where he kissed the earth and brought back home a little of the blood soaked soil, he was just 12 years old then. Kartar Sing Sarabha, hanged at the age of 19 by the British was Bhagat Singh’s hero.

Bhagat Singh, along with the help of Chandrashekhar Azad, formed the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA). The aim of this Indian revolutionary movement was defined as not only to make India independent, but also to create “a socialist India.”

In February 1928, a committee from England visited India. It came to be known as the Simon Commission. The purpose of its visit was to decide how much freedom and responsibility could be given to the people of India. Indian freedom fighters started an agitation called “Simon go back”. It was in this agitation that during a police lathicharge, Lala Lajpat Rai was hurt and died. To avenge the death of Lala Lajpat rai, Bhagat Singh and Rajguru shot and killed the British Officer who had hit Lala Lajpat Rai.

In April 1929, the Central Legislative Assembly met in Delhi. The British Government wanted to place before the Assembly two bills which were likely to harm the country’s interests. Even if the Assembly rejected them, the Viceroy could use his special powers and approve them, and they would become laws. Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt planned to throw a bomb in the Legislative Assembly and, get arrested. On 8th of April 1929 this is what they exactly did. The idea of the attack was not to kill anyone but to create awareness about India’s freedom struggle. They were arrested after this attack.

In their trial Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt stated, “If the deaf are to hear, the sound has to be very loud. When we dropped the bomb, it was not our intention to kill anybody. We have bombed the British Government. The British must quit India and make her free.”

            In the trial it was decided that Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were to be hanged for all their anti British activities. On 24th of March 1931 Bhagat Singh walked upto the hanging rope kissed it and put it around his neck to be hanged.

Bhagat Singh became “Shaheed Bhagat Singh” or Martyr at the age of 24. The stories of his courage and patriotism became an inspiration for many youth at that time who wanted to see India independent. Even today Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s memory continues to inspire the youth and many poems and songs have been written about his courage and undying patriotism.

 

Ramprasad Bismil

He was a brave revolutionary who gave up his life smilingly for the sake of the Motherland. He was persecuted by an enraged foreign government, hunted by the police and betrayed by follow workers. And yet he lit the fire of revolution to burn down the slavery. He was the brave leader of the Kakori Rail Dacoity episode. His poetry is also a lamp lighted at the altar of the Mother land.

Kakori is a village near Lucknow. It became famous, because the attack on the train took place near by.

            It was the evening of the 9th of August 1925; the number eight down train was passing near Kakori. Ramaprasad and his nine revolutionary followers pulled the chain and stopped it. They looted the money belonging to the government, deposited in the Guard’s carriage. Excepting that one passenger was killed by an accidental shot, there was no bloodshed.

            This extremely well planned dacoity jolted the government. After a month of detailed preliminary inquiries and elaborate preparations the government cast its net wide for the revolutionaries. Arrest warrants were issued not only against the ten participants but also against other leaders of the Hindusthan Republican Association. With the lone exception of Chandrashekhar Azad, all participants were caught.

            The case went on for over a year and a half, Ramaprasad, Ashfaqullah Roshan Singh and Rajendra Lahiri all four were sentenced to death. A strong campaign was organized throughout India to save the lives of these revolutionary heroes. All the leaders of public life appealed to the British Government to show mercy to the condemned men. But the Government was unyielding.

            It was the 18th of December 1927. A middle-aged lady was waiting at the main gates of the Gorakhpur Central Jail. Her face was radiant but anxiety was writ large on it. She was eagerly waiting to be called into the prison.

            By that time her husband also arrived there. He was surprised that his wife was there before him. He also sat down to wait for the call.

            Another young man came there. He was not related to them. He knew that the couple would be permitted to enter the prison. But how could he manage to enter? This was his problem.

            The officials of the prison called in the husband and the wife. The young man followed them. The guard stopped him and rudely asked, “Who are you?”

            “Permit him also, brother. He is my sister’s son”, the lady said in an entreating voice. The guard relented.

            All the three entered the prison to visit a freedom fighter that was to face his death on the morrow.

The freedom fighter was brought there in chains. They were like ornaments on him. This was the last time that he could see his mother, the last time he could address her as ‘Mother’. At this thought grief welled up in him. He stood speechless and tears rolled down his cheeks.

            In a firm voice the mother said, ‘What is this, my son? I had thought of my son as a great hero. I was thinking that the British Government would shiver at the very mention of his name. I never thought that my son would be afraid of death. If you can die only in this way, weeping, why did you take up such activities?”

            The officials were astounded at the firmness of the mother. The freedom fighter replied, “Mother dear, these are not tears of fear – the fear of death. These are tears of joy – joy at beholding so brave as mother!”

            The brave son of that brave mother was Ramaprasad Bismil. He was the leader of the famous Kakori Rail Dacoity case. The last meeting ended.

            Next morning Ramaprasad got up earlier than usual, bathed and said his morning

prayers. He wrote his last letter to his mother. Then he sat down with a calm mind awaiting his death.

            The officials came and removed his chains. They took him from the prison cell-towards his death.

            He was completely untroubled and walked like a hero. The officials were amazed. As he moved to the gallows he joyfully chanted Vande Matharam’ and ‘Bharath Matha ki Jai’. At the top of his voice he shouted down with the British Empire.” Then he calmly recited prayers like ‘Vishwani deva savithaha dunithani….” And embraced death.

            As he was being executed, there was a strong guard around the prison. When he was dead the officials brought out the dead body. Not only his parents but also hundreds of his countrymen were waiting in tears.The people of Gorakhpur deco rated the body of the brave son of Bharath as befitted a hero and carried it in a procession. Flowers were showered on the body, and the last rites were performed.

            Ramaprasad Bismil joined the select band of martyrs who dreamt of a free India and made the supreme sacrifice, so that the dream might come true.

            ‘Bismil’ is the penname of Ramaprasad. As ‘Bismil’ he is well known as a great

revolutionary poet in Hindi. At the end of his autobiography, he has reproduced some selected poems. Every line of his poems throbs with patriotic fervor.

            In one poem he prays: ‘Even if I have to face death a thousand times for the sake of my Motherland, I shall not be sorry. Oh Lord!Grant me a hundred births in Bharath. But grant me this, too, that each time I may give up my life in the service of the Mother land.’

            In a poem written just before going to the gallows, he prays: ‘Oh Lord! Thy will be done. You are unique. Neither my tears nor I will endure. Grant me this boon, that to my last breath and the last drop of my blood, I may think of you and be immersed in your work.’

(Excerpts from Author N.P.Shankara Narayan Rao)

 

M. S. Golwalkar

He was known throughout India as Guruji, was the second Sarsanghchalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. His full name was Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar. His was an impressive personality: dignified gait; a long flowing beard reaching down to his chest; curly locks of hair touching the shoulders; a face luminous with innate intellect and learning. His was an inspiring presence. It aroused instant reverence. Whoever saw him spontaneously folded their hands and bowed their heads. Such was Guru.

He instilled patriotism in the hearts of millions of youths of the country. He explained to them the Hindu way of life and philosophy in simple words. Like a true friend, he shared in the joys and sorrows of his countrymen. He molded them into effective instruments for the worship of Bharat Mata as her worthy children. He demonstrated that strength derives from organization. He traveled untiringly through the length and breadth of the country almost a hundred times during the 33 years of his glorious tenure as Sarsanghchalak, kindling in the society the immortal flame of enduring love for the Motherland.

He had scaled the highest levels of spirituality through his intense austerity and perseverance. By constant study and reflection he had become a veritable treasure of knowledge. He was a voracious reader even as a boy. He avidly read whatever books he could lay his hands on, from childhood through youth. Several are the disciplines in which he had acquired commendable mastery – History, Art, Religion, Culture, Sciences, Sociology and Economics, to name a few; and he dedicated all his stupendous intellectual faculties to the service of the country. He vastly expanded the network of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in multipledirections, and inspired and guided thousands of efficient dedicated workers spread throughout the country.

Countless discourses, thousands of letters and hundreds of press statements by Shri Guru are now part of the cherished knowledge legacy of humanity. The life of Shri Guru is lustrous and multi – faceted. His thoughts are a perennial source of inspiration for mankind. Here are a few rays of that brilliance:

1. Fearlessness is the first and foremost virtue of the brave, and the starting point of all sublime qualities.

2. ‘This is my Dharma, my Vedanta. This is my Hindu Rashtra. I have to live and strive for its realization. I must live as an example for the entire world to follow’-only such abiding faith would provide a firm foundation for reorganization of theHindus.

3. The will of a person becomes tempered like steel when he prepares himself for the supreme sacrifice for a just and lofty goal.

4. We are not so narrow-minded as to call any one as ‘alien’ merely because he has changed his mode of worship. We have no objection to the use of any name in addressing God. We in the Sangh are Hindus in every particle of ours. That is why we respect all religious faiths equally. A person with religious intolerance cannot be called a Hindu at all.

5. The most demeaning sin is to remain weak in the world. It not only destroys us, but also incites others to attack us with violence.

6. No doubt it requires two to fight. But both of them need not necessarily be fighters. It is, all the same, a fight, even if one goes on beating and the other gets beaten. There is no guarantee that others would behave properly with us even if we remain peaceful and cordial with them.

7. There must be an axis at the center of a wheel if it has to rotate. No wheel would rotate if its axis were outside it. There cannot be a circle with its center outside it. It is impossibility. Those cherishing extra-national loyalties can only be called traitors. Will it not be treacherous if an individual is drawing inspiration from elements beyond the boundaries of his country?

8. A grain of salt completely dissolves in water, and then retains no separate existence. But the salty taste will beevident in each drop of that water. Likewise an individual should dissolve him in the nation.

Author – Rasika Puttige

 

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

He was born on 18th May, 1883 in Nasik, Maharashtra. In his later years he came to be known as Vir Savarkar. He was born at a time which was the preparatory period for India’s freedom Struggle.This was the time when Indian national Congress was initiated.

The end of nineteenth century and the start of twentieth century saw the revolutionary movement gain momentum.

            This was also the period of English cultural influence on Indians. Well-to-do fathers wanted their sons to go to England, learn the English language, acquire the English way of life and manners.

            Madanlal Dhingra, Aurobindo Ghose, Vir Savarkar, had all gone or been sent to England for this purpose, to acquire English education and English way of life, but they all became more Indian. The more they came close to the English language and the English life-style, the more their hearts burned for revolution, for freeing their Motherland from the shackles of foreign rule.

            Savarkar was also such an able son of India. After getting his B.A. degree, he went to England to study Law, but he joined the Indian revolutionaries there. The British Government had kept an eye on them. Vir Savarkar was arrested and was deported, that is, sent back to India. But the man of independent spirit that he was, he wanted to be free and jumped from the ship into the water. He was captured, brought to India and was sent to the Andamaris (prison).

            There he had to grind oil and do all sorts of strenuous work. His elder brother Ganesh Savarkar was also there. They had to face evil behaviour of their keepers. The British Authorities wanted to break the spirit of these young patriots. The British thought that physical pain and torture would make these revolutionaries forget their mission and bring them on the right or normal way of life.

            The British had no knowledge of the urge and devotion felt by these revolutionaries. No amount of torture could turn away these brightest sons of India from their determined course. On 26th February, 1966, Savarkar passed away. Yet another brighter star from the Indian sky had fallen.

 

Subhashchandra Bose

He was the most visionary and fierce activist in the pre-independence era. Known as Netaji, he followed the path which no one even could have thought of.

            An unparalleled example of the declaration of Independent Indian government with a cabinet & its own army was seen in form of the Indian National Army under the leadership of Subhash Chanda Bose. It literally had a military attack on British India & had confronted them till Imphal. With the help from Germany & active support from Japan, they shook the very foundation of the British Empire. The saga of their valor is chronicled separately, under the head Indian National Army.

            While he was the president of Indian National Congress during 1937 to 1939, he founded the Indian National Congress. He was acclaimed as a god-like figure and continued as a legend in Indian mind.

            Subhas Chandra was born on January 23rd 1897 in Cuttack (in present day Orissa) as the ninth child among fourteen, of Janakinath Bose, an advocate, and Prabhavatidevi, a pious and God-fearing lady. A brilliant student, he topped the matriculation examination of Calcutta province and passed his B.A. in Philosophy from the Presidency College in Calcutta. He was strongly influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings and was known for his patriotic zeal as a student. He joined the Indian Civil Services in England as per his parent’s wishes. This kept him a little away from the Indian Freedom Movement. He finished those examinations also, at the top of his class (4th rank), he could not complete his apprenticeship and returned to India, being deeply disturbed by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He came under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi and joined the Indian National Congress . Gandhiji directed him to work with Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, the Bengali leader whom Bose acknowledged as his political guru.

            Due to his outspoken character for the British Government, he went to jail for around 11 times between 1920 and 1941 for periods varying between six months and three years. He was the leader of the youth wing of the Congress Party, in the forefront of the trade union movement in India and organized Service League, another wing of Congress. He was admired for his great skills in organizational development .

            Bose advocated complete freedom for India at the earliest, whereas the Congress Committee wanted it in phases, through a Dominion status. Other younger leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru supported Bose and finally at the historic Lahore Congress convention, the Congress had to adopt Poorna Swaraj (complete freedom) as its motto. Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom and the inability of the Congress leaders to save his life infuriated Bose and he started a movement opposing the Gandhi-Irvin Peace Pact. He was imprisoned and expelled from India. But defying the ban, he came back to India and was imprisoned again!

            He was elected president of the Indian National Congress twice in 1937 and in 1939, the second time defeating Gandhiji’s nominee. He brought a resolution to give the British six months to hand India over to the Indians, failing which there would be a revolt. There was much opposition to his rigid stand, and he resigned from the post of president and formed a progressive group known as the Forward Block (1939).

            During the World War 2nd he was against rendering any kind of help to the British. He warned them so. The second World War broke out in September of 1939, and just as predicted by Bose, India was declared as a warring state (on behalf of the British) by the Governor General, without consulting Indian leaders. The Congress party was in power in seven major states and all state governments resigned in protest.

            Subhas Chandra Bose now started a mass movement against utilizing Indian resources and men for the great war. To him, it made no sense to further bleed poor Indians for the sake of colonial and imperial nations. There was a tremendous response to his call and the British promptly imprisoned him . He took to a hunger-strike, and after his health deteriorated on the 11th day of fasting, he was freed and was placed under house arrest. The British could do nothing except locking him in the prison.

            It was in 1941, that Bose suddenly disappeared. The authorities did not come to know for many days that he was not in his Barrack ) the house in which he was being guarded) He traveled by foot, car and train and resurfaced in Kabul (now in Afghanistan), only to disappear once again. In November 1941, his broadcast from German radio sent shock waves amongst the British and electrified the Indian masses who realized that their leader was working on a master plan to free their motherland. It also gave fresh confidence to the revolutionaries in India who were challenging the British in many ways.

            The Axis powers (mainly Germany) assured Bose military and other help to fight the British. Japan by this time had grown into another strong world power, occupying key colonies of Dutch, French, and British colonies in Asia. Bose had struck alliance with Germany and Japan. He rightly felt that his presence in the East would help his countrymen in freedom struggle and second phase of his saga began. It is told that he was last seen on land near Kiel canal in Germany, in the beginning of 1943. A most hazardous journey was undertaken by him under water, covering thousands of miles, crossing enemy territories. He was in the Atlantic, the Middle East, Madagascar and the Indian ocean. Battles were being fought over land, in the air and there were mines in the sea. At one stage he traveled 400 miles in a rubber dingy to reach a Japanese submarine, which took him to Tokyo. He was warmly received in Japan and was declared the head of the Indian army, which consisted of about 40,000 soldiers from Singapore and other eastern regions. Bose called it the Indian National Army (INA) and a government by the name “Azad Hind Government” was declared on the 21st of October 1943. INA freed the Andaman and Nicobar islands from the British and were renamed as Swaraj and Shaheed islands. The Government started functioning.

            Bose wanted to free India from the Eastern front. He had taken care that Japanese interference was not present from any angle. Army leadership, administration and communications were managed by Indians only. Subhash Brigade, Azad Brigade and Gandhi Brigade were formed. INA marched through Burma and occupied Coxtown on the Indian Border. A touching scene ensued when the solders entered their ‘free’ motherland. Some lay down and kissed, some placed pieces of mother earth on their heads, others wept. They were now inside India and were determined to drive out the British! Delhi Chalo (Let’s march to Delhi) was the war cry.

            The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed the history of mankind. Japan had to surrender. Bose was in Singapore at that time and decided to go to Tokyo for his next course of action. Unfortunately, the plane he boarded crashed near Taipei and he died in the hospital of severe burns. He was just 48.

            He was the man whom the Indians looked upon as their future leader. They never believed that he died in plane crash. Some believe that he is still alive.

 

Vallabh Bhai Patel

He was the iron-man of India, born on 13th October, 1875, in a small village Karamsadh of Bombay region. His father Jhaber Bhai Patel was a simple farmer and mother Laad Bai was a simple lady.

From his childhood itself, Patel was a very hard-working individual. He used to help his father in farming and studied in a school at Patelaad. He passed his high-school examination in 1896. Throughout school he was a very wise and intelligent student. Inspite of poor financial conditions his father decided to send him to college but VallabhBhai refused. Around three years he stayed at home, worked hard and prepared for the District Leader’s examinaton, hence passing with very good precentage.

Sardar Patel hated to work for anyone, especially the Britishers. He was a person of independent nature. He started his own practice of law in a place called Godhara. Soon the practice flourished. He saved money, made financial arrangement for the entire family. He got married to Jhaberaba. In 1904, he got a baby daughter Maniben, and in 1905 his son Dahya was born. He sent his elder brother to England for higher studies in law. In 1908, Vittha Bhai returned as barrister and started practising in Bombay. In 1909 his wife became seriously ill and was taken to Bombay for treatment VallabhBhai had to go for the hearing of an urgent case and his wife died. He was stunned. He admitted his children in St. Mary’s school Bombay, and he left for England. He became a barrister and retuned to India in 1913.

He started his practice in Ahmedabad and soon he became aware of the local life, activities and people’s problems. He became an extremely popular person and he got elected in the Municipal Corportaion in 1917. Around 1915, he came across Mahatma Gandhi. The Swadeshi Movement was at its peak. Gandhiji gave a lecture at a place in Ahmedabad where Patel heard him and was very impressed and started actively participating in the freedom movement. The British government’s atrocities were increasing. The government declared to confiscate all the lands of farmers. He forced the British government to amend the rules. He brought together the farmers and encouraged them and hence got the title of ‘Sardar’ and thus became famous.

The British government considered him as a threat and his lectures were considered anti-government and he was imprisoned several times. In 1942, he took part in the Quit India Movement under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. He was arrested along with other leaders and was sent to Ahmednagar jail. Inspite of the British Rule, rulers of the small kingdoms were spending a lot of public money, and were having a nice time. Sardar Vallabh Bhai opposed this.

With great wisdom and political foresight, he consolidated the small kingdoms. The public was with him. He tackled the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Nawab of Junagarh who intially did not want to join India. There were a lot of problems connected with the reunion of the numerous states into India. Sardar Patel’s untiring efforts towards the unity of the country brought success. Due to the achievement of this massive task, Sardar Patel got the title of ‘Iron Man’. ‘ He is one of the prestigious leaders of the world who became immmortal by uniting a scattered nation without any bloodshed.

