Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1924-2018): Kinder, Gentler Face of Hindu Nationalism

Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away today in New Delhi, India, according to media reports. He was 93. He was seen as the moderate face of Hindu Nationalism. Mr. Vajpayee led Hindu Nationalists to their first-ever outright election victory with the majority of seats won by his BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) in the Indian parliament in 1999. He had briefly held the prime minister's job twice earlier but the third time proved to be the charm. His third term in office lasted from 1999 until 2004.

Hardcore Hindu Nationalist:

Vajpayee represented kind and gentle face of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). Beneath the surface, however, he was a hardcore Hindu Nationalist.  He joined the RSS at the age of 16.  The RSS has sought to make India a Hindu Rashtra (nation) since its founding in 1925, a year after Vajpayee was born.

Vajpayee stoked hatred against India's large Muslim minority. In a speeches to Hindu audiences he said: "Wherever there are Muslims in large numbers, they do not want to live in peace."

In 2003 as Prime Minister of India, Vajpayee installed a portrait of  virulently anti-Muslim Hindu Nationalist leader VD Savarkar in the Indian parliament house in New Delhi.  Savarkar, in one of his books titled Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, elaborates on why raping of Muslim women is not only justified but encouraged. Prime Minister Modi describes Savarkar as "worthy of worship". After getting elected to the highest office in India, Modi paid tribute to Savarkar by laying flowers at his portrait that still hangs in India's Parliament.

Hindu Nationalist Leader VD Savarkar

Savarkar has used revisionist Hindutva history to exhort his followers to rape Muslim women as payback for historic wrongs he believes were committed by Muslim conquerers of India. “Once they are haunted with this dreadful apprehension that the Muslim women too, stand in the same predicament in case the Hindus win, the future Muslim conquerors will never dare to think of such molestation of Hindu women,” he writes.

1971 India-Pakistan  War:

Vajpayee saw India's military victory over Pakistan in religious terms. He lavished praise on Indira Gandhi by calling her Durga, Hindu goddess literally meaning "the invincible",  on India's victory over Muslim Pakistan in the 1971 war in East Pakistan. `

Indian Muslims faced "insulting and provocative slogans" by Hindu Nationalists celebrating India's 1971 war victory over Pakistan. Here's an excerpt of a report from India:

"The chief reason for the resentment of the Muslims is that the event of the independence of Bangladesh and her severance of all ties with Pakistan was generally celebrated in India as if the 'victory' had been gained against the Muslims themselves. Insulting and provocative slogans were raised against them in public meetings in this country. A second reason is that the Muslims in general do believe that the war was primarily fought for the purpose of destroying the integral unity of Pakistan. Our Ministry of Information hands out all sorts of propaganda but does nothing to dispel the dejection and resentment of Indian Muslims" (Quoted in Sidq-i-Jadid; 21 January 1972).

Vajpayee's successor Prime Minister Narendra Modi has railed against Muslim rule of India by describing it as "bara so saal ki ghulami" (1200 years of servitude). Here's an excerpt of Modi's 2014 speech:

"Barah sau saal ki gulami ki maansikta humein pareshan kar rahi hai. Bahut baar humse thoda ooncha vyakti mile, to sar ooncha karke baat karne ki humari taaqat nahin hoti hai (The slave mentality of 1,200 years is troubling us. Often, when we meet a person of high stature, we fail to muster strength to speak up).

India-Pakistan Nuclear Tests:

Vajpayee ordered India's underground nuclear tests in 1998 to intimidate Pakistan and assert India's status as a nuclear power on the world stage.  Within weeks, Pakistan responded to those tests with six of its own, forever altering South Asian security.

Vajpayee threw away India's substantial conventional military edge over Pakistan by going nuclear.  It gave Pakistan the justification it needed to go nuclear a few weeks later, thereby achieving balance of terror with its much larger neighbor with a huge conventional military.

