Haunted by history

Aurangzeb, a good Muslim

Today Genghis Khan is a hero in Mongolia. This, despite the fact that the rise of his Mongol Empire was associated with mass death. This mass death resulted in reforestation, which changed atmospheric CO2 levels.

There are many histories of the rise of the Mongo Empire, but Frank McLynn’s Genghis Khan: His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy, is probably the most balanced treatment.

During Genghis Khan’s lifetime, the most impactful and catastrophic conquests were of Central Asia and the obliteration of the Khwarezmian Empire. After the death of Genghis Khan, his heirs further obliterated the world of Islam, including killing the last significant Caliphs of the Abbassids. To a great extent, Genghis Khan ended with finality the world of the Iranian people of Turan, leaving the Tajiks as the Persianate rump. Economic historians have suggested that the destruction of Iranian agriculture (e.g., the qanat system) that occurred during the Mongol conquest was so great that the region did not recover until the modern era.

Muslim historians, some under the service of Mongol successor dynasties, have taken a mixed view of Genghis Khan and those who descend from him. On the one hand, their destructive impact is impossible to deny. The Mongols were one of the last of the steppe nomads to explode out of the Eurasian interior, but they were one of the largest military-political shocks, destroying multiple polities. But descent from Genghis Khan became prestigious in the Turkic world.

This is somewhat discomfiting and paradoxical because Genghis Khan was proudly pagan. And, it was not in dispute that the Mongol invasions had been brutally destructive. The prestige and glamor was clearly a nod to the fact that Genghis Khan’s conquests were evidence of glory sanctioned by God.

Despite Genghis Khan’s pagan beliefs, and the negative impact that the Mongol conquests had on Islam, somehow elements of Mongolic ruling culture became normative among the Muslims of Central Asia. This is how the name “Khan” became associated primarily with Muslims in the Indian subcontinent. Though there are non-Muslim Khan’s in South Asia, on the whole, the surname is associated with those of Muslim background, which is ironic given that it is a purely pagan title.

The details and subtleties of this history are on my mind because of the conversation I had yesterday with Neha Srivastava. It strikes me that in some ways she is haunted by history. In particular, the history of Turco-Islamic domination and brutality in the Indian subcontinent. She mentions offhand a Bollywood star giving her son the name Timur, which is reminiscent of a brutal Turco-Muslim conqueror, Timur the Lame.

This is where details became important. Neha no doubt remembers the brutal sack of Delhi. Though most of the dead were not Muslim, it is important to remember that Timur’s target was a polity ruled by Turco-Muslims, like himself. Importantly, and ironically, despite being a Muslim, Timur the Lame wrought his destruction exclusively in Muslim lands, or lands ruled by Muslims (India).

Though many facts of history are beyond dispute (e.g., Timur’s sacking of Delhi), the valence with which we recollect them varies. The Mongols view Genghis Khan as a great leader and a cultural figure of worth and note. Muslims take a more mixed view. Meanwhile, for European Christians and the Chinese, the Mongols are a purely destructive force. Whether the Mongols and Genghis Khan are worthy and of admiration is clearly filtered through a cultural lens.

Because I’m a bit of a Mongol history nerd, the name Timur to me actually is not closely associated with Timur the Lame! It as in fact closely associated with Khans of the Yuan Dynasty of China and Mongolia, who never converted to Islam. But then, I’m not an Indian Hindu.

Nevertheless, the issue of the name Timur is an illustration of the general phenomenon: a lack of the acknowledgment of the cultural brutality and domination which Turco-Muslims wrought upon the Indian subcontinent and its native peoples in the period between 1200 and 1800. Six hundred years of domination to varying degrees.

I will interject here an objection to what I see as some hyperbole. Oftentimes Hindus make the case for almost Nazi-like domination of Islamic power in medieval and early modern India. There are two major objections to this extreme characterization.

First, premodern societies did not have totalitarian state capacity. Both the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic polities were fixated on a universal state religion. But their coercive power had limitations. There were pagans who lived in southwest Peloponnese until about the year 1000 A.D., when they were finally converted. State Christianity did not have the power to coerce these isolated people, because the state was thin and weak. Similarly, the pagans of eastern Afghanistan, the Nuristanis, were forcibly converted to Islam in the last decade of the 19th century.

Second, the vast majority of the people in the upper Gangetic plain, the core of Turco-Islamic rule in the Indian subcontinent, remain Hindus. That is, practitioners of native Indian religious traditions. This is simply incompatible with the idea of centuries of totalitarian rule. Again, going back to the first point, premodern states had limited capacity for domination and coercion. The power of the Roman state or the Caliphate was an ideological one, as local officials were bound together by their allegiance to a figurehead. But if a local ruler or administrator wanted to operate at sharp variance from the ultimate ruler, it was entirely feasible. Central state capacity was weak.

The Islamicization of much of the Punjab and Bengal were not a function of the greater state capacity of the Turco-Muslim rulers of northern India. Rather, they were a function of the peculiar characteristics of unstable borderlands, which tend to be much more attracted to dynamic novel ideologies promoted by ruling elites, which in the late medieval and early modern period meant Islam. This is the same reason why Zoroastrianism (and Buddhism) was replaced by Islam much more quickly amongst the populace in Central Asian Turan than in Iran proper. Turan was frontier land. Iran was not.

With that preamble out of the way, it is not disputable to me that the Turco-Muslim conquest elites in the Indian subcontinent engaged in plunder, extraction, and subjugation, in a relatively brutal manner.  The emergence of ISIS in the middle of the teens illustrates the nature of Islamic dominionism. The sexual exploitation of Yazidi women is in keeping with a tradition in Islam of sexual slavery of the women of conquered infidel peoples. This is not unique to Islam of course, but neither is not something one can deny as being part of Islamic history.

Now let us imagine an alternative history where the Turks who invaded the subcontinent were not Muslim. It is quite likely that like the Tai Ahom they would have become Hindu. It is quite likely that initially, they would have been just as brutal and exploitative as the Turco-Muslims. And, if they retained self-awareness as a distinct people for long enough that nature of a ruling class would persist despite the slow accretion of Indian cultural features. But, eventually, they would have become fully Indian, and gone into the mists of a legend like the Huna of yore.

The premodern world was brutal. The brutality of the Turco-Muslims was not unique. Julius Caesar may have been responsible for the deaths of 1 million Gauls. It must be noted here that the death was often not by direct killing, but through the starvation that occurred when populations were dislocated and dispersed. The brutality of the premodern world has an instrumental, material, rationale. Conquest was a way for elites to extract wealth out of the population. Death was not optimal, because extraction required bodies, but capture may have entailed some death.

Brutality was necessary, but not sufficient, to generate the trauma of modern Hindus. 

But again, I need to step back, and admit something: there is some evidence that brutality is accentuated across ‘meta-ethnic’ boundaries. This comes from research by the quantitative historian Peter Turchin. He shows that civil wars tend to be characterized by less atrocity, while the most brutal killings occur across civilizational boundaries. The sack of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, for example.

This implies that the Turco-Muslim treatment of local Indian populations would be more exploitative and inhuman with a lack of common identity. The Turco-Muslims considered themselves white, and the natives black, and retained a separate language for much of their tenure. And, of course, they had a distinct religion from the native people.

In the modern Middle East, all of the subcontinental people are objects of contempt from the native Arab Muslims. But non-Muslims in particular seem to be the targets of unmitigated contempt (and, due to legal inequality, targeted for sexual predation).

Though on the whole, I would argue that the religious difference between the conquest elites and the native people makes the former more brutal toward the latter, I think the biggest distinction is that the conquest elites are more culturally destructive.

Neha discussed at length the impact on the temples of native peoples. Cultural displacement in terms of public religion is a key sign of hostility between the ruled and the rulers. The end of paganism in the Roman world began with the shutting down of public temples.  Private paganism in household shrines continued for decades, but it slowly withered. I have written at length elsewhere about the robustness of Hinduism in the face of Islamic rule, so I will go no further on that issue. Rather, note that despite attacks on public Hinduism in North India the religion maintained and persisted due to its decentralized nature.

The crux of the issue is that modern Hindu Indians have to acknowledge that the core of Aryavarta was dominated politically by Muslims between 1200 and 1750. During this period Indian culture and society changed, some of it through interaction with the Muslim rulers, and some of it in situ. In either case, in some ways separating North Indian culture from the Islamicate period is insuperable. But Hindus know and understand that their role in this culture was as inferiors. Subordinates, if not slaves.

