Westernised and anglophile Nehru examined and understood the India’s heritage and historical past through the Western glasses, and his writings carried the same bias and misinterpretation. Here is a sample of simplistic, almost juvenile, comment of Nehru in his ‘The Discovery of India’, driven by an arrogant presumptuousness, and a condescending Western attitude:
“And yet I approached her [India] almost as an alien critic, full of dislike for the present as well as for many of the relics of the past that I saw. To some extent I came to her via the West, and looked at her as a friendly westerner might have done. I was eager and anxious to change her outlook and appearance and give her the garb of modernity…”

Nehru’s books betray no research, or breaking of any fresh ground, although they are readable. His works cannot be considered as works of scholarship. What he wrote in ‘Glimpses of World History’ and ‘Discovery of India’ are re-narration of the published material, mostly by the Western scholars, with their Western bias. There is nothing new to learn from it, even at the level of new conclusions or ideas. In parts, it is also wrong on facts and conclusions. His treatment of subjects in his books are superficial. You find no critical appraisals of the topics he dealt with in his books— whether on history or on politics or on economics. Many of his interpretations are stale, copycat Marxist. For a glimpse of the distortion of Indian history by Nehru let us take several examples.

Wrote Koenraad Elst: “The best-known propounder of negationism was certainly Jawaharlal Nehru. He was rather illiterate concerning Indian culture and history, so his admirers may invoke for him the benefit of doubt. At any rate, his writings contain some crude cases of glorification of Muslim tyrants and concealment or denial of their crimes… With Nehru, negationism became the official line of the Indian National Congress, and after Independence also of the Indian state and government…”

VS Naipaul stated in Economic Times of 13-Jan-2003: “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.”

Wrote Brig. BN Sharma: “Nehru’s original distortion propounded in the ‘Discovery of India’ in robbing the Indian culture of its soul of Hinduism, and almost making it appear as a composite culture of diverse religious faiths, mainly Islam and Christianity, had far reaching [negative] influence on our modern historians… The pack of leftist and socialist historians [court/establishment historians] nursed on Nehru’s half-baked thoughts lost no time in rewriting history…Nehru’s reading of Indian history was thoroughly flawed by the influence of Western writers and his own predilections of looking at it from his Cambridge perch.”

The ‘Discovery of India’ notwithstanding, its seems Nehru had neither properly discovered the real history of India in several vitals aspects nor grasped the contemporary India, as would be clear from the following faulty interpretation of his in his letter to Lord Lothian dated 17 January 1936: “India has never known in the whole course of her long history the religious strife that has soaked Europe in blood… Some conflict arose when Islam came, but even that was far more political than religious… I cannot easily envisage religious conflict in India on any substantial scale… The communalism of today is essentially political, economic and middle class… One must never forget that that communalism in India is a latter-day phenomenon which has grown up before our eyes… With the coming of social issues to the forefront it is bound to recede into the background.” Wrote Dr RC Majumdar, the renowned historian: “Did Nehru forget the torrent of Hindu blood through which Mahmud of Ghazni waded to India with Quran in the one hand and sword in the other? Did he forget Timur’s invasion of India to wage ‘war with the infidels’… One would like to know in what sense the iconoclastic fury of Feruz Tughluk, Sikandar Lodi, and Aurangzeb—not to speak of host of others— was political rather than religious? Nor does Nehru seem to have any knowledge of Aligarh Movement and its founder… he [Nehru] was… unable or unwilling to face facts.”

For a glimpse of Nehru’s distortion of Indian history let us take another example—that of destruction of Somnath temple. Mahmud of Ghazni destroyed the temple in 1024 CE in his sixteenth of the seventeen raids into India over a period of about 30 years, and carried away camel-loads of jewels and gold. It is said that Mahmud personally hammered the temple’s gilded idol to pieces and carted it to Ghazni where they were incorporated into the steps of the city’s new Jamiah Masjid [Friday mosque]. Thousands of defenders were massacred, including one Ghogha Rana, who had challenged Mahmud at the ripe old age of 90.

Ahmad al-Bîrûnî, upon invitation from Sultãn Mahmûd of Ghazni (CE 997-1030), entered his service, and travelled to India, spending forty years in India. Records al-Bîrûnî in his book Tãrîkhu’l-Hind:
“The linga he razed was the stone of Somnath, for soma means the moon and natha means master, so that the whole word means master of the moon. The image was destroyed by the Prince Mahmud, may God be merciful to him! —AH 416. He ordered the upper part to be broken and the remainder to be transported to his residence, Ghazni, with all its coverings and trappings of gold, jewels, and embroidered garments. Part of it has been thrown into the hippodrome of the town, together with the Cakrasvamin, an idol of bronze, that had been brought from Thanesar. Another part of the idol from Somnath lies before the door of the mosque of Ghazni, on which people rub their feet to clean them from dirt and wet.” —Sita Ram Goel

Wrote Zakariya al-Qazwini, a 13th-century Arab geographer:
“Somnath: celebrated city of India, situated on the shore of the sea, and washed by its waves. Among the wonders of that place was the temple in which was placed the idol called Somnath. This idol was in the middle of the temple without anything to support it from below, or to suspend it from above [might have been so, thanks to magnets]. It was held in the highest honour among the Hindus, and whoever beheld it floating in the air was struck with amazement, whether he was a Musulman or an infidel. The Hindus used to go on pilgrimage to it whenever there was an eclipse of the moon, and would then assemble there to the number of more than a hundred thousand…When the Sultan Yaminu-d Daula Mahmud Bin Subuktigin [Mahmud of Ghazni, who was son of Subuktigin] went to wage religious war against India, he made great efforts to capture and destroy Somnath, in the hope that the Hindus would then become Muhammadans. As a result thousands of Hindus were converted to Islam. He arrived there in the middle of Zi-l k’ada, 416 A.H. [December, 1025 CE]… The king looked upon the idol with wonder, and gave orders for the seizing of the spoil, and the appropriation of the treasures. There were many idols of gold and silver and vessels set with jewels…”

Yet, in his book ‘The Discovery of India’, Nehru writes about “Mahmud of Ghazni and the Afghans” in ‘Chapter-6:New Problems’ , a sentence in which goes, “He met with…on his way back from Somnath in Kathiawar.” That’s all. There is nothing more on Somnath and its destruction!

But, what Nehru totally omits in ‘The Discovery of India’, he does mention a little bit in his other book which he wrote ten years earlier in 1935—’Glimpses of World History’. In ‘Chapter-51: From Harsha to Mahmud in North India’, Nehru writes, “But it was in Somnath that he [Mahmud of Ghazni] got the most treasure…” Nehru further writes:
“He [Mahmud of Ghazni] is looked upon as a great leader of Islam who came to spread Islam in India. Most Muslims adore him; most Hindus hate him. As a matter of fact, he [Mahmud] was hardly a religious man. He was a Mohammedan, of course, but that was by the way. Above everything he was soldier, and a brilliant soldier. He came to India to conquer and loot, as soldiers unfortunately do, and he would have done so to whatever religion he might have belonged… We must therefore not fall into the common error of considering Mahmud as anything more than a successful soldier.”

There could not be worse distortion of history. Nehru is labouring to convince the reader that the havoc that Mahmud wrought was not because he was a Muslim, and that a person of another religion would perhaps have also done what Mahmud did. What utter nonsense! Further, Nehru does not dwell on the terrible destruction Mahmud wrecked.

The great Indian novelist, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee (Chattopadhyay), had commented: “They (Muslims) were not satisfied merely with looting, they destroyed temples, they demolished idols, they raped women. The insult to other religions and the injury to humanity was unimaginable. Even when they became kings they could not liberate themselves from these loathsome desires…”

Real history is what historians of that time—contemporaries of Mahmud —themselves wrote. As per the contemporary history, when Mahmud of Ghazni was carrying away the Shiva idol of gold from the Somnath temple, many rich traders came together and offered him even more wealth if he returned the idol. Mahmud’s retort was: “I am an idol-breaker, not an idol- seller! ” Wrote Romila Thapar: “Shaikh Farid al-Din mentions a story where the Brahmans plead with Mahmud to preserve the idol, in return for which they would give him immense wealth, but he refused, stating that he is not an idol seller, but an idol breaker.” Wrote JL Mehta: “Mahmud spurned the offer [wealth in exchange of the idol], however, and said that he would rather like to be known as the idol-breaker (but-shikan) [but=idol], than the idol-seller (but-farosh).”

Nehru wrote in ‘Discovery of India’: “Mahmud [of Ghazni] was far more a warrior than a man of faith…” Then about Mathura, he writes, “Mahmud was anxious to make his own city of Ghazni rival the great cities of central and western Asia and he carried off from India large number of artisans and master builders. Building interested him and he was much impressed by the city of Mathura near Delhi. About this he [Mahmud] wrote: ‘There are here a thousand edifices as firm as the faith of the faithful; nor is it likely that this city has attained its present condition but at the expense of many millions of dinars, nor could such another be constructed under a period of 200 years.’”

What is interesting and intriguing is that nowhere there is any mention by Nehru of how this Mahmud, ‘the lover of buildings’ as he calls him, mercilessly destroyed Mathura and Somnath!
Wrote Al Utbi, an aide and secretary of Mahmud of Ghazni, in Tarikh- e Yamini: “The Sultan gave orders that all the temples should be burnt with naphtha and fire and levelled with the ground .” Utbi wrote that Mahmud first wanted to go to Sijistan, but subsequently changed his mind for “a holy war against Hind”, and details how Sultan “purified Hind from idolatry and raised mosques”. He also states that the “Musulmans paid no regard to the booty till they had satiated themselves with the slaughter of the infidels and worshippers of the sun and fire.” In Tabakat-I Nasiri, Minhaju-s Siraj hails Mahmud for “converting as many as a thousand idol- temples into mosques”, and calls him “one of the greatest champions of Islam”. No wonder Pakistan names their missiles Ghazni and Ghori.

Nehru wrote in ‘Discovery of India’: “Of the Indians, Alberuni [who came with Mahmud of Ghazni] says that they ‘are haughty, foolishly vain, self-contained, and stolid,’ and that they believe ‘that there is no country like theirs, no kings like theirs, no science like theirs’. Probably a correct enough description of the temper of the people.” Nehru doesn’t seem to ‘suffer’ from any self-respect and pride for his own country; and instead seems comfortable and fine with anything negative about Indians, but has little negative to comment on the massive destruction wrought, and its wrecker, Mahmud of Ghazni!

Nehru further quotes [in ‘Discovery of India’]Alberuni writing about the havoc caused by Mahmud, “The Hindus became like the atoms of dust scattered in all directions and like a tale of old in the mouths of people. Their scattered remains cherish of course the most inveterate aversion towards all Muslims.” Nehru then comments, “This poetic description gives us an idea …” So, Nehru found Alberuni’s description of terrible misfortune wrought on India and Hindus poetic !

Incidentally, Alberuni had travelled to India with Mahmud of Ghazni during the first half of the eleventh century CE. The book “Alberuni’s India” is Alberuni’s written work on India, translated by Dr Edward C Sachau. Here is an extract from what Alberuni, who was a witness to what Mahmud did in India and to India, and who is referred to by Nehru in the quote of Nehru above, had to say:
“This prince [Sabuktagin] chose the holy war as his calling, and therefore called himself Al-ghazi (i.e. warring on the road of Allah)… afterwards his son Yamin-addaula Mahmud marched into India during a period of thirty years or more. God be merciful to both father and son! Mahmud [of Ghazni] utterly ruined the prosperity of the country [India], and performed there wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions, and like a tale of old in the mouth of the people…”

Interesting thing is what Nehru chooses to quote from Alberuni, and what he chooses to ignore. Even God cannot alter the past, but “historians” like Nehru, and the Marxist-Negationist historians, can!

Nehru writes a little on Aurangzeb in his book ‘Glimpses of World History’ and in detail in his book ‘Discovery of India’ , but remains silent on Aurangzeb’s extensive destruction of Hindu temples. Here is what Sita Ram Goel wrote, quoting a contemporary Muslim historian:
The author Sãqã Must’ad Khãn in his history (completed in 1710 CE) of Aurangzeb, based on the State archives, recorded:
“The Lord Cherisher of the Faith [Aurangzeb] learnt that in the provinces of Tatta, Multãn, and especially at Benares, the Brahman misbelievers used to teach their false books in their established schools, and that admirers and students both Hindu and Muslim, used to come from great distances to these misguided men in order to acquire this vile learning. His Majesty, eager to establish Islãm, issued orders to the governors of all the provinces to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels and with the utmost urgency put down the teaching and the public practice of the religion of these misbelievers… It was reported that, according to the Emperor’s command, his officers had demolished the temple of Vishwanath at Kashi.”                                                                                                                                                                                                   “…During this month of Ramzan abounding in miracles, the Emperor … issued orders for the demolition of the temple situated in Mathurã, famous as the Dehra of Kesho Rãi. In a short time by the great exertions of his officers the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished, and on its site a lofty mosque was built at the expenditure of a large sum.”
“Abû Turãb, who had been sent to demolish the temples of Amber, returned to Court on Tuesday, the 10th August/24th Rajab, and reported that he had pulled down sixty-six temples.”
“The Emperor, summoning Muhammad Khalil and Khidmat Rai, the darogha of hatchet-men, ordered them to demolish the temple of Pandharpur, and to take the butchers of the camp there and slaughter cows in the temple. It was done.”   

Share this post