Mughals Are Out as Maharashtra History Textbooks Turn State-Centric

The role of emperor Akbar in revised history textbooks has been reduced to just three lines, with all focus now on Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha empire.

Darbar scene in a Mughal court. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Darbar scene in a Mughal court. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

New Delhi: After the history department of Rajasthan University in June included in its syllabus a book claiming Maharana Pratap defeated emperor Akbar in the Battle of Haldighati, the Maharashtra education board has reduced the Mughal emperor’s reign to just three lines.

According to a Mumbai Mirror report, the board has revised history textbooks for classes VII and IX, removing almost all traces of the rule of the Mughals and the monuments they built, instead focusing on the Maratha empire founded by Shivaji.

The students, who till last year were told that Akbar was a “liberal and tolerant administrator,” will now be taught that he “tried to bring India under a central authority” and faced opposition from the likes of Pratap.

Shivaji, who was in the earlier textbook referred to as ‘people’s king,’ will now be mentioned as ‘an ideal ruler.’ Shivaji’s role in medieval history, and that of his family and the Maratha generals, have been expanded upon.

The new edition for class VII history book has also seen the elimination of Muslim rulers in the country before the Mughal period, including Razia Sultana and Muhammad bin Tughlaq. There is also no trace of the rupaya – first introduced as currency by the Afghan invaders. The revised textbook for class IX, on the other hand, includes the Bofors scam and the Emergency of 1975-1977.

Razia Sultana – the first woman to rule Delhi – finds no mention in the revised textbooks. Another notable omission includes the reign of Sher Shah Suri, who had forced Humayun to flee from India

Bapusaheb Shinde – a member of the history subject committees for old and revised textbooks – claimed that the need to revise the syllabus was felt in order to update history with modern events. According to Mumbai Mirror, Shinde said that[the space given to] Mughal history has been reduced. Modern history needs to be incorporated.”

The revision of the syllabus was discussed at a meeting held by the Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini – a think-tank promoted by the RSS – with Maharashtra education minister Vinod Tawde last year.

Cover of the Class VII history textbook.

Raising objections about the cover of the new medieval history textbook for class VII, Kishore Darak, a Pune-based independent researcher in curriculum and textbooks, told Mumbai Mirror that the cover was “problematic” for it “displays saffron flags all over the map of the country,” hence creating an image that the “Hindu samrajya existed in India during that period.”

“This is factually incorrect and reeks of a political agenda.”

Justifying the move as one in the interest of students of the state, Sadanand More, chairman of the history subject committee of the Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research, said: “We have looked at history from a Maharashtra-centric point of view. Even if it is the Delhi Sultanate or the Mughal rule and the medieval history of India, we have kept Maharashtra at the centre. It is a natural course as we are from Maharashtra.What’s wrong in that? In fact the central board books have very little about our state.”

With the Centre last week approving the UP government’s proposal to rename Mughalsarai station after Jan Sangh leader Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and in August 2015 renaming Aurangzeb Road in Delhi as Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Road, the latest move by the Maharashtra education department is being seen as another attempt by the BJP government to use the teaching of Indian history to pursue its agenda of ‘cultural nationalism’.

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    Given the less than marginal role played by the RSS in the freedom struggle, we shouldnt be surprised if the fight for freedom is replaced in the history books with just a one liner: “Since the British suffered a lot during World War II, they decided they had had enough of ruling India, and so one day they sweetly packed their bags and left, without Indians having to fight for it”. Freedom – done!

    In fact, why bother to bring in the Muslims and British at all and tax our young minds? Jump straight from 1000 AD to May 2014, and fill in the gap with some crap like continental drift destroying all historical records for this period!

    • Faryal

      Lol!! Agree… They should change the subject name too, Instead of history can keep Biography of maharaja!

    • Nation first

      POINT OF VIEW !!!!

      Akbar ruled Delhi and nearby areas not Rajasthan and Maharastra .
      You should read history from our point of view not that CBSE [email protected] filled with muslim invaders .

    • Black Mambo

      Funny you talk about destruction of historical records(in essence destruction of libraries and universities). That is something the Mughals and other invaders were pretty efficient at.

    • Ketan Budhiya

      because Indians were and are not invaders – we don’t destroy records like Mugals did in Nalanda and many places…all Mugals did was to invade and loot this beautiful peaceful India subcontinent…History should not be biased to either Mugals (Like Akbar and Shah Jahan) who are shown in good light despite of their dark deeds (like slaughtering 30k Hindu Rajpoots in a single day, which included surrendered soldiers, women, old people and kids…shame!!)
      Neither do British text book print the atrocities that British rule carried out on their colonies. Pakistan textbooks show India ad those who cheated them.
      Let them all correct things and we will just go back one year back with our syllabus. given them enough time to correct!!

      • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

        Indians were not invaders because they were just too busy fighting each other!
        Emperor Ashoka slaughtered hundreds of thousands in the Kalinga War, yet we celebrate him, dont we?
        Indian kings were perpetually at war with each other, killing with impunity in their desire for territory and glory, as did rulers throughout the ancient and medieval world. Conquest was the raison d’etre for kings, they were thought to be weak and unfit to rule otherwise.
        You really think India was a peaceful land with no wars, no slaughter before the Muslims arrived?

    • VDP

      Digression is a tactic employed by those who have little to say about the issue on hand but must criticise something they simply dislike ! Talk about what is discussed up there or else keep your ignorance & hatred to yourself.

    • vahsir artapaham

      “Given the less than marginal role played by the RSS in the freedom struggle” ? says who ? and yeah nehru played a “big” role in independence ? we have been brain washed by the congress and the result is that you are okay to read about mughals , but find it “ridiculous” to read about shivaji . may i ask why ? you are the living example of the kind of brainwashing that has been done in last 7 decades .

    • Ganesh

      Hello this is Maharastra history book and in Maharastra Maratha Empire is matter for us …Mughals was enemies for the Marathas

  • anil Naik

    Very good step
    The role of Muslim rulers increased by previous congress govt for vote bank POLITICS.
    No body can beat GREAT SHIVAJI
    for there role in Indian history.

  • Tarun Rathore

    Great effort. Akbar killed 30,000 innocent citizen including children, women and elders in City of Chittor in Rajasthan. He doesn’t deserve to be called liberal. Finally he has shown his place.

    • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

      Your ignorance – and the hilarious arrogance that stems from it – is quite stunning, and you are obviously not alone in that regard.
      If you have picked this fact about Akbar from Wikipedia, you should at least read that whole page to see what else it has to say about him – his tolerance, his close bonds with Hindus at the political, administrative, military and personal level and his efforts to understand the best of all religions (Din-i-illahi). (If you dont have the patience to read it, you may go through some material that I have copy-pasted in this discussion)

      “Finally he has shown his place”? Akbar’s position as one of the greatest rulers the world has seen is well cemented in history (including in Time magazine). Parochial reductionism in a mere school textbook will never change that. Akbar’s reign, specifically with regard to his religious tolerance and true secularism, holds a lesson for us, especially our present leaders who cannot hold a candle to him. Which is why they take the easier route and rub him off the textbooks.

      [Oh and btw: Just FYI – That 30,000 people were slaughtered during the battle for Chittor is according to Abul Fazl, Akbar’s court historian, known for hyperbole and deliberate exaggeration. According to Badauni (another courtier who wrote the Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh), “about 8000 valorous Rajputs were slain.”]

  • Rockstarrocks

    This is stupid. Every youngster has right to know our true history and not something these rss freaks thinks what happened. Textbooks should not be used as a political tool by the government.

  • https://animaker.com Arvind Kesh

    This is a neat update!

    Being a diverse nation, history should be taught keeping the home state as the centre – not Delhi!!

    I come from Kerala and I was taught nothing about our local rulers. Instead we were taught about Akbar and Jahangir. They might’ve been important, but to preserve our diverse cultural identity, more stress should be given to local rulers and local history!

  • shafiq

    Well Pakistan’s Right Wing Extremist Jihadi Establishment has been doing the same since they were born as a result You have many fascist terrorists in their nation, they’ve been destroying social history and social fabric of the Indian Subcontinent since they were born, why do you think the Liberation War of 1971 is hardly mentioned in Pakistan’s Text Books or in their newspapers, seems like their Right Wing Reflections the BJP Regime are doing the same in India Now !

    Political Actions from their Neighbour (Pakistan) have created EXACTLY the same Political REACTIONS on the other side “India” Now !

    Tit for Tat !

  • Santosh Gairola

    Too little, too late, but as they say; something is always better than nothing.

  • Kinjal Thacker

    Why to feed students with the factually incorrect information. If we were defeated by Mughals than print that in books; Because atlast we won and this will teach students that victory comes after the downfalls. I don’t know why we are so rigorously against Mughals. History can’t be changed, even if textbook course changes there are many out sources from.which truth will find its way. No doubt we should teach students how great the Hindu emperors were but not on cost.of changing history.

