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STRUGGLE IS OVER HISTORY, NOT BRICK AND MORTAR

 

The Ayodhya dispute

            The Ayodhya dispute is over four hundred and fifty years old. It came to head on December 6, 1992 with the demolition of the structure known as the Babri Majid (Babar's Mosque) by Hindu activists. This event has been seen as marking a watershed in modern Indian history. Some like the British writer V.S. Naipaul see it as an event marking the birth of a new historical awareness on the part of the Hindus; while others, calling themselves the 'Secular Forces' — actually little more than a motely mix of Leftist academics and politicians, and right-wing Muslim leaders and the clergy — see it as the beginning of the transformation of India into a Hindu theocratic state.

I see Ayodhya as the symbol of the emergence of the Indian Civilization — more specifically, the Hindu Civilization — from the grip of alien imperialistic forces and their surrogates that have tried to hold on to their privileged positions by suppressing the legitimate national and cultural aspirations of the Hindus. In this they have tried whitewashing the record of vandalism by Medieval Islamic rulers. This is what brought together this seemingly ‘modern’ and 'Westernized' Leftist intellectuals and right wing Islamists with their roots firmly in Medieval history and tradition. Koenrad Elst calls this whitewashing of history 'Negationism', more particularly 'Jihad Negationism'.

 

Negationism: Accepting the Islamic version of history

            The present volume is only peripherally about Negationism. It is in the main a concise summary of the latest evidence on the Temple-Mosque controversy based on the primary sources including recent archaeological finds. I found it necessary to prepare this volume because there is still much confusion in the minds of many Indians about the existence of a Rama temple and its destruction by Babar in 1528. Many educated Indians still believe that there are some doubts about the historical question; many honestly believe that no temple was ever destroyed by Babar because he was tolerant towards the Hindus. (Towards the end, I have included a brief discussion of Babar’s famous work Baburnama to give an idea of what he was really like.)

            This view, while a tribute to the effectiveness of negationist propaganda, is not a true representation of facts. In reality there can no doubt about either the existence or the destruction of a Rama temple by Babar at Rama Janmabhumi. What 'controversy' there is, is a modern concoction, the result of a massive disinformation campaign by 'Secularist' scholars, politicians and a large segment of the English language press. What is more important is that this happens to be part of a larger agenda of denying altogether the destruction of any Hindu temples by Muslim rulers — a step towards whitewashing the record of Islam in India. This is what Elst has called Negationism in his remarkable book Negationism In India: Concealing the Record of Islam. The reader will be the best judge of the facts upon reading the material presented in this volume.

            A point that I wish to emphasize: any effort aimed at understanding the history leading up to the Ayodhya demolition must be careful not to view the events of December 6, 1992 in isolation, ignoring the thousand year history leading up to it. This would cause one to lose sight of the single most important historical theme in India today: the ongoing struggle between the two versions of history — the nationalistic and the imperialistic. Those calling themselves 'Secularists' in the Ayodhya dispute are representatives of defunct imperialisms — the Islamic and the European. What they fear most is the loss of their privileges following the rise of nationalism. This is the real battle over Ayodhya

            The negationist version of Indian history means accepting the Islamic view of history — to wit, that the history of any place begins with its Muslim takeover; nothing that happened before is of any account. This is how Muslims view the history of all the conquered lands — from Egypt to Iran and even Pakistan. They have been defeated in their purpose to impose this version of history on India also. The struggle over Ayodhya is but a facet of this larger struggle.

            This is best understood by recognizing that there are really two Ayodhya disputes. The first is over the right of possession to the site known since time immemorial as Rama Janmabhumi. The second is over the version of history to be imposed on the people of India today. The beneficiaries of defunct imperialisms — Islamic and the Eurocentric — are using the first dispute as a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from their real concern; their real concern is the unraveling of an imperialistic version of history highly advantageous to themselves. As surrogates of past imperialistic movements, they have also been its main beneficiaries. Once the true history comes to the fore, it will mean the end of their privileged existence.

            To achieve their goal, the agents (or surrogates) of imperialisms have found it necessary to preserve and protect their (negationist) version of history. No imperialism can succeed unless the subject people are made to forget their history.  This is what Islam did to Arabia, Egypt, Iran and Afghanistan; this is what Christianity did to Europe and the Americas; and this is what Mao also did to China, and later Tibet. And this is what the Secularists would like to see happen in India also. Destruction of history is the goal of every imperialism. Speaking of imperialisms and their specially crafted language, more specifically Islam, Sita Ram Goel observes:

 

      ... every language of imperialism divides human history into two sharply separated periods — an age of darkness which prevailed before the birth of an incomparable person, and an age of light which followed thereafter. The entire past history of every nation preceding the age of darkness is painted so black that nothing in which the nation can take pride is left unscathed. [This 'incomparable person' is Prophet Muhammad in the case of Islam, and Karl Marx in the case of the Secularists. So it is essentially a personality cult. Such cults were built around ‘incomparable persons’ Stalin and Mao also.]

