Questionnaire for the Marxist Professors
We return to the Marxist professors with whom we started.
We have cited from eighty histories written by Muslims over a period of more than one thousand years. We have also cited several Islamic inscriptions which confirm what the historians say. The citations show how Hindu temples continued to be destroyed over a vast area and for a long time. We have added no ‘editorial comments’ and given no ‘communal twist’ to the events that took place. All along, we have kept to the actual language used by the Muslim historians.
We wonder if the professors will dismiss as ‘a mere listing of dates’ the evidence we have presented. What we expect from the professors is that they will come forward with ‘historical analysis and interpretations’ so that the destruction of Hindu temples mentioned in the Muslim narratives gets explained in terms of economic or political or any other non-religious motives.
We stick to our position, namely, that it is the theology of Islam which offers the only straight-forward and satisfactory explanation of why Muslim conquerors and rulers did what they did to Hindu places of worship. We have provided full facts about that theology, as also about the history of how it took its final shape. It would be most welcome if the professors come out with their comments on the character and meaning of this theology. In fact, we look forward to a Marxist explanation of it. What were the concrete material conditions and objective historical forces which gave rise to this theology in Arabia at that time?
Next, we refer to the second point which the professors had made in their letter to The Times of India. They had said that ‘acts of intolerance have been committed by followers of all religions’. A subsequent sentence clarified what they meant; they had in mind the ‘Buddhist and Jain monuments’ and ‘animist shrines destroyed by Hindus’. As we have said, we do not share their philosophy of separating the Buddhists, the Jains and the Animists from the Hindus. But we agree to use their terms for the time being and request them to produce
A list of epigraphs which record the destruction of Buddhist and Jain monuments and Animist shrines by any Hindu, at any time;
Citations from Hindu literary sources describing destruction of Buddhist and Jain monuments and Animist shrines by any Hindu, at any time;
The Hindu theology which says or even suggests that non-Hindu places of worship should be destroyed or desecrated or plundered, or which hails such acts as pious or meritorious;
A list of Hindu kings or commanders whom Hindus have hailed as heroes for desecrating or destroying or converting into Hindu places of worship any Buddhist or Jain monuments or Animist shrines;
A list of Buddhist and Jain monuments and Animist shrines which have been desecrated or destroyed or converted into Hindu places of worship in the remote or the recent past;
The names and places of Hindu monuments which stand on the sites occupied earlier by Buddhist or Jain monuments or Animist shrines, or which have materials from the latter embedded in their masonry;
Names of Buddhist, Jain and Animist leaders or organizations who have claimed that such and such Hindu monuments are usurpations, and demanded their restoration to the original occupants;
Names of Hindu leaders and organizations who have resisted any demand made by Buddhists or Jains or Animists for restoration of the latter’s places of worship, or called for legislation which will maintain the status quo, or cried ‘Hinduism in danger’, or staged street riots in support of their usurpations.
We think that this sort of concrete evidence alone cane decide ‘the question of the limits to the logic of restoration of religious sites’. There seems to be no other way. Sweeping generalizations based on slender or dubious evidence are no substitute for hard facts.
We hope that the professors will not resort to the hackneyed swear-words such as ‘Hindu communalism,’ ‘reactionary revivalism’, and the rest. Swear-words offer no solutions. In any case, the time when swear-words carried weight has passed. It is no use inviting the other side to hit back in a similar manner.
If the professors fail to come out with answers to questions posed by us, and to present the evidence in support of their statements, we shall be forced to conclude that far from being serious academicians, they are cynical politicians hawking ad hoc or plausible explanations in the service of a party line. In fact, we shall be justified in saying that they are not Marxists but Stalinists. Marxism is a serious system of thought which offers consistent explanations. Stalinism, on the other hand, is an exercise in suppressio veri suggestio falsi in pursuit of a particular end.