Indian analyst Krishna Kant explains his country's policymakers blunder as follows: "Nuclear weapons have reduced Pakistan defense cost while we (India) have been forced to spend tens of billions of dollars to acquire latest military hardware in a bid to retain the edge. Its shows in the defence budget of the two countries since 1999 nuclear blasts. All through 1980s and 90s, Pakistan was spending around a third of its government budget and 5-6% of its GDP on defense, or about twice the corresponding ratios for India. After going nuclear, Pakistan’s defense spending decelerated and its share in GDP is expected to be decline to around 2.5% in the current fiscal year, slightly ahead of India’s 2%. This is releasing resources for Pakistan to invest in productive sectors such as infrastructure and social services, something they couldn’t do when they were competing with India to maintain parity in conventional weapons."

Agra Summit:

In 1999, during Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to Pakistan, both countries agreed to the Lahore Declaration and pledged to make joint efforts for peace and stability in South Asia. The Kargil war came months later and proved to be major setback in this effort.

Contacts between India and Pakistan resumed at the highest level with talks in New Delhi between President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in July 2001.  A.S. Dulat who has served as Chief of India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and as Special Director of India's Intelligence Bureau told Indian Journalist Karan Thapar of India Today that the Musharraf-Vajpayee meeting resulted in agreement on Kashmir and other major bilateral issue but still ended in failure.  He put the entire blame for its failure on India's Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani. Here's an AS Dulat quote from the interview:

“This is when L. K. Advani surprised Musharraf by asking for Dawood Ibrahim. This took Musharraf back and a shadow was cast thereafter on the Agra summit.” “As Mr. Mishra put it: “Yaar, hote-hote reh gaya … Ho gaya tha, who toh.”

Rise of Hindu Nationalism: 

The rise of Hindutva forces that began with Vajpayee's 1999 election victory is tearing India apart along caste and religious lines as the country celebrates 71 years of independence from the British colonial rule.  Hindu mobs are lynching Muslims and Dalits. A recent  Pew Research report confirms that the level of hostility against religious minorities in India is "very high", giving India a score of 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10. Pakistan's score on this scale is 7 while Bangladesh's is 7.5.

Chart Courtesy of Bloomberg


Atal Bihari Vajpayee represented kind and gentle face of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). Beneath the surface, however, he was a hardcore Hindu Nationalist.  He led Hindu Nationalists to their first-ever outright election victory with the majority of seats won by his BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) in the Indian parliament in 1999.  Vajpayee saw India's military victory over Pakistan in religious terms. He lavished praise on Indira Gandhi by calling her Durga, Hindu goddess literally meaning "the invincible",  on "Hindu" India's victory over Muslim Pakistan in the 1971 war in East Pakistan. Vajpayee ordered India's underground nuclear tests in 1998 to intimidate Pakistan and assert India's status as a nuclear power on the world stage.  Within weeks, Pakistan responded to those tests with six of its own, forever altering South Asian security. Vajpayee threw away India's substantial conventional military edge over Pakistan by going nuclear.  It gave Pakistan the justification it needed to go nuclear a few weeks later, thereby achieving balance of terror with its much larger neighbor with a huge conventional military.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Disintegration of India

Who's at Fault in India-Pakistan Conflict?

1971 India-Pakistan War

Dalit Death Shines Light on India's Caste Apartheid

India's Hindu Nationalists Going Global

Rape: A Political Weapon in Modi's India

Hindutva: Legacy of British Raj

India's Superpower Delusion

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel


Riaz Haq said…
#India's #Hindu Nationalist Sena: "#British Queen Victoria rid #India of Islamic invaders": Hindu Sena celebrates death anniversary. The #Hindu Sena on Tuesday organized an event at #Delhi's Jantar Mantar to celebrate the Queen. via @indiatoday

ueen Victoria rid India of Islamic terrorists and invaders - with this tagline, Hindu Sena, a right wing outfit was seen celebrating the British royal's death anniversary on January 22.

Known for its bizarre protests and celebrations, the Hindu Sena on Tuesday organised an event at Delhi's Jantar Mantar to celebrate the Queen.

In its invite that is circulating on social media, Hindu Sena also declared the 1857 as the year in which India gained independence in the truest sense.
Riaz Haq said…
Abrogation of #Indian Constitution's Article 370 on #Indian Occupied #Kashmir by #Modi: It’s the beginning of disintegration of #India, says Former Union Home Minister of India P. Chidambaram. #BJP

‘Every State in the country could be dismembered like Jammu and Kashmir’
Senior Congress leader and former Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday said the government move to amend Article 370 was “the beginning of the disintegration of India if the current government continues to be in charge.”

