2ndlook

How 1857 changed world history …

A war of a different kind

During the 1857 War against the colonial rule of Britain in India, unable to gain military advantage, British armed forces started using Indian populations as human shield. For each military success of the Indian armies, the British armies exacted retribution on the local non-combatant populations.

This reign of terror and brutality on home populations disarmed Indian armies and ended the war. A impressive work on this period is by Amaresh Misra – a film critic and journalist, who was moved sufficiently to research for a few years, because, “Since 1957, no Indian has written a comprehensive account of the Revolt. Indian historians have done a limited work”. Another step in this direction is Parag Tope’s forth coming book, Operation Red Lotus, on the life and wars of Tatiya Tope.

And after subduing the Indian population with this brutal campaign, Britain started a more insidious war – a propaganda war. History started getting twisted, perverted, mutilated – and over the next 100 years, Indian and world history was changed beyond recognition.

    Semiramis Receiving Word of the Revolt of Babylon, 1624 by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)

Semiramis Receiving Word of the Revolt of Babylon, 1624 by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)

Let the games begin

After 1857, British racist propaganda and cultural baggage came covertly – to gain better traction at home and in the colonies. For instance, Priya Joshi, a researcher shows that after 1857, book shipments from Britain to India increased by a factor of three.

The death of Semiramis

In this propaganda campaign, the most interesting bit is the cold-blooded murder of the historical Semiramis. Readers will find that Semiramis as an Assyrian Queen till the 1850-60 period Western histories.

The Marchese Tommaso II of Saluzzo commissioned Jacques Iverny in 15th century to paint Semiramis, (alongwith Lampheto, Marpasia, Synoppe, Thamiris, Menalippe, Hippolyta, Orithyia, and Penthesilea) now known as The Nine Worthies. Chaucer’s character, Sowdannesse, is charged of being a ‘Virago, thou Semyrame the secounde’ in his Man of Law’s Tale. Edward Degas and Guercine made Semiramis the subject of their paintings. Calderon used her character in his plays. Mozart died before he could complete his melodrama based on Semiramis. A 16th century painter, Philip Galle used Semiramis and Babylon as the subjects of his paintings.

    Philippe Galle – The City of Babylon with the grave of Semiramis

Philippe Galle – The City of Babylon with the grave of Semiramis

Mired in legend and prejudice, Semiramis is discredited in modern Western history – especially starting from 1853-1857. Her very existence denied, accused of incest, Semiramis has been tarred and condemned to the rubbish heap of modern history – and the Bible.

Semiramis established an empire that lasted, practically till WW1. Some 300 years, after the reign of Semiramis, the Assyrian Empire passed into Persian hands. From the Persians, into Alexander’s lap.

Suddenly, from 1860 onwards, Western history started treating Semiramis as a wanton, decadent, probably mythical, a perverted sluttish character.

The reason.

Semiramis biggest defeat was at the hands of Indians. And soon after her defeat, was the defeat of Cyrus the Great, at the hands of Indians again. And before that were the Battles of Meggido and Kadesh, in which Indic armies confronted the Slave Empire of the Egypt. Such an Indian history was very inconvenient for the British Raj.

Edgar Degas. Semiramis Building Babylon. 1861

The Alexander mythos

Alexander’s raid of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, finally turned out to be a overthrow of the Achaemenid dynasty, usurpers of the Assyrian Empire. Unable to make headway into India, as the Indian Brahmins had helped and influenced Indian princes to organize and support the Indian war against Alexander. Greek sources cite, after this realization, at ‘The City of Brahmans’, Alexander massacred an estimated 8000-10,000 of these non-combatant Brahmans.

Alexander’s massacres in India, a colonial historian informs us (without naming a source), earned him an “epithet … assigned (to) him by the Brahmins of India, The Mighty Murderer.” This Indian Brahmanic characterization of Alexander, commonly taught to English schoolchildren and present in English college texts, as The Mighty Murderer, curiously disappeared from Western-English texts soon after 1860 – and instead now “a positive rose-tinted aura surrounds Alexander” … !

Since Indian texts were completely silent about the very existence of Alexander, colonial Western historians had a free run. Using hagiographic Greek texts as the base, Alexander became the conqueror of the world.

Max Mueller – Son of Hegel

Behind this propaganda was possibly a man who is much admired (wrongly) in India today – Max Mueller. For instance in Max Muller’s colonial propagandist history, when it comes to Indian triumphs over Semiramis, she becomes half legendary. Yet in another book, the same Semiramis becomes one of ‘the great conquerors of antiquity.’ In a matter of a few pages, he dismisses Indian history completely, in a half-Hegelian manner.

Among Max Mueller’s cohorts, was Karl Marx, who wrote from London, on Friday, June 10, 1853 on India, for the New-York Herald Tribune thus

Hindostan is an Italy of Asiatic dimensions, the Himalayas for the Alps, the Plains of Bengal for the Plains of Lombardy, the Deccan for the Apennines, and the Isle of Ceylon for the Island of Sicily. The same rich variety in the products of the soil, and the same dismemberment in the political configuration. Just as Italy has, from time to time, been compressed by the conqueror’s sword into different national masses, so do we find Hindostan, when not under the pressure of the Mohammedan, or the Mogul[104], or the Briton, dissolved into as many independent and conflicting States as it numbered towns, or even villages. Yet, in a social point of view, Hindostan is not the Italy, but the Ireland of the East. And this strange combination of Italy and of Ireland, of a world of voluptuousness and of a world of woes, is anticipated in the ancient traditions of the religion of Hindostan. That religion is at once a religion of sensualist exuberance, and a religion of self-torturing asceticism; a religion of the Lingam and of the juggernaut; the religion of the Monk, and of the Bayadere.[105]

Aiding Karl Marx-Max Mueller, English poets were press ganged into this propaganda war. Matthew Arnold wrote how, India, a ‘nation of philosophers, from

“The East bowed low before the blast
In patient, deep disdain,
She let the legions thunder past,
And plunged in thought again.”

Matthew Arnold’s influence in Indian education can be gauged by the fact that Indian-English language poetry was for long called derisively as Matthew Arnold in a Saree”. Just before 1857 War, the works of another ‘influential’ poet, John Keats, became popular. In his hubristic haze, Keats wrote how,

The kings of Ind their jewel-sceptres vail,
And from their treasures scatter pearled hail;
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans,
And all his priesthood moans,
Before young Bacchus’ eye-wink turning pale.

Much of modern history’s debates and questions were born during this time – verily created to wage a propaganda war against India – and the world. India’s cultural stature in the pantheon of world’s societies was reduced to a minimal role – and the Greek Miracle was born.

In the dying days of the Raj

This propaganda war continued well for another 100 years. In the middle of WW2, Britain pulled out a general from the Italian theatre of war. Brigadier General Mortimer Wheeler, the general in question, was sent to India – to head colonial India’s archaeological operations.

One evening in early August 1943, Brigadier-General Mortimer Wheeler was resting in his tent after a long day of poring over maps, drawing up plans for invasion of Sicily. Mortimer Wheeler was invited to become the director general of archaeology by the India Office of the British government in its last years of rule in South Asia … Summoning a general from the battlefields of Europe was an extraordinary measure, an admission both of the desperate condition of Indian archaeology and an acknowledgment of its vital importance. (from The Strides of Vishnu: Hindu Culture … – Google Books).

Amazing!

Why would the glorious British Empire, on which the sun never set, struggling for its very existence, in the middle of WW2, suddenly pull a general back from the battlefield? Remember, the deceptive Operation Mincement had just been completed. The Allies for readying their armies for their assault on Hitler in Europe. The outcome of the war was far from certain.

And they put a Brigadier-General into archaeology! That too, Indian archaeology. Not Egyptian, not Greek! Especially, when it was clear, that they would be departing from India – sooner rather than later.

Rule Britannia
Rule Britannia

Right choice … right time

Considering what theories came from Mortimer Wheeler’s rather fertile ‘imagination’ and his rigourous archaeological process, in hindsight, from a Western perspective, this was sound decision. There may be the facile answer that the British were, after all ‘searching for history and truth’.

And it led Mortimer Wheeler to remark,

“They demonstrate with astonishing clarity the extent to which the brief transit of Alexander did in fact Hellenize almost instantly vast tracts of Asia populated previously by nomads or semi-nomads and villagers”

It is this one incident which possibly contains answers to many unanswered questions like: –

  1. The amount of energy expended by the West in defending the Aryan Invasion /Migration Theory,
  2. The lack of access to Indian scholars of the archaeological sites in Pakistan
  3. The many myths in Indian history
  4. The clues to the partition of India
  5. The dating problems

et al.

Just why did the world’s foremost imperial power, struggling for its very existence, suddenly pull a general from the battle field, in the middle of WW2 – and put him onto the job of digging dirt.

Only one explanation fits – it had to be a struggle for its own existence at a higher level!

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Behind The Web Of Terror

“…one who knows the higher criminal world … for years …I have …been conscious of some power behind the malefactor, some deep organizing power which … stands in the way of the law, and throws its shield over the wrong-doer. Again and again …I have felt the presence of this force, …when I seized my thread and followed it, …it led me, …to ….” Arthur Conan Doyle – The Final Solution

Syria For Dessert

The Root Of All Terror

In today’s world, behind all terror you will similarly see another baleful influence. No, it is not Osama bin Laden. Osama is either a minor reactionary (in Marxist terms) or a diluted repetition of the Hashishi influence.

Hashishis were major source of terrorism in the Dark Ages in Europe and Middle East. Their influence was finally extirpated by Genghis Khan’s army – which systematically went after this band of mercenary killers. The English word assassin is derived from Hashishis.

The source of modern terrorism is the USA.

The formation of Israel

Similar to the Middle East carve-up after WW1, and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, USA’s baleful story started immediately after WW2. The creation of the US cat’s paw in the Middle East – Israel. Less than 1,00,000 Jews were considered more important than the 5,00,000 Palestinian’s. This was American solution, aided by odious British legalities, (the Balfaour Declaration) to the Jewish persecution in Europe.

Just why, did Muslim Palestinians in Asia have to pay the price, for Christian persecution of Jews in Europe.

The Jews promptly forgot all about persecution – and started a new chapter in persecution. Palestinians became homeless – no passports. They could not go anywhere. Israel did not want them as Israeli citizens – but as a source of cheap labour, without rights. Jordan accepted a few. Syria was persuaded to accept some. They became stateless citizens – property of the UNHCR. And Palestinians started a new chapter in terrorism!

What Can Palestinians Do

The biggest successes in post WW2 world have been those that followed Gandhiji – Poland, South Africa, Martin Luther King and others. Odds are in favour of following the Gandhian way. The one unique military success in the last 60 years of struggle by emerging nations was Ho Chi Minh.

Ho Chi Minh from Time MagazineLike Haitian generals, time and again, Ho Chi Minh, drove back Western colonials – each time they went back on their word. The French had promised freedom and de-colonialisation after WW2. Thereafter, they tried wriggling. Ho Chi Minh wouldn’t let them move.

The French created a mess – before leaving in 1956. Just like Britain did in India (by creating a Pakistan and Kashmir). US decided that they could ‘clean up’ – and make Vietnam into another client state like other SEATO (now ASEAN) members. 20 years later, the US admitted defeat and decided to slink away. The Chinese decided to take swipe. Same story.

Three of the five permanent members of the Security Council, (supposed Super Powers or mini-Super Powers) tried their hand at Vietnam. All failed. And after defeating these ‘Super Powers’, the Viets did not flex their muscles with any of their neighbours.

Ho Chi Minh’s quiet leadership, his frugality, his unblemished personal life inspired the Viets to take on the world – and win. After becoming President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, he lived in a ‘gardener’s cottage and then a peasant house built on stilts beside a pond.’ Just like Gandhiji, he died just before seeing his dream came true. Ho Chi died in 1969 – a few years before the last of the colonialists was thrown out.

His was the kind of war that Gandhiji always believed in – ethical, moral. Without hate, rancour, ill-will or subjugative ambitions. Ho Chi Minh was truly the second coming of Gandhiji – the predicted Kalki. This is the success that Middle East freedom fighters need to learn from. Regressive practices by rag-tag terror outfits corrupt the freedom struggle – and dilute the stability of the outcome.

The Islamic DemonisationNext was Iran.

They foisted a corrupt Reza Shah Pahlavi in Iran. A king no one wanted. The Shah of Iran wrote new chapters in state repression.

In 1974, I was introduced to a visitor from Iran in Hyderabad, India – someone my father picked up an acquaintance with. He was afraid of speaking anything in our house in India – 2500 miles away. He was afraid as if the Savak (Shah’s secret police) was in the room next door. He was from an Iranian minority that spoke Aramaic – and the first time I came to know that Aramaic was one of the language in which the Bible was originally written (but that is another story).

The Shah of Iran worked against his own nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq – to protect Western Oil interests. To turn public opinion,

declassified documents detailing the 1953 U.S. overthrow of Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq reveal that something actually called the “CIA Art Group” produced cartoons to turn public opinion against the democratically elected leader.

The CIA, led by Kermit Roosevelt Jr., and the British intelligence, launched Operation Ajax. Finally, in 1979, the Shah was replaced by the regressive regime of Ayatollah Khomeini, which has taken Iran out of the USA orbit – but kept Iran from progress for the last 30 years. Iran has become a source of de-stabilisation various parts of the world (Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc) – in its anti USA crusade.

US Targets Paula Abdul For Regime ChangePakistan – Old Story.

Pakistan was a part of the USA troika with Iran and Turkey in the CENTO alliance against USSR. Pakistan’s next ruler will be selected by the USA. During the Kargil war, India was talking to the USA. USA called the shots – and decided to replace Nawaz Sharif with Musharraf.

Pakistan was the training ground for New York sub-way bombing, 9/11 terrorists, for the Mujahiddin in Afghanistan and for the rogue trade in nuclear material with AQS Khan. India’s Kashmir and Khalistan problems – direct result of USA foreign policy.

Iraq

Iraq started a war with Iran in 1980 (prodded by USA) against Iran. As a reward. Saddam wanted Kuwait. Before the Kuwaiti invasion, Saddam took USA “permission”. By the time USA realized what was happening, Kuwait was over. USA did a volte-face – and Saddam became a demon. Today, Iraq has become a quagmire of a civil war amongst Iraqis. The cost of an alliance with the USA. The war on terror has become another foray for the America-Australia-Britain-Canada (ABC) Axis – at a cost to the rest of the world.

“By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!” So said President George Bush in a euphoric victory statement at the end of the Gulf War. Did Iraq have to pay the price for exorcising the Vietnam ghost in the American mind?

Osama was operating from Afghanistan.

What did the USA have to do there!! It started with USSR. The King Of Afghanistan – Zahir Shah was replaced by a USSR backed group. A despotic, directionless regime replaced Zahir Shah. The secular voice of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, an avowed Gandhian, in Afghanistan was silenced by Pakistan – an USA ally.

Afghanistan decayed into a regressive nation – which the USSR decided to change! The civil war between the mujahideen (armed by the USA) and the Russians pushed back the character of the Afghans by 1500 years. An USA supply agreement flooded Afghanistan and Peshawar with for arms and armaments. Waziristan in Pakistan, NWFP has practically been conquered by the Mujahideen. The touch that kills.

Teror Outsourcing?Who’s next?

Saudi Arabia? One of the Central Asian Republics! Anglo Saxon propaganda overdrive tells us that Islam is to be blamed. Hardly!

Three causes for this US policy.

Oil – Cheap oil. Never mind the cost to others.

Oil – All it can get. And then some more.

Oil – For no one else. Uncle Sam wants it all.

Three Monkeys – Toshogu Temple

Amazingly, one of the US presidential hopefuls, John McCain, even blames a Muslim for killing Gandhiji. This was demonisation of Muslims by the American political establishment at its best.

Post Script

The first step

On February 22nd, 2008, the Deoband Seminary, the most respected Islamic seminary in South and South East Asia, issued a anti-terrorism declaration at a huge public meeting attended by hundreds and thousands of people. This set up a new direction in Islamic social dialogue – where a non-establishment, Islamic theological group came out against terrorism. Subsequently, some other ‘liberals’ jumped onto this bandwagon.

And then …

In October 2008, Pakistan was sent on a cold turkey … by Saudi Arabia, China and the US. Pakistan has been forced to go to IMF which is prescribing a heavy cut back in defence spending.

But most interestingly …

On October 3rd, 2008, the Frontier Gandhi’s grandson was the target of suicide bomber. The terrorists are obviously worried that Khan Abdul Khan Ghaffar Khan’s sensibility may make a comeback. Suddenly the world has been reminded about Khan Abdul Khan Ghaffar Khan.

Coincidentally, in India, a film was made on Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. The LA Times recently ran an column on him. The answer to the Pakistani problems in the North West tribal areas was Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

And the tribal chiefs of Pakistan and Afghanistan Pashtuns decided to call for a ‘mini-jirga’ on violence – to decide on the future of the two countries.

Hopefully, this a new beginning for Pakistan …

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