By Atishi Marlena

Teaching history is a challenging task, especially at the school level, as telling the children about ‘what happened in the past’ is an exercise full of problems. The ability of textbooks to change the perceptions of their readers, by virtue of both their inclusions and silences, is tremendous. In countries where schools have centrally designed curricula and textbooks, these are often used to construct a nationalist narrative: one that justifies the creation of the nation and a belief in its historical inevitability. This pedagogical approach to the social studies curriculum is anathema to the process of inquiry and deduction. In the post-colonial context in India, the construction of a national identity has been of great importance. The overarching narrative constructed from 1947, and during the years of Congress-dominated politics, was one of pride in India’s multicultural, multiethnic and multi-religious heritage, of ‘unity in diversity’. The development of this identity in the post-Partition era, one where the country had witnessed brutal communal violence, was an arduous task. Constructing the history of harmonious coexistence and cultural synthesis of ‘religious communities’ assumed great importance. The textbooks attempted to construct a narrative that portrayed India’s ‘secular nationalism’ as a culmination of centuries of harmonious co-existence and cultural synthesis of and by these religious groups. These books had some serious pedagogical problems as they chose to present their subject matter as the ‘grand historical march’ to the nation that is India.

It is precisely this style of a nationalist historical narrative, first put forth under the aegis of Nehruvian socialism, that has now been appropriated by the RSS, to put forth their ideas of Hindu cultural nationalism. An understanding of the current controversy regarding history textbooks requires an analysis of the core of RSS ideology. The two thinkers whose ideas have largely formulated the ideology of the RSS are V. D. Savarkar and M. S. Golwalkar. Savarkar and Hindutva-based nationalism need to be understood if one wants to understand the ideology that seems to hold together the new syllabus, as also the portions that were censored from the older books. This would also help us understand the seeming contradiction between the support for the sentiments of one minority and the constant portrayal of the brutal nature of another. Savarkar’s work is representative of the mechanics of the process of building a Hindu identity.1 His main argument is that the Aryans who settled in India at the dawn of history already formed a new nation embodied in the Hindus. Their Hindutva rested on three pillars: geographical unity, racial features and a common culture.2 Essentially Savarkar’s Hindutva was conceived of as an ethnic community possessing a territory, sharing the same racial and cultural characteristics. The emphasis placed on the racial criterion minimises the importance of internal divisions within Hindu society by assuming the existence of an invisible, but potent binding factor. However, this reasoning does not lead to an absolute rejection of the ‘Other’, something that is present in the works of other Hindutva ideologues. In fact one sees an attempt to reintegrate converts into the fold of Hinduism. There is a significant attempt at the ideology of inclusivism, to incorporate within the Hindu fold all possible streams. The ‘common culture’, as defined by Savarkar, rests on the crucial importance of rituals, social rules and language in Hinduism. Christians and Muslims were not a part of the nation because of their difference in cultural differences. He wrote that ‘Mohammedan or Christian communities possess all the essential qualifications of Hindutva but one and that is that they do not look upon India as their holyland…their [holyland] is far off in Arabia and Palestine. Their mythology and Godmen, ideas and heroes are not the children of this soil. Consequently, their names smack of foreign origin. Their love is divided.’3 Consequently, other religious communities (like Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism) fulfilled the criterion of Hindutva (as their ‘holyland’ and their ‘motherland’ were the same) and could be subsumed within it. It is this significant difference between these religious communities that defines the way in which the RSS perceives them. From its very inception in 1925, the RSS acted within the logic of the strategy of stigmatisation of the ‘Other’, as represented by the Muslims and Christians who were seen as ‘foreigners’ in the territory of India.

