The current volume is first in a 5 volume re-telling of that history that disturbed the continued uninterrupted flow of Bharatiya civilisation since at least 6000 years of documented history
Invaders and Infidels (Book 1): From Sindh to Delhi; Bloomsbury India; Pp 224; Rs 699
Invaders and Infidels is an ambitious project to encapsulate bare essential elements that turned entire civilisation of Bharat upside down in 500 years. The current volume is first in a 5 volume re-telling of that history that disturbed the continued uninterrupted flow of Bharatiya civilisation since at least 6000 years of documented history. This history is still being revisited and emerging evidence suggests that it is older than what we have been made to understand by the Europeans and then their faithful Marxist historians.
Sandeep Balakrishna’s signal contribution is that he has begun an onerous task of compressing the 500 years of history written by many researchers and historians earlier. Those voluminous writings have more or less been pushed behind some dusty library shelves. They are no more ‘politically correct’ interpretation of history. Honestly, history can never be politically correct. We have to read it correctly whether we like it politically or not. The author has been doing original research for many years. His articles on his site dharmadispatch.in are each a lesson in the understanding of history. This graduation from serious essays and excellent translation of epoch-making books by Sri Bhyrappa ji would but be the next step in path of self-discovery as a scholar for Sandeep ji.
Reading history of the Islamic conquest of Bharat is not a pleasant task. Nor is reading glowing tributes of brave fightback by Hindus during these centuries that never gave invaders undisturbed pleasure of ruling infidels any solace. Because, ultimately, fact remains that they altered our history, our culture and scarred our intellectual map irretrievably. Unfortunately, a chance to heal the old civilisational wounds and nurture back the great genius of Bharat was lost on attaining independence. Putting ‘band-aid’ on gaping seeping wounds and hoping they will not go septic but get healed by some Left ojhasor quacks mumbling pleasant mantras about Ganga-Jamunitehzeeb; and making us believe that what happened to us was for our own good, simply won’t work.
I would consider the writer’s approach to be that of a surgeon who knows that unless intellectual surgery is done, we shall never rise as Bharat to our inherent potential and may further fall into abyss of intellectual colonialism. With this clinical mind, Sandeep is ruthless, harsh and uses his skills to make deep cuts with scalpel of knowledge at right places by picking up historic episodes of the time that proved to be irretrievable turning points in Bharat’s civilisational life.
Over centuries it was and has been a battle of two civilisations. Between the one that followed the ethical way of life or Dharma even in war, who did not attack innocent citizens in defeat or victory and fought the battle only on battlegrounds, not in people’s homes and places of worship; and the other that had no qualms, no scruples, no rules, who had no mercy for non-combatants. Non-combatants were booties of war, to be exploited cruelly, sadistically. Every battle, notwithstanding proclamations of the Left historians, was a battle for the honour of Islam and destruction of infidels. So, each was followed by destruction, pillage of temples and untold human misery. It was an uneven war that Hindu kings the nature of which they could never grasp because they never tried to understand the mindset of the invaders. Blind to or innocent of the nature of Islam, they even signed treaties when the enemy was on his knees, despite repeated records of invaders breaking those treaties.
Sandeep Balakrishna quotes Will Durant,who has been quoted many a time by others, but needed restating as it is necessary. It is a quote, nay a lesson, that every Hindu must remember if he/she wishes to see Hindu civilisation survive and thrive.
“Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilisations is a precious good, whose delicate complex of order and freedom, culture and peace can be at any moment can be overthrown by barbarians, invading from without or multiplying within.” This quote should be framed and hung in every school, institution and even Hindu homes to remind us time and again of the import of this lesson.
In his opening chapters, Sandeep highlights how the other civilisations fell easily to marauding armies of Islam that destroyed entire swath of civilisations of those time and all local faiths and practices were ground to dust in a matter of decades after the demise of the Prophet. Then, he tells us how Bharat was never an easy nation for Islamic invaders and it took them centuries to make a mark. Even after the conquests, rebellious rising of Hindu kings intermittently remained a headache for them.