Monday was the worst day in the constitutional history and “the idea of India as a union of States is in grave danger,” he said at a press conference. Though he anticipated a misadventure, he didn't expect this 'catastrophic decision'.

“What they have done is a constitutional monstrosity. People of India, people of every State must wake up to the grave danger that was set as an example today by these completely unconstitutional and illegal resolutions. I want to warn every party, every State, every citizen of India that the idea of India as a union of States is in grave danger,” he said.

Mr. Chidambaram accused the government of “dismembering” Jammu and Kashmir, and claimed that every State in the country could be similarly dismembered. “They can dismember every State and break it up. This is the beginning of the disintegration of India. I am sorry to use such strong words but this is the worst day in the constitutional history of India.”

“All that they have to do is to dismiss the elected government, impose President's rule, dissolve the elected Assemblies, the Parliament takes the power of the State Assembly, the government moves a resolution and Parliament approves it and the State can be broken up,” said Mr. Chidambaram, who is also a noted constitutional lawyer.

“What have they done. They dismembered the State of Jammu and Kashmir by mischievously interpreting both Article 3 and Article 370 of the Constitution. If this can be done in J&K, then let me caution you that it can be done to every other State. Every State can be broken up into two or three or more Union Territories by mischievously misinterpreting Article 3 and Article 370 and they won't stop at that,” he said.
Riaz Haq said…
Jaswant Singh, India’s former foreign minister, who died on September 27 after six years in a coma from a fall at his home, was carrying a history-making sheaf of typed papers in his briefcase on July 16, 2001, in Agra, papers of immeasurable importance to the future history of South Asia.

So powerful were the contents in Jaswant Singh’s draft he had agreed with his Pakistan counterpart that it had the potential to forestall any future war between India and Pakistan. Singh’s far-right colleague and home minister LK Advani torpedoed the draft pact moments before Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pervez Musharraf were to accept it.

The sabotaged Agra summit could have saved India and Pakistan an endless need to procure military hardware at prohibitive costs to their poverty-stricken masses. Had history not played truant that day in Agra, there would be a hoard of money available for healthcare and education for both countries – saved from scandal-tainted Rafale jets in India, for example – which in turn would have enabled both to better fight the coronavirus menace, and perhaps even spare precious resources for the less endowed neighbours.

The French Rafales were meant to deal with the military contingency in Ladakh with China, one might argue. Yes and no. Jaswant Singh’s peace deal carried the power, in fact, to vacate the need for even India and China to think of war or to send hapless men to inhospitable climes for guarding their ill-defined frontiers. There would be perhaps no deaths from frostbite or avalanches in Siachen either. There would be no need to interdict the Karakoram Highway.

There is a humanitarian catastrophe brewing in Jammu and Kashmir. An Agra pact would have made unnecessary the subjugation of Jammu and Kashmir last year. True, there were howls of protest from Hindutva nationalists when Jaswant Singh proposed in a subsequent TV interview that India could accept the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir as a hard border and thus end a core dispute with Pakistan.

The protests had less to do with the logic of peace between nuclear rivals, rather they were needed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its assiduously nurtured hatred for Pakistan. A worried Arun Jaitley, the late partisan of the RSS, told the Americans in as many words, according to WikiLeaks, that good relations with Pakistan were detrimental to Hindutva’s political constituency in northern India. The instructive core of such an argument can imply that the December 2001 terror attack on the Indian parliament or the November 2008 terror attack in Mumbai harmed India but helped the BJP. The logic again came into play with the Pulwama attack last year.

