History
The Winding Road From Somanatha To Ayodhya Or How Colonial Historiographies Continue To Bewitch, Bewilder and Bedevil
The Winding Road From Somanatha To Ayodhya Or How Colonial Historiographies Continue To Bewitch, Bewilder and Bedevil

Because of the dominance of … ‘fundamentalist’ knowledge at the level of the establishment and those in power …[they] find themselves – in spite of all the changes of the past centuries – moving on a stage where history is repeating itself with just one objective; the continual actualization of the past. Adonis, Arabic Poetics […]

The Hindus Live In Small And Dark Houses Or Finding The Roots Of War In Textbooks – The Pakistan Episode
The Hindus Live In Small And Dark Houses Or Finding The Roots Of War In Textbooks - The Pakistan Episode

The minds of children are usually shut inside prison houses, so that they become incapable of understanding people who have different languages and customs. This causes us to grope after each other in darkness, to hurt each other in ignorance, to suffer from the worst form of blindness. Religious missionaries themselves have contributed to this […]

Gujarat’s Faded Testaments: The Ideological Shadows Of Somnath
Gujarat’s Faded Testaments: The Ideological Shadows Of Somnath

Mahmud of Ghazni, a legendary looter, descended on Somnath from his Afghan kingdom and, after a two-day battle, took the town and the temple. Having stripped its fabulous wealth, he destroyed it. So began a pattern of Muslim desecration and Hindu rebuilding that continued for centuries. The temple was again razed in 1297, 1394, and […]

Deconstructing Kashmir – Part IV: Through The Gilded Windows Of Emperors
Deconstructing Kashmir - Part IV: Through The Gilded Windows Of Emperors

The settler makes history and is conscious of making it. And because he constantly refers to the history of his mother country, he clearly indicates that he himself is the extension of that mother country. Thus the history which he writes is not the history of the country which he plunders but the history of […]

William Dalrymple Attends The Sabarimala Or How I Began To Worry That My Sabarimala Essay Will Not Be Good Enough
William Dalrymple Attends The Sabarimala Or How I Began To Worry That My Sabarimala Essay Will Not Be Good Enough

William Dalrymple has published a piece in The Guardian newspaper on the Sabarimala pilgrimage. This was the very pilgrimage I recently traveled to witness and wrote about in a Project Update post called Where Muslims Warriors Defend & Protest Hindu Gods. His essay arrives a few days ahead of my own. I am however posting […]

Believers, Blasphemers and Beggars In Ajmer, The City That Love Built And Life Sustains
Believers, Blasphemers and Beggars In Ajmer, The City That Love Built And Life Sustains

When they celebrate the death anniversary of a saint, they come in crowds from far and near to his tomb; and reaching there on the day of the ‘urs’, they perform more devotions than they do for obligatory (Islamic) rituals. To solve their worldly problems, they address their supplications to the tombs…They pray to the […]

Deconstructing Kashmir – Part V: Lost Paths To The Shared Or Historical Elisions That Divide
Deconstructing Kashmir - Part V: Lost Paths To The Shared Or Historical Elisions That Divide
Rajasthan’s Cheeta-Merat And The Battle For Their Souls by Radihika Saraf
Rajasthan's Cheeta-Merat And The Battle For Their Souls by Radihika Saraf

Introduction: The Cheeta-Merat (also known as the Kathat) defy all conventional conceptions of ‘Hindus’ and ‘Muslims’, and practice a unique syncretic religion that combines elements of Islam and Hindusim. This little-known community, with an estimated population to be about 400,000, is spread across over 100 villages in the vicinity of Ajmer and Beawar towns in […]

What’s Love Got To Do With It?
What's Love Got To Do With It?

The drive from Jammu to Srinagar takes about 12 hours by Sumo. That is what I had been told. It took me about about 12 hours to figure out exactly what a Sumo was. The public buses, small size mini vans in fact, that run regularly between the twin cities of Jammu and Srinagar, are […]

Deconstructing Kashmir-Part II: The Wandering Tribe: The Kashmiri Pandits In Purgatory
Deconstructing Kashmir-Part II: The Wandering Tribe: The Kashmiri Pandits In Purgatory

The alleyways are empty. The shops are closed. Wild dogs sleep in shaded corners. The temples are locked. I hear no human voice that would suggest life inside the small, gaudily painted brick shanties. I walk around in the narrow lanes expecting to run into someone, but no one walks towards me, in to me […]

Deconstructing Kashmir-Part I: In The City Of Temples: Negotiating Identity Through A Divided Jammu
Deconstructing Kashmir-Part I: In The City Of Temples: Negotiating Identity Through A Divided Jammu

Are you Muslim? It has become near impossible for me to know how best to answer that question. The response must be carefully negotiated in a part of India where whether you are Hindu or Muslim determines if you are welcomed or suspected. The process begins as I check in to a hotel. There are […]

Making Medieval Histories Or How To Name Ballistic Missiles
Making Medieval Histories Or How To Name Ballistic Missiles

Pakistan has said it will not rename some of its missiles, despite objections from Kabul which says Afghan heroes’ names are being misused. Afghan Information Minister Sayed Makhdum Rahin had asked Islamabad not to link Afghan rulers’ names with “tools of destruction and killing”. The missiles are named after Muslim conquerors who defeated Hindu rulers. […]

In Garbs Foreign: Temple Desecrations & Acts of Conquest
In Garbs Foreign: Temple Desecrations & Acts of Conquest

I think when you see so many Hindu temples of the 10th century or earlier disfigured, defaced, you realize that something terrible happened. I feel that the civilization of that closed world was mortally wounded by those invasions … The Old World is destroyed. That has to be understood. Ancient Hindu India was destroyed V.S. […]

Forever Spring: Ghalib’s Benares
Forever Spring: Ghalib's Benares

Varanasi, as Benares is now known, is a Hindu city. That is how I had known it, and it was not until I arrived here that I started to see a different side of it. And it happened because I could not find a hotel room! The hotel I had booked a room at refused […]

The Saints of Ayodhya: Sufis In The Hindu City
The Saints of Ayodhya: Sufis In The Hindu City

The Sufi dargahs of Ayodhya are easy to miss. Not only are they rather simple structures, often no more than a few graves surrounded by a some stones to demarcate an area of worship, but are obscured by the many dominating and magnificent mandirs that define the landscape of the city itself. So it was […]

A Mosque Too Far: Rusafa On The Barbarian Plain
A Mosque Too Far: Rusafa On The Barbarian Plain

The first time I saw the image I did not realize that it would significantly change the way I looked at the world around me. It was a drawing of an 8th century shrine to a Christian saint somewhere deep in the Syrian steppe, then known by the Greek speaking world as ‘The Barbarian Plain’. […]

On Samuel Huntington & The Use of History
On Samuel Huntington & The Use of History

Samuel Huntington, author of the book ‘The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order‘, died on December 28th 2008. In an obituary in the New York Times, in a typically fawning obituary, thought it ‘uncanny’ i.e. a reflection of his brilliance, that in that book he had written (predicted?) that ‘Somewhere in the […]

Distorted Histories And Holy Warriors
Distorted Histories And Holy Warriors

In the last few decades we have become accustomed to news of sectarian violence on the Indian sub-continent. In particular, there is a widening and violent rift between India’s Hindu and Muslim communities. But religious and cultural pluralism is a prominent feature of Indian life and has been her heritage for centuries. I am documenting […]