Romila Thapar

Romila Thapar’s return to eminence

India is definitely a land of surprise and shock. Nothing else explains the fact that despite a change in regime at the centre, the controversial historian Romilla Thapar is back in business courtesy Janaab Najeeb Jung, the eminent Lt. Governor of Delhi.

Romila Thapar is now one of the coopted members of the high profile Delhi Urban Heritage Foundation or DHUF. In other words, she’s back in the business of being an eminent historian.

This high profile Foundation is headed by Delhi’s Lt Governor, Najeeb Jung, who is said to be greatly interested in preserving the urban heritage of Delhi. To this noble end, he has appointed the self-anointed eminent historian and another left-liberal, Amar Farooqui even as the likely outcome of the general elections 2014 was being debated on 24 /7 television channels.

For decades Romila Thapar has been a controversial historian, an avowedly Marxist and anti-Hindu and pro-Muslim historian. She courted massive controversy when she wrote the partisan and garbled versions of ancient Indian history for textbooks approved by the National Council of Educational Research and Training ( NCERT). Many texts of her books had to be re-edited and re-written in the year 2002 during the NDA regime. There were serious allegations against her of twisting historical truths by several well-known historians: left liberal and sham-secular educationists excluded. No wonder, her nomination to the DHUF has raised the eyebrows of several non-leftist historians and experts on the conservation of Indian heritage.

On the face of it, the Delhi Urban Heritage Foundation does not appear to be seriously concerned about preserving the real ancient heritage of Delhi. Although it has identified more than 1200 heritage structures for conservation, its focus all along has been on non-Hindu architectural sites.

In a meeting chaired by the Lt. Governor, it was decided to undertake the renovation and landscaping of the following two allegedly important heritage sites:

i) Lado Sarai Tomb
ii) The former Viceregal Lodge at Delhi University.

Next, the members of the DUHF present in the meeting of June 16 , 2014, presided by the Lt. Governor reviewed the progress of restoring the Sultan Garhi tomb, the Anglo-Arabic High School at Ajmeri Gate and the Architectural Park at Mehrauli .

Apparently in their infinite wisdom, the members of DUHF have decided that the first priority has to be accorded to the restoration of tombs of Muslim seers and structures ostensibly in deference to Dr. Manmohan Singh’s ‘Muslims First’ policy statement made on December 9, 2006 in a meeting of the National Development Council. No wonder, for the DUHF, the history of Delhi begins with the Muslim rule and ends with the British occupation of Delhi.

It is time that the Lt. Governor and his learned teammates including Ms. Thapar stopped the phoney restoration work of tombs and so on. They must reread the long and celebrated history of the non-Muslim and non-British era before these barbaric invaders ransacked Delhi.

According to this well recorded history, the city of Delhi has the following five ancient temples dating back to the Mahabharata period:
i) The Hanuman temple in Connaught Place which has a self-manifested Murti of Bal Hanuman – also known as Bajrang Bali (child Hanuman).

ii) The famous Kali temple at Kalkaji containing a Murti of Maa Durga sculpted in rock. Twice every year, celebrations are held at the temple during Navaratri.

iii) The Yog Maya temple near Qutub Minar.

iv) The ancient Bhairava temple near Purana Qila; and

v) The famous “Neeli Chhatri Mahadev” temple located outside the broken ramparts of old Delhi, near Nigambodh Ghat.

In addition, there are several other temples including Shri Gauri Shankar temple in Chandni Chowk, and a number of Jain temples and Gurudwaras of historical importance dotting the national capital. Most of them urgently need restoration and ornate landscaping.

It is a mystery why the Delhi L.G. is not interested in the restoration and landscaping of scores of Hindu and Jain temples of Delhi including a number of Gurudwaras of historical importance. But with Romilla occupying the centre stage in the Delhi Heritage Foundation, it looks like mission impossible.

I am not a professional historian. But before I get to the conlusion, I would like to make a submission.
Why is it necessary for Indians to confer the title of heritage structures on the burial places of invading tyrants and the so-called holy men accompanying them?

Sometime in the middle of the year 2008, there was a news item in the mainstream English press bemoaning the dilapidated condition of the tomb of Ghiasuddin Balban. It was argued that the tomb of this great slave king was an important ‘heritage’ structure which ought to be renovated and protected for the benefit of the posterity.

Now who was this Balban who we are told, needs to be regarded as our pride, our heritage, and who must be presented to posterity as a representative of our glorious tradition? Was he a benign ruler fit to be glorified as a national icon? According to Minhaj Siraj, a Muslim historian and contemporary of Balban, the slave king waged a war on the ruler of Avadh, King Trilokyavarman of Chandela dynasty, and after defeating the valiant king carried away his wife, sons and dependents as slaves. Balban had twice attacked the kingdom of Bhojpur (in today’s Bihar) and in the process enslaved a large number of women and children. Similarly in Katihar (located in today’s Bihar), he had ordered a massacre of all male children above eight years of age and enslaved thousands of hapless Hindu women. This savage Balban also attacked Mewat and Shivalik regions, ravaged the kingdom of Ranthambore, and made a proclamation that any soldier of his army who brought alive a captive kaffir (Hindu) would be rewarded with 2 silver tankahs and the one who brought the head of a killed Hindu will be rewarded with one tankah.

