Scroll.in is a portal owned by a maratha Samir Patil and was launched in 2014, exactly the year when BJP had won national elections. BJP politicians began targeting made remarks the Mughal emeprors, much to the chagrin of many “left-liberal” Influencers. Girish and the staff at Patil’s Scroll convinced the circles that it was Rajput history, not Maratha history, which was central to RSS vision. Thus anything that demeaned Rajput past and attacked Rajput people, was indirectly a victory over Hindutv, an idea which was widely bought.
This table reveals 3 things: (1) Most narratives on Rajputs are polemic of the extreme kind (2) Narratives on Rajputs are hegemonically controlled by Brahmins; (3) Rajputs have no Voice or Say in these narratives targeting them.
The above scenario exists across all major Media houses, where narratives on Rajputs are controlled by the same Brahmin-Savarn castes (including landed OBCs like Jats & Ahirs) while Rajput-voice is completely absent. This absent Rajput voice has resulted in polemical vanadalism of Rajput socio-military past and vindictive manipulation of Rajput socio-economic present.
For instance, during the anti-Padmavat protests, journalists rushed to various social scientists and historians for their commentary - none of who were Rajputs or even possessed basic 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 identity.
This damage done is best illustrated by the following two facts: rajputs, in India & Pakistan, that resisted invaders from Arabs to British (agrarian revolts of 1857) are today reduced to epithets like “defeat specialist”, “wife-givers”, and “traitors” by those controlling institutions of opinion-making – polemical reduction of History; (2) despite being a rural agrarian-sepoy community it is clubbed with urban castes like Kayasth, Khatri , Bania on socio-economic issues.
However let’s get back to Scroll.in, because it is this very portal that made it a point to religiously target the Rajput people, manipulate their past and their present.
If one notices Scroll glorifies Mughal Emperors unabashedly in order to have a leftist fan-base and it demeans the history of Rajput nation in scathing language and with sweeping narratives - even as it suppresses any rejoinder, however scholarly. But, as a maratha-owned portal it largely remains ambivalent on Maratha history and tall rightwing claims surrouding it. Further, articles are written to set negative narratives by cherrypicking drawbacks of any Rajput entity, while the same cherrypicking is employed to glorify their own.
Scroll run by Samir Patil and Naresh Farnandes has perhaps a policy that “hating Rajputs” is a prerequisite criterion to hire staff .They give space to this Rajput hating Ruchika Sharma and the charlatan ,Girish Sahane .
Let us explore these articles.
1. What our School textbooks dont tell us why Rajputs failed miserably in battle for centuries
The above article was first on 25 May 2015, after which it has been routinely shared by the Scroll staff. In this, Girish Shahane made myriad 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.
He has no iota of Imperial Pratihars, Imperial Chauhans, Imperial Parmars, Tomar dynasties of Delhi & Gwalior, Zorawar Kahluria, Karnavati Parmar of Garhwal. Besides, he also has little idea of Rajput contributions in modern Indian Army.
Now, two questions: Would he denounce the Mughal dynasty publically the way he did to the Rajput nation? No, because that would get him dubbed “bigot” and make him a pariah to the “left-liberal” ecosystem - his only consumers.
Would he denounce the Maratha community & the Peshwas as lamely as he did to Rajput people?
Well he wouldn’t do that being himself a Marathi Brahmin. In fact his chauvinism is well illustrated by the contrast of his treatment of Rajputs & his own.
Notice how Girish Shahane even cites references to build up a nuanced defense of the Marathi hero’s sacking of Surat. And now read his statements below dismissing the three Rajput heroes, each of who had a military career superior to Shivaji, frivolously and mocking.
His comical usage of the word “retreat” to not just mock the three historical individuals but to also create a sense of disgust in the reader towards them and in extension the Rajput community. On the other hand, the Maratha hero was known for retreating, surrendering and even writing maafinamas - but can we expect Shahane to use it against him?
Although 150 years of Maratha history are central to RSS’s HIndutv, neither does Girish Shahane as a “liberal” neither finds its mystification problematic nor does he invoke that mystification to write-off the Maratha past - a past hegemony shared by both Marathi brahmin & Maratha Patils.
2. No fight to the death, just a tame surrender: Why jauhar was a bad military tactic
It is ingrained in Marathi Brahmin rightwing that the Rajputs of North and Northwest were cowardly, debauched and weak Hindu warriors who compromised on both Dharma and the Nation, and that it were their virtuous, brave and militarily-sagacious Deccani ancestors who saved both. They even blame the treacherous Rajputs for betraying them once again at Panipat. Hence Shahane’s own politics with respect to Rajputs is just an extention of his marathi brahmin milieu.
In this article, he attempts to just repeat the same citing the example of Medini Rai, who he even denounces didn’t know how to fight.
He even declares that Jauhar-Saka were not “fight unto death”, but plain cowardly surrender. It is worth noting that neither Jauhar nor Saka were unique to Rajputs. It has been an alterantive option, other than retreat used by smaller disadvantaged armies across the world and it is indeed “fight unto death”.
Hence Shahane has issues with both Rajputs making tactical retreats or Rajputs fighting unto death.
Thus our faux-liberal friend, Shahane, sought to mainstream rightwing marathi brahmin hatred for Rajputs and market it even in liberal circles, in which he was successful.
However it is paradoxical that Scroll.in also published Aparna Kapadia’s What the story of Medini Rai, the man who once took on Babur, tells us about biography and history, where she extols Medini Rai as a great army commander whose might forced Babur to personally invade him. That is beside the point, that Aparna Kapadia doubts his Rajput origins, because he was “not a royal or a prince”. As per this school of thought, as per DHA Kollf, only royalty and nobility are Rajputs and the common clansmen are not. [ Medini Rai was a Parihar rajput of Chanderi].
