History, faith and Indian historians A rejoinder to Romila Thapar.

History, faith and Indian historians A rejoinder to Romila Thapar.
Published on September 29th, 2007 In Uncategorized |  Views 1116
The following is my response to the Editor, The Hindu. However, “The Hindu” has not been publishing views opposing to its ideology. Generally, it is said that N. Ram does not encourage anything that is against Marxism etc. Whatever, may be the fact, the copy is posted here for debate and discussion:A rejoinder to Romila Thapar Romila Thapar, an eminent historian of India has written her opinion in “The Hindu” under the caption, “Where fusion cannot work – faith and history” (The Hindu, September 28, 2007). For the article, see: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/0928/stories/2007092855231200.htm and with reference to this, I respond as follows:

Historians have never been honest in dealing with the historical issues involving faith and history, and there only faith and history have been brought into conflict. It is not fusing faith and history or vice versa. Historians know very well that it is their belief that history can be only based on what is written or has been written. It is their faith that they do not believe that if lived man of one million or 1 billon did not live if he has not left any historical record. But how scientists would say about it?

Historians believe about past events that they should have happened like this; at the same time other set of historians interpret that the same events could have happened in different way. Historians have accepted that they do not require any objectivity in their historical studies or methodology. So again, it their strong faith that they believe that objectivity is not required. But any other professional would accept it? Therefore historical faith and history cannot be independent. Without faith of the past or faith ion archaeological methods, historians cannot work independently. When historians have decided to differ, there would be difference only. Historians believed that Aryans invaded India destroyed Dravidians and so on. At that time itself, the believers and even Sanskrit scholars clarified that it was gross misinterpretation of Vedas. But none cared. Now, the historians have retracted, but the books remain containing such unhistorical writings. So how can their premises, their methods of enquiry, and their formulations be dissimilar?

You say, “When historians speak of the historicity of person, place, or event, they require evidence — singular or plural — that proves the existence of any of these and this evidence is based on data relating to space and time. The two important spaces in the Valmiki Ramayana are Ayodhya and Lanka, on the location of which scholarly opinion differs”. Yes, what are those “scholarly opinions”? An opinion is nothing but belief or faith only as their views is estimated depending upon their attitudes and outlook.

What you say about the foot print of Mohammed kept in Jama Masjid or the hair kept in a Kashmir mosque? Have you ever recommended for chemical analysis or DNA test? Have historians ever tried their scientific methodology? Where has gone their scientific temper? You claim, “It is said that the Ram Setu is cultural heritage and therefore cannot be destroyed even if it is a natural geological formation and not man-made. Has the idea become the heritage? To search for a non-existent man-made structure takes away from the imaginative leap of a fantasy and denies the fascinating layering of folk-lore”. When H. D. Sankalia [1972:46] asserted that there were no evidences for Asoka, Chandragupta Maurya etc., as no horizontal excavations had been done, historians did not worry and search for Asoka or Chandragupta. When Vincent Smith [1990:231-267] wrote that Asoka killed his brothers etc., you also repeated the song in your book [1963:20-54]. Accepting Kalhana as historian, you ignored the Asoka, as he recorded. So why can’t deny this Asoka and accept the Asoka of Kalhana? It is only “the majority idea / opinion / faith” that only this Asoka could be “Mauryan Asoka” in spite of lacking historical evidences, created and established one Asoka! So even existed person was consigned to imaginary leap of fantasy and made fable!

Even after the so-called “authorized / critical edition” [Vol I-1960, II-1962, III-1963, IV-1965, V-1966, VI-1971], the mention of different Ramayanas is irrelevant, immaterial and incompetent.

As a historian, it is surprising that you have lied to the whole world like this:  “This does not happen with the biographies of those who were known to be historical figures and who founded belief systems: the Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammad. Their biographies adhere largely to a single story-line and this helps to endorse the ‘official’ narrative of their life. Their existence is recorded in other sources as well that are not just narratives of their lives but have diverse associations. The historicity of the Buddha, for example, is established, among other things, by the fact that a couple of centuries after he died, the emperor Ashoka on a visit to Lumbini had a pillar erected to commemorate the Buddha’s place of birth. This is recorded in an inscription on the pillar”.

6      This does not happen with the biographies of those who were known to be historical figures and who founded belief systems: the Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammad.

It is well known that there are no biographies of Buddha, Jesus Christ and Mohammed as you asserted. This is blatant lie. Give me references of such biographies. What was written after such existed or non-existed personalities after them perhaps even after 300 years cannot be a biography. About different Buddhas, I am surprised that you say nothing is there. You do not remember how a Buddha had to come to fight with Adi Sankara? Moreover, it is well known about the different versions of Jesus, Christs etc., even before and after the so-called Jesus Christ combine. About Mohammed, I am also afraid of giving details just like you. Any way, just I tell there are books – M. Cook [1983:65], P. Crone [1987:75-76], Ibn Warraq [1995:66-85].

