The problem began with the British periodising Indian history into Hindu, Muslim and British and maintaining that Hindus and Muslims were always antagonistic towards each other. “This cannot be sustained historically. But now this ideology is used for mobilising political power. Basically, the mobilisation is through appealing to Hindu sentiment.”
Which raises the issue of her rebuttal of the “Golden Age” theory — another point that rankled with historians of a religious nationalist persuasion. “Golden ages all over world in various histories were a fashion among nineteenth-century historians. Most historians of present times have given up the idea. Nationalist thinking didn’t pay enough attention to the implications of the description nor was any attempt made to define it in detail. They just went on saying ‘it was a marvellous age of harmony and prosperity’. It’s like today when one hears talk about India Shining; few analyse what it means and what the implications are for the Indian citizen.”[Lunch with BS: Romila Thapar]
In this interview over a Rs. 3400 sushi platter, the Kluge Prize winner talks about Hindutva and Hindu-Muslim relationship. She also talks about her current work: to prove that Indian civilization had a sense of history.