May 22, 2005

Debate on Rewriting versus Saffronisation in Indian Historiography

This is response to Rewriting history is not 'saffronisation' at a blog titled "Colonial Historiography".

"In order to derive meaningful results, it is important to focus on fundamentals-both facts and methodology."

I concur with the idea presented on the above mentioned account. It is the most important aspect. "Puranas were not history", is a wrong statement. Now there are many definitions in postmodernist period, which shows that history can be written wherein the record of social perception whether preserved as epics or as traditional literature are also history. If that is not acceptable then the idea of Oral history and folklore stand no chance for survival. If that is the case, then those who desire to content may themselves try to reason that how rational and logical can their arguments are.

I also concur with the point that there is need for re-writing, Nay, to write from the beginning the history of India. There is need to write a history of a nation which came into new phase of life from 1947. It should not be called the rebirth or a new birth but rather entry into new phase of her existence; an existence wherein under the march of history, she allowed herself to receive the western perspectives but retaining her vital herself.

However, I would like to direct attention to one of my post titled Musing on Mechanism of Rise of Euro-centric World at If we are ready to reason and rationalize in case of Indian history, then we must also recognize that there are some established facts about the dominance of Europe in the world and over the world. You just can not overlook it. Eurocentricism is a bane of intellectual world. But just try to reason it for a while that why is it so? There is history of eighteenth and nineteenth century in which the races of Europe were definitely registering stupendous results. You can not overlook that.

I am ready to accept that I do not know Sanskrit. I am ready to accept that I have developed understanding of Indian History from the writing of the western scholars on Indian history. However, I have been teaching this subject. I have been thinking over it. I have identified many incongruities in the presentations of facts. When I teach that the Rajputs and then later Mughals failed before the onslaught of the Anglo-Saxon world only because India did not have ever thought of having warships, I really fail pain. I just want to shriek out that Kindly look at the achievements of Raja Raja Chola and Rajinder Chola. I just wanted to direct the attention towards the Vijaynagar trade. I want to question that was not Shivaji having any policy towards Janjis and sea forces. I want to question that did Aurangzeb not defeat English forces at sea. Why do we forget that Europeans were not liked because they were interrupting the trades of the members of royal family? Was not India a main center of ship building of small tonnage which means that it was a place for merchant ships. What I mean to say that reason and rationality can not be contextual. The valid point and truth would remain permanent even if you try to distort it.

But I want to raise a question. I want to ask that why have this not be done after 58 years. Why not can it be started just now? Where is the need of government? With the march of technology and such Information and communication means like internet and blogs, it should be done by the Indians themselves.

Yes there is need to write the history of India. Saffronization or no Saffronization accusation, Marxist interpretation or no such frame of reference evaluation of historic facts, the Indian history should find here first chapter not as starting of Hindu era followed by Muslim era but, it should start with reference to earlier social practices and economic history of Sindhu. Then the next chapters may follow but not that of J. S. Mills.
(Edited on June 3, 2005) Only grammatical correction.

May 19, 2005


Herodotus is considered as the father of history. He was given this status because he had written an account of an event by adopting a method which could be called the scientific methodology of writing history for the first time.

Herodotus had cross examined the eyewitnesses in such a manner that the reality of the event which would have existed in its true form had been identified and then recorded.

The second importance or rather the cause of giving the status of fatherhood to Herodotus was that he had written during a period when there was no idea about writing a thing about past which could be categorized under the heading scientific inquiry.

The Grecian mind had developed the theory that the real fact can only be learned and discerned about such a thing which were permanent, which could be checked on one time at one place and reaffirmed with the same conclusion at any time at any place after any duration of time. They had precluded such questions and matters about which nothing was permanent and which were changing continuously. In this category, the events related to man as happening could be called such subjects which could not be subject to analytical evaluation as they were not permanent. History is the subject which try to tell the fact or the account of changing events of man during the past. Hence, it could not be considered fit for analytical evaluation because any conclusion so derived could never be checked and rechecked at all the places and at all the time with the same conclusion. However, Herodotus, who had recorded the event of his time had adopted a methodology which could be considered a scientific evaluation and then recorded his conclusion about that event. Hence, he had started a tradition of recording the events on scientific basis and thus he became the father of history.

However, there are some drawbacks and limitation of his discovery and invention. He had written about a contemporary event only. He had not subjected the facts about the events prior to his recorded event to his evaluation. He had taken them up as it was given to him with the argument that the past events were beyond his capability to verify. He claimed to have recorded them as they were being thought of by general opinion. He had recorded the opinion.

The second limitation is that he had written a record of a living memory with the help of living eyewitness. It means if we want to learn about some event of bygone days, that is of a score of generation back, we would claim that as there is no eyewitness alive to tell us about that time, hence, no such attempt can be made.


Here I write what I have been able to understand and comprehend from the reading of Collingwood, "The Idea of History".

Source Credit: Personal Copy of "The Idea of History"

May 18, 2005

Musing on Mechanism of Rise of Euro-centric World

It is not for nothing that Christians claim that it was duty given by god to civilize the whole. In Europe, they first converted the barbaric races. They followed the rules of St. Benedict. If you try to visualize that what they had done, you can well appreciate that it was job done under some divine guidance. They could have died at the hands of the barbarians. But they converted the barbarians. They had been doing this since the old days. Then consider the achievements of Europe. It is not for nothing that the people of Europe could boost of the biggest achievements in world. There were many civilizations. There was Chinese and Indian civilizations which have sruvived till this day. Other civilization of Egypt, Mesopotamia or South American civilizations, they all have perished by now. The leading country of world, America, is nothing new but a by product of England.
All such achievements have been made by the people who had been following the Christian faith. There is another religion like Buddhism which could also be called an important religion. But the achievements of Christians and the Europeans did not need certification from any one to claim the superiority over all other.
Other religions may not like to accept it. However it is a fact. In their denial of superiority to this religion and the people of this part of the world, they are just recognizing what they just do not want to accept. However, it is a fact and will remain a fact whether they accept it or not.