Golwalkar’s book We, Our Nationhood Defined, published in 1929, defined RSS ideology in a far more complete manner than Savarkar’s Hindutva. It reveals the strategy of stigmatisation and emulation of ‘threatening Others’ at work. A reading of this work, more than anything else, can provide an invaluable insight to understanding the ideological baggage behind the new history syllabi. In contrast to Savarkar, Golwalkar claims that ‘Hindus came into this land from nowhere, but are indigenous children of the soil always, from time immemorial.’4 The ‘nationalist ethic’ reasoning was applied to the Muslim minority, since he thought that it posed a threat not only because it enjoyed backing from a whole series of Islamic states but also because it was a ‘foreign’ body lodged into Hindu society, which it thus undermined. Religious minorities were required by Golwalkar to owe allegiance to Hindu symbols of identity because these were the embodiment of the Indian nation. RSS leaders like Golwalkar used the word ‘Hindu’ less often than rashtriya(‘national’) or Bharatiya. The concept implies assimilation of religious minorities in the Bharatiya nation through a removal of the external signs by which their adherence to a particular religious community is designated. And religious minorities like the Sikhs and the Jains were seen as easily incorporated into the ‘national’ fold since they were all members of indigenous faiths, unlike the Muslims and the Christians.

So what implications does this have for our study of the NCERT history textbooks? It essentially provides us a key to understanding the seemingly contradictory stands of the RSS-influenced writers towards different religious groups. It explains why the medieval period is shown as one of confrontation between the Hindus and the Muslims. A sweeping statement at the beginning of the new Medieval India textbook incorporates both Buddhism and Jainism within the fold of Hinduism, in the medieval period:

This was also a period of interaction between Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. Buddhism and Jainism were for all practical purposes absorbed into Hinduism and virtually ceased to lead an independent existence in the country.5

This broad inclusivism goes towards creating the image of Islam as the ‘Other’, seen in juxtaposition with the broad ‘Hindu’ identity given to religions in existence in the Indian subcontinent prior to the Turkish invasions. The study of the works of RSS ideologues brings us closer to an understanding of the particular nature of nationalism that the new books wish to construct. The demographic composition of India, which reflects the coming together of various ethnic, racial and linguistic groups over two millenia, raises the question of who is the ‘outsider’ in Indian society. Most communities in India have a mixed ancestry and it is now almost impossible to identify their roots. This plurality is also reflected in the number of languages in use. Indian society is essentially a social and cultural amalgam with many of its constituent elements losing their pristine identity. The Hindu communal view of history strives to negate this historical process by making a distinction between the original inhabitants of the land and those who settled later. It is this stress on the indigenous origins of the Hindus (juxtaposed to the ‘foreign-ness’ of the Muslims and the Christians) that makes historical debate regarding the ‘Aryan invasion’ so central to the RSS ideology. For if historical analysis regards the Aryans as having migrated to the subcontinent from the Eurasian plains, then even the Hindutva of the Hindus becomes suspect. Hence, due to this notion, it becomes extremely important in the scheme of Hindutva-inspired history to prove that the Aryans were indigenous to the subcontinent. If the Aryans had migrated to India, then the assumption that the non-Hindu is the only outsider becomes untenable and the historical rationale for the Hindu nation becomes suspect. It is to overcome this paradox that there is a constant attempt to make linkages between the Harappan civilisation and the Vedic culture that succeeded it. The new textbook that deals with ancient Indian history tells us, ‘…a close consideration of the evidence of the Rigveda will lead to the conclusion that references it contains about people and their civilization may be taken to refer to the Harappan civilisation.’6

The view of Aryan migration to the Indian subcontinent has been criticised on the grounds that it represents a ‘biased colonial view’ and is a ‘myth…[that was] constructed to alienate Indians from their own roots.’7 While the absence of an ‘Aryan invasion’ is a generally accepted academic position,8 to argue for their indigenous origin would require a distortion of facts, and a backdating of the Vedas. The following paragraph appears in the new textbook to suggest the antiquity of the Vedas:

Bal Gangadhar Tilak, on astronomical grounds, dated Rigveda to 6000 BC. According to Harmon Jacobi Vedic civilisation flourished between 4500 BC and 2500 BC and some of the Samhitas were composed in the latter half of the period…G.C. Pande also favours a date of 3000 BC or even earlier.9

