An Indian Civilizational Perspective

History and Myths

History, they say, is written by those in power. That is why there is a fine line between mythology and history. It is specifically so when a nation is created based on ideology that emphasizes isolation as opposed to acceptance. When Pakistan was born, such was the thought. There was a bigger country India – which had more Muslims than Pakistan had and who had lived on, on their own accord. So, there was a strong need to defend the very rationale for the new nation. As the nation grew, such isolationist ideologies grew as well.

I still remember my amazement in the 1980s when Pakistan announced missiles named Ghouri and Ghazni. This, it was said was in response to the Indian missile Prithvi (implying it was named after Prithviraj Chauhan). First of all, only a person completely ignorant of Hindu philosophy would have said this but for an entire Government to take such a stance was amazing foolish. The Hindu philosophy believes there are 5 elements that creation is made of – Prithvi (land mass), Agni (fire), Akash (sky or vacuum), Jal (Water) and Vayu (Air). The first three have been used as names of missiles hitherto.

Moreover, anything that has to do with fighting and inflicting a terrible damage to the enemy should hardly be named after Prithviraj Chauhan! He is the last king the modern day Indians would like to have as role models in a war!! If you beat a barbarian and a looter 17 times and let him go only for him to come and defeat (and KILL) you through bribery, then you deserve very little recognition in political hierarchy! In my view, there is a fine line between foolishness and goodness. Prithviraj Chauhan crossed to the side of foolishness after Ghauri came back the second time after his first pardon.

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Well, in any case, the analysts say that the history books in Pakistan now start with the advent of Mohammad Bin Qasim. Before that there is a vacuum.

I had thought that maybe one day someone would stand up to slowly whisper the proverbial “The King has no clothes”! Here is an interesting article by Prof Shahida Kazi from Dawn – a leading Pakistan daily, which does exactly that. It talks of how myths are taught in the name of history in Pakistan

An example of a myth:

The Muslims were in the forefront of the struggle against the British and were singled out for unfair treatment by the latter.

Not at all. In fact, the first ‘gift’ given to the Muslims by the British was in 1905 in the form of partition of Bengal (later revoked in 1911). The Shimla delegation of 1906 has rightly been called a ‘command performance’; the Muslims were assured by the viceroy of separate electorates and weightage as soon as their leaders asked for them. After that, he Muslim League came into being, established by pro-British stalwarts like the Aga Khan, Justice Amir Ali, some other nawabs and feudal lords. And the first objective of the Muslim League manifesto read: “To promote feelings of loyalty to the British government.”

The Muslim League never carried out any agitation against the British. The only time the Muslims agitated was during the Khilafat Movement in the early ‘20s, led by the Ali brothers and other radical leaders. Not a single Muslim League leader, including the Quaid-i-Azam, ever went to jail. It was the Congress which continued the anti-British non-violent and non-cooperation movement in the ‘30s and ‘40s, including the famous ‘Quit India’ movement, while Muslim League leaders continued to denounce such movements and exhorted their followers not to take part in them.

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