Dear BJP, it is time to include the glorious legacy of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in CBSE textbooks

It has been almost 4 years since the BJP government came to power in the centre. The PM is an admirer of Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj. However, the HRD ministry in BJP has not really paid attention to an important exclusion in the CBSE/ NCERT textbooks that have been authored by left-leaning and communist educationists so far. For them, Akbar is the best example of a secular ruler in the entire history of India, but Shivaji is ‘communal’.

The love that our educationists and liberals have for Akbar and Mughals was demonstrated when Maharashtra government erased a chapter on Mughals from their textbooks. “The removal of the Mughal chapter from the textbook is nothing but the saffron agenda of BJP and RSS. It’s a pre-planned conspiracy“, claimed Samajwadi Party’s Abu Azmi. While his claim may have partial truth, the blackout of Shivaji from NCERT textbooks is definitely a conspiracy of Nehruvian secularists.

The exclusion of Shivaji from NCERT textbooks is not an aberration but a systematic exercise to infuse the concept of ‘secularism’ as understood by the Nehruvian establishment that has ruled India so far.

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Have the framers of CBSE’s history syllabus taken a cue from Nehru?

Perhaps they have taken a cue from the godfather of ‘secularism’, Pandit Nehru’s book ‘Discovery of India’. Nehru considers the rise of Marathas as an example of Hindu nationalism. While writing about the great emperor Shivaji, he feels that the modern day Hindu nationalists are using him for revivalism.

In the post-partition scenario, perhaps, these educationists wanted to bury Shivaji forever so that Hindus would never find an inspirational figure of their own religion. Instead, Akbar was dished out as the sole symbol of secularism that Nehru sought to impose on Hindus of India.

In the book ‘Discovery of India’, Nehru writes (emphasis added) :

All over the widespread domains of the Mughal Empire, there was a ferment and a growth of revivalist sentiment, which was a mixture of religion and nationalism. That nationalism was certainly not of the modern secular type, nor did it, as a rule, embrace the whole of India in its scope. It was coloured by feudalism, by local sentiment and sectarian feeling.

The Rajputs, more feudal than the rest, thought of their clan loyalties; the Sikhs, a comparatively small group in the Punjab, were absorbed in their own self-defence and could hardly look beyond the Punjab. Yet the religion itself had a strong national background and all its traditions were connected with India.

‘The Indians,’ writes Professor Macdonell, ‘are the only division of the Indo-European family which has created a great national religion—Brahmanism—and a great world religion—Buddhism; while all the rest far from displaying originality in this sphere have long since adopted a foreign faith.’

That combination of religion and nationalism gained strength and cohesiveness from both elements, and yet its ultimate weakness and insufficiency were also derived from that mixture. For it could only be an exclusive and partial nationalism, not including the many elements in India that lay outside that religious sphere. Hindu nationalism was a natural growth from the soil of India, but inevitably it comes in the way of the larger nationalism which rises above differences of religion or creed. […]

Shivaji was the symbol of a resurgent Hindu nationalism, drawing inspiration from the old classics, courageous, and possessing high qualities of leadership. He built up the Marathas as a strong unified fighting group, gave them a nationalist background, and made them a formidable power which broke up the Mughal Empire.

The ideological foundation of ‘secularism’ as we know it today, was laid long back in a book that Nehru wrote when was imprisoned between 1942-46.

Future generations need to know about Shivaji and other Hindu kingdoms

If not for the internet or social media, many youngsters would not have been aware of the stupendous achievements and great values of Shivaji Maharaj. Outside Maharashtra, many people are not aware of Shivaji’s exploits against the huge Mughal empire. They are not aware of his administrative acumen and the system of ‘ashta pradhan’ (eight ministers) where each minister was given a ‘portfolio.’ Shivaji was not a bigot either. He had recruited Muslim soldiers in his army. He did not go around destroying mosques or killing innocent Muslims. Shivaji provided freedom of religion to his subjects. He was as secular as Akbar.

Similarly, the great kings of Wodeyar dynasty in Karnataka have been blacked out from textbooks. Wodeyars invested heavily in education, infrastructure, industrial growth and social welfare. In fact the premier research institute of India, IISc is built on land donated by Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. Educationists have ignored Wodeyars and gave Tipu Sultan a central place in the history of Karnataka.

Thus, BJP that claims to be a party following the ideology of Hindutva, needs to correct this historic exclusion in our history syllabus. It needs to ensure that future generations of India learn not only about Akbar and Tipu Sultan, but also Shivaji and Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar.


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