The flip side of this is that the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent are almost all descendants of converts from the local population, and their culture is clearly subcontinental. Though they may bear Arab, Persian, and even Turkic names, their faces are no different from their Hindu neighbors. It is hard to deny that fundamentally their past is one of subordination (as non-Muslims) and capitulation. They assimilated their own subcontinental identity, with brown faces, Indo-Aryan languages, and native cuisines, with the Islamic faith which had them face toward Mecca.

I may quibble and dispute some of the details of Neha’s assertion of inter-generational trauma due to the conquest (as I implied in the podcast, I believe women kidnapped and raped by Muslim elites today have Muslim descendants, so I would suggest that the trauma is elsewhere in the specifics), but the fact remains that Hindus with a profoundly different religious outlook and identity from Muslims are often uncomfortable praising a Mughal Golden Age where their own identity was of a conquered people. Dhimmis.

If Indian was 99% Muslim this might not be a great issue. Arabs can look dimly on their period of Ottoman hegemony in their nation-states, as very few Turks remain (there are Turkomans in Iraq!). But in a place like Uttar Pradesh, 20% of the population is Muslim. These people have a different identity in some deep ways from their Hindu neighbors, despite shared ancestry, language, and cuisine. I have never met a person from this background who was not proud and whistful about the period of Mughal rule in India. They identify this with this dynasty, and its predecessors, because of shared religious identity.

This is the fundamental tension in modern India. A substantial minority of the population is an adherent to the mythology of a conquest elite which the majority perceives to be traumatic, even genocidal. I do not have solutions for this issue, and I am not taking sides because it is really not my history anymore. But there it is.

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126 Replies to “Haunted by history”

  1. The Mughal Emperors intermarried with Rajputs and celebrated Hindu festivals like Holi and Diwali. Some of them even had Hindu scriptures translated into Persian. Doesn’t exactly scream “genocidal” or “Islamist” regime to me.

    There is also the fact that much of this Hindu “trauma” is a twentieth century phenomenon influenced by the RSS worldview, which in itself directly draws from European fascism. Clearly, “Hindus” in the past were not as bothered by being ruled by Muslim kings as their modern counterparts are. Otherwise, the rebellious sepoys in 1857 would not have turned to Bahadur Shah Zafar to lead their uprising. They saw the Mughal Dynasty as the legitimate rulers of North India, despite Zafar’s Islamic religion.

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    1. Kabir – they didn’t intermarry with Rajputs. The more accurate thing to say is they married Rajput women in strategic alliances. These women were then converted to Islam and bore muslim children.

      A rajput prince on the other hand would never be allowed to marry a Mughal princess. The power dynamic was clearly one where the Mughals were in charge and considered superior.

      What you’ve done here is what liberals in India do – which is you’ve glossed over the details that outline the systemic subjugation and pretend the past was somehow more benign.

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      1. The point remains that Rajputs were incorporated into the Empire, some in very high positions (Raja Man Singh). This was not “genocide”. Also, the later Emperors had Rajput mothers. They were biologically “Indian”.

        If I’ve done what Indian liberals do then you have done what Indian conservatives do– downplay the composite culture and focus on the “systemic subjugation”.

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        1. The term “composite” culture implies an equality that never existed.

          Raja Man Singh didn’t get to destroy a Jama Masjid whenever he felt muslim subjects were out of line. Aurangzeb on the other hand destroyed Kashi Vishwanath and Mathura Vrindavan – some of the holiest places in Hinduism that are mosques now. Muslims proudly go there and pray.

          And instead of acknowledging the sins of the past and making amends and actually dealing with the situation, we are told we just remember our past wrong or what we are feeling is an artificial 20th century thing. Its all quite comical actually.

          If we actually dealt with this the way South Africa or Germany has, we’d make progress.

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          1. There is most definitely a composite culture: Hindustani classical music, Urdu, Kathak, Mughlai cuisine, Taj Mahal.

            The only people who deny the composite culture are Hindutvadis. You have just revealed yourself to be one. There is no point in any further discussion with you.

            Comparing Indo-Islamic Empires to Nazi Germany is unacceptable. The Nazis literally sent Jews to the gas chambers. India remains 80% Hindu today. The situations are not remotely comparable.

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          2. Mohan, you are wasting logic on an automaton. Turing would be hard put to distinguish Kabir from a robot.

            With every argument you have put forward, he has shifted the goalposts and challenged you from yet another vantage point.

            Still, he hasn’t resorted to ALL CAPS yet His favourite phrase is “DISPUTED TERRITORY” which apparently can only be spelled in upper case letters. The composite culture he crows about was so wonderful his countrymen demanded a different country to celebrate it which they then proceeded to declare the Composite Islamic Republic of the Purely Composite.

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          3. Do you expect the Hindus to also make amends to the people that they’ve wronged in the past (i.e. the Dalits, the Sikhs [since Kashmiri Hindus screwed them over to the British], the Hindu who allowed the Portuguese to settle the Southwest, and the Hindus that killed 3,000 Sikhs in ’84)? Why is all the onus on the Muslims?

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    2. Here’s an interesting quote from Francois Bernier’s Travels in the Mughal Empire in the context of mixed children:

      “It should be noted, however, that children of the third or fourth generation, who have the brown complexion, and the languid manner of the native Indians, are held in much less respect than new comers, and are seldom invested with official situations: they consider themselves happy if permitted to serve as private soldiers in the infantry or cavalry.”

      It really speaks to how Indian the 17th century Mughals considered themselves.

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      1. If not bother, would you have the source about it about that?
        I am preparing an article on racial realism in antiquity and I think that would serve me well.

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  2. Very aptly put.

    “Conquered” people show no trauma. They think they were the conquerors.

    “Non conquered” people sometimes exaggerate the degree. If u were constantly told that the conquerors and dhimmis were the same ( especially from among the native dhimmis) , u push back. Understandable.

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  3. Brilliant Post.
    Have you met Indian( Delhi , UP) Muslims in the states?
    Have you asked them about the Mughal and Sultanate rule in India?
    I have to say that there is a Large elite U.P Nawab community that probably have their Descendants in Iran or who claim to have?Most of them migrated to Pakistan and serve at Elites there. Just have to ask is it true or not.

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  4. Sorry Kabir that’s your opinion when you’re not a Hindu. Your view is different cause your ancestors were probably from Iran( you said from Iran to Kashmir)whole themselves see themselves highly and hence your view in this Hindu vs muslim will never change and thats Ok.
    Well obviously the Mughal rule has produced art, poetry ,everything just the problem is that the Input is mostly from the minority Conquerors and Converts than the Majority Hindus ( Non Muslims).
    It’s good that Pakistan was Created just should’ve Created in Delhi/UP rather than outliers.

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    1. You can dismiss my opinion, but you have to deal with the historical fact that the Sepoys in 1857–who were very much Hindu– saw Bahadur Shah as the legitimate ruler of North India. They did not think that his religion disqualified him from being their leader.

      Hindutva is a 20th century construct. The evidence of its links to European fascism has been well-discussed in the scholarly literature.

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      1. saw Bahadur Shah as the legitimate ruler of North India

        He was just the best totem they could find for their rebellion. There was no deeper ideology or commitment behind their choice.

        The Marathas in the latter part of the 18th century also acknowledged a puppet Mughal Emperor as their sovereign just to minimize their chances of getting into fights with different Muslim kingdoms and the EIC (which had been granted a ceremonial Mughal diwani and was technically supposed to defend the Empire.)

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        1. Well, they certainly weren’t bothered by the fact that he was Muslim. He was a native king and they turned to him to lead them against the foreigners.

          The simple fact is that this Hindu “trauma” is all a 20th century creation. People shouldn’t read their biases back into the past. That is completely ahistorical.

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  5. India is going through a phase where a good number of people have the literacy and leisure time to look back in history and see how things happened in the past.

    In the future as the country gets wealthier and matures, the past will gradually be decoupled if there are open discussions on it without academia and the literati throwing a spanner into the process. The Overton window has already shifted and some historical topics that are spoken about now wouldn’t have be discussed 10 years ago.

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  6. Does the fact that the conquerors kept boasting about putting cow meat in the temples or sending off smashed idols to mosques to be stepped on by believers or about finishing off Hindus for the glory of Islam (Al-Biruni: Hindus became like atoms of dust) have no relevance to this matter at all? I am sure non-Islamic conquerors were very brutal, but don’t the above considerations separate the two situations?

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    1. Probably earlier invaders were as destructive as Mahmud of Ghazni, but they didn’t have a chronicler as articulate and as well-remembered as Al-beruni?

