It has often been suggested that Indian nationhood came into existence with the unification of its landmass under colonial rule. This commonplace claim begs a vital question: what constitutes nationhood? Is our national consciousness as inchoate as being forged through external impulses? And if not, what is really our idea about ourselves?
As a keen lifelong student and writer of history Smita Mukerji attempts to answer this question in this Srijan Talk, since this is also the most important function of history. As a frame of reference she has selected the rise and course of the Maratha Empire, as this was the strongest bid of native Indians to assert themselves against a foreign culture. How the Marathas defined their struggle is central to this question of who we are.
Indian nation would had been imperfectly articulated and the most perfected idea of a Nation had been put forth by Chatrapathi Maharaja Shivaji of the Marathas with his proclamation of Hindavi Swarajya. The call of Hindavi Swarajya transformed Indian spontaneous feeling about themselves for the already had into a conscious thought and a vision before their right to strive for and to realize and the straightforward message enable people to conceive their land. The greatness of the civilization that they were bearer off and the importance of preserving it and taking control of its destiny. When you say with conviction, without any doubt unequivocally that Hindu Paramountcy, Hindu primacy, primacy of Hindu values in every whether it is the share of resources, whether it is in policy, whether it is in any interface that the government has with the outside powers or even inside in promotion of cultural ethos. We should not even attempt to make people Indian who are not Indian. Indianess is hinduness and therefore Hindavi Swarajya.
Today I wish to speak about nationalism, a sentiment which is much maligned today in the discourse, which is heavily influenced by the left liberal intellectual’s ideological bent that assume to stand for Global humanity and therefore seeks to break down what they call barriers of presented by national identities and this is suspicious aggressive rhetoric. That’s the new form of innovation which intends to establish its own uniform ideological Empire by a sailing boundaries that protect our national character, a unique character, a civilizational character and our culture.
Now the first people who will fall prey to this are those whose sense of what constitutes, say National character, is on a weak foundation. Bringing the focus to India, it is one of the countries which are after a prolonged subjugation under foreign powers and ideologies. It is now in a situation when it is ignored the essential natural qualities that constitute our national spirit and instead, we based on a week superimpose that five years which have till now proven to be very weak low.
Now, what is this vital for the Indians? I will attempt to announce with this historical perspective. Now, we have based our national character on a superimposed set of ideas, which is based on western statehood. This is what I want to talk about today, that what nationalism should be based on from a historical perspective and for this reason I am presenting the run down, I’m trying to crunch entire Maratha history in a very short capsule just to go over what they, when we were fighting the invasions, What was our view of national character at that time. I mean, I’m not floating a proposal proposition at the moment. So I’m just beginning with a question. The third battle of Panipat was fought in January 1761 between Maratha and the invading Afghans under Ahmad Shah Abdali. It was concerned with a whole lot of Muslim forces from India. It was arguably one of the biggest battles and it had a heartbreaking result of course the Maratha forces opposed to withdraw and an estimated 1 lakh Maratha soldiers died in the battlefield that day.
Now the question is, who did the fight for? What are the defending? Why did they lay down their lives in that geographically distant location from distant from the native Maharashtra, But we will not enter attempt to answer this question right away and this is also not meant to suss out the motivations and background and circumstances of the battle. But in its background and other battles that the Maratha’s fought in the course of the rise and above their power. Starting right at the beginning from the Pratapgarh fort to attempt an answer of larger issue. It is in history that our Consciousness as a nation is anchored but in case of India, these have been laid down in rather shallow ground. The commonest refrain is of course that we will not a nation at all before the British subduing a whole lot of waring principalities politically united us.
There have been in Decline and rebuttals to the suggestions because this reduces the ancient Nation who to an infantile two centuries and it cuts out of relevance almost a 10 million years of its existence. If not as a political entity at least as a necessity and a civilization. One of the clearest references to Indian nationalhood can be found in the Vishnupurana. That describes in very specific term the constitute of Indianness. Defining the geographical landmass form the identities of its native people, we are refered to very clearly Bharati. The second portion, the second part of Vishnupurana which itself is dated roughly about the first millennium BC and in chapters 3 and 4 of the second volume, it enumerates in detail, India’s physical features, beliefs, practices, value system, social Arrangement and also the tribes which are native to this land and specifies the distinctive elements that set us apart from those outside India’s cultural complex.
This definite idea existed all through and it can be seen in the terms of references, reference that we use for outsiders like Mlechhas, Yavava, Anarya and Turk. Now diminutive references to Indian Nation are thrown at us repeatedly. We are told for instance in this most recent one by Audrey Truschke in Notorious Interpreter that most of our Expressions relating to nationhood whether it is the conceptualization of land as mother what we refer to as Bharat Mata also the devotion towards this ideation as a Divine being which is Vande Mataram and patriotism as a whole with respect to India as a whole, all these have been only in the last one and a half centuries. But is that really so, that we never really had a conception of nation would be for colonial era?
What is also not helped is weak affiliation that Indians themselves have demonstrated with along this identity through the Ages. If we look at a past, it show number of instances where Indians have acted against this perceived unit. There have been so many quislings in every battle in every course over the stretch of our history, that it would appear they were more traitors among us. Then people who really held this vision of the nation in their minds. So it really appears, it’s very troublesome aspect of the Indian character which one should actually study deeply, but there would not be possibly any race in the world in which we have so many among us who can go to such extent of self-serving pursuit, so as to completely compromised the nation even being ring upon its physical death and devastation.