However, the major thing is that it was the spiritual forces which worked by the name of Christianity faith that has done all this. The materialist may not accept religion, but there is an aspect of human existence which can be called the spiritual desire. It is a hunger as well as a force which moves the man. You can remove the concept of God out of it but even then, there is something in human beings which is more important to make them to do work and do wonders.

Two Paramount Factors:
The blocking of trade routes and urge to spread your religious views were the two paramount factors which changed the contours of history.
While writing history, you just try to place the happenings in the chronological order. However, while doing so, suddenly the reasoning faculty of your brains starts giving you such impulses in form of neuron feelings that suggest to some laws and working of unknown forces behind those events which worked to create those happenings.
But the question arises that why it was only the Europeans who went out of their place. In case of Buddhism, the similar activities were carried out during the period of Asoka. Why did the similar result not appear in his case? It was also the urge of the emperor to spread the religious view. He was pursuing the non-violence route. Does that mean that missionaries carried the violent route? No, that is not true. However, side by side of the activities of the missionaries there were traders who were ready to adopt the violent routes to achieve their profit motives. The next question which arises here is that was not the traders of India or China have the similar urge. They could have also followed. It seems, that this development and mechanism which came into play in case of the spread of Europe is suggesting some law which come into play when trade and religion move out together.

May 01, 2005

Shortcoming in Historic Analysis in Indian History

While writing a conclusion to a review of a book titled “Jinnah’s Early Politics: Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity” , Dr. V. N. Datta has concluded thus, “This scholarly work warns us that in historical analysis, we must not examine leaders in a linear way. There are ups and downs in the vicissitudes of human affairs. To see things in black and white is unfair.”

In the above mentioned article the scholar has reviewed a book by Ian Bryant Wells, “Jinnah’s Early Politics: Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity”.

The book has dealt with the life of Jinnah from 1910 to 1934. During that period, Jinnah has been studied as a liberal, constitutionalist and staunch nationalist.

On the other hand, in Indian history books, Jinnah has been studied from 1940 onwards under which he has been shown to have unleashed the communalist forces just to carve out Pakistan. He has been showed to have killed Wavells plan, C. Rajagopalacharia plan and Cabinet Mission Plan. He had been studied to show that it was he who was against the one nation theory and it was he, who could not go along with Gandhi.

The issue here is not that what Jinnah did, or what Gandhi wanted. The question here is the historical analysis. Dr. V. N. Datta has pointed out to a shortcoming of history writing in India from which this subject has suffered in India and also as a result the two countries have suffered.

Such points has been raised in Review View Analysis and in different articles which I have written. I have raised the same contention in Education forum.

Those who know the history of India from 1857 to 1947, and have studied it from books written in India, they would find the references in the article of V. N. Datta some fascinating observations. It may be fascinating for them, but they also tell you some thing else if they fascinate you. It shows that history of India as being told to India is written from one perspective. It is written to project one personality, one party and one national programme of one party. A true analysis from the perspective of pure history has not been done. As a result, whenever some questions of past look into our face in present, it creates confusion and problems. Such questions may be the issue of re-writing the history of India, the question of Kashmir, the question of relation with China, the questions of personal laws of various communities. All such questions can be answered only if we are able to define and perceive our history in correct perspective. A common man may not read history books. It should not be even insisted upon him. History does not need any propagator to do that job. The issue of soft borders and people to people contact doctrines now being projected so loudly are not engineered by some foreign department of one or other country. It is the history which is making them to seek them as solutions and present realities are forcing them to articulate in the forms in which they are doing. If they are getting responses, then, they should not pat their back. They are not that intelligent or godly to make large number of people weep when they meet their relatives on either side of the borders. It is not the home or foreign departments of either countries which created such relations. They were there because of the history of the countries. These departments were the impediments in natural course of the movement of the different happenings. Those people who have met, and those who come across the borders finding and searching for their old villages or those crossing over to search for their roots, are not student of history but the breathings of history.

Issue is not to discuss all those things as narrated above. The issue is the historic analysis. The issue is that it is not being done rightly in India. In the name of research, more and more articles are coming, but what they are not doing is to place the pieces at their right place in the matrix. They are not clear about their matrix, which includes the definition of history which should guide the article, the methodology which should follow some fixed standards which has yet not been decided by the historians and the role of their topic which it will play in promoting the cause of history but not of one ideology. The issue is that we are writing and doing research not for India and India history but responding to some objections or playing to promote some ideology. The pure history suffers and with that the common man and real nation suffer.

The remark of the scholar as quoted above has suddenly ended after touching the first chord. He should have elaborated it further. It may the constraint placed by editorial policy of the newspaper. Why does Dr. Datta not make his blog and write with some more freedom?

It is will be a matter of great curiosity to learn that how the present pseudo-nationalist would react at the phrases used in the title of the book. In the conclusion of the article also, though it is a review, but even then, a message is conveyed that Jinnah was a great nationalist.

Now it is not that some thing out this world is being said in the article or the book which is source of the article of Dr. Datta. It comes back to same thing, that, it is a shortcoming in the historic analysis from which present historiography of Modern History suffers.

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