“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history”– GEORGE ORWELL
Post abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution in August 2019, a series of changes took place in the newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. One such change was the change of the syllabi and curriculum by the Board of School Education responsible for facilitating and reforming school education. So the new edition of the books were published in November 2019.
The other day I was checking the books of my brother, especially the textbooks of Social Science (History and Democratic Politics) of Class 10th. In the History textbook, there is a whole section i.e., Section-IV dedicated to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. While reading the chapter, I found that they have started from Naya Kashmir Manifesto, then the end of Dogra rule and the establishment of the new government.
After this, the whole chapter deals with the various reforms in Jammu and Kashmir. What caught my attention was that there was a simple mention or a passing reference of accession of J&K to India. There is nothing about the circumstances that led to the accession of the state to India, the conditions annexed to the document, autonomy of the State etc.
History of Kashmir is riddled with contradictory assertions
Throughout the course of time, histories have been altered; histories have been erased and re-written as per the wills and whims of the rulers. History is full of conflicting claims. Take for instance the case of the famous ‘Rajtarangini‘ translated as the ‘River of Kings’ written by Kalhana in 1128-44 AD. It is the only authority we have on ancient history but not the only source.
Kalhana himself in his chronicle says that he has referred to the 11 works of former scholars but there is no record or proof of such works. While this ancient text gives us an insight into the history of Kashmir, there are questions about the authenticity of the text.
Author Khalid Bashir Ahmad in his book ‘Kashmir: Exposing the Myth behind the Narrative’ claims that Kalhana is more of a poet than a historian, that he has shrouded the history of Kashmir in legend and mythology; that the narrative though of high literary value is hard to be regarded as a reliable source of history.
Further distortions have crept into the text over the centuries, and there is no corroborative evidence of the narration of 3000 years out of the 4000 years of Kashmir history narrated by Kalhana. It appears to be his poetic imagination as he was a great versifier of the Sanskrit language. Kalhana has been called a poet par excellence and not a historian even by his contemporaries such as Manakh and Alak Dat.
Another author Prem Nath Bazaz in his book ‘Struggle for Freedom in Kashmir’ although praises ‘Rajtarangini’ for being a faithful record of Kashmir’s past, at the same time, says that it will be unwise to rely on this chronology as it is defective owing to the errors in the earlier chroniclers.
Knowing our past, keeping track, and writing our history are all essential
It is also true that history can’t be seen through the eyes of one man only. A single history of the past is never possible, it is always written as per the perspective of the dominant. History is being created with every passing day, and it is also distorted with every passing day. That is why it is necessary to know our history, keep track of our history and write our history.
Jammu and Kashmir has millennia of history, and we have no authentic record of the actual happenings. Therefore, we are bound to accept our ancient history as it is.
Kashmir has a unique and different history of its own. We can never be at par with other states of India and our history is nowhere being taught to its generation. Even during my course of B.A. LLB at the University of Kashmir, we were taught the Constitution of India but not the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, we were taught The Indian Penal Code but not the Ranbir Penal Code and that is prior to August 2019, when J&K still had a Special Status.
Now, our history will be moulded in such a way that there will come a time when there will be no mention of J&K’s separate Constitution. Instrument of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir signed by the then Maharaja Hari Singh will be shown to be done after consulting the representatives of the people, abrogation of Article 370 will be presented as per the will of the people and there will be no record of our sufferings and clampdown over normal life. Histories will mention the fancy achievements of the successive governments in the upliftment of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Taking again the example of Kalahana’s ‘Rajtaringini’, howsoever defective, it gives a running account of events from 3000 BC to 1149 AD and contains more than a list of kings, their queens and ministers, or their military expeditions to neighbouring principalities. However, there is practically no information on the people – their food, clothing and shelter, their days of joys and sorrows or the ups and downs they went through during the course of centuries.
We have a responsibility to leave a legacy for future generations
History is a perishable commodity; it disappears with time as memories fade and as people pass on. So everybody should know their history irrespective of their profession. Even if our younger generations are not taught it in schools, we need to encourage it and read and understand not because we are going to be tested for it but because it is ours, and we should know and own what belongs to us.
When I was a kid, there were no technological advancements, no smartphones to keep us occupied, so we used to gather around our grandparents for stories, and my grandpa would tell us stories about the time of independence, the chaos and the aftermath. Clearly, those were just interesting true stories back then but as I grew I realised that was our history. Back then, we had limited resources, we didn’t have the internet to know more about those facts, to learn more about our history. But in today’s age of technological era, acquiring and storing knowledge has become so easy that if anything is not taught to us, we can easily learn it.
That is why it is equally necessary for every present generation to keep track of events and happenings in day to day life as we, the present generation, are a living link to the past of our future generation. We cannot only remember the past and its required sacrifice, but we are responsible to build a legacy for the generations which follow us.
So save your stories, or someday we, along with our legacy, will be turned to dust.
Disclaimer: An opinion piece is an article that reflects the author’s opinion about the subject. The Kashmir Pulse does not endorse the views and opinions expressed in these articles as these do not necessarily reflect our official policy or position on the issues discussed.