To loosely translate an Indian saying, the horse cannot befriend the grass. That is a likelier reason for the failure of the Agra summit – because peace with Pakistan would destroy the BJP’s plank to win votes. It goes to the credit of Vajpayee and Jaswant Singh that they did not see their politics through the prism of perpetual communal hostility.
Riaz Haq said…
Bhagat Singh vs Savarkar: #BhagatSingh demanded the #British send a #military detachment to execute him by firing squad; #Hindu nationalist #Savarkar promised to give up the fight for freedom if released – and kept his word. #Hindutva #Modi

Eighty-five years ago, on March 23, 1931, Shaheed Bhagat Singh and his two comrades-in-arms, Shaheed Rajguru and Shaheed Sukhdev were hanged in Lahore by the British colonial government. At the time of his martyrdom, Bhagat Singh was barely 23 years old. Despite the fact that he had his whole life ahead of him, he refused to seek clemency from the British as some well-wishers and family members wanted him to do. In his last petition and testament, he demanded that the British be true to the charge they laid against him of waging war against the colonial state and that he be executed by firing squad and not by hanging. The document also lays out his vision for an India whose working people are free from exploitation by either British or Indian “parasites”.

At a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party national executive has decided to make nationalism its rallying cry, it is useful to compare the patriotic attitude and vision of Bhagat Singh with that of the Sangh parivar’s icon, V.D. Savarkar, author and originator of the concept of ‘Hindutva’, which the BJP swears by.

Sent to the notorious Cellular Jail in the Andamans in 1911 for his revolutionary activity, Savarkar first petitioned the British for early release within months of beginning his 50 year sentence. Then again in 1913 and several times till he was finally transferred to a mainland prison in 1921 before his final release in 1924. The burden of his petitions: let me go and I will give up the fight for independence and be loyal to the colonial government.

Savarkar’s defenders insist his promises were a tactical ploy; but his critics say they were not, and that he stayed true to his promise after leaving the Andamans by staying away from the freedom struggle and actually helping the British with his divisive theory of ‘Hindutva’, which was another form of the Muslim League’s Two Nation theory.
Riaz Haq said…
#Hindu Nationalist guru VD Savarkar, in his book titled Six Glorious Epochs of #Indian History, says #rape of #Muslim #women is justified. He supported it. #Modi has described #Savarkar as “worthy of worship”.
Riaz Haq said…
Aselsan’s Zargana to protect Pakistan’s Agosta 90B submarines against torpedoes

ZARGANA System uses ZOKA Acoustic jammers and decoys. Acoustic jammer is a broadband high power acoustic noise generator that covers all operating frequency bands of both classical and modern acoustic homing torpedoes operating in passive, active, or combined homing modes. As a softkill measure, acoustic decoys are aimed to deceive incoming torpedoes by emulating dynamic and acoustic behaviors of the submarine.

Zargana system was fitted Turkish Navy’s PREVEZE-class (Type 209/1400) submarines, which was spotted by Yoruk Isik and released on Twitter in January 2021.


Turkey's leading defence company Aselsan has completed factory acceptance tests (FAT) of the Zargana Torpedo Countermeasure System for the Pakistan Navy's Agosta 90B-class submarines mid-life upgrade (MLU) project.

The tests of Zargana were attended by Pakistan’s Attachee, a Pakistan Navy representative, and STM Defence officials, according to Aselsan’s most recent bulletin. The FATs were also carried out as part of Zargana’s integration with Indonesian submarines.

Aselsan made the initial announcement of the export of the Zargana torpedo countermeasure system to Pakistan in May 2019. The contract is part of the Pakistan Navy’s Agosta 90B MLU program, which includes the modernization of three Agosta 90B submarines under a contract signed in 2016 with the Turkish STM Company as the prime contractor. STM officials revealed during the Naval Systems Seminar held in Ankara on 15 and 16 November that they delivered the first modernized submarine, PNS Hamza. According to multiple OSINT reporters, the second submarine’s upgrade is complete.

Because officials did not disclose relevant information, it is unknown when the next trials will take place or which submarine will be equipped. The best option appears to be outfitting the third Agosta 90B-class submarine, PNS Saad (S-138), which is currently being modernized.

In the same bulletin, Aselsan announced that it had completed the FAT of its MITOSTM WECDIS (Warship Electronic Chart Display), an electronic map-based navigation system that assists navigation by providing information compatible with current electronic maps and provides route planning and route tracking capability to navigation personnel, for the Pakistan Navy’s first Babur-class corvette.

