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Splashes– 63/72 – Era of British Rule

During Renaissance several nations from Europe raced to reach India, the name they associated with wealth, wisdom and mysticism. Hindu Kings had made India a Paradise and a destination for knowledge. In contrast, Muslim Rule converted India in to a living hell, drenched in blood, superstitions, and poverty but devoid of knowledge. Therefore after reaching India, the early Europeans must have been saddened as the land was not of their expectations. It was ridden with disease and illiteracy as compared to the awareness Europe had started experiencing.  Thus to some extent, the Europeans rightly called the native as savages, primitive, and snake charmers.

Dragnet of Colonization

Private companies from England, France, Portugal and Dutch had ventured into competition for taking away gains out of India. They came with advanced weaponry, ships, and above all patriotic fervor that Indians had not been left with. Though the colonial contingents were rivals against each other in Europe, they had common thread of Christianity to bind them. They were set to spread Christianity in their respective colonies and strengthened their hold by conversion of population to their faith by cruelty, coercion, deceit, and allurements.

It was easier for European nations to usurp political power by inter playing rivalries between feudal Nawabs and petty rulers. While Mughals were still busy enjoying Mujras and quil-fights, India slipped into another spell of foreign rule. The British out maneuvered the other competitors and established ‘East India Company Bahadur’ as a paramount power over local rulers.

Atrocities by the British

East India Company incorporated in England ruled the country till 1857. Thereafter the governance of India passed on to British Crown. The colonial rulers also followed the cruel and ruthless methods of the Islamic rulers for subduing natives, though they professed to be civilized.

They converted the poor population to Christianity. They could not motivate Brahmins, Khashatriyas and Vaishyas, but misled poor and illiterates by over-playing social and caste disparities.   Muslims were still in power in several regions. It was not easy for the Christians to convert them without inviting retaliation. Hindus being devoid of political power were easy targets for conversion.

Demeaning of religious traditions and atrocities motivated Indian masses to revolt in 1857 against the British with slogans like “Maro Firangi ko.”  Some rulers also joined the violent retaliation, but mainly due to their individual grudges against the British. For want of coordination between revolutionaries, and due to the support received by the British from Indian rulers, the mass revolt got crushed. Thereafter, the governance of India was taken over from East India Company by British Parliament.

Obliteration of Hindu Identity

British considered Hinduism to be a formidable barrier in establishing their hold over India, and therefore concentrated on dismantling the foundations of Hinduism, by projecting that to be faith of superstitions and blind faith. History of ancient India had already been destroyed by Islamic invaders. The India of 18th Century had nothing left about her pre-Muslim past. Indian History was reconstructed and to suit the current British rulers. Fortunately, archeological sites were brought under protection thereafter; otherwise we would not have had any trace left of our past.

Emergence of Anglicized Class

To pacify Indian masses on account of religious atrocities, and to legitimize their colonial rule in India, the British overtly distanced themselves from Christian missionaries, and started calling their government secular. Also they invented a theory of Aryan invasion of India to justify their own hold over India. For strengthening their hold they pacified masses through administrative reforms, to gain acceptability of their imperialist rule. Intellectual vacuum created by Islamic rule provided environment conducive for this purpose.

The British did introduce some reforms as well as modernization, but only to the extent necessary to strengthen their hold over the resources of the country. Laws were codified to replace Shariyat jurisprudence from India. A hierarchy of courts was set up to streamline system of justice that hitherto depended upon the whims of illiterate Qauzis (Islamic Jurists). Certain undesirable social practices were also abolished.

The British appointed Brahmins and Maulvies to act as amicus curie for British judiciary in interpreting Hindu and Muslim customs of inheritance. Till then Brahmins had been devoid of proper means of livelihood under Islamic rule, and had been living under fear and insult. This opportunity was exploited by some of them to stress more upon rituals than the substance in Hinduism.

New Education System

The British introduced an Education system recommended by Lord McCauley after prolonged deliberations held in British Parliament.  The curriculum was designed to project British as the custodians of all wisdom and scientific knowledge and tarnishing Hindu scriptures as mere farce founded on blind faith.  They succeeded in rearing a loyal workforce of anglicized Indians to support their government while they were in power, and even thereafter.

As a natural consequence, Hindus were more influenced by English culture than the Muslims, in the matter of dress, eating habits, socialization and education system. Gradually Western systems started replacing indigenous Indian systems. Hindus got used to Christian calendar, time schedules, weights and measure, distances, technical terminologies, legal terms and practices, and even recreational activities since our games and sports appeared to us primitive in glitter. European past times came to be regarded as status symbols.

Forum to distract Educated Indians

With far sightedness an Englishman Allan Octavian Hume founded Congress in 1885 as a political forum for neo educated Indians to vent out their political aspirations so that situations like 1857 revolt could be foreseen and avoided. They had nothing to worry about its activities, since that was founded by the British and worked under their supervision. Aristocrat Indians and some erstwhile Opium Business Partners of East India Company era were kept in the fore front to keep budding Indians satisfied by having some minor say in local self governance.

Subsequently when Leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak projected demand for freedom as a birth right the British got alerted. One by one such patriotic leader were jailed, and replaced by humble, soft-spoken, non-violent  leaders who had been trained in England and behaved Europeans in thought and tastes. The British media groomed and established them in Indian masses to emerge as their representatives. Basically illiterate at that time Indians hailed their indigenous English-speaking leaders by their outwardly charms.

Mental Slavery

Over the period British had a considerable strength of Indians to support their ideology. We accepted whatever they preached and acted. We started viewing everything was according to their point of view and willingly discarded whatever was unacceptable to them. Even we could not identify that whatever new knowledge British had brought with them was nothing more than already complied by our ancestors, because the same was presented to us using British technology.

Resurgence of Hindu Nationalism

However, changes in the environment ignited resurgence of Hindu Nationalism. Several movements of social reform such as Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj were started by Hindu intelligentsia. Participation of Indian soldiers as mercenaries of British government provided Indian common folks to get a feel of democratic freedom available to people on other part of the globe. Demand for political freedom grew in India at grass root level. On the whole, after the dark tunnel of Islamic rule, India could see the modern age dawning at the far end of the tunnel, through the reforms brought in by the British.

It was ironical that through British, Indians tasted the fruits, for which trees had been planted by Hindu sages long ago, and that had been devastated by Muslim barbarians. As the end products bore European tag of manufacture, the credit for modern advancement in the field of science and technology was claimed by western nations.  Hindu identity had been obliterated.