His enthusiasm to work for the independent nation got a big jolt when Gandhiji was murdered. Patel was very attached to Gandhiji and considered him, his elder brother and teacher. He was encouraged by Mahatma Gandhi in all his work. Gandhiji’s death left him broken. On 15th December, 1950 he died of a cardiac arrest. The news of his death spread all over the world. The entire nation plunged into deep sorrow, everyday life came to a standstill. A grateful nation paid a tearful homage to it’s beloved leader. In 1991 the grateful nation conferred upon him the honour of Bharat Ratna.

 

Madame Cama

She was the fiery patriot who first unfurled India’s flag at an international assembly. She turned away from a life of luxury and lived an exile – to serve her country. And the mighty British Government grew afraid of her.

Madame Cama, Veer Savarkar and some other patriots met and designed that tricolor flag in 1905. It was flown first in 1905 in Berlin and next in 1907 in Bengal.

            The tricolor flag contained green, saffron and red stripes. In the green stripe at the top there were eight blooming lotuses. India was then divided into eight provinces and the flowers represented these provinces. The words ‘Vande Mataram’ in Devanagari script across the central saffron strip of the flag were a salutation to Mother India. In the red stripe at thebottom there was a half-moon on the right and the rising sun on the left. Red represents strength, saffron represents victory; and boldness and enthusiasm are represented by green. “This flag was designed by a distinguished selfless young Indian patriot” said Madame Cama. She was referring to Veer Savarkar.

In August 1907, she learnt that the International Socialist Conference would be held in Stuttgart ‘in Germany. Madame Cama got a golden opportunity to expose to worldview the conditions in enslaved India. A thousand representatives from several countries of the world attended the Conference. When India’s turn came, Madame Cama ascended the rostrum. She was wearing a colorful saree. She had an attractive personality. Dignity shone in the face. The representative’s thought: ‘She is an Indian princess.’

            Madame Cama spoke about the sorrows and the poverty of lakes of Indians who were suffering silently.

            ‘One-fifth of mankind lives in India. All lovers of freedom should cooperate to free these people from subjection.’ This was the gist of the resolution, she boldly placed before the conference. She condemned the British Government which was looting from India thirty-five million pounds every year. She explained how the Indian economy was growing weaker day by day because of the lawless imperialists sucking the blood of India. At the end of her speech she unfurled the Indian flag and said:

            “This flag is of Indian Independence. Behold it is born! It has been made sacred by the blood of young Indians who sacrificed their lives.I call upon you, gentle men, to rise and salute this flag of Indian Independence. In the name of this flag I appeal to lovers of freedom all over the world to cooperate with this flag.”

            As if held by magic, the whole assembly stood up and honored the flag. Madame Cama was the lady who first unfurled the Indian flag, in a foreign land, in the presence of representatives of many countries! “It is my practice to speak under the flag of my country” – she would say and unfurl the flag before she spoke at any function.

After the conference in Germany concluded she came to America. To gain the support of the people there for the sacred cause in which she was engaged she had to start a campaign. In New York she explained her objects to press reporters who met her and they were full of praise for her. She told the reporters that lakes and lakes of people in India,although illiterate and suffering from hunger, loved their country. There was confidence and hope in the voice of Madame Cama when she said that Indians would attain independence within a few years and live in liberty, equality and brotherhood.

It was 28th October 1907. The Minerva Club had organized a meeting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The speaker was Madame Cama. In her speech she said that Indians should be given the political right to vote.

            “People here may know of Russia. But they may not know much about conditions in India. The British Government is adopting the practice of destroying people who are educated and can think, or of sending them to jail. They are torturing the people and driving them to hospitals in jails. We desire a peaceful atmosphere and not bloody revolution. By proceeding in a non-violent manner as far as possible we have to overthrow despotic rule” said Madame Cama. Also Madame Cama spoke at several places. She may be called Mother India’s representative to the United States of America.

In 1914, when the First World War began, Madame Cama’s activities to gain the country’s freedom became intense. The leading articles in the press condemning the autocratic rule of the British grew sharper.

            To the Indian soldiers fighting for the British, she gave a warning in the following words: “Children of Mother India, you are being deceived. Do not take part in this war. You are going to fight and die, not for India, but for the British.The British have put shackles on Mother India’s hands; think how they can be removed. If you help the British, you will tighten the shackles.”

            She herself would visit army camps in Marseilles. There she would meet Indian soldiers and ask them to keep away from the war. Questioned she: “Are you going to fight for those who have imprisoned your mother?” Return the arms, she would preach.

            The French were allies of the British. Therefore the French Government must have been dissatisfied with the propa- ganda carried on by Madame Cama. The French Government warned Madame Cama that she was carrying on false propaganda against the British.

Madame Cama passed away on 13th August 1936. She had fought for India’s freedom. That freedom dawned eleven years after her death.

In a sense Madame Cama’s life abroad where she fought for India’s freedom was like living in obscurity. She sacrificed her life for the motherland. Even during the last moments of her life she urged repeatedly: “To gain freedom from subjection stand up against all difficulties.” “He who loses freedom will lose virtue. Opposition of tyranny is obedience to God’s command” said Madame Cama; she practiced what she preached.

(Exerpts from Author M.S.Narasimha Murthy)

 

 

 

HALL OF SHAME (Muslim Rulers and Criminals Against India)

 

There have been many villains throughout the history of the many invasions and occupations of India. And many of the worst of these despots and murderers are today considered by many to have been “great leaders” of India’s past. In an effort to appease the Muslim minority, some of the worst of the butchers of the Hindu people have been turned into national heroes, and the true heroes and defenders of the Indian people have been all but forgotten. Here we offer brief biographies of those who invaded, occupied and butchered Hindus throughout India. Some may argue that these were great rulers who contributed great things to Indian civilization, but we must always remember that Adolf Hitler also brought great efficiency to German government and made the trains run on time as well.

 

HINDU KILLERS

Mahmud Ghazni

Mahmud Ghori

Firaz Shah Tughlaq

Shihabuddin

Aurangazeb

Babur

Jahangir

Shah Jahan

General Reginal Dyer

 

 

Mahmud of Gaznavi

(From the accounts of arikh-i-Yamini of Utbi the secretary of Mahmud of Gaznavi)

At Thaneshwar.

“The blood of the infidels flowed so copiously at Thanesar that the stream was discolored, not withstanding its purity, and people were unable to drink it. The Sultan returned with plunder which is impossible to count. Praise be to Allah for the honor he bestows on Islam and Muslims.”

At Somnath

“The Muslims paid no regard to the booty till they had satiated themselves with the slaughter of the infidels and worshipers of sun and fire…. The number of infidels killed exceeded 50,000”

At Mathura

“The infidels…deserted the fort and tried to cross the foaming river…but many of them were slain, taken or drowned… Nearly fifty thousand men were killed.”

 

Mahmud of Ghori

(from Hasan Nizami’s Taj-ul-Maasir)

 

At Kol (Modern Aligarh)

“Those of the horizon who were wise and acute were converted to Islam, but those who stood by their ancestoral faith were slain with the sword”

20,000 prisoners were taken and made slaves. Three bastions were raised as high as heaven with their heads, and their carcases became food for the beasts of prey.

 

At Kalinjar

50,000 prisoners were taken as slaves

 

At Varnasi or Kasi (Benaras) :

Kamil-ut-Tawarikh of Ibn Asir records, “The slaughter of Hindus (at Varanasi) was immense; none were spared except women and children,(who were taken into slavery) and the carnage of men went on until the earth was weary.”

 

Zahiru’d-Din Muhammed Babur (1526 C.E. – 1520 C.E.)

Babur’s Own Words on Killing Hindus: “For the sake of Islam I became a wanderer, I battled infidels and Hindus, I am determined to become a martyr. Thank God I became a Killer of Non-Muslims!

From Baburnama, the Memoires of Babur Himself: In AH 934 (2538 C.E.) I attacked Chanderi and by the grace of Allah captured it in a few hours. We got the infidels slaughtered and the place which had be Daru’l-Harb (nation of non-muslim) for years was made into a Daru’l-Islam (muslim nation).

Guru Nanak on Babur’s atrocities: Source:Rag Asa Guru Nanak Dev witnessed first hand the atrocities Babur committed on Hindus and recorded them in his poems. He says: Having attacked Khuraasaan, Babar terrified Hindustan. The Creator Himself does not take the blame, but has sent the Mugal as the messenger of death. There was so much slaughter that the people screamed. Didn’t You feel compassion, Lord? pg (360)

On the condition of Hindu women in Babur’s monster rule: Those heads adorned with braided hair, with their parts painted with vermillion – those heads were shaved with scissors, and their throats were choked with dust.They lived in palatial mansions, but now, they cannot even sit near the palaces…. ropes were put around their necks, and their strings of pearls were broken. Their wealth and youthful beauty, which gave them so much pleasure, have now become their enemies. The order was given to the soldiers, who dishonored them, and carried them away. If it is pleasing to God’s Will, He bestows greatness; if is pleases His Will, He bestows punishment pg(417-18)

On the nature of Mughal rule under Babur: First, the tree puts down its roots, and then it spreads out its shade above. The kings are tigers, and their officials are dogs; they go out and awaken the sleeping people to harass them. The public servants inflict wounds with their nails. The dogs lick up the blood that is spilled. Source:Rag Malar, (pg.1288)

From an article by Dr. Harsh Narain on Muslim Testimony (Indian Express 2/26/90): Since the establishment of Zahiru’d-Din Ghazi’s rule, officers and religious leaders spread Islam vigorously desteroying the Hindu faith. We cleared the filth of Hinduism from Faizabad and Avadh.

 

Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq

(from Insha-i-Mahry by Amud Din Abdullah bin Mahru)

Delhi: -a punishment in detail (from Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi), “A report was brought to the Sultan than there was in Delhi an old Brahman who persisted in publicly performing the worship of idols in his house and that people of the city, both Muslims and Hindus used to resort to his house to worship the idol. The Brahman had constructed a wooden tablet which was covered within and without with paintings of demons and other objects. An order was accordingly given to the Brahman and was brought before Sultan.The true faith was declared to the Brahman and the right course pointed out. but he refused to accept it. A pile was risen on which the Kaffir with his hands and legs tied was thrown into and the wooden tablet on the top. The pile was lit at two places his head and his feet. The fire first reached him in the feet and drew from him a cry and then fire completley enveloped him. Behold Sultan for his strict adherence to law and rectitude.”

Delhi : (after Hindus paid the toleration tax (zar-i zimmiya) and poll-tax(jizya) they were foolish enough to build their temples.so…) “Under divine guidance I (Sultan) destroyed these temples and I killed the leaders of these infedility and others I subjected to stripes and chastisement ”

Gohana (Haryana): “Some Hindus had erected a new idol-temple in the village of Kohana and the idolaters used to assemble there and perform their idolatrous rites. These people were seized and brought before me. I ordered that the perverse conduct of these leaders of this wickedness be punished by publicly abd that they should be put to deathe before the gate of the palace.”

Jajnagar:(Expedition objectives as stated by Sultan: Source:Ainn-ul-Mulk) massacring the unbelievers, demolishing their temples, hunting the elephants, getting a glimpse of their enchanting country.

Orissa: ‘Sirat-i-Firoz Shahi’ records his expedition with the following words:

“Nearly 100,000 men of Jajnagar had taken refuge with their women, children, kinsmen and relations The swordsmen of Islam turned the island into a basin of blood by the massacre of the unbelievers. Women with babies and pregnant ladies were haltered, manacled, fettered and enchained, and pressed as slaves into service in the house of every soldier.”

 

The Jihads of Shihabuddin, the Sultankalka of Ghur

Around 1140, the Islamized Turko-Mongol chiefs of the Shansabanid tribe occupied Ghor in Afghanistan. Initially it was a vassal of the Ghaznavid Sultans, but around 1130 it came into conflict with them, after one of the leading Shansabanid nobles was murdered by the Ghaznavid Sultan, Bahram. A ferocious war ensued between the Sultans of Ghor and Ghazni, till Alla-ud-din Ghori invaded Ghazni with his entire cavalry and wrested it from Bahram. Alla-ud-din sacked the Indian spoils that Mahmud had placed there, massacred the city’s population in a 7-day killing spree and subsequently burnt it down. The next Ghaznavid Sultan, Khushro Maliq was driven out of Afghanistan by a coalition of Oghuz Turks and the Ghorids in 1157, and the Oghuz took Ghazni. The sons of Alla-ud-din, Ghiyas-ud-din Mu’azz-ud-din Ghori and Shihab-ud-din Muhammad Ghori defeated the Oghuz and annexed Ghazni in 1174. Ghiyas-ud-din, crowned himself Sultan, and appointed his brother Sultankalka. Shihab-ud-din was assigned the task of extending the kingdom to the East and he naturally gravitated towards India. 13 bloody campaigns that ravaged Northern India followed:

• Early in 1175 he invaded Punjab and sacked and burned Uch…(1)

• In 1178 he advanced south and marched towards Gujarat, but here the Indians acted quickly and rallying under the western chAlukya king MUlarAja II routed the Islamic forces completely forcing him to retreat…(2)

• In 1179 Ghori sent a message to PrithivirAja chAhamAna to make common cause with him against the Chalukyas. Prithivaraj however, wise disregarding his foolish minister, kadambavAsa’s advise to make a common cause with Ghori, preemptively attacked NaDDula and reconquered it from the Moslems.

• Shihab recovered in 1180 and invaded Sindh and ravaged the population carrying away much loot…(3)

• Then Shihabuddin Muhammad, quickly followed it up in 1181 and 1184 with two invasions of Lavapura (Lahore) accompanied with much slaughter…(4+5)

• In 1186 he invaded the Ghaznavid occupied Punjab and defeated the Sultan Khushro Maliq and wrested Punjab…(6)

• 1188 The Ghur Sultankalka invaded the ChAhamAna kingdom and sacked the fort of Tabarhindah killing the Hindu male populace and raping the women. Hindu refugees flocked around Delhi alarming the ChAhamAnas…(7)

• 1191 PrithivirAj advanced to meet Shihabuddin’s raid and routed him in the great battle of Tarai. While the Muslims suffered a crushing defeat, the Indians failed to butcher them to man and allowed Shihab to get away unharmed. He fled back to Central Asia leaving Punjab completely undefended…(8)

• 1191 PrithivirAj attacked Tabarhindah and took it back from the Muslims. Here the biggest mistake of the Hindus was not to reconquer and arm Punjab suitably.

• 1192 Shihab returned and sacked Tabarhindah again. This was followed by the second battle of Tarai, the ChAhamAna army was crushed and Prithiviraj was captured and brutally tortured to death…(9)

• 1192 the Ghur Sultankalka made a second trust towards Ajayamerupura (Ajmer) and sacked it smashing Hindu temples and a Hindu university in course of this invasion. The Hindus captured in this expedition caused slave prices to fall to a few Dirhams in the Muslim markets…(10)

• 1193 The sultankalka invaded Kannauj and slew the GAhadwala king Jayachandra. He followed this up with an invasion of vArANsipura slaughtering Hindus with great savagery and desecrating the holy city…(11+12)

After this, his viceroy Kutub-ud-din (also his lover?) and the Turkish adventurer Ikhtiyaruddin Khalji furthered the violence of Islam in the land of Hind. Meanwhile Shihab’s brother died in Ghazna and he crowned himself Sultan and immediately launched himself into another Jihad on the infidels of Hindustan in 1206. The exact course of this campaign is not clear. While on the North-western reaches of the Sindhu, he was ambushed by the Khokar chiefs and shot down by an arrow…(13). Thus ended the carrier of the Moslem brigand who brought misery to the whole of northern India through his 13 invasions.

 

The Jihads of Alla-ud-din Khalji

The one time when it appeared that the sanAtana dharma might vanish off the face of bhArata was during the ferocious jihads of Alla-ud-din of the Khalji tribe. The Khaljis entered India from Ghazna during the reign of the Mamluq Sultan Qutub-ud-din Aibak. The first of them to make his mark Bakhtiyar Khalji, whose savage jihad in Bihar and destruction of the Indian centers of learning like Nalanda is only well known. Jalal-ud-din Khalji, another member of this tribe, was accepted as the Sultan of Delhi by a confederation of Turkic tribes, after the collapse of the Mamluq Balban’s regime. Jalal opened his innings by consolidating the Turkic regime in India by suppressing other competing Maliqs and appointed his nephew, Alla-ud-din to expand his domains. We shall briefly consider his campaigns:

• In 1291 he was sent to destroy the remaining Kaffirs of Bhilsa in Central India. Il-tut-mish, the Mamluq had earlier desecrated this Hindu-Buddhist temple-university complex but it had fallen away from Islamic control. Alla invaded and conquered Bhilsa and total exterminated the Kaffirs and left behind a ghost city whose long lost temple remnants can be seen even today.

• 1292 He attacked the Vidisha in Central India, a great center of learning and destroyed it completely and slew the inhabitants.

• 1292 His spies got him the news of the great wealth of the yAdava dynasty of mahArashTra and Alla promptly invaded it and carried away a large amount of loot.

• 1295 In a remarkable campaign Alla carried the war right to Devagiri the heart of the yAdava kingdom. He demolished and looted all the temples in Devagiri.

• In 1296 with this loot Alla bought most of the Khalji army and murdered his uncle Jalal and drove away his aunt and cousin and declared himself Sultan of Hind. Jaziya was imposed on the Kaffirs.

• 1296. Latter in the year he joined the Southern Alliance of the Chagadai Ulus (predominantly Turkic tribes) against the Northern Alliance (predominantly Mongolic) and routed the latter in a battle at Jallandar securing the Panjab for himself.

• In 1297 he invaded Gujarat and destroyed the ancient Surya temples at Mehsana and subjugated the Hindus of the land with much slaughter. The rAja of Gujarat fled to Devagiri and the Hindu kings tried to fight back under shankara yAdava. Alla sent Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan against them, who defeated the yAdavas and the Gujarat king. They captured and castrated a Hindu youth who was name Maliq Kaffr and presented him to Alla, who took him as his lover.

• 1298 He sent his fiercest il-ghazi, Zafar Khan, to wage a jihad against the pagan Northern Alliance chief Suldus who was sent by Chagadai Kha’Khan Duwa. The battle concluded in a draw after fierce fighting.

• 1298 Later in the year he battled against Qutulugh Khawaja, a son of Duwa, of the Northern Alliance, the results were inconclusive

• 1299 Qutulugh Khawaja reached the doors of Delhi with a large horde. Alla’s il-ghazi’s Zafar Khan, Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan defeated Qutulugh Khawaja, but Zafar Khan was shot dead by an arrow in this battle.

• 1299 Ulugh Khan was sent to quell the Hindu resistance in Gujarat. He conquered the fort of Junagad and demolished all the temples in the surrounding regions and then went on to attack Somnath and destroy the great temple that the Hindus had rebuilt.

• 1299. Hammira Deva of the Ranthambhor defeated Alla as he attempted to sack the Rajput stronghold.

• 1301. Alla returned with his entire force to sack Ranthambhor. He succeeded and slew Hammira Deva. He conducted a massive temple demolition operation destroying all the temples of Jhain and Sawai Madhopur and slew the inhabitants.

• 1303. Chittor alone that had held out against the Muslims, attracted Khalji’s attention due to its beautiful queen Padmini. Khalji sacked and burned Chittor after slaying Rana Rattan Singh.

• 1303. Turghai and Ali Beg of the Northern Alliance wrested the Punjab from Alla and invaded Sindh. They blockaded Delhi itself for two months but retreated due to the summer heat.

• 1304. Jihad was launched on Ujjaini. This ancient center of Indian learning was destroyed completely. Chanderi was attacked next by Alla and the ancient temples were demolished.

• 1305. Malwa and Mandu were savaged and the inhabitants slaughtered.