            The Secularists see India's indigenous Hindu Civilization as the dark force whose entire history should be blackened beyond redemption and ultimately effaced, to be replaced by its own Age of Secular Light. The first step is to coin a derogatory term for it — 'Hindu Communalism' (or Kaffir Communalism). They see India as an impure land plagued by pluralistic Hinduism that awaits Secularist cleansing. This is the Secularist version of the Islamic concept of Dar-ul-Harb and Dar-ul-Islam. Their version of the Ayodhya dispute which seeks to erase a thousand years of history leading up to December 6, 1992 is part of this enterprise.

 

End to Negationism

            This again highlights the two Ayodhya disputes: the first ancient and historical, the second recent and ideological. To understand the second — the 'real dispute' so to speak — we must perforce study the first. To this end, I will present here the essential facts of history relating to the Ayodhya dispute. Once these are understood, readers will be in a better position to appreciate the real struggle that Ayodhya represents.

I recognize that much of what I have written here will make for unpalatable reading for many Muslims. But history is history, whether we like it or not. Also, no one is asking for revenge or retribution for past crimes. Nor has anyone the right to object to another's belief, as long as that belief remains personal. All one is asking is that Negationism must stop, so a true history can come to the fore. Above all, we cannot expect the Hindus to accept the Islamic view of history — that their civilization had engulfed India in a Dark Age to which light came only with the arrival of Islamic invaders. Nor can Muslims expect the Hindus to accept their version that nothing that happened at Ayodhya before the arrival of Babar is of any account, let alone their theology that there was no history before the arrival of Islam.

            This is in the interests of all concerned — not just the Hindus. Communal harmony in India is an unattainable goal as long as one side keeps insisting on whitewashing its own record, while blaming the victims for all the problems. And the victims of such propaganda will never rest content until they feel their case has been justly treated. Here is where the Secularists have done immense harm to the cause of communal harmony in the name of 'secularism' — whitewashing Jihad Negationism, while heaping abuse and blame on the victims.

            This is not a new or recent development. Within four years of Indian independence and the Partition, the late K.M. Munshi had warned Nehru of the dangers of this less than honest stand on secularism. In a now famous and remarkably prophetic letter, Munshi, one of the foremost constitutional lawyers of the day wrote Nehru:

 

      In its [i.e. secularism's] name, again, politicians adopt a strange attitude which, while it condones the susceptibilities, religious and social of the minorities, it is too ready to brand similar susceptibilities in the majority community as communalistic and reactionary. How secularism sometimes becomes allergic to Hinduism will be apparent from certain episodes relating to the reconstruction of Somnath Temple.

      These unfortunate postures have been creating a sense of frustration in the majority community. If, however, the misuse of this word 'secularism' continues, ... if, every time there is an inter-communal conflict, the majority is blamed regardless of the merits of the question, ..., the springs of traditional tolerance will dry up.

      While the majority exercises patience and tolerance, the minorities should adjust themselves to the majority. Otherwise the future is uncertain and an explosion cannot be avoided. (Emphasis added.)

 

            Prophetic indeed, written forty years before the explosion at Ayodhya! And this has gone on for nearly fifty years. It looks as though nothing has been learnt by the Secularists and their allies. The politicians too keep on promising the impossible to the Muslims in the hope of garnering their votes. If this goes on much longer, more explosions like Ayodhya become all but inevitable.

            The result of this has been most unfortunate; it has turned the traditionally tolerant Hindus into a majority community with a persecuted minority complex — making them believe that they are second-class citizens in their own country. (This has now been aggravated by the aggressive behavior of Christian missionaries caught in a millennian frenzy.) This is a dangerous development that bodes ill for the minority community, and for the country at large. In this the culprit is Jihad Negationism, and the suspicion and hatred that it breeds.

            What are we to do about it? In this regard, one can learn a valuable lesson by looking at European history. The record of Christianity in Europe and the Americas is no less blood-soaked than the record of Islam in India. But there are no 'Crusade Negationists' or 'Inquisition Negationists' in Europe comparable to the Jihad Negationists in India. This has allowed communal harmony to prevail in Europe.

            The lessons for India are clear, she must come to terms with her history. A similar situation prevailed in the United States over the question of slavery. There was no shortage of negationists who argued that slavery was a natural law that contained much good. But Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest men of modern times, would have none of it. He told Americans to face up to their history:

       Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. ... No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the last generation.

             Truer words were never spoken. Its message is clear: for peace and harmony to prevail in India, Negationism must end. Indian history must be freed from the shackles of its imperial surrogates acting in the name of 'secularism'.

            It is time now to look at the Ayodhya dispute against the background of this brand of 'secularism' and the conduct of its votaries.