Violence in Indian historical process

Bhalchandrarao C Patwardhan kurundwadsenior at WMINET.NET
Thu Dec 14 07:34:27 UTC 2000

When Emperor Ashok murdered his brothers to make his sovereignty
unchallenged, he is not known to have sought (or received) a doctrinal
sanction for his act. But when Aurangzeb executed his brother, Dara Shukoh,
with the same motive as Ashok's, he had a clear sanction from doctrinal
prescriptions for dealing with apostates and heretics!

When the two Muhammads (Ghazni & Ghor), for example, laid India waste, they
did so on the basis of their doctrinal inspiration, and none had reason to
question their heinous crimes. In fact, even the great Sufi poet, Amir
Khusrau, who is celebrated as an epitome of secular and liberal values, has
only praise for the despicable and bigoted conduct of his various Khalji
royal patrons (see Khusrau's  "Miftahu'l-Futuh", "Qiranu's-S'adain",
"Khazanu'l-Futuh", or the "Ashiqa" for proof).

On the other hand, when the Bodh Gaya or the Jagannath shrine was looted,
the looters could never be able to proffer any doctrinal justification for
their acts of violence and pillage. They knew rather well that none would
ever be found!

The Shringeri Mutt was indeed looted by Raghunathrao Nilkanth, but the
motive was military and political more than doctrinal. I know this because
I happen to be a direct descendant of Raghunathrao. He wanted the
extradition of Tipu's men who had apparently sought and received asylum
inside the Mutt from the Shankaracharya. On receiving a refusal from the
conspiring Shankaracharya to his demand, he forced his way in and took
possession of the men and the loot they had carried with them. As for the
restoration of the Mutt purportedly done by Tipu, it must be considered a
very rare exception indeed considering the religious and cultural havoc he
is known to have perpetrated in the regions under his military, if not
political, influence!

The point we must consider in this discussion is whether it was the
doctrine or expediency that caused violence. And, if it was the former (as
it undeniably was in the case of the Muslim invaders rulers), whether there
has been any change in the way we regard the validity of the inspiring
doctrine in the age our much-vaunted commitment to human rights!


At 16:49 12/13/2000 -0500, you wrote:
>That's a point that's often brought up when history is dragged into
>the construction of ethnic hatreds.  Among other themes, there are a
>number of properties currently operating as temples which are quite
>well documented to have been "looted" by Hindus from Buddhists (such
>as the Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya, or the 'Jagannatha' temple at
>Puri) since these dispossessions, unlike the widely postulated
>dispossession of tribals from most of India, occurred recently
>enough.  There are besides Hindu temple sites known to have been
>looted and destroyed by Hindus (including, strangely enough, one that
>was looted by the Hindu Marathas and restored by the king whose
>territory they were looting -- the Muslim Tipu Sultan).  How little
>history looks the way reductionist ethnic hate mongers want it to look

Bhalchandrarao C Patwardhan
Kurundwad House
10A Mangaldas Road
Pune  -  411 001
"Until the Lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will
always glorify the hunter"  -  (Attributed to a Black African Leader)

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