Is CBSE School Book Committee Under NDA Selling Islam In The Guise Of History?

Is CBSE School Book Committee Under NDA Selling Islam In The Guise Of History?

by Aravindan Neelakandan - Oct 28, 2019 11:05 AM +05:30 IST
Is CBSE School Book Committee Under NDA Selling Islam In The Guise Of History?Students at a classroom in Indore. (Arun Mondhe/Hindustan Times via GettyImages) 
  • We all know that pre-2014, history as taught to children was Nehruvian, Marxist and anti-Hindu in content.

    But sadly, even today, the same rot continues in print.

    Forget disparaging other faiths (we aren’t in that business), academia has failed to present facts as they exist.

They did not change a single word.

The book was launched in 2007. The one I hold is a 2017 reprint. Between 2007 and 2017, the book has seen 11 reprints, three under NDA. They, of course, have not changed a single word. The book is ‘Our Pasts-II: Textbook in History for Class VII’.

The publication team, according to the information published in the book, was headed by M. Siraj Anwar and chief editor was Shveta Uppal and assistant editor was Arun Chitkara.

The book, under the title ‘Old and new religions’ informs my daughter aged 12, the following:

It was during this period that important changes occurred in what we call Hinduism today. These included the worship of new deities, the construction of temples by royalty and the growing importance of Brahmanas, the priests as dominant groups in society.

And the next paragraph emphasises again:

Their knowledge of Sanskrit texts earned the Brahmanas a lot of respect in society. Their dominant position was consolidated by the support of their patrons — new rulers searching for prestige.

Then, it presents Bhakti in this context:

One of the major developments was the emergence of the idea of bhakti, of a loving personal deity that the devotee could reach without the aid of priests or elaborate rituals.

And after this, Islam gets presented this way:

This was also the period when new religions appeared in the subcontinent. Merchants and migrants first brought the teachings of the holy Quran to India in the seventh century. Muslims regard the Quran as their holy book and accept the sovereignty of the one God, Allah, whose love, mercy and beauty embrace all those who believe in Him, without regard to social background.

Note the difference between the way ‘what we call Hinduism today’ is presented and Islam is presented.

Note that the Hindu Gods are always ‘gods’ while Allah is God. Conventionally that is how non-monotheist deities are written in English — a legacy of the theo-colonial outlook.

One would think a textbook in post-colonial India would try to change that. But the book not only does not do that, but does exactly the reverse.

Note how it juxtaposes ‘Brahmanas’ becoming ‘dominant sections’ in the society and their position being ‘consolidated by the support of …rulers searching for prestige’ — all having negative connotations, against the supposedly Islamic notion of ‘Allah, whose love, mercy and beauty embrace all those who believe in Him, without regard to social background’ — all having positive connotations.

Note also that it is not just religious, the political aspect of Islam is also brought out in a manner even more nuanced — ‘the sovereignty of the one God’.

The way the book prepares young minds to accept the Islamist invasions is ingenious. When discussing Rashtrakutas, the book narrates how, though they were not originally Kshatriyas, they performed Hiranya-garbha rituals ‘with the help of Brahmanas’ and were ‘reborn’ as Kshatriyas.

No. The book does not even hint to the children how the rituals actually helped the worthy break the birth-based barriers and become rulers, but goes on to say that ‘these new kings’ had ‘high-sounding titles’ which were, in reality, actually not true (pp.17-8). Then comes the important part:

In each of these states, resources were obtained from the producers, that is, peasants, cattle-keepers, artisans, who were often persuaded or compelled to surrender part of what they produced. … These resources were used to finance the king’s establishment as well as for the construction of temples and forts. They were also used to fight wars, which were in turn expected to lead to the acquisition of wealth in the form of plunder and access to land as well as trade routes. 

The revenue collection was done by recruits from ‘influential families’ and positions were ‘hereditary’.

In all important positions, ‘close relatives of the king’ were installed. Then, of course, the land was given free to Brahmins.

In simple words, the child is given an impression of a feudal family syndicate exploiting the working class to build temples and war machines.

And then comes the sub-section ‘Warfare for wealth’ in which we find the wars between the Rashtrakutas and the Pala dynasties and Chahamanas, who were later known as the Chauhans, with whom fought the Chalukyas of Gujarat and Gahadavalas of western Uttar Pradesh.

And into these quarrels, guess who got introduced as just another one well-known such warrior who wages war for wealth?

One of the best known of such rulers is Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, Afghanistan. He raided the subcontinent almost every year — his targets were wealthy temples, including that of Somnath, Gujarat. Much of the wealth Mahmud carried away was used to create a splendid capital city at Ghazni. He was interested in finding out more about the people he conquered and entrusted a scholar named al-Biruni to write an account of the subcontinent. This Arabic work, known as the Kitab-al Hind, remains an important source for historians. He consulted Sanskrit scholars to prepare this document.

