Monthly Archives: March 2018

The Hindu Holocaust

Today the whole world recognizes the word holocaust with the killing of Jews by the Nazis. Historian J.L.Mehta in his work Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India Vol-I use the word holocaust for the death and destruction of Hindus under the hands of Mahmud of Ghazni and Muhammad of Ghori. But considering the devastating rape and ravages done to Hindus and Hindu society on a scale unprecedented in the history of mankind it would be appropriate to call the period from the invasion of Sindh by Muhammad Bin Qasim till the establishment of Bangladesh as an independent country as the period of Hindu holocaust.

Difference between Jewish holocaust and Hindu holocaust

  • While the holocaust of the Jews took place for some seven to eight years; that of the Hindus took place for several centuries, which could be divided into two phase. The first phase from 713 A.D. (conquest of Sindh by Muhammad bin Qasim) to 1761 (third battle of Panipat) wherein atrocities were committed on Hindus by foreign Muslims and the second phase from 1761 to 1971 (when Bangladesh became an independent country) wherein atrocities were committed on Hindus by the descendants of the victims of Muslim mayhems taken place during the first phase.
  • While the holocaust of the Jews meant the death of Jewish men, women and children, that of the Hindus saw not only killings of Hindu men, women and children, but also rape and enslaving of Hindu women, slavery of Hindu children, forcible conversion and destruction of Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries (including the famous Nalanda University) and destruction of Hindu/Buddhist literary works.
  • While the death toll due to the Jewish holocaust comes around six millions (60 lakhs) the death toll of the Hindus even by rough estimate could not be less than sixty millions (six crores).
  • While the Jewish holocaust was caused due to the injunction of Hitler as he believed that the Jews were of inferior race, the holocaust of the Hindus were caused due to the sanction of the religious scriptures of the Muslims which considers all non-Muslims as inferior and therefore no right to live.
  • Aftermath the holocaust the Jews learnt a bitter lesson; with the holocaust museums around the world reminding of the Nazi atrocities and the need to prevent such happenings in the future. But none such museums exists in India for the present generation of Hindus to become aware of the horrors experienced by their forefathers. Even history text books under the influence of Marxist historians have whitewashed the atrocities committed by the Muslims on Hindus. With power hungry politicians with their appeasement policies ruling the roost in India, the day would not be far away when the Hindus would have to face another holocaust; this time the whole Hindu race could be wiped out completely.

The Quranic injunction on non-Muslims

The Quranic law divides all non-Muslims into two classes, namely those who are according to it, the possessors of some kind of revealed scripture (ahle-Kitab) and those who are not and are idolators (Kafirs and Mushriks). The first group consisting only of Jews and Christians is permitted by the authority of the Quran to enjoy partial toleration in a Muslim state on payment of an invidious tax called the jiziya; but the other consisting of polytheists is not eligible for any kind of toleration whatever. Subsequently a third group of non-Muslims that is of those who resembled the possessors of revealed books (musahab ahl-i-kitab) was recognized and the Zoroastrians were placed under this category. The latter too were allowed to live in a Muslim country on payment of the jiziya like the Jews and Christians. Of the four early and authoritative commentators on the shara or the Islamic law who became founders of the four well-known schools of Muslim law, three namely, Malik Ibn Anas (715-795 A.D.), Ash-Shafi (767-820 A.D.) and Ahmad bin Hanbal (780-855 A.D.) lay down in unmistakable terms that idolators have no right to live in a Muslim country (i.e., one either ruled by Muslims or peopled by Muslims) and that they must either embrace Islam or suffer death. But the fourth commentator named Abu Hanifah (699-766A.D.) is of the opinion that idolators might be given besides the choice between Islam and death one more alternative, namely permission to live as Zimmis (living under a contract) or as inferior citizens with an obligation to pay the jiziya (poll tax) and to submit to certain political, legal and social disabilities.

As the Quran and the Hadis did not really permit Muslim rulers to allow Hindus to live under a Muslim government but to give them the choice between Islam and death the ulama pressed the sultans from time to time that the Quranic law should be enforced and that either the Hindus should be compelled to embrace Islam or they should be butchered in cold blood. For instance during the reign of Iltutmish (1211-1236) the ulama made a united demand that the Hindus should be confronted with the Quranic injunction of Islam or death. The Sultan referred the question to his wazir Nizammul- Mulk Junnaidi, who though concurring with the ulama’s interpretation of the law, said that at the movement India has newly been conquered and the Muslims are so few in number. If the above orders are applied to the Hindus it is possible that they might combine and rebel. However after a few years when in the capital and in the regions and the small towns, the Muslims are well established and the troops are larger it will be possible to give Hindus the choice of death or Islam. Similar demand was made by Qazi Mughis-ud-din of Bayana during the reign of Ala-ud-din Khalji (1296-1316). He said that God has himself commanded their (Hindus) complete degradation inasmuch as the Hindus are the deadliest foes of the Prophet. The Prophet has said that they should either embrace Islam or they should be slain or enslaved and their property should be confiscated to the state. Because of the vast numerical superiority of the Hindus and their military and economic strength the Quranic law could not be enforced completely. Hence the sultans allowed the Hindus to live as Zimmis, i.e., the people living under contract as second class citizens by paying a special tax called jiziya.