The defense industry collaboration between Turkey and Pakistan has grown year after year. Aside from the MLU of Agosta 90B submarines, Turkey is building four Babur-class (PN MILGEM) corvettes for the Pakistan Navy. Though officials did not provide any details regarding Pakistan’s Jinnah-class frigate project, officials from KUASAR Marine, a Turkish engineering firm, informed Naval News in an interview that they will be in charge of the frigate’s design.

Riaz Haq said…
A new book examines VD Savarkar’s project to establish Hindutva not as an ideology but as history
An excerpt from ‘Hindutva and Violence: VD Savarkar and the Politics of History’,

by Vinayak Chaturvedi.

. . . The ubiquity of Hindutva has ensured that everyone in India will have Savarkar’s ideas in mind for the foreseeable future. For Savarkar, Hindutva was never meant to be understood as bounded by national borders; his ambition was always planetary. Anyone with an interest in South Asia also knows that neither Hindutva nor Savarkar can be ignored today, no matter where they live. The challenge for all of us now is navigating the intellectual and political terrain to think with and against his ideas.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is a difficult figure. As an intellectual founder of Hindu nationalism, he has emerged as the most controversial Indian political thinker of the twentieth century. His arguments for Hindutva transformed political debate by rethinking the concepts “Hindu” and “Hindustan.”

He is remembered as an anti-imperialist who simultaneously longed for the resurrection of the lost Hindu Empire of centuries past. He is celebrated and condemned for his roles as a nationalist, a revolutionary, a political prisoner, and president of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha. He gained notoriety for his programme to “Hinduise Politics and Militarise Hindudom” while also arguing for permanent war against Christians and Muslims. He was never forgotten – and for many, never forgiven – for his associations with the murderers of MK Gandhi – the Mahatma. The consequence: Savarkar is declared a martyr by some and condemned as the enemy by others.

The historical significance of Savarkar’s life is acknowledged and accepted by those familiar with modern South Asian history. Less is known about the corpus of his work. His prolific writings have certainly not received the attention of those of his contemporaries or interlocutors.
Moreover, there is a lack of awareness of how much Savarkar actually wrote in his lifetime. The fact that his interpretations, conceptualisations, and ideas were at the epicentre of key debates that shaped the landscape of Indian political thought in the twentieth century is generally overlooked or simply ignored. There is no agreement about how his work should be represented or remembered given his polarising status within India. As a result, the reception of Savarkar’s ideas remains penumbral...

Riaz Haq said…
by Vinayak Chaturvedi.

I begin this book with a simple observation: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar struggled with defining Hindutva. The publication of Essentials of Hindutva in 1923 marked an important conjuncture in the development of the conceptual history of “Hindutva.”

Savarkar was not the first to use the concept: it was already a part of Bengali vocabulary in the nineteenth century. Chandranath Basu is identified as the individual who invented or conceptualised “Hindutva” – a term he discussed in his book Hindutva (1892).

However, Savarkar was undoubtedly responsible for the proliferation of the concept in the twentieth century. He explained that Hindutva should not be confused with its “cognate,” Hinduism. For Savarkar, Hinduism was a “code” or a “theory” founded on what he called a “spiritual or religious dogma or system.”

He explains: “Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva.” And he continues: “Had not linguistic usage stood in our way then ‘Hinduness’ would have been a better word than Hinduism as a near parallel to Hindutva.”
But Hinduness is not Hindutva; it only serves as an approximation. To further complicate matters, Savarkar posited that Hindutva was indefinable: “The ideas and ideals, the systems and societies, the thoughts and sentiments[,] which have centred round this name are so varied and rich, so powerful and so subtle, so elusive and yet so varied that the term Hindutva defies all attempts at analysis.”

The argument is that Hindutva is conceptually defiant. If Hindutva were only the name of an ideology, a theory, a religion, or a movement, it may have been possible to define the term. But it was in fact indefinable because Hindutva was ontological: “Hindutva embraces all the departments of thought and activity of the whole Being of our Hindu race.”...

