Glorious India~III

Glorious India~III

Representation image [Photo:SNS]

The initial invasions from the 6th Century BCE (Persian) and the 4th century BCE (Alexander’s) till the 13th century CE, which were on the peripheries of greater India did not much hurt the ethos of the Indian civilization.

But it was the despotic and theocratic rule of the Delhi Sultanate (by 32 Sultans) for 320 years and of the Mughal Empire (by 21 Emperors) for 330 years that inflicted maximum wounds on the soul of the Indic civilization.

The 600 years of theocratic rule is considered to be the ‘dark period’ in Indian history. Whatever good was there in the Indian civilization was undone during this period.


The age-old social system based on the principles of Artha, Kama, Dharma and Moksha, the Buddhist and Jain principles of non-violence, peace and compassion for all including animals and trees, and the universal principle of karma with dharma for the common people, were sacrificed at the altar of the sword.

The ancient system of Mahajanapads and the Panchayati system were replaced by Jagirs granted to people who were loyal to them.

The janapads, towns and areas were renamed after the names of the rulers. Suffering from heightened superiority complex about their looks, valour and their new religion, the invaders who were basically nomadic tribes of Central Asia were contemptuous of the local gentry assuming them as enemies and treated the Indians as nothing more than slaves. The primary objective and mission of all the rulers of the Sultanate and the Mughal empire except a very few like Akbar and Sher Shah Suri had been rapid Islamization and converting India into an Islamic State.

The story of Jammu and Kashmir proves this theory; till the thirteenth century, there was no Muslim in the State and by the end of the Mughal rule, Muslims constituted 98 per cent of Kashmir’s population.

How was it possible without forced mass conversions? Except brief spells of lull and peace, the entire period of 600 years was marked by wars, bloodshed, cruelty, violence, oppression, conversion and discrimination.

Much has been said and written about the pomp and glories of the Mughal rule in India. But the biggest blow to the Indic civilization came from the Mughals only. Many historians are agog with accolades for the six great Mughal emperors, especially Akbar and Shah Jahan.

History has been extra kind to Akbar because it ignores the cruelty perpetrated by him during the first half of his rule. He broke the backbone of the Rajputs, who were the main warriors of India. In his treacherous operation of Chitor, he was responsible for the suicide by jauhar of hundreds of Rajput women and massacre of some 20,000 unarmed Rajput men. Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, who claimed his lineage from Genghis Khan and Timur never considered India as his homeland and wanted to be buried after his death in Kabul.

Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan tried their best to maintain communal harmony and promote trade, commerce and industry but there was no deviation from the Sultanate’s policy of obliterating all Buddhist, Jain and Hindu relics from Afghanistan to Varanasi and therefore, Mughal regime also saw the large-scale destruction of temples, sculptures and heritage sites throughout North India.,

The oldest universities and the great libraries of Nalanda and Taxila were also destroyed by the invaders. It was the 50-year ruthless rule of Aurangzeb which dealt a death blow to the Indian ethos. All good things of Indian culture ~ art, literature, dance, drama, music and festivals ~ were stopped. Some historians like Romila Thapar unsuccessfully tried to project Aurangzeb as a good administrator and secular emperor, which is a travesty of the truth.

The world has rarely seen a more ruthless despot, bigot, fanatic and oppressive ruler than Aurangzeb who ruled India with an iron hand in accordance with the Sharia law, which was indeed blatantly discriminatory.

His policy of taxation, reimposition of draconian jizya on the majority nonMuslims and the resultant torture forced millions to convert to Islam. Had there been no Shivaji in the West and Guru Govind Singh in the North, the history of India would have been different. The British conquest of India was not an invasion in the classical sense.

It was a story of powerful merchants gradually assuming the mantle of governance taking advantage of the misrule and weakness of the existing rulers. While the British rule, first by the East India Company (1757- 1857) and then by the Crown (1858-1947) has been criticized on several counts ~ oppression of peasants, maltreatment of the ‘natives’, siphoning of trillions of dollars to England etc, the fact remains that the coming of the British was a boon for India.

The British saved the Indian civilization by ending the theocratic rule of the Mughals and preventing India from being converted into an Islamic nation.

The British must be credited for the establishment of a secular government, a steel-frame bureaucracy, a modern strong military, an independent judiciary, a strong administrative and financial system, creation of one of the world’s largest rail networks, an efficient postal network, building of communication systems, construction of roads, bridges, ports, airports, towns, cities and hill stations and introduction of English education with a network of schools, colleges and universities, which united the whole of the India within and with the rest of the world.

As Nirad C Chaudhuri has said in his famous book An Autobiography of an Unknown Indian that ‘whatever good is still left in us is the gift of the British.’ The wounded civilization of India and the Indian ethos were resurrected by a galaxy of great modern Indians produced by an Indian renaissance in the nineteenth century beginning from Bengal and later by the nationalist movement which also started in Bengal.

The Reform Movement pioneered by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Dayanand, Swami Vivekananda and the subsequent Nationalist Movement starting with Bankim Chandra’s ‘Vande Mataram’ and Tilak’s ‘Swaraj’ culminating with Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement and Subhas Bose’s Indian National Army (INA) ushered in a resurgent India. It must be remembered that had there been no British rule, there would have been no Tagore, Gandhi, Subhas or Vivekananda, who all were the products of English education and the Bengal Renaissance would not have happened.

The idea of India cannot be a sectarian idea divorced from the past or the present. It has to encompass the core values of the Indic civilization and the ideals of the nation’s reform movement and the freedom movement.

A nation which is not proud of its rich heritage and culture and ignores the core values of its civilization must be an unfortunate nation. Francois Gautier, French author and journalist said in his book The Wonder that is India (2016): “Indians have become clones because they do not take pride in their culture and traditions.”

Optimistically, I would like to conclude with what Swami Vivekananda said about India: “When the real history of India will be unearthed, it will be proved that, as in the matters of religion, so in fine arts, India is the primal Guru of the whole world.”

(The writer is a former Dy. Comptroller &Auditor General of India and a former Ombudsman of Reserve Bank of India. He is also a writer of several books and can be reached at