The numerous other examples in our history and just this somehow justify it to some unique individual viewpoint with look at the political scene now or we look at the political scene through the entire stretch of a history. Therefore, always being these people, who will not stop short at even directly between the country and even have it and elated. So, this cultural spiritual giant that we have among us, it seems to exist surrounding us, living and breathing, but then it’s made of millions of small minded creatures, who cannot perceive it in their minds and they go around seeking the selfish interests, limited to narrower and narrower spheres.
So then, is it true what they say is what is normally a list for people like this, that National Consciousness is mere response to imperialism and that our nationhood is very inquired and it is forced through external impulses, that it does not naturally exists within us and if it is not so, then what is it that constitutes our nationhood. To answer this, is actually should be the most important function of history. But Indian history has been delegated to a redundant study and where we study about some dynasties who contended among themselves for Supremacy; redundant because it has not been allowed to play a part in what is this Consciousness or awareness of who we are. There is no doubt that the British did provide a powerful machinery of government which brought about a cohesion that resulted in the formation of the modern Indian nation state and politically demarcated and uniformly administered unit. We have plenty of examples around the world where for instance, artificial demarcations with these do not necessarily take into account the historical course of a Nation, its civilization and there is endless conflict, the plenty of such cases in the world.
Now if we even look at the recent history in the past one and a half years century or so. When India did exist as a political unity with very definite boundaries. We see a lack of awareness about the overall unit even in this time. So, it is not that we are really disloyal but narrower group interests and identity’s ideological imperatives… these predominate and overwrite the interests of the overall unit. Clearly the assumption of political and administrative unity as the basis of national has been insufficient in reinforcing nationhood. This is not mean the political unity is superflous, but that by itself doesn’t make National Consciousness. The other thing is that the Constitutional structure of these modern states today is based on certain doctrinal assumptions that do not necessarily are not necessarily consistent with the ethos of all Nations and particularly in case of India. Indian Nationhood has been kept beholden to set of extraneous ideals that do not serve her interests. They do not correspond to our cultural experience and some of them even go naturally against a naturally world wisdom and instead of appealing to that part within all Indians that is the real basis of unity. We have pushed this idea of constitutional patriotism propagating through the various means of State, these superficial set of ideas as the basis of a Nationhood.
Now insistence on compliance to float set of ideas is the main reason, even that Indian National Consciousness is on a very shaky Foundation. Superficial have been special not really inspire people to act with the uniformity of purpose and some of these most pernicious ideas. Foremost among them is of course secularism; also foreign parameter of measuring social justice and very being in society and of course distorted historological, sociological narrative.
Now my major premises is therefore that Indian nation would had been imperfectly articulated and most perfected idea of a nation is put forth by Chhatrapati Maharaj Shivaji of the Marathas with his proclamation of Hindavi Swarajya. The minor premise in this that the idea of secularism is actually detrimental to us as a notion, not just on the account of spurious version which is practice in Indian minorityism under the guard of secularism, but because it is a morbid self-obligating dogma that directly runs counter to another Nationhood. Now beginning with the Islamic Invasion the terms prevalent in Ancient India to describe outsiders like Mlechhas, Yavana and Turk etc, came to be used in the subsequent period almost exclusively for Muslims. Interestingly this solution included Muslim converts, indian converts to Islam.
It was a realization that change of religion resulted in altered allegiances and racial commonality did not invoke in the converts a loyalty towards their national or native civilization unit. Conversely, the term Hindu was used for the adherence of Indian belief systems those who share the same philosophy concepts like the Dharma, Karma, Artha, Kama and Mokasha, Sanskar and the same rules of social Association, the Rites of Passage which are called Sanskar.
This common character of indic religions contrasted with the Semitic counterparts, which were also antagonistic towards Indian beliefs and even outright hostile to their existence, which we have seen, played out through history and that the basis of endemicity became the most natural expression of nationalism among the Indians. The identity Hindu though is what is constitutive of native-ness. The term… it’s just came into use much later somewhere in the medieval period, but the framework of values that this conveys the sensibilities and beliefs. This began designing point of all those who were fighting Islamic Invasion since the earliest times, even before the term Hindu became prevalent and instead of being a vague and indeterminate concept, the characteristics and components of being Indian was very unambiguously and descriptively outlined not only in our text, but it was also found in the actions of Indians who were resisting the Invaders.
These are noted in many of the instructions of Hindu Kings also over grafting with the Yavanas has and it’s enunciated in no uncertain terms. What is it that they were fighting for and this included upholding the traditional Indian social structure. I give an example here. There are inscriptions of the Andhra Nayaka King, they were Shudra King. But in their inscriptions say very clearly enunciated that, Okay, we are the proud class which is born out of the feet of Vishnu, really proud Sudras, and we are the protectors of Brahmins and cows and the Dharma against the Yavanas.
Obviously, this suggestion that the so-called lower castes welcomed Islamic Invasion is completely bogus. Every King whichever strata the dynasty was formed from, they all have healthy Indian social structure, the typical framework, which is referred to in the Vishnupurana of the Society, of the religious beliefs, of their Sanskaras, of the rites, of phase.,s are all upheld by all the kings who were fighting all through and this was the basis of their fight back against those who are from outside.
