Skip to main content

Hindutva "bid" to change Delhi's history: Why forget that that the Capital is a receptacle of many cultures?

By Sadhan Mukherjee*
Delhi is not just a just a city or the capital of India; it is history itself. Who rules Delhi is important, not only in terms of today but for posterity as well. This is so as there is a conscious attempt to eliminate the past and forget its history.
No other existing city anywhere in the world is as old as Delhi. The Pandavas set up their capital here; then called Indraprastha. As the story is narrated in Mahabharata, it dates back to a period of around 3000 BCE. The inner-family war not only ended the Pandava and Kaurava dynasties but also destroyed Indraprastha as well as Hastinapur and the regimes.
A more modern Delhi became a citadel of Hindu kings who established their rule in 50 BCE in North India. Delhi was named after Mauryan king Dhillu. Much of Delhi’s ancient history is shrouded in myths and legends, not supported by any evidence except that Delhi today represents continuity and change. Many dynasties have ruled from here: the Nandas, the Mauryas (who defeated Alexander), and the Guptas whose rule ended in 550 CE.
After these great empires ended, Delhi and its various regions were ruled by smaller kings and warlords. Notable among them were the Tomars, Gujjars, Chauhans etc. The Chauhan king Prithviraj was the last Hindu king who was defeated by Mohammad Ghori in 1192.
Delhi thereafter was ruled by Muslims starting with Mamluks in 1206 and ending with Mogul dynasty in 1857, for nearly seven centuries. In all 32 rulers from 32 Muslim dynasties have ruled Delhi. Then the East India Company took it over from the Moguls following India’s First War of Independence.  A little later the British Empire itself took over the company rule.
Now there is a contrived effort to delete the past, especially the Muslim rule; hence, the bid to rewrite history and rename past symbols, especially roads, so that future generations remain unaware of it. This is the Hindutva bid at forgetting Delhi’s intermediate period of history.
The Muslim rule over Delhi included Afghans, Arabs, Persian, Turks, Central Asian hordes, and several others. Then the British made Delhi the capital of their empire in 1911 and established Christian rule. Some roads named after British rulers have also been renamed.
Why forget that that Delhi is a melange of culture, a receptacle of many cultures? Can one forget Delhi’s kulfi or British ice-cream? Delhi has adopted many things, either by consent or by coercion. It has not been able to retain its pristine culture except its harsh climate.
Today, Delhi is not only a megacity but in reality a region comprising six cities: Old Delhi, New Delhi, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Noida, and Ghaziabad. Delhi is also the embodiment of diversity.
In the process of change, Delhi was captured, destroyed, its citizens killed, women folk raped and taken away. So much so that it is said that following Nadir Shah’s invasion the water of Yamuna River remained red for days together since large quantities of human blood had flown into it.
The occupiers and rulers of different era left their imprint not only on Delhi’s history and architecture but also on its cuisine. With so much of intermixing, Delhi does not really have even any cuisine of its own today.
Delhi cuisine now is truly international. Name food from any part of the world, you have it in Delhi. From Iceland to New Zealand, to various African countries, Middle East, Far East, and of course European including British, Russian, Ukranian, American and Mexican. Besides, food from India’s own varied cuisine from states and union territories are available in this city.
Delhi however has some things to offer in terms of its cuisine, though in modified forms, as it were. These include Delhi’s own Nihari, a sort of beef stew, and Daulat Chat made only in winter through a complicated process of condensing the milk foam.
Then there are Delhi style kebabs, biryani, tandoori, and some modern items as butter chicken, aloo chat, dahi bhalla, kachori, gol gappa, keema samosa, aloo samosa, chole bhature, etc. Delhi’s drinks include lassi and Rooh Afza, and sweets like dodha and jalebi.
Thus Delhi, the cosmopolitan, is truly an international city blending its modernity with antiquity. The attempt to change it to a Hindu city or to vegetarian cuisine only is bound to fail.
---
*Veteran journalist

Comments

TRENDING

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Giant conglomerates 'favoured': Whither tribal rights for jal-jungle-jameen?

Prafull Samantara By Mohammad Irshad Ansari*  The struggle for “Jal, Jungle and Jameen” has been a long-drawn battle for the tribal communities of India. This tussle was once again in the limelight with the proposed diamond mining in the Buxwaha forest of Chhatarpur (Madhya Pradesh). The only difference in this movement was the massive social media support it gained, which actually seems to tilt the scale for the tribal people in a long time.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example

Effluent discharge into deep sea? Modi told to 'reconsider' Rs 2275 crore Gujarat project

Counterview Desk  In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, well-known Gujarat-based environmentalist, Mahesh Pandya of the Paryavaran Mitra, has protested against the manner in with the Gujarat government is continuing with its deep sea effluent disposal project despite environmental concerns.

Gujarat govt gender insensitive? Cyclone package for fisherfolk 'ignores' poor women

By Our Representative A memorandum submitted to the Gujarat government by various fisherfolk associations of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat under the leadership of Ahmedabad NGO Centre for Social Justice's senior activist Arvind Khuman, who is based in Amreli, has suggested that the relief package offered to the fishermen affected by the Tauktae cyclone is not only inadequate, it is also gender insensitive.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.