Freedom Movement

Gradually the demand for freedom got boost from several quarters. Due to heavy expenditure and loss of manpower in World Wars I and II, it became difficult for the British to continue hold over colonies. They were on look out to retreat safely without much loss to their men and materials. They used few educated Indians to play for time through various gimmicks in the form of Round Table Conferences by playing divide and rule between Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and native rulers who had remained mainly supportive to the British. Finally the British diplomacy succeeded and Muhammad Ali Jinnah projected demand for Pakistan as a separate home land for Muslims by addressing a crowd in Lahore in 1940. Jinnah spoke:-

“Muslims were not just a minority, but also a nation, fully entitled to their own state. Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literature. They neither intermarry nor inter-dine together and indeed they belong to two different civilizations… They have different epics, different heroes, and different episodes. Very often the hero of one is the foe of the other…. During the ages, India has always divided into Hindu India and Muslim India. The present artificial unity of India dates back only to the British conquest… Muslims are nation according to any definition of a nation and they must have their territory and their state.”

Thus, India was partitioned between Muslims and Hindus on the basis of population. It turned easier for British to vacate the region safely and left India crippled.

Partition on Religious Ground

With partition of India between Hindus and Muslims, the transgressors, claimed a large chunk of Hindu land. The country’s borders shrunk over night to exclude Hindus as citizens from that area of newly formed Pakistan. Despite having held the tag of Indian Nationality, Hindus had to leave their ancestral land and homes. Thus Hindus had to surrender their motherland to Muslim invaders under pressure from British usurpers in spite of  verbose denials made by certain Indian leaders like Gandhi and Nehru, who had actually been signatory to the agreement.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 64/72 – India after Partition)

 

 

 

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Splashes – 62/72 – Neglected Hindu Martyrs

There is no greater sin than to disregard the sacrifice of those who lay down their life defending Dharma and motherland. Out of thousands of instances lying scattered in our history to testify the barbarian, sadist and inhuman tortures inflicted by Islamic invaders on Hindus, only three samples have been picked up to stir the conscience of readers.

Samrat Hemchandra Vikrmadittya

Early Life – Hemchandra was born in 1501 to a Brahmin family. His father Rai Puran Das, performed Hindu rituals as a profession, but could not make his living adequately. He broke caste barrier and moved to Qutabpur in Rewari to start trading. Young ‘Hemu’, (as he was disrespectfully named by Historians) was brought up and educated in Sanskrit, Hindi, Persian, Arabic and Arithmetic besides horse-riding. Subsequently, Hemu stepped into father’s trade and started supplying cereals to the army of Sher Shah Suri, who had unseated Mughal Emperor Humayun from Delhi and had driven him out of India.

After Sher Shah Suri’s death in 1545, his son Islam Shah succeeded. He appointed Hemchandra as his personal adviser and Daroga-i-Chowki (Superintendent of Post). Islam Shah was succeeded by Adil Shah Suri, who was indolent and pleasure-loving. As such he faced revolts all around.

Adil Shah also continued with Hemchandra as his Chief Adviser and entrusted all his work to him. With his brilliance and sincerity Hemchandra rose to be the prime minister, and also the chief of Afghan army.  Many Afghan governors rebelled against Adil Shah, and Hemchandra was sent to various states in North India to crush rebellions. He was popular among Hindus as well as Afghans.

Ended Islamic Rule – In July 1555 with the help from King of Iran, fugitive Humayun recaptured Punjab, Delhi and Agra after a gap of 15 years, but he died suddenly on January 26, 1556. At that time Hemchandra was in Bengal. Humayun’s death gave Hemchandra an ideal opportunity to evict Mughals from India, since Afghans considered themselves as the natives and the Mughals were viewed invaders.  Hemchandra started a winning march from Bengal to Delhi. The Mughal fauzdars evacuated their positions and fled in panic. One after another Hemchandra won 22 battles in succession and entire area of Northern India was brought under his control.

Hemchandra won Delhi after a day’s battle on October 6, 1556. Mughal forces lead by Tardi Beg Khan fled and Hemchandra declared himself the Emperor of India under the title of Vikramaditya. On 7 October 1556 he held his coronation according to Hindu rites in Purana Qila Delhi in the presence of all Afghans and Hindu military commanders. Thus he re-established Hindi Empire once again having liberated the country from Muslim Rule after four centuries.

Administrative Reforms – Emperor Hemchandra revitalized the administrative set-up, and spared none for corrupt deeds. His system of administration was later adopted by Akbar as history often associated the same with Sher Shah Suri.

Hindus remained short-sighted – When Humayun died in Delhi, his 16 -year-old son Akbar was at Kalanour in Punjab under the care of his mentor Bairam Khan, who hurriedly arranged the coronation of Akbar, appointed himself as his guardian and marched towards Delhi. He was confronted by Emperor Hemchandra Vikrmadittya. Hemchandra had sought assistance from other Rajput Kings but unfortunately, Rajputs declined.

Tragic end – Second battle of Panipat was fought between Mughal invader Akbar and Hindu Samrat Hemchandra Vikrmadittya. When the victory was in sight, a chance arrow pierced his eye and Hemchandra became unconscious on the battle field. Hindu army fled and Akbar won.

Emperor Hemchandra was beheaded in the presence of Akbar by Bairam Khan helped by Ali Quli Khan to whom subsequently  Noor Jahan was married on orders from Akbar. Hem Chandra’s head was sent to Kabul as souvenir. His body was paraded in Delhi. Bairam Khan dispatched a contingent of soldiers to Hem Chandra’s 80 years old father with option to accept Islam if he wanted his life to be spared.  The grand old man replied that he would not part company with his deities after worshiping them for 80 years in exchange of few more years of life. He was also beheaded.

After Hemchandra s death, genocide was ordered. Thousands of persons were killed to create terror among Hindus and minarets were built of the skulls of the dead. At least one painting of such minarets is still displayed in War Museum at Panipat in Haryana. But even today it is shame to Hindus that there is no memorial for Smarat Hemchandra Vikrmadittya or his father at Panipat or at Rewari.

Banda Bahadur Singh

Early Life – Banda was born in 1670 as Lachhman Dev in a Rajput family and loved hunting.  One day he killed a doe that immediately delivered two cubs before dying. The sight shocked him. He renounced worldly life and turned bairagi sadhu (hermit) with new name of Madhodas and started living at Nandhed on the banks of River Godavari in Maharashtra.

Escapism to Activism – Guru Gobind Singh chanced to meet him and motivated him to give up escapism to pick up arms for the protection of Dharma. The Guru gave him new identity of Banda Bahadur Singh. He was supplied with a standard arrow and a drum as symbols of temporal authority along with a prescript called Hukumnamah instructing Sikhs to join Banda Bahadur in war against Mughal tyranny. Three hundred Sikh cavaliers in battle array accompanied Banda to a distance of eight kilometers to give him final send off for marching towards Northern India.

Avenged Atrocities – He was well received by Hindus and Sikhs as a leader and deputy of Guru Gobind Singh. One after another Banda Bahadur avenged the atrocities committed by Mughals, and finally established himself at Mukhlispur situated in lower Shiwalik hills in Punjab. Banda’s name struck terror into the hearts of lawless people. He defeated and killed Wazir Khan, the Subedar of Sirhand, who had been responsible for killing the young children of Guru Gobind Singh besides other brutalities against Hindus. He chastised the Brahmins and Ranghars also, who had made over Guru Gobind Singh’s mother and his two youngest sons to Wazir Khan.