• 1306. Then Turghai and Ali Beg defeated Khalji’s army and captured Lahore and Amroha near Delhi. Tughlaq Khan, a general of Alla, counter-attacked defeated and captured 9000 Pagan Turko-Mongols of the Northern Alliance. He had them all trampled to death by elephants for refusing to accept Islam.

• 1308. Qebek (another son of Chagadai ruler, Duwa) and Ibaqmand of the Northern Alliance struck back captured Multan. But Alla defeated them on their way back and again slaughtered all the pagan prisoners he took.

• 1308. Later in the year, the Rajputs regrouped in Sivana and declared independence but Alla smashed them in a lightning campaign and destroyed the temples in the region.

• 1309. He sent Maliq Kaffr against Devagiri that was attempting to reassert itself. Maliq Kaffr defeated the yAdavas and penetrated the Hoysala kingdom.

• 1310 Maliq Kaffr destroyed Dwarasamudra after a fierce battle and ended the Hindu Hoysala rule over those regions.

• 1311 Maliq Kaffr devastated Telengana and destroyed the temples of Warangal. He then invaded Madhurai and destroyed the Pandyan kingdom. The temples of Madhurai and Chidambaram were destroyed. Kaffr returned with enormous amounts of gold looted from the destroyed temples.

• 1311 Alla invaded Jalor to destroy the Rajput fight back and massacred the Hindu population while destroying the city.

• 1313 Devagiri made another attempt to defy the Muslim terror, Alla personally invaded mahArashTra to ravage the Devagiri kingdom.

• 1314 Alla more or less became a puppet in the hand of his lover Kaffr and subsequently died in 1316.

• 1316 Death.

Thereafter, Maliq Kaffr killed all the members of the Khalji tribe except for Qutbuddin Mubarak, Alla’s last son, and ruled in his name. Kaffr was murdered by the Turkish chiefs of the Southern Alliance and Mubarak ascended the throne. In 1318 Qutbuddin Mubarak invaded Devagiri again as its ruler Haripala Deva had cast off the Muslim yoke. Haripala faced a massive defeat and was captured. He was skinned alive and his head and skin were placed on display at the entrance to the Devagiri fort. Thus ended the yAdava dynasty and Hindu sovereignty in mahArashTra. Mubarak’s lover Khusru murdered him and made himself Sultan. Amir Qazaghan of the Qara’Unas tribe, from Konduz, became the lord of the Southern Alliance and sent his commander al Ghazi al Maliq Tughlaq to seize the throne of Delhi after murdering Khusru.

Sources: Histoire des Mongols D’Ohsson.; Hafiz-i-Abru, trns Byani (Paris 1936). Tazjiyat-al-amsar va tajriyat of Wassaf; A Forgotten Empire : Vijayanagar : A Contribution to the history of India”, Robert Sewell

 

Aurangazeb (1658 C.E. – 1707 C.E.)

Aurangzeb considered himself “The Scourge Of The Kafirs” (non-believers) and closed Hindu schools and libraries. In his lifetime he destroyed more than 10,000 Hindu, Buddhist and Jam temples and often erected mosques in their stead.3 In 1669 in Agra he had hacked off the limbs of the recalcitrant Hindu King Gokla and in 1672 several thousand revolting Hindus were slaughtered in Mewat.

From: Maasi-i-Alamgiri: He issued general order to destroy all centers of Hindu learnings including Varnasi and destroyed the temple at Mathura and renamed it as Islamabad

In Khandela (rajastan) he killed 300 Hindus in one day for they resisted the destruction of their temple.

In Udaipur all Hindus of the town were killed as they vowed to defend the temple of Udaipur from destruction — 172 temples were destroyed in Udaipur. 66 temples were pulled down in Amber. All Hindu clerks were dismissed from the office of the Imperial empire.

In Pandhpur , Maharashtra, the Emperor ordered and executed the destruction of temple and butchering of cows within the temple.

Aurangazeb also tortured to death the disciples of Guru Tegh bahadur before his death and also killed Guru. Guru Tegh Bahadur – the pride of Hindustan was martyred for he spoke for the persecuted Hindus of Hindustan. Aurangazeb also killed Guru Gobind singh’s two children aged less than ten by walling them alive for not accepting the choice of Islam. In Punjab Muslim governors killed hundreds of Sikh children and made Sikh women eat the flesh of their own killed children. Banda Bahadur another great Sikh martyr before being torturd to death was also made to eat the flesh of his own children killed before his eyes. Any Muslim bringing the head of a dead Sikh was also awarded money.

 

Jahangir (1605 C.E. – 1628 C.E.)

Source: Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri: Though in the beginning of his rule Jahangir followed the humanistic rule of his father Akbar the great -the policy of sulehkul even issued a proclamation against the forcible conversion of Hindus to Islam, he revoked Akbar’s orders that those who have been forcibly converted from Islam could return to Hinduism. He severely punished Kaukab, Sharif and Abdul Latif for showing inclination to Hinduism. He also prohibited the free inter-marriage customs between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir. Hindus marrying Muslim girls and those who had already married were given a hoice between Islam and death. Many were killed.

Jahangir’s torture of Guru Arjun Dev ji: Guru was imprisoned at Lahore fort. He was chained to a post in an open place exposed to the sun from morning to evening in the summer months of May to June. Below his feet a heap of sand was put which burnt like a furnace. Boiling water was poured on his naked body at intervals. His body was covered with blisters all over. In this agony Guru used to utter.

Tera Kiya Metha lage, naam padarath Nanak mange(whatever you ordain appears sweet. I supplicate for the gift of name)

The Guru was ordercd to be executed. In addition a fine of Rupees two lakhs was imposed on him. Some historians say that, as a measure of clemency at the intervention of Mian Mir, this fine was imposed in lieu of the sentence of death. The Sikhs offered to pay the fine themselves but the Guru forbade them to do so. He replied to the Emperor, “Whatever money I have is for the poor, the friendless and the stranger. If thou ask for money thou mayest take what I have; but if thou ask for it by way of fine, I shall not give thee even a Kaurz (penny).” The Guru accepted death by torture.

 

Shah Jahan (1658 C.E. – 1707 C.E.)

In 1632 Shah Jahan ordered that all Hindu temples recently erected or in the course of construction should be razed to the ground. In Benares alone seventy six temples were destroyed. Christian churches at Agra and Lahore were demolished. In a manner befitting the Prophet he had ten thousand inhabitants executed by being “blown up with powder, drowned in water or burnt by fire”. Four thousand were taken captive to Agra where they were tortured to try to convert them to Islam. Only a few apostacised, the remainder were trampled to death by elephants, except for the younger women who went to harems.

Shahjahan put enormous eonomic pressure on Hindus particularly peasents to become Muslims. The criminals too were forced to become Muslims.

Source: Badshah Nama, Qazinivi & Badshah Nama , Lahori

When Shuja was appointed as governor of Kabul he carried on a ruthless war in the Hindu territory beyond Indus…The sword of Islam yielded a rich crop of converts….Most of the women (to save their honour) burnt themselves to death. Those captured were distributed among Muslim Mansabdars.

Source: Manucci, Storia do Mogor vol-II p.451 & Travels of Frey Sebastian Manrique

Under Shahjahan peasents were compelled to sell their women and children to meet their revenue requirements….The peasents were carried off to various Markets and fairs to be sold with their poor unhappy wives carrying their small children crying and lamenting. According to Qaznivi Shahjagan had decreed they should be sold to Muslim lords.

 

General Reginal Dyer — Commander of Amritsar Massacre

Soon after Dyer’s arrival, on the afternoon of April 13, 1919, some 10,000 or more unarmed men, women, and children gathered in Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh (bagh, “garden”; but before 1919 it had become a public square) to attend a protest meeting, despite a ban on public assemblies. It was a Sunday, and many neighbouring village peasants also came to Amritsar to celebrate the Hindu Baisakhi Spring Festival. Dyer positioned his men at the sole, narrow passageway of the Bagh, which was otherwise entirely enclosed by the backs of abutted brick buildings. Giving no word of warning, he ordered 50 soldiers to fire into the gathering, and for 10 to 15 minutes 1,650 rounds of ammunition were unloaded into the screaming, terrified crowd, some of whom were trampled by those desperately trying to escape. According to official estimates, nearly 400 civilians were killed, and another 1,200 were left wounded with no medical attention. Dyer, who argued his action was necessary to produce a “moral and widespread effect,” admitted that the firing would have continued had more ammunition been available.

            The governor of the Punjab province supported the massacre at Amritsar and, on April 15, placed the entire province under martial law. Viceroy Chelmsford, however, characterized the action as “an error of judgment,” and when Secretary of State Montagu learned of the slaughter, he appointed a commission of inquiry, headed by Lord Hunter. Although Dyer was subsequently relieved of his command, he returned a hero to many in Britain, especially conservatives, who presented him with a jeweled sword inscribed “Saviour of the Punjab.”

            The Jallianwala Bagh massacre turned millions of moderate Indians from patient and loyal supporters of the British raj into nationalists who would never again place trust in British “fair play.” It thus marks the turning point for a majority of the Congress’ supporters from moderate cooperation with the raj and its promised reforms to revolutionary noncooperation. Liberal Anglophile leaders, such as Jinnah, were soon to be displaced by the followers of Gandhi, who would launch, a year after that dreadful massacre, his first nationwide satyagraha (“devotion to truth”) campaign as India’s revolutionary response.

“It was a horrible duty to perform. But I think it was a merciful thing. I thought I should shoot well and shoot straight so that I or anybody else would not have had to shoot again.”

The words of Brigadier General Reginald Dyer himself — the perpetrator of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre which left 379 dead and 1,500 injured in 1919.

Deposing before the Hunter commission inquiring into the shooting, General Dyer said his action was meant to punish the people if they disobeyed his orders. He thought from a military point of view, such an action would create a good impression in Punjab.

However, what was more damning was his statement, ”I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and I would have made, what I consider, a fool of myself.”

He contended that martial law existed de facto in Amritsar at that time although only demonstrations had been forbidden. He also claimed that his military column had stopped at every important point to announce that all meetings have been banned which were accompanied by the beating of drums.

However, when questioned with the help of a map of the city, General Dyer was forced to admit that important localities had been omitted, and a large number of people would not have known about the proclamation.

He confessed he did not take any steps to attend to the wounded after the firing. ”Certainly not. It was not my job. Hospitals were open and they could have gone there,” came his pathetic response.

However, the misery suffered by the people was reflected in Rattan Devi’s account. She was forced to keep a nightlong vigil, armed with a bamboo stick to protect her husband’s body from jackals and vultures. Curfew with shoot-at-sight orders had been imposed from 2000 hours that night.

Rattan Devi stated, ”I saw three men writhing in great pain and a boy of about 12. I could not leave the place. The boy asked me for water but there was no water in that place…At 2 am, a jat who was lying entangled on the wall asked me to raise his leg. I went up to him and took hold of his clothes drenched in blood and raised him up. Heaps of bodies lay there, a number of them innocent children. I shall never forget the sight. I spent the night crying and watching…”

General Dyer admitted before the commission that he came to know about the meeting at Jallianwala Bagh at 1240 hours that day, but took no steps to prevent it.

            Colum, a scholar who interviewed his widow and consulted his papers, said, “This unexpected gift of fortune, this unhoped for defiance, this concentration of rebels in an open space — it gave him an opportunity as he could not have devised. It separated the guilty from the innocent, it placed them where he would have wised them to be — within the reach of his sword.”

However, General Dyer admitted in his deposition that the gathering at the Bagh was not a concentration only of rebels, but people who had covered long distances to participate in the Baisakhi fair.

Swinson, an English journalist, described the scene as: ”Hundreds were asleep in the sun, others were concentrating on their game of cards. A number of them had come with their children, three to 12 years old. Some 27,000 odd people had gathered in the Bagh, an open space surrounded on all sides by houses with only four narrow entrances.”

General Dyer said he would have used his machine guns if he could have got them into the enclosure, but these were mounted on armoured cars. He said he did not stop firing when the crowd began to disperse because he thought it was his duty to keep firing until the crowd dispersed, and that a little firing would do no good.

He was censured by the Hunter commission for his action. He retired and was sent back to England. However, he continued to maintain that he had done no disservice to the Raj, and what he did was right, for which the British ought to be thankful.

            In London, the general was given a hero’s welcome. Called ”the saviour of India,” the editor of the Morning Post collected 3,000 pounds to award him for his services. The Tories and a majority of members in the House of Lords rallied to his support. The army counsel which took up the case charged him only for an error of judgement, and recommended his retirement on half pay with no prospects of further employment. A British court even exonerated him of this charge.

 

*  *  *

 

The Hindu Holocaust continues throughout the world today. More than any other religious group anywhere, Hindus are being persecuted and murdered by fanatical members of other religious groups, and even by the Government of India itself. In the supposedly “secular” country of India, we find that the minority religions are given special treatment and allowed to manage their own affairs. Muslims in India are offered a financial subsidy to pay for their religious pilgrimage to Mecca (the Hajj Subsidy), and Christian missionaries are allowed to run rampant using various forms of deception and material promises to convert entire villages, while the Hindu religion is denigrated in India’s universities. Patriotic Hindus are called fundamentalists and fanatics, while Muslim and Christian terrorists carry out an unprecedented campaign of murder and violence against Hindus. Hindu temples are not allowed to be managed by the Hindus themselves, rather huge amounts of donations are collected by the “secular” government and pocketed by non-Hindu officials while the Temples are left to fall into ruins. At the same time, Muslim “Madrassas”, or religious schools, are growing by leaps and bounds, and left free to preach their hatred against Hindus. Muslim and Christian separatists threaten to tear Mother India apart even more than she has already been in order to secede and carve out new nations from India based on religious governments, rather than on secular lines that insure religious freedom for all.

A Summary of India’s Real History: And the Numerous Attempts to Destroy its Vedic Culture

A Summary of India’s Real History

And the Numerous Attempts to Destroy its Vedic Culture

 

 

During the last years, many people in India and outside India have become aware of the need to establish the truth about the real history of India. Historical and archeological research has progressed greatly, and the debate in academic circles has become extremely interesting. Some books have been published, and websites are being developed. Due to the limited scope and size of this publication, we cannot include a complete history of India, but for the completeness of our discussion, we want to present some information found missing in the biased history that is taught in schools at present.

It is said that history is written by those who win the wars and hold the power. The other party is given no chance to leave their version of the story, because that would undermine the position of the conqueror or the establishment. It would not be “politically correct”.

Certainly this has been happening for the last 5,000 years, under the influence of Kali-yuga, but it does not need to continue like that. Let’s just give truth a chance.

The entire planet is undergoing a change. The ideas of human rights and ethical principles in society, academics and politics, that started to develop in western countries in the 1700s with the French revolution, have seeped into the conscience of many and are now offering a golden opportunity to establish truthfulness and justice. Let us not be intimidated by those who are afraid of truth.

The Vedic period of India is the time when our “golden heritage” was built. The crumbs of that civilization have made India famous all over the world for the last 2,000 years, and inspired great philosophers along history, from Socrates and Pythagoras to Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. What do we know about the Vedic period, apart the descriptions found in the Vedas themselves?

Indian archeology had its first important finding in 1922, when a Buddhist monk informed Rakhaldas Banerjee, superintendent of West Circle of Archaeological Survey of India, that in Larkana (district of old Sindh, now Pakistan) there were some ancient remains. The monks supposed that they were from Buddhist period, so they wanted the site to be investigated and protected.

However, the two sites, called Mohenjodaro and Harappa, were dated at least 1500 years BCE (Before Current Era), about 1000 years before the birth of Buddha, creating a sensation in academic circles and posing a difficult problem to mainstream archeology and history. Especially because the archeologists had found an area, at a short distance from the city, where a large deposit of clay had been vitrified as if by a nuclear explosion – the date of which could not be before 1500 BCE according to the instruments of the researchers.

In the following years many more sites were discovered, and what was once called “Indus valley civilization” appears now to have been existing in all northern India, down to the Narmada River in Maharastra, and in the ancient basin of the now disappeared river Sarasvati. It is also very likely that such advanced civilization was also present in the entire subcontinent, because we must keep in mind that for thousands of years until the 20th century, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and Sri Lanka were all part of Bharata Varsha.

It is very interesting to note that these cities, built over 5000 years ago, were extremely modern. The streets were 12 to 30 feet wide, designed according to a perfect city planning, where the main streets were all oriented from North to South and the lanes from East to West at right angles with each other, in order to keep the city free from air pollution by the action of the wind. All the streets had rounded corners to facilitate the passage and turning of big vehicles and heavy traffic, they were paved with cooked bricks under which the sewage drains ran, and had a complex system of lighting posts to illuminate the city during the night. All industries were kept outside the town to control pollution and keep a good quality of life in the residential areas.

Every house had a private well, toilet and bathroom with a perfect hydraulic system and drainage soak pits. The external drainage system connecting the various houses had manholes at regular intervals for inspection. The houses were generally two storied, with big stairways and a pleasant environment.

The city of Harappa had a public swimming pool 55 by 35 meters, 2.4 meters deep, with walls made of cooked bricks, mortar and bitumen, and a drainage system for periodic cleaning. Inside the building of the public swimming pool there was a veranda with various rooms and galleries, very similar to a modern “commercial and service center”.

The city had also a big assembly hall 25 x 25 meters, with 20 big pillars made of bricks. Another city on the coast, Lothal, also had a large naval dockyard.

The script of this civilization was an alphabetical script consisting of 62 basic signs, which means that their language was very complex and refined. It was directly connected to Sanskrit, which has 13 vowels and 33 consonants, plus a great number of possible graphic variations (“complex consonants”) and a number of signs (anusvara, visarga, etc.). Usually, the more advanced is a civilization, the more complex is its language and script.

Harappa and Mohenjodaro contained a wealth of artifacts: bronze artwork and sculptures, jewels, toys and more than 2000 seals made of steatite, terracotta and copper. The decorations of the houses and objects found by the archeologists show that the inhabitants of those cities loved to play music, sing and dance, were fond of games and happy life. They used cosmetics like lipstick and kajal, and were a rich and civilized people. Their religion was centered on Shiva and the Mother Goddess, and they performed fire yajnas (rituals). They traveled a lot and were in contact with foreign countries; Harappan seals and other articles were found in Mesopotamia, Akkadia and Sumer. The findings in many more areas confirm that the “Indus-Sarasvati” civilization actually spread all over India, with consistent evidence of Vedic civilization.

Why did these rich and civilized people disappear from their cities? And where did they go?

The old theory of the colonialists said that some foreign invaders, the Aryan nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes coming from Central Northern Asia, conquered the pacific civilization of Dravidians, killed them by the thousands (although no evidence is showing such a massacre), made many slaves of them and drove the rest to South India. However, no finding has ever shown human remains of the Dravidian race in Harappan areas; rather the skeletons found have the same racial features of the modern inhabitants of Sindh and Gujarat.

Today, according to the most recent discoveries, it seems more likely that the people of that civilization had to move away gradually because of some natural climatic changes that dried up the Sarasvati River, which was the actual support of those people. The dried bed of the  Sarasvati has recently been located on the basis of photos from satellites: it runs from the Sivalik mountains near Simla up to the Rann of Kutch, and most of the one thousand sites of Harappan civilization were located on both the banks of the dried river bed. The river served as a natural transportation route over long distances. The Rig Veda mentions Sarasvati as the largest river of the land, and for a long time before the discovery of her dried bed, scholars believed it was a mythological river.

These Vedic peoples just moved east and south towards the Ganga and the Yamuna, and joined the cities of Hastinapura (Delhi), Kashi (Benares), Prayag (Allahabad), Mathura, Ayodhya, and others mentioned in Vedic literature as very ancient settlements. These cities existed also during Vedic times, but their buildings had been renovated and substituted because they continued to be inhabited.