  • Deviprasad Nayak

    Shivaji did nothing,he struggled to establish small kingdom.Bajirao Peshwa is the real founder of Hindavi Swarajya.Bajirao followed the principle of Hindu Padapada shahi.He joined all Hindu groups against Mughals and established big Hindu empire and finished Mughal rule in India.Bajirao gave direct fight to Mughals (Not like guerrilla fight of shivaji),he appointed Holkar,Syndya,Bhosleay,Gaikwad to rule occupied territories from Mughals.RSS people never understand History.Third Panipat war weakened Maratha empire,and later scattered.Infighting among Maratha kings helped British to occupy India.

  • Milin Patel

    The article says that they reduced Akbar to simply 3 lines. What next? Rana Pratap ruled the entire India and Akbar was his vassal? Simply pathetic. These Sanghis should learn some history first…

  • Anu

    Its good that history is being localized — for a diverse country like India, history has to be taught from multiple perspective — not just central perspective. Events which are more relevant for the region should be given more importance instead of a uni-focal perspective of history.

  • Suresh m Bhaskaran

    Maharashtra is a Maratha country,if Maratha s were not their perhaps their wouldn’t be partion of hindustan, because there would have been no need as all would have been islamised .
    Mughal are foreigners Who came to loot India of it’s temples ,peoples wealth,it’s Shivaji maharaj and successive Peshwas Maratha confideracy who stopped this Loot annexation and subjugation by the indegenous people.
    History should have been taught mentioning the attrocities committed by mughals especially Aurangzeb the pictorial butchering of the son of shivaji maharaj destuction Somnath kashi Madura temples in maharashtra jessia forcible conversions.
    Let’s remember the butchers through their history

  • Shishpal Chauhan

    Mughal rule should be viewed from Indian perspective and the motive of all the invaders was to loot and make plunders of not only our material riches but also our culture and respect and they succeeded in presenting themselves as the liberal rulers and the well wishers of the common man.
    Who doesn’t know the cruelties done by the invaders?
    This change was not possible in the past as all political parties were involved in pleasing vote banks.
    Nothing is wrong as is being done. It should have been done long before.

    • Udyan Matta

      So are you calling the Mughals invaders ?
      there is a vast difference between conquerors and invaders sir!
      The Mughals were the former!

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    What do you mean by “less space”?
    Give them the space that they deserve, no more no less. Foreign invaders – those who built an empire, not the ones like Nadir Shah who came just for the spoils and left – were tolerant (which they had to be for practical reasons, otherwise they could not have ruled for centuries and included Hindus in their administration and armies), did good things and left an overall positive impact on our ethos and culture. Why ignore that? This is exactly the kind of mutilation of history that broadens contemporary communal divides and perpetuates the notion of non-Hindus being the perpetual enemy.

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    Thanks! 🙂

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    “Ashoka is celebrated precisely because of his remorse following Kalinga. “:::: Just as Akbar should be celebrated for his tolerance and his willingness to work with Hindus on religion, administration and in his army.

    “Furthermore, some Hindu kings had rules of war that they generally respected”:::: Where did you get this information? They might have, or they might not have. It is just speculation. The rules of war and conquest were quite loose in medieval times, all over the world. The Mongols slaughtered the defeated, the Spanish slaughtered the Incas and Aztecs, the immigrants to North America slaughtered the Native Indians. There were hardly any “rules of war”.

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    “…. which they did their level best to destroy. “::::: They ruled for more than 800 years, didnt they? If they had wanted to destroy Hindu culture, they could have done so quite easily – they had the power and several centuries to do it in. No temple would have been left standing, everyone would have been forced to convert to Islam and most of India would have become an Islamic nation.

    And as far as Hindu-Muslim antagonism goes, blame the Brits for starting that and showing us how to use it as a political tool.

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    Indian kings did invade – they invaded their neighboring kingdoms. India was not a single country then.
    How do you know that Akbar killed defenseless people, and Ashoka didnt? That’s just speculation. Akbar was fighting a war too, with Chittor, just as Ashoka was with Kalinga, just as Prithviraj Chauhan was with the Chandelas and sacked Mahoba after defeating them.
    My point is that barbarity in war was common in ancient and medieval times, all over the world, including in India. The rules of war and conquest were quite loose, and conquerors got away with what would now be called “war crimes”.

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    Well said!

