History is perhaps the most important of the humanities. There is nothing quite like history that can be used in positive and negative ways to affect the affairs of men. To paraphrase George Santayana, I would say, "Those who forget their history are condemned." Condemned to forever be second-class, to forever lack self-respect, to forever suffer loss of self-image.
India's loss of knowledge of its history is a double disaster, because it turns out India's history is almost unimaginably lustrous: in fact, within the first order of approximation, one could claim that India invented almost everything worth knowing in the ancient world. India was, for millennia, the Empire of the Intellect, the civilization that with astonishing creativity generated more ideas than the rest of the world put together.
The denigration of Indian history is a project originally put into action by colonialist Britons, who identified, correctly, that by controlling the past they would be able to control the present as well. After Independence, a cabal of Marxists has dominated the official version of history in India, and they too want to control India's present and future. They have managed to brainwash entire generations of Indians into believing that everything that originated in India is worthless.
Through the miracles of "truth by repeated assertion" and the patronage extended to them by the Nehru Dynasty and its retainers, these self-proclaimed "eminent historians", many of them affiliated with the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, have manufactured a history of India that is widely at odds with the evidence on the ground. They are completely unwilling to accept new archaeological and other discoveries. They are dogmatic fundamentalists who remind me of the Catholic Church forcing Galileo to recant heliocentrism despite scientific evidence.
The desire to re-infect history with the Marxists' pet shibboleths is seen in the unseemly haste with which the newly-anointed mandarins of culture in the UPA government have proceeded to change text-books. This is much like the instant histories that were popular in the Soviet Union, and are popular in China these days: every now and then it is rewritten to glorify whoever is the strongman of the moment.
India's, however, is no instant history. It shows a tremendous cultural continuity of at least 5,000 years and possibly as much as 10,000 years: there are identifiable methods and modes of activity that have not changed at all from the Indus-Sarasvati civilization to today. This fits in with the written and oral records of Indic civilization, which talk about the current age, the Kali Yuga, as beginning on a specific date in 3102 BCE.
The Aryan Invasion Mythology, which Max Mueller created, was influenced by his Christian fundamentalist belief that the world was created in 4004 BCE, and therefore he arbitrarily assigned the date of 1500 BCE to the Indus-Sarasvati civilization (he allowed a millennium or two for Noah's floodwaters to recede and for Europeans to find their way to India!). This is utter idiocy. Mueller himself later disowned this date, but the "eminent historians" have yet to wake up, much like Galileo's tormenters took 400 years to accept his theory officially.
There are a number of assertions made by nationalists that the "eminent historians" will and do fight tooth and nail.
- There is no such thing as an "Aryan" and a "Dravidian": the people who inhabited the Indus-Saraswati region were just Hindus; it appears increasingly likely that they in fact migrated out from India: this would explain the linguistic and other ties connecting India and points West, just as well as an invasion into India would
- Ancient Hindu civilization was already mature by 3102 BCE, the beginning of the Kali Yuga. At that time, astronomers observed a peculiar celestial configuration. Only an advanced civilization would have been able to observe and record such an astronomical phenomenon
- There is significant evidence of a continuous unbroken culture to the present day from the earliest known Indus-Sarasvati settlement at Mehrgarh in Baluchistan, Pakistan (6500 BCE)
- Indic, Sanskrit-knowledgeable Mitanni kings in Syria wrote treaties as early as 1400 BCE. One of the Mitanni kings, Tusharatha or Dasaratha, was the father of the famed Queen Nefertiti of Egypt
- There are enough astronomical clues in the Vedas and other ancient Hindu texts to indicate that they could not have been written later than about 2500 BCE
- Even minimal near-shore marine archeological investigations at Bet Dwaraka, Mamallapuram, Poompuhar and Kanyakumari have indicated the presence of man-made structures of great antiquity; one or two artifacts have been dated as early as 7500 BCE
- The obvious influence of India on Southeast Asia shows how Indian ideas and thus 'soft power' were irresistible to many cultures; similarly, a lot of Christian myths are derived from older Hindu and Buddhist myths. There was a 'Greater India' that was the India's cultural sphere of influence.