Central and South India had also civilized people for a very long time; some of these sites continued to be inhabited, others were abandoned. On 8 September, 2003, anthropologist S. Chakraborty from Kolkata (Calcutta) found evidence of the oldest human habitation in India, dating to 2 million years, on the banks of the Subarnarekha River. The 30-mile stretch between Ghatshila in the province of Jharkhand and Mayurbhanj in Orissa has reportedly yielded tools with evidence of human habitation without a break from 2 million years ago to 5,000 BCE. Other important findings of “pre-historic” times were in the Narmada basin in Madhya Pradesh and the Velamadurai-Pallavaram rectangle in Tamil Nadu.

 

 

ARYAN INVASION?

 

The misconception around the term Aryan has created the greatest problems to Hinduism and India.

According to mainstream history, India was invaded around 1500 BCE by Aryan tribes coming from the Caucasus; such nomadic and war-mongering tribes were of the Aryan race, or white complexioned, blond hair and blue eyes, tall and strong. Supposedly, they brought Sanskrit and the Vedas to India, “civilizing” the pacific but primitive Dravidian tribes that lived there and turning them into slaves (the sudras).

To properly understand how this theory of the Aryan invasion has been given so much credit in the past, we must examine the situation in which it was first formulated by European scholars in the 19th century during the time of the British empire.

It is important to note that the need of those times was the justification of the slavery and the colonization of the “non-white” people, who had to be considered “inferior”.

Cultures other than the White Christian had to be presented as inferior and backward, primitive and savage. European “colonizers” massacred the aboriginals of the Americas, Africa and Australia, where civilizations were relatively simple, or had already declined past the peak of their glory. The peoples they met were innocent and trusting, and their philosophical and theological systems were simple and direct, they had practically no literature and history. They had never come in contact with Europe before, and it was easy to pass them off as “savages” in the eyes of the world.

India was something else. Fabulous stories about India’s wisdom, science, architecture, wealth and “magicians” had been circulating in Europe from the times of Alexander the Great, who considered the Vedic texts as an essential part of the huge library he founded at Alexandria of Egypt and employed a team of translators for their Greek version.

Anyone could see that Sanskrit was a very complex and precise language: certainly not a primitive language of a primitive people. The quantity and quality of the philosophical and scientific literature of India was overwhelming. How to reconcile these evident facts with the need to affirm Indians’ cultural inferiority?

The theory of the “White Man’s Burden” claimed that God had given the white Europeans better capabilities than other peoples and he had asked them, or expected them, to rule the other races and “look after them”. This applied all the more on the cultural and religious level, because Christians were the “chosen people” and they had the religious and moral duty to “convert the heathens”. In India, where religion is so strictly connected with philosophy and knowledge, the whole structure of culture had to be systematically dismantled.

It may be surprising to learn that the first pioneer in Indology was the 12th Century Pope, Onorius IV, who encouraged the learning of oriental languages in order to preach Christianity amongst the pagans. Soon after this in 1312, the Ecumenical Council of the Vatican decided that “The Holy Church should have an abundant number of Catholics well versed in the languages, especially in those of the infidels, so as to be able to instruct them in the sacred doctrine.”

William Carey (1761-1834) was the pioneer of the modern missionary enterprise in India, and of western (missionary) scholarship in oriental studies. Carey was an English oriental scholar and the founder of the Baptist Missionary Society. From 1801 onward, as Professor of Oriental Languages, he composed numerous philosophical works, consisting of grammars and dictionaries in the Marathi, Sanskrit, Punjabi, Telugu, Bengali, and Bhatanta languages. He printed over 200,000 Bibles and Christian literature volumes in about 40 different languages and dialects at the Serampore press.

Carey and his colleagues experimented with what came to be known as Church Sanskrit. He wanted to train a group of “Christian Pandits” who would probe “these mysterious sacred nothings” and expose them as worthless. He was distressed that this “golden casket (of Sanskrit) exquisitely wrought” had remained “filled with nothing but pebbles and trash.” He was determined to fill it with the “riches beyond all price” i.e. the doctrine of Christianity. In fact, Carey smuggled himself into India and caused so much trouble that the British government labeled him as a political danger. After confiscating a batch of Bengali pamphlets printed by Carey, the Governor General Lord Minto described them as “Scurrilous invective…Without arguments of any kind, they were filled with hell fire and still hotter fire, denounced against a whole race of men merely for believing the religion they were taught by their fathers.”  Reverend A. H. Bowman wrote that Hinduism was a “…great philosophy… the last and the most subtle and powerful foe of Christianity.”

The famous Colonel Boden established in 1811 the prestigious “Boden Chair for Sanskrit” at the Oxford University to promote the translation of Christian Scriptures in Sanskrit to proceed to the conversion of the natives of India to the Christian religion.

Richard Temple said in an 1883 speech to a London missionary society: “India presents the greatest of all fields of missionary exertion… India is a country which of all others we are bound to enlighten with external truth… But what is most important to you friends of missions, is this that there is a large population of aborigines, a people who are outside caste…. If they are attached, as they rapidly may be, to Christianity, they will form a nucleus round which British power and influence may gather.”

He addressed a mission in New York in bolder terms:  “Thus India is like a mighty bastion which is being battered by heavy artillery. We have given blow after blow, and thud after thud, and the effect is not at first very remarkable; but at last with a crash the mighty structure will come toppling down, and it is our hope that some day the heathen religions of India will in like manner succumb.”

Macaulay, who formulated the Indian education policy in the 1830s, wrote in 1836 a letter to his father: “…It is my belief that if our plans of education are followed up, there would not be a single idolater among the respectable classes in Bengal within the span of thirty years… And this will be effected without any efforts to proselytize, without the smallest interference with religious liberty, by natural operation of knowledge and reflection. I heartily rejoice in the project.” He planned to use the strength of the educated Indians against Hinduism by creating a class that would be “Indian in blood and color but English in taste, in opinion, in morals, in intellect.” He firmly believed that, “No Hindu who has received an English education ever remains sincerely attached to his religion.”

A French Christian abbot, the Abbé Dubois, who lived in India from 1792 to 1823, alleged that India had been inhabited very soon after the Deluge, by the descendents of Noah’s son Japhet. According to his theory, these descendents of Japhet reached India from the north, coming from their first abode in the Caucasus (northern Germany, Scandinavia, southern Russia, Pamir, etc.). Those people were supposedly semi nomadic warriors and cattle breeders like the other peoples who were still living in that area in the 1700s. Dubois said that their king was called Indra and their gods were cruel destroyers like Shiva. The theory said these nomadic marauders enslaved the black Dravidian people, establishing the caste system on racial basis. The secret of their victory was the domestication of horses on which they rode, and the use of iron weapons because the “pre-Aryan” people were very primitive people who had never seen horses nor iron implements and weapons, which were considered a “sign of cultural advancement”. Today we know that such a theory was completely wrong. In the “pre-Aryan invasion” cities of Mehergarh, Harappa, Dvaraka and other places of Indus-Sarasvati civilization the inhabitants already used horses and iron implements and weapons and were extremely civilized.

On his biblical belief that the creation of the whole world had taken place only in 4004 BCE, Max Muller fixed the date of the Aryan “invasion” in India in 1500 BCE, the compilation of Rig Veda in 1200 BCE, the other Vedas in 1000 BC, the Vedanta Sutra in 800 BCE, and the Upanishads in 600 BCE. Today such dates are considered very dubious by scholars. Dr. A. C. Das states that Vedic civilization, expressed in Sanskrit language, was already there at least 25,000 years ago, especially in South India. One Harappan site at Mehergarh, near Bolan Pass in Beluchistan, shows the city was abandoned in 8000 BCE.

To justify the wonderful, advanced and rich culture that had been present in India many centuries before the arrival of the Europeans, it was necessary to formulate a suitable theory. Thus, the Aryans were described as a race of white people, coming from Central and Eastern Europe (Germany, England, Russia), who had invaded India through the Himalayas and civilized it by bringing Sanskrit, the Vedas, and what was described as the caste system. Similarly, the new invaders, the British, had all rights to “civilize” India on “racial basis” again as their forefathers had already done.

So the basis of the racist theory of European scholars was:

1) Aryans invaded India and destroyed her primitive indigenous civilization massacring the population, then settled there. Aryans were fair-skinned and handsome (that is to say, had “European” tracts).

2) Aryans drove Dravidians to the south and captured north India. Aryans and Dravidians are two different civilizations and two different nations.

3) India became one country and one nation only after the British took control over it.

4) The rigid caste system based on racial considerations was the basis of Vedic civilization.

           

Opposed to these points, these old theories are being brilliantly defeated by the new generation of Indian archaeologists and by the advancement of archaeology in the West:

1) Humanity cannot be divided into a small number of well divided races. Above all, the color of the skin and the somatic traits have nothing to do with intelligence and ethics.

It is unscientific to state that the individuals of white race have mental and moral qualities superior to those found in other races.

2) The term “Aryan” has been in use in Indian culture since ancient times and it has always meant anything or anybody that is good. It has never meant a race, but rather a behavior that respects certain civilized and ethical rules of conduct.

3) The original Vedic civilization of Sanskrit language that called Aryans its members was the Indus-Sarasvati civilization, identical to the civilization of the Ganges-Yamuna area. Simply, the Sarasvati River dried up and those cities were abandoned.

4) The Indus-Sarasvati civilization was destroyed not by Aryan invasion but by natural calamities connected to the drying of the great river.

5) In spite of various linguistic, physical and behavioral differences, India has been a cultural unit since Vedic times. There is a definite continuity between the Indian culture described in the Vedas and the one found in Indus-Sarasvati civilization.

            The theory of the Aryan invasion of white complexioned people who defeated, enslaved and chased away a black complexioned indigenous population of Dravidians was also intended to create hostility and separation between the various ethnic groups in India, especially between north and south India. The European colonizers needed to manipulate the sentiments of northern Indians, already weakened by the centuries of submission to the Muslim invaders and rulers, against the south Indians who had been fiercely opposing the Muslim invasions and still largely maintained Vedic civilization and knowledge. As we may remember, during the Middle Ages most of the great teachers of Vedic knowledge came from South India: Adi Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva.

 

 

THE “HISTORICAL” PERIOD

 

Historical records, according to western academics, cannot contain concepts about divine consciousness, poetic expressions and presentation of moral, religious or ethical teachings, which are considered characteristics of myth and epics. Since Vedic civilization is strongly based on divine consciousness, loves poetic expressions in all aspects of life, and always strives to improve the character of people through teachings in its literature, the enormous wealth of historical recordings contained in Vedic texts is not accepted as “real history” by mainstream academics.

Thus, the Mahabharata and Ramayana, as well as Homer’s famous books, Iliad and Odyssey, have been classified by academics as “epics” and “mythology” while Herodotus’ stories have been classified as history. The Greek Herodotus is considered the first historian of mankind, and history texts in the planet’s schools teach about ancient civilizations according to his word. He speaks mainly of Egyptians, Persians and Greeks, so school books consider “historical” the period starting with India’s documented contact with Persians and Greeks, confirmed in Greek records. Meghasthenes, Greek ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya, wrote the Indika reports.

Also the Chinese Buddhists Fahien and H’uen Tsang left diaries of their travels through India. The Chinese people were also deeply influenced by Indian culture for at least 2,000 years.

            According to mainstream history, the Persians were the first foreign invaders of India (518 BCE). However, the Persian emperor Darius did not dare to cross the Sindh and just annexed the western part of the Punjab. The Persians or Parsis seem to have deeply respected and shared India’s culture in many ways. For example, the governors of the provinces of their kingdoms were called Satraps, from the Sanskrit word Kshetra-pa, “protector of the land”. They worshiped the Sun (under the name of Mitra).

Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia, arrived in India in 326 BCE in his campaign to conquer the world (he had already annexed Greece, Persia, Egypt, Afghanistan and surrounding territories). However, he was pushed back by the Indian kshatriyas in the Ganges valley.

Western history books say that Alexander’s army was “tired from the long war and feared the unknown territories”, so their leader just turned back. It is possible that such decision was simply dictated by the fact that Alexander’s army was composed by foot infantry and horsemen, while the Hindu warriors had elephants and chariots. However, there are also some documents with stories told by his soldiers that include “magic wonders” like fire-weapons, flying missiles, and other war devices that Greeks had never seen before. They could not fight against such superior technology, so they refused the battle.

However, Greeks were strongly impressed by the contact with India. Greek philosophers, like Anaxarchus and Pyrrho, had been in the train of Alexander and had mixed with the Indian gymnosophists or “naked philosophers”. Even the more ancient Pythagoreans were influenced by Indian ideas – vegetarianism, communal property and the “transmigration of souls” (which they called metempsychosis). For Greeks, psyche meant “soul”.

At those times, India was teeming with culture and science. In 700 BCE the university of Takshashila had more than 10,500 students from all over the world, studying over 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda was built in the 4th century BCE. The sciences studied algebra, trigonometry and calculus. Medicine and surgery were also extremely advanced. In 600 BCE Sushruta recorded complicated surgeries like cesareans, cataract, artificial limbs, fractures, urinary stones and even plastic surgery and brain surgery. Usage of anesthesia was well known in ancient India. Over 125 surgical instruments were used. Deep knowledge of anatomy, physiology, etiology, embryology, digestion, metabolism, genetics and immunity is also found in many texts.

The Bactrian (Afghan) Greeks or Seleucids also came in contact with India, and reached Punjab. However, they were strongly influenced by Indian culture. One of their kings, Menander or Milinda, was defeated by king Pusyamitra and he converted to Buddhism.

Heliodorus, ambassador of king Antialkidas, became a Vaishnava (and erected the famous Garuda pillar at Basenagar, the modern Bhopal). [This Heliodorus Column is found in the town of Vidisha. It states that he had become a Vaishnava, and this proved that the Vaishnava tradition pre-dated Christianity by at least 200 years.]

The Romans never even considered the possibility to embark in the conquest of India, and contented themselves by greedily purchasing her goods.

The Sakas (Scythians) who came to India from the 1st century BCE belonged to cultures that had been strongly influenced by Vedic knowledge, if not originally Vedic. They settled in Gandhara, Taxila, Mathura, Maharastra and Ujjain, but they did not oppose Vedic culture in any way.

The Parthians or Pahalavas could also be considered as belonging to Vedic culture, although they are said to have came from the Caspian Sea region. They were accepted as Vedic peoples because they spoke Sanskrit and honored Vedic knowledge.

The next famous “foreign” kingdom, the Kushanas headed by Kanishka, was a Buddhist state (around 110 CE). The capital city of Kanishka was Purushapura (Peshwar), from which we can easily understand that he also spoke Sanskrit. Under his patronage, the Sanskrit scholar Asvaghosa (author of Buddha Charita and Sutralankara) and the physician Charaka (author of Charaka Samhita) prospered. Other famous scholars at the court of Kanishka were Vasumitra (author of Mahavibhasha Sastra, an encyclopedia of Buddhist philosophy) and Nagarjuna (author of Madhyamika Sutra, a treatise on philosophy).

 

 

THE HINDU KINGDOMS

 

North India, where already the Indus-Sarasvati civilization flourished, the kingdoms tended to expand and create empires.

The sixteen main kingdoms of the north were (Maha jana padas) were known as Kashi (Benares), Anga (Bhagalpur), Videha (north Bihar), Chedi (Bundelkhand), Kuru (Delhi), Matsya (Jaipur), Avanti (Malwa), Surasena (Mathura), Kosala (Awadh), Magadha (Patna and Gaya), Malla (Gorakhpur), Vatsa (Kaushambi), Panchala (Bareilly), Asmaka (Godavari valley), Gandhara (north west province), and Kamboja (Afghanistan).

            In the south, the dynasties of Cholas, Pandyas and Cheras remained peacefully settled in their territories. After these, the Vakatakas, Chalukyas, Pallavas and Pandyas became prominent. The history of South India is full of prosperous and beautiful kingdoms that loved peace and order. It is said that peaceful and prosperous times are very pleasurable for those who live in that period, but make scarcely interesting history. Specifically, South India was spared, for a long time, many of the problems that north India had to face, such as the invasions of hostile peoples who came generally from north-west.

The contacts of the Hindu kingdoms of South India with foreign lands were mostly with the cultural colonies in south east Asia, such as Sri Lanka, Singapore (Simhapur), Java (Yavadvip), Cambodia (where the Hindu temple of Angkor Vat still stands), Bali, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, and Malaysia. When Buddhism was spread by Ashoka, monks traveled to China, Korea and Japan where Buddhism had great success.

The kingdom of Magadha is documented from 542 BCE with records about Bimbisara, Ajatasatru and the Nandas.

Ajatasatru reigned from 495 to 463 BCE and defeated king Prasenajit, the king of Kosala, who then offered him his daughter in marriage. Ajatasatru also defeated the rulers of Vaisali after 16 years of competition and built a fort at Pataliputra, at the confluence between the Ganga and the Sona. His last successor, Kalasoka, was killed by Mahapadma Nanda in 362.  Mahapadma died in 346, and his kingdom was divided into 8 smaller kingdoms by his sons. In this period Darius the Persian and then Alexander came in contact with India.

In 321 BCE Chandragupta Maurya defeated the Nandas and started the Maurya dynasty. He was famous also because of his advisor Chanakya Pandit. Chandragupta had regular diplomatic relationships with the Greeks and also started to have commercial relationships with the Roman Empire.

The son of Chandragupta, Bindusara, became king in 297 BCE and Bindusara’s son, Ashoka, became king in 273 BCE.

Ashoka is famous as the emperor who converted to Buddhism, transforming it from a small movement into the state religion of his empire. He ruled from Pataliputra (modern Bihar), and in the effort to expand his kingdom he descended to south to conquer Orissa. He found a very strong resistance, and the battle of Kalinga, just outside the present day Bhubaneswar, cost the lives of many thousands of people. The river became tainted with the blood of the warriors, and Ashoka fully realized the tragedy of violence. He became a Buddhist and in the same place (Dhauli) he declared the famous edicts for his government. He established hospitals for human beings and animals, built roads and rest houses for travelers, planted shady trees and bore wells for the prosperity of all his subjects.

The empire of Ashoka included a vast area of the Greeks’ eastern empire established a century earlier.  After Alexander, the Seleucides ruled the Greek empire east of the Euphrates. A century later they had taken over the kingdom of Antigonus in Syria and Asia Minor but had lost control of Parthia, Bactria and the Indus valley. The edict of Ashoka reads: “Now it is conquest by Dhamma that Beloved-of-the-Gods considers to be the best conquest …And  conquest by Dhamma has been won here, on the borders, even six hundred yojanas away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule … Here in the king’s domain among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Nabhakas … everywhere people are following Beloved-of-the-Gods’ instructions in Dhamma. Even where ‘Beloved-of-the-Gods’ envoys have not been, these people too, having heard of the practice of Dhamma and the ordinances and instructions in Dhamma given by Beloved-of-the-Gods, are following it and will continue to do so …This conquest has been won everywhere, and it gives great joy – the joy which only conquest by Dhamma can give. But even this joy is of little consequence. Beloved-of-the-Gods considerd the great fruit to be experienced in the next world to be more important. I have had this Dhamma edict written so that my sons and great-grandsons … consider making conquest by Dhamma only, for that bears fruit in this world and the next.”

 

In 185 BCE the last Mauryan king, descendent of Ashoka, was killed and the empire declined. Pushyamitra founded a new dynasty, called Shungas, with its capital at Pataliputra. Pushyamitra ruled from 185 to 158 BCE. Several texts circulated in his period, such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Panini’s grammar, and the Manu Smriti.