Types of atrocities faced by the Hindu

Mass killings

Muhammad bin Qasim’s first act of religious zeal after the capture of Sindh was to forcibly circumcise the Brahmanas of the captured city of Debul; but on discovering that they objected to this sort of conversion he then proceeded to put all above the age of seventeen to death and to order all others with women and children to be led to slavery. Utbi in his Tarikhi Yamini writes about the massacre, plunder and destruction that followed the victories of Mahmud of Ghazani. He remarks that the victors slew the vanquished wherever they were found, in jungles, passes, plains and hills. He further adds that the blood of the infidels flowed so copiously that the stream was discoloured notwithstanding its purity and people were unable to drink it. A contemporary Muslim writer observes about the consequences of Muslim victory in Gujarat in 1197- “Most of the Hindu leaders were taken prisoners and nearly fifty thousand infidels were dispatched to hell by the sword. More than twenty thousand slaves fell into the hands of the victor. Victorious campaigns of the Muslims were generally followed by the massacre and enslavement of the Hindus on a massive scale. Tarikh-i-Wassaf, written at the beginning of the medieval period gives an example of such massacre and enslavement after Alauddin’s campaign in Gujarat. The author narratives- the Muhammadan forces began to kill and slaughter on the right and on the left unmercifully throughout the impure land for the sake of Islam and blood flowed in torrents. They took captive a great number of handsome and elegant maidens amounting to 20,000 and children of both sexes more than the pen can enumerate. According to Amir Khusrav who was an eyewitness during the siege of Chittor in 1303, after its capture, Alauddin gave orders for the slaughter of his enemies and about 30,000 Rajputs were killed in one day. The invasion of Timur in 1398-99 had a disastrous effect on the political, social, cultural and economic condition of north India. Dozens of big towns were sacked and devastated, hundreds of villages razed to the ground and totally wiped out and millions of innocent men, women and children put to the sword. For instance he ordered the killing of nearly one lakh Hindu prisoners before marching to Delhi as he feared that they might trouble him during his conflict with the army of Delhi. The male prisoners were used as beasts of burden to carry the spoils on their heads for their victors to their homelands; many of them died of hunger and fatigue on the way. Thousands of Hindu women were enslaved, dishonoured and humiliated. Even the so called tolerant ruler like Akbar was guilty of massacring Hindus in thousands. For instance he invaded Chittor in 1567 and just because the Rajputs offered stiff resistance to his invasion, after securing Chittor he ordered a general massacre and about 30,000 Hindus were slaughtered. After the third battle of Panipat about 9000 Marathas were slaughtered in cold blood. According to an eye witness every Afghan soldier killed hundred to two hundred Maratha for the sake of gaining religious merit to their mother, father, sister and wife through killing of Kafirs. Barbarous cruelties were perpetrated on the Hindus not only in the north but in the south also. Ibn Batutah gives a graphic account of such cruelties perpetrated by the Sultan of Madura in the south. He cites an example of a Hindu whose head was cut down with those of his wife and young son of seven years of age by the Sultan of Madura. He observes that on another day the same Sultan got the hands and feet of a Hindu cut off. Another historian Farishta has narrated in his works the blood curdling tales of wholesale rapine and cold-blooded massacre of the Hindus by the Muslims. The Sultanate period was on of long crusade against Hindu religion and culture. K.M.Munshi a distinguished writer and renowned scholar writes about this period- “ It was one of ceaseless resistance offered with one relentless heroism of men, from boys in teens to men with one foot in grave, flinging away their lives for freedom; of warriors defying the invaders from the fortress for months; of women in thousands courting fire to save their honour; of children whose bodies were flung into the wells by their parents so that they might escape slavery; of fresh heroes springing up to take the place of the dead and to break the volume and momentum of the onrushing tide of invasion”.

The mass killings continued even in the twentieth century when demanding the formation of Pakistan the Muslim League gave a call for Direct Action Day during which there was abductions, forced marriages, rapes, compulsory conversion to Islam of scores of Hindus. An estimate twenty lakh people perished most of them Hindus after India was partitioned. In 1971 nearly nine million refugees were driven from East Pakistan of which the majority were Hindus. The ethnic cleansing done in Serbia in recent times pale into insignificance when compared to that done in East Pakistan. Whereas the culprits of the Serbian ethnic cleansing were booked for their crimes and punished those who did it in East Pakistan went unpunished. Even in independent India where there is a Hindu majority they are always at the receiving end when communal riots break out. As Babasaheb Ambedkar writes the Muslims spirit of aggression is his native endowment and is ancient and in this exhibition of the spirit of aggression the Muslim leaves the Hindu far behind.

Social, Economic and Cultural Discrimination

Islam invariably aspires for the conquest and extermination of the indigenous religion and culture of the country it invades. Under the Muslim domination the Hindus fretted and chaffed at the loss of their political power. Their political subjection was followed by social degradation. They were treated with severity and reduced to a state of abject poverty and had to live like helots within the empire. Sheikh Hamadani in his book Zakhirat-ul-Muluk explains the policy of the Muslim State and the duties of the ruler towards the non-Muslims, the Zimmis. He lays down twenty conditions to be imposed by the Muslim rulers on the Zimmis and make their lives and property dependent on their fulfillment of the terms. Among these twenty conditions the following deserve mention.

  • In a country under the authority of a Muslim ruler, they (Zimmis) are to build no new homes for images or idol temples
  • They are not be rebuild any old buildings which have been destroyed
  • Muslim travellers are not to be prevented from staying in idol temples
  • Infidels may not act as spies
  • If the Zimmis are gathered together in a meeting and Muslims appear, they are to be allowed at the meeting
  • Zimmis are not to ride on horses with saddle and bridal
  • Zimmis are not to possess swords and arrows
  • They are not to wear signet rings and seals on their fingers
  • They are not to build their homes in the neighbourhood of the Muslim
  • They are not to mourn their dead with loud voices
  • They are not to buy Muslim slaves
  • Zimmis should not propagate the customs and usages of polytheists among Muslim, etc.

