History Writing: A Political Process & Dearth of Rajput Historians a crisis


Chausath Yogini Temple that was established by Raja Devpala Kachwaha of Gwalior in 11th century. It is said to have inspired the design of the Indian Parliament. All Jantar Mantars were established by Sawai Jai Singh Rajawat Kachwaha.

Gwalior was established by Kachwahas, who were feudals of Imperial Pratihars of Kannauj. When the Imperial Pratihar power waned, Rashtrakuts (Rathores) of Badaun conquered Kannauj forcing the Pratihars to depopulate Kannauj – Rathores are still the largest Rajput clan of Kannauj district while Pratihars are non-existent.

These Pratihars then moved to east & South ; they took Gwalior from Kachwahas and established Gwalior Parihar dynasty.
Kachwahas thus were forced to leave Gwalior (though Kachwahas are still found in western parts of Chambal), the city they founded and invaded Eastern Rajasthan where they became feudals of the new Imperial Chauhan power. Arriving in Eastern Rajasthan, they displaced Nikumbh Rajputs from Dausa (who later moved to Rohillkhand) and establish a stalemate with the Rajput clan then called Gurjar-Pratihar (now Bargujars) of Alwar** .

Yet the Kachwahas could never rise due to their geographical proximity with Sultanate Delhi and their political vasalage under Mewar — the power that rose to prominence in 14th century.

The Mughal-Rajput alliance is an over-simplification; it was Mughal-Kachwaha alliance , all the other western, pahadi & bundela Rajputs who joined also accepted the leadership of Kachwaha-ruled Dhundhar, who finally replaced Mewar.
Almost all of us in Rajasthan have Kachwaha & Sisodia-Guhilot relatives ---- but even the latter acknowledge the political sagacity of the Kachwaha leaders for having caused local revivalism after Mewar’s decline. It was diplomatic wisdom of Kachwaha Monarchs to join the Mughals and take the wars outside India towards Afghanistan, Balochistan and Badakhshan , which helped North Indian rulers to repair and revive the economy and art, after centuries of politico-military turbulence.


Govind-devji temple of Vrindavan was established by Raja Mansingh Kachwaha. Source: here

The same clan also gave us all the Jantar Mantars and many brave soldiers like PVC Havildar Piruji Shekhawat, MVC Brig Bhawani Singh Rajawat (last titular head), to this day.

However, the only thing that Lutyens gang & Hindu rightwing wants us to associate them with is — JodhaAkbar & even that they reinterpret as if to evoke shame in the community.

The Chausath Yogini Temple, that allegedly inspired Indian Parliament, was a Kachwaha creation. Lutyens did use a lot of Indian influences, which he never refrained from claiming. However the Indian lobby that began to be Identified with his name, destroyed much or threw much of this History into darkness. This lobby was dominated by Literary castes that were richer, more stable and now political inheritors of the British Civil society, and hence the Ruling castes of modern India. They controlled Academia (Brahmins, Kayasths, Ashrafs), Hindi cinema (Khatris & Pathans) , national politics (Bengali Brahmins, Marathi Brahmins & KPs) and even Industries (Khatris & Banias).Yet Rajputs who owned many lands at the time of independence and had numerical dominance in Indian military. This often evoked a sense of insecurity about “rajput secession”, best illustrated in Kashyap’s Gulaal (2009) which even featured Rajput secessionists despite the community having no such history.

Although they destroyed Rajput dominance in land and military using “socialism”, while keeping their own hegemony in their respective fields intact, their Rajputphobia in these elite-circles has somehow not vanished.

Left’s Mughalcentrism: History of Mughal dynasty vs History of Rajput people


Both the articles published on Samir Patil’s Scroll.in, have the same author - Girish Shahane, a marathi brahmin

Notice the contrast how he treats Babur,an individual warlord and how treats Rajput community (an ethnic group). In the first, he invokes and mourns an alleged public injustice meted out to Babur and then he gradually builds up the story of a cultured emperor with much nuance and careful words, invoking the best of Babur.