What, if anything, does this tell us about the logic of dating texts? The student will have half a dozen names to remember but little insight into a serious historical problem. However, the emphasis of the books is clear: that the religious texts of the Hindu community were composed long before 1500BC, the date stated by the earlier textbooks. What is interesting about this alleged antiquity of the Vedas is that this chronology pushes back the ‘Vedic Age’ into the timeframe of the Bronze Age Harappan civilisation. This linkage is further discussed towards the latter part of the chapter on the Vedic period, when a space of four pages is devoted to discussing the similarity and continuity between the Harappan and Vedic cultures,10 a hypotheses based on extremely little research or evidence.11

There are two deletions, from the Grade XI book by R.S. Sharma and the Grade VI book by Romila Thapar, regarding the practice of beef eating in the Vedic times. The reason cited for this deletion is that ‘historians, indologists, archaeologists and sanskritists’ have different views on this issue.12 All of them hold that ‘the cow was regarded [as] sacred and held a place of pride in Rig Vedic society.’13 It is further stated that there is almost-definitive proof against the notion of beef eating in the Vedic period. It is cited that in the Rigvedathere are twenty-one references where the cow has been termed as aghnya(‘not to be killed’).

When the matter was being argued in the Supreme Court, not only did the NCERT bring forth the evidence from ancient texts regarding the impossibility of beef consumption, they also put forward a significant pedagogical criticism of the books under scrutiny. In their petition it is stated that ‘subjects of academic historical debate’ cannot be presented as final facts of history, as was being done in the case of these books. As was expected the new textbooks had a completely different stand on the consumption of beef; however, they chose to continue the style of the finality of their narrative. Nowhere in the new textbooks do we find it mentioned that the possibility that the Vedic Aryans slaughtered or ate cows was ever an issue of historical controversy. In the section on ‘Food and Drinks’ in the chapter on ‘Vedic Civilisation’, the new textbook simply states that ‘the cow was already deemed aghnya ‘not to be killed …(and there was) a penalty of death or expulsion from the kingdom to those who kill or injure cows.’14

So how should we assess the evidence for the presence or absence of cow slaughter for rituals and the consumption of beef? Is it merely a fragment of information manufactured by the ‘anti-national Marxists’ who were trying to provoke communal disharmony?

There is both literary and archaeological evidence that attests to the slaughter as well as consumption of cows. In both the Bhagavata Purana15 and the Ramayana,16 there is a discussion of go-vadha (‘cow slaughter’), which is seen as one of the symptoms of Kaliyuga. Throughout the Vedic period the cow was venerated and regarded as a divinity, yet throughout the period the cow was killed on several occasions and particularly in Sraddhasfor a distinguished guest in the Madhuparka, and in the Astilka Sraddha.17 Moreover, archaeological evidence affirms the literary references vis-à-vis the slaughter of cows.18

There is a gross misrepresentation of the deleted sections in the NCERT counter-petition to the Supreme Court. The deleted portions refer to two different sections of the textbooks and in neither of these two places do they say that the Brahmins were getting hundreds of cows from the Vaishyasand the Sudras to eat as beef, as the NCERT had accused them of doing.19 In fact, the sections on beef eating do not even mention Brahmanas. The reference is to ‘people eating beef’,20 without mentioning any caste or community in this context. What is obvious from these deletions, and the new textbooks, is that the NCERT would like to project a picture of ancient India where all people (at all times) did not eat beef, despite evidence to the contrary. Instead of pluralism and diversity, the children reading the books will learn of a single, monolithic cultural tradition and dietary practice throughout history. The mythification of the Vedic past is also essential to make it conform to the beliefs of the more modern-day Hinduism. There is a denial of the evolution of the Hindu belief system, as this would undermine its legitimacy as the vanguard of Indian nationalism.