After all the maxim goes, "if a Rajput is reprehensible, then make a generalized narrative; however is a Rajput is commendable, then deny his very identity"
3. Persistence of memory: Never mind History,Padmavati is as real for Rajputs as their famed valor
The Rajput commoners, who actually constitute the community, were never even recipients of “privy purses”. Why would the abrogation of “privy purses” be even an issue for us?
Prof Tanuja Kothiyal Tiwari, a History Professor at Ambedkar University-Delhi cites Anuraag Kashyap’s Gulaal(2009) to invoke “loss of privy purses” as a major Rajput grievance, which is laughable. Even Maratha, Jat, Ahom, Pathan & Sikh Royals were recipients of privy-purses; but no expert may make such statement on them
Rather the biggest betrayals with the Rajput people is that they are clubbed with Brahmin-Savarns on socioeconomic issues & while at the same time they are denied voice in their own history & their own present.
Despite her expertise she conflates Rajput ethnonym with the social-class of princes. The biggest betrayal of Rajputs is denying them independent voice in their own story, followed by clubbing them with wealthy-urban-sedentary castes.
This is mockery of socioeconomic picture of Rajput public. It insinuates that most Rajputs have havelis and forts to which they are turning for employment. Professor not just omits the crores of Rajput farmers and dairy-farmers ib villages, but she also ignores a middle-class service-class Rajput gentry.
She cites declining political & social clout, however this is contradicted by another extreme narrative that accuses Rajput community of “Thakurvaad” in 2021.
In the same article, Prof Kothiyal also complains that Rajasthan is named after Rajputs - do Raja & ethnonym Rajput mean the same? Weren’t there Jat Rajas as well in that state, & huge Rajput peasantry?
4. '‘Padmavat’ reminds us that a major casualty of the gory Rajput conflicts were Rajput women
Sharma is an Art Historian from JNU, who argues that Allaudin Khilji was a secular socialist King i.e. “people’s Emperor”. To develop her apologia for the Turkic warlord, she firstly redefines Rajputs as “descendants of zamindars, chaudharies,muqaddams”, who would harass the poor-cultivators apart from kidnapping, raping and killing their own women.
Her “expertise”(if any) is best revealed when to support her last point she invokes sex-ratio of Rajasthan. To see how ignorant she is on Rajputs, let us understand that the Rajput population & Rajasthani population are two distinct circles of the Set-theory that meet at just two different points.
To create readers’ sympathy for Turkic warlord, she makes him hero of Ajlaf, while at the same time she rejects the Rajput people as merely “super-privileged undeserving bad guys” who unjustly besmirched the People’s Sultan because they failed to get a berth at his court. Does she cite any evidence that they were vying for space in Sultan’s court? No
Further most Rajputs were clan-retainers working under Rajput warlords who were also landlords; these landlords (zamindars, thikanedars or taluqdars) acted as Khaap-chiefs (subclan-heads). Further, depending whether the khaap was autonomous as found in Haryana,Western UP & pre-19th century Jammu or whether it was part of an existing administrative-State like the Rajasthani States, Himachal and Awadh State, these Khaap-chiefs remained independent or served the State’s Monarch. There are plenty examples from 13th to 16th century of these clan-retainers (Rajput masses) engaging in pastoralism and cultivation, apart from soldiering for their clan-chiefs. The Rajasthani folks of Rajput Jogi-Pirs like Pabuji Rathore, Mehaji Mangalia, Harbuji Sankhla, hint at pastoralism. Peter Mundy’s account of Bhadaurias of Agra, wearing muskets around their waist while ploughing their fields, who would often refuse to pay the Mughal hakim (tax-collector) without a fight, hints at cultivation.
She promote a 13th century Turkic warlord who destroyed even the Pandiyas, Seunas, Kakatiyas and left bloodtrail from Delhi to Madurai as “people’s King”; and use the argument to even justify his excesses on rajput public. Simultaneously, she stereotypes Rajput men as “rapists”. Wouldn’t narratives if peddled against any other ethnic group, would be deemed racist and bigotted?
Now compare these sweeping narratives on the history of 5 crore Rajput people, hundreds of dynasties across 1500 years with the respectfully worded eulogy of individual Turkic Emperors below.
Hegemonic control of Liberal Arts institutions by Brahmin-Savarns and Ashrafs, and a concomitant absence of a Rajput-voice has affected this extreme dehumanization of Rajput peoples’ past as well as present. Although they uncritically extol & eulogize individual Turkic Emperors, notwithstanding their individual actions.
Furthermore, no matter if Khalji and Kafur destroyed many south Indian dynasties like kakatiyas, Hoysalas & Pandyas, it is Rajput people that this Brahmin-Ashraf led ecosystem convinces an average Tamil or Malyalee to hate.
Hence they reduced our history to a pile of polemic while still complaining that our history is overstated only to justify further vandalism.
They also manipulate our present socio-economic realities, our voice, our story & even our self-perception. After all this they accuse us that we are very “privileged”.
This way the “Maratha” owned Scroll.in actually led a media-campaign against Rajputs, that was gradually joined by other Big Media Houses too. The only reason why it could be possible was the stoic silence maintained by elites & intellectuals of the Rajput community , their clueless and unorganised character.
Free Press or Unbiased Press, are myths. Whether or not Government’s regulate Press, the privately-owned Big “mainstream” Media Houses do decide what narratives are to be set, whose voice is to be read and whose not. And based on these, they shape public perceptions. If one believes that they are always ethical or that they are open to contrarian views, then he/she is being idealistic. If one feels that they check for facts, then he is being incorrect as they check if things match their preset agendas and align to their narratives.