INDIAN COMMUNALISM IS A BRITISH GIFT – By Akhilesh Mithal – COVERT fortnightly

Itihaas | Akhilesh Mithal
INDIAN COMMUNALISM IS A BRITISH GIFT
The history of British rule in India has yet to be written. The lies told by the alien rulers and repeated ad nauseam by their Indian collaborators have become a staple of the collective memory and continue to mask the truth and distort fact in order to promote fiction. One great untruth is that Hindus and Muslims have been inimical to each other since the advent of Islam in India in the 8th century, and that the British, being Christian were impartial to the conflicting claims of the two communities and gave India a just administration for the first time in a thousand years.
This untruth forms the basis of and is the keystone of the arch of the communal parties in India such as the Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha, the RSS and all the other Sangh Parivar manifestations.
A study of pre-1857 Indian history shows that Indian communalism is a British creation and has been a factor in Indian politics only from the post 1857 period.
In 1757, when Sirajudaulah, the 20-year-old Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, fought the British East India Company’s Robert Clive at Plassey there was no Hindu-Muslim divide. Those who fought for him — and were loyal to the death — were the generals Mohan Lal Biswas and Mir Madan. The betrayers of their salt included the senior commander, Mir Jafar and Diwan Rai Durlabh Bose.
The motives were sincerity and loyalty to the salt in the first case and greed in the second. There was no vestige of communalism.
The next great Indian power to be destroyed by the British, Mysore, was ruled by Tipu Sultan. The manner in which his diwan, a Brahmin called Purnaiyya helped his master during his lifetime and the attempts he made to maintain the traditions of the kingdom after the defeat and death of Tipu on 4 May 1799 are another example of loyalty to the salt being paramount and communal considerations having no effect upon Hindu-Muslim relationships.
The British came to India as Christians steeped in anti-Muslim feelings prevalent since the Crusades of 10th century AD. They were unable to understand the amity in existence among the Hindus and the Muslims of India. The peaceful co-existence of, what for them were two naturally antagonistic communities with differences incapable of reconciliation, and the common enjoyment of the Ganga-Jamuni culture by Hindus and Muslims appeared unnatural to them.
Europe has not given any major religion to the world. It practises Christianity which came to Rome as a source of entertainment for the citizens when its persecuted practitioners were fed to the lions of the Colosseum. This violence became part of the mindset of European Christians. The manner in which the Muslims were driven out of the Iberian Peninsula, and the Counter Reformation and Inquisition that followed, are among the bloodiest chapters of the history of religion.
The differing mindsets of the British and the Indians remained dormant without affecting the situation as long as the British were not in power.
By 1800 there were no challenges left to question British authority in India. Wellesley started the Fort William College to help English recruits to the East India Company’s service. It was found that Hindustani, the language of Hindustan, was written from right to left and that too in the Arabic script. This appeared wrong to the conditioned-to-be-anti Muslim mindset. Devanagari, used hitherto largely for Sanskrit, was installed as a script for the new Hindustani texts to be taught to English recruits of the Company.

THE ABSENCE OF ANTI-MUSLIM feelings among the Hindus was found inexplicable by the British. Sir Henry Elliot undertook his massive History Of India As Told By Its Own Historians in order to highlight the atrocities committed upon Hindus by Muslims. The avowed intention of the work was to prove to the Hindus that the British were the best rulers ever and they should stop indulging in any nostalgia for the period of Muslim rule.
The rout of the British Indian Army invading Afghanistan was a great humiliation. To convert a crisis into an opportunity, the Governor General asked the next army invading the area to raid the mausoleum of Mahmoud in Ghazni and collect its doors as well as the mace [gurj] of the 10th century warrior said to be lying on the sarcophagus. The doors were removed ignoring protests by the guardians of the tomb. The mace could not be found. The doors were mounted on a high platform and covered with a canopy and curtains. They were paraded all over India and at each showing the announcement made that these were the doors of the Somnath temple removed by Mahmoud to “insult Hindu sentiment”. It was said that the English had recovered them to demonstrate their concern for “Hindu sentiment”.
Closer examination revealed that unlike the Somnath doors, these doors were not of sandalwood, but of a timber not found in Gujarat. The doors were relegated to obscurity in storage at the Red Fort of Agra. They failed to spark Hindu Muslim animosity.
Wajid Ali Shah, the richest North Indian ruler, continued writing Rashas dramas where he would be playing the Lord Krishna to be adored through song and dance. 1856 saw the dethronement of Wajid Ali Shah and his exile to Calcutta. His effects were sold by auction.
1857-58 saw 135,000 sepoys and non-commissioned officers of the East India Company rise in revolt against the British. They were joined by Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, Begum Hazrat Mahal, the last Peshwa, Nana Dhondho Pant, the Rani of Jhansi and nawabs and rajas all over North and Central India.
Bloody retribution was visited upon the Indians. From Peshawar in the north-west to Arrah in Bihar, the towns and villages in the path of the vengeful British were depopulated and subjected to massacre, loot and arson.
The trees along the roads and in village squares were festooned with hanged men and the bodies had to rot in situ so that burial or cremation could not take place. No prisoners were taken and over ten million Indians perished.
The culture fracture caused by this trauma opened the Indian mind to British propaganda.
Colonel James Tod’s Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan came out at about this time and was translated into Bengali and Hindustani. This work shows Rajput heroism and the vileness of their enemies, the Muslims. The gentle and suave Ganga-Jamuni culture was ousted by hatred “red in tooth and claw”.
We now have both Hindu and Muslim terrorism and urgently need to revisit the pre British period to regain some sense of decency and normality [¼]
Akhilesh Mithal is a Dilliwala

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2 Responses to “INDIAN COMMUNALISM IS A BRITISH GIFT – By Akhilesh Mithal – COVERT fortnightly”

  1. SYED JAFRY Says:

    DEAR AKHILESH

    DO THINK OF WRITING A SERIES OF ARTICLE, BASED ON HISTORY, OF LAST 400 YEARS ABOUT MUSLIMS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH HINDUS

    yOUR WRITINGS MAY BRING IN FOREFRONT SOME SANE ELEMENTS OF BOTH THE COMMINITIES AND THAT MAY HELP ALL OF US LIVING IN SUB CONTINENT COME CLOSER ONCE AGAIN, IN PEACE AND HARMONY.

  2. Azam Ali Siddiqui Says:

    What were our compulsions to take hook line and sinker.

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