As a student I was always fascinated by History. One aspect though used to bother me, whenever I used to visit my cousins in Tamil Nadu for my vacations, I used to find that their view of the history is slightly different than mine. As I grew up I have kept trying to understand why there is a difference in understanding our own history between two parts of India as my education predominantly happened in the Northern part of India. As I started examining a few startling facts came up and I tend to question why did my history books not tell me these facts? I checked with quite a few of my friends with decent knowledge of history and none of them seemed to know this either!!
1) The longest ruling dynasty in India was the Pandyan kingdom starting from 500 BC right until 16 century A.D. Compare this with the Mughal empire which lasted from 1526 to 1857 and I remember studying one chapter dedicated to each Mughal ruler, but hardly a full chapter on the Pandya kingdom. Other kingdoms that had more duration and area under their rule compared to the Mughals are Cholas, Cheras, Satavahanas and the Vijayanagara Empire.
2) Goa Inquisition: Probably one of the darkest religious chapter in India. The Goa inquisition went on from 1560 to 1774 affecting a total of around 16,172 people officially and many others unofficially. By the end of the inquisition around 1800 Hindu temples were destroyed. This also led the conversion of almost the entire population from Hinduism to Christianity to survive the inquisition. To this day these converts retain some traces back to their Hindu past.
3) Tamil happens to be the oldest classical language in the world to be still in existence in common usage. As per the oldest literature document available the emergence of Tamil is traced to 2nd century B.C. Amongst Indian languages only Sanskrit pre-dates Tamil though the fact is not strictly established. Other classical languages still in popular use are Oriya (2nd BC), Kannada(850 AD), Telugu (1067 AD) and Malayalam (12th century). Somehow when I learnt my history the only two ancient languages talked about were Sanskrit and Devanagri script which emerged during the 7th century A.D.
4) The first major and probably the longest running literary conferences were the Tamil Sangams or Cankams as they were called then. The first Sangam lasted for a whopping 4440 years (9600 BC to 5200 BC). The second one lasted 3700 years (before 2000 BC)and the third and the final sangam lasted around 1800 years. Of these, there are a lot of unsolved mysteries of the first two cankams and some of the claims seem to be exaggerated. But the artifacts that were discussed during the third cankam still remain in existence and include some of the finest literature in Tamil history. It’s high time that historians try to bridge the gap of these understanding and separate the fact from the myths.
As we near one of the most important elections in our country, it might be interesting for some of our youth to read up on the real history of India and form views on what leadership is all about and what kind of leadership is required to preserve the Indian culture and Indian way of doing things.
PS: Kindly note that the views expressed here solely mine and do no represent the views of any organization I represent or work with.