In the second, he seems high on substance, makes innumerable casual statements on Rajputs that rather qualify as parody, not even criticism. Right in the first paragraph, Shahane actually insinuates that Delhi Sultans restricted Rajputs to Rajasthan - making us wonder where did the Rajputs of Central India, Gangetic plains, Punjab and Himalayas vanish? Then he mocks famous Rajput personalities , hurls expletives from “defeat specialist” to “opium-eaters”, and finally dumps (at least) 1500 year long history of seventy tribes into garbage. Read: Rebuttal.

Esteemed veteran historians like Harbans Mukhia and Romila Thapar even congratulated him for this “insightful intellectual piece”, instead of castigating him.

Also read: Girish Shahane, Scroll.in, Rajputs: The Making of a Media Narrative


Mr Mohan Guruswamy has been an opinion-maker journalist since 1980s. (L) He carefully cultivates a polished, nuanced & respectful image of Emperor Aurangzeb (an individual). (R ) He insincerely and polemically declares the entire Rajput community to be Huns or Scythians and then denounces that they lost it all to "other Central Asian marauders, sharing Shahane’s article Mohan is only a specimen of the ecosystem that is viscerally Rajputphobic without exception. Irony is that his father Major N K Guruswamy himself was Razakar’s employee.

That “left-liberal ecosystem” , dominated by Bengali Bhadraloks, Punjabi Khatris & Ashrafs has been viscerally Rajputphobic can no longer be denied. Had it not been so, our maratha boys Shahane & Patil wouldn’t have been successful in their objectives.

One thing is quite clear: none of these even know what clans/tribes constitute Rajput community, what is their current geography or demography, yet somehow they trash the Rajput community blindly, while at the same ensuring no libel befalls the memory of dead Mughal emperors.

The only part Rajputs play in their discourse, is that of legitimizing and secularizing the Mughal rule (as evident from Guruswamy’s post on left) - hence, the obsessive usage of terms like “Rajput-Mughal alliance”. This even to the extent that any patronage by a Rajput elite to art and architecture becomes a “Rajput-Mughal teamwork”. Hence, Mughal contributions are exclusively Mughal contributions, but Rajput contributions become "Mughal-Rajput contributions".

The phrase “Mughal-Rajput partnership” is mostly aimed at secularizing Mughal past and then glorifying them, while the other group (Rajput community) is not just quickly relegated to sidelines but to barrage of uninformed abuses.

The phrase “Mughal-Rajputs” has been so recurrently used as a trueism, that a major fact is forgotten that most Rajput clans/tribes existed on the periphery of the Imperial Mughal power - this is true about Kshatriya tribes that had no Administrative State of their own, but were organized in tribal republics. Jehangir and Aurangzeb even had a policy to de-rajputise Western Gangetic plains for which they settled mohallas of Afghan tribesmen in the region (Check DHA Kollf, NRS, p.13) .


Mr Sharma is an Assamese Brahmin (not a stakeholder in region’s history) & belongs to Mughalcentric Leftist historiography. In his book & the article & his post He convices that fall of Chittor (1576) was conclusive defeat of the region for which he eulogised Akbar. He also manages to rationalise post-war massacre of 10000 inhabitants, of which 8000 peasants as a brilliant war tactics of Emperor , even calling it “spectacular”. Five years down the line don’t be surprised, if they manage to write-off this massacre & convince public that it was Pratap who was a crazy, witless, obstinate fanatic who pushed his people to death by not accepting the benign Emperor’s subsequent calls for submission.

