Itihaas
December 6, 1998
Akhilesh Mithal

Britishers Project Fiction as History

 

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Queen Victoria waited for 15 years to assume the Imperial Crown with the Kohinoor in its diadem, in the forlorn hope of becoming legitimate successor of the Mughals.

 

The rogue idea is the one planted by the British that would have Hindus believe that their slavery dates back a 1,000 years.

 

 

There really and truly, existed a composite Indian identity which prevailed upto the middle of the 19th century.

 

The most prominent leaders of 1857, 1858, 1859 like Nana Dhondo Pant and Lakshmibai of Jhansi all acknowledged the Mughal Emperor as the sole legitimate authority.

 

James Mill had set the official British line on the subject when he declared, “The Hindus are ‘thesis’, the Muslims are ‘antithesis’, we the British are the ‘synthesis’.”

When was India’s freedom lost? Was it at the Battle of Karnal, February 13, 1739 when Tahmasp Quli better known as Nadir Shah defeated the invincible Mughal army and reduced it to such a miserable condition that the army and the Emperor never took part in any more battles until the siege of Dillee in 1857?

Or did the trump of doom for India’s Independence sound on June 23, 1757 when Robert Clive won the battle of Plassey (Palaashee) by the simple expedient of subverting the enemy generals? The casualties on the winning side were four white and eight black soldiers killed, 14 feringhee and 36 native soldiers wounded! The Mughal Emperors became pawns in the hands of their nobles. Mostly the adventurers from Afghanistan and beyond.

On July 31, 1788, Ghulam Qadir Rohilla climbed up the throne, removed the Emperor, Shah Alam II, from it and threw him on to the floor of the Diwan-i-Khas. He threatened to gouge the captive’s eyes out unless he was given gold and jewels. The victim had none and therefore suffered the most brutal blinding in full public view.

The Rohilla was in turn defeated and brought to book by a Maratha Chief, Scindia. The perpetrator of the outrage was made to suffer severe punishment and the blind man restored to the throne. The Mughal was indestructible. Despite all defeats and humiliation, the Emperor in the Red fort continued to represent legitimacy and remain legal sovereign.

The Mughal line was to be finally extinguished by the British in September 1857. The last Emperor died in exile in Rangoon on November 7, 1862. Queen Victoria waited for 15 years to assume the Imperial Crown with the Kohinoor in its diadem, in the forlorn hope of becoming legitimate successor of the Mughals.

It can thus be argued that India really became a slave in September 1857 and that the Dilleewallah was subdued only for a mere 90 years as against the 190 of the Calcuttan and the much longer period of the Mumbaiyan. Mumbai was ceded by the Portuguese to the British as part of the dower of their princess, the Infanta Catherine, when she married Charles II in the 17th century.

Thus we now have many choices for marking the beginning of India’s slavery. The examples cited above are unexceptionable in so far as they do not threaten to tear India’s fabric apart. The rogue idea is the one planted by the British. This is the one that would have Hindus believe that their slavery dates back a 1,000 years.

The invasion or raid for loot and plunder by Subuktagin around the middle of the 10th century is taken as the operative date. Thus, from around 950 Gregorian to 1947 Gregorian Hindus were slaves of “others” is the belief and perception and this totals a whole 1,000 years -- a millennium.

The above picture will bring home to the reader the extent of confusion and chaos that prevails in Indian history even in relation to the most basic and elemental facts and perceptions.In this situation, how can Indians have a clear and distinct, unambiguous idea of who and what they are. A gargantuan and abiding identity crisis is aboard.

There really and truly, existed a composite Indian identity which prevailed upto the middle of the 19th century. Raja Beni Madhab fought for the Begum Hazrat Mahal until his decimated forces were wiped out by the treacherous Jung Bahadur of Nepal, an ancestor of Vijay Raje Scindia of the RSS.

The Pandies or Mutineers of the British Indian Army were all, or the majority of them, East UP Brahmins. After shooting their feringhee officers dead on May 11, 1857 in Meerut, this lot went straight across the boat bridge in the Jamuna to the Emperor in the Red Fort, Dillee, and prevailed upon him to take over the leadership.

