Critical Podium Dewanand India
Nobel Laureate V.S.Naipaul - On ignoring history
Sacrifice code wfor0364
Sacrifice date 25 march 2009
Nobel Laureate V.S.Naipaul - On ignoring history
"How do you ignore history? But the nationalist movement, independence
movement ignored it. You read the Glimpses of World History by Jawaharlal
Nehru, it talks about the mythical past and then it jumps the difficult
period of the
invasions and conquests. So you have Chinese pilgrims coming to Bihar,
Nalanda and places like that. Then somehow they don't tell you what happens,
why these places are in ruin. They never tell you why Elephanta island
is in ruins or why Bhubaneswar was desecrated."
"People in India have only known tyranny. The very idea of liberty
is a new
idea. Particularly pathetic is the harking back to the Mughals as a time
glory. In fact the Mughals were tyrants, every one of them. They were
tyrants and they were proud of being foreign".
"India has been a wounded civilization because of Islamic violence:
Pakistanis know this; indeed they revel in it. It is only Indian Nehruvians
Romila Thapar who pretend that Islamic rule was benevolent. We should
facts: Islamic rule in India was at least as catastrophic as the later
rule. The Christians created massive poverty in what was a most prosperous
country; the Muslims created a terrorized civilization out of what was
creative culture that ever existed."
"India was wrecked and looted, not once but repeatedly by invaders
strong religious ideas, with a hatred of the religion of the people they
conquering. People read these accounts but they do not imaginatively understand
the effects of conquest by an iconoclastic religion."
"India became the great land for Muslim adventurers and the peasantry
this on their back, they were enslaved quite literally. It just went on
this from the 11th century onwards." (source: Economic Times -
"The millennium began with the Muslim invasions and the grinding
the Hindu-Buddhist culture of the north. This is such a big and bad event
people still have to find polite, destiny-defying ways of speaking about
In art books and history books, people write of the Muslims "arriving"
India, as though the Muslims came on a tourist bus and went away again.
Muslim view of their conquest of India is a truer one. They speak of the
of the faith, the destruction of idols and temples, the loot, the carting
away of the local people as slaves, so cheap and numerous that they were
sold for a few rupees. The architectural evidence- the absence of Hindu
monuments in the north is convincing enough. This conquest was unlike
that had gone before. There are no Hindu records of this period. Defeated
people never write their history. The victors write the history. The victors
Muslims. For people on the other side it is a period of darkness."
On Hindu militancy and India's secularity
"To say that India has a secular character is being historically
Dangerous or not, Hindu militancy is a corrective to the history I have
talking about. It is a creative force and will be so. Islam can't reconcile
with it." .
On Hindu Revivalism
"India was trampled over, fought over. You had the invasions and
you had the
absence of a response to them. There was an absence even of the idea of
people, of a nation defending itself. Only now are people beginning to
understand that there has been a great vandalizing of India. The movement
from below. It has to be dealt with. It is not enough to abuse these youths
use that fashionable word from Europe, 'fascism', There is a big, historical
development going on in India."
"What is happening in India is a new historical
Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs,
may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely
what is happening:
deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times
response appears in his eyes to be threatening."
"Indian intellectuals have a responsibility to the state and should
debate on the Muslim psyche. To speak of Hindu fundamentalism, is a
contradiction in terms, it does not exist. Hinduism is not this kind of
know, there are no laws in Hinduism. And there are many forces in
Hinduism.... My interest in these popular movements is due to the pride
they restore to their adherents in a country ravaged by five or six centuries
government by Muslim invaders. These populations, in particular the peasantry,
have been so crushed, that any movement provides a certain sense of pride.
The leftists who claim that that these wretched folk are fascists are
It's absurd. I think that they are only reclaiming a little of their own
identity. We can't discuss it using a Western vocabulary."
"I think every liberal person should extend a hand to that kind
from the bottom. One takes the longer view rather than the political view.
There's a great upheaval in India and if you're interested in India, you
welcome it. "
"What is happening in India is a new, historical awakening. Gandhi
religion in a way as to marshal people for the independence cause. People
entered the independence movement did it because they felt they would
individual merit. Only now are the people beginning to understand that
been a great vandalising of India. Because of the nature of the conquest
the nature of Hindu society such understanding had eluded Indians before."
(indolink.com)On how he reacted to demolition of Babri Masjid
"Not as badly as the others did, I am afraid. The people who say
was no temple there are missing the point. Babar, you must understand,
contempt for the country he had conquered. And his building of that mosque
an act of contempt. In Ayodhya, the construction of a mosque on a spot
regarded as sacred by the conquered population was meant as an insult
ancient idea, the idea of Ram which was two or three thousand years old."
Times of India, 18 July 1993). On the attire of the people who demolished
"One needs to understand the passion that took them on top of the
jeans and the tee shirts are superficial. The passion alone is real. You
can't dismiss it. You have to try to harness it. Hitherto in India, the
thinking has come from the top. What is happening now is different. The
movement is from below." (The Times of India, 18 July 1993).
On the Taj Mahal
"The Taj is so wasteful, so decadent and in the end so cruel that
painful to be there for very long." (Outlook, 15 November 1999).
"You see, I am less interested in the Taj Mahal which is a vulgar,
building, a display of power built on blood and bones. Everything exaggerated,
everything overdone, which suggests a complete slave population. I would
to find out what was there before the Taj Mahal."