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      1. @Numinous: Probably earlier invaders were as destructive as Mahmud of Ghazni

        The point of contention is not about whether non-Muslim invaders were destructive and cruel or not. They most certainly were both, and I am not making a comparison of how they differ in the extent of cruelty with Muslim invaders. But do you notice a coincidence – pretty much all non-Muslim invaders assimilated eventually into Indian religions, which at the very least shows that they likely did not subscribe to a philosophy that was so strongly identity-conscious as to preempt conversion? So my contention is not about aggregate cruelty but about the extent of specific humiliation and persecution of sacred religious symbols of the populace for religious reason of the invader. And why wouldn’t the Muslim rulers do that – if they have a religious infrastructure that helps rouse armies to a supposedly just cause, they would be “irrational” in a homo-economicus sense to not make use of it?

        Now this won’t make much of a difference from your non-religious perspective: after all, given that a horrible massacre is taking place any way, what difference does it make if a temple is also targeted and humiliated? But it seems neither the invaders nor the invaded population saw this from your homo economicus angle.

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      2. To add to that, this is a myth that all muslim atrocities were listed down by muslim chronicles, only. Almost everywhere i have gone there is account in the vernacular language of those events.

        Only our Historians like to gloss over it, or find convinient excuse to not include it.

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    2. You need to separate people’s rhetoric from their actions.

      Romilla Thapar has carefully examined the contemporaneous accounts of Somnath and they were not framed in “Hindu” vs “Muslim” terms. If anything, they were framed in ethnic terms.

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    3. “Does the fact that the conquerors kept boasting about putting cow meat in the temples or sending off smashed idols to mosques to be stepped on by believers or about finishing off Hindus for the glory of Islam (Al-Biruni: Hindus became like atoms of dust) have no relevance to this matter at all? I am sure non-Islamic conquerors were very brutal, but don’t the above considerations separate the two situations?”

      None of this counts. Western post colonial scholars have declared that all the extremely cruel and barbaric things that Islamic rulers boast about in their biographies were exaggerated because they simply wanted to impress and delight their peers (an Islamic audience).

      Of course, many don’t care to inquire, well if this is exaggerated, to what degree? What was the actual harm that was done? Or what does it say about these people if a core theme in their literature is exaggerated boasts about crushing adherents of other religions with great cruelty? Like you get brownie points if you killed and looted and humiliated more… what does that say about them?

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  7. 1. hindus can be defeated but not conqured.
    2. romila thapar has written that the trauma of somanatha became wide spread only in the british rule, as universal education spread.
    3. the trauma of muslim rule is almost non existent among south indian hindus, although recent attempts have been made due to reinterpretation of tippu’s rule. sack of hampi was sort of glossed over in our text books.
    4. elite muslims( sayeds, baigs, mirzas, khans,) even in south are well aware of their non hindu origins and state so openly in a known company. many of these also proudly state that most of their friends are brahmins.

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  8. As there is lot of noise from pakistani commentators about Black Lives matter or racism, will they stop calling HinduKush HinduKush and give some other non offensive name ?

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  9. There is lot of demos against slavery and reparations for slavery, removal of statues, etc. Sadiq Khan has got a committee to look at which statues in Britain should be taken down due to association with slavery of the past centuries.
    Any, as of today slavery is a widespread phenomenon.

    https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/countries-with-the-most-modern-slaves-today.html

    This a present day extant of slavery with 10 highest
    Estimated Number of Modern Slaves (Per 1,000 People)
    1 North Korea 104.6
    2 Eritrea 93.0
    3 Burundi 40.0
    4 Central African Republic 22.3
    5 Afghanistan 22.2
    6 Mauritania 21.4
    7 South Sudan 20.5
    8 Pakistan 16.8
    9 Cambodia 16.8
    10 Iran 16.2
    I am haunted more by present day and very much less so with history

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    1. So slavery mostly exists in Black countries and Muslim countries. I thought white people were bad. Where are all the Euro racist countries on that list?

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    2. I think it is important to differentiate between manifestations of extreme exploitation (which is probably what the above examples are) and chattel slavery (of the past) where human beings were legally deemed property….there was an ideological underpinning of inhuman bondage….so much so that it was normal to split mother and child for selling-buying without the slightest stirrings of normative human empathy.

      Modern definition does a huge disservice to communities who still hold recent memories of conventional slavery and probably are yet to receive closure (if at all possible)

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  10. As a south Indian, I don’t have any trauma or skin in this game. But I wanted to ask one thing.
    Why do we have to associate Mughals with muslims?
    Babur was one of the most learned persons to have ruled India (he was also from central asian ancestry with their own culture distinct/different from Arabic islam) & Akbar was intellectually & philosophically the most interesting king to have ruled India.
    Babur strictly speaking didn’t invade India. He had a client invitation letter so to speak. An invitation from the governor of Punjab who was an uncle of the ruling Lodhi king
    The mamluks/slave dynasties were bad, yes. & The raiders from Afghanistan definitely very bad.
    But Aurangzeb was no worse to me than Narendra Modi. Objectively speaking on the plus side Aurangzeb ruled for 5 decades thus providing some stability but spent most of it fighting which resulted in real wages in India decreasing by the end of his tenure (h/t pseudoerasmus)

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    1. \Aurangzeb was no worse to me than Narendra Modi\

      What? Aurengazeb was elected to be badshah by a majority of Indians and he swore to abide by a secular constitution?

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        1. @Saurav

          Linked article below by your nemesis MK Narayanan.

          Genuine question Saurav, do you think some of these people really know anything or is it all (or mostly) about trying to fit the world to favor their ideology.

          I know a really stupid guy from college who made it to IAS, I know another unimpressive one who is serving IFS in Germany. UPSC is a really random selection exam. And the less that is said about ‘ideologies’ of our ‘leaders’ the better.

          Is it all smoke and mirrors or are these people really so smart that I can’t even begin to understand their minds? Or perhaps by writing these columns they (think they can) confuse the Chinese?

          https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/remaining-non-aligned-is-good-advice/article31836296.ece

          https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/world/china-won-t-enter-a-war-with-india-lac-leh-aware-that-indian-civilisation-better-than-chinese-former-nsa-mk-narayanan-621707

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          1. Bhim, i would like to answer this, but lets do it on some other thread. It has been cluttered enuf

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          2. Bhimrao:
            A personal question; feel free to ignore.
            Are you Dalit or just an admirer of the great man?

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    2. muslims were very learned. islamic civilization brought a pretty advanced historiography and ethnology to india. that’s not under doubt. it was tho self-consciously distinct. and that’s the rub.

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    3. Lol @ Marees
      I cannot stop chuckling at the juxtaposition of the following two statements:

      “As a south Indian, I don’t have any trauma or skin in this game”

      “Aurangzeb was no worse to me than Narendra Modi”

      (I see standard-issue trollullahs / trollinders have invaded this comment thread too, which is a pity)

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    4. Ha ha. Because you don’t know about it or read about it, doesn’t mean that ALL south Indians don’t have skin in this game.

      The atrocities that Malik Kafur perpetrated on Madurai and Srirangam is still something that is remembered by the population. The sacking of then richest cities of South and possibly the largest temple means everything to me as a South Indian Hindu. Tamil identify is stratified with the 3 dynasties and the said temples were the heart of that cultural identity.

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  11. Even though history can be haunting, a rational system of Restitution can eliminate much of the haunting. For example, if say 3 temples-to-mosques are handed over by Indian Muslims to Hindus voluntarily and in good faith, I think that will take out much of the wind out of Hindutva.

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    1. “Even though history can be haunting, a rational system of Restitution can eliminate much of the haunting. For example, if say 3 temples-to-mosques are handed over by Indian Muslims to Hindus voluntarily and in good faith, I think that will take out much of the wind out of Hindutva.”

      Even simple acknowledgement would go a long way. Acknowledgement needs to come before reconciliation.

      Right now we have a situation where, in private company, subcontinental Muslims take great pride in the destruction wrought by Islamic kingdoms but in public they latch on to Western postcolonial scholars and their woke readership who are intent on minimizing the cruelties.

      Like Pakistan will name their missiles after Islamic rulers but then turn around in public ride and endorse these postcolonial scholars to present the rulers to the world as benevolent rulers. Hindus won’t miss the dogwhistle, but others will.

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  12. It’d be better if the Kabirs of the world recognized that Islamicate rulers understood themselves as Islamic elites rather than Brooklyn proto-cosmopolitans. Small and occasional concessions do not change that reality.

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  13. The premise of this post is quite flawed IMO. Neha Srivastava of ‘Navyarkpura’ is not haunted by the past, indeed the Kayasths owe their high status to their close association with Turkic-Muslim and later European-Enlightenment rulers. In fact, there is a claim that Todar Mal, the architect of the Mughal administration in India was a Kayastha.

    Neha Srivastava is haunted by the present. It is a present in which the old elite of India, are reduced to H1B fariyaadis in front of the USCIS. If our economy had grown at a higher rate, and our per capita GDP was 50,000 instead of 7500, we would be more self confident. We would be better at utilizing our past as a resource in arts, entertainment and tourism like Europeans and Japanese are.

    The rank and file Indian thinks of the Mughals more from Akbar-Birbal and Taj Mahal sitcoms than whatever’s haunting Neha Srivastava.

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  14. Terms like inter-generational trauma seem a bit too abstract to me, especially when extrapolated over hundreds of years.

    How much does an average north Indian’s self esteem derive from his/her belonging to a particular religion?

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    1. Anecdotally, I think “North Indian Hindus” felt like a besieged minority religious group in a place where they were in fact the majority under Congress rule. I.e felt ashamed to be Hindu to some extent.

      Can we attribute some of this feeling to centuries of Muslim and Christian rule, where Hinduism was demonized and written off as a backwards religion?

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    2. Terms like inter-generational trauma seem a bit too abstract to me, especially when extrapolated over hundreds of years.

      neha is using a term that comes up in the west. her concerns are indian, but she freely uses a western paradigm of post-colonial discourse (i disagree with its applicability).

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    3. Well u would feel abstract if u haven’t suffered subjugation for generation, which the Southerners didnt. Its quite simple.

      On N-Indian self esteem both the Hindus and Muslims of N-India see themselves as the the original man of their religion. The Hindus as the progenitor of Hinduism and Muslims as the descendants of the Ruling dynasty

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      1. “Well u would feel abstract if u haven’t suffered subjugation for generation, which the Southerners didnt.”

        My family is from Bihar (and partly UP). Growing up, caste seemed a much more important factor to people’s self esteem than religion. Being a Thakur or a Bhumihar or a Kayastha was what seemed to define people. And sometimes ‘Savarna’ when pitted against Yadavs.

        Even among Muslims, I had friends who vocally called themselves Ashraf. Most of their day to day scorn was towards non-Ashraf Muslims.

        Had a couple of Muslim friends in my neighbourhood I played cricket with. One was Ashraf, the other wasn’t. They looked the part as well. Fairer skinned and darker skinned respectively.
        But the latter was richer since his dad was a big doctor. There was always a low-key rivalry between the two. Just amused me.

        The Hindu ‘trauma’ seems to me to be a very top-down thing that has grown in recent decades due to social media.

        Not saying things were hunky-dory. And definitely not arguing against a re-reading of history for genuine rapprochement.

        There was always fear and suspicion of Muslims in larger numbers. It just seemed to be based on more recent acts or cultural differences like terrorism/support for Pakistan/competition for limited resources/meat eating rather than historical acts of oppression.

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  15. Fuck Turko-Mongols. And Fuck the Ahoms too.

    While we suffered a lot among them imagine how the Iranian people of Central Asia must feel. We can’t. They don’t fucking exist anymore besides heavily admixed and raped Tajiks.

    Or how do the Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians of Anatolia feel. Oh wait we can’t ask them. Because Turks pretty much commited a genocide on them.
    .
    Turkos were white? They literally committed a genocide of actual white people in Central Asia.

    5+
  16. kabir, anymore comments on this post from you will result if you being banned from commenting. do not comment on this post, you are incapable of commenting on it because you do not exhibit the requisite cognitive faculties.

    second, this should serve as a warning to some others. i am not posting comments from newcomers which are not up to standard. i will delete stupid comments initially, but i will ban if i have to.

    kabir, please continue your thread on the ‘open thread’. you can pollute that as much as you want.

    9+
  17. i have other things to do and didn’t want to make the post two large. things i didn’t explore

    – indians and hindus can, and some have, ‘reclaimed’ the mughals as an indic dynasty with a synthetic culture. the fact is that like indian muslims do they do have a synthetic culture. BUT, did they view themselves as more indian or as part of the global islamic international? i think in many ways the latter. the mughals, iranian dynasts, and ottomans, formed a turco-islamic zone in west to south asia. they were not islamic fundamentalists, but they viewed themselves as fundamentally muslim.

    – indian muslims are in a conundrum. i can’t imagine them not being proud that they were herrenvolk for so long. but i can’t imagine hindus being happy about this. also, there is the paradox that indian muslims descend from converts, and few were themselves part of the ruling caste, who were racially and culturall self-conscious of their difference from ‘black’ indians of all religions.

    – i think the story of india during the indo-islamic period is the robustness of indian culture. islam did not spread in west asia by the point of the sword, but through slow and gradual coercion and positive feedback loops. this is clear in the social science. this did not occur in india. why? i’ve talked about ideas before, but this is the real story. indian cultural robustness, not the trauma of the indo-islamic shocks.

    10+
    1. “– i think the story of india during the indo-islamic period is the robustness of indian culture. islam did not spread in west asia by the point of the sword, but through slow and gradual coercion and positive feedback loops. this is clear in the social science. this did not occur in india. why? i’ve talked about ideas before, but this is the real story. indian cultural robustness, not the trauma of the indo-islamic shocks.”

      I think robustness is part of the story, but at the same time, I also feel like Hinduism has suffered irreparable damage in some ways.

      Like if we look at how Buddhism finally died in India, it was because it was a mostly monastic tradition dependent on state patronage. Islamic rulers destroyed the monasteries, burned the books, and killed the monks. And that kind of ended the religion in India.

      In some ways, it feels like that has happened to the similar aspects of Hinduism, especially in North India. The monastic guru-student type traditions seem to have eroded. What we’re left with is the more popular lay decentralized aspects of the religion, including caste, bhakti, going to temples, singing devotional songs, and mythology.

      So much of Hindu literature is missing, presumably lost or destroyed. While some of this is likely because of bad record keeping systems, deliberate destruction, like in the case of Nalanda, also plays a role. A lot of Hindu manuscripts are found in Nepal, Tibet, and South India (which faced more sporadic Islamic rule). If we look at things like Vedic recitation schools, the ones more prevalent in South India and Nepal tend to be intact. Temples, too, obviously, but that is more part of the popular lay religion.

      I think Hinduism was damaged considerably, particularly in North India which was/is the cradle of Hindu civilization, and that has had cascading negative effects for it everywhere.

      Hinduism has survived, but can it recover as a multifaceted living tradition or will it be just an artefact that serves as a basis for political/cultural identity?

      I think Hinduism was a lot closer to suffering the fate of Zoroastrianism than the percentage numbers suggest. Once there’s enough momentum, these things can change pretty quickly.

      3+
  18. – the persistence of a huge hindu majority indicates to me that the muslim period’s persecutions and destructions were real, but they were like the roman christian ‘persecutions’, periodic, punctuated, and not pervasive. the christian annalists seem to clearly have exaggerated the roman interest and obsession with their religion, and back-projected the last great persecution under diocletian to the whole history of their religion.

    not to dismiss the lack of religious liberty of the christians, but they were viewed by the romans more as disloyal pests, rather than evil heretics (well, the cannibalism didn’t help!).

    2+
  19. Or how do the Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians of Anatolia feel. Oh wait we can’t ask them. Because Turks pretty much commited a genocide on them.
    .

    they did commit genocide against the assyrians in the 20th century (well, the iraqis actually did in the 30s too). BUT, they did not commit genocide against the greeks and armenians for most of the history. THE ARMENIANS AND GREEKS BECAME THE TURKS!

    3+
    1. That’s true. And unlike in Central Asia Turks did not genetically wipe out or contribute much to the previous population (Central Asian Turks about 40-70% East Eurasian whereas Anatolian Turks are 0-15%). However, they did culturally and linguistically wipe them out. Which at least South Asia didn’t suffer. We certainly don’t have any Turkic ancestry for the most part or speak Turkic languages. So we at least didn’t suffer the same fate as Central Asia and Anatolia. I guess that’s the bright side and speaks to the robustness of Indian culture.

      1+
      1. That’s true. And unlike in Central Asia Turks did not genetically wipe out or contribute much to the previous population (Central Asian Turks about 40-70% East Eurasian whereas Anatolian Turks are 0-15%). However, they did culturally and linguistically wipe them out.

        i believe turkish food is mediterranean food. so i disagree that it was total cultural erasure. also the comparison with c asia isn’t good because the turks were moving into c asia even before islam. it was a gradual process that took 1,000 or more years. not a singular pulse.


