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Hindu conversions and Castes – an argument

16 Jun

I see people engage in debates (blame games) on internet forums, social media sites about which caste converted to Islam in more numbers, percentage or ease.

There is no way to quantitatively judge today, on what percentage of which caste converted during which period of medieval era. Since this record would not settle forever, due to lack of facts. I never venture in the area. All you would do is form subjective opinions and pick bias knowingly or unknowingly.
Yet the debate and bickering goes on over the internet, with same subjective opinions and bias. Hence few words…

Crux of my argument is that upper castes were subject to far more and consistent pressure for conversion, because of the very reason – that
they were ‘upper’ caste.
Let us expand on why it would happen so. Islamic invaders of India were incapable of replace administrative layers of this large nation with themselves completely and at once.
They obviously needed to re-use existing layers. To strengthen their hold they focused on conversion of these layers with twice the intensity.
To them there was more value & feasibility in converting these layers (less in number but high in importance), than going after large masses of commoners everywhere in the country. That also was a goal but to be achieved slowly in the long run by other means.
Upper caste concentrations were found in urban areas due to the administrative nature of their work and requirement of resources.
As a matter of fact the Islamic invaders writ also, was best run around urban areas only. Because they mostly lived in urban areas. Country side was visited for long duration only due to reasons like military/political campaigns.
In northwest India, the constant pressure on country masses was of taxes, plunder etc not conversion.
Because firstly, the ruler ship of many areas kept flipping between Islamic and Hindu kind. The consistent and intense influence you need to convert in a dense country like India, cannot be obtained by a rule that doesn’t run un-toppled, unchallenged for a very long time. It also can’t happen when rule is applied via the agency of a Hindu king. Percentage of Hindus in NW India after 1000 years bigotry is a testimony to that.
Second, the Islamic states didn’t have the resources to keep the pressure up throughout the countryside all the time. When a campaign ends, the pressure of conversion on ground masses in various nooks and corners loosens as well. Even among those from lower castes who converted, there are plenty of instances of reverting to own faith.

The situation with unconverted upper castes was however different.
It was natural for Islamic rulers to go after upper castes co-habiting with them, with max effort. Occupational hazard ?
At the end of the day, Islamic rulers of the long run did not need an “Islamic nation”; as much as they needed “Islamic rule” of the nation.
That objective was to be met by going with focus after upper castes, not the millions of masses.

Peculiarity about upper caste conversions though, is that there are barely any enmasse conversions in upper castes. Individuals for personal gains or small surviving groups post battle are common examples.
Tribes like Gakkhars however (after fighting gallantly) did convert enmasse. Medieval Punjab saw conversions in huge numbers for two reasons:
1) They were at the doors of India, so became the first and foremost victims to bear the brunt of Islam.
2) Their upper castes and martial sections i.e. local leadership did not have clannish organization. So any de-centralized resistance after reversals could not happen, as it did in Rajputana successfully.
In all fairness I must state an exception – Ajmer. Here the ruling Rajput clan dispersed after facing reversals against Turks. That gradually led to large number of conversions among dispersed Chauhans and allowed an Islamic wound to fester within Rajputana.

Clan system among Rajputs (though blamed for infighting) was a bulwark against conversion. Converts were socially boycotted and their clan identity was no longer recognized. This prevented enmasse conversion, though dripping conversions at individual levels were still seen.

Upper castes conversion becomes a talking point for one more reason. It is their conversion that had more media value for medieval history’s records; than an unknown commoner’s. Then precisely those records are what people read today and form opinions from.
History is full of numerous occasions where rulers like Aurangzeb insisted on conversion of kings, princes, chiefs; even after vassalage and tributes were submitted.

Which brings us to the third reason for Islamists going after upper castes.
It was the theory – convert the head and advertise, body shall follow.
It was to set an example for Hindu masses, that their leader had converted and so they should too.
Instead of running with a stick after every rabbit in the bush tirelessly, this was deemed to be a more feasible & efficient approach.

So today, instead of generalising on individual castes and pointing fingers. Hindus would do better in diagnosing the root causes of conversions and tackling them. Because the root causes clearly don’t single any caste out. Thus the solution also, doesn’t exist in retrospectively pontificating on a caste basis.


Shared from WordPress

23 Jul

A look at recent findings about the ‘mythical’ River Saraswati – Anil Kumar Suri –

JNU and the historic hoax

28 Feb

Via @trueindology a superb, methodical take down of JNU leftist cabal’s crap on Mahishasura and Durga. Next, it would be best to have the elders of this tribe and spill the beans.


[In this article, I use ‘Asur’ to refer to a tribe in Bengal and Bihar. I use ‘asura’ to refer to the Hindu mythological beings]

Summary-The article looks into the claims that there exist Mahishasura worshipping tribes in India who mourn during Dussehra and bewail the ‘Aryan invasion’. Every single one of these claims turns out to be false

On Feb. 24 2016, India’s education minister Smriti Irani read out a pamphlet that had been circulated on ‘Mahishasura Martyrdom Day’. This ‘Mahishasura Martyrdom day’ is deliberately organised during the Hindu festival of Dussehra.

Below I reproduce  contents of the said pamphlet-

“Durga Puja” is the most controversial racial festival, where a fair skinned beautiful goddess Durga is depicted brutally killing a dark-skinned native called Mahishasura

Mahishasura, a brave self-respecting leader, tricked into marriage by Aryans. They hired a sex worker called Durga, who enticed Mahishasura into marriage and killed…

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How Sonam post got it’s name

17 Feb

Source: How Sonam post got it’s name

Indian medieval history and the typical bashing

22 Dec

Following is a response to a flurry of tweets on medieval history where I was tagged.


People read a half baked article and start passing verdicts on history like pandits.
Why did x do that. Why didn’t y do so.
X was a hero. Y was a scoundrel.
It is always easy to second judge history from hindsight.
As easy as a person watching cricket match on TV and taunting at the batsmen on ground “Useless fellow, I would have easily driven that one to long-off.”
This condition is well known in historical studies and they call it – ‘Presentism’ (more here)

Now to the serious business. If you think alliance with Mughals was sin, for your information Shivaji was ready to do that.
If fighting for Mughals was a sin, Shivaji again was more than willing to do that and he did so as well. All these are facts on record in contemporary sources.
History isn’t that simplistic where you can segregate heroes and villains cleanly like in a bollywood movie.
Truth is, they all have their share of sins – Rajputs, Marathas, Sikhs, Jats- you name it.
Holier than thou attitude doesn’t work nor does singling one out. I’m saying this despite (& because of) knowing what Marathas did in drought ridden Rajputana.

So let us put the facts straight before being judgmental.

Why did Jai Singh ally with Mughals?
First reason:
Hard geographic reality of north India is, whoever dominates the indo-gangetic plains is surely the ruler of north India (go back and forth in timeline to verify as much as you’d like).
This area was out of Rajputs hands, since generations before Jai Singh. Even Sanga at his peak could only scratch the surface (till PeelaKhal near Agra).
Be it Turks, Mughals or Hindus even before that. The power sitting on indo-gangetic plains has always enjoyed an upper hand over the rest.
In this geographically consistent, well fed and resourced land block, one could easily maintain huge standing armies without letting them break into feudal/federal hierarchies. Co-ordination of different arms of army and government machinery throughout the plains was seamless; which  provided for quicker reflexes and logistics. Needless to mention the tremendous natural resources one could marshal in the fertile plains.
That edge shows in political setup as well. Kannauj was considered the de-facto capital of north India before Islamic invasions, after which the focus shifted to Agra (not far). Both are in indo-gangetic plains, so is Delhi.

There is not a single successful Islamic invasion of any part of Rajputana that was not campaigned from Indo-Gangetic plains. Almost all the tide turning battles of medieval north India took place in these plains only.
Before we start pointing fingers at Rajputs (and I’m not saying we shouldn’t), Rajputana’s human cost and toll of eight centuries of constant battles, resistance against invasions has to be counted. All that is before Jai Singh.