If the Zimmis infringe any of these conditions it shall be lawful for Muslims to take their lives and possessions. In the reign of Sultan Alauddin Khilji, Qazi Mughisuddin of Bayana advised the Sultan to follow rigid anti-Hindu policy. He said –“Hindus are the deadliest foes of the Prophet. The Prophet has said that they should either embrace Islam or they should be slain or enslaved and their property should be confiscated to the state. When the Sultan consulted the Qazi about the policy to be followed for the Hindus, he answered- “They (Hindus) are called Khirajguzars (tax and tribute payers) and when the revenue officer demand silver from them, they should without question and with all humility and respect give gold. If the revenue and tax collector chooses to spit into the mouth of a Hindu, the latter must open his mouth without hesitation. Other restrictions were also imposed on Hindus like they were not allowed to wear fine clothes, ride on horseback or possess arms. Sometimes they were not permitted to chew betel or wear the same kind of dress as Muslims. Vidyapati, who was the famous poet of Mithila in the 15th century A.D. has given a graphic and gruesome account of the religious and social oppression of the Hindus by the Muslims. He observed that the Turks forced the Hindus to work without pay, placed the leg of the dead cow on the heads of the Brahmans, licked the sandalwood mark on their foreheads, tore off their sacred thread, broke temples and build mosques in their place, abused and assaulted the Hindus.

Rape and enslavement of Hindu women

Muslim rulers and nobles of India were sexual sadists known for their low morality and were debauchees par excellence. Kaiqubad the grand-son of Balban was 17 year old when he succeeded to the throne in 1287 A.D. He had been brought up under the strict guardianship of his grandfather Balban where casting a glance at a fair face or to taste wine was a taboo. When Kaiqubad became the Sultan, his pent up desires and passion found expression in unrestrained indulgence in wine, women and gaiety. So much so that musicians, singers, jokers, jesters and beautiful dancing girls from different parts of the kingdom thronged his court. Due to over indulgence Kaiqubad was struck with paralysis when he was just 20 and was kicked to death by a Khilji soldier and thrown to river Jamuna and the Slave dynasty came to an end. Mubarak Shah son of Ala-ud-din Khilji who ascended the throne in 1316 A.D overthrew all decency and royal dignity to the winds and sometimes appeared in the court in a state of drunkenness, accompanied by the dancing girls and vulgar slave boys who misbehaved with the courtiers and put everyone to shame. The Sultan adorned himself with the garments and trinkets of women and appeared in assemblies. Historian Barani says that sometimes the Sultan would run naked among his courtiers. The Muslim rulers and nobles were notorious for maintaining big harems.Khan Jahan Maqbul, the Prime Minister of Sultan Firoz Tughlaq is said to have maintained 2000 women of various races and nationalities in his harem. The ruler of Bahamani Kingdom, Firoz Shah had a harem of 800 women of various nationalities like Arabians, Georgians, Turks, Europeans, Chinese, Rajputs, Bengalis and others. He was reputed to be a master of many languages and was able to converse with each of his mistress in her own language. Sultan Mahmud of Gujarat was so strict in maintaining peaceful atmosphere in the harem that if any lady laughed at or derided the other, both were killed. During his early days, Akbar if he found any married women interesting, he used to ask her husband to divorce his wife in his favour. Non-compliance meant death or banishment. At the age of 25 Akbar had no less than a thousand divorcees in his harem. They were all once wives of Muslim and Hindu noblemen of his court. Mughal historian Abul Fazl says that Emperor Akbar had a harem of 5000 women supervised by a separate staff of female officers and eunuchs were appointed to guard them. Unauthorized entry into harem by any man was punishable with severing of legs and throwing out the trunk to wolves for a feast. The whole Muslim society was characterized by low morality and sensuality and even learned scholars and theologians were addicted to wine and women. One Maulana Shams Asadi was so much over sexed that he even neglected his obligatory prayers and ran after slave women. This type of atmosphere led to the worsening of the position of Hindu women during the Muslim rule over India. It was a fashion among the Turks, Pathans, Afghans and Mughals to take a wife from a Hindu family. Young Hindu girls were forcibly taken away and married to Muslims. Before the arrival of Muslim invaders Hindu women participated freely in social activities and functions. Rajput women took part in battles and in other outdoor activities even till as late as the fourteenth century. From paintings, sculpture, coins and references of foreign writers we find no evidence of the existence of purdah among the Hindus. Alberuni who was in India in the beginning of the eleventh century does not mention child marriage among the Hindus. But with the arrival of Muslim invaders purdah and ghoonghat was adapted by the Hindu women to save their honour from the lustful eyes of the Muslims. Except those belonging to the lower classes, Hindu women did not move out of their house. To safeguard the chastity of their daughter’s new rules were made to enforce early marriage.

During the military expeditions and invasions of the Muslims when the Rajputs had no hope of victory they fought to the last man and died in the battle. Before that last fight they collected their women, young ones, the middle aged and also those sixteen years old and made them enter the burning pyre, the act which was called Jauhar. This was to prevent the victorious Muslims from dishonouring them. Jauhar became a normal feature of the Rajput society only with the coming of the Muslims in India. Such sacrifices of life for the sake of honour and chastity are probably not found in the history of the other countries.

