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"Round and About History" V S Naipaul
Here lies before me, on my table, the book - "Letters Between A Father And Son" - V S Naipual, with the Introduction and notes by Gillon Aitken, published by Little, Brown and Company.
And here are few stray thoughts, and few point-of-views and few dispassionate observations - none to emulate or copy the Busybee, Behram Contractor, but to pay him tribute in letter and spirit.

Like the open-ended statement our Home Minister Rajnath Singh made while addressing a gathering after unveiling a statue of Maharana Pratap in Pratapgarh district on Sunday: "I have no objection in calling Akbar as 'The Great', but what objection can there be to accept Maharana Pratap as the 'Great of Greats' is beyond my comprehension."

Like the long bow, it seems, he drew when he referred Maharana Pratap had inspired the Vietnamese in defeating a powerful country like the US. I would love if the readers of this blog could retrieve any document that substantiates this statement.

Like barring few Indian historical figures none matches Maharana Pratap's bravery, resolution, grit and perseverance. Not to discuss about strategic competence in the game of war.

Like few Indians in the recorded history had taken so many women as wives and Rana did. He altogether had 11 wives. His first and most favorite wife was Maharani Ajabde Punwar. It is said that all of Pratap's other marriages were conducted for political reasons. I'm confused here as my nationalism stymies my questioning habit about further matrimonial inspirations.

Like the brave Maharana had 17 sons and five daughters. I don't know what the Health Minister would advice if I extol here the masculinity and prowess of the great or greatest warrior.

Like he must have been a sorry soldier in the heaven as on his death bed he had made his son and successor, Amar Singh, swear to maintain eternal conflict against the Mughals. Amar Singh submitted Mewar to Akbar, conditionally accepting the Mughals as rulers. The subsequent treaty between Amar Singh and the Mughal king Jahangir included obligations that fort of Chittor would not be repaired and that Mewar would have to keep a contingent of 1000 horses in the Mughal service.

Like the Moghuls were graceful and respectful to Mahrana's legacy and stipulated that Amar Singh would not have to be present at any of the Mughal Darbars.

Like at Amar Singh's laying down of arms, many members of Pratap's family of Sisodias became disillusioned and left Rajasthan. This group included Rathores, Deora, Chauhans, Pariharas, Tanwars, Kacchwaha and Jhalas. Amar Singh himself regretted letting down his people so much that he was never publicly seen outside his palace again.

Like Referring to V S Naipaul's book "India: A wounded civilization," Shri Rajnath Singh said "India (was) the only country in the world where history written by foreign historians is taught in textbooks. Indian historians should pay attention to eminent authors like Naipaul and take corrective measures."

Like V S Naipaul has contradicted himself like no one and here are few examples:

"To say that India has a secular character is being historically unsound. Dangerous or not, Hindu militancy is a corrective to the history I have been talking about. It is a creative force and will be so. Islam cannot reconcile with it". (Outlook, November 15, 1999)

Like in his book - "Among the Believers" he says: ''Islam was pure and perfect; the secular, dying West was to be rejected: that was the message. But the West was taking a long time to die. And more and more people were being drawn into the new world. In this new world, whose centre seemed so far away, so beyond control."

Like one of Naipaul's favorite themes, the redeemer who leads men into calamity - in this case Iran's Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini: ''Interpreter of God's will, leader of the faithful, he expressed all the confusion of his people and made it appear like glory, like the familiar faith: the confusion of a people of high medieval culture awakening to oil and money, a sense of power and violation, and a knowledge of a great new encircling civilization. That civilization couldn't be mastered. It was to be rejected; at the same time it was to be depended on.''

Like in his book - 'Wounded Civilization' he writes: "India has been a wounded civilization because of Islamic violence: Pakistanis know this; indeed they revel in it. It is only Indian Nehruvians like Romila Thapar who pretend that Islamic rule was benevolent. We should face facts: Islamic rule in India was at least as catastrophic as the later Christian rule. The Christians created massive poverty in what was a most prosperous country; the Muslims created a terrorised civilization out of what was the most creative culture that ever existed. India was wrecked and looted, not once but repeatedly by invaders with strong religious ideas, with a hatred of the religion of the people they were conquering. People read these accounts but they do not imaginatively understand the effects of conquest by an iconoclastic religion."

"India became the great land for Muslim adventurers and the peasantry bore this on their back, they were enslaved quite literally. It just went on like this from the 11th century onwards." (source: Economic Times).

"The millennium began with the Muslim invasions and the grinding down of the Hindu-Buddhist culture of the north. This is such a big and bad event that people still have to find polite, destiny-defying ways of speaking about it. In art books and history books, people write of the Muslims "arriving" in India, as though the Muslims came on a tourist bus and went away again. The Muslim view of their conquest of India is a truer one. They speak of the triumph of the faith, the destruction of idols and temples, the loot, the carting away of the local people as slaves, so cheap and numerous that they were being sold for a few rupees. The architectural evidence- the absence of Hindu monuments in the north is convincing enough. This conquest was unlike any other that had gone before. There are no Hindu records of this period. Defeated people never write their history. The victors write the history. The victors were Muslims. For people on the other side it is a period of darkness."