RS-1
Hegemonic control of Liberal Arts institutions by Brahmin-Savarns and Ashrafs , and a concomitant absence of a Rajput-voice has only resulted in extreme dehumanization of Rajput peoples’ past as well as present ; although they uncritically extol & eulogize individual Turkic Emperors, notwithstanding their individual actions

Right’s Maratha-centrism & it’s abuse of Rajput History


A prominent Rightwing Twitter handle, with 0.2 million followers, doesn’t even list Rajput community or any Rajput Dynasty in its hashtags despite Rajputs having built most Temples of North, Northwest & Central India

The rightwing RSS ideology has a Marathi origins and still a Marathi Brahmin-dominant leadership. Hence it views “Maratha history” as central to their own ideological existence. Just as the rural unemployed Rajput youth is just a dispensable manpower for them, who they use, exploit and discard, similar is their policy towards the Rajput history too.

RSS’s ideology and its historical perspective is largely based on literature of Marathi Brahmin activists of 19th and 20th century. They believed that the Rajputs of North and Northwest were cowardly, debauched and weak Hindu kings who compromised on both Dharma and the Nation, and that it were their more virtuous, brave and militarily-sagacious Deccani ancestors who saved both. They even blame the treacherous Rajputs for betraying them once again at Panipat. Thus the Rajputs from Sindh to Bihar & Rajori to Malwa were just “beti-giving” “defeat specialists”, while the Deccanis ie Marathas and Marathi Brahmins were uncompromising military-geniuses.

There is no mention of Maratha marriages with Bahamani Sultans, Bijapur Sultans and other Deccan Sultanates at all. However, there is a recurrent mention of Rajput-Mughal marriages with a particular interpretation evoking a sense of shame and guilt among Rajput public.

There would be no mention of where Marathas were for almost a millenium, while they reject Rajputs as “losers”.

For them, the utility of Rajput history is only three-fold: (1) Exploit it to bash Muslims (who in fact had nothing to do with Turkic atrocities). (2) Make flimsy comparisons to lionize Maratha history. (3) Appropriate Rajput clans & their history for Sanskritization.

The Maharana Pratap obsession among Rajputs is one of RSS’s own premeditated misgivings. The aim of this on part of RSS, is to ensure that as Rajputs remain obsessed with Maharana Pratap, the other communities can be facilitated to not just appropriate other Rajput personalities but also various Rajput clans.

History writing is politics & in the Indian case it always ends in Identity politics.

History-writing: A Continuous Politcal Process & how we lagged

Mughal is a single dynasty but mughal-history attracts a lot of funds & focus from premier institutions, Indian & abroad. And premier institutions are technically Mughal/Turkic fortresses ---- this also has a long history. Methodical chronicling of history was introduced by their ancestors. By 19th century, with formation of AMU, Jamia-Milia-Islamia etc, they became dominant in Medieval history writing and enjoy a strong traditional presence in History Departments till this day. Further they were aided by the Nehruvian and Leftist ideologues who saw Mughals central to their idea of India.

Maratha history was unconditionally supported by RSS and especially writers of Marathi brahmin & the Maratha caste backgrounds. Plus the funding comes from Industrialists like Kirloskar and many Marathas have made big in real estates recently. Scroll.in 's Samir Patil is just a fine example of an entrepreneur whose portal today sets public narratives. Then Maharashtra had Deccan College, Fergusson College,and Pune University.

The same is true of Punjabi universities & Sikh History writing. In fact, Captain Amrinder Singh himself has been a keen promoter and preserver of Sikh Military history. Further, the presence of a huge population of Sikh NRIs, the Khalsa Aid based PR campaigns, communitarian focus and dedication to preserving and promoting Sikh past has produced many celebrated books on Sikh History like that of Khuswant Singh’s “History of Sikhs” etc.

On the other hand, while premier Institutions, especially Central Govt funded institutions have remained Mughal/Ashraf-centric, the State-funded or Privately-owned Universities and Institutions across North India (especially Rajasthan, Gujarat, Himachal, Uttar Pradesh) have remained in decrepit situation.
Thus unlike Sikhs, Marathas, Mughal history, Rajput history lacks any government-based institutional support.