Hindu scholars, leaders and organizations have so far ignored the loud and large-scale talk in the mass media, academia, and political circles about ‘Hindu intolerance’ towards the Buddhists and the Jains and the Animists. Much damage has already been done to the image of Hinduism, and much more damage is likely to result if this talk is not challenged and stopped. How loose and irresponsible this talk can be is illustrated by the following instance.
I attended a seminar on the Mandal Commission Report held in the Gandhi Peace Foundation in October, 1990. One of the participants who spoke in support of the Report was Shri Hukam Dev Narain Singh Yadav, an MP of the Janata Dal at that time and a Minister in the Chandra Shekhar Government some time later. Speaking of Brahminical tyranny, he referred to the time ‘when rivers of the blood of Buddhist monks were made to flow in the Buddhist monasteries (jab bauddha viharoñ meñ bauddha bhikSuoñ ke rakta ki nadiyañ bahai gayi thiñ).’ The following dialogue took place between myself and the speaker at the end of the latter’s talk:
I: Could you kindly name the Buddhist monasteries where it happened, and also the time when it happened?
Speaker: I will not pretend that I know. I must have heard it from someone, or read it somewhere.
I: I give you six months for finding a single instance of Hindus murdering Buddhist monks. I am demanding only one instance, not two.
Speaker: I will try.
The speaker looked to me to be one of the finest men I had ever met. His voice had a ring of sincerity in whatever he said. His humility in presenting his point of view was more than exemplary. I expected him to remember my question and provide an answer. But two and a half years have passed and there is no word from the eminent politician occupying a high position in the public life of this country.
I know that the evidence demanded by me does not exist. It is a Big Lie being spread by Hindu-baiters. Hindus have never done what they are being accused of. My only point in mentioning the incident is that even honest people can become victims of hostile propaganda which is not countered in good time.
When the first edition of this book came out, I sent a copy of it to Professor Romila Thapar of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in her capacity as the doyen of the Marxist historians. I also addressed to her the following letter on 27 June, 1991:
‘I have posed a questionnaire for the school of historians which you lead. Please turn to pp. 438-441 of my recently published book (Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them, Volume II: The Islamic Evidence), a copy of which is being sent to you by registered post.
‘You may also read pp. 70-103 and p.i which also discuss the position of your school.
‘I am drawing your attention to these pages so that your school does not plead ignorance of them while maintaining silence. Of course, you are free to ignore the questionnaire as coming from a person who has had no standing in the academic world. I, however, feel that there are many people still left in this country who care for truth more than for position.’
She was kind enough to reply by a letter dated 10 August 1991 which said:
‘Your letter of 27 June was awaiting me on my recent return to Delhi.
‘As regards the issues raised in the questionnaire included in your book, you are perhaps unaware of the scholarly work on the subject discussed by a variety of historians of various schools of thought. May I suggest that for a start, you might read my published lectures entitled, ‘Cultural Transaction and Early India’.’
I wrote back on 31 August 1991, and stated my position as follows:
‘I acknowledge your letter of August 10.
‘I wish you had refrained from striking the pose of superiority which has been for long the hallmark of your school of historians. It does not go well with academic discipline.
‘For your information I have been primarily a student of ancient India’s history and culture, and gone through a good deal of source material, literary as well as archaeological. One of the reasons I have wandered into India’s medieval and modern history is that I want to know what happened to Hindu heritage at the hands of latter-day ‘liberators’.
‘May I request you not to suggest any further reading of your stuff? You threaten to do so when you use the words ‘for a start’ while recommending your present pamphlet. I am pretty familiar with the patent lore.
‘I am sorry to say that your pamphlet has added nothing to my knowledge or perspective. The method of selecting facts and floating fictions is very well known to me. Christian missionaries have done far better with lesser fare.