Victim of Treachery – Finally Mughal Emperor dispatched more troops from Delhi to check militancy of Banda Bahadur. A siege was laid around him for eight months and his living conditions were made unbearable. Banda Bahadur and his companions had to survive on boiled leaves and the bark of trees, and were gradually reduced to mere skeletons. The bravely held, but it was through treachery that Banda Bahadur and his army of 740 was trapped by Mughals.

Inhuman Treatment – All of them were transported to Delhi in cages on 26 February 1716. Besides 740 prisoners in heavy chains, there were seven hundred cartloads of the heads of the Sikhs with another 200 stuck upon pikes. Under orders from Mughal Emperor Farukhsiyar on 29th February, the citizens of Delhi had lined the streets to mock at them.

To inflict humiliation, Banda Bahadur was dressed in a turban of a red cloth, embroidered with gold, with a heavy robe of brocade, but was sat in an iron cage, placed on the back of an elephant. An executioner holding a drawn sword followed him. Banda’s elephant was followed by other 740 prisoners who were made to wear a high foolscap of sheepskin and had one hand pinned to their neck, between two pieces of wood.

Finally all of them were executed and their bodies were loaded on wagons and taken out-of-town to be thrown to the vultures. The heads were hung up on trees. Not one from the 700 odd men had asked for pardon.

Cruel End – On 9 th June 1716, Banda’s four year old son Ajai Singh was placed in his lap. He was taken in humiliating procession near Kutab Minar. Banda Bahadur was ordered to kill his son, which he refused. The executioner then cut the little child and pieces of flesh were thrown on Banda’s face. His liver was thrust into Banda Singh’s mouth. The father sat through all this without any signs of emotion. The executioner then pulled out Banda’s eyes with dagger, cut his feet, arms, and finally tore off his flesh with red-hot pincers. His body was cut into hundred pieces.

While there is Aurangzeb Raod in Delhi, Furrkhabad is named after Farukhsiyar but there is no memorial in India for Banda Bahudr Singh.

Veer Haqiqat Rai

His sacrifice – Haqiqat Rai was born at Sialkot, now in Pakistan in 1724. He was the only Hindu child among Muslims at school. One day, some of his Muslim classmates ridiculed Hindu goddess Durga using abusive language. After being repeatedly provoked, Haqiqat Rai also retaliated and ridiculled Fatima, daughter of Prophet Muhammad.

The Muslim boys complained to the Maulvi who got Haqiqat Rai arrested on the charge of blasphemy. Haqiqat Rai’s parents appealed to the Governor of Lahore. Haqeeqat Rai was given the option to convert to Islam to escape death but the young boy refused to budge even after persuasion of his helpless parents and ten-year old wife. He preferred to be beheaded. Finally Haqiqat Rai was executed on 20 January 1735, at the age of twelve, for Hindu religion.

Sacrificed Twice – Martyr Haqiqat Rai was sacrificed again in post Independent secular India for the sake of promoting Hindu Muslim harmony, a fad that Hindus inherited from MK Gandhi. He stands deleted from the public memory now. Our Children day celebrations do not include any reference to the martyrdom and the tragic end this brave child had met. Our Children day is celebrated only to remember anti Hindu Chacha Nehru.

These are just three examples of Islamic barbarians. We ignore even to mention the names of martyrs so that barbarians should not feel offended. Several places have been named after Mughal invaders and politicians but there is no memorial for such unsung Hindu heroes in the country or even in Hindu temples. Is it not an insult for Hindus that we could not honor those in our home land, for the fear of annoying Muslims?

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes– 63/72 – Era of British Rule)

Splashes – 61/72 – Hindu Resistance to Islam

India was neither a no man’s land, nor a primitive country. Being a superior and developed civilization as compared to Islamic barbarians, Hindus by and large continued resisting the invasion on their country by Muslims, who were the anti-thesis to their concept of living according to doctrine of Live and let live. Islam practiced live, but did not let others live. It remained opposed to Hinduism in every way and both remained at loggerheads. Whenever opportunity arrived for Hindus, attempts were made to dislodge Islamic rule from India. The struggle did have ups and downs.

Counter efforts by Hindus

Introductory account of some prominent Hindu warriors who tried to dislodge Islamic rule are given below:-

  • Rana Sangram Singh of Chittod was near to defeat Babur in the battle of Kanhua, but due to treacherous conduct of one Hindu chieftain by name of Shiladittya, the Rana ultimately lost the opportunity.
  • Hemchandra Vikramadittya, came to occupy Delhi after the fall of Suri dynasty. He tried to prevent Akbar occupying the seat of power after the sudden death of Emperor Humayon. He sought help from Rajputs to dislodge Mughals from India but they declined to fight under him due to their caste pride. Still he was near victory, but fell victim to a chance arrow that pierced his eye and Hindus suffered a defeat at the hands of Akbar in second battle of Panipat.
  • Maharana Pratap, the grandson of Rana Sangram Singh kept the freedom flame burning during the life time of Akbar, but due to division amongst Rajputs he also did not succeed much. Rajputs were used by Mughals to subdue Hindu freedom fighters, but due to lack of farsightedness, most of the time, they fought against their own countrymen.
  • Raja Krishnadev Raya of Vijay Nagar Empire in the south, kept Hindu flag flying in the face of opposition from Islamic Sultans of Bahmini state. But there also, Raja Krishnadev Raya lost due to back stabbing from one of his own family members. With him the prosperous Vijaynagar Empire was raised to ground by united petty chieftains of Bahmani.
  • Chattrapati Shiva ji Raje rose to power in south, but was lured into treaty by Aurangzeb, through Mirza Raja Jai Singh. He was invited to visit Delhi but was imprisoned there. However, he escaped and finally succeeded to establish himself as Chhattrapati Hindu Samrat in the face of Aurangzeb. After his death, Aurangzeb defeated his son Shambhaji through treachery. Shambhaji was tortured to death.
  • Guru Gobind Singh raised the sagging morale of Hindus and motivated them to stand against the onslaught of Mughals, but local Hindu chieftains did not cooperate. Treacherously they sided with Mughals, or stayed aloof. While going to South Guru Gobind Singh was stealthily stabbed by a Pathan, whose life the Guru had saved in the past. The Guru subsequently succumbed to the wounds at Nandhed in Maharashtra.
  • Banda Bahadur Singh was appointed by Guru Gobind Singh to continue resistance against the onslaught of Mughals. He successfully avenged the atrocities committed by Mughals against Hindus, but he was also let down by saboteurs within. He was captured and was given a tortuous death.