I don’t know why the Archaeological Survey of India has been hell-bent on erasing these acts of wanton barbarism by Balban by falsely presenting his tomb as something which the Indian people and posterity should be proud of.

Unfortunately we have a large battalion of sham-secular busybodies like Romila Thapar who have turned the word “heritage” on its head by bestowing unwarranted national pride and high status on alien invaders who ruthlessly killed lakhs of innocents, destroyed thousands of beautiful temples and mercilessly pillaged our glorious heritage.

Indeed, time has come to make our historians and archaeologists understand the true meaning of the word ‘heritage’. If necessary, it should be done by making them go through a course in de-schooling. In no other country are charlatans masquerading as protectors of our heritage are honoured like in India. In any case, the structures and landmarks of plunderers and murderers need not be restored and exalted as national pride.

Ram Ohri is a former IPS officer and writes regularly on security issues, demographics, and occasionally, on policy.
  • Is this why Modi was given landslide victory? Something must be done to undo this terrible mistake!

  • There is nothing wrong in presenting historical facts as it is. But giving it a particular color according to the view of the writer that too with hidden wish is wrong.
    If Kutub Minar was built by a Muslim ruler..say it but don’t say Mughal Emperors never broke any Mandir
    Good post rebutting fake historians

  • Sam

    If there is anyone who should be mandated to read & write Sanskrit, it should be these “eminent” historians who have out-caricatured the collectivist caricatures in Ayn Rand’s fiction. Imagine any other civilization where its leading historians do not know their ancient scripts. Romila Thapar as an eminent historian is like a Heinrich Schliemann who knew no ancient Greek, or a more fitting analogy that the seculars would understand, a mullah who knows no Arabic. Only in Nehruvian India!

  • Agree with Elst and Prashant. Sanskrit should be compulsory as main language with mother tongue. I would not worry about learning international language because when whole subcontinent with 30% of world population would speak Sanskrit, then Sanskrit would be the world’s International language. Sanskrit can only give you the access to the knowledge in the form when it was created. That knowledge opposite to the materialistic and corporate driven world would give people peace and would help in human evolution. This is necessary for survival.

  • This is actually incredibly depressing in its accuracy. Why do people like Romila Thapar — as in individuals who are Hindus by birth — feel the need to essentially disparage their ancestral heritage in favor of the foreign? I mean, yes, they are deracinated, and I suppose brainwashed by a particular ideology. But it quite honestly seems completely backwards and odd to, while acknowledging historical truths (as revealed by Muslim historians themselves), actually PREFER the history of invading powers over the history of one’s own people. Is this some extreme version of Stockholm Syndrome or something?

    But really though, does Thapar believe she’s taking some sort of moral high ground by being on the side of the Muslims, as a result of their status as a “minority” in India (they are, of course, not a minority in the vast swathes of India that were ceded to them; i.e., Pakistan and Bangladesh)? I see this sort of rhetoric in parts of India where the left has more power than the right (in my own state of Tamil Nadu, BJP and Hindu Mahasabha members are regularly killed for holding different views, in spite of Tamil Nadu being a Hindu majority state).

    And why, just why, is Marxism in India synonymous with Muslim sympathy? In what twisted way do the two concur ideologically? Both are, of course, absolutist and have little respect for those who remain outside their respective dogmatic circles; however, this cannot be seen as ample reason for the two to join hands against Indian civilization. On top of this, why do non-academic Hindus, who don’t identify as Marxists, feel compelled to support historians like Thapar? Why do many of us not delve further and attempt to see through the BS maha-katha that has thoroughly replaced the actual story of Indian history in classrooms all over the country? Would Romila Thapar have ever earned the respect of Will Durant? How about RC Majumdar? Or NA Sastri? Or maybe Jadunath Sarkar? No, no, no, and no. As the historian Kaushik Roy states, the works of Jadunath Sarkar are now “forgotten due to pressure of Marxism and Postmodernism”. The same can be said for the works of the other three.

    We are now at a crossroads, and at this junction, we must collectively decide whether we are to progress as a civilization and show the world that we are, indeed, a unique and great civilization, or whether we are to remain indentured to our own insecurity, our own inferiority complex that has come about as a result of ~1000 years of foreign occupation. We must act now to pass this crucial junction in our long history.

    • Whoops, that should be KA Nilakanta Sastri, not NA Sastri.

      I also wanted to add to that list of historians/intellectuals Sita Ram Goel, Ram Swarup, Koenraad Elst, and Rajiv Malhotra. I want to compile a list of such historians/intellectuals who show integrity in their work like the above individuals, given that the above list is woefully incomplete in all likelihood. If anyone reading this can reply with the names of any other great individuals (past or present), I would be very grateful. Thank you.

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