‘I am not commenting on the various propositions put forward in your pamphlet. The Questionnaire which I have addressed to you was framed in a particular context. In your letter published in The Times of India dated October 2, 1986, you had stated that handing over of Sri Rama’s and Sri Krishna’s birthplaces to the Hindus, and of disused mosques to the Muslims ‘raises the question of the limits to the logic of restoration of religious sites. How far back do we go? Can we push this to the restoration of Buddhist and Jain monuments destroyed by Hindus? Or of the pre-Hindu animist shrines?’ In my book I have welcomed the statement and said that ‘the question can be answered satisfactorily only when we are prepared to face facts and a sense of proportion is restored’.
‘I have gone ahead and compiled historical and theological data about Islamic iconoclasm from whatever Islamic sources I could lay my hands on during the last four years. More may follow as I get at more of this source material. In an earlier volume I have provided, in a preliminary survey, a list of around two thousands Muslim monuments which are known to stand on the sites of and/or have been built with the materials of Buddhist, Brahmanical and Jain temples. The list is likely to get enlarged as I continue to look into more archaeological reports.
‘I have also compiled a list of Buddhist and Jain monuments supposed to have been destroyed or usurped by this or that Brahmanical sect, and Jain temples functioning at what were Brahmanical places of worship at earlier dates. I am seeking your help to enlarge the list of Buddhist and Jain monuments which were destroyed by those whom you call Hindus. Your writings and statements over the years go to show that you specialize in this subject. What I am looking for in particular is the Hindu theology which inspires acts of intolerance. I expect you to guide me to it.
‘My Questionnaire is not at all a challenge issued in a spirit of combat. It is only an appeal that sweeping statements should now yield place to hard facts so that we know precisely as to who did what, when, where, and under what inspiration. We should be in a position to compare the record of Islamic iconoclasm with that of Hindu iconoclasm, and draw fair conclusions regarding the character and role of the two religions. I for one am not interested in the restoration of religious sites, which I leave to the politicians.
‘It is nobody’s case that Hindu sects (in which I include Buddhists and Jains) did not use strong language vis-a-vis each other. Every Brahmanical sect has used strong language about other Brahmanical sects. So have the Buddhist, and the Jains, not only vis-a-vis Brahmanical sects but also about one another. The situation gets much worse when it comes to the sub-sects, whether Buddhist or Brahmanical or Jain. But strong language alone, whether in words or portrayals, is no evidence in the present context, unless it is followed by overt acts of destruction or usurpation.
‘Secondly, I fail to understand the logic of placing Buddhists and Jains on one side of the fence, and Brahmanical sects on the other. What about Buddhists and Jains committing acts of intolerance vis-a-vis one another? For a start, I refer you to the Mahavamsa which says that the Buddhist king, Vattagamini (29-117 BC), destroyed a Jain vihara and built a Buddhist one on the same site. In the Sravana-Belgola Epitaph of Mallishena, the renowned Jain teacher, Akalanka, says that ‘in the court of the glorious king Himasitala, I overcame all crowds of Bauddhas, most of whom had a shrewd mind (vidagdha-at-mano), and I broke the (image of) Sugata with my foot (padena visphotitah) ‘ (EI. III, 192 for Sanskrit text and 201 for English translation). The instances can be multiplied.
‘Thirdly, I plead that presentation of evidence should not be an exercise in suppressio veri suggestio falsi. Your one line summary (p.18) of die Saiva inscription at Ablur is a case in pint. The inscription says clearly (El.III, 255) that the dispute arose because the Jains in a body tried to prevent a Saiva from worshipping his own image, saying ‘Jina is the (true) deity’. The Jains also undertook to ‘pluck up our Jina and set up Siva’ if the Saiva devotee performed a miracle. And the Jains went back on their plighted word when the miracle was shown. There was a quarrel and the Jina was broken by the Saivas. What is most significant, the Jain king, Bijjala, decided in favour of the Saivas when the dispute was referred to him. He dismissed the Jains, ‘bidding them to go without saying further words’. The story ends with the Jain king showering favours on the Saivas.