There are also others like Lakshmanasena inscription, writings and then in Garhwal inscriptions and even in the latest stage, we see that outlined even in Guru Gobind Singh’s Proclamation when he founded the Khalsa. In the inception he said, this thing Sakal Jagat main Khalsa Panth gaje Jage dharam Hindu sakal bhand bhaje. A clear Proclamation that we are Hindus vs the Turks. Similarly I mean in case of Sawai Jai Singh II came to thrown around 1700, when he started initially distancing himself from the Mughal Raj. The first thing he did was that he did away with the title of Mirja Raja. He adopted Sanskrit titles, he adopted Sanskrit and local dialect for his deeds and official documents and he also initiated Vedic write like ………. etc.
So, we see that Hindu-ness as synonymous with indian-ness. This had existed all around. But not until Maharaj shivaji of Marathas has built his fight back along these lines of the identity of Indians as a whole, do we see it applied as a well-formed political philosophy for restoring prerogative to the Hindus.
Now the call of Hindavi Swaraj transform Indian spontaneous feeling about themselves. What they already had into a conscious thought and vision before the right to strive for and to realize and the straightforward message enable people to conceive the land the greatness of this civilization that they were barrier of and the importance of preserving it and taking control of its destiny and not just securing a narrowly defined political advantage which is what was happening before. From being reactive, defensive spots of the past, for the first time the efforts for set about a definite purpose and became an enduring struggle for reviving Hindu ascendancy and a force of reckoning. Once grasped, one could not lose sight of it because it is impossible to see and know and then unknow and therefore the struggle did not die with Shivaji or Shirai as he was known among his people.
Long after he had died also, the struggle was carried on and they kept this was a greatest filtered by the king and they kept it all, till the very end. You can see this is what Swami Vivekananda said about Shivaji that he was the very incarnation of Shiva and the deliverer of Hindus.
Now since the time of taking oath and established Swaraj that he took at the Shrine called Rohideswara, its the Shiva temple in Maharashtra along with a close group of friends. Shivaji seems to have had this idea very clearly in his mind from what was the beginning in his life and the purpose cut out for him as if it has been filtered by the almighty. He wanted to rid his land from the light of foreign rule, primarily of Muslim Rule and this was put over out unequivocally in his pronouncements as well as those of contemporaries who were closely associated with him. This is what he himself says that Rohideswara will provide all kinds of aspirations for Hindavi swaraj that is Raja should be established is in the mind of Shri. Whatever strategies adopted, sometimes it was also playing one Muslim power against the others, but gradually he rests power or from the entrenched Islamic rulers in every single campaign that ended, undertook was ultimately persevering toward any singular aim and not towards any self-serving goal.
This focus on protecting preserving and rebuilding the article and edifices of Hindu civilization and beliefs was evident through the work undertaken by him from very inception of his rule. As also earlier during the phase when he was still in the process of establishing his power. This is what Ramchandra Pant Amatya, he was the famous minister of Shivaji who continue for very long time. He was the finance minister. This is what he said, he is the one who protected undertook to protect Dharma and establish the God and Brahmin in their due places. So, we see here also reinforce traditional setup of India and every principle that the Indian culture and civilization is based on. It is now only recently that we have actually started questioning every part of it, whether it is society, is a religion, everything.
Now one of the important battle that Shivaji took up is Battle of Pratapgarh. He had already been in conflict with Aadil Shahi for some time. He had grabbed the entire Nizam shadeed territory from them. Now if you see what the Adil Shahi says, one will know why Shivaji took it up, took to remove them, this is what Adil shah says. Adil Shah thought Mohammadi Faith would not bloom without the water of his bloodthirsty’ sword and the thorny bushes of infidelity and polytheism, which is Hinduism would not burn without the fire of the enemy and consuming sword. So it is very clear what is it, that they were faced with and they knew I mean from their religion and culture, what their response should be. There are numerous instances also them having oppressed Hindu also. There were temples destroyed in many places including in Pandharpur and Tuljapur. Afzal Khan inscription and Afzalpur even reached that the one who slaughters the rebels and infidels and the one who smashes idols.
Now the outcome of this battle is of course well known we know that Afzal Khan was killed by shivaji. How that happened? That has been very dramatically even portrayed in many tales and many cities and all that also, but the infact it was a decisive victory for the marathas and they managed to free the areas of Panhala, Jawali from Islamic Rule and this was also beginning of the decline of the Vijaypur Sultanate. Now if you see there was a letter which Adil Shah had written to Ekoji Bhonsle in which he says, our aim is to spread the religion of the chief of the prophet Muhammad and we are always blessed with victory. In another letter Afzal Khan says to Shivaji, you conquered Kalyan and Bhiwandi and demolished the mosque. There Muslims are angry with you as you have thoroughly plundered and humiliated them. Taking no cognizance of your own strength, you have imprisoned Muslim priests and dared audacious lead to block the path of Islam. It was this arrogance of Islamic power that they feel they’re entitled in justified in destroying Hinduism, but could not be challenged and could not be hurt in return is what Shivaji had shattered.