The anti-climax

Immediately after becoming Emperor in 1657, Aurangzeb vigorously resumed Islamization of India, with Brahmins as primary-target. He had been convinced by his clerics that once Brahmins accepted Islam, rest of Hindus would follow suit.

In utter desperation, the Brahmins of Kashmir approached Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of Sikhs, for guidance and help. Guru Tegh Bahadur entrusted Guru-Dom seat to his son Govind Rai, and proceeded to Delhi, to plead with Aurangzeb. Guru Tegh Bahadur and his companions were asked to convert to Islam. Upon refusal, all of them were arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. Red-Hot Sand was poured over Guru Tegh Bahadur’s head, but he did not flinch and refused to convert to Islam. Guru Tegh Bahadur sacrificed his life for Dharma and the freedom of his people as he was beheaded at Chandni Chowk in Delhi.

Birth of Khalsa

After the martyrdom of his father, Govind Rai became the tenth Guru of Sikhs at very young age. On 30 March 1699, Guru Govind Rai delivered a stirring-oration at Anandpur-Sahib. Thereafter, he flashed his un-sheathed sword, and demanded one head for sacrifice. After some trepidation one person offered himself. The Guru took him inside a tent. A little later, he reappeared with his sword dripping with blood, and asked for another head. One by one, four more earnest devotees offered their heads. Every time the Guru took a person inside the tent and came out with a bloodied sword in his hand.

Thinking their Guru had gone berserk, and was out of control, the congregation started to disperse. As this began to happen, before anybody knew it, the Guru suddenly emerged, with all five men dressed piously in white. He initiated all five of them, in a new and unique ceremony called Amrit Chhakna (consuming nectar for attaining immortality). Summoning those five Initiated-Sikhs, the Guru asked them to initiate him as well. He then declared those five Initiated-Sikhs as Panj-Pyare (Five Beloved Ones), and made public that they would be the embodiment of the Guru himself. That was the birth of Khalsa (pure) Panth. Till date all religious congregations of Sikhs are led by Panj Pyaras who are armed with un-sheathed swords to protect Dharma.

Identification of Khalsa

The reverend Guru also offered five ‘signs and symbols’. These symbols, worn by all ‘initiated’ Sikhs of both sexes, are popularly known today as Five Ks – Kesh, (un-shorn hair); Kangha, the wooden-comb; Kara, (the steel bracelet); Kirpan, (the sword); and Kachchera, (the underwear). The Guru said that since those initiated by him as Sikhs were distinct and identifiable, no Sikh would conceal himself behind cowardice whenever the need to protect Dharma and the weaker arose.

Revival of Karamyoga

Thus final and ultimate transformation of Sikhs, into a fighting force, came with Guru Gobind Singh. He realized that to raise a fighting force from the peaceful followers of Nanak, he had not only to teach them the use of arms, but also to convince them of the morality of use of force. He set about ardently and assiduously to train the sparrow how to hunt the hawk, and one man to have courage to take on a regiment. The Guru gave a hero’s welcome to each and every Sikh, and psychologically infused a new life in him. Sikhs fondly quote Guru’s statement that ‘one Sikh is equal to 125,000 opponents’. By initiating ‘Khalsa’ into ‘Saint Soldier’ image of Hindu youth, Guru Gobind Singh revived the spirit of Karamyoga. Hindu society that had immersed itself into pessimism and escapism in the face of Muslim atrocities welcomed the transformation. Sikhs came to be recognized as the sword arm of Hinduism.

End of Islamic Rule

After the death of Aurangzeb, there was no central government in the country. Prolonged wars of succession had fragmented the country into several rebellious fiefdoms. By the time almost nine-century-old Muslim Rule ended, economy had been wrecked. Administrative systems had crumbled and the country had been plunged in to darkness.

Myth of Composite Culture

Cultural integration among the various communities of India had been taking place in India since the Pre-Vedic period. Before Islam, all those who entered India were assimilated into the Hindu culture. Muslims did not enter India to co-exist. Their objective was to discredit, disrupt, and destroy Hinduism. Islam provided four choices, such as Islam, Sword, Slavery, or Jaziya. These were no civilized or human options.

A religion, as oppressive as Islam, with its draconian laws, could hardly be indigenous to India. Islam had been an imposition on India and an alien graft on the Hindu population that subjugated and attempted to destroy Hindu identity. There was not a speck of the Indian religion or culture to mesh with its social system in any form. The practice of absorption, that had been an important tradition of Hinduism, did not work with the Muslims, as they had not come to blend or integrate with Hindu society, but were motivated to deliver a death-blow to Hindu Culture and remained at loggerheads. To put it simply, the Muslim culture invaded India, not to make friends with the Hindu, but to wipe them out.

Muslims remained unacceptable

Hindus would have had nothing to oppose Islam had they confined themselves to the region of their origin – the Middle East. Since they did not subscribe to the idea of live and let live, the foundation stone of Hinduism. Thus Muslims have remained unacceptable in India till date.

There had been no progress in any field for which Hindus could feel proud of the Muslim Rule. Neither Muslims made any worthwhile contribution towards the progress of general masses, nor they assimilated anything from Hindu culture. Instead of talent or wisdom, with which India used to be perceived earlier, luxuries and licentiousness of Islamic rulers attracted some of the European nations towards India for taking some share of the materialistic wealth. When borrowed light of new learning appeared to be dawning in Europe, India had slid into the darkness.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 62/72 – Neglected Hindu Martyrs)

Splashes– 60/72 – Destruction of Hindu Identities

Islam got entrenched in India due to multiple reasons. The most prominent of all were federalism, local treachery, lack of aggressive spirit and outdated military tactics. Almost every Hindu feudal ruler looked towards other side when his neighbor was under attack. Many often someone close to the Hindu ruler was won over by Muslims to defect and sabotage. Hindu warriors did not resort to offensive action even when situation was favorable. They remained defensive and allowed the invader to choose his time and direction of attack. Instead of offering wider frontage, Hindus would assemble at one place and let the invader launch a concentrated attack. Hindus lacked mobility, shrewdness to anticipate enemy moves while Muslims were cunning and did not shy from adopting ruthless and deceitfulness means. Hindus lacked initiative and did not learn from their defeat after defeat and repeated same mistakes. Prithviraj Chauhan and later several Rajputs were the victims of outdated military tactics despite their individual valor.  Thus Hindu paid heavily for their own neglect and are continuing in the same fashion.

Enslaving of Hindus

Apart from actual killing on the battlefield, millions of Hindus disappeared by way of enslavement. Slave markets in Baghdad and Samarkand were flooded with Hindus. Many of the slaves died of hardship. The mountain range Hindu Koh, (Indian mountain), was re-named Hindu Kush, (Hindu-killer), when on a cold night a hundred thousand Hindu captives died during transportation to Central Asia by Timur. Slaves were always subjected to inhuman treatment such as whipping, amputation of limbs, sexual assault and whatever else the master could think of. Their life had no meaning. They were subjected to ill-treatment till they died or converted to Islam. Because of conversions the numbers of Muslim community swelled.