Scroll's articles on rajputs
The polemical nature of Rajput history is partly due to hegemonic control by Brahmins and others, while Rajputs rendered voiceless in their own past and story

Further dearth of Big Industrialists , lack of body of Historians, lack of enthusiasm among upper-class Elites (including former Royals) & upper-middle-class service-class Rajputs blockades any fruitful community-initiative — which is further discouraged by Opinion-makers who stigmatize the rajput-identity.
This makes lower-middle-class and rural class rajputs the flagbearers of History-preservation, who have their own limitations.

There are at least 162 major cities founded by different Rajput tribes & their leaders - Meerut by Hardatt Dor Parmar, Bhiwani by Neem Tanwar, Rohtak by Rohtas Parmar, Karnal, Kaithal by Parihars, Ambala & Bhatinda by Bhatis , Raipur & Jabalpur by Kalachuris , Kanpur by Hindu Singh Chandel , are some examples.
For instance,my native Mehsana was founded by Mehsaji Chawda & the nearest big city Ahmedabad takes its name from Sultan Ahmad Muzaffarid, a Tank Rajput as per their court-chronicle Mirat-i-Sikandari. I completed my education from Bareilly, founded by Katehariya Rajputs (Nikumbhs).

But what these less-educated Senas & Sabhas do is – copy-paste their Hindutvadi version of Maharana Pratap almost everywhere.This has actually destroyed local Rajput history of different regions.

The very fact that the tribal history of Rajputs from Sindh to Bihar has been merely reduced to the Royal courts of Rajasthan and the fact that almost a 1500 year-long recorded history (well or vague) is reduced to 150 years of Mughal period, shows the extent to which it has been marred. And even here, they cherrypick to suit narratives.

Narratives
Rajput History reduced to a pile of polemical Narratives, chief of which are abovementioned

And club all this with aggressive bureaucratic-civil society lobbying & capital-investment by Jats, Gujjars & Ahirs to hijack and appropriate different Rajput clans. Check Gujjarization of Pratihar history, Ahir-claims on Yaduvanshi Rajputs and Jat-claims on Rajputs.

List of Appropriations
Major Appropriations like these have seen immense political-bureaucratic lobbying and capital investment by various castes backed by different ideological groups

However the blame lies on the inactivity and spinelessness of upper-middle-class rajputs to stand up for themselves.
For instance, during the anti-Padmavat protests, journalists rushed to various social scientists and historians for their commentary - none of who were Rajputs or had a clear understanding on the rajputs. Syyed Firdaus Ansari , for example, interviewed Prof Rajkumari Ahir, a sociologist at Udaipur (read here) for her expert opinion. The expertise of Prof Ahir can be gauged from the fact that when asked she asnswered that “Vasundhara Raje Scindia was a Rajput.”. Vasundhara intruduces hersef as Rajput to woe rural Rajputs, especially Rajput wonen; just as her brother’s son Jyotiradaitya Scindia calls himself a Kurmi ; although they are actually Marathas, neither rajputs nor kurmis. Now understand, the damage done by uninformed expert opinion from an army of non-rajput historians and sociologists who even lack the basic understanding that what clans constitute the Rajput rubric.

Dearth of independent-thinking Rajput journalists and social scientists meant that not just the current Socio-economic issues of Rajputs but even our socioeconomic realities are distorted by non-Rajput opinion-makers who go onto mislead even from solutions.

Similarly dearth of well-established & good Rajput historians, clubbed with lack of any funding has only resulted in Rajput history being reduced to a pile of polemics and aggressive appropriations.
Further, the two ecosystems, whether rightwing or leftwing, are so staunchly Rajputphobic, that even successful Rajputs - journalists, academicians, & even politicians - have to denounce and throw the entire Rajput community under the bus in order to personally thrive in those ecosystems.

Solution

This however can be fought against, if the elite and middle-class Rajputs develop some spine and lead a mass intellectual-mobilisation and revolution.
Start reading gazetteers, Books, create Study circles for discussion, write Blogs, make good-quality videos suited for an educated audience, fund and make documentaries on local histories, hold Press Conferences, hold Conclaves and host History Fests.

These baby steps can bring about an intellectual renaissance that the Rajput nation urgently needs.

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