Another campaign there were of course many campaigns. I’m not going to all of them but another campaign which he undertook attack on Bardesh. This was Portuguese territory and just what you see in the background is a map of Bardesh, which is from the Portuguese Atlas. It’s a 1630 map. Religious persecution and forcible conversions work when we talk not only about the most since it was also carried out by the Christians, in the British colonies as well and as well as the Portuguese mostly in the Portuguese colonies. They were Portugues colony Of course, we have all heard about the prisons in positions, unimaginable atrocities on the local Hindus, were perpetrated and they never had anyone to really protect them.
So November 19th and 20th 1667 Shivaji invaded Portuguese colony in Bardesh with five thousand foot soldiers and 1,000 horse and plundered the villagers in the district and then he withdrew to the ….. after three days. He also got to Portuguese priest in kolwal, he got them kill also. Now the grounding for this action becomes clearer. When you see what the Portuguese Viceroy said. He had promulgated an order dated September 24 1667 to Bardesh those Hindus who do not convert to Christianity will have to leave Bardesh and Shivaji Maharaj came to know about this and then using the pretext of pursuing the Desai in Bardesh. He entered Bardesh and Sasthi and kill the Padris on the way. The viceroy was so terrified with this action that he withdrew and he stopped the order of forced conversion.
So this was a very clear-cut aim, which Shivaji kept in mind and this is also a tested by other sources for instance the British East India Company. They also read the report and told their company that Shivaji and they the Portuguese the daily coral the chiefest cause of his hatred to them being for forcing the Orphans of his caste, caste means religion in this context to turn to Roman Catholic. So that establishing Hindu power and enforcing it is the only way to survive as a nation was the unmistakable message that Shivaji had given which in recent times we seem to have forgotten. Those in the corridors of powers today seem obsessed with placating all the Hostile elements. Simply every one outside us to win their favor instead of asserting primacy of Hindu India and this is the sickness that we are addressing when we are talking about Indian nationhood.
Shivaji enters in no such qualms or week sentiments of kindness or destroying the enemies of Hindus and true to his objectivity he claim side of previously destroyed temples. This is one of them, this is the Temple of Shri Sukta Koteshwara in it was previously in narway and it was rebuilt by Shivaji bit earlier in Goa. There are other Temple also he got built in the south of India Arunachalesvara Shiva temple in Tiruvannamalai and Vishnu Temple which were also destroyed and converted to mosques. Now Shivaji already got the mosque destroyed and got the temples built, rebuilt in their places and this is again confirmed by the East India company’s members in which they say that Shivaji had caught the Mosque demolished and got his temple builts.
Now part of this reassertion of Indian civilization was initiation of steps to reselect Sanskrit. So we see the same pattern in all the kings who fought back the Islamic Compass. They had the same, they were rejuvenating all the cultural symbols, which we are trying to rejuvenate in these days, when we talk about Sanskrit, we talked about the Hindu society.
The same thing they were doing even at that time. So he also tried to reselect Sanskrit and get rid of the Marathi language of all the impurities that It had gathered with this contact from Islamic Rule and as early as 1646. Shivaji was 16 years old at that time. He had issued a letter with a seal in Sanskrit. He had always, but there is other things also that Shivaji did from the very Inception of his Empire. He kept a few things which according to Hindu Dharma are inviolate, which is the honor of women, Bramins and cows and this is why he was very strict about issuing injections that none should be heard and this is even a tested by people who this for instance in Muntakhab-ul lubab which is a Mughal, Shivaji has always striven to maintain the honor of people in his territory and was careful to maintain the honor of women and children of Muhammad has been they fell into his hands, his injunction on this point for very strict.
Similarly Sambhaji himself write in his book that who is the cause that. He set up the brahmins and other caste on a firm foundation in their respective walks of life. So we see he is reasserting the Indian social order and by vanquishing the enemies of the gods to the view to protect and revive the caste religion. This is what Sambhaji himself writes. So there was no dichotomy that, I mean there is something there was at that time, this social drift that we see these days, but, simply did not exist at that time and all they were doing is, they were trying to protect it against outsiders and reasserting that same system. He also, there are also, incidents of his Issuing very strict orders for protection of cows and all that. This is it a reason he also had the effect of गो ब्राह्मण प्रतिपालक. Shivaji era, I mean he is actually ruled from the time of colonisation to his death is very short, but then that, he had the vision and was not limited to his local territories.
This vision extended to the entire India, is also a tested by sources. One of them is, but Barthimil Khair, he’s a French visitor and he has attested that Shivaji, he intended to push his conquests from the river Indus which forms a boundary of the kingdom of Cambodia to the Ganges and far beyond to the provinces of Bengals. So obviously right at the Inception, we see that he had a vision of entire India. In his own last words, this was his last words, he give this message to Marthas that ‘don’t back off’. This is a short temporal life and all you have to do is just fight back and fight for what is, what you believe in. Now these are very profound things, these are not things like secularism and socialism and things that you found in; what you are founded on by your civilizational identity, you are fighting for that.
Now after Shivaji, Sambhaji he persevered on that vision and we see under him also there was a lot of Rejuvenation of indigenous culture and indigenous Hindu religion and he became the successor, after an intense power Struggle, but then there was no let-up in his efforts to ascertain in his Hindu Power and Supremacy was not basically concerned about, you know, his own power. There is treaty between the Marathas and the East India Company which was signed in 1684. Two of the clauses are important. What Sambhaji spelled out on that?