After the defeat of Dahir and capture of Sindh by Muhammad bin Qasim, Parmal Devi and Suraj Devi the two daughters of the deceased raja Dahir were taken captives and sent to Baghdad for introduction into the Caliph’s harem. According to Utbi after the defeat of Jaipal, Mahmud Ghazni took five lakh people including beautiful women as slaves. Ibn Batutah refers to the forcible conversion, mass enslavement and the inferior status of the Hindus as Zimmis. He gives several references to the humiliating treatment accorded to the Hindu female captives of the highest rank. Referring to the Id ceremony at Delhi in the Sultan’s palace he observes. “Then enter the musicians, the first batch being the daughters of the infidel rajas- Hindus- capture in the war that year. They sing and dance and the Sultan gives them away to the amirs and aizza. Then come the other daughters of the infidels who sing and dance and the Sultan gives them away to his brothers, his relations, his brother-in-law and the malik’s sons. When Muhammad bin Tughlaq sent his presents to the Emperor of China, they included one hundred male slaves and one hundred female slave songstresses and dancers from among the Indian infidels. Guru Nanak refers to the invading army of Babur as a ‘marriage party of sin’ and bemoans that “not even the ladies of the nobles were spared dishonour. With heads once of luxuriant tresses and partings adorned with red, they suffered now the shears of brutality; their throats were filled with choking dust; they wandered in a pitiful condition”. In recent times to force Hindus out of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) a systematic massacre of Hindus was started by the Muslims in 1950 and according to government figures more than 50,000 Hindus were butchered, thousands of Hindu women were abducted and raped and inhuman and barbarous crimes were perpetrated against them. To prevent young Hindu girls from being sent away to West-Bengal for the safety of their honour and to make the humiliation of the Hindus complete, a ‘Girls Release Duty’ was imposed on all Hindu girls leaving East Pakistan. Their hopeless guardians had either to pay this undignified tax or leave their sisters and daughters to the mercy of Pakistan goondas.

Forcible conversions

Muslim rulers converted Hindus to Islam in large numbers. Sikandar the Butshikan of Kashmir converted thousands of Hindus to Islam and expelled those who refuse to be converted. Jala-ud-din of Bengal (1414-1430) forcibly converted hundreds of Hindus and persecuted the rest. Firoz Tughluq and Sikandar Lodi were the instances of Delhi Sultans who indulged in mass persecution and conversion of Hindus. According to Muslim historian Afif during the time of Firoz Tughlaq a Brahmin who was publicly performing the worship of idols in his house was tied hand and foot and was burnt alive before the palace gate because he refused to change his faith and embrace Islam. Sikandar Lodi also put to death a Brahmin named Bodhan who ventured to say that both Hinduism and Islam were true religions.

During Aurangzeb rule, the experiment of mass conversion was first tried in Kashmir. Sher Afghan Khan, the emperor viceroy in Kashmir set about converting Kashmir’s Brahmins by sword. In desperation some of them went to Anandpur and sought the help of Guru Tegh Bahadur. The Guru asked them to tell the emperor that they will embrace Islam if Tegh Bahadur was first converted. The Guru was summoned to Agra and on his refusal to embrace Islam and perform miracles he was killed on November 11th 1675 at Delhi. Earlier his disciples, Mati Das’s body was cut with a saw, while that of another disciple, Bhai Dayal Das was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil under the orders of Aurangzeb for refusal to convert themselves as Muslims.

In 1789 Sambhaji died after being tortured by Aurangzeb. Not satisfied with this Aurangzeb who had taken his (Sambhaji) son Shahu as prisoner issued an order that Shahu be converted to Islam during the month of muharram in 1703. The news spread like wildfire throughout Maharashtra and a deep shadow of gloom pervaded the whole atmosphere. Shahu and his mother were prostrate with grief and in that helpless state they turned to Aurangzeb’s daughter Zinatunnisa who pleaded for Shahu with her father. Aurangzeb relented at last but at a price and the price was that two prominent Marathas should offer themselves for conversion in place of Shahu. Even in those days when unselfish patriotism was a rare virtue there were people who could die without a groan for their king and for their country. Two sons of Pratap Raogujar, Khande Rao and Jagjiwan, brother-in-law of Rajaram, who were captured at Raigarh along with Shahu and lived with him in the imperial camp offered themselves for conversion to save Shahu. They were accordingly converted on May 16, 1703 and renamed Abdur Rahim and Abdur Rahman.

Even as late in 1789 thousands of people in Kerala were circumcised and made to eat beef by Tipu who had issued a proclamation directing the inhabitants of Malbar to embrace Islam. Later in 1921 the Moplahs (converted Muslims of Kerala) forced their Hindu neighbours to embrace Islam and killed those who refused. All kinds of pressure were exerted on the Hindu population in order to compel them to embrace Islam. Criminals who embraced Islam were acquitted and government posts were conferred upon converts who were besides rewarded in many other ways. Islam did not permit the conversion of Muslims to Hinduism or the reconversion of Hindu converts to Islam. Those guilty of the offence of seducing Muslims from their religion were awarded the capital punishment. The same punishment was inflicted for reconverting Hindu converts to Islam.

Religious discrimination

Not only during the course of war or a campaign but also in peacetime Hindu temples were razed to the ground and their images broken to pieces. They were also forbidden from building new temples and repairing the old ones. Muhammad bin Qasim carried out the destruction of temples after his conquest of Sindh but made an exception to a temple at Multan as it was frequented by a large number of pilgrims and used to get good income. Nevertheless he satisfied his desire by tying a piece of cow’s meat around the neck of the idol of the temple. Minhaj-us-Siraj tells us Mahmud of Ghazani became famous for having destroyed as many as a thousand temples and his great feat was to break the idol of Somanath into four pieces and placing one at the entrance of his palace and another at the entrance of the mosque in Ghazni to be trodden upon by Muslims. It is said that Mahmud was requested by the priests not to break the main idol in return for immense wealth. But Mahmud spurned the offer and said that he would rather like to be known as ‘Mahmud the idol breaker, (butshikan) than the idol seller (but-farosh). Qutbuddin Aibak is also said to have destroyed nearly a thousand temples. Firoz Tughlaq writes in his Fatuhat-i-Shahi how he rode to the village of Maluh where the Hindus had gathered to worship by the side of a tank and a fair was being held and he not only put down Hindu worship and destroyed the idols but also ordered the worshippers to be put to death. He also razed to the ground temples in places like Mandrail, Utgir, Narwar and Nagarkot and erected mosques and carvan sarais in their place. The pieces of the broken images of Hindu idols were brought from Nagarkot and were given away to Muslim butchers to be used as meat weights.

