Prof Harbans Mukhia & "How To Maul a People": A Case Study of His BBC Hindi Articles

I

In the previous article, we checked the veracity of a narrative “Defeat specialist” regularly published by Samir Patil’s Scroll.in to rundown the Rajput people. In the second article we evaluated the essay penned by Girish Shahane. In the Third article, we explored the generic Nehruvian-Lutyens’ culture of Hate towards Rajput people which helped Shahane and Scroll’s Hate-literature commercially thrive despite being weak on both facts as well as ethics. The fact that the Maratha-centric Rightwing ideology of RSS, dominated by Marathi brahmins, hates Rajputs for “having failed Hindus”, is too banal and repetitive; however it is the deep-rooted and well-institutionalized bigotry by “left-liberals” that is amusing.

Before I continue, two questions.
1. Can such an open display of bigotry even be published in the mainstream against other people - Muslims, Sikhs, Jats, Marathas, Pathans, Gujjars, Bhumihars and still the rag would be counted “liberal” ? Probably NO.

2. Can malignant articles be published on Bajirao Peshwa, Shivaji, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Akbar the Great, etc the way Rajput rulers of similar stature are publically flogged day-in and day-out? Probably NO.

Despite being low both on facts and ethics, Shahane was congratulated by “eminent Historian” Professor Harbans Mukhia. The congratulatory note by Prof Mukhia, a 77 year old retired Professor of Medieval History at JNU-Delhi, shows how deep this Rajputphobia replete with ignorance and misinformation runs in the institutions run by “dominant literary castes” working under the aegis of “left-liberal”.

Here we discuss an article penned by Prof Mukhia for BBC Hindi, and evaluate each of his statements on both facts and ethics, for it invokes almost all major narratives used to socio-politically bleed rajput population and also provides an insight on depth of ignorance and arrogance professed by these Opinion-makers.

1.

Notice the Professor’s stratagem. First, he invents a popular belief (shown in red) - a belief that even most Rajputs aren’t aware of.

The presence of Rajput self-narratives of tragedies and migrations belie the Professor’s first claim. For instance, if any well-read Parihar Rajput (Pratihar) is asked how they left Kannauj for Purvanchal, Bundelkhand, and Chambal - they would answer it by citing the defeat at hands of Gahadavala (Gaharwar) Rajputs. If you ask a Bhati Rajput about their alleged migration from Ghazni to Jaisalmer - they would cite that they were pushed by Turkic turbulence into southern Punjab and northern Rajasthan. These stories (not mere folklores) rather disprove the Professor’s claims about bold popular self-belief of invincibility or superhuman claims by Rajputs

Then he quickly uses the excuse of this “popular belief” to justify imposing “the Girish Shahane Narrative” onto the Rajput people, which he parrots verbatim from Scroll.in’s Facebook posts - even suggesting that Rajputs (the scattered population from Sindh to Mithilanchal) never won a single war after the First Battle of Tarain. To even explore the list of Rajput battles one has to delve into local histories of huge geography from Thatta to Tirhut since unlike others Rajputs are a scattered population and that is too cumbersome and beyond the scope of this article.

However, both his own senior Professor Satishchandra and Prof Iqtidar Alam Khan have mentioned Rana Sanga;s victories over the Lodi Sultanate at Battles of Khatoli (1518) and Battles of Dholpur (1519) [1] as well as his victory over Mandu Sultanate at Gagron (1519)[2]. Babur himself testifies the rout of Mughal forces by Guhilot Sanga Sisodia at the Battle of Bayana (1526) [3]. These examples rather falsify the Professor’s own Bold Claim.

2.

Professor Sahib quotes Babur to substantiate his point on Rajput people, as if Babur, an Uzbek warlord, would be so objective and generous to appreciate and endorse his Indian adversaries.

Further, when we open Prof Mohibbul Hasan’s Babur: The Founder of the Mughal Empire (page 135), we realize that Babur didn’t even write the above for Rajputs, in the first place. Rather he was belittling his Afghan adversaries [4][5].
Babur on Afghan 2

3.

3

This Paragraph by Prof Mukhia is from another article on BBC-Hindi dated 09-05-2019. Any Historian suggesting that Pratap was the only Rajput contemporary of Akbar to have resisted till end, must revisit his subjects since some of Pratap’s Rajput contemporaries in other States were equally memorable to have left an indelible mark on their own respective local cultures and population.

Rani Durgavati was a Chandel Rajput from Mahoba, daughter of Saliwahan [6]. She was married to the Rajgond ruler of Garha-Katanga and as a widow led Rajput-Gond forces against Adham Khan’s Mughal army. She left an indelible mark on the culture of Gondwana and is revered by both Rajputs and Gonds.
Similarly, the Punjabi festival of Lohri is associated with the martyrdom of Rai Abdullah Khan, a Bhati Rajput of Pindi Bhattian, in whose memory Punjab observes Lohri [7].
Then, there was Isa Khan, a Bais Rajput, who led Baro Bhuinhar resistance against the Mughal army in Bengal during the 1590s [8].