No human should be brought as, bought a slave in my area, he should not be converted to Christianity and another clause saying that other traders should get the same freedom as the christian traders. Now these clauses were included in other treaties also with the Europeans. So, we see from the very beginning the Marathas are following a plan. It was not about their own power. It was about what they stood for and it was definitely a vision of larger India.
Now in no condition, they were very clear that, in no condition should be saying quote the sensibilities of Hindu culture be compromised and then incident on September 15, 1684 made it only too clear. There was during his expedition to Ponda which is in Goa. Sambhaji had a Muslim of rank who was a Petty commander in his own Army, he had him put to death for killing a cow. One of the expeditions that Sambhaji took up with the Portuguese is important to mention here. Now this on the Portuguese, due to again the excesses committed by them and the people, viceroy was so scared that he said also the enemy has openly declare that no trace of the Portuguese in the Christian should be allowed to remain in Goa.
Sambhaji lived up to the threat also and he captured a whole lot of islands. There was a Yug island, Baredesh, Salket hundred and forty Pottery is he got arrested, he got them stripped of their official habits and he got them for it with their hands tied behind. The marathas was unsparing when it came to giving it back and it was not that they were, debilitated by some thoughts of kindness a misplaced kindness because they knew what they were faced against anyone who is ready for the inquisition’s of the Portuguese. They will know how bad it was. So there’s no point of being kind. However, these delusions feed us nowadays, you know, we are kind no matter English see. How much these are the false Notions that we carry along.
So and there is an interesting story also at that time when he was on his campaign the Viceroy had got so scared that he had gone to there’s a background of the st xaviers festival which is still celebrated in Goa and this is the background. Now the Viceroy was so scared that he went to this Born Jesus Cathedral. I’m sure you’ve heard about if everybody of Saint Xavier, he went to the cathedral and he plays his septum in st. Xavier’s hands, praying for a miracle. I’m just at that time he heard the Mughals armies were coming. So this is the so-called Miracle of Goa and that is why he celebrated as a patron saint of Goa and there are a whole lot of foolish Indians who participated in the name of secularism.
So It is really a Pity and he’s called the Gansha sahab, the protector of Goa and instead of, you know, honoring the Marathas who had at that time come them because Hindus had called them. Now this is an inscription which Sambhaji put over there. The Hindus had requested him that they were under heavy taxation also by the Portuguese, that they should be relieved and this has the seal that he had put over there at a place. It is in Hatcolan in Goa. This was installed in Ponda and this inscription records the abolition of taxes and it also says clearly, now we are under, this is under Hindu rule, it is what the symbol of the elephant and Lotus also and this is how actually relief was given to the Goanese people, Goanese Hindus. But nowadays you see other things.
So now we come to a letter which was written by Sambhaji to Ramsingh. He was the son of Mirza Raja Jai Singh, the first he had written we Hindus have become a pig without any self-respect. We have been unable to protect our temples which are being desecrated. We are unable to protect our religion. The Yavan Badshah thinks that we had failed in following religion, the Dharmanusunya the state of lack of Dharma. This shows the mindset from which the Marathas rulers were acting. Sambhaji also captured. He was captured by the Mughals and after hideously cruel torture metered over a fortnight along with another companion of this Kavikalash and I mean this is all described in Masari Alamgiri, torture he was put through and he was put to death and what Aurangzeb actually intended was to scare the Maratahs and put them off their battle.
But then it actually had the opposite effect. It’s steal them from the great out and then they give it back. That was the point here, was a famous address which his successor Chhatrapati Rajaram had given in for trigger and they stopped all relationships with the Mughal and then they took up this battle with started it was bent on for 18 years and they regained the territory. Someone had asked me the other day, I mean who had set out clear aim or that the temple should be cases. It was actually not from Maharj Shivaji, It was from Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj when he put out, this aims that we will reclaim on our temple in another name, it specifically mentioned Vishwaraya temple also. So what he said, this is noted in the Arnaya Patra which has been written again by Ram Chandra and he records, this was the aim of the Rajaram Chhatrapati and his queen that on auspicious occasions we crossed Narmada while by the favor of God within a short time we will defeat the chief enemy and subdue all territories and forts about Delhi and go to Banaras and establish the idol of Kashi Vishwaraya.
Now Rajram took all the rains a lot of Marathas Chief defeated to the Mughals Side because they were all. So I mean Mughals still at the terms into powerful but he gave a new opinion in the name of Desh. Dev, Desh and dharma, our God’s our country and our religion and this is the appeal which one by one all his Chiefs for one back and although he died very early and I died within 11 years, but the fight was taken on Tarabai. Tarabai was of course she is well known characters and she was gallant and diplomatic Queen and her resourcefulness was amazing. She is the one who rally the scattered Marathas and ultimately she is the one who fought the battle right upto the end. It was a 18 year long struggle. This pure pluck telling to and no matter how many times they were beaten back, they kept on springing back. They kept on attacking the Mughals. At one point of time Aurangzeb from came to the Deccan handy settled or set up camp over there. But the one call which you see in all the correspondence that the Marathas sent out to the chief. So to the other countries first, this is the land of gods and the brahmins, you see, and here to get. This is absolutely no social conflict, each person who’s fighting with these Maratha Chief was generally from the Peasants. They were people of the soil so to say. There was no conflict, there was a belief in the king, there was a belief in the natural social order. There was a belief in the highest values which are carried by the Brahmins and that is why they call it the land of the Gods and the brahmins and it is not just one place. It is it was initially given mentioned in a letter by Rajaram but it appears numerous times that this is the land of the Gods and the Brahmins and even this thing fellow-feeling with the Hindu kingdoms.
