It is claimed that Indians are not having sense of history and its documentation. History taught to us is written generally by British or adopted from them. But rich authentic documentation of thousands of years is available with 'teerth pandaas'.
IT IS generally suggested that Indians do not have a sense of history and its documentation. The history taught to us is written generally by British or adopted from them and regurgitated by Indian historians in different forms depending upon their political inclinations. Very few historians have gone back to cross check this history from indigenous sources available in India. History as reflected by Puranas, Mahabharat, Ramayan is treated as total myth.
Inspite of growing body of evidence from different sources and new scientific proofs, our so called historians with leftist leaning have kept their heads buried in sands of ignorance or limited knowledge and refused to consider such evidence. I am not sure, if our historians have ever referred to indigenous historians who have been keeping documentary evidence of normal individuals and kings.
I am talking of Bhatts, Yagniks and others of this ilk, who have been documenting lives and times of Indians from times immemorial. You would have seen them or visited them when you went to pilgrim centres like Haridwar, Martand (in Kashmir), Trimbakeshwar etc. You would have been thrilled to go through their past ‘bahis’ (hand written registers) to note that your great grandfather, or grandmother had visited that place, seen their signatures and also noted the family tree that is available within those pages with mention of various brothers, sisters, uncles and grand uncles etc.
Though, it would not generally occur to you or to any of us that this custom of unique Indian way of recording history could be a treasure trove of Indian history. Thus, to say that there has been no tradition of written history in India is only partially true. Yes, this history was documented from the eyes of individuals, families and kings etc. by historians appointed by society through tradition and it was not supported or sponsored by institutions as was the case in West which is a young civilization as compared to India.
For those amongst us, who were too impatient to visit his family ‘pandaa’ or ‘purohit’ and waste his/her time, I would suggest that you must visit them and see these records. The immaculate indexing and painstaking details of the families of their ‘yajmaans’ or hosts would surprise you and may take you through an emotional journey. They contain history of your family and other Indian individuals over hundreds, nay thousands of years, in a traditional manner. These ‘bahis’ are goldmines of information about families and thus the society that can easily be used to document history of any period or cross check dates and events as noted by widely accepted historians through their books and research notes. However, this idea has never hit the modern day west oriented historians.
These are the historians who have brought us a wealth of information about dates and events as appearing in Puranas, Mahabharat and Ramayan etc. These holy books mention complete family trees from earliest times to that person’s mention in these books. These dates can be corroborated through their own hand written books that track family trees through ages.
It is interesting that the social scientists of our ancient societies created a separate group of documentation experts who would chronicle the events and pilgrimages etc. of different families, and keep scientifically indexed records. When performing ‘yagnas’ was a common practice, the priests performing these ‘yajnas’, called ‘yagniks’ would also document the history of each family. Thus, ‘yagna’ were made mandatory for all families and different ‘yagniks’ were appointed for different group of families. Some of these ‘yagniks’ were later also called ‘jaage’ or in case of those documenting a king’s history were called ‘chaarans’. Others in this profession were variously named ‘Bharhmabhatt, Rao, Badwa, Rawal etc. Groups that did similar work at different pilgrim centres were, and are still, ‘teerth purohits’ or ‘pandaas’( a shorter form of ‘pandit’). In Gujarat they are called ‘gor’.
Many readers will recall that when they go to a pilgrim centre like Haridwar, they are asked about their ‘native place’ or ‘gaon’ in Hindi. Based on your region and native place, you are directed to a particular ‘pandaa’. Interestingly these ‘purohits’ are assigned to villages or regions and division is not based on caste, as one might presume. These ‘purohits’ or ‘pandaas’ also act as hosts to their ‘yajmaans’ when they visit a pilgrimage centre. The tradition of ‘chattis’, resting places on way to tough pilgrimages like Badrinath, Kedarnath were also sponsored by these people.
Ex- Governor of M.P., Mahmood Ali Khan, himself, traced his ancestry to some hoary ancestors and also how he got converted to Muslim religion some 25 generations back when his forefather married into a Muslim family. Records also show that forefathers of Nepal and Shivaji came from Mewar. Historians of Sisodia clan have documentary proofs of this. Mr. Raghuvir Singh (ex-King of Sirohi) notes that during a dispute over a temple priest, the priests produced 5000 year old records!
These ancient records with these indigenous historians also show the ancestry of other Muslims and in which generation they became Muslims. E.g. records show that Mewat Muslims are branch of Meena people. In some places these books carry writings in Arabic, apart from Devnagari script. Thus, many Indian Muslims trace back their lineage with pride to their Hindu ancestors. Thus, these indigenous historians can go a long way in smoothening the relations between Hindus and Muslims by providing them documentary proof about their common ancestry and heritage. It is heartening to note that Moulana Wahiduddin has reaffirmed that ancestors of 95 per cent of Indian Muslims are indeed Hindus, during his speech in a recent national level conference of Muslims who believe in Sufi Islamic traditions rooted in India.
There are different systems of maintaining family trees. In Rajasthan, these indigenous historians are now localized in a few villages. Because of paucity of space, I cannot get into more details. Those interested in this subject, can get in touch with an organization called ‘Vanshavali Sanrakshan evam Samvardhan Sansthaan’ (email:email@example.com) for more information about this history documentation system rooted in Indian tradition.
It is tragic that historians peddling second hand knowledge about history imparted by Western historians, particularly by British who had their own partisan agenda, are leading a comfortable life ensconced in big universities and institutions patronized by government of India. But, the historians who have preserved and nurtured genuine documented Indian history are a neglected lot leading a life of penury if not abject poverty. These indigenous historians are not peddling any myths or voodoo traditions. They are carrying rich Indian legacy with them. Government needs to encourage and support them or else it won’t be long when their off-springs will give up this profession and trudge to urban centres to eke out a better living.