So far as Amber is concerned, even with Mewar before Mughals, it was a minor ally, part of confederation. Raja PrithviRaj the ruler of Amber fought under Maharana Sanga against Babur, as part of Rajput federated army in 1527 A.D.
Basics of politics (or survival if you will) dictate that in picking ally/confederation, stronger one should be the obvious choice.
As long as Mewar was strong (till 1527 A.D.), Amber was in their confederacy. Even though geographically they were still right next to a strong, plain dwelling Muslim power (Lodis of Agra Sultanate). There was no reason to flip over.
Enter Babur and 1527’s watershed moment. Babur smoked away the Mewar confederacy. He not only emerged the un-disputed ruler of indo gangetic plains, but also the technologically superior one (gunpowder).
This defeat opened the minor Rajput states like Amber to a whole new geo-political reality.
Mewar reteated into its own wounds and there was absolutely no other Hindu power in north India near or strong enough that could be allied with, to thwart Babur (who was stronger, remember?).
If one beats your boss, he definitely becomes your boss.
Why I am stressing on Khanwa’s implication as reason for Amber’s switch, is because the switch happened soon after Khanwa.
Many may not know, but it wasn’t out of the blue that one day Bharmal decides to marry his daughter to young Akbar.
It was his predecessor, elder brother Puranmal (1527-1534) who allied with Babur’s son Humayun and died fighting alongside Mughals in retaking the  same fort of Bayana, with which Babur and Sanga’s rivarly had sparked. This, as is evident, happens barely few years post the Khanwa battle.

We pick Amber for bashing because with time Amber had grown in importance as a crucial Mughal ally (since Akbar-Man Singh days).
Amber played a major (often lead) role in virtually all important Mughal campaigns. Their financial health improved and political power rose in and out of Rajputana.
To these developments, the rest of Rajputana could either grudge (like Mewar) or join the chorus like others.

Next comes the timing (second reason).
When Rajputs were strong and Mughals as well, Sikhs and Marathas were not on the scene.
When Marathas were strong, Rajputs were already spent and Sikhs had only begun as a political power.
By the time Sikhs rose, Marathas had been dealt with by British and Rajputs fully co-opted.
So it was never easy for one hindu/native power to actively gel with the other.

Then there’s the emergence of caste and clan based Kingdoms in early medieval centuries. It effectively nullified possibilities of Hindu native powers in producing another Imperial ruler pan north India. No prizes for guessing who filled the vacuum then.
This by the way is the fundamental difference that permeates below many crucial phases of medieval history. A serious threat to Imperial muslim power at Agra would unite the sub-continent’s muslims. Which is the reason why even in peak power Marathas dominated Agra via Mughal proxy.
If on the other hand it were instead a Hindu Imperial power on decline, there would be a bee-line of Hindu rivals and dis-grunted allies to pick the empire’s flesh piece by piece and make a good run for it, while its free for all.
‘Jitnee Naap Lee Utnee Tumharee’
Did infighting not happen in Muslim Kingdoms. Yes it did, but primarily at ruler level (not as deep social schisms like ours). Regardless, there was always the call of Islamic Ummah and Jihad which would unite and zeal up the fragments like they were never splintered.

Coming to Jai Singh. If Jai Singh had no regards for Shivaji or other Hindu Kings or he was such a blind Mughal servant, why would he and his son Ram Singh swear an oath to protect Shivaji during the latter’s Agra visit?
Why would his son tell the emperor hell bent on killing Shivaji – “I’m bound by oath to protect Shiva, kill me before you harm him.”
Why would Jai Singh let his son file an affidavit to emperor saying “Should Shivaji do anything untoward or flee, I would be responsible.”
Why would Ram Singh’s men guard Shivaji’s life in the inner most circle of troops around him?
Why would Ram Singh be punished and doubted by Mughals all his life, for letting Shivaji slip away?
Why would Shiavji after fleeing confess to Jai Singh “Your son would not leave me alone.”
It bewilders me, which selfish father-son duo would behave in this way and how could this be a selfish behavior in the first place.

Till Marathas were weaker they made proposals to Rajputs for alliance.
Once Marathas were powerful enough to cross Narmada and Mughals were weaker, did they ask Rajputs for any alliance?
No, they asked Rajputs for Chauth. So where was the nationalism or religion then? Where did the talk of pan-Hindu, anti-Mughal alliance go when Marathas pillaged the drought ridden Rajputana for hafta wasooli?
Factually, that is how power works.
Anyway, going back, Shivaji had asked Jai Singh for alliance so lets analyze it properly.
On what basis would Jai Singh (ruler of Amber close to Mughal base in Agra) unlearn his geographic reality and ally with Marathas?
Let us imagine he just somehow would. Have you thought of the logistics of what next? No, but Jai Singh did.
Simple question, would all the Rajput states between Amber and Marathas (far beneath Narmada back then, no presentism please) co-operate in such an anti-Mughal alliance??
If not, then what alliance, what logistics.