You see that even in the midst of this 18 year old fight, there was the nayak of Bakinaka in Karnataka. They had given a call for help and in 1784, marathas even with the stretched resources, they rushed for helping him. Now finally in 1704 was the decisive Victory and Aurangzeb was, I mean, he barely escaped it was escorted by his generals Zulfiqar Khan and he was escorted to Bhurhanpur for he died alone. It was lonely death, we all know in the Deccan away from his home and what does, what did historian says that, they fight for the Doughty battle possible with just a smaller range, but he says first it was a battle for Or higher moral Force which was driving down, which brought all the virtues of the best of men, the daring the heroism of the noble endurance, the administrative skill and it was all because of the higher goal and vision which have been put before them by the founder.
Now, we see the scary doll, even at the time of such chhatrapati Shahu Ji who was in Mughal captivity until 1707, then after Aurangzeb death he ascended to the throne. Later his mother also, Yesobai who had been in captivity for almost 30 years. She was also released. Now Sahuji also writes a letter to his brother “this Kingdom belongs to gods and brahmins, the blessings of God Shankar and God Bhavani enabled a great and revered ancestor Shivaji to rescue it from the balance of the Mohammedan. Again we see the same word used God and the brahmins, land of the Gods and the Brahmins.
Now this Marathas were of course very conscious about helping Hindu rulers and we see it also. This battle everyone is very, it’s very well known battle because of the movie Bajirao. He has rush to the Chhatrasal of the Bundelkhand and he had rescued him. The details of the battle are older in a movie, but there’s a very important note in Chhatrasal own biography, which is Chhatrapraksh which recounts his meeting with Maharaj Shivaji and what Maharaj Shivaji told him and it says collect a force and wage war against the Turks, Protect the cows, the Vedas and the Brahmins. So you see the same theme again repeated.
What was at that time when there were no boundaries, What was it which was motivating the people from inside. It was what was there already. Now it was at that time now Bajirao Peshwa had also taken them, i mean not just this battle, he had also undertake extended campaign against the Portuguese. Now, this is the famous battle of Vesai. It went on for almost two and a half years and again the principal cause for it, you can see, these are the some of the notations from the Correspondence and Chronicles of the Contemporary people and it says establishment of Hindu Raj and then Appa saheb have exerted himself, but most to conquer Firangana and established a rule of Hindu Dharma.
The Portuguese persecuted Hindus and therefore Appa Saheb invaded Vesai territory and captured one or two places. This Temple that you see is the Naro Shankar Temple. This also got an Interesting history. When the Marathas capture Vasai and what it did was, it destroyed all the Churches over there and then took down the bells and these bells were installed all over in the Hindu temples and also in lower region, which is called it the desh region and that is why you find this Portuguese bells in all the Hindu temples in this particular region in Vasai. This Particular bell, where it is, this one, this particular bell is also this is Naro Sankar temple. The Bell that is a Portuguese bells on top.
So one of the things which is noted in this campaign is given by GR Desai, a pair of papers that he presented. He got the papers from the Peshwa Daftar one of these papers says that the Bajirao and his brother Chimanji work to pursue the policy contemplated and carried with the chief aim to make the land safe for the Hindu religion and they not only, they didn’t stop over there. They also made arrangement for the people who had been forcibly converted to, these are also among the Peshwa Daftar papers, to be brought back to the Hindu fort and Madhavrao Peshwa offered grants of land free land to those who settle in the city and instead of the attacks, in support of Brahmins to purify the native Christians who they regarded as polluted Hindus before receiving them back to the fold and the former caste.
Of course, one of the books that we do hear about constantly is that how the Marathas carried out Rejuvenation and reconstruction. They constructed a lot of temples and almost entire all the temples that we see today the Stone temples which were built rebuilt after being destroyed by the Muslims almost all of them have been built, almost 80 to 90 percent have been built by the Marathas only.
Now we come to the Battle of Panipat. What I’m tracing is just, I mean the thought that the Marathas had all through their struggles because there are endless battle, of course the some of the main battles which show where the Marathas state was focus. Now Ahmad Shah Abdali’s, he assume the Afghans throne and call himself Ahmad Shah Durrani or Ahmad shah Abdali and there was a series of battles attacks that he carried out on India. In one of the attacks he had sacked Mathura Vrindavan and the details of this attack can be seen that I mean he had given orders that Mathura and other places are the holy cities of Hindus. It is your sacred duty to kill as many non-muslims as you can and make heaps of their severed heads. Promising that he would pay 5 rupees, 5 for each head and this carried out upto one week and there is even a story. I don’t know whether it’s true or not that it was the from March 5th to March 12th, and they actually were quarting blood, hindu blood for playing Holi, for removing the into hindu festival.