4.

4

Wait! Was there any India back then? Notice how the same lobby both invokes and refuses the existence of India as a National Entity based upon their whims and fancies. Also, notice that the absence of Jat States like Bharatpur or Dholpur may not be cited as an excuse to reject Jat participation in Freedom struggle; neither would the absence of Jind, Nabha, Patiala be loosely used to deny Sikh role in Anti-British resistances. However, this has been the Oldest narrative used by Congressi brahmins to alienate the Rajput people since the formation of the Indian Union, for which they would cunningly point towards the politics pursued by Princely states of Rajasthan State, which like the Cis-Sutlej Sikh states made treaties after years of Maratha depredations.

Anyways, a brief mention of Rajput chiefs, events involving Rajput participation in Agrarian revolts and Sepoy mutinies of 1857 is: Rana Beni Madho Singh Bais, Rambaksh Bais from Awadh [9]; VeerKunwar Singh from Jagdishpur [10], Th. Jodh Singh Ataiya & Th. Daryao Singh [11], Th. Dayal Singh Raghuvanshi (Jaunpur) [12], Sengars of Lakhnesar [13], Pundirs of Saharanpur [14], Tomars of Pilkhuwa in Hapur [15], Guhilots of Dhaulana Block in GB Nagar [16], Kunwar Chain Singh Parmar of Sehore [17], Wazir Ramsingh Pathania of Nurpur [18], Revolts by Baghel and Bundela chiefs in Baghelkhand and Bundelkhand [19].

During the Freedom struggle: The founder of HSRA, Ramprasad Bismil, who is often falsely popularized as a brahmin by lazy writers, was a Gwalera Tomar Rajput from village Barbai, in Morena [20]. HSRA saw among others, Rajput men like Thakur Roshan Singh & Mahavir Singh Rathore. Apart from this Maj Gen Shahnawaz Khan Janjua, Sardarsinhji Ravaji Rana - founder of Paris Indian Society and Chandra Singh Garhwali are other names from this period.

5.

5

Many a times when we target an individual or a community blindly, we end up making so many negative remarks that they even mutually contradict. The Professor invokes that rajputs were “ruling class” even though he had just written them off as “having always lost” above. A Rajput dynasty was not founded by any administrative takeover by elite individuals like say how Ayodhya’s Mishra dynasty was founded. A Rajput King and his power depended on the Military prowess of his clan-kinsmen, who numbered in hundreds or thousands . Further, unlike Brahmins who had monopoly over religion or Banias who had monopoly over wealth, Rajputs (Kshatriyas) never had monopoly over arms. There were Huns, Turks, Turko-mongols, Afghans, Bhil kings, Gond kings , Jat and Bhumihars, with who they had to compete for millenium.

Myths are invented by all “ruling classes”, including the Mughal court chronicles, who they often quote as a Bible on Indian History - unfortunately, it is bereft of anything valuable even on local histories of North India.
Myths, including communal ones, are also made by Professor Mukhia and his ilk, as we just explored here. I mean how low can a “mainstream” “liberal” “eminent” Historian stoop to suggesting that a community (unlike Brahmins, Khatris Jats, Muslims, or Sikhs) has had no role in Independent India.
Must the Rajputs wear their Identity up their sleeves like Jewish inmates of Concentration camps, or wear symbols like the Sikhs or Muslims, for their contributions to be deemed as Rajput. From Hockey legend Dhyanchand, a Bais Rajput, to Athletes like Milkha Singh (a Sikh Rathore) or wrestlers like Alka Tomar Rajputs have produced tons of sportspersons who have made the country noticed. Even today, we Rajputs are proud to have given this country 5 PVCs and 29 MVCs - the highest by a single ethnic group. Agreed that, beyond sports and military, the Rajputs haven’t shone as much in other fields yet - we have given it IAS officers like Kumar Suresh Singh (Chandel) and Scientists like Dr. Lalji Singh Chandel. Besides, the community has given this country two short-lived yet memorable Prime Ministers - VP Singh (a Gahadavala/Gaharwar) and Chandrashekhar (a Solanki). And I have mentioned this, not so as to brag but because the Professor asked from us.

6.

Please note, this article by Mukhia is a brilliant exposure of the chief shenanigan employed widely by IDLCs (Institutionally Dominant Literary Castes) while writing specifically on Rajputs. First, they would invent a tall claim and lament that it is allegedly a “popular public belief”; then they would use that as an excuse to justify a bold and equally extreme counter-narrative by cherry-picking examples. To demonstrate the modus-operandi, let us cite this “popular belief” that Sikhs are exceptionally great, brave and charitable humans and then while lamenting on existence of this popular-stereotype let invoke examples of cowardly and rapist Sikhs to rather underscore a counterpoint that “No, rather all Sikhs are like this”.