The last king of the dynasty, Devabhumbi, was succeeded by his minister Vasudeva Kanva who founded his own dynasty and reigned for 46 years. In 28 BCE the last king of his dynasty was succeeded by king Susarman of Andhra, starting the Andhra dynasty.

In the first century CE the Shakas and Kushanas came in contact with India, as we have already mentioned.

In 320 Srigupta conquered Magadha. His successors were Ghatotkacha, Chandragupta I, Samudragupta (who expanded the empire from ocean to ocean, but leaving the kingdoms to the previous rulers, contenting himself with the payment of tributes), Chandragupta II Vikramaditya (who defeated the Saka satraps of Malwa, Gujarat, Konkan and established his capital in Ujjain). At the court of Vikramaditya there were nine great scholars, among those the poet Kalidas. The next kings in the dynasty were Kumaragupta and Skandagupta.

The Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Fa Hien started his travels from China in 399 and remained in India from 405 to 411, writing a detailed account of the Gupta period. He returned to China in 414. He writes that the government in India was very good. The taxes were low, the roads safe, with a very good discipline among the people. There were no criminals or bribery: corruption among government officers was punished by the king with the amputation of the hands. The people obtained medicines free of charge, and there were free rest houses for travelers. The entire population was vegetarian. Their religion was Hinduism, Buddhism, or Jainism.

In this period the universities developed. The famous Taxila grew with many students, and other universities were founded at Nalanda, Sarnath, and Vallabhi. Some of the most famous scholars of these learning centers were: in astronomy, Aryabhatta (who affirmed the heliocentric cosmology) and Varahmihira, in mathematics Brahmagupta, and in medicine Vriddha Vagbhatta.

In 550, the Gupta empire became weaker after the invasions of the Huns, who at some point controlled Malwa, Punjab, Kashmir, Sindh, Gujarat, Bengal, and Assam.

Around 600, two new powers emerged, the Vardhanas of Thaneswar (near Kurukshetra in Haryana) and the Maukharis of Kanauj. Prabhakar Vardhana was the first Vardhana ruler. In 606 his son Rajya Vardhana was killed in a war against Deva Gupta and his ally Sasank (ruler of Bengal). The brother of his wife Rajya Sri, Harshavardhana, became king. He united the two kingdoms of Thaneswar and Kanauji, shifting the capital to Kanauji, gathered a large army (50,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 5,000 elephants) and in 619 he conquered Bengal avenging his brother-in-law. He also allied with Bhaskar Varma of Assam to get local support. Harshavardhana then defeated Dhruvsena of Vallabhi (Gujarat), included Magadha, Prayag, and Orissa, and expanded his territories in the south until he was stopped by Pulakeshin II Chalukya.

The Chinese traveler Hieun Tsang reports that his government was very good and he cared for his people like a father. His kingdom was strictly vegetarian and slaughter of animals was forbidden.

The religious worship was centered on Shiva and Surya, then Buddhism became more prominent. Religious assemblies lasting 23 days were held every 5 years; about 4,000 Buddhist monks and 3,000 brahmanas participated. In 643 the assembly moved from Kanauji to Prayag.

Harshavardhana himself wrote two Sanskrit plays, Ratnavali and Priyadarsika. His friend Bana Bhatta wrote the Harsha charita and the Kadambari. One fourth of the tax income was spent on education and patronage of culture and arts. The universities continue to prosper, free of charge (even boarding and lodging were financed by the government).

The empire was divided in provinces, called Bhuktis, in turn divided into districts called Visyas, divided into smaller areas called Pathakas. Pathakas included various villages or Gramyas.

 

 

THE MUSLIM INVASIONS

 

While the previous contacts of India with foreign peoples “on the other side of the Sindhu” did not harm the Vedic civilization but rather contributed to make it famous and honored in all the ancient world, the Muslims were determined to destroy it. They were “the only chosen people”, destined to be the absolute masters of all other people, and their duty was to convert everybody to Islam or turn them into slaves.

Arabs were a very hardened people, living in deserts, from where they raided neighboring people for slaves, cattle, food, and wealth. They were divided in tribes, fighting against each other constantly to establish supremacy. Even within the tribe and the family, the only logic was violence and oppression. Their society was strongly male dominated, so much that women were considered simply slaves, segregated in harems, sold and purchased or killed at will: mere property of men.

In 610 CE Mohammed started preaching Islam in Mecca, adapting for the Arab people the teachings of the Bible he had studied from Jews and Christians. However, a fierce opposition against his preaching of moderate reforms forced him to flee to Medina in 622. There he gathered followers and went back to fight the tribes who opposed him and conquered Mecca in 630.

His successors, the Caliphs, continued to fight against the tribes that did not submit to Islam, and even the “rebel” Muslims who did not accept their authority, like the Shiites. In fact the succession to Mohammed at the head of Islam was difficult and characterized by quarrel, conspiracy and assassination. Several groups claimed the right to succession, and they continued to fight each other.

Simultaneously, they immediately started to look outside Arabia to conquer new territories: the Byzantine Empire, Persia, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt fell one after the other under the Muslim assaults, within 642 CE. In spite of internal fights and divisions, the Muslims continued to conquer North Africa, and in 711 they reached India on one side and Spain (Europe) on the opposite side of their world. They conquered the Sindh in 712 but they were stopped there. Also, after conquering Spain, the Muslims were stopped by the Franks in 732 at Poitiers, France. For a period, they suspended their invasions to consolidate their power in their new lands and make some money by selling the booty to those peoples they had been unable to conquer. They also used their wealth to develop trade. During this time, their frequent contacts with India in their trade business enabled them to acquire a great knowledge of Indian sciences, which they spread in their lands and in the lands of the people with whom they were trading. They also observed the Indian society and mentality, studying their weak points, and made careful plans for the future.

The next Muslim wave of invasion was led in 1000 CE by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, famous as a ruthless destroyer and plunderer of temples. He raided India 17 times, destroying Nagorkot (Kangra), Thaneswar, Mathura, Somnath, and innumerable other holy places of Vedic civilization.

From the accounts of Arikh-i-Yamini of Utbi, the secretary of Mahmud Gaznavi, we read that at Somnath, “The Muslims paid no regard to the booty till they had satiated themselves with the slaughter of the infidels and worshipers of sun and fire…. The number of infidels killed exceeded 50,000.” At Mathura, “The infidels…deserted the fort and tried to cross the foaming river…but many of them were slain, taken or drowned… Nearly fifty thousand men were killed.” At Thaneshwar, “The blood of the infidels flowed so copiously at Thanesar that the stream was discolored, not withstanding its purity, and people were unable to drink it. The Sultan returned with plunder which is impossible to count. Praise be to Allah for the honor he bestows on Islam and Muslims.”

The violence and ruthlessness of the invaders, and their knowledge of the Indians’ weak points, caught Indian kshatriyas unprepared and divided. Their strength had already been weakened by the decline of Vedic knowledge due to the Kali-yuga: frustrated by the unqualified brahmanas who misinterpreted the scriptures and monopolized religion for their materialistic profit, many princes and kingdoms had turned to the extreme non-violence, tolerance and peacefulness of Buddhism and Jainism.

The others were distracted by the materialistic interpretations of the scriptures that weakened their people, had lost the original knowledge of kshatriya principles and the science of warfare, and had fallen into endless rivalry and political conspiracies aimed at getting more material power by taking it from others.

            The Muslim marauders attacked and plundered the Hindu temples, and they completely destroyed all Buddhist monasteries and universities. For them, the Hindus were simple “idolaters”, but the Buddhists were declared “atheists” and therefore “enemies of God”.

While until around 1000 CE Buddhism had become the most important religious movement in India, after the terrorist attacks of Mahmud of Ghazni and his successors, all the Buddhists of India were either slaughtered or fled outside India, east and south. They settled in Indonesia, China, Japan, Tibet, Lanka, and prospered there.

            The Turkish Muhammad Ghori invaded India in 1191 CE. This time he would not content himself of plundering raids: he was determined to remain in India as the ruler. At first he was defeated by Prithviraj Rajputan, but he managed to procure local alliances against the Hindu king, and in the second battle of Tarain (1192) Prithviraj was defeated, captured and killed. Thus, Muhammad Ghori captured Ajmer and Delhi, and the Turkish conquest expanded later in the same way to Bengal and Bihar, Malwa and Gujarat. The great city of Nadia, the capital city of Bengal under king Lakshmanasena, was captured and completely destroyed. In fact, nothing today shows that it used to be the rich and powerful capital of Bengal. The same fate had already happened to Mathura.

From Hasan Nizami’s Taj-ul-Maasir, we read this account of the activities of Mahmud of Ghori. In Kol (Modern Aligarh), “Those of the horizon who were wise and acute were converted to Islam, but those who stood by their ancestral faith were slain with the sword… Three bastions were raised as high as heaven with their heads, and their carcasses became food for the beasts of prey… 20,000 prisoners were taken and made slaves.”

The Kamil-ut-Tawarikh of Ibn Asir records the destruction of Kashi (Benares): “The slaughter of Hindus (at Varanasi) was immense; none were spared except women and children (who were taken into slavery) and the carnage of men went on until the earth was weary.”

By imposing terror with their unprecedented cruelty and ruthlessness, by treason and conspiracy, and especially by exploiting the divisions and weakness of the small local kingdoms, and the greed and foolishness of their unqualified rulers, Muslims gradually defeated all the Hindu kings and created a powerful empire. They destroyed everything on their way and carefully arranged the rules of their government in such a way that Hindus could not re-organize and revolt. For example, by exploiting the degraded caste system they forcibly “polluted” important, intelligent or capable Hindus, who were then ousted by their own community. How could they “pollute” a Hindu, causing him to irrevocably “lose his caste” and “religion” in the eyes of his community? Simply by throwing some water at him from their cup. Such an easy and childish trick guaranteed that all of the victim’s family and descendents were also ousted by the Hindu community forever.

            Qutbuddin Aibek, a former slave (Mamluk) of Muhammad Ghori, was the first ruler of the Sultanate of Delhi, the major power in India from 1192 to 1526, although under different dynasties. In order to control the higher classes of Hindus and prevent alliances among them, all marriages among the nobles had to be approved by the Sultan himself. In 1324 the territories of the Delhi Sultanate reached up to Madurai, but from 1334 to 1336 the Hindu Pandyan dynasties of Madurai and Warangal took advantage of an epidemic of bubonic plague that had decimated the Sultan’s army, and created a space for themselves. Harihara Pandya founded the empire of Vijayanagar, thus creating an oasis of Vedic civilization in south India, where many Hindus, especially scholars, fled from the north. In Vijayanagara’s kingdom women were highly honored and had prominent positions also in religious life. The administration and defense of the kingdom was supported by many local military chiefs called Nayaks. The kingdom lasted until 1565, when it was crushed by the combined armies of the Deccan Sultanates.

            During their domination, Muslims imposed their customs on the Hindus all over India, especially the purdah system (the systematic segregation, dress code and oppression of women) and the use of Arabic script in Indian languages (which led to the creation of the new language, Urdu). The use of Devanagari script was prohibited.

Dance, arts and literature were strongly modified, losing much of their freedom of expression. Temple worship and rituals were greatly restricted or forbidden altogether.

Muslims also systematically destroyed Hindu temples and built mosques on the most important holy places of the Hindus, such as Ayodhya (the birthplace of Rama), Mathura (the birthplace of Krishna) and many others.

They imposed a heavy tax on all those who did not accept to become Muslims, and cut them out from any government job and gave Muslim names to cities and people. This practice is currently ongoing in Indonesia. All along, they built mosques everywhere and their priests thundered against idolatry, polytheism, the backward superstitions, and indecent customs of the Hindus. At the same time, they offered great benefits to all those who accepted to convert to Islam, guaranteeing jobs, financial benefits, social respect, and power. In this way, they multiplied their numbers creating enemies for Hindus from the same cultural and ethnic groups. The greatest number of converts came from the lower castes of Hinduism, who had a long standing social resentment against the higher castes. In order to convince their masters of the genuineness of their conversion, the new Indian Muslims were often more fanatical and oppressive against Hindus than the invaders themselves.

            To try to soften the Muslims’ attitude towards Hindus, Guru Nanak started his movement, known as Sikhism. Sikhism is nothing but Hinduism presented in a language and form that can be more easily acceptable by Muslims. This protected the Sikhs from the persecution of the Muslims and gave them the possibility to survive, become better organized, and eventually fight for freedom.

The Sikhs were later organized in a military and political organization by Guru Gobind Singh (born in 1666 in Patna, Bihar, and killed in 1708 at Nandar, Deccan), who became Guru of the Sikhs at the age of nine, when the previous Guru Tegh Bahadur was murdered in Delhi. He introduced the Sikh baptism for his disciples and the symbols of their belonging to the faith as the 5 Ks, or Kesh, Kanga, Kara, Kirpan, Kachcha: namely unshorn hair, a comb, a steel bangle, a sword, and short underwear. He declared that after him, the Grantha (book) of the Sikhs would become their Guru. Two of his sons were killed in battle against the Mogul, and the other two were buried alive by a Mogul governor.

            The Muslim mystics called Sufis, too, absorbed many Hindu practices thus making them more acceptable to the mainstream Muslims. Sufis insisted on love of God (bhakti), gentleness towards all living entities, non-violence (and vegetarianism), charity, renunciation of material power, acceptance of the spiritual guidance of a self-realized saint (guru). They also started monasteries to take care of the needs of pilgrims and travelers (the equivalent of Hindu dharmashalas). Their preaching gave more importance to the merciful aspect of God and the compassionate teachings of Mohammed, who had reformed Arab society by abolishing many cruel customs.

By stressing the fact that God is one only, father of all human beings and creator of all living entities, the Sufi saints convinced the Muslims that Hindus, too, were worshiping the same God although in different ways. Simultaneously, they offered an example of transcendent spirituality and asceticism to the Hindu society that was already being reformed by the followers of Adi Shankara, Ramanuja, and Madhva. These great Hindu teachers did not deny the value of traditional Vedic rituals and Deity worship, but they gave great importance to philosophy, theology and mysticism already contained in the Vedas that enabled Hinduism to resist the cultural invasion. Previously, the cultivation of philosophy, theology, and mysticism, called Bhakti, was practiced by a small elite of renunciants or priests, while the majority of the population relied on external rituals and social religiosity.

The Muslim oppression forced Hindus to change their attitude and rethink their approach to religion. The Bhakti movement was strongly favored because it could be compared, in the eyes of the Muslim rulers and population, to the Sufi movement that had developed in Islam from the contact with Hinduism, and therefore it was more acceptable than the traditional Vedic ritualistic approach. Simultaneously, the worship of the Mother Goddess, with its philosophical and social implications, became secret (the Tantric tradition), leaving the front line to the worship of Vishnu, who was more easily understandable and acceptable by the Muslims, equating him with their Allah.

For example, saint Kabir, a Muslim born in 1440 CE and equally honored by Muslims and Hindus, preached that Allah and Rama are both names of the same God, and all human beings are equal to God because they have been created by him.

            On the Hindu side, Bhakti flourished with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Bengal and Orissa, Ramananda (disciple of Ramanuja) in north India, and the Rajput queen Mirabai in west India. Surdas, Tukaram, Namdeva, and Ekanam became famous in Maharastra.

All these saints accepted both Hindus and Muslims as their disciples and favored the personal relationship with God and the congregational glorification of God against the social and ritualistic aspects of temple worship. In fact, such practices as the chanting of God’s names, cultivation of exclusive devotion for the Supreme God (very similar to the Muslim theological concept) and renunciation to worldly life in favor of asceticism and transcendence, non-violence, and tolerance, were more easily allowed by the Muslim rulers, who did not consider them dangerous for their government.

In 1398 the Sultanate of Delhi was weakened by the invasion of the Mongol Tamerlane (Talmur), a relative of Gengis Khan (who terrorized north Asia and Europe by killing 4 million people there). The Sultanate finally ended in 1526 when the Mogul (Mongol) Babur, descendent of Tamerlane, killed Ibrahim Lodhi, the last Sultan of Delhi, on the battlefield. Lodhi was the only Sultan who died in battle in all India’s history.

The weakening of the Delhi Sultanate allowed some space for other kingdoms to rebuild their power: in western India Malwa and Gujarat, in eastern India Jaunpur and Bengal, in northern India Kashmir, and in southern India Vijayanagar and Bahamani. Some of these kingdoms were Hindu, some were Muslim. Subsequently, they were absorbed by the Mogul empire.

The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, witnessed first hand the atrocities Babur committed on Hindus: “Having attacked Khuraasaan, Babar terrified Hindustan… There was so much slaughter that the people screamed.” About the treatment of Hindu women: “Those heads adorned with braided hair, with their parts painted with vermillion – those heads were shaved with scissors… They lived in palatial mansions, but now… ropes were put around their necks, and their strings of pearls were broken. Their wealth and youthful beauty, which gave them so much pleasure, have now become their enemies. The order was given to the soldiers, who dishonored them and carried them away.”

 

We also have descriptions written by the Muslims themselves, for example from the Insha-i-Mahry by Amud Din Abdullah bin Mahru. In Delhi, regarding the Sultan Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi: “A report was brought to the Sultan than there was in Delhi an old Brahman who persisted in publicly performing the worship of idols in his house and that people of the city, both Muslims and Hindus used to resort to his house to worship the idol. The Brahman had constructed a wooden tablet which was covered within and without with paintings of demons and other objects. An order was accordingly given to the Brahman and was brought before Sultan. The true faith was declared to the Brahman and the right course pointed out, but he refused to accept it. A pile was risen on which the Kaffir with his hands and legs tied was thrown into and the wooden tablet on the top. The pile was lit at two places his head and his feet. The fire first reached him in the feet and drew from him a cry and then fire completely enveloped him. Behold Sultan for his strict adherence to law and rectitude.”

After Hindus paid the “religious toleration tax” (zar-i zimmiya) and poll-tax (jizya) they believed they had the permission to build their temples, but it was not so. “Under divine guidance I (Sultan) destroyed these temples and I killed the leaders of these infidelity and others I subjected to stripes (flogging) and chastisement.”

In Gohana (Haryana), “Some Hindus had erected a new idol-temple in the village of Kohana and the idolaters used to assemble there and perform their idolatrous rites. These people were seized and brought before me. I ordered that the perverse conduct of these leaders of this wickedness be punished publicly and that they should be put to death before the gate of the palace.”

The objectives of the expedition of the Sultan to Jajnagar, Orissa, as stated in Ainn-ul-Mulk, were, in order, massacring the unbelievers, demolishing their temples, hunting the elephants and getting a glimpse of their enchanting country. The Sirat-i-Firoz Shahi records the expedition: “Nearly 100,000 men of Jajnagar had taken refuge with their women, children, kinsmen and relations The swordsmen of Islam turned the island into a basin of blood by the massacre of the unbelievers. Women with babies and pregnant ladies were haltered, manacled, fettered and enchained, and pressed as slaves into service in the house of every soldier.”

These are only a few of the numerous accounts of similar expeditions and jihad (“holy” war) campaigns of the Muslims against the Hindus.

From 1338 to 1339 the Muslim rulers of Bengal, who had been subject to the Delhi Sultanate, developed a strong desire to form their own Sultanate. In 1342 Mubarak Shah was deposed and murdered by one of his officers, Haji Iliyas, who declared himself the independent master and Sultan of Bengal with the title of Shamsuddhin Iliyas Shah.

