Indian History Writing Glorifies Invaders And Sidelines Architects of Our Civilisation : Vikram Sampath

Editor-in-Chief Aarti Tikoo and historian and author Vikram Sampath talk about his book “Bravehearts of Bharat: Vignettes from Indian History”, the Delhi-centric, and misogynist lens of history writing.

| Updated: 22 November, 2022 7:11 pm IST

The biggest folly in historiography of India is its academic historians’ extreme obsession with foreign invaders and its tendency to overlook the contribution of its real heroes who not only put up a resistance against Islamic marauders but also built the Indian civilisation, says historian and author Vikram Sampath in an exclusive interview to The New Indian‘s Editor-in-Chief Aarti Tikoo.

With his latest book “Bravehearts of Bharat: Vignettes from Indian History” Sampath attempts to counter the extreme Delhi-centrism and other grave oversights of contemporary history writing in India. “History of India is not the History of Delhi . We learn by rote every small dynasty that ruled Delhi, the Lodhis, the Khiljis, the Tughlags. These were barbaric marauders and invaders. Barring a few architectural structures here and there, I don’t know what their contribution to civilization or the country is. And still we have roads named after them, we commemorate them, our students are made to know about them,” he said.

He profiles lost heroes who fought to uphold the tradition and culture of their land including Rajarshi Bhagyachandra Jai Singh (Manipur), Lalitaditya Muktapida (Kashmir), Chand Bibi (Ahmednagar) and Lachit Barphukan (Assam).

Talking about the complete whitewashing of the glorious Hindu past of Kashmir he says, “Lalitaditya Muktapida  doesn’t ring a bell in any young person’s mind because he is not spoken about in our history books. Kalhana in Rajatarangini even though in an exaggerated manner claimed that his empire extended down south. But even if one were to discount such hyperbole, Lalitaditya laid the foundation of what Kashmir was to become and was an architect of our civilisation. He showed that building an empire was not merely about conquest. He turned Kashmir into a seat of learning. He brought the best scholars from places he conquered and one of them was Trigupta, the grandfather of Abhinavagupta, who started the whole Kashmir Shaivism school. I think by design these stories have been kept away to suit contemporary politics and contemporary needs,” he says.

The book, published by Penguin India, also talks about Begum Hazrat Mahal (Awadh), Rani Abbakka Chowta (Ullal), Martanda Varma (Travancore), Rani Rudrama Devi (Warangal), Rani Naiki Devi (Gujarat) and Banda Singh Bahadur among others who not only donned an armour and burst into the battlefield but also kept the flame of hope alive under adverse circumstances.



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