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Why Do Indian History Text Books Jump from 650 CE to 1100 CE ?

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From the time of fall of Harsha's Empire to the Rise of Delhi Sultanate, we see a conspicuous void of 400 years in the NCERT  and most of the state syllabus textbooks. Even as a Kid you would have wondered if this period was the really the ''dark age of India''

With the advent of internet, many of us were able to explore alternative narratives that would have been impossible to access in the pre-liberalized India. But, here we get to see a lot of variants in the story each trying to add its own angle. The idea of this article is to provide a consolidated view of that era. 

Like any other narrative it has some objective realities that have been coupled with some constructed reality sometimes for greater good and sometimes for the benefit of specific groups. I request the reader to go through these facts in the objective sense and deduce the aftermath accordingly. Here are some of the objective realities that you see during this time:
  • Disintegrated North India: North India was like Italy before its unification, The fall of vast empires have given rise to tens of empires that shared uneasy relationship with each other. 
  • Vast and Long-Ruling Empires in other Parts : This time also saw the rise of Pallavas, Cholas and Chalukyas who helped in making the present day Tamil Nadu, parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka relatively well-off.  Rastrakutas, Palas, Gurjaras, Pratiharas, Yadavas, Kamarupa have seen their heydays.  
  • Literature: Raja Tarangini (with some historical inaccuracies and bundled myths) explains several royal lineages. 
  • Birth of first Democracy(?): Gopala 1 of Pala Dynasty was elected by democratic means. 
  • Consolidation of Hinduism: The multiple versions of Hinduism have been consolidated to a few variants by teachers of Vedanta, such as Adishankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, and Vallabha. 
  • Decline of Buddhism and Jainism: Birth of Adi Shankara marked a new era in Indian religious canvas. His reforms have not only transformed Hinduism but also left profound impact on these two religions and helped in decreasing the gap between them. This pushed Buddhism into existential crisis and in the process of trying to reinvent itself 
  • Assimilation of Zorastrian Refugees: The creation of Navsari and the improvement of trade helped in making Gujrat along with other factors one of the richest regions at that point in History. 
  • Advent of Islam: There are two contrasting routes through which Islam has spread in the Indian Subcontinent. While the spread in Punjab and Sindh have been controversially violent, In Kerala, the spread has practically been blood less.  
  • Duality of Religion: With India becoming the poturi of so many religions and interesting flow of ideas took place between the religions. This ultimately paved a way for Bhakthi Movement - A series of sporadic religious revolution that simplified and transformed every religion.  
While those were the realities, the general reasons for variants in history and complete absence in the history NCERT text books are: 

Psychological and Political Association with Delhi: Many of the great empires like the Mauryan Empire, Gupta Empire were founded in the Gangetic planes. Indraprastha mentioned in Mahabharata is around the NCR region. Mughal Empire chose Delhi as the center for their capital. During the revolt of 1857, Bahadur Shah Zafar was chosen as the figure-head of the revolution because of general acceptance of Delhi as the capital of India. Encashing on this perception, (and to avoid increasing demand for Independence in Kolkata) British made Delhi the administrative capitals in 1910. Post-Independence, Delhi continued being the capital of India because of its infrastructure and adding to the general perception that Delhi is political capital to India all through out its history. Muting these four centuries helps in further consolidating this perception. 

Colonial Intervention: John Mills was a Scottish gentleman who taught at the East India Co’s school for EIC administrators at Haileybury. Prior to that he has written extensively about Indian History in which he has divided Indian History into Hindu Era, Muslim Era and Colonial Era. This helped in painting History in Religious colors. To show a clear contrast, this period is purposefully omitted in the colonial narrative. 

Political Whitewashing: Under the Constitution, education was a State Subject. But Constitution was amended to bring Education under the concurrent List. The then government appointed people in ICHR, like Romilla Thapar, Bipin Chandra , Irfan Habib, Mushirul Haq, who held a very leftist opinion about Indian History. It is said by many that these ICHR associates, sanitized the History books, in an effort to control the minds of Younger Generation. So much so for Freedom of Speech! 

SL Byrappa, the noted historian has an interesting account of what happened in 1969-70.

''During the year 1969-70 the Central Government established a committee under the Chairmanship of G. Parthasarathy, a diplomat. Its task was to integrate the nation through education. 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, 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. 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. Using these truths judiciously is the wise way to teach history,” he retorted. The remaining four members simply nodded their heads saying, “Yes, yes."

It should be noted that this did not just happen with the Government that was in power during 1969, there have also been instances where Lord Ram's birth year has been specified to pacify the ruling government. (which is still in debate for the lack of historical proof) 

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