Lets say regardless, he should still pursue alliance. Next question comes on the “why” part.
Putting aside all sentiments of nationalism, religion, emotions and ego, can we answer this “why” like a cold calculated statesman?
Would Jai Singh, a mansabdar of Mughals, ally with a power against Mughals when he himself had defeated that power.
Even if the thought of counter alliance crossed his mind. Wouldn’t he rather look for a power whose addition would definitely and clearly tilt the scales?
Yes Marathas did become that strong, but not in Jai Singh’s time, not in 17th century. That happened in 18th century, when they needed Rajputs only for chauth.

Now we come to the final question. Disregarding all these previous questions, we for a moment assume Jai Singh did refuse to ally with Mughals or say rose against them.
What would happen then? I’ll tell you what would happen.
Firstly Shivaji wouldn’t be able to leave south with full power when Islamic sultanates and other rivals were present in South. If he would enter north to Jai Singh’s aid with partial punch, it is as good as not coming. Both Jai Singh and Shivaji would suffer losses and weaken further. What else; any of the kingdoms like Marwar, Mewar and numerous others would use this god sent political opportunity to side with Mughals against Jai Singh, thus scoring brownie points, better court status/ political equations for self; where does that leave Amber and Jai Singh? To the gallows.
That is how nasty politics is and has always been.
That is part of what stopped the Hindu states from uniting.
Do you know what was one of the conditions of the hardy Hada Chauhans in their very balanced treaty with Mughals. Here, have a look:
“That we or our troops would never be placed under any other Hindu commander.”

There’s your last reason. Have you all got your answers?
I for one am tired of clarifying & repeating on numerous forums and sites either way. Bailing out now.


Possible Solution to Indian Defence Industry: Learn from history

17 Aug

A good piece by Yusuf …
It is well known that Chinese leap in Technological self reliance began with the induction of (ex)Soviet scientists. They gave the much needed impetus and knowledge base, after which there has been no looking back for China.
I don’t see anything wrong with the approach if adopted in India, However under the same approach, the option of reversing brain-drain and importing foreign based Indian scientists on priority should be keenly explored.

Sarvatra Vijay

Posting here what I had quite sometime back written on my forum

For about three decades India has been struggling with design and development of defence products. The success record is patchy. Below par products, budget overruns and more importantly time overruns.

India for a better part of the three decades was under international technology denial regime. Considering that, we can say that a lot has been achieved. But for a country like India it clearly isn’t enough.-

After the second world war both the Soviets and the US managed to get hold of a lot of German technology and more importantly, the top scientists. Wernher von Braun was one such prized catch for the US. The father of the Vengeance missiles of Nazi Germany better known as V1 and the V2. Von Braun moved to the US and produced rockets that resulted in the US putting man on the…

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Reviewing India’s nuclear doctrine

14 Apr

Superb analysis by Yusuf on our nuclear doctrine.
Now that we’ve far from the times of solid basics laid down in Sunderji’s days; it is time India does a “nuclear revision”.

Sarvatra Vijay

The BJP manifesto on nuclear doctrine has raised a lot of eyebrows, from domestic to foreign commentators. All of them commenting on possible review of the No First Use policy of India.

Richard Boucher,former assistant secretary if state for South and Central Asia of US said scrapping the no first use policy would not be a smart move by the BJP. He says

What does it do for India? Nothing really,although it would introduce a small probably destabilizing element in the calculations of nuclear adversaries.
In fact the threats to India-terrorists and conventional border disputes can’t be dealt nuclear threats. India’s nuclear strategy ain’t broke,so don’t fix it.

However Ashley Tellis a former official of the US National. Security Council said it was still unclear what the revision of the doctrine would entail.

The new government should review the doctrine for all sorts of reasons,including the fact that much has…

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