ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Romancing the Mughal Past at Shah Jahan’s Citadel

Red Fort: Remembering the Magnificent Mughals by Debasish Das, Mumbai:, 2019; pp xi + 406, `499, (paperback).

Beyond Imperial Histories

An alternative historical research must be critical of the fixation with imperial histories.

Regional Dynasties in Medieval Bihar

Mughal Administration and the Zamindars of Bihar by Tahir Hussain Ansari, New Delhi: Manohar, 2019; pp 299, 1,595.

Colonial Knowledge in Precolonial History

State Formation and the Establishment of Non-Muslim Hegemony: Post-Mughal 19th-century Punjab by Rishi Singh, New Delhi: Sage, 2015; pp ix+232, ₹895.

Shivaji's Myth and Maharashtra's Syncretic Traditions

Despite fears of increasing communalisation in public life and the attempt to portray Shivaji as a 'Hindu' raja, long-standing syncretic traditions observed by followers of different communities, from diverse caste backgrounds continue to flourish till date across Maharashtra. As borne out by several case studies cited in this article, Hindus and Muslims frequent dargahs, mazars and chillahs, and there are instances of temples in the Konkan region drawing followers of Islam. There are also shrines and sacred sites that possess a dual identity - they are both a dargah and a temple at the same time; deities bear both Hindu and Islamic names and priests of both communities officiate at ceremonies.

From Abad to Nagar

GPD IT should be easy to see that in comparison with their BJP allies the Shiv Sena people have (at least) a faint tendency towards humour. When they decided to change the name of Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar we thought that it was one of those attempts on the part of Bal Thackeray to have a good hearty laugh at the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who died in 1707. Even the attempt to laugh (towards the end of the 20th century) at a man who died at the beginning of the 18th was interesting because it gave us ideas of Reagan laughing at Hegel who, it is reasonably certain, was taken by him as an evil German spirit responsible for Marx who in turn was responsible for the evil empire in Russia. One would go on counting such delightful anachronist laughters creating historically alienating effects which even the 'Great BB' (Bertolt Brecht was referred as 'der grosse BB' The Great BB in the former GDR) could not have possibly thought of! One would have normally not expected this of the BJP That party has no sense of humour. The Sena has, albeit of the macabre variety. So we thought that the change of Aurangabad's name was a part of that! That it was not like calling Bombay Mumbai was clear from the very beginning, Insisting on Mumbai is like insisting on Guangzhon instead of Canton. Colonialism robs us not only of silver (and the like, and even that may not be true if the Cambridge Economic History of India is any guide, but let that pass) but also of languages and words. Why should the western world have changed Beijing into Peking? Or Guangzhon into Canton? Well, no particular reason except that not only the colonialists' word should prevail but also their pronunciation. So they went on re-spelling almost everything in Asia and Africa. That they are still changing words is obvious. Consider words like 'reforms' or 'radical' and their current usage and the point should be obvious. The Chinese were the first to point out that imperialist names or spellings will and have to be changed. Peking has to go and Beijing has to take its place, Thackeray may not admit any debt of gratitude to China but what he did to 'Bombay' was no different. Even token anti-imperialism seems to be the monopoly of right-wingers, whether in Maharashtra or in Iran, The 'Hinduhridaysamrat' (the emperor of the Hindu hearts), as Bal Thackeray likes to be called by his Sainlks, must have discovered before long that even token anti-imperialism is not his cup of cow's milk. He therefore decided to go one step in a backward direction. We should have said two steps. The first backward step was what he did (like everyone else in the state of Maharashtra lately) to the Marathi language. In the olden days there were several suffixes used to denote a town. To begin with there was 'abad' as in Aurangabad, There was, of course, 'nagar' as in Ahmednagar. There was 'pur' as in Nagpur. This usage of 'pur' had another speciality typical to Marathi. The 'u' in 'pur' is long. There was 'gav' as in Jalgav Puri and so on and so forth. The modern Maharashtrian seems to have forgotten all these words. Now everything is a 'nagar', Why? The reason is that those who want to rewrite history have forgotten what their history is. It is now aboring monotony. Why can't there be a Shivajipur in Maharashtra? Why does it have to be Shivajinagar instead? No answer, except perhaps the inevitable one. Those who claim to speak in the name of history do not know what it is, The variety and plurality of words also constitute history. Of course, this would be too much of intellectualism for the Sena people. As for the BJP people, as long as Kashi and Mathura and thereby Hindi are safe they could not care less about what happens to other languages. Hence the unchallenged craze for Nagar. Change everything to Nagar. The Congress people would want everything after the Nehru-Gandhi clan. The 'yuti' (the coalition) wants every city and town to be a Nagar! Pride of Marathi has resulted in ignorance of Marathi.

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