Indian History Carnival – 35: Konark, Britain, Ayodhya

  1. In his post titled The Sun Temple of Konark Or Girish Sahane Gets it Wrong in Detail, Sandeep explains what really happened to the shrine.
  2. One wonders why the priests had to migrate with their God to Puri if say, the Sun temple at Konaraka had been ruined due to say, natural causes. As Hunter records, and Prabhat Mukherjee quotes, it was because Kalaphad had desecrated the shrine. The fact that the temple servitors as late as 1940 (when Mr. Mukherjee’s book was written) testify to that transported idol speaks volumes. As is well-known, Hindu temples or idols once desecrated are treated as mail or impure or defiled and hence unworthy of worship, a tradition that holds true even today.

  3. Fëanor writes about horse trading — of animals which walk on four legs — in 15th century India.
  4. The price of the horse multiplied crazily once it arrived in India. Ibn Battuta talks some numbers: the best bahri horse was valued at up to 4000 tanka, as compared to the middling tatari, which cost only about 100 tanka. The top-class bahris were not for war – most were kept as luxury items coveted by the rich; only the tataris were destined to be warhorses

  5. Anuraag Sanghi writes about how Indian ship building expertise helped Britain to become a prime military power.
  6. British access to India’s huge ship-building capacity, raw-material sources, technicians, shipwright, gave them a decisive edge – considering that Britain controlled Chittagaon (colonial Chittagong), Surat and Mumbai (colonial Bombay), Chennai (colonial Madras), Northern Sircars (modern Andhra Coast) – all famous Indian ship-building centres. Based on this experience, British further expanded teak sources to include Burma by the middle of 19th century. Just before steel started to take over from teak.

  7. In 1943, during the Second World War, the British War Cabinet under Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a decision which resulted in the death of three million Indians. Soutik Biswas writes on the BBC blog about this incident.
  8. Mr Churchill turned down fervent pleas to export food to India citing a shortage of ships – this when shiploads of Australian wheat, for example, would pass by India to be stored for future consumption in Europe. As imports dropped, prices shot up and hoarders made a killing. Mr Churchill also pushed a scorched earth policy – which went by the sinister name of Denial Policy – in coastal Bengal where the colonisers feared the Japanese would land. So authorities removed boats (the lifeline of the region) and the police destroyed and seized rice stocks.

  9. In an article published in The Hindu Magazine, Ramachandra Guha made some allegations against an “obscure Belgian priest” who was involved in the Ayodhya movement. The not-so-obscure Belgian priest decided to return the favor.
  10. Guha’s own school could have made that same distinction, e.g. by saying that “it is a pity that Muslims destroyed Hindu temples, but that is no reason for us now to destroy mosques”, or so. Instead, at a time when their power in academe and the media was absolute and unchallenged by any capable Hindu opposition (as demonstrated in M.M. Joshi’s textbook reforms, a horror show of incompetence), it went to their heads and they thought they could get away with denying history. They did indeed get away with their bluff, and may well continue to do so for some more time. However, the prevalent power equation will not last forever, and one day the “secularist” exercise in history denial will be seen for what it was.’

The next edition of Indian History Carnival will be up on Dec 15th. Send your nominations to varnam dot blog @gmail or to @varnam_blog

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