Learning History II and Happy New Year!

In case you had seen my previous blog on learning history, I have learned ‘the history’ of the song in Parasakthi now. It was indeed written by Udumalai Narayana Kavi. It did involve a detailed investigation before I could reach this fact about something that happened only about 63 years ago (1952). And of course, the first two Departments in the Indian Institute of Science were in chemical and electrical sciences only. I have no idea how that gentleman could have thought about metallurgy. Ignorance or motivated distortion? One  never knows.

Most of you may have received emails or seen facebook postings about how our country (India) never invaded anyone else in the last 5000 or 10000 years. When I saw such news for the first time, I was wondering! Haven’t Chola won the kingdoms all over India. India was supposed to have had 56 kingdoms. You can look at the Wikipedia pages on Rajendra Chola and 56 kingdoms of ancient India. I know one old Tamil song by T. M. Soundarajan (play back for Sivaji Ganesan) in which he lists down the 56 names. I could never memorize that one. Rajendra Chola not only won over many kingdoms in India, he invaded Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. His history was taught in Tamil Nadu.

Why do we have such proud message from the patriots of new India spreading? I had the first clue when I went to Manhattan KS for doing my Ph. D. One day, I met a man who was originally from India and had settled down in Manhattan. Our meeting was brief and it was a one-off chance meeting. That person started talking to me in Hindi and I told him: Pardon me, I don’t follow Hindi that well. He was visibly shocked. How can you be an Indian without knowing Hindi? I told him that I was born and lived in Tamil Nadu and had learned only Tamil and English. He said: No wonder, south Indians never fought for freedom and that is why you have grown like this. Clearly he had not learned any history of Tamil Nadu or south India. I could only laugh at his ignorance.

While I did learn history of most parts of India and the world, I was wondering if the students from North India learn any history of south India. Recently, some patriotic groups have started talking about Rajendra Chola. In my school days, the Chola kingdom was covered in the History books in detail and I have learned of Rajendra Chola as ‘Gangai Kondaan (the man who won over the nations around Ganges) and ‘Kadaram kondan’ (the man who won over Kedah kingdom in Malysia).  I would have never thought of India as a country that never invaded any other country. I wonder, then, how do so many ‘Indians’ spread this obviously wrong message? Some may really be ignorant and others must be wilfully deceiving themselves and the gullible ones.

Rajaji was the first Indian Governor General of India. Chidambaram Pillai was the first person to own a ship and was running an Indian shipping company standing up to the British. Thiruppur Kumaran lost his life trying to save the Indian flag during the freedom movement. Bharahiyaar’s national songs were so inspirational. I am convinced that he is no less a poet than any Nobel literary winner. He wrote mostly in Tamil. The ‘Indian’ guy who I met in Manhattan KS would have never learned of them as he told me so confidently ‘south Indians did not fight for freedom’. Of course, there were so many more freedom fighters in all the four states (and Pondicherry) from the south of India.

My life has taken me to places I would have never imagined until I was about to complete my MSc in IIT Madras. After my studies in the USA, I returned to Kanpur to take up my first job. One day, when I was roaming around the city, I  found a restaurant. It had a board displaying the menu available: Indian, South Indian, Chinese and Continental! It was in 1995 and I was amused. How can they serve Indian and then south Indian, when we have one India? About twenty years later, I went to Haridwar for a meeting and I found the same menu written in big letters. It seems like finally some national organizations have woken up and realized the problem. Rajendra Chola’s 1000th year is being celebrated and more Indians may have heard about him today. Patriotic north is beginning to learn about the south that did not fight for independence!

14102014028 (Photo taken with my Nokia E72 in October 2014 at Haridwar)

I had not learned much about the northeastern states in India until recently. Thanks to my professional travel and some students here, I am learning a few things about the seven sisters, as the seven northeastern states are called. It was interesting recently to find out that the New Years day, I mean the first of January, is a holiday in only 7 states of India. Six from the northeast except Assam and Tamil Nadu. Look at the following website. I accessed it on 11th April 2015. http://www.officeholidays.com/countries/india/

Of course, we have many other new year’s day and ours is approaching. The 14th of April. The previous Government in Tamil Nadu wanted to change it to January 14th and the present Government must have changed it back to April 14th again. This need not be out of any conviction but the previous Government’s action must be undone. I knew it as new year for Tamil Nadu and Kerala and later on found out that it is new year for Assam and Orissa as well. New year in my current domicile, Karnataka comes towards the end of March and is called Ugadi.  That is new year in Karnataka, Andra and Telengana, and Maharashtra.

Some from the northeastern states do have distinctly different, shall I say ‘oriental’ look. I learned from a friend recently that yellow and brown were added to the vocabulary of the colors of people when some Indians in UK did not want to be grouped with the blacks. Michael Jackson perhaps worried mostly about black and white people and wrote the hit song ‘It  ain’t matter if you are balck or white’. He had, of course, included the brown and yellow people in the beautiful video.

If I am not mistaken, Deve Gowda was the first prime minister of India to visit the northeastern states. Now the nationalists seem to have realized the importance of integrating the northeastern states. Pandit Nehru proclaimed when India got Independence: Unity in diversity. It seems to me that he knew India well. Anyone who does not respect the diversity of India, will most likely come up with a cooked up history. This will make the logical minds laugh and others (blinded by patriotism) raise their head with pride. Clearly the Aryans never invaded India.

I end this blog by wishing every one a very happy new year, irrespective of when you celebrate your new year. We celebrate this year on the 14th of April. Though the Tamil food of Idli and Dosa remain ‘south Indian’ in all the Indian restaurants up north, the Tamil New Year has become a national holiday in India. No India did not do it to unite all the states. For this, we need to thank Ambedkar, the architect of our constitution. He was born on this day! Boy, am I not glad it was Ambedkar who wrote the constitution of India!

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One thought on “Learning History II and Happy New Year!

  1. Pingback: Bhogi, Pongal, Maattu Pongal, Kaanum Pongal, Makar Sankranti, Bhogali Bihu and Lohri and of course Jallikattu | earunan

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