One of the deletions made in November 2001 concerns Vardhaman Mahavira and Jainism.21 It is claimed by the NCERT, in their petition to the Supreme Court, that they were ‘flooded with representations’ against the said treatment of Jainism and its tirthankaras, which were found ‘historically untrue’.22 It is interesting to note that in the same case the Digamber Jain Mahasamiti (self-proclaimed leaders of the Jain community) made a legal intervention. This intervention was filed in the Supreme Court to defend the deletion made by the NCERT in the Class XI textbook, regarding the historicity (or the lack of it) of the twenty-three Jain Tirthankaras who preceded the founder of the faith, Mahavira. In their petition they claim that the R.S. Sharma authored textbook does not reflect ‘the correct version about Jainism.’23 What is fascinating is the fact that the paragraphs whose deletion was demanded are reasonably innocuous, and do discuss the Jain belief in the Tirthankaras. What is present in the tone of the book is a certain scepticism as regards the historical accuracy of the religious tradition. The deletions were made simply on the grounds that the fact of the historicity of the Tirthankaras was denied and this was a ‘wrong perspective of the Jain religion’ and hence hurt the sentiments of the concerned religious community. The new textbooks claimed to keep in mind the sentiments of the Jain community, have presented the rise of Jainism in an extremely ahistorical manner, and in terms virtually identical to those put forth in the legal intervention by the Digamber Jain Mahasamiti. In fact, the birth of Jainism (as also of Buddhism) is completely decontextualised from its milieu. This can be seen on the cover page of the chapter on the ‘Evolution of Jainism and Buddhism’24, which tells us that it was ‘the brooding over the ills and sorrows of life, a passionate desire to remove them by finding out new modes of salvation became the concern of the learned.’25 While the chapter opens with a mention of the 6th century BC, the two religions are displaced from their historical milieu. In fact, Jainism is given an extremely long genealogy in an attempt to appease the sentiments of the community, at the cost of historical analysis. The historicity of the twenty-four Tirthankaras is assumed. The origin of the Jain faith is hypothesised as lying in Harappan times (and hence contemporaneous with the composition of the Vedas, according to the new chronology) as it is suggested that ‘the nude torso found at Harappa belongs to some Tirthankara’.26 Mahavira is therefore not taken to be the founder of the religion, but one in the line of many religious leaders. The only distinction seems to be that he is the one about whom we incidentally possess more evidence! Further associations are made with Vedic texts as it is brought to our notice that the names of two Tirthankaras, Rishabhanatha and Aristhanemia, find a mention in the Rigveda.27

As we have seen, Jain tradition regards Mahavira as the last in a series of religious leaders. The creation of a genealogy can be seen as arising out of a need for legitimacy. Jainism was a new faith that was seeking to establish itself against the dominant Brahmanical order, and hence their association with various religious leaders would have been a means of gaining social sanction. While it is important to understand and study the tradition of the Tirthankaras as a means to understand the rise and growth of Jainism, one should study it as a tradition, rather than fact. The study of religious texts and mythologies are an invaluable source for the historian; however, they need to be critically analysed and contextualised, rather than taken at their face value, like all other literary or archaeological sources. The new textbooks seem to be blurring the distinction between ‘myth’ and history. While the former is a significant testimony about the latter, their distinction needs to be constantly underscored for students of history.

The sections that deal with Jainism and Buddhism in the new textbooks are of interest to anyone who wishes to understand the ideology behind these textbooks. Though these religions are distinct from Hinduism, there is a conscious attempt to underline their linkages with the same. Far from illuminating their opposition to brahmanical dominance and Vedic rituals, there is an extended discussion on how they drew inspiration from pre-existing Hindu traditions. Both these heterodox sects are portrayed as being a part of the Hindu domain. Their ideas are juxtaposed against the Vedic beliefs, not to bring out their contrasts or antagonisms with the same, but to establish a relationship whereby these emerge as a subset of Vedic ideas. The following paragraph reflects the overall tenor of the discussion on Buddhism and Jainism:

Both [Jainism and Buddhism] are organised as ascetic orders and brotherhoods. Asceticism in fact, has its origins in Vedic thought and has been directly encouraged by the Upanishads. The Aranyakasare the products of the hermitages of the forests while the Upanishads recommend retirement to forests as essential to those who seek the highest knowledge. Both Jainism and Buddhism can be seen and understood in this light.28

The attempt to appropriate these two religious communities to the Hindu domain comes across in a fairly unsubtle manner. While a great amount of space is devoted to discussing the philosophies of the two faiths, there is no mention of their objection to the dominance of Vedic ritual and the associated ostentation and elitism of religion. This is dealt with in a single stroke by saying that the ‘old ritualistic Vedic tradition had ceased to be a strong force.’29 The focus is clearly on religious philosophy and not on the socio-economic context of these religions. The fact that the 6th century BC was a period of such philosophical ferment is explained by the single factor of Upanishad influence.

The origin of Jainism and its portrayal in the previous textbooks had been the subject of much dispute. The Human Resources Development Ministry and the NCERT censored the books since the section under discussion was regarded as ‘hurting the sentiments’ of the Jain community. So is the politics of the new book merely an attempt to appease religious leaders? A ‘yes’ would be a simplistic and unsatisfactory answer. The attempt is not just one that depicts Jainism and Buddhism in a manner that conciliates religious sentiments, but one that draws linkages between these philosophies and ‘Hindu’ texts. The effort is to incorporate these heterodox sects into the fold of Hindu-ness. The attempt does work. A reader new to the subject would regard the rise of these religions as inspired by Vedic philosophy and it would require a vivid imagination even to conceive that there might have been any form of antagonism between Vedic ideas and those that germinated in the 6th century BC.

The ‘respect for religious sentiments’ is extended to one more religious community: the Sikhs. In 1998, a law case was filed against NCERT by members of the Sikh community offended by the textbook narratives describing the death of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru, who was arrested, imprisoned, and beheaded by the orders of Aurangzeb. While this law suit is still pending in the Punjab High Court and the Minorities Commission, certain representatives of the Sikh community intervened in the Supreme Court case under discussion, on behalf of the NCERT, supporting their decision to delete certain paragraphs from the Grade XI history textbook. It was felt that the Class XI textbook was misrepresenting Guru Tegh Bahadur. The remarks against the Guru are seen as ‘objectionable, insulting and against the established historical facts.’ The self-proclaimed leaders of the Sikh community stated that the retention of the objectionable remarks in the school history textbook would have violated the principles of secularism and fraternity, as contained in the Preamble and Articles 25 and 29 of the Constitution of India. While their intervention in the Supreme Court states several times that the paragraph is a distortion of history, it gives no evidence to support this. The dominant argument supporting the deletion seems to be that the passage should not remain in the textbook, since it ‘hurts the feelings of the Sikhs’.30

The Sikhs essentially seem to be protesting against the fact that the textbook’s version of the events is not identical with that of the Sikh tradition, because the book actually mentions the historical problem of varying evidence from primary sources. The following is a short extract from the deleted portion:

There was no conflict between the Guru and Aurangzeb till 1675… when Guru Tegh Bahadur was arrested with five of his followers, brought to Delhi and executed. According to the official explanation, the Guru had joined hands with one Hafiz Adam…resorted to plunder and rapine, laying waste the whole of the province of Punjab. According to Sikh tradition, the execution was done, by the intrigues of some members of his family who disputed his succession, and others who had joined them. But we are also told that Aurangzeb was annoyed because the Guru had converted a few Muslims to Sikhism and raised a protest against religious persecution in Kashmir by the local governor… It is not easy to sift the truths from these conflicting accounts. For Aurangzeb, the execution of the Guru was only a law and order question, for the Sikhs the Guru gave up his life in defence of his cherished principles.31

In fact, far from being biased against the Sikh community, the textbook presents a fairly balanced account of the available sources and opinions. In a manner similar to that of the historicity of the Jain tirthankaras, the books are recognising the existence of a religious tradition, but not looking upon it as the only historical source. The ‘balanced’ nature of this account is underlined when seen in juxtaposition with the narrative put forward by the RSS in defence of the deletion from the book:

Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, has also been unnecessarily denigrated. Although it is a fact that he was beheaded by Aurangzeb in Chandni Chowk at Delhi for his attempts to save the Hindu society from being forcibly converted to Islam, and for this act he has been glorified by the Sikhs and Hindus alike. But he has been projected by these Marxists as an anti-social element, who became the victim of family feuds. For these worthy historians his sacrifice has no meaning at all.32

The conflict of Guru Tegh Bahadur was not a purely religious conflict though in Sikh tradition it would be seen in that fashion. Does this mean that textbooks for school children have to see it exactly that fashion? Does its presentation in the aforementioned fashion in the RSS journal arise from the need to respect Sikh tradition or is there a possible wider agenda since the portrayal is of unnecessary oppression by Aurangzeb, an Islamic ruler? This is an issue that shall be examined at greater length while looking at the picture that is created of the Muslim community and its leaders and rulers in the Medieval India textbook of the new curriculum.

Though it is not really possible to internalise what someone of another religious persuasion may feel if they perceive a subtle bias against their community in a textbook, we need to understand that sentiments of ‘hurt’ and ‘resentment’ are subjective and vary from individual to individual. However, the cognitive content of feelings of ‘hurt’ and ‘resentment’ must be assessed by procedures of sound and valid arguments and broadly acceptable standards among historians, by which good interpretations of available historical evidence can be distinguished from bad. What is included in or jettisoned from history textbooks must be decided by or be consistent with the judgements of professional historians and not by the diktat of the NCERT. If the moral legitimacy of sentiments depends (as far as is reasonably possible) on the best available interpretation of evidence, the validity of arguments and the plausibility of historical accounts, then the judgement of historians is relevant to whether or not feelings of hurt and resentment are justified. Can one remove portions of historical analysis (even if they are true) if they offend the self-esteem of a certain religious community? Is critical analysis of the history and practices of different religions disrespectful to the communities that practice that faith? Clearly not; respect for a religion and the community of its believers is consistent with criticism and analysis of the same. What criticism is inconsistent with is unquestioning subordination and submission to tradition. The secular fabric of the textbooks could be questioned if the entire way of life of any religious community was condemned. As our survey has shown, the portions that were selected for deletion do not condemn the way of life of any community and, hence, do not show disrespect to any community, or violate the principles of fraternity and secularism. What they do is to discourage an unquestioningly deferential attitude towards present-day religious beliefs – and this objective is as admirable (and necessary in a multicultural society like India) as the desire to remove ‘irrational prejudices and bigotry, parochialism and communalism’.

The rhetoric of ‘communal harmony’ that the NCERT had been putting forth for several years (while it presented the Nehruvian vision of India), was appropriated by the very ideological opponents of this view. The RSS started criticising these books on the very grounds that they ‘hurt the sentiments of religious communities’.33 The deletions that were ordered from these books in November 2001 were to ‘conciliate religious groups’ that the older NCERT establishment had ‘sought to provoke’.34 It was stated repeatedly that the sentiments of Hindus, Jains and Sikhs had been hurt by the nature of the portrayal of their religious beliefs in the NCERT history textbooks. The new textbooks that were released in October 2002 were supposed to be written in manner that conciliated religious communities. However, a study of these books forces a realisation that the attempt at appeasing religious communities was mere rhetoric since the portrayal of Islam is extremely biased. The constant emphasis on the violence, brutality and religious intolerance of Muslim rulers clearly has a much wider communal agenda.

It is the politics of Hindutva that these books represent. In these books we see a reinterpretation of the past and an attempt to create a new social consciousness. The soul of this process of historical re-appropriation is not a distortion of facts but a religious interpretation of the past, which establishes the Hindu’s right to the nation. Reminiscent of the colonial view of the past, the history taught in these new textbooks depicts Indian history (especially that of the medieval times) as a record of continuous strife between religious communities. In this interpretation all communities other than Hindus (especially Muslims) are identified as foreigners and enemies of the nation. What is implied therefore is that the Hindus alone have a right to the nation. The communities not regarded as foreigners are incorporated within the fold of Hinduism. It is this very attempt at incorporation that is masked by an attempt to appease their religious sentiments. The portions that were deleted have been replaced by ones that tally with religious traditions. However, they are also accompanied by subtle attempts to show their links and inspiration from Hinduism and its beliefs. Both Jainism and Buddhism are seen as arising out of Vedic beliefs rather than in opposition to them. The portrayal of religious communities – far from promoting social harmony, as their rhetoric might claim – successfully creates the image of an antagonistic relationship between the Muslim and the Hindu community. This Hindu community incorporates within it all the faiths that have their ‘holy lands’ within India, and sets them up in opposition to the Muslims, who are the brutal outsiders. The politics of the history textbooks in India today promote communal strife by creating a historical consciousness that gives a place of pride to religion and puts forward a narrative that traces back community identities and antagonisms and hence, legitimises their existence.