Hence, on one hand, Professor Mukhia would deny the Rajput identity of Ramprasad Bismil, Thakur Roshan Singh, Chandrasen Garhwali, General Shahnawaz Khan Janjua, Raja BeniMadho Singh, Raja Rambaksh Bais or even reject the Rajput contributions in modern India. But on the other, he would suddenly pop-up an irrelevant name like Swaroop Singh and use an alleged incident (“कहा जाता है”) to peddle a pejorative narrative against an entire community.

Would Prof Mukhia, who is himself a Punjabi, skip all the historical figures from the Sikh community & then cherry-pick on Khalistanis to do that to the Sikhs, what he just did to the Rajputs ? Probably, NO.

7.

The fable of “Rajput-Mughal alliance” is weaved in order to secularize Mughals on one hand and used to smear the Rajput past on the other. Unearthing the truth behind this phrase is beyond the purview of this article, but will be taken later. However, just to give an idea of how stretched it is and what’s wrong with it - “Mughal” is a term used here, for the “Timurid” Dynasty i.e. a single large family which saw around 19 rulers. On the other hand, “Rajput” is a secular ethnonym for around 40 Kshatriya clans and their hundreds of sub-lineages, that made up around 4% of British India’s population in 1931 but happens to be highly diffused from Thatta (Sindh) to Tirhut (Bihar)- hence were independent to pursue their independent politics.

Rajputs were the only ethnic group to have fought Turks and Arabs; and also the only ones to have discussed Turkic and Arab armies. A large number of cities (aprox. 85 district cities) across North India and Eastern parts of Pakistan were established by Rajputs - Thatta by Samma Rajputs (parent clan of Jadejas & Chudasamas), Jammu by Jamwal-Manhas; Nurpur by Pathania Tomars; Bhimber by Chib Katochs ; Bhatida takes its name from Bhati rajputs; Bhiwani, Delhi, Hapur were established by Tomar Rajputs;strong text Sehore (MP) & Mandi(HP) were by Gaur rajputs; both Rohtak(Haryana) and Bhojpur(BIhar) were established by Parmar rajputs; Jabalpur and Raipur(Chhattisgarh) by Kalachuris and Gwalior by Kacchapghatas/Kachwahas. Haryana gets its name from Rana Harrai Chauhan (“Harra Pir”) of Jundla (Karnal), while Garhwal gets its name from 52 Garhis (most of Rajputs) united by Raja Ayapal Panwar in 14th century. There were not less than 30 Rajput Pir-Jogis (incl Sufis like Baba Chibchand) that contributed to non-Brahminical spiritual order. Apart from this, monuments like these, by Imperial Parihar/Pratihar dynasty remain testimony to Rajput architecture.


Teli ka Mandir; source: here

This is the historical contribution charted over a lengthy period of 1500 years even as Rajputs saw decline and resurgence; yet the “worthy contribution of Rajputs” by Prof Mukhia is “how rajputs gave steadyness to Mughal Empire”, which ,however ,barely lasted two centuries (by 1761, they were Emperors only in name).

Isn’t all this deliberate?

8. Alienate But Appropriate

Hence after sociopolitically alienating and belittling the Rajputs, Professor Mukhia denies even independence of Rajput identity by attributing their origins to other castes, namely - Brahmins, Jats, Gonds, Gujjars, Bhils, Koeris and Bhars**.
This is an oft-used argument aimed at appropriating Rajput histories , by the same agencies which first alienate and belittle them.
If a Rajput,not just the pre-modern but also the modern, acts commendably then not just his/her Rajput identity is obfuscated under other identity-markers but also such flimsy theories of origins are floated.
A modern Rajput Adage goes:

When we achieved something, we were made Hindus/Indians/Pahadis/Dogris/Garhwalis/Marwaris ; but when we lost we were explicitly dubbed Rajputs

The best illustration of this is: The defeat of Gwalior Pratihars/Parihars before the Delhi Sultans would b dubbed as Rajput defeat; however the victory of their ancestors , the Imperial Pratihars/Parihars of Kannauj, against the Arabs would be dubbed as Gujjar. The politics behind dubbing Imperial Pratihars as Gurjar-Pratihar (a term only used by the Pratihar feudals of Alwar for themselves) lies exactly here.

A recent Example from Dilip Mandal, Columnist at ThePrint. is below.


Use Prithviraj Chauhan’s certain victory to insult rajputs as “defeat specialists”; At other times, make him a Gujjar. Wanton caste-hatred from a “mainstream” "intellecual"

Conclusion

A Question to Indian Public: When an eminent and a veteran “liberal” Historian writes and publishes such lame statements on a huge Ethnic group due to inherent caste & communal prejudices, should we really panic when an “uncouth” “vote-seeking” politician badmouths some medieval Turkic or Uzbek warlord?

