Hind and Sindh civilizations, and getting religion politicized

Recently I read an interview of Romila Thapar, renowned historian. Here are some questions and their answers which relate to the issue of religious identity in the sub-continent:

Q: Some scholars claim Hind and Sindh to be different civilizations. Do you subscribe to this view?

A: I don’t subscribe to this at all. I think the Indus civilization was very widespread. It spread out to many regions that are now part of Pakistan and India. I strongly object to this view because you can’t push an event that took place in the twentieth century five thousand years back in history.

Q: Why this insistence on two civilizations?

A: This happens when religion gets politicized. When religious organizations begin to feel that they can assert political power, they have to have an identity – a religious identity. And the easiest thing, of course is to say “we will take it as far back as goes the religion.” There is a movement that seeks to establish Hinduism as the religion of Indus valley civilization. This is not true. One can say there are some roots of the present day Hinduism that may go back deep in history, but we cannot say for sure because we cannot read the (Indus valley) script.

Q: Has it been the failure of secular movement that led to the rise of the religious movements in India?

A: I think various things did. Religious nationalism – Hindu or Muslim – started in the 1920s. Both supported the two nation theory. Now they are trying to argue that if Pakistan is a Muslim state, why can’t India be a Hindu state. They see the whole of pre-partition Indian society in terms of Hindus and Muslims. They don’t see it in terms of communities with other kinds of identities. So it boils down to really to a question of identity.

[PP. 106-107, Voices of Sanity – Harbingers of Peace, Zaman Khan, (Archetypes, Heinrich Boll Stiftung), December 2008, Lahore]

The above is a continuous thread of questions and answers.

What Thapar said about India is true for Pakistan also!

More about this issue and the enterprise of history in another post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *