My View on the “Indian History” that CBSE has taught me

Indus Valley civilisation, Aryan-Dravidian Theory, half a page on the Mauryan Empire, one case study on the Cholas, followed by a direct leap to the Delhi Sultanate, an extensive coverage of the “brilliant” Mughal Empire, The British rule in India, The Indian independence, abolition of “regressive Hindu norms” and finally, the formation of a “sovereign, secular, socialistic, democratic, republic” 

This would be an overview of all the areas in social science/history that every student, studying the Indian curriculum is taught. I can vouch for the fact that no student who has learnt history only from his textbooks, would be able to dive deep into any other topic but these. That is a massive problem. I affirm that there are numerous flaws in today’s education system with regard to social sciences and that it is vital for the educational board to eliminate debunked myths from the textbooks of students.

But before this, I would want the reader to understand why it is so important for a student to get the history right. If what has been done for the past five decades continues, every student done with their schooling would leave with a biased narrative that is preached by this education board. A narrative that directly conveys messages like:

– Hinduism and Sanskrit never were a part of Indian culture and they came from elsewhere.

– Indian culture with regard to art, poetry, monuments, cuisine came from Muslim empires.

-Caste system, Sati and many such regressive practices all came from Hinduism and the reformers had to “refine” the primitive religion, to form a more tolerant, liberal “Neo-Hinduism”.

 

By carrying such mindsets, students start to lose their national identity, their religious identity and begin to criticise Dharmic customs and traditions with their half-baked knowledge, standing on the grounds of zero understanding over Hindu civilisations and their advancements in various fields. Rajiv Malhotra in his book ‘Breaking India’ says, “(A civilization) gives a definite sense of who ‘we’ are, and ensures a deep psychological bond among ourselves, along with the feeling that the nation is worth defending…Breaking a civilization, therefore, is like breaking a spine of a person.”

I accuse the Indian educational board of having made serious moves towards breaking this very spine, through the downplaying of Dharmic culture & Hindu civilisations and very cunningly, propagating a disproved theory that was used as a tool to divide our nation: the Aryan Invasion theory. Therefore, I aim to expose these grey areas, that manufacture more and more misguided mindsets in the youngsters of India.

Since it is impossible for me to go through each and every distortion the textbooks hold in this one article, I have decided to conduct a case study for now. This case study is a one that dives deep into the narrative a Class 8 student is left with, thanks to his/her textbooks. Predominantly, the syllabus focuses on British rule in India and therefore, that is what will be looked at. In the near future however, I will be writing about other such distortions including those that exist in my own textbooks.

 

And so, let us analyse the first source which lies at the very beginning of the booklet ‘Caste and Reforms’

 

Flaw 1 (Pyramid)

This diagram is a typical illustration of how the Varnas are depicted to be a matter of “inferiority” and “superiority” when they originally were nothing but outlines of the duties that were meant to be fulfilled by different elements of society. You will see exactly how the education board portrays Hindu scriptures as the cause for the discrimination as you read on…

Upon making a ghastly first impression on the supposedly regressive Hindu practices, let us take a look at what this beautiful booklet (which I was taught from along with thousands of students) has to say about Christian missionaries

Flaw 2 (Christian Missionaries).jpg

Just so one knows, this is the only reference made towards missionaries in the topic. The only thing the booklet has to say is that Christian missionaries provided services towards these oppressed. However, there is no mention on the ulterior motives, especially the conversion activities that they ran in exchange for these “services”. Bias? I think so.

Any neutral reader is bound to already sense that Hindu practices are primitive and that the Christian organisations selflessly aided the oppressed ‘lower castes’. Where as, in truth, Hindu traditions were demonised and radically misinterpreted for the benefit of some people and missionaries simply capitalised on that to convert: a fact that these textbooks blatantly ignore. However, if one doesn’t get the demonisation of Vedas clear enough, here’s another rich piece of evidence:

Flaws 3 & 4 (Summary and Cartoon) (1)

Lie 1: “The caste system traces its root to Vedic times”. False! The word ‘caste’ comes from the Portugese word ‘casta’ which only dates back to 1726. Where as Vedic period goes to hundreds of thousands of years before Christ (some say millions). So the textbook only got the year wrong by a few thousand years if not more: not bad! Perhaps what they are referring to, is the Varnas which are fundamentally different from caste. While Varnas are thrusted on co-ordination rooted on ability, the caste system is deep rooted in inequality.

Lie 2: “Caste system bestows privileges, position, and power based purely on birth”. False again! Since the sentence above uses the word ‘caste’ instead of Varna (as they talk about the Vedic period), let’s assume again that they made the same mistake. Excusing that mistake, is it true that Varnas were allotted based on birth? No! To quote a Hindu scripture which disproves that- In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that Varnas are decided based on the deeds and the qualities of a person, as opposed to birth. Therefore 2 plain fallacies in the first two lines. But my favourite part of this page, lies in the joke made at the bottom (apparently all these claims were not jokes). They have the audacity to ludicrously distort and blow the truth way out of proportion and on top of that, make an unfunny, exaggerated joke on that lie! To say the very least, I expected better.

So far, it’s been the caste system only. However, the cliches only get worse. Read on, as the beloved textbook goes on to tell us about the much awaited Sati:

Sati.jpg

One more lie: “Sati- In this practice, women were forced to be burnt alive on the funeral pyre of their deceased husbands.” The reader of the textbook is given an impression that Sati was imposed on women even against their will, as a practice. Let’s understand the authenticity of the point. To do this, let’s go to a story in the Mahabharata where there is reference to Sati: When king Pandu dies, Madri (one of his wives) jumps into his funeral pyre. However, does Kunti (his other wife) do this? She doesn’t. Another obvious example lies the Ramayana: when Dasaratha (Rama’s father) dies, none of his wives commit Sati. Why? Simply because Sati was a choice that women were provided with: yes, even from “Vedic era”. Therefore, why does the board like to lie so much to the students is a question I still have not gotten an answer to.

