V.30: No. 7-8 July-Aug 2002 #350-351
Editorial note, p. 1
"Rg Vedic and Harappan Cultures: Lexical and Archaeological Aspects," R.S. Sharma, p. 3
"The Mughal Encounter with Vedanta: Recovering the Biography of `Jadrup'," Shireen Moosvi, p. 13
"Partition Narratives," Mushirul Hasan, p. 24
"The Spiritual Journey of Dara Shukoh," Tasadduq Husain, 54
"Faltering Development and the Post-modernist Discourse," G.K. Lieten, p. 67
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Among alternative varieties of fascism, the variety currently burgeoning in India has one sui generis quality, which is its obsession with rewriting history. The reason lies in its essentially comprador character: its pusillanimity vis a vis imperialism forces it to locate its "superiority" myth, which incidentally is common to all varieties of fascism, in the hoary old past, in fact several millennia before Christ. Sustaining this myth therefore necessarily requires a rewriting of history in a way that the myths propagated by the other varieties of fascism did not require. The myth of "Aryan superiority" could simply be asserted; the myth of "Hindutva superiority" requires by contrast a tampering with the chronology of ancient Indian history. Indian historians, among whom are some of the finest practitioners of the craft anywhere in the world, have, to their credit, stoutly resisted this officially-sponsored attempt to pervert their discipline by the ideological upstarts of Hindutva. We are happy therefore to publish in the current issue of Social Scientist a number of papers, by noted historians of the country, which were presented at the last session of the Indian History Congress, held at Bhopal. We hope that our readers would get from this sample of papers a flavour of the ongoing historical research in the country.
The Hindutva protagonists have been endorsing the view that the Harappan civilization was Vedic and Aryan. This view however is untenable for an obvious reason, namely that the mature Harappan culture is dated around 2500-2000 BC while most scholars date the Rg Veda later than 2000 sc. The Hindutva protagonists overcome this difficulty by pushing back the Rg Veda to a much earlier period, though this claim goes against the overwhelming weight of available evidence. R.S.Sharma, in the lead article of this issue, revisits this question of the Aryan nature of Harappan civilization, and, concentrating exclusively on the lexical and archaeological evidence, shows that generally the markers of Harappan culture do not appear in the Rg Veda and vice versa. Of particular interest in this context is Sharma's discussion of the Munda presence in the Harappan area, and the survival, even to this day, of Munda words in the Punjabi language. So fascinating is this whole discussion that one feels tempted to request historians to put on the research agenda an exploration of
p. 2 SOCIAL SCIENTIST
the Santhal roots of the Indian civilization, rather in the manner of Martin Bernal's Black Athena which threw light on the Afro-Asiatic roots of classical European civilization.
Two papers on medieval India throw light, each in its own way, on the alchemy of the process through which the idea of India came to be formed. Akbar and Dara Shukoh were two outstanding Mughal princes who contributed to this process. Shireen Moosvi discusses the lite of "Jadrup" a name that appears in A' in-i-Akbari and a name that she identifies with Chitrarupa, an ascetic through whom the Mughals came to know about Vedantic philosophy in its. pantheistic form. Tasadduq Husain explores the spiritual journey of Dara Shukoh, a rational thinker who, while claiming to be a true Muslim, rejected the sectarian Islam of the Ulema.
The partition, a major setback for the idea of India, continues to haunt us. Underlying questions like "Could it have been avoided?" "What went wrong? ", underlying endless discussions about the role of this or that leader, underlying speculations over whether this or that remark of some prominent leader really turned the tide, and underlying the fresh, raw memory of the suffering, the trauma, and the brutality that accompanied the partition, is the Tact that we, the people of the subcontinent, have been singularly unable even after more than half a century to transcend that event, to seule scores with that past. Mushirul Hasan's paper on Partition Themes, which is the text of his Presidential Address to the Modern India section of the Indian History Congress, is a sparkling and evocative discussion of this epochal event.
Finally we publish a paper on the theme relating to imperialism and the economic order it is busy imposing on the oppressed humanity. The paper emphasizes in particular the ideological obfuscation which is an integral part of imperial dominance. Kristoffel Lieten talks about the hollowness and seductiveness of the post-modern and postdevelopment position.
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