Of course that can also be imagination but this shows the magnitude of slaughter which was carried out by Afghans. Now this was the 1757 when the Marathas saw this then they started moving their force northwards. By 1758, they had moved to north, they had push back the Afghans and by 70s they had taken a lot of territories in Punjab in Lahore, Multan, Peshawar and then finally they went to Attock. The fort that you see here, i hope see here, I hope it is clear. It is the fort which they took in 1758 and the message, the time for the message, that was sent back by the Marathas to the Peshwa Daftar was that, we have unfold the saffron flag at Attock. This happened in 1758.
That was a concerted effort by the Muslims this time by, I mean, some of the prominent Muslim. One was Shah Waliullah Dehlawi, of course Naziv of Rohilla. Naziv had been occupied he had been put on the Throne of Delhi by Abdali. Marathas removed him and reinstated Mughals, but they all got together including, they even took Nawab who the Marathas are in good relationship with even with the Mughal.
So you see all the Muslims, they got together and call in all the correspondence that fancy is of the period, is of jihad. But what was happening in the Hindu camp? Marathas has repeatedly trying to have build alliances along with the Jats, with the Rajput. But they never correspondence back, they remained and Rajput even, actually, they had found later on that, he even had correspondence with the Naziv and he was okay with them defeating the Marathas because he wanted that somehow the Marathas power from North India should be reduced. So we all know what happened in this battle of Panipat, very tragic thing.
What is sad is, not that there was a lack of Consciousness at that time about the unit of India, but it is there even today one lakh Maratha soldiers, and the only thing that they fought was for India. No one remember this, this is a small group of History Marathians who go every year to the Battle of Panipat field commemorated. But actually it is it was a national tragedy because the only reason that the Marathas were there is because they were hurting Indians. Expedition after Expedition has Naziv, Ahmad Shah Abdali carried in North India. Thousands and thousands of Hindus would kill, thousands of temples were destroyed in the holiest places of Particularly in Mathura.
They said there was no fortification in that town and it was there was a complete slaughterhouse over there. He slaughter the Bairagi and another tragic fact I don’t know that you people are aware or not the same bairagi, just because of the religions to Siraj ud-Daulah, they fought against the Marathas in the Battle of Panipat in 1761. So one can imagine the amount of blindness the people have. They saw nothing apart from what immediately concerned them. They have no vision of Indian the only people who were fighting for it was the Marathas otherwise, they won’t have been there.
Now one good thing was that this battle, i mean, it was withdrawal, it was not really failure for the Marathas because we had, even after the battle, he even upon of that, even sent an apologetic letter because the Peshwa was moving more forces to north of India. There is a lot of problems, we didn’t go to all of that while setback happened, but fact means that, they inflicted such heavy losses on the Marathas, on the Afghan forces, on the concerted forces, that they never attacked after that, whether there were six attacks, before that six incursions before that, which we have seen visible Slaughters of Hindus and loot and such proportions that they say that in the area of North India, the entire Phanduab to the UP area and Delhi treasury was empty, they could not even paid back and they heavily taxed the peasantry for paying the Indian mities for this.
So some observations one must read, these are the observation of the Contemporary people, Major Thomas Evans Bell. It was little later, it was about 50-60 years later, but he knows this that even the Battle of Panipat was a Triumph and glory for the Marathas because they fought in the cost of India, for Indian. The British notice it, but the Hindu did not see it. While the great Muhammadan princes of Delhi, of Oudh and the Deccan stood aside intriguing and trimming and though the Marathas were defeated, the victorious Afghans retired and never again interfere with the Affairs of India again.
T.S Shejwalker he is also famous historian. He says that the Marathas cast the last die in tragic drama with the slogan of complete integrity of the Indian Empire. The Marathas had risen higher in transcending the bounds of race, language, religion. They kept no self-interested ultimate idea, was always of the Indian of India and they defended themselves from foreign powers without any aid and they wanted to rule without any rule and interference and now what happen after Panipat. We see that even after this Marathas had any loss side. They had continued their rebuilding and reconstruction efforts. One of the biggest reconstruction effort was taken by Ahalyabai Holker and by one estimate 80% of the temple that you see standing today at whether it is Vishwesvara, not Somnath, not the main Somnath, but other places, also in Gaya etc, all these were built by her and they were built by her personal funds, but not through the funds of the state. So all the Jyotirlinga, all the Satpura and all the Char Dhams and all the thirtha and the Pants and everything she even gave them lot of grants for their maintenance and this was undertaken and this was done by Marathas, in spite of the fact that they had been, so to say, actually betrayed by everyone of the Hindus until at that time.
Some of the temple rebuilt be in Somnath, Mallikarjuna, Mahakaleswar, Omkareshwar, Kedarnath, Bhimashankar, Vishwanath., a whole lot of temple including even Ayodhya. There was the temple, i don’t know, that you are aware or not the famous temple which is there, it is one of the three structure which were destroyed in Ayodhya, along with the Ram Janmabhumi temple rebuilt by Ahalya bhai, not the Ram Janmabhumi, but the another one of the three temple, its was rebuilt Ahalyabai Holker.
So now the age of the Marathas power started from 1818 to the 1857 its a strange thing about the political power play that is most inspiring start that is how the political game had played. So there were infighting start because that is how the political game had played. So there is infighting among the Marathas also and somehow they cannot really work out their alliances and ultimately they were outstripped in contention with the British and outlet and the final battle of Bajirao Peshwa second. It happened in 1880 which he lost. This was the third Anglo-Maratha war and then he was forced to be Turk. That’s for so to say the end of Marathas, as a challenge to colorism.
