History is a very interesting subject, not just because it tells us a lot about our past but it also tells us a lot about the people who write history. In fact history is always changing as new findings keep revealing something new about old civilizations. Old theories are replaced by new ones all the time. This also happens because a lot of times history has been used as a tool to spread political propaganda.
Such is the case of Indian history as well. Despite being a very advance culture, the Indians were never very interested in maintaining too many historical records. The first complete history of India was written by the British. As they had ulterior motives behind writing our history a lot of facts have been distorted and misunderstood.
7. Insufficient Study of Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was one of the earliest advanced civilizations in the world. The culture and society was very sophisticated and advanced.
But till date, it has not been given the attention it deserves. We still can’t read the Harappan script and we still don’t know how this civilization came to an end. To relegate this part of our past as not that important is a mistake and it doesn’t make understanding the rest of our history any easier.
6. Prejudice towards Non-Christian Civilizations
We have to understand that the British historians who wrote our history were all Christians. The whole British Empire was spread on the notion that they were educating the rest of the world which is backward and uncultured. For them our culture was backward and they were saving us by teaching us about Christianity. This meant that British historian had a prejudice while researching our history and reading our scriptures. Things were made worse because all Oriental cultures tend to speak in metaphors in their scriptures and this was hard to understand with pre conceived notion such as that of the British.
5. Mistrust of Indian Sources
Another way our history was distorted was by the mistrust the British had for Indian sources such as Vedas and other scriptures. They instead focused on accounts of foreigners such as the Arab and Chinese travelers. Works such as Kautilya’s Arthasastra and Bana’s Harshacharita weren’t given the importance they should have gotten.
4. Dating of the Vedas
If the historians writing about Indian history themselves believe that the earth was created by God in 6 days a few thousand years ago then it is obviously going to be a problem when it comes to accurately dating the Vedas. Other religious writings such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, even if fictional, have not been dated correctly. The fact that a lot of these epics were passed down through oral traditions before being written down, means that our history is much older than assumed.
3. Aryan Vs Dravidian Theory
One false description of our history has been the Aryan Vs Dravidian theory. The British were good at dividing and ruling and this was just one way of doing this. When they saw India with all of its diversity they knew they had a great opportunity to keep the people from uniting with each other and fighting against the British. By talking about how Aryans and Dravidians were always opposed to each other and were always fighting with each other they created a rift between North and South India that perhaps lasts to this day. The fact is that Aryans and Dravidians mixed with each other quite amicably which led to the growth of both cultures.
2. Breakdown in to Hindu, Muslim and British Eras
One misrepresentation of Indian history is the breakdown into Hindu, Muslim and British eras. The history of India cannot be divided neatly into these three sections. Hinduism itself is a complicated religion as during the Vedic times there were a lot of different philosophies surviving simultaneously including atheism. Buddhism and Jainism were also a result of this tolerance of Vedic societies to different religions and ways of life. To divide the history into such religion based categories is also a way to divide and rule.
1. Aryan Invasion Myth
The biggest myth spread by the British historians is that the Aryans invaded India from Europe and conquered the weaker races of India. It was a way of psychological subjugation of Indians against the inherent superiority of the Europeans. It is now accepted that there was no invasion but a slow and long migration of Aryans who didn’t conquer anyone but rather mixed with local races to form the Vedic society.