Tuesday 21 May 2024

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed

Society | Heritage

Colonial interpretation of history created India & Pak: Romila


Prof Romila Thapar delivering lecture at Goa University

Eminent Indian historian Prof Romila Thapar has stated that our country got divided into India and Pakistan due to colonial interpretation of India’s ancient history on religious lines.

She has also emphasised the need to re-interprete ancient Indian history from realistic angle rather than following the British colonial pattern of interpreting history.

Prof Thapar today launched the unique Visiting Research Professors’ Programme, representing the D D Kosambi Chair, at Goa University.

She will be visiting the state for the next three years, as a visiting professor, spending at least six weeks in a year, which she has lauded as an excellent idea floated at academic level in the country.

In her one-hour long lecture on “Contours in Reading Early Indian History,” Prof Thapar also appealed to the packed audience including history teachers and students to understand the Indian history afresh, based on ancient text and archaeological artefacts.

“History is not what it looks like but what evidences tell us”, she said, while also stressing upon questioning the existing knowledge of ancient Indian history.

She was critical of colonial definition of Indian history, which was simply periodised into Hindu, Muslim and British rules.

These monolithic religious identities superseded other regional identities, which ultimately resulted into creation of Pakistan of Muslims and India of Hindus, she said.

According to Prof Thapar, the Indian ancient history was interpreted by simply applying the European race science to India, when in reality the Indian ancient society developed in a much different way.

With the emergence of other social sciences, Prof Thapar said the colonial theory of Hindu, Muslim and British eras was being questioned in the 20th century today.

Talking about yet another concept of cultural nationalism in India, the historian said the identities never remain homogenous but there are multiple identities India has experienced.

No identity can remain one for all the times, she said.

Multiple cultures in India have in fact changed the identities of Indians, she said.

According to her, the real interpretation of ancient Indian history has begun in recent decades, which is based on regional linguistic communities of India.


Aryans was not a race and they did not invade India, but Aryan-speaking linguistic communities slowly migrated from the region like Syria and Iran in 1500 BC into north-western India, said Prof Thapar.

There is no evidence available to prove that Aryan India was the greatest civilisation of ancient India, observed the Indian historian.

She also recalled Dadabhai Navaroji’s statement that the colonial rule has drained Indian economy, which has raised a huge controversy.

Following him was Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, she said, who observed that social hierarchy had led to domination of certain castes and classes.

The colonial interpretation of Indian history has projected woman as being considered in high esteem while the reality is that she was considered a Dasi, almost like a slave and a property of men.

She was either gifted in a marriage through Kanyadan or abducted by Rakshasas (demons) as projected in Mahabharat, said Prof Thapar.

Prof Thapar felt that a detailed study of deforestation for new settlements would also provide lots of information that would help in interpreting ancient India, through which got created today’s linguistic states.

Goa governor Bharat Vir Wanchoo, in his presidential address after her lecture, lauded the effort of Goa University of launching the programme of visiting professors and thanked Prof Thapar for throwing light on interpreting ancient Indian history.

Dr Maria Aurora Couto, who is heading the committee of total six chairs for this programme, also spoke on the occasion.

Goa University vice chancellor Dr Satish Shetye welcomed while registrar Vijayendra Kamat proposed a vote of thanks. 

goanews.com is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

Verification Code Enter The Code Displayed hereRefresh Image