Note the way Mahmud of Ghazni is neatly placed along with Hindu kings battling over territorial quarrels.

Note the overall picture created in the mind of the child — Hindu kings building temples with the wealth which they ‘compelled’ the peasants, artisans and other working class people, and Mahmud of Ghazni placed in the context becomes a king who uses that wealth from the temples ‘to create a splendid capital city’.

Not only that, he was an ‘emperor of knowledge’ who ‘strove to understand the people whom he raided’ (which in fact miraculously becomes ‘the people he conquered’).

The book early on informs the student that the categorisation of periods of Indian history as ‘Hindu’, ‘Muslim’ and ‘British’ as problematic (pp.12-3).

But this supposed categorisation fallacy is used only to surreptitiously slip in Mahmud of Ghazni along with the internecine quarrels of Hindu princes.

The book more decisively uses two different yardsticks in depicting and describing the Hindu rule and Muslim rule in India.

Remember that there are scores and scores of Dharma Shastras which forbid the king from collecting revenues by force.

Mahabharata speaks of collecting of taxes as similar to honey bees extracting honey from the flowers.

Kalidasa speaks of taxes as similar to water being drawn from the ocean and returned to the land with manifold benefits.

Kautilya specifically instructs that the king should ‘protect, agriculture from being harassed by unjust fines, taxes and demands of labour’ and cautions against the tax officials who collect excessive tax .

Our children do not learn these things. They learn that the Rashtrakutas and Cholas ‘compelled’ the ‘peasants and artisans’ etc. or ‘plundered’ and then ‘built temples’ and gave lands to Brahmins.

As against this depiction, under the title ‘Delhi Sultanate’, the book juxtaposes a box-item titled ‘circle of justice’ where Fakhr-i-Mudabbir’ is quoted thus:

A king cannot survive without soldiers. And soldiers cannot survive without salaries. Salaries come from revenue collected from peasants. But peasants can pay revenue only when they are prosperous and happy. This happens when the king promotes justice and honest governance.

Note how under the Hindu kings the peasants were ‘compelled’ and even ‘plundered’ for taxation, which in turn was used in ‘building temples’. Here the picture painted is entirely different.

Consider the way temples under ‘Cholas’ are described in the textbook:

The big temples of Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram built by Rajaraja and Rajendra, are architectural and cultural marvels. Chola temples often became the nuclei of settlements which grew around them. These were centres of craft production. Temples were also endowed with land by rulers as well as others. The produce of this land went to maintain all the specialists who worked at the temple and very often lived near it — priests, garland makers, cooks, sweepers, musicians, dancers etc. In other words, temples were not only places of worship; they were the hub of economic, social and cultural life as well.

Now consider the way Masjids are described in the same book:

A mosque is called a masjid in Arabic, literally a place where a Muslim prostrates in reverence to Allah. In a “congregational mosque” (masjid-I jami or jama masjid) Muslims read their prayers (namaz) together. Members of the congregation choose the most respected, learned male as their leader (imam) for the rituals of prayer. During prayer, Muslims stand facing Mecca. In India this is to be the west. This is called qibla. The Delhi Sultans built several mosques in cities all over the subcontinent. These demonstrated their claims to be protectors of Islam and Muslims. Mosques also helped to create the sense of a community of believers who shared a belief system and a code of conduct. It was necessary to reinforce this idea of a community because Muslims came from a variety of backgrounds. 

With respect to Masjids again, there is a question asking the students to compare ‘figures 2,3,4, and 5.

They are to find the similarities and differences The figures in 3,4, and 5 are told as showing an ‘evolution of architectural tradition’ that ‘culminates in Shah Jahan’s mosque’.

As against this, what question is the student to ask herself with regard to temples? Guess.

A long passage from Periyapuranam describing the hamlet of the landless labourers is given and students are told that it actually describes ‘the lives of ordinary men and women’.

And the question asked is:

Were there any Brahmanas in this hamlet? Describe all the activities that were taking place in the village? (sic) Why do you think temple inscriptions ignore these activities? 

Note how the masjid is introduced as a ‘centre to foster a sense of community’ and note how the student is asked a loaded question through an out-of-context passage from Periyapuranam to self-indoctrinate herself that the temples were ‘centres of social discrimination’.

The truth is there were Chola-built temples with hospitals attached to them. In fact, the passage in Periyapuranam itself is really a precursor to place a devotee from a socially excluded group into the temple’s sacred premises and worship him —Nandanar.

In fact, his name would become synonymous with the liberation struggle of the socially marginalised against social stagnation.

There were also inscriptions which speak of Chola temples providing employment and livelihood support to the visually challenged.

However, none of these would be chosen by the curriculum makers.

Instead, temples are shown and suggested as much as possible as ‘symbols and centres of oppressive social structures’.

The book shows, in pictures, the masjid built by Iltutmish and Alauddin Khilji (Quwaat al-Islam mosque, the book informs the student) and the Begumpuri mosque built by Muhammad bin Tughluq, Moth ki Masjid built by Sikandar Lodhi and the mosque of Jamali Kamali.

