Thoughts in the atmosphere

Things of the world, and out of it.

The new British historical revisionism

Posted by desicontrarian on October 1, 2012

The ‘idea of India’ was a European not a local invention, as the name itself makes clear. No such term, or equivalent, as ‘India’ existed in any indigenous language. A Greek coinage, taken from the Indus river, it was so foreign to the subcontinent that as late as the 16th century, Europeans could define Indians simply as ‘the natives of all unknown countries’ and use it to describe the inhabitants of the Americas.\

Could it be because India is an English word ? It does seem to your humble self that until “Indian” languages could acquire this idea, they would struggle to complete the phrase Idea of India. This underdoggest of all cultures has been slowly overcoming its dim-wit handicap, thanks to the all-knowing scholars and master definers that the British Raj still emanates.

Gange cha Yamune chaiva  Godavari Saraswathi,

Narmada Sindhu Kaveri  Jale asmin sannidhim kuru

What does this hymn mean? Where does it come from? How old is it? A 64-karod rupee question, equal to a Bofors scam 🙂

Problems. (please have your tongue-in-cheek when some of these terms are used by an English educated Bhaiyya).

  1. It does not mean much, coming from a dead language(pdf) . However, a difficult linguistic-archaeology-level translation effort can be made.  “Hail! O ye Ganges, Jamuna, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri, come and approach these waters.”
  2. Indians (unlike the north american red indians) have difficulty recollecting it, understanding it or resonating to it.  Bharatheeyas may be somewhat better. However, they do not matter, being remnants of a dead people, somewhat like Tasmanians, Yukis  and Herero (pdf) people.
  3. Are a refuse-of-the-dead people allowed to make up these hymns?

Aa sindho: sinduparyantham yasya bhaaratha bhoomikaa maathru bhoo: pithru
bhoo (punya) schaiva sa vai Hindu iti smruthaa:

whomsoever, is considering the land between the sapta sindu ( Indus valley river) upto Indian ocean as the motherland/ fatherland and holy land, is known as Hindu. This land is known as Hindustanam which is defined as
follows:

Himaalayam samaarabhya yaavath hindu sarovaram tham deva nirmitham desam hindustaanam prachakshate.

The land created by god himself and which is lying between Himalayas
Indian ocean is known as Hindustanam .

Liberal patronizers should allow it, it is as politically correct as a Pukka Saahib.

What is this nonsense about geographical, political, cultural and Dharmic unity? About the continuum in history?  Sorry, Perry Anderson (PA) Saahib will not allow it. Not based on the revered  Westphalian model. Let’s not have more of such nonsense. As Humpty Dumpty says – “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less”.

I understand that the North-East was never a part of “India”. I am enlightened now. The Mahabharata (MBH) misled me earlier, with fairy tales like Chitrangada , Naga kingdoms and Uloopi.

Sorry again, PA Saahib says that  it is ridiculous that

Mahabharata could be invoked as proof that the North-East Frontier Agency had been part of Mother India from time immemorial, rather as if the Nibelungenlied were to clinch German diplomatic claims to Morocco. Such notions have not gone away. The facts gainsay them.

Utter ignorance is my problem. What is this Nibelungenlied ? Even educated Indians don’t know it. It is as unknown to us dimwits as Peccavi. (The mists lift slowly though. It seems this a myth written in middle high german.) Oh, the paisa drops – he means that MBH is as unreliable as Nibung-watcha-ma-callit.

Still un-Westphalian, I gamely want to say that “North-East Frontier Agency” is his precise new term, while I am happy to rename it as  ishaanya Bhaaratam and thus grab it. Sigh, I see you shaking your head. Is it speculative to say  that Burma etymologically comes from Brahma Desham? Please don’t shake your head, I get the no-no signal. How about the clear asymmetry in the Germany-Morocco relation (separate continents) and the Bharatam – ishaanya Bharatam  relation (same subcontinent) ? Sorry again, we can’t forget Humpty Dumpty’s criteria, can we?

I am tired of learning this heavy-burden white man’s concept – The Idea of India. Let me move on.

Foreign conquerors were no novelty in the subcontinent, whose northern plains had known successive waves of invaders from the tenth century onwards. For many, the British were not necessarily more alien than previous rulers. The latest invaders would, of course, always require their own soldiers too. But if the British could gain and keep a firm grip on such a vast landmass, it was because they could count on its multiple fragmentations – ethnic, linguistic, dynastic, social, confessional.

In other words, it is fait accompli that matters. Invaders are ok. Aryans invaded Dravidians too, and Dravidians invaded Mundas. Invasion is the continuum. See, the British gave us railways, roads, urbanity, sewage systems,  telegraph, cutlery, table manners and above all, English. Why don’t we let them off the hook?