Then he proceeded to completely subdue Bihar, invaded Assam and Nepal and plundered Orissa. A Hindu kshatriya of Bengal, named Raja Ganesh, succeeded to take the power away from the Muslims for about 32 years, and his government was so much better than the previous Muslim governments that at his death both Muslims and Hindus mourned him. Unfortunately, the power soon returned in the hands of the Muslims, with the Habsi kings (Abyssinian slave rulers) whose tyranny disgusted even their Muslim subjects. These revolted and chose Hussain Shah for the throne (1493-1519), who invaded Assam and offered government jobs to Hindus who were willing to merely change their names and dress. Several Hindus accepted, such as Dabir Khas and Sakar Mallick.

 

The successors of the Delhi Sultanate were the Mughals or Moguls, also Muslims. As already mentioned, in 1526 the Mongol Babur, a descendent of Tamerlane who had conquered vast territories, including Kabul in Afghanistan, came and defeated the last Sultan of Delhi. The Mogul rule was constantly threatened by the Afghan Sultans, who had become very powerful in the region of Bengal and Bihar and wanted revenge.

Babur’s son Humayun succeeded him. Humayun’s son Akbar ascended the throne in 1556 and he immediately started to conquer new territories to expand his empire. He defeated the Hindu queen Rani Durgabati of Gondwana who died on the battlefield, then attacked the Rajput states, Gujarat and Bengal, then South India.

At the time of Akbar’s death the Mogul empire extended from the Himalayas to the Godavari, from the Hindukush to the Brahmaputra. However, he was fiercely opposed by the Rajputs, and especially the kingdom of Mewar, led by Rana Pratap and his son Amar Singh.

Akbar observed that the wave of conversions of Hindus to Islam had stopped. He tried to take advantage of the growing Bhakti movements by instituting a “Hall of Prayer” open to all religions in 1578, but apparently the idea didn’t work according to his plans, because he decided to close it indefinitely in 1582.

Akbar’s son, Salim called Jahangir, succeeded to conquer the kingdom of Mewar and the Rajputs. He pushed back the Portuguese who had tried to take hold of Bengal, by killing 4,000 of them. However, he maintained friendly relationships with the English traders who seemed to be rivals to the Portuguese.

Jahangir’s son Khurram or Shahjahan deposed his father and ascended the throne.

In 1632 Shahjahan ordered that all Hindu temples recently erected or in the course of construction should be razed to the ground. In Benares alone seventy-six temples were destroyed. He had ten thousand inhabitants at Agra and Lahore executed by being ‘blown up with powder, drowned in water or burnt by fire”. Four thousand were taken captive to Agra where they were tortured to try to convert them to Islam. Those who refused to do so were trampled to death by elephants, except for the younger women who went to harems. Under Shahjahan, peasants were compelled to sell their women and children to meet their revenue requirements. The peasants were carried off to various markets and fairs to be sold with their poor unhappy wives carrying their small children crying and lamenting. According to Qaznivi, Shahjahan had decreed they should be sold to Muslims.

To increase his personal prestige, Shahjahan created the famous Peacock Throne and the Red Fort in Delhi. He remodeled a famous Shiva temple in Agra, called Tejo Mahila, turning it into the tomb of one of his wives, with the name Taj Mahal. Soon after that, he became ill and his four sons started to fight among them for the succession. He appointed Dara Sirok, but Shuja and Murad independently crowned themselves. Aurangzeb, the fourth son, was more clever and chose to build alliances first: he offered his support to Murad and together they defeated the imperial army led by Dara Sirok. After the victory, Aurangzeb imprisoned Murad in Gwalior, then entered Agra where the old emperor Shahjahan was recovering from his illness, and imprisoned him, too. In 1658 Aurangzeb ascended the throne, captured Dara Sirok by treason and put him to death the following year, then defeated Shuja, who was also killed while escaping. Then Aurangzeb dedicated his full attention to suppress rebellions throughout his reign and expanding its limits, destroying temples and persecuting Hindus until his death in 1707. Aurangzeb considered himself “The Scourge of the Kafirs” (non-believers) and closed all Hindu schools and libraries. In his lifetime he destroyed more than 10,000 Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temples and often erected mosques in their stead. In 1672 several thousand revolting Hindus were slaughtered in Mewat.

From Maasi-i-Alamgiri we read, “Issued general order to destroy all centers of Hindu learning including Varnasi and destroyed the temple at Mathura and renamed it as Islamabad.” In Khandela (Rajastan) he killed 300 Hindus in one day because they resisted the destruction of their temple. In Udaipur all Hindus of the town were killed as they vowed to defend the temple of Udaipur from destruction, 172 temples were destroyed in Udaipur and 66 temples were pulled down in Amber. In Pandhapur, Maharashtra the Emperor destroyed the temple and ordered the butchering of cows in it. In Punjab Muslim governors killed hundreds of Sikh children and made Sikh men and women eat the flesh of their own killed children. Any Muslim bringing the head of a dead Sikh was also awarded money.

Aurangzeb’s tyranny was successfully opposed for some time by the Hindu kingdom of the Marathas from west India, led by Shivaji.

 

 

SHIVAJI AND THE MARATHAS

 

The Marathas are a proud warrior race that had resisted the conquest of emperor Harsha in the 7th century. The Maratha dynasties of the ancient (pre-Muslim) period are the Chalukyas (500 CE to 750 CE), the Rastrakutas (750 to 978) and the Yadavas or Jadhavs (1175 to 1318). They opposed the Muslim invasion in 1314 under the last Yadava king, but they were defeated and became vassals and mercenaries (Sardars or generals) of the Muslim rulers, collecting revenue for them.

Shivaji’s mother, Jijabai, was a direct descendent of the Yadava royal family of Devagiri, and deeply influenced her son, together with his teacher Dadaji Kondeo and great saints like Jnanesvara and Tukaram.

In 1645, at the age of 17, at the cave temple of Shiva Rairesvar in the Sayhadris, Shivaji and his friends took a blood oath to establish a free Hindu state, called “Hindavi Svaraja”.

In the course of time, it became the strongest power in India, its territories stretching from Attock in present Pakistan to Cuttack in Orissa.

Shivaji started by capturing the fortress of Torana from the Muslim ruler at Bijapur. The Sultan of Bijapur, Adil Shah, sent his most powerful general Afzal Khan to punish Shivaji. His plan was to get Shivaji down from the Sahyadri hills by destroying Hindu temples in the plains at Tuljapur, Pandharpur and Shikhar Shenganapur. Shivaji sent Afzal Khan a letter inviting him to come up the hills to meet him with a few select soldiers for a duel, and Afzal Khan accepted. Arrived at Pratapgad on 10th November 1659, Afzal Khan tried to stab the apparently unarmed Shivaji while embracing him, but Shivaji was wearing a coat of armor under his heavy silk robes, and hiding two small weapons, too: a Wagh Nakh, a sharp blade resembling tiger’s claws, and a Bicchwa, a small curved dagger. Afzal Khan was killed. The Khan’s army waiting in the valley was defeated by the Marathas who jumped out from the jungles around Pratapgad fort.

Later, Adil Shah sent another general, Siddhi Jouhar, who besieged Shivaji’s fortress in Panhalgad for some months, but Shivaji managed to escape to Vishalgad. Then the Bijapur ruler dropped the idea of fighting against the Marathas and Shivaji turned his attention to the Mogul empire.

            Aurangzeb was furious about Shivaji’s attacks and sent his uncle Shaista Khan with a big army who destroyed temples, forts, towns, villages and fields on its path. Shaista established his camp in Shivaji’s home, the Lal Mahal in Pune, and put up his harem in Shivaji’s Devghar (prayer room). Finally, in April 1663, Shivaji sneaked into the Lal Mahal at night time and attacked the Khan cutting his fingers while he was trying to escape from the window. He spared the Khan’s life on the request of the Khan’s wife, and this gave the Khan the opportunity to call his troops. Shivaj escaped. The Khan returned to Delhi and Aurangzeb sent another general, Mirza Raja Jai Singh from the Suryavanshi Kachhawaha, a Hindu general at the service of the Muslim. This Hindu dynasty had submitted to the Muslims by giving their daughters in marriage to the Mogul Padishah. Mirza and his general Diler Khan laid siege to Purandar and systematically destroyed rural Maharastra.

The Maratha fort commander at Purandar, Murar Baji, stormed out of the fort and pushed back the Moguls to Diler Khan’s camp in the plains. Diler Khan tried to bribe Murar Baji by offering him the post of general in his army, but Murar Baji refused the proposal and was killed during his visit in the Mogul camp.

Shivaji signed a treaty with Mirza Raja Jai Singh, and as a part of the conditions he went with him to Agra to meet Aurangzeb. There he was imprisoned in Mirza’s house. While he was waiting to be shifted to the Mogul dungeons, he escaped with his son Sambaji hiding in two large baskets of fruits and sweetmeats that were to be sent from the house as gifts to brahmanas. Shivaji’s general Netaji Palkar, also captured, was forced to convert to Islam and change his name to Quli Mohammed Khan, serving as a Mogul soldier in Afghanistan, but he managed to escape and return to Shivaji and to his Hindu faith. Some of his other friends were tortured to death.

After escaping from Agra, Shivaji regrouped his army and recaptured all the forts that he had been forced to surrender to the Moguls with the treaty of Purandar, including the fort of Kondana, a strategic position near Pune, in the center of a line including Rajgad, Purandar, and Torna. The conquest of Kondana was made possible by the bravery of Tanaji who died in the fight, so the fort was renamed as “Singhagad” in honor of their “lion” warrior.

Then Shivaji was crowned as the king of the Marathas by Ganga Bhatt, a brahmana from Benares. The coronation took place at Raigad on 6th June, 1674.

In the days after the coronation, a Maratha Sardar (general) abducted the daughter in law of the Muslim Subahadar of Kalyan near Mumbai, to offer her as a Nazarana (tribute) to the new king. To his surprise, Shivaji returned the girl to her family with all respect, and rebuked the general warning that any Maratha general who committed a similar offense to women would be punished with the amputation of his hands. It is said that the girl then called him “an angel” and prayed the Lord to bless him with all success. Later, Shivaji launched his campaign in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu up to Thanjavur. From 1674 to Shivaji’s death in 1680, his kingdom was relatively peaceful because the Moguls had given up trying to molest the Marathas. The kingdom of Shivaji, like the kingdom of Mewad, was bold enough to issue their own coinage with Sanskrit inscriptions in gold and copper. After Shivaji’s death, Aurangzeb ordered all these coins to be collected and melted.

Shivaji’s son Sambaji became the next king, but he was not as qualified as his father. He was finally captured by the Moguls and tortured to death. His step brother Rajaram was then crowned king, but he was also weak and fled Raigad when the fort was about to be besieged by Aurangzeb, leaving behind his wife and son who were taken captive by the Moguls. He spent the rest of his life fleeing around, while his generals like Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav fought a guerrilla war against the Muslims. In 1700, Rajaram fell ill and died, and his wife Tarabai reigned from 1700 to 1707, with the support of the two generals.

In 1707 Aurangzeb died and his son Azamshah proclaimed himself emperor. In order to win the Marathas to his side, Azamshah freed Rajaram’s son Shahu, who had been a prisoner from 1689 to 1707, and Shahu claimed the throne against Tarabai. He fought the Maratha army and he installed himself as the Chatrapati (king of the Marathas). However, he had to rely heavily on his assistant, who became Prime Minister (Peshwa) and the actual ruler. From that time, the Prime Ministers became more powerful than the king.

The Maratha forces led by the first Peshwa, Balaji Vishvanath, defeated the Mogul army in Delhi, in an alliance with the Syed brothers against the Mogul emperor Farrukhsiyyar. This was the beginning of the Maratha’s influence on Delhi that lasted until 1803, when they were supplanted by the British. In 1740, about 80 years after Shivaji, the Marathas fought against the invasion of the Afghan Nadir Shah and his general Ahmed Shah Durrani (Abdali) who had attacked north India taking advantage of the decline of the Mogul empire. Another ambitious general, Najib Khan, wanted to crown himself emperor and ruler of India by capturing Delhi: he allied with Ahmed Shah but they were both defeated by the Marathas lead by Srimant Raghunatha Rao and Malhar Rao Holkar. The Marathas pursued the Afghans into Punjab up to Khyber Pass on Afghan border. Najib Khan convinced Malhar Rao Holkar to release him, but as soon as he was released he organized the killing of Dattaji Shinde, the eldest brother of Mahadji Shinde, and again encouraged Ahmed Shah to invade India.

The continuous court intrigues at Pune gradually weakened the Marathas and divided them. The ensuing war against the Afghans had a long stand off of one year from January 1760 to January 1761, in spite of the Marathas’ conquest of Delhi and Kunjapura (the treasury and armory of the Afghans). In the final battle at Panipat 100,000 Maratha troops were killed in 8 hours but the Afghans, who had also suffered heavy losses, decided to retreat back to Afghanistan, never to return to India again. Later, the Sikhs united under Maharaja Ranjit Singh and completed the task of the Marathas, invading Abdali’s kingdom and capturing his capital city Kabul. Between 1761 and 1790 Mahadji Shinde, Nana Phadnavis and Shrimant Madhav Rao Peshwa fought against the growing power of the British in the three Anglo-Maratha wars. Finally they succumbed in the third war of 1817.

 

 

THE ARRIVAL OF THE PORTUGUESE

 

In 1498 the Catholic Portuguese sailor Vasco de Gama had opened the sea route to India that enabled the Christian ships to avoid the need of crossing the Muslim occupied territories in order to reach India and China for trade. In 1510 Alfonso de Albuquerque captured the island of Goa on the west coast of India from the Sultan of Bijapur and made it the capital of the Portuguese colonial dominion in India.

The militaristic and imperialistic attitude of the Catholic Church was very similar to the Muslim “holy war” to conquer the world. The Church of Rome had established itself in Europe as the absolute and supreme political power, controlling kings and emperors with intolerable tyranny. By the 1500s, the Protestant reform, supported by the kingdoms of north and west Europe, left the pope with two servants only: Spain and Portugal. To rebuild the power of the Church, the pope decided to launch both of them into a world conquest “blessed by God” for a renewed power of the Church.

In 1417, with the bulla Rex Regnum, Pope Martin V gave to the king of Portugal the “right of crusade and conquest” over the Atlantic coast of Africa. At Sagres (Portugal) the Church created a great center of nautical studies, military arsenal and shipyard, and a naval base at Lagos (Portugal). From there the naval army of Portugal conquered almost all the eastern part of Africa.

Spain had also reclaimed the territories it had lost to the Muslims since the 700s (with the fall of Grenada, in 1491), converted or killed all the Muslims and Jews who lived there, and made the pope’s Inquisition the absolute and unquestionable power in the police and judiciary systems. Besides, in 1492 Columbus (financed by Spain) had “discovered” the immense territories of the Americas and claimed rights on them.

The pope wanted to keep his two servants from wasting energies in fighting each other for supremacy, so in 1494 with the treaty of Tordesillas pope Alexander VI (Ferdinando Borgia born in Jativa, Valencia, Spain, who was pope from 1492 to 1503) officially and “legally” divided the property of the entire planet between Spain and Portugal.

A line was drawn on geographical maps and the pope ordered the two kings, by “God’s authority”, to conquer all the new territories by any means, make them Christian and take away all their wealth. Portugal was allotted India and the eastern territories, while Spain retained the Americas (the “west Indies”). Both armies were accompanied by the priests of the Inquisition, who were in charge of the forced conversion to Christianity of the new territories.

Whoever refused to become a Christian was either killed or made a slave. When Columbus landed in Cuba, America, in 1492, the island had 8 million inhabitants, while 4 years later 50% of the entire population had already been massacred and the Spaniards were forced to import slaves from other islands in the Caribbean. America was called “west Indies” (as opposed to the “east Indies”, i.e. India proper), and since the Spanish conquerors of South America spoke Spanish, the native Americans in those areas (Maya, Inca, Aztec, Toltec, etc) came to be known as “indios”, the Spanish equivalent of the English “Indian”. In 1520 Mexico had 25 million inhabitants, while in 1592 the number was 1.5 million: 95% of the inhabitants had been killed. Those who remained in the subsequent centuries were a mixed breed and completely Christianized. Their original languages and customs practically lost forever.

A large part of the non-white populations of South America, besides the mixed Spanish-Indio breed, are black people or mixed breed of African origin (Spanish+African or African+Indio), because Spaniards and Portuguese carried many more slaves from Africa (who were physically stronger than Americans) to cultivate the sugar, tobacco, coffee, and cocoa fields in their new territories.

The only native populations who survived in those areas were very small numbers of nomadic and “uncivilized” tribes hiding in the deepest Amazon forests. Altogether, at the beginning of 1500s, the native populations of the entire Americas (both south and north) were estimated at about 80 million, and in the mid 1600s the number was 10 million, in a time when the entire population of the world was less than 400 million people.

The Portuguese had the same philosophy of life of the Spaniards, because they were servants of the Catholic Church, but in India the situation was more difficult than in America. They had to face the Muslim rulers, who were at least as ruthless and powerful as they were, and ready to fight back any Christian attempt at eating away their territories. An attempt of establishing a Portuguese base in Bengal was quickly stopped by the local Sultan who killed 4,000 Portuguese at one time. Then they tried on the west coast of India, establishing themselves on the island of Goa and surrounding territories. Immediately they destroyed all the Hindu temples in the area and stopped all Hindu worship and even the popular traditions that were not directly connected with the religion. All Hindu rituals, including marriages, were prohibited, and all Hindu priests were banned from the Portuguese territories. The Hindus were denied jobs while Christians were preferred, and all Hindus were obliged to assemble periodically in churches to be lectured by the priests about the inferiority of their religion.

The laws enforced by the Inquisition in 1560 prohibited the use of Indian musical instruments and Indian songs during marriage ceremonies, the use of betel and pan, and the distribution of food to poor people in honor of some deceased person. Other prohibitions concerned the harvest festivals, cooking rice without salt, fasting on Ekadasi, the holydays on Wednesdays, full moon and new moon, bathing before entering the kitchen for preparing the meals, wearing of dhoti for men and choli for women.

They also ordered all the coconut trees and Tulasi plants to be uprooted from all gardens.

All those who disobeyed the orders of the Inquisition were subject to horrible punishments. More than 2,000 people were burned alive.

            Paul William Roberts, in Empire of the Soul, Some Journeys in India, writes about the methods of the Portuguese Inquisition: “Children were flogged and slowly dismembered in front of their parents whose eyelids had been sliced off to make sure they missed nothing. Extremities were amputated carefully, so that a person could remain conscious even when all that remained was a torso and a head… Those subjected to other diabolical tortures could also be counted in the thousands and the abominations continued until a brief respite in 1774… The evil resumed, continuing, almost incredibly, until June 16, 1812. At that point, British pressure put an end to terror (with) the presence of British troops stationed in Goa.”

The main preacher of Christianity in India, the Portuguese priest Xavier who was made a saint by the Church for his activities, boasted of having destroyed “hundreds of Hindu temples” by himself and “miraculously” converted people by the thousands. M. D. David, author of Western Colonialism in Asia and Christianity, writes: “…A particularly grave abuse was practiced in Goa in the form of ‘mass baptism’ and what went before it. The practice was begun by the Jesuits and was initiated by the Franciscans also. The Jesuits staged an annual mass baptism on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25), and in order to secure as many neophytes as possible, a few days before the ceremony the Jesuits would go through the streets of the Hindu quarter in pairs, accompanied by their Negro slaves, whom they would urge to seize the Hindus. When the blacks caught up a fugitive, they would smear his lips with a piece of beef, making him an ‘untouchable’ among his people. Conversion to Christianity was then his only option.”