        Which at least South Asia didn’t suffer. We certainly don’t have any Turkic ancestry for the most part or speak Turkic languages. So we at least didn’t suffer the same fate as Central Asia and Anatolia. I guess that’s the bright side and speaks to the robustness of Indian culture.

        the turks that came to south asia were persianate. the ones in anatolia were too, but anatolian local culture wasn’t as absorptive i guess. so yeah. this one for india!

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        1. That’s good point (it wasn’t islam that wiped out central asian iranics but turks regardless of relgion).

          What made indian culture more robust in your opinion? Is actually cultural robustness or just a function of population density?

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  20. \indian muslims are in a conundrum. i can’t imagine them not being proud that they were herrenvolk for so long. \

    Unlimited herrenvolk mentality is what led to Pakistan movement by north Indian feudal lords, and later led to crackdown in East Pakistan. Without a real modernist mentality, democracy and/or nationalism. is impossible. Somehow hankering after past glories – real or imagined- must be binned to make a society which all can stake a claim and have strong political institutions. Attitude of, I am more equal than others, easily creates tensions

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  21. yeah. but i can tell you when my parents socialized with other south asian (pak, indian, bang) they all gloried in the time when they had the heendoo under the boot. their mentality is premodern (these are PhDs and MDs in the USA). when i was younger and kind of criticized aurangzeb’s intolerance to my father he flipped his shit.

    and my parents are pretty chillaxed muslims who have no muslim children.

    15+
    1. Right. I have a couple Pakistani colleague who badmouth Hindus when they think I’m not listening. Also (obviously) MDs. Concurring with Razib, I think such views are modal among Muslims, though it took me a while to realize it.

      8+
  22. Glad to see Hindus admitting here that their unique discomfort with Muslim rulers was not that they committed atrocities that previous Indian rulers also committed, but that they did so without converting to Hinduism. Always like it when pretense about “historical injustice” is dropped and the truth comes out (xenophobia and Hindu supremacy).

    Second point, Indian Muslims (the Ashrafs), are the ones who ruled India. They are the Mughals, Khiljis, Nizam’s, etc. These empires were only “foreign Turks” for one generation. Afterward they took upper-caste Hindu women as wives and their descendants did the same. These are the Ashraf.

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    1. Glad to see Hindus admitting here that their unique discomfort with Muslim rulers was not that they committed atrocities that previous Indian rulers also committed, but that they did so without converting to Hinduism. Always like it when pretense about “historical injustice” is dropped and the truth comes out (xenophobia and Hindu supremacy).

      Hey intentionally misinterpreting idiot, I never said one word about whether the Muslim rulers’ cruelty was equal to that of the non-Muslim rulers’ or not. I was *avoiding* that question (though I actually personally believe Muslim rulers were far more cruel to Hindus than Hindu kings were). Why? Because Numinous and I have vastly different priors on that question, and I wanted to put in an effort to make a very narrow point where I could talk to Numinuous instead of our talking past each other.

      But then there are idiots like you to remind people that no good will based effort for finding a common ground and having a friendly discussion will be left unrewarded with misinterpretations that make everyone on the thread dumber.

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      1. froginthewell:

        For the record, I’m not disputing you about the relative brutality of Muslim and non-Muslim invaders. (Nor am I succumbing to “homo economicus” logic.)

        I agree with you about the Muslim invasions being worse in a qualitative way. The existence of an “Islamic International” gave the warlord conquerors no incentive to assimilate to their subjects’ faiths and culture, and also ensured that a steady pipeline of foreigners was maintained to fight and tax the locals. The Kushans and Huns had different incentives, and the culture they encountered in India practiced a more transcendental faith than they did (unlike the Muslims.)

        In the past, there would likely have been punctuated periods of invasion and brutality followed by periods of rejuvenation in which rulers and subjects alike had a stake. Not so in the case of the Muslim invaders and conquerors.

        On a different note: if we’ve had disputes, it’s typically not about how to interpret the past but about what to do in the present. I just don’t see Indian Muslims as Babar-ki-aulaad, nor do I see any point in replacing mosques with temples. I guess I don’t share in the collective PTSD about all of this that so many Hindus seem to succumb to.

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        1. @Numinous Okay I think I got your view of the past wrong. In any case I was trying to avoid a potentially contentious point in the interest of making a different point. I would opine that you get my view of the present wrong, but that is a different argument, not for this thread.

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        2. “I guess I don’t share in the collective PTSD about all of this that so many Hindus seem to succumb to.”

          Frankly, this has to do with the regions someone comes from. North bore the highest brunt compared to South.

          An example is Karnataka itself where the memory of Tipu Sultan evokes different reaction, even from Christians , depending on the region one comes from. And here we are just talking about one state.

          3+
  23. These empires were only “foreign Turks” for one generation. Afterward they took upper-caste Hindu women as wives and their descendants did the same. These are the Ashraf.

    this is false. they routinely married persian women. e.g. auranzeb’s mother. if you troll again i will just delete all your comments on this thread. you may not be as stupid as kabir, but you are quite a bit more ignorant than your bluster suggests.

    these dynasties cultivated persian as the language of the islamic international. and for several generations maintained turki speech. the idea of immediate indianization is clearly either a misrepresentation of a lie. don’t do it again. i have forgotten more than you know.

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    1. And they kept importing Persians and Afghans generation after generation for hundreds of years to staff administrative and military positions in their kingdoms and empires across South Asia. Their contempt for Indian Muslims was often more than that for Hindu upper castes, especially Rajputs.
      Many Ashrafs in India are of quite recent origin – as late as late 18th century or even 19th century where many came as mercenaries from Afghania or Persia (like the Bhopal royal family, ancestors of Saif Ali Khan etc)

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      1. And they kept importing Persians and Afghans generation after generation for hundreds of years to staff administrative and military positions in their kingdoms and empires across South Asia. Their contempt for Indian Muslims was often more than that for Hindu upper castes, especially Rajputs.

        yes. in this way they resemble the spanish empire, where even white creoles were marginalized by waves of peninsulares every generation. basically ppl born and raised in spain were more trusted.

        anyone who casually reads stuff about the mughals (like me) is aware that turan-born people were paid more than rajputs in the armies, and there were quotas which capped the number of the latter. india was a land of plenty and potential wealth for persians and turanians.

        ayetollah khomeni’s family famously spent about a century in india as shia ulema before going back back to iran. he was racistly accused of being indian for this, but they never intermarried with the local dark-skinned muslims.

        there was one instance where my family has been a ‘pure-blood’ ashraf. he was a petty maharajah by heritage though an american doctor now. he was basically a white guy who could have passed as a brunette russian with brown eyes (not even swarthy). he was married to a white woman who converted to islam and had blonde kids

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        1. Razib Khan: “ayetollah khomeni’s family famously spent about a century in india as shia ulema before going back back to iran. he was racistly accused of being indian for this, but they never intermarried with the local dark-skinned muslims.”

          Yes – I was very familiar that Khomeini’s family either migrated from Lucknow, UP, or Kashmir (revisionists want him to be from Kashmir, for some reason). I assumed that he was part Indian.

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      2. All the foreign imports eventually mixed with local Muslims and assimilated into local Muslim culture. They did not disappear into thin air, and not everyone migrated to the US and married white women.

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    1. Sorry I should have posted on open thread. Again apologies it will not happen again. Leaving a comment for you on open thread

      0
  24. when halal turns to haleem and manifests as owaisi, only reconversion to the kichdi will heal the wounds of the most aggrieved

    Jai Shree Ameen

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    1. Not really the case but conversion & reconversion have been politicized to a large extent & so there are many varients or groups including a section which you mentioned. The real issue is politics & global Abrahamic interest with regards to maintaining conversions as human rights issue.

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    2. I think this is because reconversion on an individual level, the rare cases it does happen, occurs in the context of marriage. Since marriage is thought of as two families coming together rather than individuals, I suppose Hindus are still reluctant to accept. Also, while most Hindus don’t know words like Taqquiya, the more right wing ones are quick to point out, at least in private circles, what they appreciate as what they feel is the more on average duplicitous nature of Muslims, especially within the realm of ultimate loyalty only to Islam and doing anything possible in the short term to bring more Muslims into the fold long term. They will the person may reconvert and then pressure the spouse or kids, especially in light of what they perceive will be the likely family pressure from the other side.

      Mass group conversions tend to be done with resource strings attached, so there is always fear of reversion when the gravy train runs out.

      Basically, Hindus I think fear that they cannot indoctrinate new converts like Muslims can, thus there is always suspicion of not genuine change.

      There is also the racial and class element with caste. But an UC and ashraf muslim relationship or a one between a dalit and dalit origin Muslim, the more likely type of scenarios given class structures, shouldn’t cause the majority of the fault line issues.