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    How come you missed these in the same source (wikipedia) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akbar):

    “To preserve peace and order in a religiously and culturally diverse empire, he adopted policies that won him the support of his non-Muslim subjects. Eschewing tribal bonds and Islamic state identity, Akbar strove to unite far-flung lands of his realm”

    and this:

    “He had Sanskrit literature translated, participated in native festivals, realising that a stable empire depended on the co-operation and good-will of his subjects. Thus, the foundations for a multicultural empire under Mughal rule were laid during his reign.”

    and this:

    “From the 15th century, a number of rulers in various parts of the country adopted a more liberal policy of religious tolerance, attempting to foster communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims.[122] These sentiments were earlier encouraged by the teachings of popular saints like Guru Nanak, Kabir and Chaitanya,[121] the verses of the Persian poet Hafez which advocated human sympathy and a liberal outlook,[123] as well as the Timurid ethos of religious tolerance in the empire, persisted in the polity right from the times of Timur to Humayun, (the second emperor of the mughal empire), and influenced Akbar’s policy of tolerance in matters of religion.”

    and this:

    “Akbar decreed that Hindus who had been forced to convert to Islam could reconvert to Hinduism without facing the death penalty.[147] In his days of tolerance he was so well liked by Hindus that there are numerous references to him, and his eulogies are sung in songs and religious hymns as well.”

    and this:

    “During his reign, the nature of the state changed to a secular and liberal one, with emphasis on cultural integration.”

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    Just to add to my previous reply:

    “Ashoka is celebrated precisely because of his remorse following Kalinga. “:::: Not really. Ashoka is celebrated because it was during his reign of almost 40 years that India achieved something close to unity for the first time, and his rule was good and just. Remorse alone does not ensure kings a exalted position in history.

    Akbar is celebrated for much the same reason, if you care to read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akbar – whose last sentence is:

    “Citing Akbar’s melding of the disparate ‘fiefdoms’ of India into the Mughal Empire as well as the lasting legacy of “pluralism and tolerance” that “underlies the values of the modern republic of India”, Time magazine included his name in its list of top 25 world leaders.[13]”

    Mindless slaughter, as it appears to us now, was acceptable in medieval times, as a political strategy and as a means to bring newly conquered territories to heel. One cannot judge medieval rulers by that moral yardstick. What sets aside Ashoka and Akbar from other conquerors is what they achieved AFTER their conquests – and in that both are remarkably similar. India was unified to it’s greatest extent only thrice before independence – under Ashoka, Akbar and the Brits. However unpalatable that is, it is the unchangeable truth which wont get rubbed out by simply changing history textbooks.

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    Off topic, but I must say it: Truly impressed by your knowledge of the scriptures (I just read your Swarajyamag posts). Would love to learn more from you!

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    Rules of war are one thing. Whether they were followed or not is entirely another matter. You have Arjun slaying Karna while his chariot was stuck in the mud – that wouldnt be in any rule of war, no?
    “They certainly tried”:::: No, they did not. Show me one source where it is written that Muslim rulers forced Hindus to convert as a matter of general policy.
    And regarding your comment about Shivaji and Hemu, their battles with the Mughals had little to do with protection of religion – it was all about political power and plunder. Shivaji had many Muslims in his army, and their were many Hindus in the Mughal army. In fact, it was the Rajput general Jai Singh who defeated Shivaji and got him to submit to Aurangzeb, though of course Shivaji escaped from Agra and resumed his hostilities.
    Muslims were not “slaughtering Hindus en masse”. If they had, the Rajputs would never have submitted to the Mughals and fought alongside them. Shivaji’s father Shahaji was in the service of the Bijapuri sultan Adil Shah, and also Shah Jahan.

    In whatever manner history is mutilated or erased in school text books, authentic sources shall continue to exist which can be referred anytime by anyone. So the facts will always remain there and will come out.
    Sweeping statements like yours simply serve to deliberately demonize Muslims and exacerbate communal tensions in our society. If that’s your aim, then all this discussion is anyway pointless.
    So goodbye si91, I am signing off….

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    “They usurp history, misappropriate other’s achievements as they have nothing to show of their own, and then appeal to the baser instinct of people to divide the society.”:::: Bull’s eye!

    Some of the history-related comments on this discussion thread are astonishing – both in their ignorance and their wishful thinking. The “reasoning” seems to be that if a large number of people repeat the same thing over and over again it shall at some point of time be accepted to be true, doesnt matter if it has no basis in historical fact! And their peeve against Nehru and the Congress stems in large measure from the well established reality that the RSS and its affiliated Hindu organizations had zilch contribution to our freedom struggle.

  • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

    Sorry about the late response. I saw the notification about your post from Disqus only a day ago.
    Yes, that’s right – I was looking at your posts on this Aryan Invasion Theory article in Swarajyamag.
    Can you please send me a friend request on FB, and we can talk there? Thanks!

  • Arjun Chatterjee

    Talk about your culture and no one else’s.