As against this, there is one relief of Narasimha from Rashtrakudas in one page, the Gangaikondacholapuram temple and a Chola bronze showing Parvati, but the text accompanying the Chola bronze removes any reference to divinity:

‘Notice how carefully ‘it’ is decorated’, the text tells the student, making the student see it not as anything sacred but as an artefact from the past.

The way Islamic masjids are shown and Hindu equivalents are shown, have a characteristic difference, which can have a lasting impact on the mind of not only students but also the teachers who have to teach these textbooks.

The most bizarre part of the textbook comes under the chapter ‘Rulers and Buildings’. Here again, the Islamic ‘conceptual superiority’ is flaunted:

Take the example of Rajarajeshvara temple. An inscription mentions that it was built by King Rajarajadeva for the worship of his god Rajarajashevaram. Notice how the name of the ruler and the god are very similar. The king took the god’s name because it was auspicious and because he wanted to appear like a god. Through the rituals of worship in the temple, one god (Rajarajadeva) honoured another (Rajarajeshvaram). … Muslim Sultans and Padshahs did not claim to be incarnations of god but described the Sultan as the ‘Shadow of God’. 

Within a small passage, so much distortion is possible only when one has ulterior motives of gigantic proportions.

First of all, the name of the temple is ‘Sri Rajarajeshvaram’. The God is ‘Sri Rajarajaeshvaramudaiyar’.

The popular name was ‘Brahadeeshwarar’ or Peruudaiyaar.

In fact, the king created a temple that houses the Ishvara or Lord of Rajaraja and the Lord is the owner of that house.

Further, the inscription is known for including in it not just the name of the donor king but also his womenfolk as well as his people.

Rajaraja Chola did have a religious oriented title which was ‘Sivapaatha sekara’ which means ‘he who is adorned on his head by the feet of Siva’.

Rajaraja Chola-I never meant to impress upon the people any identity with Siva himself through similarity of names.

He was too great for the petty games of Nehruvian historiographers who could not be honest with facts even when writing textbooks for children.

Then, in pages 65-66, we are given the usual secularist whitewashing of temple destruction. ‘Why were temples destroyed?’ – a subheading asks provocatively.

What follows is the Buddhist chroniclers of Sri Lanka describing how the invading Pandyas took away the Buddha made of gold.

Then, the next Singhala soldier avenged this and made it a point to get back the Buddha from Madura to Sri Lanka.

Rajendra Chola is next accused of filling the temples he built with statues he brought from the territories he had won.

And then, in this line, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni is presented:

Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni was a contemporary of Rajendra I. During his campaign in the subcontinent, he also attacked the temples of defeated kings and looted their wealth and idols. Sultan Mahmud was not a very important ruler at that time. But by destroying temples — especially the one at Somnath — he tried to win credit as a great hero of Islam. In the political culture of the Middle Ages, most rulers displayed their political might and military success by attacking and looting the places of worship of defeated rulers. 

And then, the student is asked: ‘In what ways do you think the policies of Rajendra I and Mahmud of Ghazni were a product of their times? How were the actions of the two rulers different?’

Now, I have to tell my daughters to ponder over the question.

Rajendra Chola never had with him a chronicler who would praise him for looting any temple or monastery even in the enemy territory.

Of course, when rival Hindu kings wanted to charge each other, they alleged that the other king attacked the temples and monasteries which the accused king had to refute.

In the case of Mahmud of Ghazni, his court chronicler praised him for destroying the temples. That was the first difference I told my daughters.

I pointed out that the Sri Lankan general was able to take back the Buddha statue made of gold from Madurai — almost after a generation.

What did this mean? It meant that the idols were installed and worshipped here and not made part of the doorsteps of Hindu temples.

Every idol brought by Chola from his expedition was installed in the temple and worshipped.

They were not mutilated and made part of the doorsteps of the worshipping place of the Cholas.

Then there is the history of Kulothunga Chola.

Even as the Cholas derived pleasure calling themselves Maduranthakas (destroyers of Madura), Kulothunga gave all the tributes he received after conquering Madurai back to the Madurai temple itself — thus through the temple to the people.

Thus, temples served as a moderating influence on the conquerors.

That was not the case with Mahmud of Ghazni.

At the end of the day, we need to look at the textbook. Notice how carefully Islamic preaching has been carried out in the textbook.

With no parental intervention and with a strongly Nehruvian pro-Islamic training in teaching, the school curriculum itself becomes a proselytizing tool — if not open conversion, it creates the mental atmosphere in which the student, when grown up, shall find no worth in Hinduism and all things positive in Islam.

The textbook goes beyond negation of Hindu Holocaust. It has become a manual of instruction on Islamic ‘superiority’ over Hindu religion and culture.

And they have never changed a single line.

Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.

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