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    3. I’m sure that the Hindus, like the Parsis, wouldn’t mind bending the rules for people who are “prestigious.” Look at Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s son, Wadia, of Bombay Dyeing fame. Wadia should not have been allowed to be a Parsi, because his father was an Ismaili, and only his mother was a Parsi. However, the Parsis saw this $$$, and said “nevermind – you’re a Parsi!”

      Same way, the Hindus will be happy to allow white, suburban yogis (provided that they show some reciprocosity and allow us into their social structure a bit more) into Hinduism/Buddhism, but not uneducated groups who can’t benefit the social status of Indian-American-Hindus.

      1+
  25. Timur is not a common name in India and historically associated with Tamerlane. Whether there are other Timurs in the world is not generally known among Indian Hindus – and possibly among Indian Muslims as well, although I cannot be sure.

    It would be as if a family named their child ‘Adolph’ in the UK. It would raise eyebrows.

    It may be true that Timur massacred many Muslims – perhaps more than Hindus, for all I know – but the discomfort with the name among Hindus is with a sensibility that appears to take pride in the name of a butcher regardless of who he butchered. The attitude seems reinforced by what you mention of Chenghis Khan and the seemingly perverse sense of pride many Muslims appear to take in identifying with him. I cannot think of any parallel where Hindus of any linguistic culture celebrate the atrocities of some historical figure visiting atrocities on their ancestors. (unless of course we do an ‘Indthings’ and invoke a history no one can quite agree on.)

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      1. Timur and Alexander can in no way be compared. Alexander spread Hellenism and Greek influence far and wide, which dominated west asia, Egypt and even north west India for many centuries.
        Timur was wantonly cruel in many places. Most of victims were Muslims. He generally destroyed Islamic culture in central Asia , leave alone expanding or deepening Islamic influence. To quote a historian
        We think of the monster who razed Isfara’in to the ground in 1381 ; built two thousand prisoners into a living mound, and then bricked them over, at Sabzawar in 1383 ; piled 5,000 human heads into noinarets at Zirih in the same year; cast his Luri prisoners alive over precipices in 1386; massacred 70,000 people, and piled the heads of the slain into minarets, at Isfahan in 1387; massacred the garrison of Takrit, and piled their heads into minarets, in 1393; massacred 100,000 prisoners at Delhi in 1398; buried alive the 4,000 Christian soldiers of the garrison of Sivas after their capitulation in 1400;built twenty towers of skulls in Syria in 1400 and 1401 ; and dealt with Baghdad in 1401 as he had dealt fourteen years earlier with Isfahan. In minds which know him only through such deeds,
        Timur has caused himself to be confounded with the ogres of the Steppe—a Chingis and an Attila and the like—against whom he had spent the better half of his life in waging a Holy War. The crack-brained megalomania of the homicidal madman whose one idea is to impress the imagination of Mankind with a sense of his , military power by a hideous abuse of it is are,
        Than Tamburlaine be slaine or overcome

        It is a curious reflection that, if Timur had not turned his back on Eurasia and his arms against Iran in A.D. 1381, the present relations between Transoxania and Russia might have been the inverse of what they actually are. In those hypothetical circumstances Russia to-day might have found herself included in an empire of much the same extent as the area of the Soviet Union but with quite a different centre of gravity—an Iranic Empire in which Samarqand would be ruling Moscow instead of Moscow ruling Samarqand.

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        1. VV, Alexander did not spread Hellenism and Greek influence far and wide. He wasn’t a Greek and Greeks considered him as their enemy because they were Macedonian vassals. He globalised the known world and made pan-tsarism. They almost haven’t participated in his army because they were not warriors. They even participated in Persian army in a decisive battle to make a way to India. They consisted a half of Persian army and 18000 out of 20000 were killed. However, Greeks were in the best position to utilise his achievements and globalisation in spite that his Serbian dukes and generals (Seleukic and Tolomey Lagic) took Egypt and Persia and established own dynasties. It is known that he married 10000 Serbian soldiers with 10000 Persian girls in one day in a common wedding celebration in Babylon. Greeks were not amongst grooms.

          0
        2. VV, Alexander did not spread Hellenism and Greek influence far and wide. He wasn’t a Greek and Greeks considered him as their enemy because they were Macedonian vassals. He globalised the known world and made pan-tsarism. They almost haven’t participated in his army because they were not warriors. They even participated in Persian army in a decisive battle to make a way to India. They consisted a half of Persian army and 18000 out of 20000 were killed. However, Greeks were in the best position to utilise his achievements and globalisation in spite that his Serbian dukes and generals (Seleukic and Tolomey Lagic) took Egypt and Persia and established own dynasties. It is known that he married 10000 Serbian soldiers with 10000 Persian girls in one day in a common wedding celebration in Babylon. Greeks were not amongst the grooms.

          0
          1. Hi Milan
            You have lot of ideas on how Serbian historical and genetic contributions have been unjustly appropriated by Greeks and others. Put them all together and publish it in Kindle . You may get lot of customers
            PS: Milan is also a common first name in (north) India. You have another Serbian angle.

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  26. Basically, Hindus I think fear that they cannot indoctrinate new converts like Muslims can, thus there is always suspicion of not genuine change.

    yes. hindus lack the victory mindset. muslims don’t have these worries. they think they can swallow the hindus.

    this is where i think a traumatized cuckiness seems weirdly normative among many hindus. though there are exceptions (a friend of mine married a pakistani muslim and he is raising his daughter as a hindu nationalist like him).

    It may be true that Timur massacred many Muslims – perhaps more than Hindus, for all I know

    you should read more history. you seem to think i should read your thoughts (which are OK), but you need to read more and know more than your own parochial world if you want to comment.

    timur clearly killed more muslims. it’s a running ‘joke’ among historians. he destroyed the ottomans for a generation and saved byzantium.

    I cannot think of any parallel where Hindus of any linguistic culture celebrate the atrocities of some historical figure visiting atrocities on their ancestors. (unless of course we do an ‘Indthings’ and invoke a history no one can quite agree on.)

    agree on? the genetic data is clear. indo-aryan ancestry is ‘male-mediated.’ i think we know what that means, even if it is lost to history and forgotten. the demographic impact of the indo-aryans was far greater than the muslims. there are various reasons for this (smaller native population and less organized neolithic/chalcolithic societies, etc.). but it’s a fact.

    but identity ignores material fact. it is almost certainly true IMO that the hindu ancestors of modern muslims were the most traumatized and coerced by the turco-muslims. some of the coercive conversions are even recorded in history for elite individuals. the modern hindus have ancestors who avoided the boot more. but the former are proud of their ancestor’s superiors, while the latter have contempt for those whom they evaded.

    ideology is weird.

    5+
  27. I honestly feel that Saif naming his son Timur is not to show middle finger to Hindus or so. Its just that he felt that its not a big deal, or he was unaware of actual real context. TBF i have heard muslim kids named Timur. Sometimes folks do stupid things. Its alright.

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  28. Razib: Are there systematic genomic differences between Muslim Indians and their physically adjacent Hindu neighbors. I am not asking for differences between north and south India, but within natural geographic areas of India.

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  29. Razib: Are there systematic genomic differences between Muslim Indians and their physically adjacent Hindu neighbors.

    the short answer is no.

    the long answer is it depends 🙂

    the real summary is some but very minor and dwarfed by between region differences.

    3+
  30. The real problem is the lack of trust which the Hindus have towards Muslims as a consequence of Muslims believing themselves to be the cultural descendants of Turkic-Mongol Muslims. Muslims are the majority in one part of India, that is Kashmir, and they have surgically wiped out almost all the Hindus from there. We very well know the behaviour of Muslims towards Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh. As the Muslim population in India rises, the Hindus will start feeling extremely uncomfortable with the Muslims worshiping historic figures that committed multiple genocides in India. Bluntly speaking, why should I expect my fellow Indian Muslim to behave any differently than the Turkic barbarians they worship?

