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Mythology is not History- It cannot pass as history.

PUNCHLINE

Mythology is not History

And history is not mythology in essence

By
Z.G. Muhammad
I am a simpleton. Little did I know that I had ruffled feathers and made earlobes turn pink till a grocer in Maharaja Bazar told me about it? I had not imagined in wildest of my dreams that my innocuous statement of facts that ‘pluralistic and tolerant society was born with the advent of Islam in Kashmir and till then it was a caste ridden truncated society under Brahminical hegemony at a seminar on Shah Rukh or Shahi Khan Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin (1420-1470) had made some intellectuals in the audience nutty. I had said that if we pronounce ‘religious tolerance’ as an icon of Kashmir identity and Sheikh-ul-Alam and Lal Ded as emblems of our identity then it is purely a contribution of Islam’. The grocer who was also among the audience of “intellectual Jupiter’s” made me proud that an ordinary Kashmiri knows his history better than many of my ‘literates’ calling themselves as intellectuals. His curiosity in knowing his past and feeling proud about it strengthened my confidence that this ‘tiny nation cannot be trampled down’ so easily. He gave me the inspiration to revive the debate that had been generated in the well-attended seminar. I had stated that the ‘medieval period has been ‘distorted’- ‘contorted’ and painted ugly by historians with jaundiced eyes and tinted glasses’. I had stated Sultan Sikandar was not a “bigot” but in the words of Sir Walter Lawrence ‘brave and cultured’, ‘a generous’ person in the words of G.M.D. Sufi ‘thousand times very much humane than Harasha and others whom nobody ever maligns publicly, so loudly and pungently.’ I had said that he was more sinned against than his sinning.’ I had dwelled in detail upon his contribution in setting up universities and seminaries. I had fervently appealed to contemporary historians who were present in good number in the seminar to rewrite and not rehash Kashmir history which is full of inaccuracies and inadequacies. I had said that let us not parrot that we have a five thousand years old history that is demagoguery. We are no demagogues let us come up with history based on facts and not in the words of a Pakistani writer Mushahid Hussain allow ‘mythology pass for history”. There was a need for chafing fiction from facts and delinking mythology from history. I call Rajatarangini a masterpiece not of history but of literature. Like a good piece of literature, it is facts mingled with fiction and myths woven in a mosaic of tales of kings and consorts. It is not history in the tradition of Edward Gibbon, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Thomas Carlyle or John Richard Green but an epic in the tradition of great Indian epics brimming with fiction and supernatural tales. Classical importance of Rajatarangini intact; how many of our historians have tried to sieve facts from this monumental work and rewrite the history of the period on a scientific basis. How many of our historians in the tradition of Gibbon have laboured “to examine and digest all the extant authorities, afterwards to select the material from immaterial; then finally to tell the whole truth long story, making each personage and every fact fall into proper place so as to give unity and perspective to the whole”. It is painful to state, but it is a stark truth, none of our contemporary historians have made an effort to put events in the right perspective. Most of the historians have only retold the stories already told without even changing their punctuations. It is not only distortions but lies about the medieval history of Kashmir that is being internationalized- a section of Kashmir society has gone flaky and they are engaged in putting all kinds of lies about medieval Kashmir based on biased histories on the website. It is true by doing so they do no honor to themselves but bring disrepute to Kashmir history. It was shocking for me that scholar from New Delhi doing a book on Kashmir for one of the leading publishers in India with chain of outlets all over the world had assimilated all the muck dispensed to the world through these websites and framed his opinion about medieval and recent Kashmir history on the basis of material dished out through these websites. My estranged friends living a comfortable life away from dust and heat of plains or stinking gutters of the valley in world’s best metropolises are busy in falsifying truths about their own motherland- the land that has cradled and nursed them. They have concocted stories and contorted history. It is not medieval history that is painted murky- they have coined all derogatory words for the resistance movement started by Kashmiris in 1931. These distortions and falsification based on histories written by their forefather they call as ‘cyber war’. This war is against whom? And what has prompted these people to unleash this war? I have no answer for this questions-they perhaps have an agenda of giving a bad name to the people who continue to live in the valley. But the question arises that is this war to be taken lying low? Our historians and academicians owe a responsibility to their conscience- if not to the people. These distorters calling themselves as ‘cyber warriors’ need to be fought back- fought back with full force. More than individuals it is the institutions that have to fight back them. The University of Kashmir has four institutions dedicated to history- the Post-graduate Department of History, Institute of Central Asian Studies, Markaz-i- Noor and Institute of Kashmir Studies but hardly any of these departments has a website of its own. There is no ‘alien’ in these departments who have generally blamed teachers for all ills in the university. They are headed by natives- true odd men are political appointees but the majority have a strong academic background. It is bounden duty of these institutions to counter this ‘cyber war’ against Kashmir history. The institutions may or may not wake up but our historian’s octogenarians and young need to introspect to find out if they are honest to their land and people. Majority of researchers are only rehashing old history and not rewriting history based on primary sources. There is no dearth of primary sources, Kashmir has the highest number of manuscripts in Persian, Arabic, Sharada, and Sanskrit but how many of our scholars are using these manuscripts. It is not the medieval history that needs to be re-written but our contemporary history- the history of our struggle against autocratic rule has been distorted. It has suffered the same bias as the medieval history. Even most progressive historians Prem Nath Bazaz could not escape this bias. He too has been subservient to dictates while writing the history of Freedom Struggle in Kashmir by ignoring even dismissing the struggle of the Muslim Conference from 1931 to 1938 and beyond in a paragraph. There is a lesson for my historians in the achievements of William Dalrymple. During his fifteen years city in India, he gave three great books about Mughal period entitled the City of Djinns, the White Mughals and The Last Mughal. If a Scottish who fell in love with dusty Delhi and took the world on an odyssey to Mughal India, why cannot our historians fall in love with their own land and give the world an unbiased history of Kashmir to the world. (Mail your views at punchline_gk@yahoo.com)
Published in Greater Kashmir May 14 2007
http://m.greaterkashmir.com/news/srinagar-city/mythology-is-not-history/16951.html

Filed under: Editor's Take, Kashmir-Talk

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