Until now we come to the last phase of the challenges of Marathas has presented. Now this Bajirao Peshwa 2 who choose to settle in Bithur because he was exiled by the conditions of the treaty and his son was Nana Sahib. Nana Sahib and his childhood mates were Tantya tope and Manikarnika. We all know who they were, they were the principal prince of the 1857 Rebellion. Again the Rebellion, we will not because it was longer a lot of causes and motivations playing in that the rebellion itself was heroes of the Marathas. They kind of try to, you know, start talking to the Muslims, “until now we have a different challenge, let us get together and fight”. The Muslims forget they had again given of the call for Jihad but then what does the call that has not been given out this becomes clear when we see in June 1857, Laxmi Bai along with Tatya tope, they capture the Gwalior Fort. When they unfold the flag over their the first slogan, which they had given out was Hindavi swaraj. The original slogan of Maharaj Shivaji.
So we see that the threat, the transfer, all the battle special for the Marathas. They always carried this theme Desh, Dhan and Dharma and what we talk about today is very first hand idea of liberty, quality and fraternity. These all idea come from abroad, come from the different context. They do not really apply to us, particularly notions like secularism, socialist, democratic. We study this, but will they Inspire us. They don’t Inspire us because that is where we find their whole lot of people, who are going along with their interest because there is nothing real in to evoke, in them to say that, ‘hey, this is your country’. There’s nothing the only emotional thing that evoke, that awakens them is their religion, is their Traditions.
But that has been somehow being sidelined, somehow it has become medieval to talk about religion in the context of secularism, you can’t even talk about religion and not it is either superstition or simply I mean it is an evil to talk about it because what these concepts is also done, is that they have brought aggressive religious ideology on the same footing as an inclusive ideology, which is Hinduism and suddenly we have to consider it an advantage to those religious ideologies which were from the very beginning as we have seen for the history inimical to us. Is it not happening now? It is happening even today every corner of India.
There are everyday Hindu being attacked, their everyday temples not every day, but every other day in temples brought out, women are being trafficked. It’s the latest report from West Bengal, some of the district’s of west Bengals 40% of Muslim population, 22,000 women trafficked in two years. Most of the people are Muslims. This is just, i mean basic thing is that, this attack is ongoing and the reason for this is that their ideology is intact but our differences we have left out. So we see therefore secularism is basically, as I said, I’m not this is to end with the premise which was which I wanted to add at the end. That the people who have been killing us in the name of religion, destroying everything that our culture stands for looting our resources. Now, they’re allowed a free run in the name of secularism and even privileges which should have been actually due to people who are suffering for a millennium. So this is what, is the basic flaw with the idea of religion.
Two other people have spoken about Hindutva – one of them is, of course, Chandranath Basu, he was the first person who came up with Hindutva. Now Hinduness as a basis of nationhood, how Chandranath Basu defined it was. He wrote an exposition on the quintessence which forms the consciousness of being Hindu and the fundamental articles of faith of Hindus irrespective of the Divergence has and this was the first all-encompassing identity of Hindus as a nation which was made. Thereafter, there was of course Savarkar and Savarkar was the first person who actually performed it as a political philosophy seeing the land as a whole and Hinduness being the same thing as nativeness. But there are some problems with these also.
Why I believe that these are not the perfect ideations and why Shivaji’s ideation was perfect because in the case of first when it comes to Hinduness, if you see through the history, this was not liking anywhere. Even today some of people who are actively acting against acting against the nation like Digvijaya Singh, they are devout Hindus. So they have very clearly that what is it that they stand for in terms of personal value. So that’s why it is not something which will serve in the very long run and in case of Savarkar also, it is kind of being in that Soul when you’re hoping that the Muslims in the country will see that ‘oh after all they are from this country and ultimately this is the nation’. Fact remains an ideological gaping chasm is there and they will never see it and just hoping this is what we see played out in the political scene also. No matter how many times we see now how many times have been betrayed we go on persisting in this because we somehow want to do to them after all they’re Indians. Well, they’re not as simple as that. The moment they convert, they cease to be any part of the Indian civilization.
So ultimately what is the doctrine which is going to be successful. When you save with conviction without any doubt unequivocally that Hindu Paramountcy, Hindu Primacy, Primacy of Hindu values in every, whether it is the share of resources, whether it is in policy, whether it is in any interface that the government has to be outside powers or even inside in promotion of cultural ethos. We should not even attend to make people Indian, who are not Indian. Indianness is Hinduness and therefore Hindavi Sawaraj Hindu paramountcy. So this is why I feel that there is no need to go into any detail philosophy. In this it was a very straightforward simple doctrine, which Shivaji had put which was Hindu paramountcy.
And lastly I end with the some of quotes of Rabindranath Tagore. I don’t want to read them out basically he also said the same thing, that the ideation of a nation is what Marathas always held and because it was this idea which would have put forth by their King. There were other struggles also at the same time for instance among the six was struggling. But even in none of these struggles, we see there’s a clear idea of nation and 450 years from 1648 until 1858. We see the Marathas are fighting for the same thing Hindu Nation. So that is the real basis of Indian nationhood.