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  31. Do you expect the Hindus to also make amends to the people that they’ve wronged in the past (i.e. the Dalits,

    this is a good point. but here is my response: hindus at least at the elite ideological level now denounce caste. they continue to practice of course as hypocrites.

    do indian muslims denounce aurangzeb? (to give an example) tbh, could they?

    it’s an interesting issue. here in america we have ‘founding fathers’ with obscene views. but we understand (or did) that history is complex. i admire kant despite that the fact he was racist against people that looked like. so hindu sanghis in their own turn should perhaps look to the complexity of these mughal figures, despite their brutality and bias. they gifted india elements of high culture worth keeping…

    4+
    1. The difference being that most Americans distinguish the vile aspects of their founding fathers and only look up to them after these caveats. While for Indian Muslims, the Turkic rulers are worth celebrating precisely because of their conquest of India. The increase in Islamization of India in the medieval periods is a direct consequence of the forced conversions and the genocides of Hindus. The day Muslims start condemning such actions is when we can start talking about the supposed positive aspects of these rulers.
      Talking about the elements of high culture is also not going to be appreciated by Hindus. The fact is that Hindu India was the most prosperous land of its time and was far more cultured than the invading Turks. Whatever elements of culture they brought in is more than compensated by all the native cultural elements they’ve wiped out. In many parts of North India the complete destruction of temples and the wiping out of traditional sculptors, craftsmen, music and dance styles means that as a whole they did not play a positive role in India’s culture. Most of the times when people talk about their contribution to culture they don’t include in the calculation what we lost because of them.

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    2. \hindus at least at the elite ideological level now denounce caste\
      There is more than just denouncing. Large scale reservations in education, jobs and even promotions in jobs are part of the historical reparations towards ‘dalits’ . Uncritical, non timebound and fanatical adherence to reservations on the basis of caste has led to strengthening of caste identities . What they overtly denounce, covertly they encourage. The fact is, the majority of beneficiaries of reservation are not dalits but other castes. back to Gupta caste consolidation.

      0
    3. On the charge of upper caste Hindu hypocrisy: I don’t know (or at least haven’t heard) of strong denunciations of caste endogamy, which is arguably the biggest factor in maintaining caste differences. People will vociferously argue that there should be no discrimination on the basis of caste, but they are really talking about school admissions, jobs, living accommodations. But nobody openly advocates inter-caste marriage, and it’s still met with a good measure of disapproval in society. I think Indian Hindus’ attitudes about this are like those of white Southerners’ just after the end of the Jim Crow era.

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      1. But nobody openly advocates inter-caste marriage

        Unlike the US where whites are asked all the time to consider marrying blacks?

        (Regarding earlier discussion: Thanks for correcting my notion about your view of past. I would say your comment suggests a misleading picture of my present view but it would be a digression to go there).

        3+
        1. I wrote sloppily. I didn’t mean to impute those views (about the present) to you, but rather to a caricature of a Hindutva idealogue.

          On intercaste vs interracial marriage: “advocacy” was the wrong word to use, but I think there’s very little societal or familial disapproval of interracial marriage in the US today (in my experience, but it’s possible that’s skewed). In India, such disapproval is not expressed openly but it’s there for most part subliminally, and expressed in practice by the arranged marriage system.

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          1. But there’s obviously a lot of barriers to interracial marriage here (even in liberal parts), otherwise Brooklyn wouldn’t look like it does. Let’s not even get into the matter of “good schools” and “safe neighborhoods.”

            I think it’s fair to say that both Americans and Indians see non-discrimination as a lodestar, but there are pragmatic reasons why it isn’t ever going to happen to the desired extent.

            Though I give India better chances than America. There are obvious differences in the behavior of people of various races; I am not aware that that is true for caste.

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      2. \ But nobody openly advocates inter-caste marriage\
        Tamilnadu govt had a scheme 20 years back , of giving Rs10000 as gift to intercaste couples. Don’t know whether the scheme is still there. That is more than advocacy – putting money where your mouth is by the government.
        As an added bonus to inter caste couples , their children can take the caste of either parents so as to avail the caste based reservations to maximum benefits. Can you beat it ? has the US or any western govt came anywhere close to racial affairs like that

        How about this by Modi govt- no progressive seem to have praised the scheme
        https://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/modi-government-push-for-inter-caste-marriages-offers-rs-2-5-lakh-for-marrying-dalit/962848/

        https://www.tn.gov.in/scheme/data_view/83416
        : a) Rs.15,000/-(Rs.10,000/-as NSC and Rs.5,000/- by way of Demand Draft or Cheque) in case a person belonging to the Forward Community marries a person belonging to B.C / M.B.C. b) Rs.20,000/-(Rs.10,000/-as NSC and Rs.10,000 by way of Demand Draft or Cheque) in case one of the spouse belongs to SC/ST

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  32. The increase in Islamization of India in the medieval periods is a direct consequence of the forced conversions and the genocides of Hindus.

    this is false. are you not very smart?

    The fact is that Hindu India was the most prosperous land of its time and was far more cultured than the invading Turks.

    the economic history is clear. india was not the most prosperous land in 1000 AD. everyone was similar, though parts of the low countries were perhaps richer by some margin than the rest of eurasia in 1200.

    and was far more cultured than the invading Turks

    this is false. the turks were vectors for persianate islamic culture, which in its own turn was earlier influenced by indo-buddhist culture. they were quite cultured but very different. they also brought their strengths, such as a focus on historical writing which allows for better calibration of dates.

    Most of the times when people talk about their contribution to culture they don’t include in the calculation what we lost because of them.

    this is a fair point, and i would like to hear most of this. how would north india be different?

    don’t follow up on your other comments, they were generic and dumb. i hope you are not generic and dumb.

    1+
    1. >The increase in Islamization of India in the medieval periods is a direct consequence of the forced conversions and the genocides of Hindus.

      >>this is false. are you not very smart?

      I wonder what kind of smartness it takes to realize that the increase in Muslim population was a consequence of the decrease in the Hindu population. I wonder what exactly it is that Indian Muslims celebrate these Turks for if not for Islamizing significant portions of India?

      >> the economic history is clear. india was not the most prosperous land in 1000 AD. everyone was similar, though parts of the low countries were perhaps richer by some margin than the rest of eurasia in 1200.

      God knows where you get such notions from. Data doesn’t lie. https://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/business/Screen%20Shot%202012-06-20%20at%209.37.55%20AM.png

      >> the turks were vectors for persianate islamic culture, which in its own turn was earlier influenced by indo-buddhist culture. they were quite cultured but very different.

      Societies that have historically been richer are much more cultured than poor societies. The fact that many communities in India were vegetarian while a similar concept did not exist among the Turks is but one example. Massacring entire cites is something the Indian subcontinent saw last in Kalinga at the hands of Ashoka. That such acts were carried out almost two thousand years later by Taimur and Nader Shah shows us just how cultured some of these were according to Indian standards. The succession scheme among Mughals led to wars after the death of every emperor. That’s certainly not a very cultured approach.

      >> how would north india be different?

      We would have the great universities like Nalanda and Sharda Peeth still standing. The fact that no old temples exist in North India is certainly something we owe to the Muslims invaders who destroyed the temples again and again everytime they were rebuilt. All the cultural aspects that are innately tied in Hindu culture to the temples like folk music and dances rarely survive except in some kind of southern influenced way.

      >>don’t follow up on your other comments, they were generic and dumb. i hope you are not generic and dumb.

      Ah! The universal symbol of intellect one finds in the most genius of human minds. Good old ad hominem attacks. Don’t worry, I won’t be interacting with you after this.

      2+
  33. Mughals were racist. Remember reading Babur memoir where he talk about their next generations in Hindustan will start to look like natives. This was written 500 years ago! This isn’t unique to Mughals though, central asians from last 3500 years had similar though process when it comes to dark races of south asia.
    By the time Mughal empire expanded and they needed more and more people for administration. Share of natives in official position increased but still ratio was nowhere near on equal basis.

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  34. This isn’t unique to Mughals though, central asians from last 3500 years had similar though process when it comes to dark races of south asia.

    west asians in general. arabs called us ‘black crows.’

    that being said, there was also reverence and admiration for the wisdom of india as well. so mixed. but racism was in there.

    please note that shah jahan basically looked like an indian so babur wasn’t wrong! (though i think babur held to the old greco-islamic view that climate shapes appearance in a lamarckian fashion so he thought the climate would turn ppl indian)

    1+
        1. yes. and a lot of them [bedouin] have african ancestry. but the town-arabs look down on them too.

          interesting tid-bit. during historical times bedouins were considered the “purest” arabs, and were admired for speaking the purest form of arabic. during muhammad’s times it was a tradition of town-arabs to send their children to live with bedouin in their camps in desert, so that they could learn the proper arab ways. looks like times have changed.

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  35. West Punjab musalman who now dominate Pakistan on back of powerful army. Their ancestors were 2nd class citizens for 800 years after fall of hindu shahis. They had little share in army of any Turko-Mughal empires. Their fortunes changed with arrival of British.

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    1. why are Punjabis on both sides, East and West, so prone to racial superiority complexes?

      Pashtuns who are lighter and more caucasoid do not exhibit such behavior to the same degree.