‘Dr. Fleet who has edited and translated this inscription along with four others found at the same place, gives summaries of two Lingayat puranas and the Jain Bijjalacharitra, and points out that the story in this inscription finds no support in the literary traditions of the two sects. Bijjal’s inscription dated AD 1162 discovered at Managoli (EI. V, 9-23) also does not support the story. The fact that the Saiva inscription at Ablur bears neither a date nor relates itself definitely to the reign of a king, makes it sound fishy. Authentic inscriptions do not usually deal in miracles. Obviously, the Saivas seem to have used the endowment of a Saiva temple in the Managoli inscription for mounting on it a story which was not related to any real events but satisfied sectarian spite.
‘Dr. Fleet has cited from the Lingayat sources to show that there was nothing Brahmanical about the Lingayats. They harboured ‘hostility to Brahmans’ (p.239) and their doctrines ‘included the persecution and extermination of all persons whose creed differed from that of the Lingayats’ (p.240). Brahmanism in any shape or form should not be held responsible for the doings of this sect. There is evidence that this sect drew its inspiration directly from Muslim missionaries who abounded on the West Coast of India at the time it took shape.
‘Incidentally, I have not been able to find anything relevant to the context in EI. XXVIII.1 which is mentioned in footnote 14 on page 18 of your pamphlet, along with EI.V.237. Is it a printing mistake? Kindly give me the correct reference so that I may examine the incident and credit it to your account if it is not already in my list. I hope it is not a case of strong language alone.
‘Finally, I suggest that all cases of Brahmanical rulers building or endowing Buddhist and Jain temples, and Buddhist and Jain rulers doing the same for Brahmanical temples, should also be compiled for obtaining a total picture of the religious scene. You are very prompt in pointing out the few cases where Hindu temples were endowed or built under Muslim patronage, whenever the large-scale destruction of Hindu temples by Muslims is brought to your notice. Why do you always fail to point out the numerous cases of Brahmanical patronage of Buddhism and Jainism, while listing the few cases of Brahmanical persecution? If a few cases of Muslim patronage can atone for large-scale Islamic iconoclasm, the numerous cases of Brahmanical patronage should be able to do the same for a few cases of Brahmanical persecution. I hope I am not illogical.’
I have not received even an acknowledgement of this letter from Professor Thapar, leave alone any comments on the points raised by me. Her silence has left me sad, for I was looking forward to a fruitful dialogue.
Lest Professor Thapar complains that in my letter to her I have not dealt with all instances of ‘Hindu intolerance’ mentioned in her pamphlet, I reproduce below the entire evidence she has presented. She
‘The persecution of Buddhists in Kashmir is referred to by Hsuan Tsang, but, lest it be thought that he being a Chinese Buddhist monk was prejudiced, the testimony of KalhaNa in the Rajatarañgini should be more acceptable. Hsuan Tsang refers to the atrocities of Mihirakula against the Buddhists both in Punjab and in Kashmir in the sixth century AD. Hsuan Tsang may well have been exaggerating when he lists the destruction of 1,600 Buddhist stupas and sangharamas and the killing of many thousands of Buddhist monks and lay-followers. KalhaNa gives an even fuller account of the king killing innocent people by the hundreds. This is often dismissed by attributing the anti-Buddhist actions of Mihirakula to his being a HuNa. But it should not be forgotten that he was also an ardent Śaiva and gave grants of land in the form of agraharas to the brahmans. In the words of KalhaNa: ‘Brahmans from Gandhara resembling himself in their habits and verily themselves the lowest of the twice-born accepted agraharas from him.’ It is possible that the recently discovered stupa at Sanghol in Punjab, where sculpted railings were found in the vicinity of a stupa dismantled and packed away, indicates this persecution of Buddhists in Kashmir and the wilful destruction of a vihara, again by a Śaivite king. But on this occasion the king repented and built a new monastery for the Buddhist monks.