6      Their biographies adhere largely to a single story-line and this helps to endorse the ‘official’ narrative of their life.

Why they should largely adhere to a single line? How this helps “official” narrative? How “official” it could be of “their life”? Why can’t you write as a historian instead of believer here?

That the “biographers” were compelled or forced to accept or adhere to a single line proves that many lines were left out. And still small number of biographers who did not adhere to a single line is also exposed. Then, what you are talking about? Majority view and minority view? Condemn the “lesser” and accept or approve the Larger”! Adhere to one-line and forget many lines! What sort of historian you are? That man Karunanidhi has become a senile man and talks differently. Do you also do the same think as a senile lady?

How you endorse such one-liners? Is there any historical methodology to that effect? Which University teaches such approving of one-line biography by eminent historians like you?

Do not fool Indians. Ernest Renan, J. M. Robertson and so many reputed authorities are there on the subject matter of Jesus Christ and Christianity. Any way, it is your cowardice gets exposed, as you never whispered anything, when there was much Christian opposition to screening of “Da Vinci Code”. However, when the so-called “Hindutva judgment” came out, you vociferously jumped and asserted that “We would go to Court”. Everything appeared in “the Hindu” itself with your face. Madam, what happened? But now you come siding with atheists, anti-Hindus, anti-nationals as a historian suppressing the recent past and forgetting your own past!

6      Their existence is recorded in other sources as well that are not just narratives of their lives but have diverse associations.

So also Rama.

Why then your argument goes differently.

In fact, their associations differ. But, Ramayana core story, as H. D. Sankalia in his “Ramayana Myth or Reality” that it had been there nearly for 3000 years [1972:62].

How “That their existences is recorded in other sources” help you to decide?

It may be noted that historians and scholars have pointed out that Christ story was copied from
Krishna! Rama was repeatedly mentioned in different literature not because of variance, but influence and impact created on the people well before 2500-3000 YBP. Was the Sangam poet a fool to record in his poem about his discussion with his army about the mode of crossing over the ocean to Lanka”. How that poet was imaging that that Lanka should have been the Lanka of Ramayana in his times i.e, 2500 – 3000 YBP?

6      The historicity of the Buddha, for example, is established, among other things, by the fact that a couple of centuries after he died, the emperor Ashoka on a visit to Lumbini had a pillar erected to commemorate the Buddha’s place of birth. This is recorded in an inscription on the pillar

Recently, there has been lot of information coming out as to how the British historians including the ASI officials, specifically Alois Anton Furher had fabricated the Stone Casket with Asokan inscriptions and planted there. For his forgey, he was dismissed from the service. The sudden disappearance of Buhler also intriguing in the context. For more details see: http://www.lumkap.org.uk . note now also the ASI officials are in a soup!

6      “From the point of view of archaeology and history, the Archaeological Survey of
India was correct in stating that there is to date no evidence to conclusively prove the historicity of Rama. The annulling of this statement was also a political act. Reliably proven evidence is of the utmost significance to history but not so to faith”.

The present ASI officials are not like A. A. Fuherer to fabricate or forge Asokan inscriptions or like John Marshall to suppress the ASI report of Banrejee. They could have verified the greatest Indian archaeologist view in their affidavit. But, evidently, being the stooges of politicians, as politicians they acted ad they would get the sack, unless they are innocent or have guts to expose the politicians, who ordered them to do so. Leave alone the ASI people. The ASGCS / other standing councils who drafted the affidavit, vetted the affidavits etc.., also are responsible. Therefore, if all acted as a gang to malign and blaspheme Rama, it is not history but mystery. And do not you think that such culprits should be punished?

6      Blasphemy does not lie in doubting historicity.

Yes, Romila you doubt the historicity of others also as listed – Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammed – Do not be contended with one-line official version. You are a historian. You should go by primary sources – historical documents. Nothing more, nothing less!

To what extent you can doubt the historicity of them along with Rama or otherwise, we are going to see. Or children will wait and see!

Of course the question of blasphemy, who will decide? The Courts? Let us see!

6      The historian is not required to pronounce on the legitimacy of faith. But the historian can try and explain the historical context to why, in a particular space and time, a particular faith acquires support. And we need to remind ourselves that our heritage has been constantly enriched not just by those of faith but also by those who contend with faith.

Yes, you know very well if you start analyzing with the legitimacy of faith of – Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammed.

So you decide which faith has to be supported in a particular space in time?

Accordingly, it is evident that you do not support the faith of Rama.

Yes, Rama baktas have been living with content even after what you historians have done in the case of Ramajanmabhumi issue.

