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Amir Khusro and the Myth of Composite Culture
|by Saurav Basu|
Amir Khusro, has been eulogized ad nauseum as the shining example of India's composite culture. Rajendra Prasad, India's first president wrote: 'The beginning of India's composite culture can be traced to Amir Khusro's efforts'Our history bears testimony to the fact that it was the result of Amir Khusro's preaching of other Sufis and saints that the basis and shape of the government of the Sultanate became broader in the 14th century and thereafter. It is not surprising, therefore, that we find among his admirers both Hindus and Muslims' [Rajendra Prasad Correspondence, Volume 20, Page 262]
For such historians, composite culture became the prime instrument of inverting the so called communal construction of history. But at least the communal construction of history was always based on hard facts ' unlike the secularist group that parrots away the meager instances of counter culture, in any case coupled with severe bowdlerizations, text torturing, suppression and even destruction of contrary evidence. They call themselves social scientists, but their dogmas in preventing any criticism of Islamic intolerance would even put Galileo's persecutors to shame. Since these groups, profoundly influenced by Marxist and postmodern ideas, deny any objective history, and rely exclusively on subjective viewpoints one should have expected them to accept alternative interpretations of the right based on the same resources. But no, to these secularist Marxists and pomos, their subjectivity canvasses all objectivity ' and anyone deviating from their exclusive path are to be defamed and crippled with academic apartheid. The proletarian readers are warned not to exercise their own minds in the interpretation of history based on their own understanding of the sources ' for history is too technical and scientific a subject to be grasped by the untrained mind. Exactly the manner in which Christianity burnt alive the heretics like Bruno who chose to visualize the world from an independent secular worldview. This comes from those who seek inspiration from D D Kosambi, a statistician with not even a degree in history and yet ironically the father of Indian Marxist historiography, and J L Nehru, again an amateur whose academic credentials and achievements were at best second rate.
In another case, his contempt for the phallus worshiping Hindu women is brought to fore during his poetic hysteria while describing the siege of Chidambaram:
Here, he triumphantly gloats at the subjugation of the Hindus
Can this Khusrau, who spewed venom on every aspect of Hindu identity, be considered as the harbinger of composite culture in India? True, he used multiple languages for expressing his ideas, and celebrated the geography and natural beauty of the nation. But can they by any stretch of imagination be used to excuse his vulgar portrayal of Hindu gods, temples, architecture, women, culture and attitudes.
This is what perplexed R C Majumdar as to how could an enlightened Muslim like Khusro who was definitely not a Jehadi entertain such ideas about Hindus despite 500 years of Muslim presence in India predating him. Why could not Khusro sympathise with the defeated Hindus. Why could he not appreciate their architectural marvels? Why could he not tolerate, let alone accept, Hindu religious idiosyncrasies. Khusro's literary archive is not surprisingly barren of any Hindu poetry, puranic lores, bhakti ideals, upanishadic mysticism ' without which composite identity remains a myth!
This assertion comes from a man who had no agenda in pushing concepts of shared identities and openly expresses his disdain for several Hindu practices which he found irrational or superstitious including the monstrous Hindu perversity in using numbers beyond the fourth decimal! For Beruni, hailed as the greatest intellectual of the early medieval age by none other than Romila Thapar there was no hope of any composite culture in India 'since everything in India is the reverse of what it is in Islam and if ever a custom of theirs resembles one of ours, it has certainly just the opposite meaning. For the reader must always bear in mind that the Hindus entirely differ from us Muslims in every respect, many a subject appearing intricate and obscure which would be perfectly clear if there were more connection between us.' Surely, a lesson our 'secular' historians could have learnt and profited from, if only they had the magnanimity in accepting the wisdom of history, despite it being 1000 years old.
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