Let us move on. Saar, saar, gora lefty master above says that Gandhi basically saturated the freedom movement with Hindu-ness. His congress party had 97% hindus.  There was no secularity (new term for me), it was all Nehru’s fantasy. What else could un-religious, urbane, down-the-hatch whiskey secularist Jinnah do, but

  1. raise the separatist Muslim flag ,
  2. wait for the opportunity called the Quit India movement,
  3. offer his Muslim league support to the British war effort and thus fill his vote banks with more Muslim separatists?
  4. call for direct action day, “India divided or India destroyed” etc, when push cameto shove?

Very understandable. This cranky faddist called Gandhi with his suspect celibacy experiments, loin-cloth in Buckingham palace, fasting, enema, goat’s milk etc is such a hindu saturationist.  How such an inferior intellect in contrast to position paper writer Dr. Ambedkar, still gets to win the Poona pact is beyond reason. It has to be the Asiatic backwardness of the masses, as Karl Marx says.

Look how brilliantly the enlightened gora teacher deconstructs this so-called Mahatma for us.

  1. Gandhi called of the Satyagraha after Chauri Chaura because violence had been perpetrated by his followers. Yet he was a volunteer for the Boer war, the Zulu crushing, the inter-imperialist slaughter in WWI and so on. So he was not always the apostle of non-violence.
  2. He would tell compatriots: ‘We have to take the risk of violence to shake off the great calamity of slavery.’ And a few months later: ‘Supposing a non-violent struggle has been started at my behest and later on there is an outbreak of violence, I will put up with that too, because it is God who is inspiring me and things will shape as He wills. If He wants to destroy the world through violence using me as His instrument, how can I prevent it?’
  3. He was not a hypocrite when he did all this, but always thought of himself as a semi-divine vehicle escaping the trammels of human logic and reason. How can a million-strong nation follow him. Beyond reason, right? Asiatic backwardness.
  4.  Hind Swaraj, its battery of archaisms a stumbling-block to those who pointed out that he was using railways and doctors and not actually rejecting schools, he defended to the end, writing in 1945 that he still stood by its system of government. … Throughout his career in India, he claimed both to rise above consistency – growing ‘from truth to truth’.

We Indian dimwits get the point. He should have played by the rules of European reason  and ideological frameworks, not this Asiatic voodoo. He cannot possibly be inventing a new grammar of mass communication, can he?  Especially now that we are adequately educated, and have thoroughly internalized what left, right and centre are supposed to be. How could ever have been such Luddites, waxing about the vedas, sanatana dharma, the yamas and the niyamas of Patanjali, asses that our ancestors were?

So Satyagraha did not avoid checkmate by the Raj. At the round table conference he is confronted by demands for separate sikh, muslim and untouchable electorates. He saw off the Ambedkar challenge through emotional blackmail, but others were a different kettle of meat-eaters. Thank Heavens for Jinnah.

When I can get more educated about orientalism, I will try to see if this gora saahib from the left has in-the-box thinking limitations, and (dare I say it) help him to rise above it.

Update: A scholarly rebuttal by Ananya Vajpeyi. Money quote – “…an only half-embarrassed defence of British imperialism and its century of colonial rule on the Indian subcontinent”. I wish she could flush him out even more.

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3 Responses to “The new British historical revisionism”

  1. I see Perry Anderson’s attack on India as a deliberate action – and not a random piece of writing.

    Imagine a 60-year old Marxist attacking a socialist country like India – and bleeding for imperial Britain. For 30-years in UCLA, to suddenly discover his British loyalty?

    Look at the British record.

    1. In 1860s they used Max Muller to promote Central Asian Invasion Theory.

    2. In 1905, they used HH Risley to create the caste-system theory.

    3. In 1930s Marshall promoted the idea of Indus Valley civilization as an a non-vedic, anti-Arya, Dravidian culture.

    4. In 1940s Mortimer Wheeler created a false Takshashila destruction theory, renewed Aryan Invasion.

    65 years after Independence we are still stuck with these garbage grab-all theories. If it was some silly attack on India, I woulkd be les worried.

    • desicontrarian said

      Anuraag Ji,

      I was led to his LRB series from your review of his essay, and slowly went through the 3-part series. Your take on this was a comparison to the land of the free. Very good. While it is easy to see the defects of a Niall Ferguson POV, the camouflaged apologist-leftist is much harder to expose. You and I may need to digest the other 2 parts, where he talks of Nehru’s inadequate Euro-centrism, British endeavors to leave us a united India and so on. Apparently the cabinet mission plan was such a life saver.

  2. I have made out some 10 semi-complete posts on Perry Anderson posts. I am now driven to wonder if Elst’s apology for the British Empire is a part of this campaign?

    http://2ndlook.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/koenraad-elst-singing-bhajans-to-british-gods-to-an-indian-audience-or-the-game-is-over/

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