Of course, they may not be knowing what your people have been doing in the Indian History Congress presenting papers taking Ayodhya to Afganisthan etc. Note that even in
Calicut, during last IHC, you have to live on Rama just like Karyu. The lady who got selected as GS said some thing on Rama! Poor Rama-baktas kept quite.

6      If there is a strong faith — in the religious sense — among millions of people, then it does not require to be protected through massive demonstrations and the killing of innocent persons, through political mobilisation. Nor do archaeology and history have to be brought in to keep that faith intact. Faith finds its own place and function, as do archaeology and history. And the place and function of each is separate.

Yeah, oh woman, you do not know how many Ramabaktas were burned and killed. You want Rama-baktas to forget everything. But try to interpret mischievously, what happened to the three in Bangalore. Note, it is because of Karu, that happened. Fighting with Karnataka, he earned enormous enmity with Kannadigas. And this man used to come there and say as he used to go to Gopalapuram and Oliver Road

. So not vulgarize the issue with your perversity. Do not suppress the facts.

The honesty of archeologists and historians, only Indians have to certify.

6      To say that the partial removal of an underwater formation in the Palk Straits is going to hurt the faith of millions is not giving faith its due. Is faith so fragile that it requires the support of an underwater geological formation believed to have been constructed by a deity?

You can blast Bamian Buddhas, you can destroy IVC. Like Aurangazeb you can go on demolish temples. Like Dr. F.J A. Flynn, you can smuggle artifacts and coins. Your historians and archaeologists aid and abet. But he would be caught red-handed in
Delhi airport. So demolish Rama-sethu! Yes, nothing will happen or happens.

6      Making faith into a political issue in order to win elections is surely offensive to faith?

Karu is doing that. Cong is coding that. None else links it with politics.

6      What is at issue is not whether Rama existed or not, or whether the underwater formation or a part of it was originally a bridge constructed at his behest. What is at issue is a different and crucial set of questions that require neither faith nor archaeology but require intelligent expertise: questions that are being willfully (sic) diverted by bringing in faith. Will the removal of a part of the natural formation eventually cause immense ecological damage and leave the coasts of south India and Sri Lanka open to catastrophes, to potential tsunamis in the future? Or can it be so planned that such a potentiality is avoided?

Scientists have discussed enough. I do not think you have ay competency here.

6      What would be the economic benefits of such a scheme in enhancing communication and exchange? Would the benefits reach out to local communities and if so, how? Equally important, one would like to know precisely what role will be played by the multinational corporations and their associates in
India. Who will finance and control the various segments of such an immense project? It is only when such details are made transparent that we will also get some clues to the subterranean activities that are doubtless already simmering. These are the questions that should be asked of this project and that at this point in time should be occupying public space.

Oh now, it is clear. You write like what Karu talked and talking. Do you have any alliance with Karu? The “Mount Road Maha Vishnu” has marriage alliance with Karu. You have connection with Ram. So also Karu, Kanimozhi and Ramajayam with “The Hindu”. So what is the alliance. At whose behest, you are writing and talking the language of Karunanidhi?

Any way thank you for exposing yourself.

Thank you for revealing that Karunanidhi, Congress, you and others are doing this only for election.

VEDAPRAKASH

(29-09-2007)

57, Poonamalle High Road,

Maduravoyal, Chennai – 602 102.

letters@thehindu.co.in, vedamvedaprakash@yahoo.com

To

The Editor,

The Hindu,

Mount Road,

Chennai – 600 002.

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4 Responses to “History, faith and Indian historians A rejoinder to Romila Thapar.”

  1. vedaprakash Says:

    4 Responses to “History, faith and Indian historians A rejoinder to Romila Thapar.”

    1. rgvs Says:
    Posted on October 1st, 2007

    Well said Mr. Vedaprakash. These guys in the name of eminent historians eating bribes from missionaries and writting like this shit article. Only paper like Hindu can publish because they don’t have any level of sense. Can these marsixt or who ever can stop celebrating durga puja in their state – west bengal? First let them prove that they have guts to do so then talk about like sensible people. As dmk and congress said it is only a sand bund created by nature yes agreed for discussion: Few days back one movie came in the name of “da vinci code” and all the christians were opposing the movie. So all our so called fake secular personalities like karunanidhi and other congress, communist people were opposing. Because they do not certainly want to loose this opportunity. Because as per them they are the only messiah of that religion people. Why such a hue and cry one mere movie? Do you think movie like this one will spoil or erode the christian religion or their faith? Our fake secularist like karunanidhi has two tongue: This movie should be banned but can demolish the ram sethu which has belivers of more than 80% this country people. If so why delhi metro project changed when kutubminar came on their rail route? Do these fake secularist has any moral reason for this?