The most prominent leaders of 1857, 1858, 1859 like Nana Dhondo Pant and Lakshmibai of Jhansi all acknowledged the Mughal Emperor as the sole legitimate authority. Clearly there was no identity crisis for Indians in the mid-19th century.The above mentioned “composite” Indian personality was fractured by the communal virus injected into the teaching of history by the British.

They emphasised the differences between Hindus and Muslims and nurtured the idea of a Sikh identity as distinct and separate from the Hindu so that the whole fractured into three disparate and individual segments.Each developed jagged, sharp and hurtful edges so that all encounters broke the skin and lacerations ensued to fester and poison the whole system and body politic.

James Mill had set the official British line on the subject when he declared, “The Hindus are ‘thesis’, the Muslims are ‘antithesis’, we the British are the ‘synthesis’.” Subsequent historians like Elliot and Dowson deliberately doctored the local Indian chronicles to emphasise, demonstrate and merchandise any differences they could spot between the communities.

Individual rulers (Even the truly remarkable ones like Akbar were not spared) were subjected to deliberate distortion and diminution in order to make the British look great by comparison. The object, clearly and unambiguously stated, was to make Indians believe that “The British are the best rulers you have ever had!”

The success of the British machinations was quite clearly visible even a decade after their physical departure. The venerable senior historian Surendranath Sen was asked to write the history of the great 1857 Uprising as a 100 year remembrance of things past.

There is no trace of pride or glory in the narration. The overwhelming effort is to sound impartial. The title is neither “Mutiny” nor “Revolt,” it is just plain “1857”! A similar lack of enthusiasm has diminished the role of the Indian National Army and the Royal Indian Navy in hurrying the advent of Independence.

To get a grip on themselves, the people of the subcontinent — Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and most of what is called Afghanistan — have to re-examine, rediscover and re-establish their true identity. Are the Hindus really craven cowards who let themselves be brutalised and dispossessed of their gold, lands and women for centuries?

Are Muslims merely uneducated, uncouth and rascally lechers who used brute force to bully Hindus and martyr Sikhs when the latter stood up to protect the persecuted Hindus? Are Sikhs a faith quite distinct from the Hindus and the Muslims including the Sufis and the Bhaktas? Are they defenders of the weak Hindus from the cruel and rapacious Muslims or are they the eldest sons of Hindus who were given to the faith? What faith?

How can they be both separate from the Hindus and also the protectors of the Hindus? This confusion has stood the communalists in good stead and brought them political power. The Akalis are hand-in-glove with the Centre and the RSS prevails in the Bimaru (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) States.

In this so-called Hindi-speaking or cow belt, education, health and family planning are of low priority. The occasional burning of the widow and the daily dowry deaths continue unabated; female infanticide is still talked about, while female foeticide is still rampant and unchecked. The male-female ratio of the population is alarming.

The aridity in the culture area may be seen from the disappearance of poetry in Urdu and Hindi. Are there any Gurumukhi poets who can set the Sutlej on fire?The Sikhs and the Hindus are at the mercy of rabble rousers who countenanced the 1984 killings of innocents as well as the pulling out of Hindus from passenger buses for cold blooded murder by “militant” Sikhs.

The killings cease only to begin again and again as soon as an opportunity arises. It appears that this will continue endlessly unless the problem of identity is faced squarely.A beginning needs to be made. The British period of Indian history has to be subjected to critical appraisal with the objective of establishing facts, motives and interpretations.

We are within 400 days of January 1, 2000, the beginning of the 21st century. A new century will begin in free India after ages.Let the powers that be make it a celebration by giving the people a readable, factual, balanced and sensitive history of the British period (1757-1947).

Such a book would help clear the stale and fetid air created by the feringhee to serve their own limited interest of “Divide and Rule”. As forecast by Dowson (or was it Elliot?) the Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are lazy and laid back and have done nothing and will do nothing to correct errors and expose canards. The inaction of 50 years must not be allowed to become permanent.

 

Akhilesh Mithal, 1991-1999. All rights reserved.
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