saffron assault on history, now in karnataka
By Subhash Gatade
23 September, 2006
Ghatam Bhindyat, Patam Chhindyat, Kuryat Rasbharohanam
Yenken Prakaren, Prasidho Purusho Bhavet
( Break Earthen Pots, Tear Clothes, Ride on a Donkey
Men try to achieve popularity by any means)
– Sanskrit couplet
Who is D. H. Shankarmurthy ?
It is a fact that till the other day the rest of the country hardly knew the name of this man. But today everybody is talking about this minister for Higher Education in the JD(S) and BJP coalition government in Karnataka.
It remains to be seen whether his aim to achieve popularity by any means has been inspired by the above mentioned Sanskrit Sholka(couplet). But looking at the fact that he has been a member of the Sangh Parivar for quite sometime, where years of attending Shakhas and listening to endless Baudhikas on the repeated theme of the ‘other’, severly impacts one’s critical faculties, it does not seem to be the case.
Definitely if it would have concerned some minor affair in the history of Karnataka then the news would have hardly reached outside. But that is not the case.Rather it would be more opportune to say that Murthy’s attempt to recast the Karnataka history books in the Sangh Parivar’s mould and especially his move to obliterate the great Tipu Sultan’s name from the pages of Kannada history that has angered a broad cross-section of people cutting across party lines.
Under the false pretext that Tipu did not give due importance to the Kannada language and rather promoted Persian language Shankaramurthy has asserted that Tipu Sultan should not be glorified. ‘Most of the history text books in the country depict Tipu Sultan, Akbar, Aurangazeb Alexander and others as patriots but the real ones are never brought to light,’ observed Murthy.For him the alleged neglect of Kannada language by Tipu Sultan is reason enough that the great warrior of all times who even sacrificed his children to end colonial rule be obliterated from Karnataka’s history.
For him it hardly matters that Tipu Sultan was a ruler who was much ahead of his times, who was apostle of Hindu-Muslim unity, who was fond of new inventions, who is called innovator of the world’s first war rocket, who felt inspired by the French Revolution and despite being a ruler called himself Citizen and even planted the tree of ‘Liberty’ in his palace.
For Murthy it is a minor matter that Tipu sensed the designs of the British and tried to forge broader unity with the domestic rulers and even tried to connect with French and the Turks and the Afghans to give a fitting reply to the hegemonic designs of the British. Perhaps the Sangh Swayamsevak which is lurking inside the minister for higher education does not want the future generations to even know that Tipu defeated the British army twice with his superior planning and better techniques and who died in the battlefield itself fighting the Britishers again with his sword in his hand. ………………….
Ofcourse the move to obliterate the name of the warrior whose martyrdom fighting the Britishers preceded the historic revolt of the 1857 by around 50 years does not appear surprising as far as the whole trajectory of the RSS is concerned. The eighty plus year old history of the ‘cultural organisation’ is replete with facts which show how they have discovered cowardice as a virtue. Thousands of pages have been written about the way they kept themselves aloof from the historic anti-colonial struggle of the Indian people under the excuse that they want to unify the Hindus. Enough has been written on the way they tried to break the wider anti-colonial unity by pitting Hindus against Muslims. Perhaps it is high time to emphasise the fact the ideologues of the Hindutva brigade were ‘pioneers’ as far as claiming that Hindus and Muslims were two nations.
The pretext of anti-Kannada bias in Tipu Sultan runs hollow when one knows that the Archeaological Department of Mysore State is in possession of over thirty letters by Tipu to the Shankaracharya of Shringeri Math. These letters are written in the Kannada characters.
It is now history how the colonials distorted our history to suit their imperial interests. One very well knows they called our uprisings as mutinies, our heroes as villains, and our freedom fighters as usurpers and terrorists. The move to obliterate Tipu’s name from the pages of Kannada history is another vindication that Sangh Parivar has taken it upon themselves the task left unfinished by the colonialists.
Subhassh Gatade can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org