India United Since Antiquity (Part 4 of 4)
8 May 2019 | 6 minute read
We may next look at the claim first made by the British, later faithfully repeated by the Leftist (and ‘Secular’) intellectuals, that the British unified India. This is completely false. The British might have brought marginal benefits to India, but unity was not one of them. The unity of India, rooted in her ancient culture, is of untold antiquity. It may have been divided at various times into smaller kingdoms, but the goal was always to be united under a ‘Chakravartin’ (Universal Ruler) or a ‘Samrat’. This unity was cultural though not always political. This cultural unity was seriously damaged during the medieval period, when India was engaged in a struggle for survival – like what is happening in Kashmir today. Going back thousands of years, India had been united under a single ruler many times. The earliest recorded emperor of India is Bharata, the son of Shakuntala and Dushyanta, but there were several others. Here are a few examples from the Aitareya Brahmana.
“With this great anointing of Indra, Dirghatamas Mamateya anointed Bharata Daushanti. Therefore, Bharata Daushanti went round the earth completely, conquering on every side and offered the horse in sacrifice.”
“With this great anointing of Indra, Tura Kavasheya anointed Janamejaya Parikshita. Therefore Janamejaya Parikshita went round the earth completely, conquering on every side and offered the horse in sacrifice.”
This Janamejaya Parikshita is not the same as Arjuna’s great-grandson who performed the snake sacrifice and in whose court Vaishampayana first recited the Mahabharata, but a much earlier king. There are similar statements about Sudasa Paijavana anointed by Vasistha, Anga anointed by Udamaya Atreya, Durmukha Pancala anointed by Brihadukta and Atyarati Janampati anointed by Vasistha Satyahavya. Atyarati, though not born a king, became an emperor and went on conquer even the Uttara Kuru or the modern Sinkiang and Turkestan that lie north of Kashmir.
There are others also mentioned in the Shathapatha Brahmana and also the Mahabharata. This shows that the idea of political unity of India is ancient, and occasionally achieved. Other great empires like the Maurya (the largest in Indian history), Gupta, Chalukya, Vijayanagara ruled over substantial empires. But even while ruling over only parts of India, cultural unity was recognized by all. Even in the 13th century, when much of North India was under the rule of Firuz Shah Tughlak, Acharya Madhva and a few of his disciples met the Sultan and explained their interest in traveling to Badri and Kedarnath. They were allowed to go unmolested.
The British were only the last imperial rulers. Also, the British did not rule over a unified India. They had treaties with the rulers of hereditary kingdoms like Mysore, Kashmir, Hyderabad and others that were more or less independent, with the British Empire as “paramount” power in India. The person who united all these was Sardar Patel, not the British. So the Sardar should be placed alongside the other great political unifiers of India. But this unification was possible only because India is culturally one. The N-W part of India, now Pakistan, with no such identity or cultural unity, in spite of a single religion, is in endless turmoil and falling apart.
So India is one— genetically, linguistically, culturally. It is politics that has both divided and united it geographically. But politics of the moment cannot change more permanent factors that make India a nation. So let us not believe false theories and propaganda about Aryan-Dravidian divides and the like put out by self-serving propagandists and politicians pretending to be scholars.
Conclusion: Indology collapses in the West
Indology is a discipline created by administrators (like Jones) and missionaries (like Bishop Caldwell) to meet their colonial and missionary interests. People of India have long been made to believe that Indology (and Sanskrit) departments in Europe and America are thriving and setting the lead which Indians would be wise to follow. This is far from true. Indology centers as far apart as Cambridge (UK), Berlin, Louvain and others are being closed down. This is simply a reflection of the fact that both the field and its practitioners filled a need during the colonial era but are now irrelevant in this age of postcolonial globalization. There were none like them before European colonization and there will be none in the foreseeable future. The long twilight of colonialism has ended and darkness is descending on their world. That is the reality today.
This becomes apparent when we look at what is happening to programs in the West. Harvard, where Michael Witzel had made it one of the last bastions of the Aryan invasion version of history can serve as an illustration. Witzel’s department of Sanskrit and India Studies no longer exists. It has been split and parts merged into the South Asia Center and the Harvard Divinity School as part of comparative religion. Witzel himself has stated that his Sanskrit program had only three students. (Cambridge University in England had none.)
Recognizing this, the Harvard South Asia Center emphasizes topics of contemporary interest like international business, Hindu-Muslim relations, socio-economic development and the like. It is no accident that the Center happens to be headed by Tarun Khanna of the Harvard Business School, and not any antiquarian scholar. The future, one can only speculate will see a further separation of India studies into religious studies and current affairs like political science, business and other fields of contemporary interest.
This means ancient India as being still taught in many Indian schools and colleges is on the way to the dustbin of history in the lands of the people who created them. Only some Indians are holding on to this scientifically discredited version out of what Sri Aurobindo long ago called the Indians’ “excessive deference for Western opinion.” Even that ‘Western opinion’ is a thing of the past that has been discarded by students of India in the West today. It is time that Indian educators recognize this reality and get rid of this colonial baggage that is poisoning the minds of Indian youth.
Danino, Michel (2005-06), Puratattva, Bulletin of the Indian Archaeological Society, New Delhi, No. 36, 2005-06, pp. 146-154.)
Frawley, David and Navaratna Rajaram (2008) Hidden Horizons: 10,000 years of Indian Culture. Swaminarayan, BAPS.
Kapur, Kamlesh (2010) History of Ancient India: Portraits of a Nation, Sterling Publishers.
Rajaram, Navaratna and David Frawley (2013, to appear) Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization, Fourth revised and expanded edition.
Rajaram, N.S. (2006) Sarasvati River and the Vedic Civilization. Aditya Prakashan.
Sanyal, Sanjay (2012) Land of the Seven Rivers, Penguin-Viking.
“Genetics and the Aryan Debate in Puratattva, Bulletin of the Indian Archaeological Society, New Delhi, No. 36, 2005-06, pp. 146-154.)
Dr. N.S. Rajaram is a mathematical physicist interested in the history and philosophy of science. He is the author of several books on history. The fourth edition is book Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization with David Frawley was published in 2014. It explains the topics in the article in greater detail, especially in the supplements.