The inclusion “of our Hindu race” is both important and problematic. It adds a new dimension to Savarkar’s conceptualisation. Hindutva as an entity could only be known by understanding all the actions and thoughts that have happened in its human form – in other words, that have taken human shape as a Hindu, or, in the plural, in the shape of the Hindu race.

It is important to note that, at this moment, Savarkar asserted himself as a Hindu too, staking a claim within and for “our Hindu race” as part of his conceptualisation of Hindutva. In sum, Savarkar was using the personal pronoun “our” on behalf of the Hindu race...

It was over this ongoing conceptual struggle that Savarkar tried to reveal his method for understanding Hindutva: namely, History. Perhaps the most audacious passage he penned appears in Essentials of Hindutva, where he states, “Hindutva is not a word but a history.” He explained that Hindutva was not a “spiritual or religious history,” it was “a history in full.”
Riaz Haq said…
by Vinayak Chaturvedi.

Savarkar first identified Hindutva as a word in his text; he then asserted the negation of Hindutva as a word. This should not be seen as a negation of Hindutva per se, but as the negation of a word – and, by extension, language – that could not adequately represent the essence of Hindutva. And yet Savarkar knew he could not abandon the word “Hindutva” either; it was irreplaceable.

It is in this moment of what might be called an existential impasse for “Hindutva” – as a word and not a word – that Savarkar immediately offers “history” as an alternative to provide meaning to “Hindutva.” To clarify matters once more: Hindutva is not simply “history,” or “the history,” but it is “a history,” or more specifically “a history in full.”

Hindutva as a history is the singularity of Hindutva’s history – a single and singular history that is finite. And yet simultaneously Savarkar’s characterisation of it as a form of fulness suggests multiplicity, plurality, and completeness within that singularity or finitude.
Savarkar concluded that the question of the meaning of Hindutva is not to be found in the word “Hindutva” itself, but within the multitude that is encompassed within a history. The essentials of Hindutva are truly the essentials of history.

Hindutva and Violence tells the story of the place of history in Savarkar’s thought. The book is organised around Savarkar’s formulation of “a history in full” as the central conceptualisation in his writings. In many ways, I have been guided by Savarkar’s own argument. Hindutva may be indefinable, but the articulation that “Hindutva is not a word but a history” provides meaning to both “Hindutva” and “history.”

For Savarkar, the key point is that “a history in full” is Hindutva, too. In other words, he not only linked Hindutva to Being, he also made it clear that history was going to be his method of interpreting Hindutva: his “a history in full” was going to provide the ultimate interpretation of how Hindutva may be actualised, recovered, or approximated in language.

Excerpted with permission from Hindutva and Violence: VD Savarkar and the Politics of History, Vinayak Chaturvedi, Permanent Black.

Riaz Haq said…

Ravi Nair
This BJP spokesperson says that Savarkar wrote a series of mercy petitions to the British Crown because Chhatrapati Shivaji wrote five mercy petitions to Aurangazeb!!!
Riaz Haq said…
Did you know that the composition of Mahmood Ghaznavi's army when he raided the Somnath temple in 1025 was, solely not a Muslim Army. Out of 12 Generals, 5 were Hindus. Their names are:1. Tilak2. Rai3. Sondhi4. Hazran5. Not knownAfter the battle, Mahmood issued coins in his name with inscriptions in Sanskrit. He appointed a Hindu Raja as his representative in Somnath. Arab traders who had settled in Gujarat during the 8th and 9th century died to protect the Somnath temple against Ghaznavi's Army.

Just three years before Ghaznavi's raid on Somnath in 1022, a general acting on the authority of Rajendra I, Maharaja of the Chola empire (848–1279) had marched 1,600 kilometres north from the Cholas’ royal capital of Tanjavur. After subduing kings in Orissa, Chola warriors defeated Mahipala, maharaja of the Pala empire (c.750–1161), who was the dominant power in India’s easternmost region of Bengal. The Chola's crowned their victory by carrying off a bronze image of the deity Śiva, which they seized from a royal temple that Mahipala had patronized. In the course of this long campaign, the invaders also took from the Kalinga Raja of Orissa images of Bhairava, Bhairavi and Kali. These, together with precious gems looted from the Pala king, were taken down to the Chola capital as war booty.
The question arises why is Mahmud Ghaznavi demonized but not Rajendra Chola's plunder of Hindu temples?In fact, the demonization of Mahmud and the portrayal of his raid on Somnath as an assault on Hinduism by Muslim invaders dates only from the early 1840s.