‘Courtly literature, particularly plays written after the seventh century AD, is replete with invective against Buddhist and Jaina monks who are depicted as morally depraved, dishonest and altogether what one might call the scum of the earth. Mahendravarman’s MaTTavilasa, a farce, is amongst the earliest plays. In the MudrarakSasa of Viśakhadatta, a constant refrain states that it is inauspicious to see a Jaina monk. The Prabodha-candrodaya _of KRSNa Miśra, a drama of the eleventh century, dwells on the theme of a Kapalika converting a Jaina and a Buddhist monk to Śaivism by offering them wine and women, both of which they are said to hanker after. In the Śaiva temples at Khajuraho, Jaina monks, especially of the _digambara sect, are depicted in the worst possible erotic poses. Such references and depictions do not amount to persecution but reflect a contemptuous attitude towards Jaina and Buddhist monks which they would doubtless have found very galling, particularly as they occur in the literature and art of aristocratic groups. The depiction of monks and ascetics as debauched may have been due to the court’s contempt for a variety of ascetics, some of whom were associated with socially unacceptable practices. Such depictions in courtly literature may also have been an attempt to play down the authority associated with renouncers and ascetics in the popular mind. But it is significant that the Buddhists and Jainas are more commonly made the subject of attack.
‘Evidence on the persecution of Jainas by Śaiva sects comes from a variety of sources. The earliest known cave temple originally dedicated by the Jainas in Tirunelveli district was, subsequently in the seventh century, converted into a Śaiva temple. This was not a case of appropriating the temple and gradually changing it. Quite clearly, the Jaina images were either destroyed or erased, sometimes only partially, and fresh Śaivite images carved in the same place. In the case of the partially erased sculpture it is possible to recognize traces of the original. Where the image is totally gouged out the desecration is visible.
‘The Śaivite saint Jñana Sambander is attributed with having converted the PaNDya ruler from Jainism to Śavism, whereupon it is said that eight thousand Jainas were impaled by the king. This episode is represented in painting and sculpture in medieval temples and is enacted to this day in some Śiva temples during their annual festival. In later times, attempts were made to appease the Jainas by royal patrons building Jaina, Śaiva and VaiSNava temples in close proximity. But in these areas the Jaina temples soon fell into disrepair whilst the others flourished.
‘Such activities were not restricted to a particular area. The Jaina temples of Karnataka went through a traumatic experience at the hands of the Lingayatas or Viraśaivas in the early second millennium AD. This would explain in part why some Jaina texts have pejorative references to Basava, who founded the Viraśaiva sect. The Jaina temples at LakkuNDi were located in the proximity of an affluent agrahara and the VaiSNava brahmans accepted Mahavira as an incarnation of Brahma. Later, however, one of the temples was converted into a Śaiva temple. At Huli, the temple of the five Jinas was converted into a pañcaliñgeśvara Śaivite temple, the five liñgas replacing the five Jina images in the sancta. Some other Jaina temples suffered the same fate. An inscription at Ablur in Dharwar eulogizes attacks on Jaina temples as retaliation for Jaina opposition to Śaivite worship. Sculpted panels at this site depict the smashing of Jaina images. In the fourteenth century the harassment of Jainas was so acute that they had to appeal for protection to the ruling power at Vijayanagara.
‘Inscriptions of the sixteenth century from the Srisailam area of Andhra Pradesh record the pride taken by Viraśaiva chiefs in beheading svetambara Jainas. The local records of this area refer to the frequent persecution of the Jainas. In Gujarat, Jainism flourished during the reign of Kumarapala, but his successor persecuted the Jainas and destroyed their temples. However, Jainism was so well-established here that periodical persecution did not really shake it’1
She sums up: ‘It is historically important to know why this persecution of the Buddhists and Jainas occurred in particular by the Śaivas. I can only offer a few comments. At the religious level, it may have had to do with asceticism. Was Śiva seen as the ascetic par excellence and the patron deity of ascetics, and were Buddhist and Jaina monks seen as imposters? Did Buddhist and Jaina monks find the worship of the lingam offensive owing to the puritanism inherent in both these systems? Yet the Tantric versions of these systems conceded to practices and ideas which were opposed to puritanism. If the hostility related only to religious differences, then it should have surfaced earlier in time. It is interesting that it begins about the middle of the first millennium AD and gains force through the centuries until Buddhism eventually fled the country and Jainism was effectively limited to a few pockets. The persecution predates the coming of Islam to these areas, so that the convenient excuse that Islamic persecution caused the decline of these religions is not applicable.’2
Interestingly, she has refrained from mentioning the persecution of Buddhists by Puśyamitra Śunga and Śaśañka of GauDa, and the melting of idols by king Harsha of Kashmir, which had so far figured most prominently in the writings of her school. I wonder whether she has realized that those allegations have no legs to stand upon, even though others of her school continue to harp on them. In any case, it may be assumed that her present list has exhausted the entire stock-in-trade in the Marxist shop on the subject of ‘Hindu intolerance’. I will deal with these instances, one by one.
