“I know it is the fashion to say that most of recorded history is lies anyway, but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written.”
-George Orwell, English novelist, journalist and critic.
The covers of the new history textbooks of 6th and 7th standard ICSE curriculum intrigued me at first sight. Nehru – Patel – Gandhi, Akbar, Bhimbetka, some fighter jets and a random voter from the north-east. What was missing? Was it meant to teach our children that no significant civilization existed in Bharat from the Bhimbetka cavemen till the Mughals? I decided to look deeper into these textbooks, and what I found was stunning, to say the least. Some of these endless distortions and blatant untruths in three textbooks of 6th, 7th and 8th standards were compiled in a series of tweets and we were not even scratching the surface.
In this article, we discuss obvious discrepancies noted in these books.
VEDIC AND POST-VEDIC PERIOD
Pushing the Aryan Invasion Theory as truth despite being repeatedly debunked by eminent thinkers and researchers including Dr. B R Ambedkar among others, as well as genetic studies, and holding this alleged invasion responsible for destruction of Indus Valley – Harappan Civilization despite ample evidence that the civilization died out following the drying of the Saraswati river and shifted towards Gangetic basin, and no evidence whatsoever of an invasion.
The Aryans have been mentioned as enslaving the locals and making them Shudras – an outrageous claim, considering that there was no trace of slavery in Bharat until the arrival of the Afghan and Turkish invaders. Megasthenes, in his description of ancient Bharat writes: “The Indians do not even use aliens as slaves, and much less a countryman of their own”. He does not write anything about Shudras being enslaved and does not describe four castes as is commonly assumed, but seven, and more interestingly, he writes that custom also prohibits one caste from exercising two trades or from changing from one caste to another, however this is applicable only to six of the seven castes as “it is permitted that the sophist (Brahmin) only be of any caste, for the life of the sophist is not an easy one at all, but the hardest of all”.
Misrepresentation of chronology of development of Dharmic traditions
Hindu Dharma is shown to originate in the Gupta period, after Buddhism and Jainism – in spite of monumental global archaeological and textual evidence that Shiva, Vishnu, Varun, Agni and many other Gods were worshipped several thousand years earlier. Recently, the Vietnam government held an exhibition in which a Vishnu head estimated at 3500-4000 years old was put for display. The key Hindu texts of Ramayan and Mahabharat are mentioned as “given their final form” under the Guptas, and the Bhagavad Gita also mentioned as “compiled” during this period. One does not expect children to understand this subtle play of words. For all practical purposes, children are being told that these major texts originated in the Gupta period. If the purpose is to encourage the child to make a deeper inquiry, one does not correspondingly read that the life of Jesus Christ was compiled at a conference in Nicene, several hundred years after his death. It is recounted as an unquestionable fact.
Misrepresentation of measurement of time itself, by the deliberate omission of concepts of time measurement in Bharat in anything but the last 200 years when British rule was established. No mention is made of the world’s most sophisticated calendar system that took into account both the lunar and solar calendars, or the Bharatiya National Calendar (Saka Calendar) that is the official calendar of Bharat but which for some reason has never been used officially.
Anti-Brahminism as a doctrine
Across the entire textbooks, Brahmins have been mentioned only in the context of criticism of their oppression, dominance and caste system. Their role as traditional repositories of knowledge and wisdom has been systematically sidelined, and rituals have been consistently labelled “beliefs and superstitions”. This is a well-known evangelist strategy over the centuries – to label non-Christian practices as superstitions and condemn them, encouraging people to give them up. The textbooks take them to ridiculous heights, even saints who set up major temples across Bharat have been mentioned as having opposed idol worship, as we shall see later in the article.
Shudras allegedly denied education
Overwhelming evidence exists to show that Shudras were not denied education by any means. On the contrary, it was provided free of cost for those who could not pay. In his book “The Beautiful Tree”, Dharampal comprehensively debunks this myth by quoting British records to show that not only were Shudras the bulk of students, several teachers were also Shudras. Eminent authors such as Vyasa were Shudras, so was Sushruta, the renowned surgeon and author of Sushruta Samhita.
Absence of any Dharmic knowledge content, positioning of Hindu saints as fighting the caste system rather than centers of knowledge and wisdom
The words “Hindu”, “Dharmic”, “Sanatan” are conspicuously missing from our textbooks – and we are not even talking of more complex terms such as Dwaita, Adwaita and other sophisticated philosophies that define Sanatan Dharma. While the section on Christianity writes extensively about the ideology of the religion including the sermon of the mount and key teachings, no such courtesy is extended to any Dharmic tradition other than repeatedly pointing out that everyone was fighting against the caste system, idols and rituals. This goes to ridiculous extents – even the Bhakti saints have been alleged to have been against idol worship! One may assume that evangelist opposition to idolatry has been imposed on the Bhakti saints in what seems to be an attempt at ambush marketing.
In multiple paragraphs of each chapter, whenever Hindu saints are mentioned it is only in context of their opposition to rituals, idol worship and caste system and a concerted attempt at demonizing “upper castes” for all ills of society. However, in the section on Christianity, no similar references are published regarding the Crusades, Inquisitions and atrocities committed on natives across the world in order to force them to convert to Christianity, nor is there any mention of the severe wars between different sects of Christianity, notably the Protestants and Catholics who were at war for centuries. Neither do we see any such references to the bloody spread of Islam across the world that wiped out native pagan cultures from every country that it invaded, the sole exception being Bharat, or the constant and still ongoing wars between Shias and Sunnis.
Surreptitious positioning of Hindus as generally intolerant
Samudragupta is mentioned as a Hindu ruler, “but” he was tolerant to other faiths. It may be noted that in the Gupta period, there were no other faiths – Buddhism and Jainism are part of the same millennia-old Dharmic tradition. Moreover, the use of “but” implies an exception rather than the rule – which is an affront to a land that has universally absorbed and protected virtually all religions of the world and allowed them to grow unhindered. Contrast this with the treatment given to various Islamist iconoclastic rulers as “tolerant and secular”, uninhibited by such “buts” – as we will see later in the article.
(to be continued)