Meenakshi Jain

Indian historian

Meenakshi Jain is an Indian political scientist and historian.

QuotesEdit

  • Indian Marxists, notwithstanding their claims to originality, have always been faithful followers of Western intellectual trends, often long after these were dated in the west. Thus, well after Western academics expounded upon European feudalism, Indian Marxists continue to search for point-by-point parallels between post-Gupta India and the West. Similarly the once-in-vogue notion of 'imagined' communities continues to bewitch our Marxist brethren who remain committed to fitting the history of the subcontinent to this maxim. Only the western rethinking on old patriotisms underpinning the new nationalisms has yet to win the allegiance of Indian Marxists.
    • Review of Romila Thapar's "Somanatha, The Many Voices of a History" by Meenakshi Jain, in The Pioneer 21st March 2004
  • Notwithstanding this politico-cultural reality, early Indian nationalists sought to inculcate a spirit of inclusivity and accommodation into the emergent socio-political discourse. As the freedom movement developed however, the Muslim League articulated an ideology committed wholly to its Islamic fountainhead and stressed the need to maintain the community’s political dominance in the country. The League’s refusal or failure to come to terms with the forces of modernization ushered in by the British further pushed it on a trajectory away from the national mainstream.
    • "Power Equations in Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century India: the Empirical Backdrop to Nationalism", International Forum for India's Heritage, 2003.
  • A scholar of medieval Indian history, Meenakshi Jain accurately captures a core theological reason for the Caliph’s glowing praise of Mahmud: Mahmud’s assault on Somanatha electrified the Muslim world because it was viewed as a sequel to the Prophet’s action at Kaba. Muslims identified the Somanatha idol as that of Manat62, believed to have been ferreted out of Mecca just prior to the Prophet’s attack on its temple. By destroying Somanatha, therefore, Mahmud was virtually completing the Prophet’s work; hence the act was hailed as the crowning glory of Islam over idolatry.
    • Meenakshi Jain, ‘A Review of Romila Thapar’s Somanatha, The Many Voices of a History’, The Pioneer, 21 March 2004. quoted in Sandeep Balakrishna - Invaders and Infidels_ From Sindh to Delhi_ The 500-Year Journey of Islamic Invasions. Bloomsbury India (2020)

Parallel pathwaysEdit

Jain, M. (2010). Parallel pathways: Essays on Hindu-Muslim relations, 1707-1857.
  • In India, the twain of faith and polity never met. It was not within royal purview to supervise the compliance of religious obligations by the citizenry. Indeed, there were no religious duties mandatory for all. p. 3
  • He [Tipu Sultan] sponsored the construction of the Ala Mosque within the fort of Seringapatam, in which pillars of Hindu origin are clearly visible. p 65
  • The Mysore Archaeological Survey contends that at least three temples within his realm were destroyed on Tipu's orders. The Harihareswara temple at Harihar was looted and a section of it converted into a mosque, while the Varahaswami temple in Seringapatam and the Odakaraya temple in Hospet were both destroyed. p. 68
  • The Rohillas displayed their iconoclastic fervour during the campaing, melting all the silver and gold idols they could seize. In the interests of the Himalayan trade and the pilgrimage traffic, the Kumaun rajas maintained cordial relations with them. p. 70
  • On Muhammad Ghuri, Tarinicharan says that his soldiers were 'inhabitants of the hills, hardy and skilled in warfare. By comparison, the Hindu kings were disunited and their soldiers relatively docile and undisciplined. Consequently, it was only to be expected that Muhammad would win easily. But that is not what happened. Virtually no Hindu ruler surren- dered his freedom without a mighty struggle. In particular, the Rajahputra were never defeated. ‘The rise, consolidation and collapse of Muslim rule have been completed, but the Rajahputra remain free to this day.'
    • quoted from Jain, M. (2010). Parallel pathways: Essays on Hindu-Muslim relations, 1707-1857. quoting Tarinicharan Chattopadhyay, (BI, p. 53) quoted in Partha Chatterjee - The Nation and Its Fragments_ Colonial and Postcolonial Histories-Princeton University Press (1993)

Rama and Ayodhya (2013)Edit

  • The belligerence of Left academics was at odds with their inability to validate and authenticiate their assertions in Court. On the very issues they continue to raise outside, they had been found on weak footing in the Allahabad High Court. (3)
  • It is indisputable that the Ramjanmabhumi/Babri Masjid debate has been dominated by a handful of historians from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), with stray participation of one or two other universities. The historians involved have been of Marxist orientation, some admittedly even card-holding members of the two Communist parties, the CPI and CPM. Their writings on the issue have appeared in the official publications of these parties--New Age and People's Democracy respectively, and also been published by Left-sponsored publishing groups like People's Publishing House, Sahmat and Tulika Books. Perhaps that could explain why their stance has often seemed more driven by ideology than academic deliberation. Yet, some of these academics, who even appeared as BMAC (Babri Masjid Action Committee) experts during negotiations between the VHP, BMAC and the Government in 1990-1991, claimed to be "independent historians", and demanded that they be recognized as such... A perusal of their writings and statements reveals an unswerving resolve to deny any possibility of a temple beneath the Masjid and, thus, fixity of purpose. So they initially pronounced Rama to be a mythic figure; questioned the identification of present day Ayodhya with Valmiki's Ayodhya; touted little remembered variants of the Rama story to counter Valmiki's version; declared Ayodhya was better known as a sacred city of the Buddhists and Jains; and even ruled out the existence of a Rama cult at Ayodhya prior to the eighteenth century. The belief in a Janmabhumi temple being destroyed by Babar they attributed to British machinations in the nineteenth century. For long, Marxist historians insisted that the Babri Masjid was built on virgin land.
    • Jain, Meenakshi. Rama and Ayodhya (2013, pp. 154-155)
  • The Bindu Madhava temple, commended by Tulasi Das in several poems, was amongn the tallest and finest buildings atop the Panchaganga Ghat. Vandalized several times between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries, it was rebuilt the last time by Raja Man Singh. The French traveler, Tavernier, described it as the most imposing structure along the Banaras waterfront. Aurangzeb had a huge mosque constructed at the site, which still dominates the skyline at the Ghat. A temple bearing that name was constructed in the shadow of the mosque. It is a non-descript structure, but continues the traditions associated with the site.
    • Jain, M. (2013). Rama and Ayodhya., p 106-7

The Battle for Rama: Case of the Temple at Ayodhya (2017)Edit

  • In an astonishing act of daring, a handful of Left historians attempted to counter a centuries old belief, and vociferously assert that Babri Masjid was built on vacant land. They remain undeterred despite the mounting evidence stacked against them. Some of these historians even appeared as experts of the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) during negotiations between the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), BMAC, and the Government in 1990-1991. Yet throughout they have maintained the charade of being "independent historians." (p 5)
  • But what is truly astounding is Kishore Kunal's exposure on the Treta Ka Thakur inscription housed in Lucknow Museum. For over two decades, Left historians, principally Professor Irfan Habib, mounted a forceful campaign claiming that this inscription was stolen from Lucknow Museum and planted at Ayodhya during the chaos of 6th December. Now for the first time a photograph of the Treta Ka Thakur inscription has been published. It conclusively establishes that the Treta Ka Thakur inscription and the Vishnu Hari inscription found in 1992 are two distinct epigraphs and that there had been no substitution.
    But does evidence really matter? Evidence may come; evidence may go; bu Left historians "go on forever". (p 7)
  • Shockingly, Sita Ram Roy subseque ntly admitted in Court that at the time of writing his article he had "not seen full photograph, estampage of the inscription or its decipherment". Yet he had no qualms in pontificating on a matter of such importance in the Ayodhya dispute. (106)
  • Thus far neither Dr. Roy, nor Professor Prasad, nor Professor Irfan Habib have responded to the publication of the photograph of the Treta Ka Thakur inscription, which falsifies the arguments they have been persistently advocating for over two decades. (112)
  • In Braj, only two pre-Mughal Hindu monuments are still standing, the Assi Khambha at Mahaban and the Chaurasi Khambha at Kaman ; still standing because they were refashioned into mosques. Everything else, Buddhist, Jain, Hindu was abandoned and left to collapse, or destroyed. (p 34, citing Enhvistle 1987: 134)
  • “No evidence whatsoever has been proffered of continued Muslim occupation Babri Masjid, while the uninterrupted presence of Hindu devotees has been attested by several sources. Babri Masjid finds no mention in the revenue records of the Nawabi and British periods, nor was any Waqf ever created for its upkeep. No Muslim filed an FIR when the image of Sri Rama was placed under the central dome on 23rd December 1949.” (p.144)
  • “So why has the matter dragged on for so long? Can a handful of historians be held accountable for stalling resolution of what is essentially a settled matter? Their voluble assertions on Babri Masjid have all been found to be erroneous, yet there has been no public retraction. Are they liable for vitiating social harmony over the issue? If the nation has to move on, honest answers must be found to these questions.” (p.145)

Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Episodes from Indian historyEdit

Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Episodes from Indian history.
  • The Bindu Madhava, the most important Vishnu temple in Varanasi, was demolished in 1669 and a mosque constructed in its place. The temple now bearing the name Bindu Madhava is a modest structure in the shadow of the mosque, but continues the traditions associated with the site.
  • In multiple cases, the reconstructed shrines had unknown patrons, pointing to the feebleness of the theory that restricted temples to an alliance of king and deity. Intriguingly, mosques built on temple sites often retained the sacred names — Bijamandal mosque, Lat masjid, Atala masjid, Gyanvapi mosque, and not to forget, masjid-i-janamsthan.
  • With no king to protect them, for centuries they restored demolished temples and deities, till not a glimmer of hope remained...
  • Numerous other shrines, too many to enumerate, were displaced, reduced in size, or simply erased. The Banaras that was reconstructed in the eighteenth century was markedly different from the Banaras destroyed. Sacred geography had changed beyond recognition. p 105
  • So complete was the destruction of Banaras that not a single pre-eighteenth century temple survived. p 124
  • Several other sacred sites in Rajasthan suffered severe assault. D.V. Sharma, who excavated in the Sikri region (ancient Seka), established that it had been a major temple-town and cultural centre like Osian, Gwalior, Vidisha, and Khajuraho. He reconstructed the sacred culture of several temple towns in the area, like Chichana, Chauma-Shahpur, Imlaoda, Churyari, Rasulpur, Jautana, Kiraoli, Dura, and Kagarol on the periphery, and Sikri at the nucleus. p 125
  • The memory of Mahakaleshwar had remained undimmed over time; the present structure was built almost five centuries after the destruction by Iltutmish. p 142
  • In several cases, temple structures were burnt or demolished stone by stone. All materials that could be used went into the construction of churches. Metal images were melted and used to make church ornaments. In the Salcete territory, all temples in 58 of the 76 villages were destroyed. The Jesuits estimated the big temples to number 280, while the small temples were “innumerable.”The wood of the Lakshmi temple in Sancoale village was utilized in making the church of St. Lourenco. The images of Daro (Dhaddo), Pormando (Paramameda), Narana (Narayana) Baguaonte (Bhagavati), Hesporo (Ishwara, Shiva) were burnt, beaten to pulp, and thrown in the river,
    A guru (guru of the temple is the gentile who cleans the temple and sweeps it, who decorates it and adores its idols; he lives next to the temple and eats the offerings) cried so much as it is possible to cry for the death of the good king. p 218

About Meenakshi JainEdit

  • After coming to power in 1998, the BJP-dominated government has made a half-hearted and not always very competent attempt to effect glasnost (openness, transparency) at least in the history textbooks. They ordered the writing of new history textbooks for the schools. This led the Marxists to start a furious hate campaign against the so-called “saffronization” (hinduization) of history. Most of the new textbooks have rightly been criticized for being written in poor English and riddled with errors,-- the result of both the Hindu movement's long-standing anti-intellectual prejudice and the systematic exclusion of aspiring pro-Hindu scholars from the institutions by the ruling Marxists. The one major exception, however, is precisely the volume on the Muslim conquest and rule, Medieval India (class XI) by Prof. Meenakshi Jain, an impeccable text systematically based on primary sources.
    • K. Elst: Religious Cleansing of Hindus, 2004, Agni conference in The Hague, In: The Problem with Secularism by K. Elst (2007)
  • What the BJP government claims to offer, what all scholarly historians want, and what is loathed by the Marxists who have dominated the cultural and educational establishment since decades, is glasnost: openness, an end to the dead hand of Marxist dogma in Indian history-writing. However, it is quite wrong to say that the Sangh Parivar takes this job “very seriously”. It took three years before relieving leading Marxists of their influential positions (Prasar Bharati, NCERT, IHC). Most of its new nominees were not up to the job, some because of ill-health (e.g. K.S. Lal and B.R. Grover, both now deceased), some because they had never functioned in an academic setting. It should not be forgotten that for decades, at least since ca. 1970 when the Marxists led by P.N. Haksar and Nurul Hasan were given a lot of effective power in this sector in return for their support to Indira Gandhi, distinctly non-Marxist young historians found their access to an academic career blocked by the Marxist hegemons. Of the new textbooks, some are impeccable and are welcomed as undeniable improvements, e.g. Meenakshi Jain’s presentation of the Muslim period, arguably the most sensitive and controversial part of the series. Some of the others, by contrast, have been criticized or ridiculed even by fair-minded observers.
    • The Problem with Secularism by K. Elst
  • But the BJP does not have a good record in this regard. In ca. 2002, it tried to achieve an overhaul of the history textbooks officially recommended to the Indian schools, but only managed to cover itself in ridicule. The textbook reform became a horror show of incompetence. The best of the textbooks, probably the only one up to standard, was by Dr. Meenakshi Jain, therefore also the main attractor of specious secularist criticisms, as the other textbooks were already considered as rendered harmless by ridicule.
    • Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015 Ch. 17

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