She has suppressed the fact, stated by Huen Tsang, that Mihirakula had requested the Buddhist Sangha to teach him the tenets of Buddhism. The Sangha did not assign the task to a qualified teacher but sent a monk who had the rank of a servant. Mihirakula felt outraged at this insult and persecuted the Buddhists. It is highly doubtful if this HuNa tyrant had become a Śaiva. KalhaNa sees him only as a HuNa extending patronage to bad BrahmaNas. But even if he had, his fury had nothing to do with Śaivism. On the contrary, it was the fury of a tyrant whose ego had been hurt. Kashmir had known many Śaiva kings before Mihirakula as well as after him. None of them is known to have persecuted the Buddhists. In fact, most of them are known to have been patrons of Buddhism. The only instance she cites is that of a king who repented and rebuilt the vihara which he had pulled down in a fit of anger. We should welcome a similar instance of some Muslim ruler who repented and rebuilt the temple he had demolished. The difference arises because while it was a temporary lapse on the part of the Kashmiran king, Muslim rulers were inspired by a permanently prescribed theology.
Dragging in the unfinished stupa at Sangol in this context is totally unwarranted. No archaeologist has said that the stupa was ‘dismantled and packed away’. All that is known is that many stones had been finished, and were meant to be parts of a stupa. But no one knows for sure why they were left in pits and trenches. It is no more than a speculation that perhaps a HuNa invasion was feared. No other archaeologist or historian has surmised that Mihirakula was leading this invasion, and that he inspired fear as a Śaiva. In any case, Professor Thapar is the first to say that this represents a case of persecution of the Buddhists by a Śaiva king. Her obssession has scored over her scruples.
The instances of Buddhist and Jain monks being made the subject of invectives in Sanskrit literature does not prove anything. Professor Thapar has herself stated in her present pamphlet that the Jain book Paumacarya denounces the BrahmaNas as ‘heretics and preachers of false doctrines who acquired their status through fraud.’3 Shall we say that the Paumacarya invites the Jains to persecute the BrahmaNas? I can cite many instances where the BrahmaNas have been abused in Buddhist and Jain literature in worse language. But I will not accuse the Buddhists and Jains of persecution of the BrahmaNas. And what about Buddhists and Jains hurling invectives on one another? Shall we say that Buddhists persecuted the Jains, and vice versa.