Destruction of Temples

Many prominent Hindu temples were desecrated and destroyed. Somnath temple on the coast of Gujarat was plundered and destroyed. The Vishnu temple was replaced with the Alamgir mosque at Benares, and The Treta-Ka-Thakur (Lord Rama) temple in Ayodhya was demolished and Babri Masjid was erected on its debris. This is just to mention the few, as about over 63000 temples all over India were destroyed, or converted in to mosques. Many Hindu buildings like Dhruva Stambha at Mehroli (Delhi) and Tajo Mahalya at Agra were usurped and converted to Muslim monuments. Today every ancient site of temple is either fully usurped by some Islamic shrine or is being shared by Muslim encroachment.

Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707) topped the list. The number of temples destroyed under his orders is counted in four figures.  He ordered all temples destroyed such as the Kashi Vishvanath that was one of the most sacred temples, and a center of Hindu learning. He had mosques built on a number of cleared temples sites. All other Hindu sacred places within his reach also suffered destruction, and mosques were built upon them. Krishna’s birth temple in Mathura was desecrated by cow slaughter and a mosque was built over it. Aurangzeb did not stop at destroying temples; the worshippers  were also wiped-out. He had his own brother, Dara Shikoh, beheaded for showing little interest in Hindu religion.

Islamic Conversion of India  

Islamic Conversion of India continued for eight centuries as under:-

Language – Sanskrit went out of use. Arabic and Persian came to dominate royal court. After some competition between the two, Persian replaced Arabic but most of the converted could not grasp the same. Thus a new language emerged by the name of Hindvi. That was a mixture of Persian and some Sanskrit words. Muslims wrote Hindvi in Persian script and called that Urdu, while Hindus used Devnagri script and called that language Hindi. Urdu derived its vocabulary from Persian and Arabic, while Hindi had her foundation in Sanskrit.

Places and Palaces – Ancient cities were renamed. Prayag and Ayodhya were made Allahabad and Faizabad. From the booty taken from Temples and Jazia Tax, Muslim rulers maintained large harems, built mosques and tombs for their dead. The ‘great builder’ Shahjehan kept more than seven hundred concubines, and emptied his coffers in building palaces for himself, including the Taj Mahal, a mausoleum, built for the burial of his wife, who had died far away long ago. On the basis of records made in ‘Badshahnama’, the official chronicle of Shahjehan, and other archeological evidence, Taj Mahal is now suspected to be a Hindu building ‘Tajo Mahalya’, which had been allegedly usurped by the Emperor from one of his Hindu nobles Mirza Raja Jai Singh.

Conversions – Many Hindu family names can be found in India among Muslim families. Some prominent surnames are Suri, Bakshi, Malik, and Desai. Those were basically Hindus that converted to Islam in the past. There is no case where any Muslims was converted to Hindu faith. Hindus maintained that one had to be a Hindu by birth. Thus conversions were never sought.

But Hindu identity withstood

Although Muslim rulers changed the identity of cities and places but they failed to obliterate the identity of the country. India remained to be the land of Hindus. Every Muslim ruler called the country as Hindustan and preferred to be addressed as Shahansha -e – Hind or Sultan –e- Mumalkat-e- Hindostan. Many of the Muslim Emperors extended their rule up to Afghanistan, but they could not shift their capital out of India or merged India with Afghanistan.

This aspect is pertinent that India’s identity remained tied with Hindus only. Muslims tried hard to make India Muslim dominated but India continued to be Hindustan till 1947. They were Muslims when compared to Hindus but when compared to outsiders they remained owners of Hindustan.

Hindu Survival Adaptations

The Hindu adaptations for survival were necessity-dependent. They had to survive under nearly impossible conditions to save Hindu girls from Muslim loot, raid, plunder, and rape, among other things.

  • Some Hindu texts escaped destruction as the same went underground, like Bhrigu Samhita. It was a compendium of all possible horoscopes to correctly predict the life events of every individual, provided, the sheet matching the time and place of birth of the individual could be traced within the bunch. The book is still available in parts with certain families practicing astrology in North India.
  • As an escape route from depression and humiliation, Brahmins, saints and poets devoted themselves to Hindu deities instead of being called the slaves of Muslims. They suffixed their name with ‘daas’ of their chosen deity such as Ram Dass, Krishna Dass or something like that.
  • From the practice of ‘Karamyoga’ they turned to ‘Bhaktiyoga’ to find some solace, while they lived in an environment polluted by insecurity, insult and fear.
  • Some sought spiritual guidance from humanized gods like Rama and Krishna; while others like Sant Kabir and Guru Nanak sought salvation in abstract from of God, and vainly tried for Hindu Muslim synthesis. Subsequently such individualized sects expanded and carved their own distinct identifying rituals. Primarily, they were Hindu initiatives for rapprochement, and have remained so. However they could not bring any change in absolutely fundamentalist Islamic mindset.

Hindus had to pay terrible price in order to survive. Although many Hindus rulers individually continued their military struggle to resist Muslim rule but collectively due to the selfishness of traitors among them, they failed to forge any united resistance.

Record of Births and Dead

Brahmins confined their activities and affiliated themselves to certain geographical areas. They maintained records of births, deaths and other events in respect of their client families at pilgrim centers at Haridwar, Varanasi, Ujjain and Nashik.  Even today any Hindu can approach such places to trace out the names of their ancestors and allied records more than five generations backward, provided ancestors had visited the pilgrim center during their life span and had updated the data. Fortunately, at certain places those records are now being computerized. Unfortunately the younger generation is unaware of it and patronage is lacking.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 61/72 – Hindu Resistance to Islam)

Splashes – 59/72 – Advent of Islam in India

Islam came to India with barbaric invaders, who hated Hindus and called them Kafirs (Infidels). They slaughtered hundreds of millions of Hindus and destroyed everything that Hindus loved. Indoctrinated by their founder, Muslims believed that only the believers in Islam had the right to live and Allah had commanded them to kill the non believers.

The new faith could not have been welcomed from the very outset by Hindus in India because they obliterated more than 63000 sacred temples and placed the idols of Hindu gods and goddesses under the footsteps leading to the entry of their mosques. Every new invader enjoyed making a pile of Hindu heads on the battle field to celebrate his victory over the ‘infidels’. Thereafter the severed heads were thrown on the tracks to be kicked by the Believers.

