I am going to make a straight-up declaration that I am not a historian, heck!- I am not even a journalist. But I do take an active interest in all things history, and I’m going to tell you something so insane that it’ll blow your mind! Like, really!
Here is the red pill moment.
Well, SIMPLE is how we seem to look at it, or are taught to look at it, but we are wrong. I started something on Instagram recently where the main intention was to squeeze the history of Mughal kings into one-minute information tablets. It required some basic reading, but nothing exceptionally scholastic- and my initial reactions were all about how we have been manipulated into believing things that are clearly not true.
Did you know that Akbar wore a Tilak and prohibited slaughter of animals twice a week? Or that Aurangzeb built more temples than he razed? Or that Babur was pretty cool with homosexuality and himself fell in love with a boy in Kabul, by his own admission?
This is the stuff we miss out when we are hell-bent on creating propaganda. Our one-dimensional view of history and tendency to fall for simple cause-effect narratives distorts our understanding to the point where we make a story about US vs THEM, and start believing in camps. But guess what, there is no black or white in history. As Nassim Taleb simply points out in his work Black Swan that ‘history is opaque’ and we cannot know what led to what.
For example, if we study history now, we will see a simple string of events that led to the Second World War. But a closer look at the documents will show you that even most Germans, Americans had no clue if the war was coming. The stock markets did not indicate any fear. Basically, ’30s people were as clueless about world politics as perhaps we are. So, if they did not think there were enough causes for a mass destructive event to occur, what makes us so sure about the history of the Second World War?
I think the answer lies in our love for weaving narratives. That’s why we think we have figured out why the world suffered the way it did whilst the reality doesn’t give two fucks about history books. Mix a lot of randomnesses mixed in with some inflammatory events- and you get a Nazi with weird sexual fetishes and lousy moustache.
So, what I’m really trying to drive at is this. When we yell “Tel Laga Lo Dabur Ka, Naam Mita Do Babur Ka”, because the guy ‘invaded’ our country, I don’t think we know the whole story. I don’t think we know that he was invited by a commander of the Indian King Ibrahim Lodi to attack and overthrow the emperor. I don’t think we know that he was really only interested in Kabul, not Delhi. I don’t think we know he actually just was on his way to CHINA.
There doesn’t seem to be too much HINDU HATRED once you actually go and read. Really, here. Get off your ass and read a bit.
When the politicians and some idiots on news take control of the historical narrative, your nose should smell what’s cooking (clue- it’s propaganda). And hey, I am not pointing fingers at one party or one media house. Whoever takes the power – controls the narrative, and then they do what party people and media people do. Creating narratives is easy, analysing is different.
You simply cannot forget that people who came before us, like Mughals or Lodis or Maharajas- ate, shat, fucked, masturbated just like all of us. So, it’s only natural that their histories will be as grey and complicated like our lives. Sure, some of them had their agendas (I don’t like Aurangzeb too much) but then so did everyone else.
Medieval times were just a Modi vs Gandhi vs Mayavati vs Shiv Sena vs Kejriwal vs whoever had an army.
Do not let the narratives of people with vested interests control your own narrative.
As Christopher Hitchens said,” Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more beauty, happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way…”.