The literature of the Vaishnavas in Bengal has given a description of the miserable plight of the Hindus in Bengal. According the accounts given the Muslims used to break the images of the gods into pieces and throw away the articles of worship. They used to burn the Shrimad Bhagavat and other holy scriptures, forcibly take away the conch shell and bell of the Brahmanas (two necessary articles of worship) and lick sandle paints on their bodies. They urinate like dogs on the sacred Tulsi plant and deliberately pass faeces in the Hindu temples. They throw water from their mouths on the Hindus engaged in worship. According to Jayanand’s Chaitanyamangala if the King of Gaud hears the sound of a conch shell in any house, its owner is made to forfeit his wealth, caste and even life. Outrages committed on the Hindus by two Qazis, Hasan and Husain in the reign of Sultan Alauddin Husain Shah (1493-1519) of Bengal is well described by Vijay Gupta in his works. He says that the Hindus were beaten mercilessly, sacred thread of the Brahmans torn away and saliva was spat in their mouths. Consequently many Hindus embraced Islam to get rid of this ignominious fate. Some of the Hindus embraced Islam to escape the much hated tax of jiziya. Barani a famous historian of the Sultanate period eagerly yearned that the Hindu slaughtering swords of Islam should not be put to their scabbard until the whole of Hind had embraced Islam. He desired that Muslim rulers should not allow the infidels to keep their temples, adorn their idols, and to make merry during their festivals with beating of drums and dhols, singing and dancing. Aurangzeb reimposed the jiziya and pilgrim’s tax on the Hindus and ordered the wholesale demolition of temples in all parts of the empire. He instructed the governors of all provinces that they should destroy the schools and temples of the infidels and put an end to their educational activities as well as the practices of the religions of the kafirs. The result was that universally respected temples, including those of Vishwanath and Gopinath at Banaras, that of Keshavrai at Mathura and many others were razed to the ground. Aurangzeb appointed a darogah to supervise the activities of the army officers who were charged with breaking images and destroying temples. Cart-loads of broken images were brought to Delhi and Agra from all the provinces and buried under staircases of Jami mosques of these and other towns.

Results of the holocaust

  • According to Babasaheb Ambedkar the fall of Buddhism in India was due to the invasion of the Musalmans. Islam came out as the enemy of the ‘But’. The word ‘But’ is an Arabic word and means an idol and also refers to Buddha. The Muslims identified idol worship with the religion of the Buddha and to break the idols became the mission to destroy Buddhism. Islam destroyed Buddhism not only in India but wherever it went. Before Islam came into being Buddhism was the religion of Bactria, Parthia, Afghanistan, Gandhara and Chinese Turkestan. It all these countries Islam destroyed Buddhism. Further Ambedkar quotes Vincent Smith who points out that the furious massacre perpetrated in many places by Musalman invaders were more efficacious than orthodox Hindu persecution and had a great deal to do with the disappearance of Buddhism in several provinces of India.
  • According to A.L.Srivastava during the period 1200-1803 A.D. the Hindu society deteriorated morally and materially. The government during the Sultanate and Mughal period was tyrannical and repressed the people and did whatever it could to demoralize them. The government did not tolerated manly virtues of courage, honesty and frankness and resistance to oppression. The result was that the Hindus as a people developed a character of low cunning, deceit and flattery in order to get on in the world. In short they suffered a great deal of moral and intellectual degeneration. The historian Jadunath Sarkar justly holds the medieval Muslim government responsible for the Hindu degeneration of that age and considers it the greatest disservice done to this country.
  • During the centuries of Muslim domination the Hindus race’s instinct for self-preservation, combined with the individual’s need for a guarantee of personal safety intensified the rigidity of the caste system. The proselytizing zeal of Islam strengthened bonds of conservatism in the orthodox circles of the Hindu society. The Hindu became more orthodox in their outlook and practice than what they were in the past. To fortify their position against the propagation and spread of Islam, the Hindus increased to a great extent the stringency of many social taboos and castes rules and regulations. New rigid rules of conduct, diet, marriage and religious rites and ceremonies were prescribed. The stiffness and rigidity of the caste system served as a strong cordon for Hinduism from being submerged entirely in Muslim culture. Had there been so such caste system in India, the whole of the Hindu race might have embraced Islam as other nations in Asia and Africa had done.
  • The Indian Muslims (Hindu converts) during the rule of the Turks and later Mughals had little share in the administration of the country, not admitted into the aristocracy of the conquerors and not given a share of their social and economic privileges. His only consolation was that he professed the same religion as his rulers and could pray with them on Fridays. His constant desire was to be treated on a footing of equality with his foreign co-religionist and to share their power and wealth. To attain his life’s ambition he had to imitate foreign ways and style of living and even to abjure his ancestors. It was an irony of fate that owing to these reasons he was cut off from those who had once been his kinsmen, dead or alive and was like an alien in his own motherland. It was this inferiority complex along with his economic and educational backwardness that made the Indian Muslims claim separate homeland and which led to the establishment of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

