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Afghanistan inherits Ghazni’s brutal legacy

The celebrations over the weekend marking the announcement of Ghazni, Afghanistan, as the Asian Capital of Islamic Culture and Civilization brings mixed feelings to the Indian mind. Ghazni is associated with the name of one of the most brutal marauders of the Indian civilization — Mohammed Ghazni. 

Ghazni, as he is known, undertook a series of seventeen raids into northwestern India starting in 1000 AD when India was possibly the richest country in the world. 
No matter Ghazni’s much-touted patronage of Firdausi, Alberuni and Utbi, he was essentially a lower form of tribal life whose sole objective was to plunder the riches of Hindu temples and palaces. Even the sight of libraries provoked his ire. 

Ghazni’s attack on the Somnath temple in 1025 AD stands out as one of the most ghastly events in the collective Hindu psyche. He ransacked the temple, massacred its defenders and personally smashed the temple’s lingam to pieces and carried the stone fragments back to Ghazni where they were incorporated into the steps of the city’s new Jamiah Masjid. 

The mother of all ironies is, Ghazni also could claim a rich cultural and civilizational heritage dating back to its pre-islamic past. The city is mentioned by Ptolemy, associated with Alexander the Great (who renamed it Alexandria) and was a thriving Buddhist centre till the late 7th century when the Arab armies brought Islam to the region. 
During the ‘atheistic’ communist rule in the 1978-1992 period one could visit the Buddhist site at Tapar Sardar and marvel at the stupa on a hilltop surrounded by numerous smaller stupas and sit upon the ground and brood about the meaning of life watching the lengthening shadows of the evening sun fall on the nearby massive statue of reclining Buddha.
Then, of course, came the Taliban, who blew the Buddha up. So, why should Hamid Karzai have been party to arresting the city’s history and make it appear that the ebb and flow of civilisation in his part of the world began only with the military expeditions of the Ghaznavid Empire?
Actually, this difficult question unlocks the story of the epochal transformation of the Afghan identity through the past 3 decades of war and foreign invasion. 
The ‘Islamization’ of Afghanistan made good politics for Pakistani military dictator Zia-ul-Haq and his Saudi and American patrons during the Afghan ‘jihad’ against Soviet occupation. But the germane seeds of ‘jihad’ grew fast and soon began casting canopy all over the Hindu Kush. 
Clearly, It becomes politically expedient today for the rulers in Kabul to inherit it. And it now becomes the Afghan nation’s collective inheritance. 
A new nation probably needs something to build its identity. Nearby Uzbekistan, which was created in 1992, chose the blood-soaked Timurids to embellish its newfound national history, and yet, interestingly, nearby Tajikistan chose Novruz (festival marking the spring season).
To my mind, though, the most curious choice of national identity was made by neighboring Kyrgyzstan — Manas, the great ninth century epic that does not recognise any temporal or spatial boundaries. It is their equivalent of Silappatikaram, the great Tamil epic of the Sangam epoch (second and third centuries BC).

Indeed, there is something in these very interesting choices that new nations come under compulsion to make to (re)build their identity — especially considering that Afghanistan with such a rich history and culture would have multiple choices available and yet zeroed in on Ghazni. 

Posted in Politics.

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10 Responses

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  1. Rajiv Shivashankar says

    Kumar, if what you have written is correct, do you think repeating the same mistake these Acharyas made a thousand or so years ago will make people like you feel better? Is it not time to look forward and build a new India free from these ancient prejudices. Let us work towards that. I think that will give our children more happiness in years to come.
    Think positive, and let us forget these things.

  2. pranab banerjee says


  3. Rupakshi says

    Intelligence can reach the heights like that in Sri Adisankara. Similaraly the idi ocy ca reach it heights as in this Kumar. Adi Sankara delivered the greatest books and philosophies of the world. The Gazni guy gave the greatest brutality, mur der, r ape and plunder one can witness and annihilated several civilizations, and this id ot kuimar compares the two and praises the brute. Did we get rid of the British to had over the nation to the slaves like this guy? Rupakshi

  4. Rajiv Shivashankar says

    It is a total failure of the Indian government that caste is still a dominant factor in daily life. I was filling a form for a credit card, and it wanted details of my caste. What has my caste got to do with a credit card? Similarly, passports and castes have nothing in common. Time for the government to rid itself of this mindset, and bring in a uniform personal law, applicable to all citizens of all castes and all religions. If the USA, UK, France, etc can do it, so can we.

  5. HS girish says

    @ Kumar

    Adi Shankaracharya has nothing to do with caste system. He was a philosopher basically. Caste system existed from much longer time than 8th century,say pre-historic times and all groups are equally responsible for it including the so called oppressed.

  6. HS girish says

    Mr.Kumar, Sri Adi Shankaracharya had nothing to do with caste system. Caste system existed since pre-historic times and all the groups are responsible for this including so called oppressed.

  7. Ramanathan Umapathy says

    Do not call Adi shankarachraya system as brutal
    If you have read all achrayas great fludic composition and still not understood
    it is saddest day
    Acharya after seeing Shiva as untouchable chandala realized his mistakes and took different route through scripts-starting with Bhaja Govindam -Muda Mathe!! great creation..
    But your point of resurgent Islam -Brutalized Islam-as threat to India is well accepted
    But India of 2020 is not India of SOMNATH TIME
    Pakistan/Afghanis/Talibanis/All Jihadis will get eliminated in war with war with India
    Goes w/o saying with great damages to India in Nuclear war-If Idiotic-despotic pakis and their armies even think of unleashing missiles on India–DRDO made, Ram Jet Agni V’s VI underdevelopment, will decimate whole Pakistan with in 5 minutes–of course we do get Hit If our ABM Missiles fail to stop pakis rockets-60% of India will also get hit-But the whole program of stopping Brutalized Islamic hordes will effectively be on platter for all to see!!
    All this jingoism all jihadis know including their patrons -ISI Pak Army- tolerant India if pushed back into corner of wall -will unleash horrendous damages-The philosophy of first kill and than be killed-Guru Govind Singh’s saying will come into force–India if set rights Economy,political corruption,Minority appeasements with True Indian Nationalism-will be great country–This is possible with combination of Good BJP leaders and Arvind Kejriwal–Are politicians listening????

  8. Abhiram says

    Look folks (Kumar and his ilk):

    Adi Sankaracharya stands for the idea of India. I am not sure why or how you happen to associate Adi Sankara with casteism. Perhaps, you associate (and wrongly so) the 8th C. Jagatguru with the present day followers of Kanchi Seers, most of whom are your average TamBrahm -dhoti clad, saree clad and bearing the visible evidence of aristocracy. That by no means damns the TamBrahm, let me asset.

    But, the greater point that seems lost on you and which I hope is merely ignorance and not deceit, is that Adi Sankara has defined Vedanta, in a manner that makes us – Hindus – unique as a society in the annals of history. We are inherently syncretic and inherently democratic because of Sankara. To wit, he permanently embedded the concept of “ishtha Devata” in our conciousness. Today, that is called Smartha-ism. Although the Vedas had discovered these two ideas long before Sankara – witness: Aa no bhadrah kritavo yantu vishwatah; Ekam sat, viprah bahuda vadanti. This was beautifully crystallized into India’s conscious by Sankara: Akashaat patitam toyam yatha gachchati saagaram, sarva deva namskarah keshavam pratigachcati

    And there is the famous incident where Sankara composed Manisha Panchakam seeing the Lord Siva in a so-called untouchable.

    So, interms of syncretism and democracy, these ideals whether upheld or not in today’s India is another question. But, let us not damn Sankara. Along with Gautama, the Buddha; Mohandas, the Mahatma and Nanak, the Guru; Sankara the Acharya is in my (admitedly, personal) opinion, one of the eternal lights of India. If you have issues with present day social ills, I agree a solution must be found. But, from within, never from without. And certainly not through calumny.
    Let us not cut off the nose to spite the face.

    Changing the topic and addressing the article:
    What MKB says in this article is a sign of times to come – very disturbing. And, while it will impact negatively upon India first (before it impacts any other liberal society), we in India are sadly caught inside our own web, 66 years after throwing away the foreign yoke, we are still not intellectually free. We require a reawakening of Indians, through educating ourselves about ourself. When we realize that India that was the leading economic power for millennia, began its retreat from about 1001 AD, dating to the territorial loss of Kabul to the Ghaznavids, dating to a disconnect between uttarapath and dakshinapath (i.e. while the Delhi Sultanate was wrecking havoc in the north, the south firstly under the Cholas and later under Vijayanagar, flourished) and dating to the gradual loss of economic greatness. What MKB says above should be interpretted as: Will this ill conceived raising of a flagpole for Islam at Ghazni, also symbolically usher in a pause or worse, a derailment of India’s resurgence via an empowered Pakistan? That is what MKB wants us and (through us) North Block to reflect upon.


  9. owl28 says

    Totally accepted your views Mr. Kumar… But you and me are the bunch of sadiest indians who have beautifully explain the problems but can’t focus on solutions starting from within ourselves. How many of us are ready to marry our daughters outside our caste… very less.
    Do we support Minortiy appeasement centric Congress or do we support age old Hindu rotten system based BJP. What choices do we have.. I see a great leader emerging in Arvind Kejriwal… I really Hope that more an more people like him should be encouraged to join main stream politics…

  10. Kumar says

    While Afghanistan inherits Ghazni’s brutal legacy, India inherits Adi Sankaracharya brutal, racist legacy of caste based moral superiority. Ghazni attacked India 17 time while the caste system attacks India on a daily, minute by minute basis.
    People who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat them and societies consisting of delusional people will move back into the sink hole.

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