Like he writes on Hindutva militancy and India's secularity: "To say that India has a secular character is being historically unsound. Dangerous or not, Hindu militancy is a corrective to the history I have been talking about. It is a creative force and will be so. Islam can't reconcile with it. Indian intellectuals have a responsibility to the state and should start a debate on the Muslim psyche. To speak of Hindu fundamentalism, is a contradiction in terms, it does not exist. Hinduism is not this kind of religion. You know, there are no laws in Hinduism. And there are many forces in Hinduism.... My interest in these popular movements is due to the pride they restore to their adherents in a country ravaged by five or six centuries of brutal government by Muslim invaders. These populations, in particular the peasantry, have been so crushed, that any movement provides a certain sense of pride. The leftists who claim that that these wretched folk are fascists are wrong. It's absurd. I think that they are only reclaiming a little of their own identity. We can't discuss it using a Western vocabulary."

"I think every liberal person should extend a hand to that kind of movement from the bottom. One takes the longer view rather than the political view. There's a great upheaval in India and if you're interested in India, you must welcome it."

"What is happening in India is a new, historical awakening. Gandhi used religion in a way as to marshal people for the independence cause. People who entered the independence movement did it because they felt they would earn individual merit. Only now are the people beginning to understand that there has been a great vandalizing of India. Because of the nature of the conquest and the nature of Hindu society such understanding had eluded Indians before." (indolink.com)

Like how V S Naipaul reacted to demolition of Babri Masjid: "Not as badly as the others did, I am afraid. The people who say that there was no temple they are missing the point. Babar, you must understand, had contempt for the country he had conquered. And his building of that mosque was an act of contempt. In Ayodhya, the construction of a mosque on a spot regarded as sacred by the conquered population was meant as an insult to an ancient idea, the idea of Ram which was two or three thousand years old." (The Times of India, 18 July 1993).

Like the learned Nobel Laureate's contempt excelled to Sahir Ludyanwi's when he wrote - "Ek Shahenshah ne banwake haseen Taj Mahal, hum ghareebon ke mohabbat ka udaya hai mazaq." (An emperor built the beautiful Taj Mahal and made a mockery of poor man's love.)

V S Naipaul says,"The Taj is so wasteful, so decadent and in the end so cruel that it is painful to be there for very long." (Outlook, 15 November 1999).

Like I couldn't believe my eyes when I read what he wrote: "You see, I am less interested in the Taj Mahal which is a vulgar, crude building, a display of power built on blood and bones. Everything exaggerated, everything overdone, which suggests a complete slave population. I would like to find out what was there before the Taj Mahal." (economictimes.indiatimes.com, 13 January 2003)

Like what V S Naipaul says that Islam had enslaved and attempted to wipe out other cultures. "It has had a calamitous effect on converted peoples. To be converted you have to destroy your past, destroy your history. You have to stamp on it, you have to say 'my ancestral culture does not exist, it doesn't matter'." (Guardian News Service)

Like how he defends his Monumental ignorance about Islam: "I had known Muslims all my life. But I knew little of their religion. The doctrine, or what I thought was its doctrine, didn't attract me. It didn't seem worth inquiring into; and over the years, in spite of travel, I had added little to the knowledge gathered in my Trinidad childhood. The glories of this religion were in the remote past; it has generated nothing like a Renaissance. Muslim countries, were not colonies, were despotisms; and nearly all, before oil, were poor." (From his book Among the Believers, 1981)

Like Shri V S Naipaul's opinion about Pakistan that Pakistan's founding was "extremely fortunate" for India as the "religious question would otherwise have paralyzed and consumed the state". Naipaul calls Pakistan a "criminal" enterprise. "Here is a Muslim country which after its creation in 1947 promptly became a state of manpower exports. Lots of people came to Britain. The idea of a state for the Muslims began to undo itself very quickly."

But the "Redction AD Absurdom" - reduced to absurdity, comes in the end.

Like the report that appeared in The Hindustan Times today which recalls Girish Karnad's famous charge in presence of V S Naipaul that the Nobel Laureate was rabidly antipathetic to Indian Muslims in his books. V S refuted it later. "I never said that, I couldn't say that." Karnad's attack was made in Mumbai when Naipaul was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Tata Literature Live Festival on October 31, 2012.

Like the way V S Naipaul responded to another charge - "One of the criticisms that has been levelled against you has been that you said that Islam has had an overall negative influence on India. Would you like to comment on that?"

Shri Naipaul said: "No, I never said that. I never said that, that's too big a thing for me to say in a book or something. I don't know where you got this idea from."

Like the famous writer Farrukh Dhodny appeared to defend V S Naipaul and said, "Vidia has never said anything about Islam. He is not a theologian, doesn't want to be. He is married to Nadira. His adopted son, his daughter and grandchildren are Muslims for God's sake."

Like, to cap it all, what the wonderful enlightenment was conferred by Shrimati Nadira Vidia Naipaul - "It's too glib, too glib a statement because Vidia doesn't make such statements. In fact he re-examines his own work again and again."

Like Shri Rajnath Singh also announced that the Centre, for the first time, had decided to celebrate Maharana Pratap's 475th anniversary across the country. The NDA government had formed a committee to oversee the celebrations, he said. He further said the anniversary celebrations would also be held in other countries with Indian immigrants.

Whether you like it or not, I've lost my bearing after reading all this contradictory stuff.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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