Eminent Historians  

by: Arun Shourie

Publisher: ASA Publications, 1998
Price: $30, Pages: 271, ISBN: 81-900199-8-8

Reviewed by: C. J. S. Wallia


EMINENT HISTORIANS: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud

by Arun Shourie

New Delhi: ASA Publications, 1998 Hardback, 271 pages

Reviewed by C. J. S. Wallia [C.J.S. Wallia, Ph.D., teaches in the Publishing and Editing Program at the University of California Berkeley extension and is the editor of The IndiaStar Review of Books, www.indiastar.com]

Eminent Historians:Their Techniques, Their Line, Their Fraud is arguably the most important book published in India since 1947. Arun Shourie, a noted scholar and columnist, is the author of 14 other books, several of them brilliant exposé of the Indian Communist party´s long-standing anti-national policies, the foreign Christian missionaries´ covert activities in India, and the Congress party´s corruption and pseudo-secular policies that culminated in the massacre of thousands of innocent Sikhs in Delhi in 1984.

Shourie received a Ph.D. in Economics from Syracuse University and has served as a consultant to the World Bank and the Planning Commission. He has also served as the editor of The Indian Express. His writings have won him major awards including the Astor, the Magsaysay, and the International Editor of the Year. Recently, the Federation of Indian Publishers conferred on him The Freedom to Publish Award.

"Eminent Historians," the ironic title of his latest book comes from the self-description a group of Marxist historians, most of them academics, arrogated for themselves while signing a newspaper petition during the Ayodhya controversy. Although the group is not large in number, (42 is the maximum), the same set has also preempted for itself the titles of "prominent social scientists" and "leading intellectuals" in similar public petitions. The Marxist party line is to project Hindus as exploitative feudalists and Muslims as liberators! Arun Shourie´s major thesis: During the past fifty years, "this bunch of Marxist historians have been suppressing facts, inventing lies, perverting discourse, and derailing public policy" by seizing control of institutions such as the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), the National Council of Educational Research Training (NCERT), large parts of Indian academia, and nearly all of the English-media newspapers and publishing houses.

Included as principals in this group of Marxist historians are Romila Thapar, Satish Chandra, K.M. Shrimali, K.M.Pannikar, R.S. Sharma, D. N. Jha, Gyanendra Pandey, and Irfan Habib. This group has, Shourie charges, "worked a diabolic inversion: the inclusive religion [Hinduism], the pluralist spiritual search of our people and land, they have projected as intolerant, narrow-minded, obscurantist; and the exclusivist, totalitarian, revelatory religions and ideologies -- Islam, Christianity, Marxism-Leninism-- they have made out to be the epitome of tolerance, open-mindedness, democracy, secularism!" By promoting each other´s publications and puffing up their reputations, this group has long been "determining what is politically correct." One measure of the insidious control these "verbal terrorists" have been exercising over the English-medium publishing industry in India is that Arun Shourie, despite his huge readership, had to self-publish his books.

For several decades, these "eminent historians" have striven hard to continually denigrate Hindu cultural history, the oldest surviving civilization in the world, by "blackening the Hindu period and whitewashing the Islamic period." Indeed, Shourie should have challenged them to refute American historian Will Durant´s assertion in hisThe Story of Civilization: "The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex and freedom can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without and multiplying from within." Or that of French historian Alain Danielou´s statement, in his Histoire de l´ Inde : "From the time Muslims started arriving, around 632 AD, the history of India becomes a long, monotonous series of murders, massacres, spoilations, destructions. It is, as usual, in the name of ´a holy war´ of their faith, of their sole God, that the barbarians have destroyed civilisations, wiped out entire races."

As the book´s subtitle promises, Shourie succeeds in unmasking these self-proclaimed eminents of "their technology, their line, their fraud" by focusing on specifics as exemplified below: his own television debates with some of these "eminent historians"; their failures to respond to published challenges by historians and scholars of persuasions other than Marxist; their documented efforts at distorting established historical evidence.

In July 1998, Manoj Raghuvanshi, host of a popular ZEE TV program called Aap ki Adalat, Aap ka Faisla (Your Court, You Judge) invited Arun Shourie and one of the "eminents," K. L. Shrimali. Raghuvanshi posed the question first to Shrimali whether Aurangzeb was a religious bigot. Despite Raghuvanshi´s repeating the question, Shrimali gave no clear answer, only asserting that Aurangzeb´s court had many Hindu nobles. Shourie countered this by pointing out that there were many Indians among the persons honored by the British with titles - - and both for the same reason. In Shourie´s words: "How does this wipe away the destruction of Hindu temples by Aurangzeb? Aurangzeb had entertained no doubt about the fact that his primary impluse was the religious one. And that he faithfully implemented an essential element of his religion, Islam, that is to destroy the places of worship of other religions." As evidence, Shourie read out several passages from Sita Ram Goel´s book Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them, The Islamic Evidence. All Shrimali could mumble was that it was a "questionable source." When Shourie pressed the point that the source was the Akhbarat (Newsletter) of the Court of Aurangzeb himself written on the very day the news reached the court, the "eminent" historian merely repeated "questionable source." Shourie comments: "So, when an ´eminent´ historian says that the sources were questionable, they must be questionable" - - this is their technology when cornered."