Others found conversion politically useful, like the fishermen of Tamil Nadu who sold their souls to Christian priests in exchange of the protection of the Portuguese army against their Muslim neighbors. However, the deal was not completely voluntary. Those fishermen who refused to convert were attacked on the Malabar coast by the Portuguese navy. Entire fishing boats were set ablaze, as their women and children helplessly watched from the shores. Those fishermen who jumped into the water to save their lives, were either bayonetted or shot dead.

 

Xavier’s new converts were immediately taught to fight against Hindus: “When all are baptized, I order them to destroy all the temples of their false gods and break to pieces all the idols. I can give you no idea of the joy I feel in seeing this done.” Even children “… show an ardent love for the Divine law, and an extraordinary zeal for learning our holy religion and imparting it to others. Their hatred for idolatry is marvelous. They get into feuds with the heathens about it, and whenever their own parents practice it, they reproach them and come off to tell me at once. Whenever I hear of any act of idolatrous worship, I go to the place with a large band of these children, who very soon load the devil with a greater amount of insult and abuse than he has lately received of honor and worship from their parents, relations, and acquaintances. The children run at the idols, upset them, dash them down, break them to pieces, spit on them, trample on them, kick them about, and in short heap on them every possible outrage.”

To fuel hatred of the newly converted Christians against the Hindus, the Portuguese spread many false stories. One referred to Thomas the apostle, who was said to have landed in India in 52 CE at Cranganore on the Malabar coast and established the first church later known as the Syrian Church. In 68 AD, St. Thomas was allegedly martyred near modern day Chennai (Madras) and a large cathedral there now houses a basement crypt containing the relics of St. Thomas. In the cathedral of St. Thomas at Chennai (San Thome Cathedral Basilica) there is also a painting that shows Thomas praying while he is being stabbed to death with a lance by a Ramanuja Vaishnava brahmana wearing Vishnu tilak. It is interesting to remember that the Shree Vaishnavas and their tilak did not come into history until the 11th century.

               
 

THE ARRIVAL OF THE BRITISH

 

Since the beginning of the colonial period, the kings of England and Holland (who had recently won its independence from Spain by the Protestant revolt) had organized pirate fleets to get some crumbs of the enormous pie of the “New World” that was greedily devoured by Spain and Portugal and transported by ships to Europe. South America was very rich in gold and silver and other new and special products, such as tobacco, cocoa, maize, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, etc. These foods became extremely popular in Europe. Those plants which could grow in Europe also became widely cultivated.

England and Holland were the natural adversaries of Spain and Portugal because they had become Protestant. A little later, with the French revolution against the monarchy supported by the priests, France became a fierce adversary of the Catholic Church, too, and also engaged in the colonial race.

The success of Sir Francis Drake in piracy encouraged the government of England to finance an expedition to North America, where the British “purchased” (for a very small price and bribery) or conquered (generally by a clever game of alliances, further dividing the tribes who had already some hostility against each other) vast and scarcely populated territories. These were then used by Britain to settle “colonies” of their unwanted citizens (including religious dissidents) and procure wealth in the form of taxes from agriculture and minerary activities supported by the labor of the slaves brought from Africa. The colonies produced cotton, coffee, sugar, and other semi-tropical and tropical products that could not be grown in Europe, large amounts of timber and furs from the north, and served as a base for the hunting of whales and seals. France and Holland had the same plans, but in a much smaller scale.

Asia presented a very different situation than North America: much more interesting because of the legendary wealth already present, but densely populated and controlled by strong political powers, such as the Muslim rulers. The emphasis was then laid on commerce and trade, especially of spices, indigo dye and tea, that had been marketed in Europe since the times of the Roman Empire. The British East Company, a commercial company, was established on 31 December 1600 for spice trading, and India was the center of its attention.

According to an agreement, the Dutch East India Company secured the monopoly over southeast Asia and Indonesia, while the more powerful British East Company obtained the rights on India.

In 1608 captain Hawkins landed at Surat and came to Jahangir’s court at Agra to obtain some trade concessions. Shahjahan was annoyed by the Portuguese and allowed the British to open a factory at Surat, hoping that British and Portuguese would weaken each other. In fact, the British troops finally defeated the Portuguese and established the factory in 1612. In 1633 the East India Company also established a factory at Hariharpur (under Bengal) on the delta of the Mahanadi River. In 1640 Fort St. George was built at Madras, then the British started to acquire Bombay. In 1690 Job Charnock started a factory on the Hoogly River, not far from a Hindu holy place in the forest, called Kali Ghat. In 1695 Sobha Singh’s rebellion led the British to build Fort William there. At that time the three villages of Kali ghat (Calcutta), Sutanati and Govindapur were assigned by the Moguls to the British on lease at the annual rent of 12,000 rupees. Later, the East India Company was granted right to free trade in Bengal with an annual tax of 3,000 rupees. The British were also permitted to settle and acquire land anywhere in Calcutta.

            By the middle of the 18th century, the British East India Company had established centers in Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, and the east coast. French traders arrived in India around 1668, and they also established factories and centers. By 1720 Pondicherry and Chandernagar were the two main centers. Between 1720 and 1740 the volume of French trade was 10 times larger than the British. British and French then started to fight against each other for supremacy until 1763 with the three Carnatic wars, involving also local princes and politicians who sided with either party. Finally the French were defeated.

After the battle of Plassey, in 1757, the British obtained from the Moguls the right to collect revenue from these areas in return for an annual tribute and for keeping order and peace by using the army of the local Nawabs. Then the Company defeated Tipu Sultan of Mysore in 1792 and the Marathas in 1819, Nepal in 1814-16, Sindh in 1843, Punjab in 1848-49 and Burma in 1886. The idea of commercial enterprise for Europeans was amply supported by the use of force.

Although Britain had rejected some of the most heinous methods of the Catholic Church (like the Inquisition), still they were Christians and believed that white Christians had the right to become the masters of the world. British traders secured their business by openly battling against the local rulers who opposed their presence and activities. In their military force Europeans were a small minority of officers, while the majority of the soldiers were Indians, either Hindus or Muslims, previously employed by the local Nawabs. The mutiny of the Indian army against the British traders started at Barrackpore in 1857 about the grease used for rifle cartridges that required biting before loading the weapon (the grease was said to be made from cow and pig fat) and spread on vast areas in Delhi, Lucknow, Kanpur, Jhansi, Arrah (Bihar) etc. On 10 May 1857 the sepoys of Meerut marched on Delhi and proclaimed Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor, as the Emperor of India, hoping that he would oppose the British.

Among the participants to the revolt, there were Tantia Topi, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Kunwar Singh, Bahadur Shah II, Nana Saheb, the Wahabis in Patna, and the Hindu community in Benares. However, other powerful leaders like Holkar, Sindhia, the Nawab of Bhopal and others actively opposed the revolt and helped the British to suppress it.

The British Crown, worried about the situation, officially took over the administration of the Company in 1858. The presence of the British in India ceased to be a simple matter of trade and became a war for the imposition of British rule on the entire territory.

Britain appointed a Secretary of State for India, a member of the British cabinet responsible to the Parliament, and divided India into three presidencies: Bengal, Madras and Bombay. The Hindu or Muslim princely states that accepted subordination to the British government were allowed some independence, but in 1876 Queen Victoria assumed the title of Empress of India claiming the supreme power.

 

The main characteristic of British rule in India was the “divide and rule” policy, aimed at creating hostility among Indians – northern and southern, northern and eastern, rich and poor, high castes and lower castes, Hindus and Muslims, Hindus and Jains, and even among the various groups of Hindus like Shaivites and Vaishnavas. They created Christian schools everywhere and imposed the Christian “morals” on society, justice, and culture. However, they did not destroy Hindu temples or persecute Hindu priests, so under their rule several temples were rebuilt by wealthy Hindus.

In India the British introduced railways, machineries, telegraph, postal system, newspapers, and imposed the use of English on the entire territory. Although they did so for their own advantage and tried to control them strictly, these innovations became very useful instruments for the organization of a nation-wide Swaraj movement. Furthermore, by facilitating communication and traveling, they helped Indians to discover a greater spirit of unity and to learn to cooperate at national level. Even the introduction of English helped because it was a common language that helped communication among Indians of different areas and cultures.

The British also built roads and improved communications, also at International level. Many Indians went to England to get an education – from Madanlal Dhingra, Aurobindo Ghose, Vir Savarkar, to Gandhi. By moving around in England, they came in contact with the liberal movements there and learned how to organize people in a democratic way. They saw how rallies and marches were held in Europe by the developing movement of civil rights, and how the labor unions had started to organize workers in the factories to oppose oppression of the capitalists. They studied British and International law and found ways to create associations and political groups, many became lawyers.

Some English born liberals, such as Annie Besant, also came to India to help the cause of civil rights, freedom, and self-determination.

             In the beginning, the self-determination movement (Swaraj) did not question the British sovereignty over India, they simply wanted more civil freedom and a better government.

Among the first protagonists of the Independence struggle, the Sanskrit scholar and astronomer Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the leader of the Indian Freedom Movement until his death in 1920 before Gandhi. Like all the other leaders of the Freedom Movement, he was jailed by the British government for several years, but while in jail he wrote a commentary to Bhagavad Gita.

Tilak was convinced that the educational system was a very important weapon: schools controlled by the British taught children blind submission to the political authority and the intrinsic inferiority of Hindu culture and religion compared to Christianity. Therefore he started a school based on Hindu values, and later founded the Deccan Education Society to inspire other people to open more schools. He also started a newspaper (Kesari) in 1881 to educate people in general.

The other important factor that had to be tackled was economic exploitation: the British sent raw materials from India and brought back finished goods from their industrial factories in England, such as textiles, glass, paper, etc., to sell in India. Since the industrial products were cheaper and the texture was smoother and finer, Indian people started to purchase them instead of the local production. The local self sufficiency and prosperity of rural India was practically destroyed, and many people became destitute.

Tilak preached four “mantras”: 1. boycott British goods, 2. create an Indian system of schools, 3. self determination in local government, 4. economic self sufficiency, with the production of necessities at the local level.

After his jail term in Burma where he had been deported, Tilak returned to India and actively organized the Khadi movement (hand woven cloth), also picketing against alcoholism and against imported goods.

 

  

In 1883 the Indian Association (Bharat Sabha) organized an International exhibition in Calcutta, together a political conference on all-India basis, with discussions about reforms and a list of requests to be presented to the British government. The second conference was held in 1885 for the foundation of the Indian National Congress. The convenor of the first session of the INC was Allan Octavian Hume, a retired employee of the British government, with the presidency of an eminent Bengali lawyer, WC Bonnerjee.

Something extraordinary was happening. People were starting to unite and cooperate: Indian peasants, lawyers, students, scholars, writers, teachers, women and even British civil rights fighters. The Indian people had found leaders, had started to understand the nature of their enslavement, and could see there was an opportunity to become free from bondages.

The most profitable trade for the British Crown was probably the indigo dye. In Bengal, farmers were forced to grow indigo plants as monocultures instead of the variety of foods that allowed them to live and prosper in a self-sufficient way. The money they received for their produce was very little, and they had to pay heavy taxes that forced them to get indebted with the money lenders or to sell their lands to the British enterprises. These used also other methods to drive peasants out of their lands – torching villages, abducting women, for example. The farmers went on strike and refused to cultivate indigo any more, and the middle class intelligentsia of Bengal came to their help by joining their protest through newspapers and other literature; a popular drama about the plight of the farmers was also translated in English and published by James Long.

Bengal became the heart of the Freedom Movement, with such a great success that the British government started to worry. In 1905, in order to weaken the spirit of the movement, Lord Curzon was appointed to organize the partition of Bengal, with the prime purpose of creating hostility between Muslims and Hindus.

West Bengal, of Hindu majority, was to include Bihar and Orissa, while east Bengal, with a Hindu minority, had Assam, Malda, and Tripura. The anti-partition protest movement blazed everywhere with shop strikes, picketing in support of the boycott of British goods, and religious ceremonies, such as bathing in the Ganga River and performing rakhi-bandhana (tying a red string around each other’s wrists) to signify the bond of brotherhood among the protesters.

Together with the boycott of British goods, Indians started their own local enterprises of textile mills and weaving industries producing the coarse Swadeshi cloth, as well as sugar mills, match and soap industries, to offer the “fair trade” alternative to the local market.

College and university students joined the movement by denouncing the bias of the British educational institutions, “houses for manufacturing slaves”, and dropped out of school in protest. In 1902 they started the “Dawn Society”, then the National Council of Education in 1905, to create Bengali medium schools with Indian teachers. Clandestine newspapers mushroomed in support of the freedom movement. The word spread all over India and the example was followed in many other areas. Many also took to guerrilla action against the British, especially in Bengal, Maharastra, Punjab, and Madras.

Groups like the Anushilan Samiti were formed to fight against western culture.

The heritage of Paramahamsa Ramakrishna, who died in 1886, was carried on by his disciple Vivekananda with more than a touch of nationalistic pride: Vivekananda traveled abroad to affirm the values of Indian culture and spirituality, winning much sympathy at the international level. Rabindranath Tagore founded his university at Shanti Niketan, and became famous at international levels: he was awarded knighthood by the queen of Britain.

 

In Bengal the Brahmo movement (founded in 1857) and in Maharastra the Prarthana Samaj made a special effort to present Indian philosophy in terms that could be understood by the western mentality – both for the growing international support and for the westernized class of British educated “brown sahibs”. All of these points are still of primary importance today, in order to allow others to understand the value of Vedic culture.

The Brahmo movement was also at the origin of the first workers’ organizations. In 1870 a Brahmo leader, Sasipada Banerjee, founded the Sramajivi Samiti and the newspaper Bharat Sramajivi. The cotton mill workers in Bombay started an association in 1890. Later, however, the workers’ movements became influenced by the socialist and communist ideals that had been spread by the Russian revolution of 1917. This ideology was also supported by Jawaharlal Nehru.

Ram Mohan Roy in Bengal spearheaded a reform of Hinduism to eliminate the results of the social degradation of Indians, such as the mistreatment of women and the plight of the lower castes.

Swami Dayananda Sarasvati founded the Arya Samaj in 1875 for a rediscovery of the genuine spirit of Vedic culture, and encouraged the conversion of non-Hindus to Hinduism. Even today, the interest of non-Hindus in Hinduism and Vedic culture is a reason why Yoga is presently so prominent in the Western countries.

Aurobindo Ghose, who had studied in England, started his public life as an extremist activist in Bengal’s Jugantar dal, and was jailed for his first line participation to the movement. Later he developed a more spiritual approach, and became famous as a saint. He moved to Pondicherry and laid the spiritual foundations of the future Auroville. He cooperated first with Margaret Elizabeth Noble (known as Sister Nivedita) and then with Mirra Alfassa (known as Mère, “the Mother”).

             The Muslims, however, felt they were losing too much ground to the Christian British on one side, and to the Hindus on the other side. They started a strategy of cooperation with the British against the Hindus, and at the same time they made some efforts to reform the social customs that did not sit well with the British morality, like the purdah (segregation of women), polygamy, and the talaq (easy divorce for men). Syed Ahmed Khan started a Muslim cultural center in Aligarh that later became a university.

             In 1911 the British government gave in and annulled the partition of Bengal; the capital of the British Raj was also moved from Calcutta to Delhi. However, the police continued to suppress the guerrilla of the secret societies, and many of their members were forced to flee abroad, in London, Paris, Germany, United States, Canada, and various areas of Asia. From there, they collected money to send funds and weapons for the revolution back home, securing the help of Indian emigrates and foreign governments who were unfavorable to Britain.

 

World War I offered more opportunities to the Indian Freedom Movement: Madame Cama had already conducted a successful campaign in France, Germany, and the United States presenting the cause of India and unfurling the new Indian tricolor flag in Berlin (1905). She continued to campaign, revealing to the international press the enormous profits of the British Crown in the colonial business (35 million pounds every year) and asking that Indians should be given the political right to vote.

In 1915 the Jain lawyer Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi returned to India after a period in South Africa, where he had observed the effect of the racist apartheid government. He immediately started a non-violent protest movement, called Satyagraha, spreading it in Bihar, Ahmedabad, and Gujarat. The charisma of Gandhi encouraged moderate and extremist activists to join forces. Thousands of students, lawyers, and government employees left their occupations in protest against the government.

The British civil right activist Annie Besant cooperated with Bal Gangadhar Tilak starting the Home Rule League. Women also started to participate actively in the Movement.

Even the Muslims were attracted, and while previously they had tried to cooperate with the British, in 1913 they changed their course and started cooperating with the Indian National Congress.

 

In 1919 the British government decided to give some concessions, and appointed Montague and Chelmsford to concede a limited freedom in local self government, education, health, cooperatives, but retained full control of police, finance, and land revenue. On the other hand, with the Rowlatt Act, the British tightened the laws against “anarchical and revolutionary” activities to stop the political movement, ordering arrest and deportation for suspects, special tribunals, and prohibition of freedom propaganda. The protest continued, spearheaded by Gandhi, who was arrested. The suppression of the protest had the worst episode in Amritsar, where on 13 April 1919 General Reginald Dyer ordered to his 50 soldiers to open fire without warning on a peaceful crowd of about 10,000 people, men, women and children, gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, a public square, for the Baisakhi Fair. The place was surrounded by buildings and there was no escape; according to the official estimates about 400 people were killed, and another 1,200 were left wounded without medical attention. The casualties could have been higher, but the troops could not use machine guns because the armored vehicles on which they were mounted were too large to be brought in from the narrow lanes around the square, and the rifle ammunitions ended in about 15 (1,650 rounds).

The curfew was imposed and the governor of Punjab placed the entire province under martial law. The Viceroy Chelmsford considered the incident as a strategic mistake, and Secretary of State Montagu appointed a commission of inquiry. Dyer was relieved of his command. The protest against the massacre gained momentum in Amritsar and spread to Delhi, Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Amaravati, Nagpur, Ankola and Bombay. In protest, Rabindranath Tagore renounced his British knighthood. In some places the protest became violent, and Gandhi withdrew his Satyagraha movement to dissociate from the violence.

 

With the end of World War I, Turkey was defeated, and the Indian Muslims asked the British to respect the position and dignity of the Sultan of Turkey, who was the Caliph of all Muslims in the world. The Khilafat movement was supported by Gandhi, Motilal Nehru, Tilak and others with the hope of uniting Hindus and Muslims in the protest against the British rulers. However, in the end Kemal Pasha in Turkey abolished the post of Caliph and the Khilafat movement died out in 1921. This enraged the Indian Muslims who started clashing against the Hindus. The riots between 1922 and 1927 killed about 500 people. The possibility of an agreement between the movement, represented by Gandhi, and the British failed due to the Muslim opposition. Gandhi resumed his Satyagraha movement with Vallabhabhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Purushottamdas Tandon, and Subhash Chandra Bose. All of them were jailed because the British government declared the movement “illegal”.

             In 1922 the Swaraj Party was founded, trying to unite the political movement that had already divided with the Hindu Mahasabha, the Sikh League and the Muslim League. At the same time, Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose were inspired by the Russian revolution and started to spread the ideas of socialism. In 1925 the All India Communist Party was founded, and the guerrilla in Bengal took a socialist hue with the Socialist Republican Association (1928). Women also started to participate in the communist movement that gathered many of those who were searching for a solution that was different from the hostility between Muslims and Hindus: rejecting all religions.

            The British tried to relieve the situation by appointing the Simon commission in 1927 for constitutional reforms, but no Indians were included in the commission, and this did not satisfy the freedom movement. In 1928 an all-parties conference prepared a draft constitution for the commission: only the Indian National Congress approved it.