    2. kchitrarao Says:
    Posted on October 1st, 2007

    I reproduce the responses appearing in the Hindu. Obviously, the chosen ones have been publkished:

    Date:01/10/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/10/01/stories/2007100155571002.htm
    —————————————& #8212;————————————̵ 1;

    Opinion – Letters to the Editor

    Faith and history

    This refers to the article “Where fusion cannot work — faith and history” (Sept. 28). In a lucid and logical manner, without being offensive, Romila Thapar has advanced a forceful argument on the need to keep historicity and faith apart. This is necessary to prevent the kind of open clash witnessed today on Ramar Sethu. The attempt by the sangh parivar, particularly the BJP, to use the differences over the issue for political mobilisation, disregarding the inherent risks involved, is an irresponsible way to deal with a sensitive religious issue, to say the least.

    Shahabuddin Nadeem,
    Bangalore

    * * *

    To state the obvious, the article was brilliant. It exposed the hollow and shrill claims of the political party that has assumed the role of custodian of the Hindu faith. Equally, it chided the ruling party for not addressing the core issues of the Sethusamudram project and instead playing politics with scientific institutions. We need a leadership with the courage of conviction and not with a penchant to appease.

    Air Cmde M. Vania (retd.),
    Coimbatore

    * * *

    The Archaeological Survey of India and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi only questioned the historicity of the Ramayana and its characters. Unfortunately, the ASI’s affidavit on Ramar Sethu was withdrawn for obvious political reasons.

    R. Chandrasekhar,
    Ranipet

    * * *

    A reader has pointed out that ‘lanka’ in Telugu means island. It is true but the word is believed to have originated from the dialect of the Gonds of central India. The Gondi language and Telugu have some words in common. The word ‘lanka’ is found in neither Sanskrit nor Tamil. Lanka in the Ramayana does not refer to an island. One should not confuse the names of places because they change over a historical period. The Ramayana is part of our collective heritage. Let us welcome an objective study on it. But we cannot afford to let the self-proclaimed guardians of the Hindu faith hijack the nation one more time.

    K.S. Chaitanya,
    Hyderabad

    * * *

    There is no doubt that the term ‘lanka’ used in the Indian epics and the Puranas refers to Sri Lanka. It cannot be located in the Mahanadi delta or the Vindhyas as some historians believe. Valmiki would have surely known the difference between a river and an ocean. The Ramayana says Rama lived in Dandakaranya, which is in central India, during his exile. From here, he moved southward and reached the shores of the Indian Ocean.

    K. Saibaba,
    Hyderabad

    * * *

    The controversy generated by the Ramar Sethu issue involving faith, history, and politics reminds me of an interesting incident that took place in the Benaras Hindu University, where I was a student during 1947-51. A student from Ceylon was admitted into a mess run by the students. The cooks and their entourage usually came from Gorakhpur, where religious faith is very strong. The ‘maharajs,’ as they were respectfully called, decided to boycott the student from the land of Ravana and refused to serve him. Only after we, the students, threatened to expel them — we had the support of our professors who were also hostel wardens — was the Ceylonese able to join the mess of his choice.

    P. Ramalingam,
    Chennai

    © Copyright 2000 – 2007 The Hindu

    3. kumar Says:
    Posted on October 1st, 2007

    Guys,

    Please ignore this anti-Hindu daily. It is even ready to take on the people’s president for he decided to contest against this corrupt first lady.

    They have no values and vision. Their only mission is to attack BJP and hindus. You read letters to editor for one week and you know what their agenda is.

    Just before the presidential election, the number of editorials this useless daily has written is outnumbering even editorials on any development subject.

    It is a outright biased daily.

    regards
    kumar

    4. kchitrarao Says:
    Posted on October 1st, 2007

    Just by telling that “The Hindu” is anti-Hindu and so on, “The Hindu” is not going to change.

    The history of “The Hindu” was for the Hindus, but N. Ram has changed it into anti-Hindu.

    He should disown the symbol / emblem of using Iravatham elephant, Pachajanyam conch, Lotus etc., After all, they are all Hindutva symbols.

    Katruri Iyengar, Nyapathi Subba Rao etc., would not rest in peace.

    He can fool the present generation and others, but not the old-ones.

    There are people still alive to tell the real story of “the Hindu” (the great-grand sons of Nyapathi Subb Rao) and Ram (the great-grand son of Kasturi Iyngar) would feel shame, if at all he has anything.

  2. Ramajanmabhumi-Babarimasjid, evidences and Court or Hisorians as witnesses and Sunni Wakf Board Experts! « Indology Says:

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  4. பிரபல சரித்திர ஆசிரியர்கள் சுன்னி வக்ஃப் போர்டின் நிபுணர்களாக செயல்பட்ட விதம்! « இஸ்லாம்-இந Says:

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