References

  • Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Writings and Speeches, Vol- 3, Vol-17 part I, Published by Dr. Ambedkar Foundation
  • Anil A Athale – Let the Jhelum Smile Again, Aditya Prakashan, Mumbai
  • Bal Raj Madhok – Portrait of a Martyr – A Biography of Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerji, Rupa & Co, New Delhi
  • J.S.Grewal- The Sikhs of the Punjab, The New Cambridge History of India II, Cambridge University Press, 1995
  • J.L.Mehta- Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India Vol -I, Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd, Delhi
  • Murray T Titus – Indian Islam, Oxford University Press, 1930
  • B.N.Luniya- Life and Culture in Medieval India, Kamal Prakashan, Indore
  • A.L.Srivastava- The Sultanate of Delhi, Shiva Lal Agarwala & Co, Agra
  • A.L.Srivastava- Medieval Indian Culture, Shiva Lal Agarwala & Co, Agra
  • A.L.Srivastava- The Mughal Empire, Shiva Lal Agarwala & Co, Agra

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Carvakas/Lokayata – The Empiricists of Ancient India

Indian Materialism is known to us today in its four names; Brhaspatya, Nastikamata, Carvaka and Lokayata. It is known as Brhaspatya because of the ascription by tradition of the authorship of the classic work on Indian materialism namely Brhaspatisutras to Brhaspati. But as to who this Brhaspati was and whether he was at all a historical figure- controversy still persists. Scholars like Macdonell and B.M.Barua consider Brhaspati to be only a mythical founder of the system, the real historical founder according to them being Carvaka and Ajita Keshakambalin. S.K.Belvalkar and Tucci on the other hand are in favour of accepting the historical foundership of Brhaspati. The name Nastikamata is applied to Indian materialism as it does not believe in the Vedas and in the other world. As some scholars believe Carvaka the founder of Indian materialism, it is called as Carvaka darshana. Some are of the view that Carvaka was the disciple of Brhaspati. Carvaka is referred in the Mahabharatha as a rakshasa, a founder or propagator of materialism. Others feel that the name Carvaka is derived from caru- a name given to Brhaspati and identify Carvaka with Brhaspati. According to S.N.Dasgupta Lokayata was the name by which all Carvaka doctrines were generally known. Lokayata meant a system of philosophy based on Loka (this world). It did not recognize the concepts of heaven, hell or salvation. It was called Lokayata because it was prevalent among the people. According to S.Radhakrishnan Lokayata is the Sanskrit word for materialism and Indian materialists were in general called Lokayatikas.

Antiquity of Lokayata

Some scholars of the view that Indian materialism is the oldest philosophical school as all other schools in their respective systems try to refute the truths established by this school thus admitting its priority. It is also a fact that the word darshan in its primary sense means perception and the materialists maintain that the word darshana was first originated by the followers of Brhaspati. Buddhist and Jaina texts refer to a number of materialist philosophers who lived at the time of Buddha and Mahavira and even earlier. Sixty two such heterodox thinkers are mentioned and among them the most prominent were Purana Kassapa, Makkhali Gosala, Ajitakesa Kambali, Pakidha Kaccayana, Nigantha Nataputta, Sanjaya Velathi Putta, Bhaguri, Purandara, Jabali, Kambaksvadhara, etc. In Mahabharatha there are references to haitukas who did not believe in the other world. They were learned in the Vedas, in other sastras, made gifts, performed sacrifices, hated falsehood and went among people explaining their views. This shows that even in the Vedic circles there were people who did not believe in anything except what exists in this world. Buddhists sources mention that Brahmins were well versed in the Lokayata learning. This shows that there were in the Vedic circle many moral and learned people who believed in heretical view that is, disbelief in the doctrine of immortality or in a world beyond the present. The Mahabharatha also contain clear and simple elucidations of various materialistic theories such as Svabhavavada or naturalism, Yedricchavada or accidentalism and Parinamavada or evolutionism. According to B.A.Saletore, the development of Lokayata School took place after the six century B.C. and before 4th century B.C. as Kautilya in his Arthashastra (4th century B.C.) refers to them. The Sukraniti gives a long list of the science and arts that were studied and in this it counts the nastika sastra as that which is very strong in logical arguments. Medhatithi in his commentary upon Manu also refers to the tarka vidya (science of logic) of the Carvakas.

Extinction of Carvaka Texts

All our information about Indian materialistic doctrines is drawn from the brief accounts of the system and numerous references to its doctrines occurring in the works of its opponents and critics belonging to both heterodox (Jains and Buddhists) and orthodox (Samkya and Mimamsa schools), poets, philosopher thinkers, dramatists, etc. Some of the works which provide information about Indian materialism are Sarva Dharshana Sangraha of Madhavacharya, Saddarshana Samuccaya of Haribhadra Suri, Sarva Siddhantasara Samgraha attributed to Samkaracarya, Sarvadarshana Kaumudi of Madhava Sarasvati, Sarvamatasamgraha, Tattvasamgraha of Shanta Raksita, Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Padma Purana, Vishnu Purana, Manu Smrti, Kautilya’s Arthashastra, etc. Many of the above mentioned works quote with acknowledgement the sutras, karikas and shlokas pertaining to the materialistic school of thought and this shows that there once existed at least two works of the Indian materialists namely Brahspati Sutras and Lokayata Sastra. With regards to the reasons of the non-availability of the texts of Carvakas, it can be explained in two ways.