The Muslim League, lead by Jinnah, broke ties with the Congress, demanding 14 points to protect the interests of the Muslims, which included a federal India with autonomous provinces, with not less than 1/3 Muslims in the central government, a separate representation for religious groups on the same percentage basis (although the Muslims were a minority), no laws against the interests of religious minorities and full freedom to all religions, facilities for Muslim culture and education, Muslims in all local governments (at least 1/3), separate Sindh from Bombay, maintain Muslim majority in Bengal, Punjab and north-western states, and so on. His position was supported by many, including the poet Iqbal, who openly wanted a separate Muslim nation within India.

Not all Muslims agreed with the extremist position of Jinnah and his Muslim League; for example Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan and his social organization Khuda khid mudgar (“the red shirts”) in the north-west provinces wanted to cooperate with the Hindus.

            However, the next year the Congress, too, decided to demand complete independence from the British. That was declared on 26 January, 1930. The movement regained momentum with the Salt March (Dandi march) of 320 km, performed by Gandhi and a large group of activists to go to the sea shore and collect salt directly from the sea, challenging a law on the salt monopoly by the government. Thousands of people followed his example. Lord Irwin invited Gandhi to London for talks in 1931.

            In 1932 the British Prime Minister MacDonald announced the “Communal Award” Act by which the different religious groups could send their representatives separately to the provincial legislatures. The disadvantaged or “scheduled” castes of Hindus also had a separate provision. Gandhi asked the Hindus to stand united, and B. R. Ambedkar and the other representatives of the lower castes rejected the offer of the British government.

In 1933 Gandhi suspended the Satyagraha movement and devoted himself to the Harijans (the new name for the lower castes) only. Gandhi launched and withdrew the Satyagraha movement several times, hoping to educate the mass of people to non-violent protest only, but his attempts failed again and again. Finally in 1934 he terminated the Satyagraha movement and left the Congress, which turned to socialism.

           

            In 1934 the British banned the communist party, and continued to negotiate with Gandhi and the Congress. In 1935 with the Government of India Act, the British introduced a federal structure offering to the native states (princely kingdoms) the option to participate or not. A Governor General would have 10 Ministers elected by local legislatures, and 2 chambers also elected locally. India was divided in 11 provinces with Governors, plus a number of special areas directly under the Governor General. However, the Governor maintained the power of veto over all decisions of local Governors, and could also make and enforce new laws without consulting them. It was not a very good deal, but the Congress accepted to run in the elections. It obtained the absolute majority in 5 provinces, and a majority in 2. The minority of the Muslim league demanded coalition ministries for all the provinces.

This government experience for the Congress was difficult because of the conflicting interests of Hindus and Muslims, landlords and peasants, businessmen and workers. Good work was done by helping negotiation between employers and workers, distribution of land to landless peasants, anti-usury laws, tenancy, education, and freedom of press.

Under the presidency of Subhash Chandra Bose (1938, 1939) the Congress became more and more oriented to socialism. When he became too extreme, he was forced to resign and he proceeded to found the Forward Block within the Congress. He was finally expelled by the Congress for his extremism. In the same year World War II started, and Britain declared that India was also participating to the war; all Indian ministers resigned in protest. Bose, kept in house confinement by the British, managed to escape in 1941 and he reached Russia through Kabul. From there he reached Germany, where he was welcomed by Ribbentrop and spoke to Indians from the German radio.

Bose convinced the Nazis to free a number of Indian prisoners of war and organized them as for the new “Independent India army”. There the slogan “Jai Hind” started. After about one year Bose was called to Japan by Rashbehari Bose, who had fled there already in 1915 to organize a conference of the Indian emigrates in Southeast Asia.

            In the meantime, in India Gandhi launched a new Satyagraha campaign. In 1941-1942 Japan occupied Singapore and Burma. Britain tried to consolidate their position in India by sending a socialist member of the British government, Cripps, to propose a Dominion status with regional autonomy, but he could not convince anyone. Gandhi considered his proposal a “postdated cheque on a crashing bank” and observed that Japan was ready to invade India from Burma. He launched the “Quit India” campaign, which was adopted by the Congress. Almost all the members of the Congress were arrested by the British on the very next day. The people revolted in mass in the “August revolution”: peasants, students, and workers rallied, and local governments were formed. Among the other examples, there is the famous case of a 72 years old peasant widow, Matangini Harza who led a big crowd to occupy the Tamluk police station in Midnapore in support of the local government founded by the Freedom movement. However, the British suppressed the movement in 2 months.

In 1943, Subhash Chandra Bose became the president of the Indian Independent League in Singapore, declared a Free India Government, and declared war to Britain and America. His Indian National Army liberated the Andaman and Nicobar islands from the British and went with the Japanese up to Kohima, Nagaland. However, in the meantime the Japanese had to accept defeat after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Indians who were allied with them were taken prisoners by the British. Subhash Chandra Bose is said to have died in an air crash on 18 August, 1945 near Taipei while he was flying to Tokyo, but many think he survived the crash.

            At the trial of the generals of the Free India Army (Azad Hind Fauz) at the Red Fort, the vast movement of protest of the population forced the acquittal. Strikes and rallies were held everywhere; in Calcutta the police killed 2 students, but revolts continued. Gandhi completely retired from politics to serve the Harijans (called Achhut, “untouchables”), and then he was killed on 30 January, 1948.

            Jinnah continued to demand a separate nation for Muslims, called Pakistan, creating more riots. C. Rajagopalachari proposed to consider the idea after obtaining independence from Britain, a plebiscite in the regions that would be affected, and some kind of mutual agreement of cooperation. Jinnah refused. At the Simla conference in 1945, Lord Wavell also proposed an interim government with equal proportions of representatives of Muslims and Hindus, but Jinnah also rejected that proposal.

            In 1946 even the Indian navy revolted; the mutiny started in Bombay and soon spread to all the ships in Calcutta, Madras, Karachi, and so on. The soldiers demanded the release of the INA generals, refused to go to war against Indonesian freedom fighters, and also complained about the quality of the food they were getting.

The revolt was soon joined by the air force and the army. The British Prime Minister Clement Atlee announced that Britain was ready to quit India. Elections were organized in 1946.

The fracture between the Congress and the Muslim League became irreversible, and the partition of Bengal and Punjab was inevitable. On 11 August, 1947 Jinnah became the president of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in Karachi. In 1971 East Pakistan declared its independence and became known as Bangladesh.

 

 

AFTER INDEPENDENCE

 

Jahawarlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India, from 1947 to 1964. Initially he was influenced by the British “Fabian” socialists, then he visited the Soviet Union in 1926-1927, where he was impressed with the atheistic philosophy of communism, that considered religion “the opiate for the people”. In fact Russia had been heavily subjugated by the Christian orthodox Church, consecrating the political power of the Czars and the oppressive feudal system, so the Bolshevik revolution, like the French revolution about 200 years earlier, had taken away all power from the priests, closed the churches and prohibited religion. In the enthusiasm of their early government, Russian Soviets had embraced communism as their religion, substituting the old faith and superstitions.

Other important socialist ideas that Nehru collected in Russia were the central role of the government in economy and the planning for industrial development in manufacturing and agriculture aimed at total industrialization of the country. This concept included the perpetuation of monocultures in agriculture, subject to the control of the government, with some form of protection for the farmers consisting in cooperativism.

However, around the mid 60s, India was still heavily depending on western aids, with a severe economic crisis.

The Chinese aggression of 1962 weakened Nehru’s position of peaceful co-existence and socialism. The concept of non-alignment had been affirmed in order to retain full independence for India; the example of the various countries of east Europe, who had come to be fully dominated by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was not very inspiring. However, the political and military pressure from China and Pakistan was mounting. In 1965 the first war with Pakistan pushed Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri (1964-1966) to officially ally with Russia, since in 1954 the US had granted military aid to Pakistan. The ties with Russia became stronger.

 

Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977. In 1971 the Congress started to lose popularity, until the breaking point in 1977. Indira declared state of emergency. This move actually alienated the people, and from 1977 to 1980 the Prime Ministership went to Morarji Desai and Charan Singh. With the support of Russia, Indira Gandhi returned to power again in 1980 and tried to tackle the problems “the Russian way”, or in other words, by dictatorship and oppression of dissenters. In 1981 Indira decided to solve the “problem of the Sikhs” in Punjab by sending the army to attack the Golden temple in Amritsar, with the declared intention of arresting the “Sikh terrorists”. Needless to say, the move deeply alienated the people of Punjab, who were already in a very difficult position, pressurized by Pakistan that hoped to acquire Punjab to its territories by increasing the percentage of the Muslim population (by killing or scaring away the others). The Punjabi people already felt abandoned by the central government, and the violent repression of their discontent strengthened the separatists’ resolve.

            In 1984 Indira Gandhi was killed in her garden by two Sikh body guards, and a pogrom was unleashed against Sikhs all over north India. Two regiments of Sikhs left the army.

            Rajiv Gandhi, second son of Indira (the first, Sanjiv, had died in a plane crash), became Prime Minister from 1984 to 1989, on the wave of popular sentiments against the killing of his mother; he was also killed in Tamil Nadu in 1991 by a terrorist attack during an election campaign. Tamil Nadu, like Punjab, Assam, Tripura and other north-east states, is a hot spot of separatist movements. Nobody from the Gandhi family, considered by the masses as the natural successors to the Gandhi-Nehru leadership, was available for the post of Prime Ministership, and the Congress could not propose a convincing alternative. The Congress kept losing popular support, and had to rely more and more on alliances with other parties which kept forming. The central government was then formed by various coalitions under the Prime ministership of Visvanatha Pratap Singh, Chandra Shekhar, P.V. Narasimha Rao, and Deve Gowda, until 1998, when the coalition collapsed and new elections were called.

 

In the meantime, the Hindus had started to become organized politically, mainly with the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh. The main point of the Hindu political activists was simple: with their electoral power, a majority of Hindus over the minorities of Muslims, Christians, secularists and communists could restore good dharmic Hindu rulers at the government, after so many centuries of oppression. The movement to reclaim the Hindu holy sites for Hindu worship grew. The Hindu movement had asked, among the thousands of holy places lost to forced Islamization and Christianization, the return of three sites: Ayodhya, Mathura and Somanath, respectively the birthplace of Rama, the birthplace of Krishna and a famous ancient Shiva temple.

Only Somanath had been obtained, while the holy sites in Ayodhya and Mathura were still covered by mosques that had no religious significance for the Muslim community, other than the satisfaction of preventing Hindus from worshiping in their ancient traditional holy ground. For many centuries Hindus had longed for the return of the Rama Rajya, the godly government that, in the words of Krishna in Gita, would protect the good people, annihilate the evil-doers and re-establish the principles of dharma.

The Maha Purna Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, during the month of December-January 1986, had seen over 22 million pilgrims during the peak weeks of the festival. People had come from all over the world to participate to the special event, and religious feelings were running high. Many wanted to go in pilgrimage to Ayodhya, a very important holy site near to the Kumbha Mela camp. In 1949 the Hindus had already installed the Deities of Sita-Rama in a small temple in Ayodhya and on 31 January 1986 they had obtained the authorization for opening the small temple to the public. However, the actual spot of the birthplace of Ramachandra, the Rama janma bhumi, was not open to Hindus as a mosque had been built about 300 years earlier over the site of the previous Hindu temple that was at least 2,000 years old, having being built by the Hindu emperor Vikramaditya. The ancient beautiful temple had been completely destroyed by the Muslim invaders who killed many Hindus in the process, and the mosque was built on the razed site, so that no Hindu could ever rebuild a Rama temple there.

Some of the participants to the Kumbha Mela felt they couldn’t wait any more to re-establish the Rama janma bhumi, and the Babri Masjid (Babri mosque) in Ayodhya was attacked on 17 February 1986. The agitation continued for many months and between 1992 and 1993, for two months, there were riots in Bombay between Hindus and Muslims. Bal Thakre’s organization, Shiva Sena, was blamed for the violence.

            With the victory of the Bharata Janata Party on the wave of new hope from the Hindus, Sitaram Keshri resigned from the Congress’ presidency and Sonia Gandhi became the president of the Congress. Previously Mrs. Gandhi had always refused to take part in politics, also because of the open hostility of some of the leaders, who considered her just a foreigner and a woman.

            The BJP obtained the power, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee became Prime Minister, working closely together with Lal Krishna Advani. However, the resurgence of the Hindu movement with its legitimate demands was not the only matter they had to deal with. The new government had many problems to face, both internally and externally.

Politics at home required alliances with strange partners, not always fit for the posts they had bargained for in the election deals. The border problems with Pakistan and Bangladesh were also intertwined with domestic problem, mainly Kashmir and the north-eastern states of India (bordering Bangladesh), where a strong pressure of Christians who were trying to win independence by indoctrinating the tribal populations of Nagaland (Naga), Mizoram (Mizo), Assam (Bodo), and Tripura with terrorism.

            The connection between the Christian missionaries and the separatist terrorism in north-eastern states of India is amply known. When Nagmanlal Halam, secretary of the Noapara Baptist Church in Tripura, was arrested by the Tripura police, he had 50 gelatin sticks, 5 kg of potassium and 2 kg of sulphur and other ingredients for making explosives. Mr. Halam confessed that his activities for the saving the heathen souls involved buying and supplying explosives to the NLFT over the past two years. Another church official, Jatna Koloi, who was also arrested, admitted that he had received training in guerrilla warfare at an NLFT base last year.

The Baptist Church of Tripura was initially set up by proselytizers from New Zealand 60 years ago. Despite their efforts even until 1980 only a few thousand people in Tripura had converted to Christianity. The murder (following the open death threats issued by the NLFT) of inmates and workers of non-Chistian educational and social workers’ institutions among tribals already forced the closure of many institutions like schools and orphanages, set up by the slain religious leaders in various parts of Tripura. Armed NLFT militants torch and blow  up villages, schools and social centers, kidnap people for ransom, ambush convoys, attack vehicles, buses, trucks, murdering several thousands of people and in general conduct all sorts of terrorist activities, hoping to push the central government to concede them their fully independent Christian “promised land” from where all the Hindus will be kicked out. The NLFT has been an active partner of the Baptist Church in winning converts to the Christian creed by terrorist attacks, also launching proclaims (with official communication to the press) prohibiting people from celebrating all Hindu festivals like Durga Puja and Makar Sankranti, and even listening to Indian music. Such proclaims also prohibit women from wearing bangles or bindis, etc.

 

             The Kashmir valley had always had a Muslim majority, although before partition several Hindu Kashmiri pandits lived there. In 1941 the Muslim population was 61%, but it had gradually increased (due to the disappearance of Hindus) up to 95%. From 24 May to August 1999 there was a serious confrontation between India and Pakistan in the Kargil-Drass sector of Jammu and Kashmir, to push out Pakistani infiltrators.

Pakistan had been supporting terrorism in Kashmir in a low intensity war since partition, and there have been 3 “official” Indo-Pakistan wars. Previously, in 1948-1949 Nehru and Girija Shankal Bajpay had presented a complaint to the Security Council of the United Nations, which declared that the people of Kashmir should decide if they wanted to be part of India or Pakistan. However, from 1965 to 1998 the United Nations never mentioned the Kashmir problem once, although its gravity was no less than the Middle East problems, originated by the same dynamics (Muslim separatism).

In 1974 the first atomic tests were performed in India, following the general global trend and especially the armaments race of USA and Russia. However, from the 1970s onwards, and especially with the end of the cold war and the fall of the communist regime in Russia, the nuclear option had become more and more unpopular in the international public opinion, and both US and Russia had been forced to start disarming. The echo of global trends rarely reaches India’s public opinion, and the government had not been very open to consider the world’s public opinion. So when both India and Pakistan were the only nations to refuse to sign the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty) in 1997, considered a global necessity by the majority of the world countries, international criticism and concern about the political and military situation in the subcontinent became very serious.

Pakistan tested the Ghori missiles during the first week of May 1998, only a few months after the BJP was elected to power (February 1998). On 12 May of the same year the Indian Shakti missiles were tested at Pokhram, in Rajasthan.

In June the new defense budget of the Indian government was increased of 14%, and the nuclear budget was increased of 68%. Unfortunately neither India nor Pakistan realized that a nuclear war between two countries that lie so close together would destroy both countries even if only one of them was struck and the other had no time to retaliate. The gravity of the effects of nuclear weapons is totally ignored by the mass of people, and probably even by the government leaders. In western countries a popular movement of awareness about the nuclear dangers had brought the governments, under the pressure of the people, to give up nuclear power plants and nuclear armaments.

 

The traditional alliance with Russia against the United States (that traditionally supported Pakistan, aiming at their petrol) already had a severe blow when the communist regime fell, revealing a shattered economy and society that had been carefully kept hidden by the control of media and repression of dissenters. All over the world, the communist parties in various countries had either waned or changed their approach. Still, due to the lack of information and communication especially at international level, Indian communists still lived in an idealized past.

Mainstream communism has traditionally been strong in Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. Extremism had also been present all along, and with the economic crisis of the 1960s, extremists had lost all faith in the participation to the government. The Naxalites, a particular brand of communist extremist terrorists, originated in Naxalban, a subdivision of Darjeeling (West Bengal) in 1967, when the tribal cultivators rebelled against the tea plantation economy that had monopolized the land.

A similar movement had developed Andhra Pradesh in the late 1960s, when the “Girijans” forest tribals became restless because they were losing land to money lenders. Their economic situation was extremely precarious. In 1968 an organization was founded on a Maoist line, called Girijan Sangam, vowing the “annihilation of class enemies”. From 1969 to 1971 they occupied the Government’s wastelands, forest land and the farms of the big landlords. The army repressed the movement in 1971.

 

Apart the political problems posed by the Muslim community (supported by foreign Muslim countries), the separatist movements and terrorist activities, the communist pressure, the growing conversion campaigns and political pressure of Christian missionaries, the BJP government had to deal with other uncomfortable legacies.

In 1951 the literacy percentage of the population was 18%. In 1998 it had raised to 64%. However, literacy campaigns were often conducted for political purposes by Christians and communists (Kerala has a literacy rate of 100%), creating new problems while solving a previous one.

Another problem connected with literacy is the sad plight of women in India. In the 1990s, the percentage of illiteracy among women (national average) was still 75% in urban areas and 95% in rural areas. The difficulties women face in India start from inequality in education. When the purdah was imposed by Muslim rulers on Hindu society, women lost all influence on society and were denied education (even literacy). Even today, the results of the purdah are afflicting Indian society: generally women are discouraged from public careers, they have no right to choose their partner or divorce, or remarry if they become widows. The dowry and the exorbitant costs of marriages also puts a tremendous burden on the families, and this has caused huge percentages of female infanticide and abortions of female fetuses (the sex of the fetus can be detected by ultrasound). Malnutrition and mistreatment of women, especially in backward and illiterate groups of population who are already prey to ignorant beliefs and a bad quality of life, fatally brings to malnutrition and poor health in children and complications in childbirth and in the subsequent adult life.

Unfortunately, the problem of ignorance, lack of education, malnutrition and mistreatment of women is not limited to illiterate and destitute sections of society: it also affects wealthy and “educated” families who send boys to schools but believe that the only possible future of a girl is getting married. These are still various issues waiting to be corrected in modern India.

As we can see, India has grown tremendously through the years, and now that India is free from the controlling influence of major invaders and oppressive rulers, it is no surprise that it is again becoming a great nation, meaning a major power in the economic world. Still, there is much growth for it to do and many issues that it is resolving, but there is much hope for what India can show the world, if it can overcome the corruption in business and politics, and social discrepancies that divide instead of unite India as a society.