Sita Ram Goel´s book is the focus of one of Shourie´s chapters that carries the ironic title "The Policy of ´Broad Toleration´!" Shourie quotes extensivley from this 400-page work regarding it as a "meticulous and unimpeachable study": "We have cited from eighty histories spanning a period of more than twelve hundred years. Our citations mention sixty-one kings, sixty-three military commanders and fourteen Sufis who destroyed Hindu temples in one hundred and fifty-four localities, big and small, spread from Khurasan in the West to Tripura in the East, and from Transoxiana in the North to Tamil Nadu in the South, over a period of eleven hundred years. In most cases the destruction of temples was followed by erection of mosques, madrasas and khanqahs, etc., on the temple sites with temple materials. Allah was thanked every time for enabling the iconoclast concerned to render service to the religion of Muhammad by means of this pious performance. All along, the iconoclasts remained convinced that they were putting into practice the highest tenets of their religion. They also saw to it that a record was kept of what they prized as a pious performance. The language of the record speaks for itself. It leaves no doubt that they took immense pride in doing what they did. It is inconceivable that a constant and consistent behaviour pattern, witnessed for a long time and over a vast area, can be explained except in terms of a settled system of belief which leaves no scope for second thoughts. Looking at the very large number of temples, big and small, destroyed or desecrated or converted into Muslim monuments, economic or political explanations can be only a futile, if not fraudulent, exercise."

Goel´s scholarly work was published in 1993 - - six years of opportunity for the "eminent historians" to refute his work. Quite the contrary, it is the Indian Marxist historians who now stand discredited on many issues in Indian history. Interestingly, Shourie cites from a standard Soviet work A History of India by K. Antonova, G. Bongard-Levin, G. Kotovsky (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1979), which, for example, on Aurangzeb, is free of the inverted concoctions of the Indian Marxist academics and agrees with the evidence presented by Goel: "Aurangzeb was a cold, calculating politician, and a fanatical Moslem, who stripped Hindus of their rights. Between 1665 and 1669, he gave orders for Hindu temples to be destroyed and for mosques to be erected from their debris."

Several of Shourie´s chapters appeared first as columns. One of his readers sent him a copy of a circular sent by the West Bengal Government Secondary Board ordering revisions of Class IX History textbooks to conform with the views of Indian Marxist "historians." The accompanying pages contained two columns: Aushuddho (errors) and Shuddho (Corrections). Shourie provides numerous examples from these pages. In Bharuter Itihash by Shobhankar Chattopadhyaya, published by Narmada Publishers, page 181: Aushuddho - - "To prevent Hindu women from being seen by Muslims, they were directed to remain indoors." Shuddho - -Delete. In Bharater Itihash by P. Maiti, published by Sreedhar Prakashini, page 139: Aushuddho - - "There was a sense of aristocratic superiority in the purdah system. That is why upper-class Hindus adopted this system from upper-class Muslims. Another opinion is that purdah came into practice to save Hindu women from Muslims. Most probably, purdah came into vogue because of both factors." Shuddho - - Delete. In Swadesho Shobhyota by Dr. P.K. Basu and S.B.Ghatak, published by Abhinav Prakashan, page 145: Aushuddho - - "Because Islam used extreme inhuman means to establish itself in India, it became an obstacle for the coming together of Indian and Islamic cultures." Shuddho - - Delete. In Bharatvarsher Itishash by Dr. Narendranath Bhattacharya, published by Chakravarty and Son, page 89: Aushuddho --"Sultan Mahmud looted valuables worth 2 crore dirham from Somnath temple and used the Shivling as a step leading up to the masjid in Ghazni." Shuddho-- Delete ´and used the Shivling as a step leading up to the masjid in Ghazni.´

In West Bengal, the Marxists have long held the state government. However, similar revisions of history textbooks were implemented at the national level under the aegis of the National Council of Educational Research and Training. For example, Satish Chandra´s Medieval History, a textbook for Class XI students, asserts that "sometimes Sufi saints also played a role although they were generally unconcerned with conversions." Shourie comments: "If this eminent historian were to read the accounts of these Sufis, he would learn how they acted as the advance scouts of the armies of Islam!" In NCERT sponsored books, notes Shourie, "Two sentences from the Koran: ´To you your religion, to me mine,´ and ´There is no compulsion in religion´ which are flatly over-run by the text itself, to say nothing of the entire history of Islamic rule over 1400 years, those two sentences are flaunted as proof-positive of Islam being not just committed to peace and tolerance, they are proof that it is The Religion of Peace and Tolerance!"

Recently, Sita Ram Goel challenged the dean of the Marxist Indian "historians," Romila Thapar, to produce evidence to substantiate her assertion about the violence Hindus perpetrated on the Buddhists, supposedly destroying Buddhist viharas and constructing Hindu temples on the ruins. None. Shourie observes: "They traduce, they abuse, they denounce, they spit and run, but if you so much as ask them to substantiate what they are saying, they are deeply offended. A highly personalised attack, they scream."

The largely Marxist membership of the Indian Council of Historical Research appointed by the socialistic Congress party, which was in power for nearly all of the fifty years since independence, was reconstituted in July 1998 by the Bharatiya Janata Party, currently ruling at the center. Unfortunately, it will take a long time for undoing the harm done by the Marxist historians to the Indian psyche: "they have used these institutions to sow in the minds of our people [the Hindus] the seeds of self-hatred."

For anyone interested in contemporary India, this is a must-read book.

.............................................................................