Blood Curdling Hindu Slaughters

During the Islamic conquests in India, it was a typical policy to single out Brahmins for slaughter, after the Hindu warrior class had been bled on the battlefield. Traders were looted and others were either converted to Islam or enslaved. The biggest slaughters took place during the conquest of North India, of which only a few are mentioned below:

  • According to the Chach-Nama – When Mohammed bin Qasim conquered the lower Indus basin in 712 AD, six thousand warriors were put to death in Multan, and all their relations and dependents were taken as slaves. The magnificent Sun Temple was destroyed and the idol of the deity made in solid gold was taken away along with other treasures.
  • In 1399 AD Taimur ordered a general massacre at Delhi. His soldiers killed over 100,000 Hindus in a single day, in addition to many on other occasions. Delhi and neighboring areas were looted. Insufficiently clad and barefooted enslaved Hindus were taken on foot across the mountain where most of them died during journey on account of severe cold.  That mountain pass got the name Hindu-Kush to signify killer of Hindus
  • In 1425 Babur invaded Chanderi. After the fall of Chanderi fort, all Hindu males over the age of 12 were beheaded. The area continued to stink for months thereafter.
  • The so-called Akbar the great ordered Rajput chieftain Fateh Singh to be trampled under the feet of an elephant and execution of 30,000 non-combatants after the capture of Chittorgarh in 1568. Eight thousand women immolated themselves by performing Johar.
  • The fall of the Vijayanagar in 1565 was ‘celebrated’ with a general massacre and arson against Hindus.
  • Ferishta listed several occasions when the Bahmani sultans, only a third-rank provincial dynasty in central India, killed a hundred thousand Hindus, which they set as a minimum goal whenever they felt like ‘punishing’ the Kafirs.
  • Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali ransacked India during eighteenth century and carried out general manslaughter besides plunder and arson on mass scale in Delhi.

Prided Sadistic Pleasures

The Muslims invaders did record with glee their genocide on Hindus, because they felt that they were doing their holy duty. Every ruler had his own perceptions and methods to cause death and destruction of infidels. Executions were carried out in full public view in most inhuman ways like, slicing a person in two halves with manual saws, skinning them alive or putting humans in boiling oil. They derived sadistic pleasure through torture of infidels.

The Darkest Age for India

Soon Golden age of Hindus changed into a ghastly reign of Islamic terror. India was also plunged in darkness. The most visible consequences were:

  • All the great Indian Universities such as Takshashila, Nalanda, Odantapuri and Vikramashila were burnt down to ashes. There was no infrastructure left for higher education in India.
  • Scholars were hunted down and Islamic Madrassas (schools) replaced Indian system of education. A Madrassa curriculum was limited to recitation of Quran only. Maulavi (Islamic Teachers)  curbed reasoning and scientific temperament.
  • Once state came under Muslim Rule, all indigenous knowledge vanished. Few odd Hindu scholars continued imparting teaching in Sanskrit Grammar, a bit of Mathematics, Logic, Medicine and Philosophy by individual efforts in secluded areas.
  • Hindus were subjected to communal taxes like Jazia in addition to excessive land revenue. They did not have enough money to give financial support to scholars, or to educate their children properly. The properties and produce of Hindus could be taken away under the whims of local administrators.
  • Hindus had no chance of getting justice against the atrocities committed by Muslims. They were not on equal pedestal with Muslims, and had no human rights of any sorts. They had no hope, but demoralization, as there seemed to be no end of the tunnel. Besides teaching Islam, Illiterate Maulavies and Qazi enjoyed judicial powers also. They could award anything up to death punishment on charges of blasphemy to any Hindu.

Miraculously,  even in that era of darkness, India still produced few sparks of knowledge such as noted mathematicians Bhaskaracharya (1114 -1185), who happened to be the last in the glorious tradition and was first to enunciate theory of gravitational force.

Social Evils gripped Hindu Society

Once the light of knowledge was gone, ignorance and social evils, embraced Hindu society from all sides. Leaving aside progress, daily life turned out to be a struggle for survival only. Multiple effects surfaced in the society were as under:

  • Muslim rulers reduced Hindus to poverty by plundering, and Jazia tax. Over and above, they were further incapacitated from earning their living in comparison to Muslims. Many often Hindus had to work for Muslims without any wages or for a handful of grains as wages.
  • Sanskrit learning disappeared as Islamic clergy disbanded institutions of Hindu learning. Illiteracy engulfed Hindu society at large. Only few continued their quest for knowledge through secrecy.
  • Music became a source of entertainment in Muslim courts than it was for spiritual uplift for Hindus. Kathak – a spiritual dance form got polluted and was converted to Mujra format, for the pleasure of licentious nobility.
  • Many stories and paintings of amorous love affairs and pranks wrapped around Lord Krishna, emerged out of imagination, for the pleasure of licentious Muslim princes.
  • To sustain their lives, the intellectual Brahmins had to serve as priests in the community, or faced starvation. To make living for their families they placed more faith in rituals than substance.

Displacement of Hindu Society

As there was no patronage to the Brahmins and the learned, they gave up their traditional occupation of learning and preaching. Being driven to poverty, they relied on charity from Hindu society, or made meager earnings by conducting rituals for their Hindu clients. Thus rituals dominated substance. Rituals turned cumbersome, and expensive. Rigidity in caste and outlook eclipsed freedom of thought and expression. Mutual trust within the community declined, and people turned more secluded and demoralized. Many converted to Islam out of fear, pressure, or allurements for safety.

As a measure of hurting their pride in public, the Kashatriyas, were not permitted to ride horses or carry sword in the presence of Muslims. Many of them gave up their traditional role of defending Dharma and turned peasants. Others died fighting, either for or against Muslims. Provincial Rajput kings were assigned the role of security guards on royal residence of Muslim Sultans.

The Muslim nobility had their lustful eyes on handsome Hindu boys and girls, who were enslaved and forced to embrace Islam. The Hindu ladies also picked the Islamic custom of Purdah (veil), to preserve their honor. Many diabolical customs crept into the Hindu Society, such as female infanticide, child marriage, johar and widow burning, as survival adoptions.

Eventually, unlike in South India, Hindu marriages started taking place at night. The groom would go to the bride’s place at late in the evening for marriage and return with the bride, before day break.

Muslims did not defecate in the jungle, as Hindus did. That was considered a Kafir practice. Due to defecation in private by Muslims, the carrying of the night soil on their head was forced upon Hindu prisoners. This disgraceful practice ushered un-sociability amongst Hindus for hygienic reasons. Later this aspect was further over-played, and still continues to be so, to engineer conversions out of Hindu society.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 60/72- Destruction of Hindu Identities)

Splashes – 57/72 – Sunset in East – Sun Rise from West

Unlike other invaders of medieval age, Alexander did not indulge in reckless destruction of knowledge and civilizations of the areas he conquered. He remained an inquisitive disciple, a soldier to the hilt, and a general par excellence. Indian fame had already impressed him and he was keen to see the country rather to destroy the same. Conquering India meant victory over the world.

When he reached India, the border King Ambhi extended cooperation to him. Thereafter he met next border King Puru (Porus) on the battle field. Although Puru was defeated on account of multiple reasons, the battle made Alexander realize that if he were to continue fighting he would be completely ruined. His army was grief-stricken and expressed strong desire to return.

