History of Mughalstan

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 31 06:16:06 UTC 2000

Robert Zydenbos writes :

>This thread seems another one that could be on an unfortunate
>way to fruitlessness because of superficial and inaccurate
>comparisons. I will try to give a different view here.

It doesn't look like you're very clear about the subject of
discussion. The main point of the argument is not a comparison between
Europe and India, but whether the concept of "nations" based on
region/language/ethnicity is applicable to India.

>In other words: there is not much difference with Europe (with its
>various kingdoms and empires), provided that you realise that India
>should be compared not with any single European country, but with
>Europe as a whole. (I have in fact been arguing this, also in print,
>for at least eleven years.) In earlier times, the Europeans had the
>Huns and the Turks as common enemies, again on the basis of a
>certain civilisational unity. But this did not mean that there were
>intra-European differences _on a different level_. Cf. also the

Though similarities between Europe and India based on language and culture
are to an extent true, still there're glaring differences too, especially
with respect to the "nation" concept advocated by Samar. Can you find
parallels in India to the notorious enemities in Europe : the Celts/Picts Vs
the Anglo Saxons, the English Vs the French, Spain Vs Portugal, Spain Vs
England, Prussians Vs their enemies. Each of these peoples have historically
identified themselves as seperate nations/people based on language/culture
and fought/competed with each other. But such a case is absent in India -
for Telugus have never had the Tamils as traditional enemies nor the
Kannadigas nursed traditional enemity towards the Marathas or any other
particular people based on region/language. Rather it was the dynasties
fighting each other - the Tamil Chola had traditional enemity with the Tamil
PAndya, the PAndya with the Pallava etc

Also when the Marathas ruled ThanjAvur, is there any history of the local
Tamils rebelling against them, because they were of a different "nation"? Or
did that happen when Telugu NAyak kings or the Vijayanagar kings ruled parts
of Tamil Nadu? Whoever the king might be and whatever region he might belong
to, for the people it was business as usual and they continued living their
normal lives.

Would this be possible in Europe? Would the French have tolerated the
British as rulers or vice versa?

This was possible in India only due to the common civilizational thread
underlying all its diversity. Though the king might speak a different
language and have his own distinct cultural preferences, still the
connecting thread was the dharma which was accepted by all throughout the

>Let us not forget that there was a Christian dharma across Europe,
>and scholars moved around freely using the lingustic medium of the
>Latin 'devabhaa.saa'.

Given the traditional groupings in Europe based on language/region,
what you describe is just an attempt by Christianity to weld together
all the nations to form a single whole. The fact that such a thing
never succeeded and even today nations identify themselves individually
and also exist as independent entities, only points to the
insurmountable differences between the peoples in Europe. Unlike this
India even today has had very little difficulty in coming together and
staying as one single whole.

>The real 'problem' in these 'discussions' is that modern India (which
>is a British creation, in the sense that at no time prior to the British
>period 'India' as a _state_ existed) _cannot_ be culturally compared
>with any European state except in a most flimsy manner. Culturally
>and historically speaking, India is not a country, but a continent.

I'm sure Winston Churchill must be cheering you from the grave! This is the
typical colonial attitude which overlooks the extent of
Chandragupta's or Ashoka's empire. Prior to them, if one is to go by
the evidence as presented in the Puranas and the Ithihaasas, there did
exist the concept of a nation as a single whole in India. Though various
regions might have been ruled by different kings, still there existed
a concept of an emperor/Chakravarti, who would rule the whole of the
land assisted by various smaller kings - which is quite logical given
the size of the land. That's the reason that the Ashvamedhayaagam occupies a
central place in the Kshatriya dharma. And all along the history of India
there's always been sustained attempts by kings to achieve this unification.

>This is more of the same, viz. another faulty comparison, this one
>popularised by Vivekananda, who has done a lot to propagate the
>myth of 'spiritual India' vis-à-vis the 'materialist West', where such a
>contrast does not really exist;

One has only to live in India and America to appreciate this. Maybe such
perception is only possible for Indians who "live" their culture.

>Even if Samar Abbas' original message looks a little quirky, the
>proper response to it is not to ban such questions out of fear of

I never said that such questions have to be banned. But given the
motive behind such claims and lack of supporting evidence for it, it
should just be ignored.

>Is it not a fact that there have been bloody wars all
>over South Asia throughout all of its history, irrespective of what
>myth-makers have said about 'spiritual' 'Vedic' tendencies etc.?

Why is there this great effort to moralise everything? "Brahmins are
evil because they supported the caste system; Buddha was noble because
he opposed it". "Vedic civilization is evil because it encouraged wars;
Buddhism is noble because it opposed it".

That Buddhism perished in India and Marxism never succeeded is enough
to show that good intentions alone aren't enough. The true dharma should
be practical - it should accomodate the good and the bad. For every law
abiding citizen, there're numerous people who're bad - who'd steal, kill,
take by force what they wanted if there wasn't the law to prevent them from
doing it. For every civilized society there're numerous barbaric ones
around, who out of greed and ignorance, would demolish all the ideals that
the civilization stood for.

A weak king cannot rule nor protect his subjects effectively from
enemies. So it is in the interest of the peoples and the civilization
itself, that kings and their armies have to constantly be in the
enterprise of fighting to further their kingdoms, thereby keeping their
martial skills ever sharpened to protect the civilization from marauders.
Eventually in the course of such constant warfare, will emerge a leader who
would be able to brings all the kings under him and thus protect the
civilization as a whole. He too after a period of time would grow weak and
again the cycle would again continue for a worthy successor to replace him.

And from what we know of history, armies seldom troubled the public and
kept the fighting restricted to open grounds and fields well away from
the towns and villages.

That this scheme didn't ultimately succeed doesn't undermine the original
purpose of such a line of thought.
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