Dr. S L Bhyrappa on Distorting Indian History

Dr. S L Bhyrappa’s path-breaking novel ಆವರಣ was released in 2007. About a year before the novel was published, Bhyrappa wrote an article titled ‘Nationalism can Never be Strengthened by Projecting Historical Lies.’ This led to a heated discussion. Bhyrappa wrote a follow-up article in response to some of his ‘secularist’ critics like Girish Karnad, who had unjustly tried to whitewash the atrocities committed by Islamic fanatics like Tughlaq and Tipu. Bhyrappa’s second article was titled ‘What would be the Fate of Truth if a Historian takes Liberties like a Fiction Author?’ This is an abridged translation of the original; it first appeared in Folks Magazine on 20 May 2012.


I am grateful to Sri Girish Karnad, Sumatheendra Nadig, Dr. Chidananda Murthy, Dr. Suryanath Kamath, Dr. S. Shettar, Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh and others who responded earnestly to my article under the title ‘Nationalism can Never be Strengthened by Projecting Historical Lies.’ To continue the discussions about Mohammed Bin Tughlaq and Tipu Sultan would be just an exercise in extracting more details. What we really need to do is to analyze the present political attitudes in teaching history. In order to do this, let me first present what I learnt of the nature of the prevailing political control through my own experience.

During the year 1969-70 the Central Government under Mrs. Indira Gandhi established a committee under the Chairmanship of G. Parthasarathy, a diplomat close to Nehru-Gandhi family. Its task was to integrate the nation through education. At that time I was a reader in Educational Philosophy at NCERT and was selected as one of the five members of the committee. In our first meeting Mr. Parthasarathy, as Chairman of the committee explained the purpose of our committee in typically diplomatic language: “It is our duty not to sow the seeds of thorns in the minds of the growing children which will grow up as barriers to national integration. Such thorns are found mostly in the history courses. Occasionally we can find them in language and social science courses also. We have to weed them out. We have to include only such thoughts that go towards inculcating the concept of national integration firmly in the minds of our children. This committee carries this great responsibility.”

The other four members were nodding respectfully. But I said, “Sir, I am unable to understand your words. Will you please explain with a few illustrations?” The Chairman responded: “Ghazni Mohammed looted the Somnath Temple, Aurangzeb built mosques by demolishing the temples in Kashi and Mathura, he collected jizya — is it possible to build a strong India under the present circumstances by conveying such useless facts? What purpose do they serve, other than generating hatred?”

“But are they not historical truths?” I persisted.

“Plenty of truths are there. Using these truths judiciously is the wise way to teach history,” he retorted. The remaining four members simply nodded their heads saying, “Yes, yes.” But I was not prepared to let him off.

“You yourself gave examples of Kashi and Mathura. Even today, lakhs of pilgrims from all corners of the country visit these places every year. They can see for themselves the huge mosques built using the walls, pillars and columns that once belonged to demolished temples. They can also see a recently built cow shed like shack in a corner, behind the mosque, that serves as their temple. All these pilgrims are distressed to witness such awful structures. They describe the plight of their temples to their relatives after they return home. Can this create national integration? You can hide such history in the school texts. But can we hide such facts when these children go on excursions and see the truth for themselves? Researchers have listed more than thirty thousand such ruined temples in India. Can we hide them all?”

Mr. Parthasarthy interrupted me and asked: “You are a professor of philosophy. Can you please tell us what is the purpose of history?”

“Nobody can define the purpose of history. We do not know how the things will shape up because of the development of science and technology in the future. Some western thinkers might call it the philosophy of history. But such thoughts are futile. Our discussion here should be — what is the purpose of teaching history? History is seeking out the truths about our past events, learning about ancient human lives by studying the inscriptions, records, literary works, relics, artifacts, etc. We should learn also not to commit the same blunders that our predecessors committed. We have to imbibe the noble qualities that they adopted; historical truths help us to learn all these things.”

“What if this search for truth hurts the feelings of the minority? Can we divide society? Can we sow the seeds of poison?” He tried to stop me with these questions.

“Sir, the categorization on the lines of majority and minority would itself be dividing the society, or at least a step towards dividing the society. This idea of ‘seeds of poison’ is prejudiced. Why should the minority think of Gazni Mohammed and Aurangzeb as their own people and heroes? Mughal kingdom was destroyed by the religious bigotry of Aurangzeb. It was at its height in Akbar’s time because his policy of tolerance led to religious and social harmony. Can’t we teach such lessons to children without offending the historical truths? Before teaching the lessons to be learnt from the history, should we not explain the historical truths? This idea of hiding true history is driven politics. This trend will not last long. Whether they are minority or majority, if the education does not impart the character to face the truth with emotional maturity, such education is meaningless and also dangerous.” I replied.

Parthasarathy agreed. He said he appreciated my scholarship and the ability to think clearly. During the lunch break he called me aside, indicated his closeness to me by placing his hand on my shoulders. He then said with a winning smile: “What you say is correct academically. You go and write an article about what you said. But when the government formulates a policy covering the whole nation, it has to consider the interests of all the people. Intellectually pure principles do not serve any purpose.”

Next day when we met, I stuck to my stand. I argued that history that is not based on truth is futile and dangerous. I did not budge even when Parthasarathy showed his irritation on his face. The morning session closed without arriving at any conclusion. Parthasarathy did not speak to me again. We met again after a fortnight. The committee had been re-structured, without me. In my place was a lecturer in history by name Arjun Dev known for his leftist leanings. The revised text books of science and social studies published by NCERT and the new lessons that were introduced in these texts were written under his guidance. These are the books which were prescribed as texts in the Congress and Communist ruled states or they guided the text-book writers in these States.

Later, I commented on this in a speech I gave at Alwas Nudisiri, in October 2005:

In the NCERT books for XI standard, the Ancient India part is written by the Marxist historian R.S. Sharma and the Medieval India part is by Satish Chandra, also a Marxist. When examined, one can observe that how members belonging to this group had a scheme to brainwash the minds of growing children. According to them Ashoka preached to respect even [stress is mine] Brahmins by advocating the quality of tolerance. He had banned the ritual of sacrificing the animals and birds. When the performance of yajnas was stopped due to this ban, Brahmins lost their share of dakshina (cash gifts) and their livelihood was affected. The Maurya empire disintegrated after Ashoka and many parts of this kingdom came under the rule of Brahmins.

How childish can one be — to claim that a highly influential religion that had spread all over India and even beyond declined because dissatisfied Brahmins were deprived of their dakshina (cash gifts)? Their other claim is that Muslims demolished temples to loot the riches and wealth accumulated in these temples. This explanation is supposed to rationalize their actions. In some other context they may even say the looting may be according to the laws of Sharia, which again paints the events as legally sanctioned.

Actually, Buddhism did not disappear from India after Ashoka. The truth was told by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, a Buddhist himself. In the section, The Decline and Fall of Buddhism (Writings and Speeches, Volume III, Government of Maharashtra, 1987, pp. 229-38) he noted that after Muslim invaders destroyed the universities of Nalanda, Vikramasheela, Jagaddala, Odanthapura, etc., followed by brutal killings of the Buddhist monks, the survivors were forced to escape to Nepal, Tibet, and other neighbouring countries to save their lives. As he wrote, “The roots of Buddhism were axed. Islam killed Buddhism by killing priestly class of Buddhism. This is the worst catastrophe suffered by Buddhism in India.”

Like the Devil quoting the scriptures, Marxists quote Ambedkar whenever it is convenient for them to denigrate Hinduism, but ignore his inconvenient words like, “The decline of Buddhism in India is due to the terrifying actions of Muslims.” R.S. Sharma the author of a textbook on Ancient India (New Delhi: NCERT, 1992. p. 112) writes, “Buddha viharas attracted Turkish invaders because of their wealth. They were the special greedy targets for the invaders. Turks killed many Buddhist monks. Despite these killings, many monks escaped to Nepal and Tibet.”

Who were these Turks? Hindus? Here the clever Marxist Sharma has hidden the fact that these ‘Turks’ were Muslims who destroyed these religious places as dictated by Sharia (Islamic Law). He tries to hide this fact by calling Muslims of Turkey with only the tribal name Turkish. At the same time they (he and others) write that Buddhism declined during Ashoka’s reign because of Brahmins who were deprived of their dakshina (monetary gifts). One should appreciate their sophistry — hiding the truth about Turks being Muslims, but creating the falsehood that Brahmins deprived of dakshina were responsible for the decline of Buddhism after Ashoka. Latin rhetoricians called such a tactic suppressio veri, suggestio falsi.

Translated by Sandeep Balakrishna from the original Kannada.

Dr. S L Bhyrappa s l bhyrappa Dr. S L Bhyrappa on Distorting Indian History s l bhyrappa

Dr. S L Bhyrappa

Arguably the foremost novelist of modern India, S L Bhyrappa began his literary journey in the 1950s with a few of his works being published for private circulation. In 1961, his first major work Dharmashree was published and ever since, he has written several masterpieces such as Aavarana, Daatu, Grhabhanga, Mandra, Nele, Parva, and Vamshavrksha.
Dr. S L Bhyrappa s l bhyrappa Dr. S L Bhyrappa on Distorting Indian History s l bhyrappa
  • s.dinni

    Waste of time and energy to comment as such things go on endlessly.

  • s.dinni

    Do any man of literature in Karnataka knows ‘all about water education’ and its urgency in today’s world?
    We live in inhuman,senseless world that has no feeling for even for drinking water, leave aside love for nature,trees, birds,livestock…etc…… Just example…..Bengaluru is dying we are doomed due to water scarcity. Still world around say it is great city. Rolling on new of words ( ultimately ashes in the mouth) to escape from from harsh facts. Repeating dead history. What have we learnt from history? As some one said ‘ when we do not learn anything from history, we are condemned to repeat. F E E L…. ( meaning love). sensitivity in all our relationships s dying , if not already dead. Let Byrappas and also so called progressives thinkers on what J,Krishnamurti has to say on life.

  • Kumar Ranganathan

    Now we know why this joker G Parthsarathy masquerades as foreign policy expert mostly on NDTV, India Today, etc. It is a shame such crooks mortgage their brain to someone else. Let us weed them out with truth and we are grateful to the author for exposing the so called saboteurs of history.

  • Internet-Hindu

    Another sophistry these leftist historians indulge in is by distinguishing between good invaders and bad invaders just like good Taliban and bad Taliban. They tell us that invaders who came to loot only were bad and those who came to loot, settle and rule us were good implying in a way that it was the fault of native population that we did not welcome these peaceful settlers and hence they were right to massacre us. To see how ridiculous this sounds, imagine a gang of thieves who come to your house, rob you and leave be called bad versus a gang of dacoits who attack your house, behead all men above 12, r@pe the women even as young as 8 years old and enslave the kids and start living in your house be called good.

  • Narasimhan Ramabhadran

    Because of such distortions by leftist historians Hindu fundamentalists go to the other extreme and make fantastic claims about Hindu achievements in medicine, science and technology. Passive support by leftists and moderate Muslims to Islamic terrorism emboldens Hindu fundamentalists to silence progressive and rationalist Hindus. History should have no ideology but exposing Truth however unpleasant it may be. Has not Christianity accepted scientific versions of creation? Islam does not

  • Rangaesh Gadasalli

    Very good BhyrappaG. You stood your ground. ParthasarathyG was Indian ambassador to Pakistan and is an expertise on Pakistan and even now he gas some soft corner for Pakistan. Whope nation wanted to be a Hindu rashta after Partition. Godse destroyed that. Nehru wanted to destroy any attempt to convert India to a Hindustan.so he hung on toe Muslims and scared them about the satanic Hindu foces. He use Marxists through JNU and other places to destroy Indian history with glorification of Muslim rule and under estimation of great Hindu empires. History books had chapters after chapters on Moghuls and nothing much on great emperors like Vijayngara, chola and Shivahi and Mouryas etc. Congress with minority votes and with 35% of vote managed to rule the nation for decades. One PM who showed guts,shastriG was sent to heavens with Russian help. Netaji and other national leades like Patel and Savarkar were demonized. Tirty hank god m that now this treachery against Bharath and Sanathan dharam is exposed, we are getting the true history of India with solid evidence. what the books did has been taken up by anti national Bolly wood which is funded by Muslim under world from middle east, that movies are getting made to tell lies about Hindu kings and Muslim fanatic kings are getting portrayed as romantic, generous, tolerant and what not. thanks to Rajiv Malhotra and others who are doing lot of research in to the assaults on Hindu religion. Nehru the man loved british womena dnd Islaimic culture did not care a damn about Hindu religion or culture. He allowed a missionary to change the namen of Naga pradesh as Nagaland and allowed all the north east to be converted to christianity time to educate the people of India about the dirty deeds of the fake gandhi, now italian dynasty who wants to continue to denigrate Hindu religion. hope more young people follow SL BhyrappaG and Rajiv MalhotraG and seek the truth, and nothing but the truth.

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  • KBR

    IMHO it is not the same G Parthasarathy that you are referring to. There was another diplomat by the same name. The confusion is quite natural.

  • sooraj thekkedath

    very good words about truth and these kind of truths should come out to public domain for discussions. thanks for Sandeep Balakrishna also.

  • Barbaric Opinion

    He is not the G Parthasarathy the writer is referring to.

  • Brig inder Jit Chopra

    Aim of history is to find the truth about our past and not to serve political agenda of the party in power.Glad we are now realising the damage done to our country by policies of Nehru and Congress.Let us hope BJP Government takes on itself to undo the damage caused by distorting our history.

  • Amit Roy

    Rascal Congress and Communists distorted Islamic terrorism so that Muslim vote bank can be captured. All the rapists, looters and murderers were praised instead.

  • JayZ

    Then why you here wasting “our” time.Move on “ABD”.

  • JayZ

    Many a Ropers propagate the good taliban view during discussions. eg:”The muslims came to India fell in love with the people and have made it their home”.

  • JayZ

    Where were you when the construction industry was in full flow? Now you wake up? FYI this isnt the forum for it.

  • gopikayx Gopalakrishna

    I thought Mr. G parthasarathy was a rational bureaucrat. I lost all respect for him after I read the article of Dr.sl bhyrappa.he also proved to be one of those rubber stamps. Such people will sell our religion.I am ashamed to call him a Hindu Brahmin that too he is Named after the great deity parthasarathy.what a shame.our country has lost all its splendour and the culture and teachings which our gurus and rishis have preserved for centuries now.people who were ruling for 50 years have repeatedly ruined our culture and image as a strong Hindu nation though we were constitutionally secular which was also amended and introduced by Indira Gandhi.

  • gopikayx Gopalakrishna

    Every one is targetting BJP for raising their voice for hindutva. Why not? what is wrong? We are so marginalised in the last 50 years that our country is heading towards a catastrophe.we all Hindus should join together enmasse to fight against the opposition parties who are creating rift and trying to subdue the sentiments of Hindus. Nobody should be spared.Hindus will be respectful to other religion that does not mean the leaders trying to erase the religion in the name of vote bank politics.

  • Awesome article! SL Bhyrappa _/_

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  • Anshoe

    We shall not only rewrite the correct history, but also create Gurukul education system again – shun every other school for the betterment of our future generations. There is no need of these useless schools which can dare to ban the spoken national language & try to fine the students. Such places should be torn down anyway – they can’t do any good to our Bharat desh except for producing mass of ‘I don’t know what am I doing’ Englishmen , ready to leave the country for some dollars !

  • Anshoe

    All fools think they could mend history & people wouldn’t realise ! We shall not only rewrite the correct history, but also create Gurukul education system again – shun every other school for the betterment of our future generations. There is no need of these useless schools which can dare to ban the spoken national language & try to fine the students. Such places should be torn down anyway – they can’t do any good to our Bharat desh except for producing mass of ‘I don’t know what am I doing’ Englishmen , ready to leave the country for some dollars !

  • Anshoe

    Liers- they used fear to serve their motives & brutality to keep damaging our cultural heritage. No more lies permitted. I think we must start by renaming everything Aurangzeb in our Bharat desh. Then raise smaraks(statues) of every known Braveheart like Bhagat Singh ji, Azad, Tilak

  • Anshoe

    No More sir. The Bharatiya common people are waking up now. United we stand to show exit to anyone who spreads hatred now

  • Anshoe

    Good thought however wrong thread ! Please state this where people are planning to stop the Industrial revolution

  • Anshoe

    Seems somewhat easy now if we know they distorted a lot of our history & hid the cruelty of shameful mughal rulers – let us consider everything told in our history as its opposite 🙂 If they say, one emperor was good, READ TYRANT … if someone Praises another emperor , CONSIDER HIM WORTHY OF being KICKED EVERYDAY

  • Rathiraj

    Excellent. Now with the direct attacks on the Hindu by slaughtering cows and abusing languages, the Congress and Communists are soon set to meet their nemesis.

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