Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rewriting history

Just finished rereading the book that set me off on my Mastani trail..."The Sword of Tipu Sultan" written by Dr. Bhagwandas Gidwani who also wrote another amazing book "The Return of the Aryans."
The amount of reseach that Gidwani puts in takes him into territory which stands at odds with the British sponsored history we learnt at school and opens new vistas, which is what encouraged me to look behind the sponsored dancing girls myths created around Mastani.
Even if Gidwani is totally enamoured with his characters, the pictures he delineates of the India of the times of Tipu Sultan reveal one inwhich Hindus and Msulims shared much common space; it also throws light on the perfidy of our so-called Rajahs and Rajputs who have a history of letting India down at every invasion since Time Immemorial. In Tipu's time, apart formhis father Hyder Ali, the only ones who stood up to the British were the Marathas, led by Brahmins.
Tipu Sultan himself was tutored by a mullah and a pandit, and his prime minister was a Brahmin. Gidwani draws an intriguing picture of a man torn between being a Fakir, a King and a Patriot, offering long forgotten lessons in history and its creation by ' the mindless little men of the future who call themselves historians..."
the Hindustan of the 1700s described by Gidwani holds that
"God is not excluded form any religion, nor is he confined to any. it recalls Ashok who renounced war, Akbar sought to bind all religions, both Kalidas and Kabir's poetry and the Gita, Granth Sahib and the Quran, welding and assimlating from all the invaders to a flow of culture that which conquers even as it remains gentle and spiritual........ a single harmonized Indian cultural unity.
Tipu Declaration of 1787 is perhaps most contentious in these times of jihad and quaida and taliban and terror. it enunciates:
"The Quran holds there can be no compulsion in religion. " (where did jihad spring from then?)
"The Quran calls upon you not to revile the idols of other religions, lest they, in ignorance should revile Allah"
"The Quran requires that you say to people of scripture : We beieve in that which has been revealed unto us and revealed unto you. Our God and yours is one and to unto Him we surrender."
" The Quran expects you to vie with each other in good works and says : We have appointed a divine law and a traced out way. Had Allah wished, he would have made you one community...so vie one with another in good works."
Can the land where Tipu Sultan lived set an example for the rest of the violent world?