As a matter of fact Alexander did not win any major war on the Indian soil but merely passed through the Indus Valley fighting skirmishes with the tribes of that area to safeguard the exit route of his bruised army that had got demoralized due to the might of Nanda Empire at Magdha. Alexander was the first European who carried the first-hand accounts of India’s glory to Europeans during 300 BC.

Renaissance in Europe

The period from Fourteenth Century to Seventeenth Century is known as the age of Renaissance in Europe. It bridges medieval age to modern age. Prior to Renaissance the theological shackles imposed by Roman Church had made any kind of scientific development impossible.

Although the European intellectuals had in their possession some texts of Greek and Arabs since first awakening, but they lacked courage and opportunity to put that knowledge to any practical use. As soon as the interference from Church declined, the knowledge gathered during ‘First Awakening’ and thereafter during ‘Renaissance’ electrified the spirit of exploration and inventions in every field. Geographically tiny countries also emerged as super powers on the globe to colonize others.

India after Alexander

During 563-483 BC, Buddhism and Jainism had emerged within Hinduism. Both sects had their founders as Khashatriya princes. Both preached Non Violence and stressed on living a simple life with nature. Several contemporary kings adapted to their fold. Prominent among them were Emperor Chandragupta Maurya who voluntarily gave up his newly found empire and converted himself to a Jain monk.

His grandson Emperor Ashoka turned a Buddhist and was instrumental in propagation of Buddhism to South Eastern Countries. Beside other things, several monasteries and statues of the founders were set up in all parts of India. House holders and youths started leaving simple life in monasteries according to tenants of new faiths with more stress on non-violence. Although they had certain reservations about castes and some rituals but after their founders, both the sects developed their own superficial rituals that could not withstand later events. After the retreat of Alexander, the tide of Buddhism was halted for some time in India, but it spread in the neighboring countries of South East Asia, Tibet and China.

Hinduism during Gupta Period

There was revival of Hinduism during the reign of Gupta KIngs. Hindu culture and literature witnessed progress in every field. Finest literature in Sanskrit was written during this period and the language came to be associated with the nobility. Most of the scriptures were written down during this period.

Hinduism witnessed the emergence of two prominent sub branches, such as Vaishnaites, and Shivaites. Brahmanas leading their respective branches authored mythological stories high lighting the prominence of their respective deities. Temples were constructed and rituals of stricture nature came to be observed.

ertain wrong practices also made their entry into Hindu society such as caste pride and rivalry among ruling classes. Brahmins and business community over indulged in pleasure. Gupta Empire declined in 500 AD and was followed by emergence of Kushana dynasty. After Emperor Kanishka there was again a vacuum of central authority in India and fragmentation of smaller kingdoms.

Excessive Indulgence 

There was a spurt in rituals of idol worship. Due to patronization of ruling classes the monasteries grew richer to attract more youths who discarded their worldly duties to pick up living on alms as monks. By over indulgence in pleasures or spiritual pursuits, Hindus went astray from political realities, environmental changes around them, and overlooked the need of political unity as a nation.

If birds and animals discarded their instinctive duties given by Nature, their existence would be useless in the chain of ecology. For example if snakes, lions, eagles and cats turn vegetarians overnight and adopted total non-violence, what would be the purpose of their living? Khashatriyas in India were confronted with similar situation.

They replaced their weapons with begging bowls, discarded their ruling functions particularly in the area of security of the state and neglected vigilance to indulge in sensuality. They forget that many often offensive action was the best form of defense. Their over indulgence to principle of non-violence proved disastrous.

Smaller fiefdoms started emerging all over India on the basis of caste or families. Military training was relegated to pleasures of dance and music. Even robbers settled on the out skirts of India turned bold to over-power frontier rulers. The environment was ripe to invite death and destruction as the riches of India were alluring motivating force.

The Last Hindu Emperor

Emperor Harsha Vardhana was the last Hindu Emperor who ruled the country at the age of sixteen and continued for 41 years from his capital at Kannauj. He tried his best to forge unity once again but achieved partial success. He was defeated by Pulkeshi II of Karnataka and had to compromise on accepting River Narmada as a border between the two states. Emperor Harsha Vardhana took interest to consolidate segmented Hindu faiths together.

Buddhism and Jainism came to be accepted in the fold of Hinduism since the life styles of their followers and the philosophy of ‘Live and let live’ was perfectly in tune with Hinduism. Cultural integration among various communities of India had been taking place since the pre-Vedic periods. All those who entered India such as the Greeks, Parthians, Sakas, Huns, Gurjaras, Pratiharas, Kushans, and the Scythians had already been assimilated into the Hindu culture. The Buddha and Tirathankaras of Jainism came to be regarded as incarnations of Vishnu. Once again Emperor Harsha Vardhana put India to glory but that was short-lived and proved to be the beginning of anti-climax.

The Slide was set

Soon after the demise of Emperor Harsha Vardhana India fragmented into small states on the basis of clans and castes. There was disunity and strong jealousy among the neighboring states. Rituals eclipsed the substance and grew like cobwebs. Brahmins turned selfish and greedy, Khashatriyas turned sensual and debauch; and were less farsighted to discriminate between personal and state interests. Spiritual, economic and intellectual progress came to abrupt halt. Business men felt insecure, and people at the lower strata started looking for personal safety for life and living elsewhere.

Excess of everything is bad 

Orthodoxy and lethargy prevented Hindus from going abroad across the sea to see for themselves the dangers that were lurking all around. Although the Sun of progress moved towards West but it took over thousand years to disappear.

In comparison by this time Europe was in total darkness except couple of countries like Greece and Rome that were raising powers. The effect of Renaissance was not universal in all the countries of Europe. During Renaissance age India was under the rule of Khilji, Tughlak and Lodhi dynasties. It was under Mughal rule during French Revolution.

Wars for succession always followed the death of Islamic rulers coupled with uncertainty and insecurity in the country. Provincial rulers went out of control of central authority. Indian population was frequently getting looted and massacred by Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali as well as the local claimants to the throne.

The Niyama of Contentment (Santosha) had been greatly influential on the mindset of Indians. It helped them to have fewer demands and necessities. In the absence of necessities, there were no inventions either. That was the reason that in spite of knowledge in their possession, Indians did not invent like the Europeans who were able to put several inventions of utility items in everyday life.

Thus when Sun went down in India, Europe was basking in glory.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 58/72 – Darkened Horizons)

Splashes– 53/72 – Shine of Indian Wisdom

History text books are blank about Indian History prior to the invasion of Alexander the Great. Although it is mentioned that fear of military might of Nanda Dynasty at Patliputra (Patna), forced mighty Alexander to retreat, but nothing much is known about powerful Nanda dynasty, and the dynasties prior to that. As escape route, everything prior to that period has been classified as Hindu mythology.

