Any nation becomes great, when people feel proud on its history. It is an important ingredient for “nation building”.
When one reads history of own country and feels proud, it builds an inner confidence and encourages one to think and do big. An unconscious feeling of replicating great deed of ancestors.
Unfortunately, in India our history books in curriculum are not like that. Our history textbooks have highest emphasis on darkest era of Indian history, i.e. from thirteen century to independence.
To proof my point, I will ask two questions
- “How many Mughal emperors you know (like Akbar, Aurangzeb etc.), recall their names”
- “How many medieval and ancient Indian scientists you know (like Aryabhata, Bhaskar, etc.), recall their names.
Can you feel the difference of knowledge?
Some more points to ponder
Recently I was watching the movie “A man who knows infinity” based on life of great Indian mathematician Ramanujan (high recommendation for this movie, a must watch). While watching this film, I realized Ramanujan invented many mathematical things (theorem and formulas), while we know only few. This triggered another thought, about Aryabhatta, the inventor of zero and decimal, a great scientist like him must have invented many more things… but hardly anyone knows.
Another incident, I recently read somewhere Takshashila (Taxila) and Nalanda were like Stanford or Harvard of today. Infact, Taxila was the first university of the world, Not only Indians but also students from as far as Babylonia, Greece, Syria, Arabia, Phoenicia and China came to study.
To deep dive further, I started recalling my school days (class 7 to 10). Though I was an average student, I was always good in history, I used to remember every emperor’s name right from Delhi Sultanate to Mughals, complete family tree, who was born when & where, how many battles they fought and in which year, what all monuments, roads they build, so on and so forth.
Believe me, for this, I never studied extra, it was part of the curriculum. Complete book, chapter after chapter was dedicated to this era. And hardly a paragraph on Aryabhatta, Nalanda or Taxila.
Let’s explore – why
Let’s try to explore the reasons, why there is highest emphasis on specific dark era and very less on other great times.
From 1190 to 1947 (close to 750 years), India was ruled by others. When Britishers re-started formal education system in India, very tactically, they emphasized on era ruled by invaders. To damage further, they put even more emphasis on bad practices of society like Sati pratha, Dev Dasi and untouchability etc. So that when we read about history, we start to believe (unconsciously) that we were always been slaves & backward and it was for good, else our society would have been doomed by bad culture.
Imparting poor self-confidence among Indians. Leading to mediocre, slave minded attitude, ensuring minimal revolts against company Sarkar.
After Independence, while emphasis on bad practices was reduced significantly and history of freedom fighting started to dominate. Still, there were limited or no efforts to highlight golden era of Indian history.
A glimpse of great time
1500 BC to 700 AD was the golden era of India. With numerous inventions in the field of Medical, economics, philosophy, music, art and architecture.
To name few – Charak invented surgery many thousands year ago (mentioned in Charak Sanhita). So, does Patanjali invented Yoga (though, many Indians heard of Patanjali, only when a Baba branded a company with this name).
Universities like Nalanda and Taxila, along with great literature like Veda, Upnishad, Yoga-Shastra and Artha-Shastra etc. show we have greatest knowledge heritage.
Indian ancient architecture was unmatched – caves like Ajantha, Eullera can be found across India, (e.g. Karla cave in Pune, Pandav gufa near Khajuraho), numerous grand temples and forts are testimony of Indian architecture. But most people know only about Taj Mahal and some forts of Rajasthan.
We had very open culture and believed in gender equality. Books like Kamasutra and a temple dedicated to this art are live evidences.
The Gupt dynasty, is known as goldan era (sone ki chidiya). Books on Roman history mention that most of their gold used to go to India, as India was biggest exporter.
The list is endless…
Post-independence politics of religion and cast, continued to cast a black shadow on historical textbooks. The emphasis continued on Mughals and less on Gupt dynasty. And not at all on ancient Indian science, art and culture. One of reasons can be that ‘it may look pro Hindu’. In reality, it is not pro Hindu or something; actually that time only two religions existed in India – Sanatan and Bodha, so all great artists and scientists of that time will be from those religions only.
Indian civilization has 7000 years of history (not counting mythological aspects). Except for few centuries, India was a world leader. But our historical books have coverage more on those bad centuries and practically rest of the history is untouched.
Politicians need to think beyond vote bank and need to completely transform the history textbooks. To be great again, in our philosophy, approach and thought process, we need to replicate era of 1000 BC to 500 AD. For that we need to learn more about it.
To know our true history should be our fundamental right.
While, the new government is doing their bit in correcting this, and we are waiting for changes to takes place on ground. We need to start doing things at our home. History “as a subject” is thought at classroom, but we can explore, travel and understand it ourselves.
We, the Indians of today need to explore and tell great Indian history to our kids. It will build an unmatched self-confidence and that will in-turn build a GREAT INDIA.