Finally, I wish to look at one more attempt to misguide the students in this very booklet:Flaw 6 (Green box).jpg

I’m losing count of the lies that this book is making! This idea of Englishmen developing a “respectful attitude towards Indian history and culture” is nothing but farce. One of the most famous examples of such a person is Sir William Jones, who distorted Sanskrit verses in order to justify Draconian laws on Indians and even distorted the dates of Vedic civilisations to match the Christian beliefs, thus making conversions activities easier.

In conclusion dear reader, you have been very patient to read this article. Therefore, it is my duty to tell you the essence of all this reading. Most students who don’t take up social sciences after their 10th grade simply leave history forever. What they are left with, is prejudices and false opinions created by leeches in the education system, that create adults who do not have an understanding of their own culture and nation. They therefore, lose national identity and a sense of who they truly are. It is important for us to combat this fundamental flaw in the education. I myself interact with a lot of students to spread the awareness, yet that is not enough. We need more and more people to be aware of the truth, that lies in our history. I would therefore like to end on a quote by Theodore Roosevelt

“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future”

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Credits/Sources:

  • ‘Breaking India’ by Rajiv Malhotra
  • “Unit 4: Women and Reforms” by 23.4 degrees publications (Class 8)
  • “Unit 9: Caste and Reforms” by 23.4 degrees publications (Class 8)

 

I’d also like to thank Srikar, an eighth class student for helping me with the source gathering in this article.

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “My View on the “Indian History” that CBSE has taught me

  1. I remember my Grade 10 CBSE History textbook in 1989 – it inspired me at that time to love Communists and hate the “evil” Capitalists. Luckily, my patriotic atheist grandfather and my hindu spiritualist father course-corrected me, just by setting a living example without any preaching. The sheer hypocrisy of these leftists shone through. Really sad how our leftist systems have played with our cultural narratives 😦

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    1. I absolutely agree with everything there. The education board has ulterior motives for sure. But the irony is that the government and the education ministry who were meant to take action on this, are letting it slide. Maybe such a blog can help raise the awareness on these issues. You will definitely see more articles on this site, which will be similar in the aspect of exposing the education board through some case studies (like how it was an 8th standard book now). In fact, I had about thirty such pictures from those very booklets,. I only chose five for this article.which. That, on its own speaks volumes about the history taught to students.

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      1. Thank you Rohan. I think one of the ways to get our youngsters to really appreciate our culture and religion is to come out with something like Harry Potter – not a copy but children’s literature that captures the imagination of our nation’s younglings the way Harry Potter did. This series of books should cover the narratives and forces that are trying to demean our roots and how our young protagonist overcomes these. This should lead into a blockbuster film franchise too. Maybe if the books become a hit in the west, they’ll be lapped up in Bharath too. I feel that your young self knows the pulse of our youth coupled with the writing skills, and clarity of thought, you would be the right person to achieve this.

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  2. Rohan, I’m impressed by the efforts you’ve taken to do this research. It is indeed an act of self-respect assassination that our education system is engaged in. Such an education destroys our self esteem and make us feel inferior to the rest of the world. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has published the complete history of India in the early 20th century, which I believe is unadulterated by jingoism and appeasement politics. It has more than 30 volumes. A must read for anyone who wants to know what real India was.
    The task of trying to show the truth to a billion countrymen is indeed daunting. However even oceans were made from little drops of water. The power of geometric progression cannot be under estimated. Let us start a movement of educating those who are willing to listen. We will soon be able to witness a revolution. Your blog is a nice way to reach others. Please use this forum to highlight the falsehoods and demolish them with well researched counterpoints, just like what you’ve done with the 8th standard school book.
    A couple of points on this specific work:
    1. Some of the counter arguments you’ve provided could be more meatier. Ask yourself if the points Put forth will stand up against a stronger argument.
    2. Rajiv Malhotra has enough detractors. There are many who don’t agree with him. I do, but let us realize there are counterpoints to his ideas. Do we need to spend time trying to understand what these are? Would they change our opinion on what you’ve concluded in this blog? What therefore is the correct version of truth? More importantly whose version?

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    1. Thanks for the ideas! As you rightly said, I must and definitely will use this forum to highlight the falsehoods and misconceptions that have been around for far too long. Also, I will look into the books by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan sometime soon. About your first point on the specific works, I certainly agree with the fact that I could have elaborated far more on some arguments, especially those that distinguish the Varnashrama Dharma and the Caste system. However, I was not aware of my exact audience i.e if they were comfortable with detailed, research based articles or if they liked more relaxed topics. I am now aware of the fact that people are willing to read such articles. Therefore, I promise to make the Part 2 of this article (which will come at some point) as in depth as I can. On your second point, I do concede that Rajiv Malhotra has faced people who oppose him. However, I quoted his works on a very specific idea on civilisations. Even the likes of Sheldon Pollock or Wendy Doniger (who fundamentally dispute Rajiv Malhotra) will agree with that part of his book, when he says that civilisations are vital for a society’s future. If they didn’t agree with the importance of getting history and civilisations right, their whole life’s work would be a waste as they too are based on civilisational analysis.

      Besides all this though, I sincerely appreciate your feedback and I assure you that your opinions will be taken into account while I write in the future as well.

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