This black out could be the result of motivated destruction. Until the Indians themselves trace out the truth of their past, we have to confine only to the known facts.  One of the stark fact accepted by Western historians is that students from other countries did come for studies to India’s world renowned universities at Nalanda, and Takshashila. Certainly they would not have come to Indian universities to learn ‘snake-charming’ and orthodoxy!

Indo – Greek Center of Learning

When Alexander came to India he was highly impressed by the Takshashila University. Leaving aside what lay ahead, Alexander was inspired by Takshashila at the out skirts of India that he established a great university at Alexandria in Egypt as a center of Indo Greek learning. Thereafter Alexander established the Hellenistic Empire comprising of Egypt, Asia Minor, Iran, Bactria and North-West India, through which the transfer of learning from India to Greece increased.

A large number of Indian texts were translated into Greek and kept in the library at Alexandria. Alexander himself took hundreds of Brahmin scholars to Greece. Many soldiers married Indo-Iranian women and took them to Greece. Trade routes and diplomatic channels were also established.

In 323-30 BC Alexandria emerged as the greatest city in the Mediterranean region. Amongst its most notable institutions were the library and the museum, being Europe’s first organized research institution. Alexander’s successor attacked India but was defeated by newly emerged Emperor Chandragupta Maurya to whom defeated Seleucus had to marry his daughter for bargaining peace. Greek ambassador Megasthanes has left ample accounts of Indian glory for the consumption of subsequent historians of western countries.

Pythagoras – Father of European Knowledge

Modern Knowledge started in Europe with Pythagoras, who carried Indian Mathematics. His life history was recorded centuries after his death, and even that information has come to us in fragments. He was born around 560 BC, on Samos, an island near the coast of Asia Minor. After studying music and gymnastics, he went to Egypt. He stayed at Babylon and other places where Indian philosophy of Upanishads, Mathematics and Geometry were well known.

While he was there, Iran invaded Egypt, and Pythagoras was also brought to Iran as a captive. From Iran, he went to India and stayed in Punjab and Himalayas.  Pythagoras discarded Greek robes and donned local trousers. Before Pythagoras, trousers were not known to Europe. Thus not only he introduced Indian Geometry to Europe, but Indian costumes also.

Indians living at high altitudes in the Himalayas wore woolen trousers, which is evident from the statue of Indian King Kanishka, discovered in Afghanistan. The Emperor is shown wearing a long double-breasted coat and trousers. Variants of trousers like pajamas and salwar were worn in the northern plains of Indo-Iran.

Spread of Indian Philosophy 

Turning away from Ionian culture Pythagoras identified himself with the East. After living twenty years in the East, Pythagoras returned to Europe and settled in Croton, a Greek-speaking town of South Italy. He formed an order of ascetics and preached that world was held together like human society. Also he preached that all needed to cultivate order in personal life.

Pythagoreans believed in transmigration of life through different life forms. He claimed to recall the details of his own previous incarnations. He preached the kinship of all forms of life, which is the fundamental principle of Hinduism. He also preached non-violence and prohibited killing of animals for food. Pythagorean propagated that who indulged in immoral acts, would be reborn as animal in next life.

The reaction started by Pythagoras resulted in a boom of scholars in Greece like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and many others. However, till then the Greeks accepted only four elements such as, Earth, water, Air, and Fire, out of the five basic elements suggested by Indians. They were unable to understand ‘space’ and therefore excluded that.

Ideas that Awakened Europe

Some of the notable scholarly works at Alexandria University that provided foundation to Western thought and brought ‘first awakening to Europe’ are as under:-

  • In 300 –250 Aristarchus, a Greek astronomer working at the museum in Alexandria, advanced a heliocentric theory of the solar system, anticipating Copernicus by many centuries.
  • 250-200 Eratosthenes, a Greek astronomer in Alexandria prepared a map of the heavens that included 675 stars, and calculated the circumference of the Earth, which was fairly accurate.
  • During first Century a Greek physician, Discordia, while serving with Roman armies, studied plants as a source of drugs and wrote De Matera Medica.  The five-volume work dealt with 600 plants and almost 1000 drugs, and is known to be the Europe’s first systematic pharmacopoeia. The Arabs preserved it.
  • In Egypt, Ptolemy published a book on astronomy in 127 AD, which came to be known as Ptolemaic system. He wrote that Earth was motionless and was placed at the center of the universe. All other planets and heavenly bodies revolved around Earth. Ptolemy’s perspective continued to dominate astronomy and religious belief until Nicholas Copernicus in 16 th century dared to suggest that instead of Earth, Sun was the center of the Solar system. Even Copernicus was far behind the Indian astronomers who had stated that there were millions of galaxies (Koti koti Brahmanda).
  • In 200 AD During this century, Plotinus wrote the Enneads. He saw the universe as a series of emanations from an absolute reality the ‘One’. He was closer to Hindu thought.

Destruction of Alexandria

In 47 AD the great library in Alexandria was partially destroyed in a fire during a war between Julius Caesar and the followers of Pompy, the Great. It caused a great loss to ancient treasures of knowledge as about 40,000 volumes were consumed by fire.

Rome rose as a big power in the second century BC.  Romans destroyed much of Greek civilization as well as their knowledge.  They expanded their empire to include North Africa, Asia Minor and South Europe. Greek cities were destroyed, learning was disrupted and scholars were killed.

A few Greek scholars escaped to other parts of Europe, and continued their pursuit of knowledge in a low profile till the Byzantine period. In 529, Justin Ian, the Byzantine Emperor closed the nine-hundred-year old Academy of Plato in Athens and completely destroyed the last remains of Greek knowledge in Europe, alleging that to be a hotbed of paganism and heresy. The scholars were killed or converted.

Many of these Greek scholars, fearing for their lives and intellectual freedom fled to Persia, where they established a kind of Academy in exile.

The Renaissance in Europe

This was the period, when Sun was setting in the East and rising from the West. By this time Islamic rulers had ushered an era of darkness in India. Volumes of intellectual Hindu-Heritage were burnt as ‘Kufar’ and Brahmins had faced the worst through annihilation. Fortunately some books had escaped destruction. Most of the knowledge that ushered Europe in the age of Renaissance had been compiled from ancient Hindu texts, and the same was patented to ‘credit’ new inventors, with European nations gaining political control over the globe.

Fortunately for the mankind, some texts had been hidden and preserved. Those were taken abroad in original or by translation through which the modern Science in Europe took its roots. This period is known as the age of Renaissance and the re-appearance of ancient text. However many of the original masterpieces were plagiarized and came to be identified with European authors. There were no protests from Hindus who had been living a darkened life under medieval Islamic rulers.

Modern science began during 1400-1500 with the Renaissance in Europe, sparked by ancient texts such as Euclid’s geometry, Ptolemy’s geography and Galen’s medicine. The Indian Knowledge thus lost its identity.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 54/72 – Spread of Knowledge Abroad)

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