      0
  36. Great post, Razib

    I think at the end of the day, being haunted by history is a choice. One can choose to let that weigh one down, or break free and forge ahead. My major beef with the Hindu RW is their obsessive focus on being defeated and conquered, rather than say rejoicing in surviving and thriving despite all odds. There’s no shame in admitting to being conquered by an invading race of people with better military tactics and a culture more suited to warfare. It’s happened all over the world and to every nation that currently exists.

    I hope that one day the Hindu RW can accept the Mughals as another Indian dynasty, overhyped and full of warts like many others, while retaining pride in their history and culture. And like others have pointed out, N indian Hindu culture suffered terribly in the medieval period, but most importantly it didn’t get wiped out. It even started making a comeback under the Marathas and Sikhs (applying ‘Hindu’ very loosely here). And what has been lost can easily be recovered and even enhanced using the tools of modernity given to us by another set of invaders.

    3+
    1. “My major beef with the Hindu RW is their obsessive focus on being defeated and conquered, rather than say rejoicing in surviving and thriving despite all odds.”

      This view is bit more 90s than now. On ground (and not on twitter) , from my visits to India, what i found is the shift happening from persecution complex to domination. A good example is the current Ram temple judgement where even before the judgement, it was sort of “assured” that the temple will be built.

      All this is being resisted by left-liberal forces (thru anti CAA/NRC protests and all) , because if that solidifies it may become permanent. Like a permanent political Hindu identity. Of course the movement has heavy doses of persecution complex since its still in the transition phase.

      3+
      1. I think the other issue is that Hinduism existed so long as a religio-cultural milieu more than anything else, that people are unused to making a case for it. Meanwhile, the enemies of Hinduism (Leftists, Muslims, Evangelicals) are aggressive about attacking it.

        I don’t know if you remember the Rafael episode wherein the defense minister did a fairly standard ritual to bless the new aircraft we got from France (Russians do similar rituals as well for military equipment.) Leftists were apoplectic about the matter. But I didn’t see anybody on the Right really standing up for our traditions.

        —-

        I have talked to Myra MacDonald (Scottish India Hand) on Twitter, she states that based on memoirs, Indians were broadly happy and optimistic about Hinduism *in the colonial period,* and the current issues, the “wounded civilization” stuff, came *after independence.*

        Why that happened is probably multifactorial, but I’d contend that the major reason is that voices against Hinduism have been lot more vocal and effective than voices for it.

        3+
        1. “Indians were broadly happy and optimistic about Hinduism *in the colonial period,* and the current issues, the “wounded civilization” stuff, came *after independence.*”

          I have a theory for that. The attacks from the Left-liberals were pre-emptive strikes to forestall any Hindu consolidation right after Independence. After creation of Pakistan, left-liberals saw first hand once the political-religious milieu is activated no amount of constitutional, courts and Institutions can really stop India from becoming a “Hindu Rastra”. So the left-liberals were always vigilant, trying to put safeguards, activate regional and caste fault lines wherever they could , re writing History etc.

          By the time Hindu nationalists got their bearings right in the late 90s after a walloping of the previous 30 odd years , they saw the destruction around them and latched unto the “wounded civilization” to draw an overarching arc for their struggle.

          1+
  37. That’s a pretty kickass statue of the great khan, btw. Is it even bigger than the planned Shivaji statue in Mumbai?

    Added to my travel bucketlist!

    0
    1. I hate bigger and bigger statues for persons or anything else. Why can’t people do with a small statue of less than 1 meter or maximum life size. Sardar Patel statue , made in China , is a monstrosity.
      Anything more than life size amounts to cultification, not remembrance

      1+
  38. “The flip side of this is that the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent are almost all descendants of converts from the local population.”

    About 15-20% of Indian muslim population is comprised of Ashraf class. From results we have seen in forums like anthrogenica it does look like this class had significant foreign admixture. Be it from Afghans or in less cases Iranians. Their origin usually tend to be from Delhi/ West UP.

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  39. Below is an extract from Ram Guha’s Scroll article.
    https://scroll.in/article/946178/a-historians-advice-to-indian-muslims-in-1947-is-relevant-to-hindus-today

    “Pakistan had been created as a homeland for Muslims. However, many Muslims had voted to stay behind in India. To those who questioned their commitment, Mohammad Habib answered that “the overwhelming mass of the Muslims of this land have an undoubted Indian paternity. It is true that there are innumerable Muslim families in India who claim a foreign origin, but this affiliation is purely fictitious.”

    Habib warned Indian Muslims against nostalgia for the medieval past, when the rulers were of their faith. As he remarked: “The position of the Indian Musalmans in the middle ages was, if a very rough simile be allowed, not unlike Indian Christians during the British period.” Ruler and ruled might worship the same god; but in everything else they were separate and different.”

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    1. \To those who questioned their commitment, Mohammad Habib answered that “the overwhelming mass of the Muslims of this land have an undoubted Indian paternity.\

      Habib, even though historian does not understand politics or even history. If they had Indian paternity , why did they vote for a party which violently advocated Pakistan. Why does Habib blythly say ‘Pakistan had been created as a homeland for Muslims’ .

      This superficiality is what characterizes many apologists for Pakistan. These guys sound unconvincing and shallow – no wonder easily able to impress Guha

      0
  40. Below is an extract from Ram Guha’s Scroll article.
    https://scroll.in/article/946178/a-historians-advice-to-indian-muslims-in-1947-is-relevant-to-hindus-today

    “Pakistan had been created as a homeland for Muslims. However, many Muslims had voted to stay behind in India. To those who questioned their commitment, Mohammad Habib answered that “the overwhelming mass of the Muslims of this land have an undoubted Indian paternity. It is true that there are innumerable Muslim families in India who claim a foreign origin, but this affiliation is purely fictitious.”

    Habib warned Indian Muslims against nostalgia for the medieval past, when the rulers were of their faith. As he remarked: “The position of the Indian Musalmans in the middle ages was, if a very rough simile be allowed, not unlike Indian Christians during the British period.” Ruler and ruled might worship the same god; but in everything else they were separate and different.”

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  41. There is one interesting detail in the text. It says that Julius Caesar maybe was responsible for the death of 1 million Gauls. I haven’t studied these figures, but I know that many Gals died in spite of strong resistance from Asterix and Obelix. Gauls are actually Celts, who originated in Vinca and spread around the Europe. They established their colonies and kingdoms in Portugal, Spain, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Nederland, Italy and in today’s UK. They were one branch of Serbian tribes, actually, the rank with a mission to go, find new land and not come back.

    Julius Caesar was a descendant of Dardanians from Troy who led by Eneida migrated to Italy after the Troyan battle. Dardanians were also Serbs and the capital of the kingdom of Dardania was Nis, now the 2nd largest city in Serbia known also as the residence of the Constantine the Great and the city where the first Aryan expedition started their voyage (Dionysus = God from Nis).

    It is interesting that a Serbian outfit (JCaesar), one thousand of years after the Troyan battle, fiercely fought Serbian tribes in France. It is similar to the situation 500 years after that when other Roman-Serbian Emperor, Justinian, sent his army led by a Serbian commander Belisarius to subdue the Serbian Vandals in north Africa, who also held Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. After losing this war, Vandals kingdom disappeared and became a part of the East Roman Empire.

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  42. “Timur the Lame wrought his destruction exclusively in Muslim lands”

    minor correction – timur seemed to be particularly peeved with christian georgia, and pillaged and massacred it to his heart’s content.

    the general point is correct tho. the geography in which timur operated was largely islamic, so they bore the brunt of his wrath.

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  43. I do not have solutions for this issue, and I am not taking sides because it is really not my history anymore.

    it is indisputable that a deep schism exists between the worldview of hindus and muslims in the subcontinent. the way they look at the past, present, and more importantly – the future, is diagonally different.

    paksitanis have formalized this schism by breaking away from their native past entirely. hindu historical figures are unimportant obscure characters for them. the ties of their bloodlines with the indic soil are weaker compared to the powerful glue of religion that ties them together. they revel in turkish soap operas glorifying islamic heroes who operated thousands of miles away from their land.

    the problem really exists just for indian muslims. it is these 20% UPites and biharis and gujaratis and maharashtrians who feel culturally adrift. they live in a hindu universe dominated by hindu cultural motifs, and yet stridently maintain that they themselves do not belong to this universe. it is a foreign universe to them. i find it tragic. i dont feel anger, i feel pity for them.

    @razib – just curious, between indian hindus and muslims, on whom do you think the onus lies more to heal this rift. or does the rift even need healing at all?

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