He draws out the painful lessons of how Hindu kings hardly came together to face the enemy and finish it with united action. Their bravery and fighting skills saw them win many battles but ultimately lose the wars. They were short of vision and strategy. They refused to learn from enemy’s immoral and hateful unethical war tactics. The large heartedness to let enemy go and not crush it mercilessly hurt our civilisation immensely. Time and again, the enemy was allowed to escape certain crushing defeat that would have secured Bharat for centuries. Author gives examples of internal feuds and wasting of energies fighting within selves while enemy watched from the outside for the opportune time to strike.
Though Sandeep avoids graphic description of inhuman cruelties and bestiality of Islamic invaders, he does quote their own sources to bring the horrors that our forefathers went through. It is unavoidable not to mention their bloodthirst. I avoid quoting from the book as one has to read it and feel the full impact of his brilliant writing. The author is objective while describing the events and gives credit where it is due, whether Islamic invaders or Hindu kings. But, he is harsh and unrelenting when pointing out to shortcomings of our own people. Shortcomings that cost them and Bharat very heavy.
An important point that the writer brings out is how succession of a king was decided by Hindus and Muslims respectively. Hindu kings weighed his sons on various dharmic parameters and qualities before declaring a successor. The succession was almost always smooth without bloodshed and fratricidal wars. While in the case of Muslims, the successor was mostly not decided by the kind as he wished to keep a tight control with himself before he died.Even when it was declared it was never accepted with grace by the others in the kin. Thus, the war of succession was always bloody. This has been the case since the birth of Islam.
How wealthy was Bharat before Islamic invaders plundered it? Many of our people still believe that the story of ‘golden sparrow’ is a myth. How rich could the smallest kingdom be that despite repeated plunder they rose again more prosperous than they were earlier? I would quote just one example of a small kingdom. Muhammad of Ghori after defeating King Jayachandra pillaged his treasury. An estimate of booty in this one expedition is – four thousand camel loads of spoils (by Farishta’s account) or fourteen hundred camels (by Ibn Nasir’s record)! During this round of attacks 1000 temples were destroyed in Kashi and 1000 mosques sprung up. It was the first attack on the perennial holy city of Kashi.
While writing this critique today, I happened to come across a new academic effort by a team of Azim Premji University to sanitise the iconoclast violent nature of Islamic invaders. Therefore I cannot resist quoting two instances of how Islamic sense of piety made the invaders break the temples and murtis.All the Islamic invaders wanted to be known as ‘But-shikans’ (idol destroyers) not ‘But-farosh’(idol traders).
The author quotes British historian Briggs on the first attack on Somnath by Mahmud of Ghazni, “The King, approaching the image, raised his mace and struck off its nose. He ordered two pieces of the idol to be broken off and sent to Ghazni, so that one might be thrown at the threshold of the public mosque, and the other at the court door of his own palace. […] Two more fragments were reserved to be sent to Mecca and Medina.” When a group of distraught Brahmins beseeched Mahmud to halt further destruction of the murti in exchange for gold and other wealth, Mahmud was candid, “Should I consent to such a measure, my name would be handed down to posterity as ‘Mahmud the idol-seller’ whereas I desire to be known as ‘Mahmud the idol destroyer.” And this is Islamic edict that every invader followed in coming centuries to prove his mettle as a true follower of the ‘only’ true religion. No amount of academic efforts at cleaning Islamic invaders’ bigotry can hide this fact.
The writer of ‘Invaders and Infidels’ says, “The conquest of India is the conquest of culture by those who lacked it.” As you go through the historic accounts you couldn’t agree more. The lessons he underlines for the Hindu society based on this study are as relevant today as they were in the 7th Century. Quality of publication is top-notch. Written in an engaging storytelling style, it is a serious academic work and deserves its place in academia. This book needs to be read carefully by students, history researchers and politicians to imbibe the lessons of history so we can move to a prosperous and secure Bharat in coming century with intellectual clarity.