I knew it all along. During history exams in school, desperately trying to remember the dates of the battles of Panipat, I had an intuition the whole subject was a devilish conspiracy cooked up by those darned Marxists. It turns out I was completely correct. No less a person than the new chief of the Indian Council of Historical Research, Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, says so. Loony leftists have dominated the study of Indian history, blighting the lives of an entire generation.
Our history teacher in school, an Islamo-Marxist called D’Souza, used to force a vast quantity of historical dates and long lists of the names of kings down our reluctant throats. “You right-wing fascist running dog of capitalism,” was his favourite insult. Well, not really, what he actually said was, “Maybe a thrashing is needed to knock some history into you.” What did he think the school was — a Gulag? The dictatorship of the professoriat?
How did the Commies go about their nefarious activities? The first thing they did was to din into us that we were weaklings. Apart from a few victories by Chandragupta, Yana Gupta and others of the Golden Gupta Age, we were taught that invaders came and bashed us up all the time. No mention that our guys had gone to Bali and Cambodia and Afghanistan and made our heritage glorious by bashing up chaps there.
Next, they said the Aryans came to this country from outside, which is hogwash. We Aryans have always lived here and it was our chaps who went out to other parts of Asia and Europe, grinding savages beneath their chappals. Why were the Marxists so keen on denying this fact? Simply because, seen from that perspective, the invaders from Asia and the British were not really invaders, but merely Aryans returning home. Think of them as NRAs (Non-Resident Aryans). So we weren’t actually conquered at all, it was merely our cousins, PAOs (People of Aryan origin), who came here for extended visits. Naturally, we extended them every courtesy.
But there was a bigger, wider conspiracy. Have you ever wondered why history is so dull? Why did they make us memorise endless dates? All the kings seem to have waged endless wars, pausing only to build a road, or impose new taxes. OK, there wasn’t any TV those days and life was dull, but how come there’s no mention of the gigs the kings went to, or their golf scores, or their football matches? And what about the food, eh? When chicken tikka masala has conquered the UK, how come there’s no mention of it in history? I’m pretty certain Clive gorged on pork vindaloo, but the Marxists hushed it up. Don’t we have a right to be proud of our culinary heritage? No, the reason why the communists made our history so dull was a very simple one: they were trying out a diabolical plan to bore the bourgeoisie to death.
That plot has been thwarted by Rao. Under his wise guidance, we must insist on having the Mahabharata taught as history. That excellent record of family intrigue, demons, gods, apsaras, a fratricidal war with deadly missiles and nuclear weapons, weddings, jealousy, sacrifice, nobility and heartbreak is far more interesting than the rubbish we were taught. It will keep our kids spellbound, just look at Chhota Bheem. So goodbye Guptas hullo Ghatotkacha; goodbye Lodi hullo Modi.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal