Babur [right] and Humayun with Courtiers (Detail), Late Shahjahan Period, ca. 1650.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Uneasy continuum of History

Though this post may be dealing more with the present than the past, i find no better forum than to present my views here. And in a way, I would also like to point out the rather blurry line between what's 'history' and what the present entails.

The much awaited Ayodha Verdict has finally come out, and the verdict has thrown to the forefront several questions that have rather ambiguous and uncertain answers.

Time, as I perceive it, is a continual process, and the study and progress of history is embedded in it. Therefore sheerly on the basis of this logic, elements of history of the past is weaved into the present. It is in it's interpretations that questions arise. The judgement allows for a three-part division of the land between the contending parties and observes that the building was constructed after demolishing a hindu temple, and thus dismissing the claims of the Waqf.

The question here arises is that how much of historical facts and conjecture should infringe upon the present time. Is it commendable that what happened in the sixteenth century India should be brought in as evidence for an event that clearly happened in 1949, escalated to a combustible point in 1992? It definitely shows that history has that much of an impact in present day lives, but it also brings forward an uneasiness regarding the control of the past over the present.

- Posted by Sohini Chattopadhyay, Second Year, Presidency College Kolkata.


Pratyay said...

Sohini, very valid points. Just to draw your attention, sensible and secularist scholarly criticism of the Babri controversy has so far proceeded in two lines: firstly, most historians like Romila Thapar and Harbans Mukhia have proceeded by pointing out that the very questions relating to Ayodhya being the janmabhumi of Rama are not grounded on historical truth, as Rama was a mythical character after all and there existed throughout Indian history an almost infinite versions of the Ramayana story, thereby negating the identification of any one place as the birthplace of the mythical character. Secondly, a few historians like Neeladari Bhattacharya have revealed how the reactionary right wing forces build their own historical narratives and arguments [which he calls mytho-history -- a blend of myth and manipulated histories] to justify their actions. As one reads through this literature, one realises how complex the relationship between the past and the present is, and how the past is used/manipulated/manufactured for various needs of the present. This is precisely we understand by the politics of history.

Olive Oyl said...

If we can go back to the sixteenth century or even to the so-called birth of Ram, then we might as well go back to times when we blighted human souls were unimportant apes or something, more bothered about how to move around grabbing food than to think of some fellow high above.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to slightly contradict the view expressed by the author of this post,or rather of the above comment.So,do I have the author's permission to continue? :)
-Oindrila Basu Roy

Olive Oyl said...

oh sure! :D my comment was just a light take on issue and of not much importance though ;)