Endnotes:

1 V.D. Savarkar, Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? (Nagpur, 1923). This book is a basic text for nationalist ‘Hinduness’ (the generally accepted translation of Hindutva).

2 Ibid., p. 94

3 Ibid., p. 113

4 M. S. Golwalkar, We, our Nationhood Defined (Nagpur, 1939), p. 23

5 Meenakshi Jain et. al., Medieval India: A Textbook for Class XI (NCERT, 2002), p. 3

6 Makkhan Lal, Ancient India: Textbook for Class XI (NCERT, 2002), p. 89

Organiser, Vol. LIII: No.22 (December 16, 2001), p. 4-5

8 George F. Dale, ‘The Mythical Massacre at Mohenjodaro’ in G. Possehl (ed.), Ancient Cities of the Indus (New Delhi, 1979), pp. 44-53

9 Lal, Ancient India, p. 84

10 Ibid., pp. 89-92

11 S.P. Gupta, The Indus-Saraswati Civilization: Origins, Problems and Issues (New Delhi, 1996) is the only academic work which refers to this theme. While the book has an insightful examination of archaeological evidence the conclusions drawn are often too conjectural and it is worth noting that the author is a member of the RSS, and his politics would therefore inform his writing.

12 Annexure-R3/5 – Note on deletions along with justifications, NCERT response to the original application for stay in the matter of Aruna Roy and others versus the Union of India and others, Writ Petition (C) No.98 of 2002, in the Supreme Court of India.

13 Ibid., p. 503

14 Lal, Ancient India, p. 86

15 Bhagavada Purana, I, tr. Swami Tapasyananda (Madras, 1982), pp. 16-17

16 Ramayana, Volume II, tr. Amita Talwar (Liverpool, 1988), pp. 14-15

17 P.V. Kane, History of the Dharmashastras, Vol. ii, pp. 772-776

18 Excavation reports in Ancient India: Bulletin of the Archaeological Survey of India, Nos. 10 and 11, pp. 111-112. The excavations in Hastinapur have yielded bones of the cow/ox even for the following periods: 400BC – 1200AD. Similar evidence is available from other contemporaneous sites like Ahar (Rajasthan), Maski (Andhra Pradesh), Nagara (Gujarat) and Nevasa (Maharashtra). For a detailed account of the practice of beef-eating in pre-Islamic dietary tradition in the Indian subcontinent see D.N. Jha, The Myth of the Holy Cow (London, 2002).

19 As is stated in Annexure R-3/5, p. 522

20 R.S.Sharma, Ancient India: A Textbook for Class XI (NCERT, 1995), p. 45

21 R.S. Sharma, Ancient India, pp. 91-92

22 Annexure- R3/5, p. 576

23 Ibid., p. 2

24 Lal, Ancient India, pp. 107-112

25 Ibid., p. 107

26 Ibid., p. 108

27 Ibid., p. 108

28 Lal, Ancient India, p. 108

29 Ibid., p. 112

30 Matter of Guru Nanak Universal Brotherhood Society versus Union of India and others, Writ Petition (C) No. 2771 of 1998, in the High Court of Punjab

31 Satish Chandra, Medieval India: A Textbook for Class XI (NCERT, 1995), pp. 237-238

32 Organiser, Vol. LIII: No. 28, January 27, 2002, p. 31

33 Organiser, Vol. LIII, No. 22, p. 4

34 Ibid., p. 5

This story first appeared on revolutionarydemocracy.org