In 1842, the British East India Company suffered the annihilation of an entire army of some 16,000 in the First Afghan War (1839–42). Seeking to regain face among their Hindu subjects after this humiliating defeat, the British contrived a bit of self-serving fiction, namely...that Mahmud, after sacking the temple of Somnath, carried off a pair of the temple’s gates on his way back to Afghanistan.
By ‘discovering’ these fictitious gates in Mahmud’s former capital of Ghazni, and by ‘restoring’ them to their rightful owners in India, British officials hoped to be admired for heroically rectifying what they construed heinous wrongs that had caused centuries of distress among Hindus. Though intended to win the letters' gratitude while distracting the locals from Britain’s catastrophic defeat just beyond the Khyber, this bit of colonial mischief has stoked Hindus’ ill-feeling towards Muslims ever since.By contrast, Rajendra Chola’s raid on Bengal remained largely forgotten outside the Chola country.12 years after the attack, a king from the Goa region recorded performing a pilgrimage to the temple, but he failed to mention Mahmud’s raid. Another inscription dated 1169 mentioned repairs made to the temple owing to normal deterioration, but again without mentioning Mahmud’s raid. In 1216 Somnath’s overlords fortified the temple to protect it not from attacks by invaders from beyond the Khyber Pass, but from those by Hindu rulers in neighbouring Malwa; apparently, such attacks were so frequent as to require precautionary measures; apparently, such attacks were so frequent as to require precautionary measures.
The silence of contemporary Hindu sources regarding Mahmud’s raid suggests that in Somnath itself it was either forgotten altogether or viewed as just another unfortunate attack by an outsider, and hence unremarkable.

1. “India in the Persianate Age: 1000-1765” by Richard M. Eaton2. “Somanatha: The Many Voices of a History” by Romila Thapar
Riaz Haq said…
Ex spy chief Amarjit Singh Dulat tells DH why he thinks both India and Pakistan have their best chance at peace now

S. Raghotham of Deccan Herald: What is the legacy that Gen Pervez Musharraf, who passed away recently, has left on the Kashmir issue?

Ex RAW Chief AS Dulat: I was a great admirer of Musharraf. In fact, it was one of my unfulfilled desires that I wanted to meet him, but I never could. Having watched Kashmir for more than 35 years, I feel that there has been no Pakistani leader who has been more reasonable on Kashmir than Musharraf. From our point of view, the most positive thing was that he repeatedly said that whatever is acceptable to Kashmir and Kashmiris would be acceptable to Pakistan. There’s not been anybody else in Pakistan who has said that. Of course, Musharraf got into trouble when 9/11 happened, and he had to willy-nilly join George Bush’s War on Terror. And 9/11 definitely helped us, because it put pressure on Musharraf. And as part of that pressure, he was also told that he had to behave with India. In the years following 9/11, militancy went down. The other positive thing for us (post-9/11) was that the average Kashmiri....


Manmohan Singh is on record that they (he and Musharraf, after Vajpayee and Musharraf in Agra in 2001) were very close to signing an agreement.

Q: What happened that we didn’t?

A: I think we dragged our foot, we took too long…Musharraf kept waiting for Manmohan Singh’s visit to Pakistan. The visit never happened.

Q: So, the recent revelations by Gen Qamar Bajwa, that PM Modi was to go to Pakistan, stay in a temple there for nine days, and then come out with a peace accord that would freeze the Kashmir issue for 20 years. Is that all true? Is it still possible? ...

A: I wouldn’t know. But coming from the (recently retired) Pakistan army chief Gen. Bajwa, there has to be some truth in it. I mean…there may be some exaggeration in it. I think this year -- this is my hunch, my gut feeling -- that something should happen because the Pakistanis are very keen. And they are in a big mess. So, it could be a question of Modi actually bailing out Pakistan. And he could do it…I feel Modi is the right man, he is under no pressure to move forward, but he can move forward.

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