( 13 January 2003)
Naipaul says that Islam had enslaved and attempted to wipe out other
cultures. "It has had a calamitous effect on converted peoples. To
be converted you have to destroy your past, destroy your history. You
have to stamp on it,
you have to say 'my ancestral culture does not exist, it doesn't matter'."
(Guardian News Service)
"There has probably been no imperialism like that of Islam and the
"Islam seeks as an article of faith to erase the past; the believers
end honour Arabia alone; they have nothing to return to. Islam requires
convert to accept that his land is of no religious or historical importance;
its relics were of no account; only the sands of Arabia are sacred."
Times of India, 18 July 1993)
"It is not the unbeliever as the other person so much as the remnant
unbeliever in one's customs and in one's ways of thinking. It's this wish
destroy the past, the ancient soul, the unregenerate soul. This is the
great neurosis of the converted." (The New York Times Magazine, 28.10.2001)
"I had known Muslims all my life. But I knew little of their religion.
doctrine, or what I thought was its doctrine, didn't attract me. It didn't
seem worth inquiring into; and over the years, in spite of travel, I had
little to the knowledge gathered in my Trinidad childhood. The glories
this religion were in the remote past; it has generated nothing like a
Renaissance. Muslim countries, were not colonies, were despotisms; and
nearly all, before oil, were poor." (From his book Among the Believers,
On non-fundamentalist Islam
"I think it is a contradiction. It can always be called up to drown
overwhelm every movement. The idea in Islam, the most important thing,
paradise. No one can be a moderate in wishing to go to paradise. The idea
moderate state is something cooked up by politicians looking to get a
here and there." (The New York Times Magazine, 28.10.2001)
On formation of Pakistan
Naipaul considers Pakistan's founding "extremely fortunate"
for India as
the "religious question would otherwise have paralysed and consumed
"The Iqbal idea that religion wasn't a matter of conscience, that
a separate community and society, was a wicked and rather foolish idea."
"In India, unlike Iran, there never was a complete Islamic conquest.
Although the Muslims ruled much of North India from 1200A.D. to 1700A.D.,
in the 18th century, the Mahrattas and the Sikhs destroyed Muslim power,
and created their own empires, before the advent of the British....The
British introduced the New Learning of Europe, to which the Hindus were
more receptive than the Muslims. This caused the beginning of the intellectual
distance between the two communities. This distance has grown with independence....Muslim
insecurity led to the call for the creation of Pakistan. It went at the
with an idea of old glory, of the invaders sweeping down from the northwest
looting the temples of Hindustan and imposing faith on the infidel. The
fantasy still lives: and for the Muslim converts of the subcontinent it
start of their neurosis, because in this fantasy the convert forgets who
what he is and becomes the violator."
Naipaul calls Pakistan a "criminal" enterprise.
"Here is a Muslim country which after its creation in 1947 promptly
became a state of manpower exports. Lots of people came to Britain. The
idea of a state for the Muslims began to undo itself very quickly."
Naipaul's advice to every Indian
Naipaul has advised every Indian to make a "pilgrimage" to
to see what the (Muslim) invasion of India led to. They will see a totally
"I think when you see so many Hindu temples of the tenth century
time disfigured, defaced, you know that they were not just defaced for
that something terrible happened. I feel that the civilization of that
world was mortally wounded by those invasions. And I would like people,
it were, to be more reverential towards the past, to try to understand
preserve it; instead of living in its ruins. The Old World is destroyed.
That has to be understood. The ancient Hindu India was destroyed."
(The Hindu, 5
On charges of insensitivity and pandering to Western
prejudices in writings
"Well, that is the trouble with writing about Muslim people. There
people of the universities who want to run you out of town, and they're
and so they pay no attention to what you actually say." (The New
On whether he is surprised by Osama bin Laden's support in Pakistan,
Indonesia, Malaysia and Iran.
"No, because these are the converted peoples of Islam. To put it
these are the people who are n_ot Arabs. Part of the neurosis of the convert
is that he always has to prove himself. He has to be more royalist than
king, as the French say." (The New York Times Magazine, 28.10.2001)
On causes of 9/11
"It had no cause. Religious hate, religious motivation, was the primary
thing. I don't think it was because of American foreign policy. There
passage in one of the Conrad short stories of the East Indies where the
finds himself with his hands bare in the world, and he lets out a howl
I think that, in its essence, is what is happening. The world is getting
more and more out of reach of simple people who have only religion. And
the more they depend on religion, which of course solves nothing, the
more the world
gets out of reach. The oil money in the 70's gave the illusion that power
had come to the Islamic world. It was as though up there was a divine
supermarket, and at last it had become open to people in the Muslim world.
They didn't understand that the goods that gave them power in the end
were made by
another civilization. That was intolerable to accept, and it remains intolerable."
(The New York Times Magazine, 28.10.2001)
Farrukh Dhondy on V.S. Naipaul
I ask V.S. Naipaul about his theory that the Muslim conquests of India
resulted in genocide and a destruction of the flower of Hindu civilisation.
repeats his contention - Yes, the great wound was inflicted on this
I ask him about the tolerance that I have been taught was part of Indian
history, the life together of the two religions. He says it is a lie and
In other conversations he has maintained that historians such as Romila
Thapar are lying for political purpose, hiding the fact of Muslim genocide
Now I ask him whether his views will not play into the hands of bigots
people who want to persecute Muslims in our times. He says the truth will
never hurt, that Muslims in India ought to be aware of these truths. It
this context that we come to what has been written about the religions
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