India was also the Empire of the Intellect, although the "eminent historians" are loath to admit it. Some of the greatest achievements in the sphere of pure thought came out of India. And it is not that it was all idle speculation: for, the invention of zero and the decimal system, of algebra and calculus, as well as the creation of accurate astronomical tables, all had practical uses in calculation and in navigation. To take just a few examples:
- The so-called Pythagoras Theorem is discussed in the Sulba-sutras circa 800 BCE by Baudhayana. He also showed how to square the circle
- Panini's Sanskrit grammar ca. 500 BCE is arguably the greatest achievement of a single human mind in all of history, for he was able to capture the infinity of expressions in language in a finite set of 4,000 rules. See also http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/t_es/t_es_rao-t_syntax.htm
- Aryabhata's astronomy ca. 499 CE is of the highest order, for he realized that the earth is a rotating sphere and quite accurately calculated the diameter; and he predicted eclipses, in addition to providing a value for pi accurate to six decimal places and producing an accurate table of sines
- Algebra was known to Aryabhata; and it is discussed in detail in Bhaskara II's "Lilavati" ca. 1150 CE
- Parameswara and Nilakantha of the Kerala School of mathematics and astronomy ca. 1400 CE proposed a heliocentric theory for the solar system, displacing the earth as the center of the Universe. Madhava, another member of the Kerala School, invented the theory of infinite series and the basis for calculus (it is now believed that Jesuit missionaries took this material back to Europe, and that Leibniz and Newton possibly got their ideas on the calculus therefrom).
In addition, there are astonishing facts about the prosperity of the advanced civilization:
- As late as 1750 CE, India accounted for 24.5 per cent of all manufactured good in the world. England ] accounted for 2%. (A century later, the numbers were reversed)
- The Thanjavur delta in Tamil Nadu and the Brahmaputra delta in Bengal were two of the world's four greatest centers of industry till 1750 CE (why do you think the British got their paws into Bengal and Tamil Nadu first?)
- India was the only source of diamonds in the world till the late 1800s, when diamond-bearing ore was discovered in South Africa and Australia
- Indian metallurgy was remarkable. The famous 'damascene' steel used to make the finest swords (Muslims in the Crusades had these: Saladin is known to have had one) came not from Damascus, but from India: it was called 'wootz' here. Similarly, the rust-free Iron Pillar in Delhi was an amazing feat
- India had some of the best textiles and designs in the world; a large number of terms used for textiles come from India, such as muslin, calico, seersucker, cashmere, gingham, madras, dungarees, the 'paisley' design, khaki, pyjamas,...
- India was a center for specialty services, such as medicine and surgery
- Sushruta practiced plastic surgery and did Caesarian sections; he invented 101 surgical instruments named after animals, some of which are still used
- Charaka wrote treatises on digestion, anatomy, metabolism and immunity
- Ayurveda and the related science of pressure points were taken to East Asia by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma; East Asian martial arts, as well as quite possibly acupuncture, are derived from these
- According to the research done by Dharampal based on first-hand colonial reports in the British Museum (see his book The Beautiful Tree) there was a school in every village, and children of every caste were taught therein, before the British invasion of India. Illiteracy was a British gift, as in Burma (see Amitav Ghosh's Glass Palace)
- As late as 1750 CE, the average Indian agricultural or industrial worker was better off than his equivalent in England
Then there is a great deal of very interesting information about the Indus-Sarasvati civilization as well (see Michel Danino, The Invasion That Never Was):
- It has been shown that the Sarasvati dried up circa 1900 BCE as the result of a series of earthquakes. The entire course of the Sarasvati, a broad and mighty river, has been identified from satellite imagery, showing that it flowed from the mountains to the sea
- The geographical area of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization was greater the areas of the contemporary civilizations of Egypt and Mesapotamia put together!
- Across this huge area, there was a startling uniformity of town planning techniques, weights and measures (in the binary system ratio 1:2:4:8:16:32:64), and in the sizes of bricks used for construction
- They used a decimal system of measurement as well. At Lothal, an ivory scale was discovered that has precise markings 1.70mm apart; and the pier walls at the port of Lothal are 1.70 meters thick
- An analysis of the sites in the civilization shows that there are far more of them clustered around the Sarasvati than the Indus: Kalibangan, Dholavira, Rakhigarhi, Lothal..