Can we Rajputs, whose history is so lamely vandalized, really trust these eminent Opinion-makers and Historians?

These “intellectuals” would omit the names of Rajput Freedom fighters and even obfuscate the identities of some (like Ramprasad Bismil who is projected as a Brahmin) and then accuse the country’s Rajput population for being absent from freedom struggle. These “historians” like Prof Mukhia would omit the Pratihars (Parihars), Chapkotas (Chawdas), Chandels, Kalachuris and a contribution of 1500 years from Sindh to Bihar and reduce it to merely the state of Rajasthan and 2 centuries of Mughal period - a deliberate travesty of both spatial and temporal extent merely to belittle the rajputs. Would he omit the Khalsa Raj of Maharaja Ranjit Singh or Guru Gobind and reduce the entire Sikh history to the British-era history Patiala State? Obviously NO.
The ubiquitous rationale cited to morally justify all of the above is: The Rajput history is most glorified. Now one doesnt have to be an expert on history but a simple observer of public perception to spot this BIG FAT LIE. Mughal, Maratha, Sikh and Ahom histories rank higher in public perceptions better than the Rajputs, who are actually punched both left and right, thanks to institutional dominance of Brahmins, Khatris and Jats on both ends of the political spectrum, who together ensure that Rajput history is not spatially and temporaly trimmed to its one-tenth but also cherrypicked to suit agendas. How these groups ideologically vandalize Rajput past on both ends, is best illustrated from the article above. Their policy can be explained in three phrases “Alienate But Appropriate”.

These “liberals” would spew bluntly that the “rajputs have no contribution in modern India”, even as they obfuscate and hide the rajput identities of sportspersons, war heroes, scientists and scholars. How often do they treat their own people or anyothers like this. And then after having singled out and marginalized the rajputs from public discourse invoking them, they would even deny rajputs their independent Identity - give rajput clans brahmin or gond origins based on lame theories.

Both “mainstream” Media and Academia are abused frantically by politicians, media-persons and academicians from “Institutionally dominant Literary castes” & “Demographically concentrated Landed Castes” to alienate the modern Rajput people socially, destroy them economically and silence them politically while at the same time vandalize and even appropriate their History. NO.

Would it at all be ethically wrong if the Rajput people finally seek ethnomobilization and caste-based consolidation as a Nation to preserve their Past from vandalism, improve their Present against Institutional handicaps, and secure their Future against predatory Powers discussed? NO, in fact, that seems the only solution.

REFERENCES:


  1. Satish Chandra; Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals Part-1; p. 224 ↩︎

  2. Iqtidar Alam Khan; Historical Dictionary of Medieval India ; p. 126 ↩︎

  3. Babur Nama: Journal of Emperor Babur ; p 289 ↩︎

  4. Mohibbul Hasan; Babur: Founder of the Mughal Empire in India; p. 135 ↩︎

  5. Islam and the Modern Age; p. 32 ↩︎

  6. A L Srivastava, Political History, 1542-1605 AD, p. 88 ↩︎

  7. http://sabrangindia.in/article/punjabs-robinhood-dulla-bhatti-why-lohri-celebrated ↩︎

  8. Akbarnama, Volume III, Page 647 ↩︎

  9. Rudrangshu Mukherjee; Awadh in Revolt, 1857-1858: A Study of Popular Resistance; p. 198 ↩︎

  10. D H A Kollf; Naukar Rajput Sepoy; p. 168 ↩︎

  11. Who’s Who of Indian Martyrs, Vol 3 ↩︎

  12. S A A Rizvi, M L Bhargav, Freedom Struggle in Uttar Pradesh: Eastern & Adjoining districts, 1857-59, p. 955 ↩︎

  13. Siddiqui, A. U. (2004); Indian Freedom Movement in Princely States of Vindhya Pradesh; p. 33 ↩︎

  14. Stokes, Eric;The Peasant and the Raj: Studies in Agrarian Society and Peasant Rebellion in Colonial India. Cambridge University Press. p. 172. ↩︎

  15. Eric Stokes;The Peasant Armed: The Indian Revolt of 1857; p. 173 ↩︎

  16. Eric Stokes; p. 174 ↩︎

  17. https://sehore.nic.in/en/tourist-place/cenotaphs-of-kunwar-chain-singh/ ↩︎

  18. M S Ahluwalia; Social, Cultural, and Economic History of Himachal Pradesh; p. 43 ↩︎

  19. A U Siddiqui; Indian Freedom Movement in Princely States of Vindhya Pradesh ↩︎

  20. http://www.thearyasamaj.org/ramprasadbismil_en ↩︎

7 Likes

Good read like always

1 Like