The persecution of Jains in the PaNDya country by some Śaivas had nothing to do with Śaivism as such, but was an expression of a nationalist conflict which I will relate shortly. What I want to point out first is that most of the royal dynasties which ruled in India, after the breakdown of the Gupta Empire and before the advent of Islamic invaders, were Śaiva-Maukharis, PuSyabhutis, Gurjara-Pratiharas, and GahaDavaDs of Kanyakubja; Vakatakas of Nandivardhana and Vatsagulma; Pallavas of Kañchipuram; Cholas of Tanjore; Chalukyas of Vatapi, KalyaNa, and Veñgi; PaNDuvaMśis of Kosala and Mekala; Kalachuris of MahiSmati and Tripuri; RashtrakuTas of ManyakheTa; Maitrakas of Valabhi; Guhilots of Mewar; ChahmaNas of Sakambhari, NaDDula and Jalor; Turki and Hindu Shahis of Kabul, Zabul and UdbhaNDapura; KarkoTas and Utpalas of Kashmir; Tomaras of Haryana and Delhi; Parmaras of Malwa and Abu; Chaulukyas of Gujarat; Yadvas of Maharashtra; Kakatiyas of Andhra Pradesh; HoySalas of Karnataka; Chandellas of Kalinjara - to recount only the most prominent of them. The Jains are known to have flourished everywhere; not a single instance of the Jains being persecuted under any of these dynasties is known. The instance she mentions from Gujarat was only the righting of a wrong which the Jains had committed under Kumarapala. Professor Thapar does not mention the Jain high-handedness which had preceded.
The conflict between the Jains and the Śaivas in the PaNDya country has been dealt with in detail by M. Arunachalam in a monograph published eight years before Professor Thapar delivered the lectures which comprise her pamphlet.4 He has proved conclusively, with the help of epigraphic and literary evidence, that the Kalabhara invaders from Karnataka had occupied Tamil Nadu for 300 years (between AD 250 and 550), and that they subscribed to the Digambara sect of Jainism.5 It so happened that some of the Kalabhara princes were guided by a few narrow-minded Jain ascetics, and inflicted injuries on some Śaiva and VaiSNava saints and places of worship. They also took away the agraharas which BrahmaNas had enjoyed in earlier times.6 And a reaction set in when the Kalabharas were overthrown. The new rulers who rose subscribed to Śavisim. It was then that the Jains were persecuted in some places, and some Jain places to worship were taken over by the Śaivas under the plea that these were Śaiva places in the earlier period.
But the reaction was confined to the PaNDya country. Jainism continued to flourish in northern Tamil Nadu which also had been invaded by the Kalabharas, where also the Śaivas and VaiSNavas had been molested by the Jains, and where also the Śaivas had come to power once again. It is significant that though Buddhists also invite invectives in the same Śaiva literature, no instance of Buddhists being persecuted is recorded. That was because Buddhists had never harmed the Śaivas. It is also significant that the VaiSNavas of Tamil Nadu show no bitterness against the Jains though they had also suffered under Kalabhara rule.
In any case, Professor Thapar should have mentioned the persecution of Śaivas practised earlier by the PaNDya king who was a Jain to start with, and who later on converted to Śaivism and persecuted the Jains. This is another instance of suppressio vari suggestio falsi practised very often by her school. Obviously, these persecutions had nothing to do with either Jainism or Śaivism, and were no more than the expressions of a king’s personal predisposition.
Interestingly, the Persecution of Jains in the PaNDya country finds mention only in Śaiva literature, and is not corroborated by Jain literature of the same or subsequent period. Specialists of South India’s history such as K.A.N. Sastri have dismissed the whole story as a Śaiva braggadocio without any basis in fact. The atrocities of the Islamic invaders, on the other hand, find mention not only in Muslim histories but also in contemporary Hindu literature. At any rate, these few instances cannot overshadow the fact that Jains and Śaivas have lived in perfect amity for a very long time, and over large areas. What is more important, neither Jains nor Śaivas have any theology sanctioning persecution of people belonging to other religious persuasions. Aberrations should be seen as aberrations, unless we are out to make mountains out of molehills.
