“The Myth of Islamic Contribution to India” – Excerpts

Excerpts from a well-researched post by Shankara that appeared on CentreRight.in:

*** “The myth about Islamic contribution to India” – by Shankara ***

Is it ignorance or agenda that drives Indian history narrative? 

…Let us clear the air on the Islamic contributions to India and Hindu society at large. Lets look at some broad categories that can be used as a framework to measure them.

Universities and colleges

Before the advent of Islam on Indian soil, India has as many as 20 large universities some of them which were international in nature, some of the prominent ones were Takshashila, Nalanda, Sharada Peeth, Varanasi, Kanchipuram, Valabhi, Vikramshila, Jagaddala, Lalitgiri, Phuphagiri, Udayagiri, Odantapuri, Ratnagiri (Odisha) etc where student from across the world studied Mathematics, Algebra, Astronomy Physics, Alchemy, Medicine, Anatomy, Surgery, Literature and whole lot of other topics. As Muslim invaders progressed east across India, these Universities were extinguished one by one starting with Takshashila the largest and the oldest to the brutal destruction and burning of Nalanda by Bhaktiyar Khilji in the 1193 AD. In turn none of these benign invaders from Bin Qasim to Kutub-udin-Aibak to Babur to Aurangzeb to Nadir Shah instituted a new University or center of learning. I invite apologists like William Dalrymple, Romila Thappar, Girish Karnad etc to cite examples where these invaders and conquerors promoted science, education and learning and institutionalized learning.

Farming and Irrigation

Girish Karnad takes great pleasure in belittling the Vijaynagar Empire, its achievements and rejoices in its destruction by blaming it on fictitious decadence theory. Little does he know that Vijaynagar was probably one of the first welfare states in the world if not the first? The kingdom paid from its treasury for empire wide water works to ensure running water for its subjects. Even today we can see remnants of aqueducts in southern India from that era. The kingdom paid for irrigation tank building projects to harvest rain water some of which are still in use today for farming. The kings of Vijaynagar especially Krishnadeva Raya personally engineered and supervised the building of a damn across the Tungabhadra still in use today. Similar irrigation works and canal building were undertaken by Hindu kings all across India. Indian farmers had perfected the irrigation using a system called Phad (river water diverted into fields) and Baadh (overflowing river, tank or lake is breached to irrigate fields) besides other mechanical methods still used today. In and around Bhopal huge natural lakes were maintained by Hindu kings for fish farming and as a source of irrigation for farmers, which were drained by Mughal’s to play polo. Compare this to lack of any such projects during the Mughal era or earlier Delhi Sultanate.

I would also like to point the blatant lie of Marxist historians to credit the revenue and taxation system to the Mughals especially Akbar. The system of revenue collection and taxation existed from time immemorial instituted by Hindu kings based on Hindu ‘Shashtras’ which the Delhi Sultanate and later Mughals institutionalized it for brutal oppression. It was unimaginable that barbarian tribal warlords who roamed the central Asian dust bowl had any knowledge about taxation and revenue collection that they could impart onto others.

Health care

Fa-Hian, writing about Magadhain 400 AD, has mentioned that a well-organised health care system existed in India. According to him…

Nobles and householders of this country had founded hospitals within the city to which the poor of all countries, the destitute, the crippled and the diseased may repair. They receive every kind of requisite help. Physicians inspect their diseases, and according to their cases, order them food and drink, medicines or decoctions, everything in fact that contributes to their ease. When cured they depart at their ease.

Fa-Hians account coupled with Charaka’s treatise on medicine and hospitals shows that India may have been one of the first countries to institutionalize public health care. Earlier during the Mauryan’s under Ashoka (300 BC) had institutionalized hospitals and veterinary clinics were established in towns and villages and even on busy highways.

Closer to our times the Maratha’s had built a series of ‘Chattrams’ as rest and recovery places for travelers and pilgrims.

Chatrams were not mere boarding places. They provided food, health facilities and space for the animals that accompanied travellers. Eachchatram was separated from the other by a day’s travel. Old resting places for travellers are found in other countries, but what makes these chatramsdifferent from the caravanserais is that they cater to all kinds of travellers — not merely traders. In South India, trade and pilgrim routes coexisted and the inns served both pilgrims and travellers. Endowing pilgrims and pilgrimage was considered important and special care and facilities were provided. The most important pilgrimage route in South India was the one that led to Rameswaram. Along this route, 18 chatrams were built and patronised by the Maratha Kings in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The most elaborate and ornate of them are the Mukthambal Chatram at Orathanadu and Yamunambal Chatram at Needamangalam.

The Chatram were built by the Maratha ruler of Thanjavur, Maharaja Serfojee who wrote the British to continue the services…

‘Chatrams have Doctors, skillful in the cure of diseases, swellings and the poison of reptiles. Travellers who fall sick at the Chetram or before their arrival, receive medicines, and the diet proper for them, and are attended with respect and kindliness until their recovery’.

This letter of Sarfojee Maharaj is reproduced in full in Annam Bahu Kurvita: Recollecting the Indian Discipline of Growing and Sharing Food in Plenty.

..People interested in reading more about Indian medicine and health care in ancient India can refer to this paper

*** End of Excerpts ***

Read it in full here.