  1. When the doctrines of a system become the beliefs of the common man, one does not need to read books to get convinced of them and hence feels no need to preserve the existing ones even, not to say of writing new ones. With the passage of time (through continuous disuse and negligence) the existing works are sure to become extinct. This may be the case with regards to that works on materialism in India. For the fact that materialism enjoyed considerable popularity here is clearly borne out by the general complaint of the orthodox thinkers about the growing materialism among the masses. The impression that is given by their writing further confirms that in fighting against materialistic doctrines they were fighting against the beliefs of the common man. Not only the very name Lokayata (meaning prevalent among the people) given to the Indian materialism is indicative of its popularity but there is historical evidence also to prove its popularity among the masses.
  2. The second explanation for the extinction of the once existent works on Indian materialism is that the opponents of the system who wanted to free people from the ‘evil’ influence of the system burnt and destroyed them or it may be contended that the once popular doctrines of materialism were so much reacted against by their opponents that the intellectual climate changed and forced the materialists to burn their own works in order to escape persecution at the hands of the reactionaries.

Karnataka, epicenter of the Carvakas?

According to B.A.Saletore the Lokayatas were more common in western India especially in the region of Karnataka proper than elsewhere; that they possessed five well known centres in Karnataka from where they radiated their influence and that they were very vigorous from the tenth century A.D. to fifteenth century A.D. This statement is made based on the information provided by the inscriptions found in places like Gunderi, Beguru, Balligamve, Somanathapura and Nagarakhanda which were the strongholds of the Carvakas in Karnataka. Accordingly the Carvakas were Hindus and scholars of different creeds and even secular rulers were proficient in the doctrines of Lokayatas. For instance a record dated 1148 A.D. says that the Pandya prince of Ucchani, Vira Pandya was well versed in Lokayata doctrines. As the doctrines of Lokayata was given a place among the various philosophies and acknowledge with respect both by the Hindus and Jainas for more than five centuries in Karnataka, the pontiff of Sringeri, Madhvacharya Vidyaranya mentions the doctrines of the Lokayatas in detail in his work Sarvadarshanasamgraha.

Epistemology- Senses, the only reliable source of knowledge

According to the Carvakas theory of knowledge, the only way of realizing truth was by direct perception of evidence of sense. The idealists held that there were three sources (pramanas) of knowledge, viz., perception, inference and sabda or sacred utterance (of the Vedas). The Carvakas did not recognize sabda as a source of knowledge because they questioned the validity of the Vedas. With regards to inference, the Carvakas held that inference always depended on perception. For example smoke comes from fire. We know by perception that it is true. But an inference that wherever there is fire there is smoke or that wherever there is smoke there must be fire need not be true. According to the Carvakas inference may be correct when they are concerned with certain manifestations of nature, but they may be wrong when applied to certain other phenomena. Inferences are related sometimes to the past and sometimes to the future. In the case of the past they may be correct, but as far as the future is concerned, inferences may prove to be wrong. So inference is not always a reliable method. Those aspects of the phenomena which are incapable of being observed and explained by direct perception are of doubtful validity. That is why the Carvakas argued that the only reliable source of knowledge was perception.

Metaphysics- Denied existence of God and Soul (atma)

The Carvakas recognize perception as the only means of valued knowledge. As God cannot be perceived, the Carvakas deny the existence of God and are atheists. They also reject the law of karma and moksha or liberation. Just as God cannot be perceived, the so called atma or soul cannot be perceived and hence the Carvakas does not recognize the existence of the soul. They identify the soul with the body which is endowed with consciousness. The body according to the Carvakas is composed of four materials like the earth, water, fire and air. The sense organs and consciousness are produced by their atomic arrangements just like intoxicating liquor is produced by molasses when it undergoes fermentation. While Dhurta Carvakas hold that there is no soul apart from the body, the Sushikshita Carvakas on the other hand hold that there is a soul apart from the body as the constant knower and enjoyer of all experiences but it is destroyed along with the body at death. The Carvakas no not recognize the transmigration of soul as if it was true then the soul would remember the experiences of the past life just as a person remembers the experiences of his childhood or youth.

Severe critics of Vedas and Brahmanas

The Carvakas vehemently criticized the priests and their crafts and maintained that the Vedic mantras chanted by the priests for sacrifices had no divinity whatsoever. Some mantras did not convey any meaning, some were ambiguous and some contradictory. Some spoke of results which were never realized. Hence the Vedas were not only human compositions but worse they were composed by buffoons, knaves and demons. Vedic rituals and animal sacrifices were all meaningless. The priests say that the animals sacrificed in the yajna attain heaven. If so why did they not send their own parents to heaven by sacrificing them in the yajnas? The priests tell us that the offerings made in this world on death anniversaries of the ancestors satisfy their hunger and thirst in the other world. If so an extinguished flame in one lamp should burn when oil is poured in another. The priests tell us not to injure life but they find an exception for themselves when eating the flesh of the animal burnt in sacrifice. All these therefore are the devices of greedy Brahmins to earn wealth by cheating the common folks.

Lokayata, precursor of Tantrism?

According to Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, Lokayata was the popular and obscure beliefs and practices that are broadly referred to as Tantrism. That the Lokayatikas were opposed to the Brahmanical rituals does not necessarily mean that they were opposed to rituals as such. In the Buddhist text Saddharma Pundarika there is a mention of Lokayata-mantra-dharaka which shows that they were practicing some kind of spell. Their conflict with Brahmanism arose as they wanted to stick to their own rituals and these rituals were rooted in a set of beliefs which was in direct conflict with orthodox Brahmanism. Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya opines that original Tantrism like its more philosophical version known as Samkya was atheistic and materialistic and spiritual and other worldly ideas were subsequently superimposed on it.

Were the Carvakas hedonists?

Materialism as a philosophy doctrine definitely denies the concept of divine reward or retribution. It does not hesitate to declare that there is no pleasure obtainable beyond this world but it not synonymous with hedonism. In Greece Epicurus (342-271 B.C.) had been a victim of this libel. Epicurus and Epicureans had all along preached a doctrine of self-sufficiency and plain living. But their opponents persistently branded them as heedless hedonists. This shows the deep rooted misconception regarding the identity of materialism and hedonism. According to M.Hiriyanna, the Carvakas did not believe in any spiritual values and was content with the worldly ones of sensual pleasure and wealth. Hence they were represented as discarding morality and preaching hedonism. But no serious thinker could conceivably have inculcated such a teaching. The only thing the materialist could have meant is that there are no higher values, in the sense accepted by the generality of Indian philosophers. The Carvakas repudiated the authority of the Vedas which according to the orthodox is the source of belief in such values. According to the Carvakas different parts of the Vedas are irreconcilably at variance with one another and that it is therefore impossible to make out what it really teaches.

Gist of Carvaka’s Teachings

The overall position of the Carvakas as presented by Madhavacarya’s work may be briefly summed up as follows- The Carvakas (Lokayatikas) are the materialists explaining the origin and development of everything through a harmonious combination of four elements of earth, air, water and fire in various proportions. They are naturalists (Svabhavavadins) who reject supernaturalism with all that it implies i.e., God, soul (apart from the body), life beyond the present one (transmigration), existence of heaven and hell (except in this world in the form of natural pleasurable and painful existence), karmaphala and adrusta (fate), etc. They believe in manly strength and the efficacy of human endeavor in the attainment of happiness, even though they are realists enough to realize the difficulty in attaining unmixed happiness. They advise us to avoid as well as endure pain (by way of making efforts) in order to get happiness. Activities such as growing of crops, building of houses, cooking and the like have their hazards. We are not to be afraid of them. The life of the body torturing ascetic and the fraudulent priests duping simple folk deserves nothing but condemnation. One of the main reasons of rejecting the authorities of the Vedas by them is that the Vedas sanction sacrifices, performance of which involves killing and obscene rites. An ordered society is needed for the realization of the aim of human happiness; hence the Carvakas are the followers of Arthasastra and Niti. Of the four values; dharma, artha, kama and moksha recognized traditionally in India, the Carvakas recognize only two values kama (happiness) and artha (wealth). Dharma is a vague concept, understood generally however in the sense of religious duty. The Lokayatikas do not have any place for religion in their system and hence none for dharma as well. As regards to moksha understood generally as a state of freedom from the misery and suffering (involved in life) marked by desirelessness, the Carvakas hold that one who has got manly strength ought to strive for it, for desires together with the efforts to realize them constitute life.

Impact of Carvaka school of thought

  • The chief importance of the Carvaka system for us lies in the evidence it affords of the many sidedness of philosophical activity in India in ancient times and of the prevalence of a great deal of liberty of though as well as of freedom of expression.
  • Skepticism or agnosticism is the expression of a free mind that refuses to accept traditional wisdom without a through criticism. Philosophy as critical speculation claims to live chiefly on free though and the more it can satisfy the skeptic the sounder it can hope to be. By questioning the soundness of popular notions, the skeptic sets new problems, by the solution of which philosophy becomes richer. Carvaka saved Indian philosophy from dogmatism to a great extent. Every system of Indian thought tried to meet the Carvaka objections and made Carvaka a touchstone of its theories. The value of Carvaka philosophy therefore lies directly in supplying fresh philosophical problem and indirectly compelling other thinkers to give up dogmatism and become critical and cautious in speculation as well as in statement of view.
  • As the Lokayatikas captured the hearts of the cultured as well as the common people all become earnest in working out their immediate earthly welfare. The result of this movement was the origination and propagation of different arts and sciences. Vatsyayana mentions some 64 names of Indian fine arts which flourished in this period of Indian materialism.
  • According to S.Radhakrishnan the materialist theory had a good deal to do with the repudiation of the old religion of custom and magic. Liberal efforts at improving existing institutions sanctioned by time and embodied in the habits of people will remain ineffectual if the indifference and superstitions of centuries are not shaken up by an explosive force like the Carvaka creed, he adds. Materialism signifies the declaration of the spiritual independence of the individual and the rejection of the principle of authority. Nothing need be accepted by the individual which does not find its evidence in the movement of reason. It is a return of man’s spirit to itself and a rejection of all that is merely external and foreign. The Carvaka philosophy is a fanatical effort made to rid the age of the weight of the past that was oppressing it. The removal of dogmatism which it helped to effect was necessary to make room for the great constructive efforts of speculation.
  • The Carvaka philosophy with its bold independence of spirit was thought provoking and infused critical spirit into Indian philosophy.

References

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  2. Dakshina Ranjan Shastri- A Short History of Indian Materialism, Sensationalism and Hedonism, Book Land Private Ltd, Calcutta, 1957
  3. Damodaran- Indian Thought- A Critical Survey, 1967
  4. Surendranath Dasgupta- History of Indian Philosophy, Vol- III, Cambridge University Press, 1952
  5. Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya – Lokayata- A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism, People’s Publishing House, 1968
  6. Hiriyanna- The Essentials of Indian Philosophy, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1949
  7. Jadunath Sinha- Introduction to Indian Philosophy, Lakshmi Narain Agarwal, Agra, 1949
  8. K.Mittal- Materialism in Indian Thought, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt Ltd, Delhi, 1974
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  10. Ramakrishna Bhattacharya- Studies on the Caravaka/Lokayata, Anthem Press, London,2011
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