- As regards her statement that ‘Buddhism eventually fled the country and Jainism was effectively confined to few pockets’ as a result of Hindu persecution in pre-Islamic days, one simply feels flabbergasted in the face of such colossal ignorance on the part of a professor of history. As regards Buddhism, we are quoting what Dr. B.R. Ambedkar has to say on the subject. After observing that the Persian word ‘but’ meaning ‘idol’ is derived from Buddha, He writes: ‘Thus the origin of the word indicates that in the Muslim mind idol worship had come to be identified with the religion of Buddha. To the Muslims they were one and the same thing. The mission to break idols thus became the mission to destroy Buddhism. Islam destroyed Buddhism not only in India but wherever it went. Bactria, Parthia, Afghanistan, Gandhara and Chinese Turkestan in all these countries Islam destroyed Buddhism.’7 More precisely: ‘The Muslim invaders sacked the Buddhist universities of Nalanda [etc.]. They razed to the ground Buddhist monasteries with which the country was studded. The monks fled away in thousands. A very large number were killed outright by the Muslim commanders.’8 D.D. Kosambi, a historian of her own Marxist school, confirms that Nalanda was sacked ‘by a handful of Muslim raiders under Mohammed bin Bakhtyar Khalji about AD 1200’ and that ‘the tremendous complex at Sarnath which had grown up on the site of the first Buddhist sermon was wrecked beyond recovery, thus ending a continuous tradition of refuge and meeting-place for ascetics which went back to the centuries before Buddha.’9
She would do well to read some histories of Buddhism and Jainism in this country to know that 1) Buddhism was flourishing all over the country when the Islamic invaders arrived on the scene; 2) both Buddhism and Jainism were being patronised by kings whom the Marxist lable as Hindus; 3) Buddhist monks fled to Nepal and Tibet only after thousands of them were massacred, and their monasteries destroyed by the Islamic marauders; 4) Buddhism continued to flourish all over Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka till attacked by the armies of Islam in the fourteenth century; 5) Buddhism did not survive the Islamic assault because, unlike Brahmanism and Jainism, it was centred round monasteries and monks; 6) Jainism has continued to flourish till today all over north India, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat as it did in the pre-Islamic period, in spite of prolonged Islamic persecution; and 7) there is evidence of a large number of Jain temples being destroyed in the Muslim invasions of southern Bihar and Jharkhand as well as of western and northern Bengal, during the thirteenth and subsequent centuries.
It is nobody’s case that there was never any conflict among the sects and sub-sects of Sanatana Dharma. Some instances of persecution were indeed there. Our plea is that they should be seen in a proper perspective, and not exaggerated in order to whitewash or counter-balance the record of Islamic intolerance. Firstly, the instances are few and far between when compared to those listed in Islamic annals. Secondly, those instances are spread over several millennia while the fourteen centuries of Islam stand crowded with religious crimes of all sorts. Thirdly, none of those instances were inspired by a theology, while in the case of Islam a theology of intolerance has continued to question the character of Muslim kings who happened to be tolerant. Fourthly, Jains were not always the victims of persecution; they were persecutors as well once in a while. Lastly, no king or commander or saint who showed intolerance has been a Hindu hero, while Islam has hailed as heroes only those characters who excelled in intolerance.
It is not an accident that Professor Thapar’s pamphlet consists of I. H. Qureishi Memorial Lecture, 1987, delivered in the St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. Ishdaq Husain Qureishi was a professor of medieval Indian history in this college when I was a student in another college of the same university. He was a well-known intellectual of the Muslim League and famous for floating the proposition that Hindus were far better off under Muslim rule than they were under that of their own princes in pre-Islamic India. He migrated to Pakistan after Partition, and was that country’s Minister of Education for a term. He functioned, to the end of his life, as an apologist of Islamic imperialism as is evident from the numerous works of ‘research’ he wrote or guided. One can hardly expect proper knowledge or perspective from ‘professors’ who are patronized by such platforms.
Ibid., p. 19. ↩
Ibid., P. 15. ↩
The Kalabharas in the Pandiya country and their Impact on the Life and Letters there, University of Madras, 1979. ↩
Ibid., pp. 29-34. ↩
Ibid., pp. 95-100. ↩
Writings and Speeches, published by the Government of Maharashtra, Volume 3. p. 229 (in the Chapter ‘The Decline and Fall of Buddhism.’) ↩
Ibid., pp. 229-30. ↩
The Culture and Civilization of Ancient India, New Delhi, 1984, p. 18. ↩